Title: Change of Heart

Author: Britani Gael

Geez, after all I say about procrastination, it takes me almost a week to finish this chapter.

I wasn't procrastinating, honest.  I was just trying to make sure this lived up to all the reviews I've been getting.  I got more reviews on that last chapter than I've gotten for any story I've written in my entire fanfiction.net career.  Hope I don't disappoint anyone.  I think I liked how it turned out, though.  Enjoy.

* * *

The Paradox sighed.  The choice had been made.  Was it right?  They would find out soon enough.

Existing for thousands of years with both a mind and a conscience had been quite wearisome.  Would the Judge and the Watcher agree?  Who knew, the Paradox didn't.

The only thing that mattered right now was the fate of a completely helpless young boy, dragged into this through no will of his own.  The Paradox had found that it cared.

They had learned about decency from the mind of Keleos.  They had learned about compassion from the mind of the dark spirit that had made the choice.

Ironic, no?

* * *

Yami held the knife in one hand.  The metal was cool to the touch, probably made of some material that Keleos had invented on the spot.  It was obviously sharp, the thin edge glinted at him.  Had she drained a little more of Bakura to create it?

His other hand held the Paradox.  His fingers were involuntarily clenched around it, as if his hand was afraid to let it go.

No one could blame him for what he was about to do.  It wasn't like he was given a choice.

He took a step forward, between Bakura and Keleos.

"Stop stalling," Keleos snapped.

"I'm curious," Bakura said.  He raised the Paradox in front of his face, pinched between his fingers.  "What does this thing do?"

"In your world?  In our world?  Whatever I wish."

"Hmm."  He remembered what the Paradox had said about no communication, and he could tell it was right.  The presence of all four of them was almost mind numbing. 

He narrowed his eyes at the jewel, studying it intently.  He thought he heard Bakura mutter something, but he tuned him out.

What is it? he heard a distant voice say.

The connection was suffocating to his mind, he could barely think.

Make it quick, the Paradox said, sounding even more distant.

He pinched it tighter, trying to organize his thoughts.  Uh, thanks, he said.

…no problem…

The Paradox collapsed.

To someone else, it might have looked like Yami was crushing it between his fingers.  In reality, the Paradox was doing it all on its own, collapsing on itself, crushing without any help from him.  The powder slid from his fingers, drifting to the ground.

The effect on the landscape was immediate.

The marble fountain started to weather and age, while the plants looked to be growing in reverse, turning yellow and sinking into the dirt.  Iol squawked as the bench he sat on cracked and collapsed under its own weight.  The sky turned black.

Keleos' eyes went wide.  "What did you do?" she shrieked.

Yami tried to come up with a clever answer, failed.  Instead, he laughed.

The sky flashed white, then back to black, then white again.  A wind picked up, kicking up the dirt around them.

Keleos lunged at him.

Yami jumped back, knocking Bakura and himself to the ground.  Keleos loomed above them, her face had turned a nasty, glimmering shade of gray.

"Idiot!" she snarled.  "You did nothing.  Nothing!"

Several jagged yellow lines streaked across the sky like lightning, each accompanied by a blast of thunder.

"Coulda fooled me," Yami said.

"I can return, now."  Her voice dropped to a whisper.  "The Paradox no longer binds me here."

"You don't seem too happy about it."

"I'll find something else," she said, and she took a step forward.  "I'll find a way to get the power I need.  You can spend eternity here.  But first …" The Millennium Ring started to glow.

Bakura screamed.  It was a rather weak scream, but Yami could hear the pain in it.  He looked over, and saw Bakura's face.  Instead of being twisted, it was strangely slack, devoid of emotion.

Yami rolled over towards Keleos, and jammed the knife into her foot.

Spirit though she was, it still must've hurt.  She yelped and staggered back, and the Millennium Ring stopped glowing.  Now her face was nearly black.  She composed herself, and laughed, a sound that was worse than Iol laughing.  She started to power the Ring up again.

A bird crashed into her.  Iol circled her head, screaming at the top of his lungs.  He latched on to her face, and started pecking her like mad.  The flamingo ran up to her, and grabbed the Ring in its mouth.

Okay, maybe the gods didn't hate him.  He got to his feet as quick as he could, then dragged Bakura up as well.  The boy wasn't even close to consciousness now, Yami wasn't even sure he was alive.

Iol still in her face, Keleos' hand reached out blindly.  She found the Judge's skinny neck, and grabbed it in both hands.  Even with all the noise going on around them, Yami could hear the sharp crack.  The Judge crumpled to the ground.

Yami threw an arm around Bakura's shoulders, and struggled to take the few steps towards Keleos.  She was beating frantically at Iol, who didn't look like he was going anywhere.  The Judge got up again, with half his neck and his head hanging limply.

Strange sight, but Yami didn't stop to look.  The ground was shaking now, it was hard to stand, and Bakura sure wasn't helping things.  He took the final step.  He reached out towards Keleos.

She must have been able to see him somehow, or felt his presence, maybe.  She started to slap him, hit him, doing whatever she could with Iol on her.  Using one hand to shield himself from the beating, he reached out with the other and snagged the Millennium Ring.

"No!" She shouted.  She reached towards her face, and managed to grab Iol by a wing.  She tore him off viciously, and reached to grab the Ring.

The Judge came up behind her, and threw himself into the back of her legs.  She fell, and the cord that held the Millennium Ring on her neck ripped.

The wind picked up, and the ground shook harder.  Yami lost his balance, and started to fall backwards.  But he didn't hit the ground.

It felt like he had gone through the ground, but there wasn't anything on the other side.  Just falling.

* * *

Bakura groaned and rolled over.  He fell right off his bed.

"Ouch," he said, managed to slur even that word beyond recognition.  He tried to get up, and was surprised to find that he could not.  God, everything hurt.  With a lot of effort, pulled himself back up onto his bed, and flopped out on it.

About time you woke up.

Bakura's eyes widened.  Who had said that?  It had sounded almost like –


"Am not," he said.

Oh, obviously.

The phone started ringing.  Bakura lifted his head to stare at the phone across the room, but didn't even try to get it.  He had no desire to end up on the floor again.  It rang four times, and it stopped.  Then it started ringing again.

Bakura sighed, wondering how long he would have to listen to it.

To his surprise, the Yami materialized beside him.  Scowling, he marched across the room and grabbed the phone off the hook.  "What?"  He paused, listening.  "No … no … he's not … sleeping … no."  He slammed the phone down.

"We've been gone for two days," his Yami said.  "They think I've killed you.  They'll be over soon."

"Gone where?" he asked groggily.

"No idea."  His Yami vanished, back into the Ring.

Bakura dropped his head, even holding it up was being tiring.  He remembered … Iol, desert, scary lady, had his Ring … He moved his hand to his face, and wasn't surprised to find blood.

"You … you hit me," he said.


"It hurts …" he said, his voice trailing off.  He closed his eyes, and had a feeling that he could be asleep for a while, whether his friends showed up or not.

I was under a bit of stress, alright?

Bakura opened his eyes.  Was that … an apology?  From his Yami?


"Oh," he said.  He closed his eyes again, drifting off to a place with talking birds, pink flamingos, and a Yami that wanted to help him rather than hurt him.  He smiled in his sleep.  It was rather nice.

* * *

And that's it!  Super special thanks to everyone who reviewed, I never even imagined getting that many.  I never even imagined getting close to that many.  So now I have no story to write. *sighs*  I've got a few ideas, I'll write a few of them, see if any actually turn into a story.  If they do, I might have a new story in a week.  Well, that's all I got to say.  Britani Gael, signing out.