Good morrow, everyone! This is a Gift!fic for a good friend of mine, candyazngirl. It was her birthday last week, and she requested a tendershipping. Here you go; I hope you like it!

While we're on the subject, she happens to write some pretty amazing stories, so go read them! You won't regret it, scout's honor. (Not that I ever was a scout, but... details.)

WARNINGS: This involves scenes of a homosexual nature. If that bothers you, then you are not enough of a yaoi fan to progress past this point, and I must ask you to proceed to the exit in an orderly fashion.

DISCLAIMER: I declare this fic DISCLAIMED!

Ok, I'm done.

Long ago, a kingdom known as Arakel was prosperous and peaceful. It was ruled by a king, who was the perfect leader in every way except one: he refused to get married. His advisors were dismayed, but he ignored every protest, claiming that he had no need for romance or love.

However, this left the kingdom without an heir, and as years past, even the king could no longer ignore such a problem. He could not choose a child from any of the nobility for fear of angering the families he didn't choose, yet he feared that his subjects would never bow to a peasant king either.

He and his advisors conferred for many months, but none could find an answer. Just when they thought all was lost, a clan of witches visited the castle.

They had been run out of a neighboring kingdom, Linde, when they had been unable to end a drought that plagued the land, and the king of Arakel had offered them refuge. They owed him a service, and offered to create a child to be the heir.

The king was ecstatic, but before he could agree they gave him a warning. Witch magic was strong, but in order to work there was a price that must be paid. The king of Linde had been unwilling to pay the cost needed to end the drought, and creating a child required much more powerful magic. In exchange for the child, the king would be cursed to have his greatest treasure stolen from him.

The king was wary, but his subjects came first, and they were desperate for an heir. With a heavy heart, he accepted their offer, and the witches gave him a baby boy.

The child was beautiful, with large brown eyes and hair as white as an angel's wings. His skin was pale as well, marred only by an inky black scar over his heart in the shape of a pair of intertwining dragons, the symbol of the witch clan. His name was Ryou.

The king was overjoyed to finally have an heir, but as months passed he became increasingly melancholy. While the curse stated that he would lose his greatest treasure, it never stated when it would be stolen, who would be stealing it, or even what the treasure was. He grew more and more paranoid, and began to see deceit wherever he turned.

Eventually, he couldn't take it anymore and ordered that all the valuables be stripped from the castle and placed inside his own room to be carefully watched at all times, whether by guards or the king himself. He hired more and more guards, and the credentials of every servant were carefully scrutinized.

Meanwhile, among the Arakelian subjects, rumors began to fly about the prince they'd never seen; the king hadn't even released his name. Some said he was albino, others insisted that he was dark and exotic, while still others were convinced he was actually a princess. But what they all managed to agree on was that he had a witch marking, and that he was almost unearthly beautiful.

Even more whispers spoke of the king's paranoia, and a treasure that was destined to be stolen. Wild tales were spun about the things he had guarding it, and as the years passed they grew until the people were convinced it would be impossible to get such a treasure.

Of course, that didn't stop people from trying.


Sixteen years later

Ryou awoke before the first light of dawn broke the sky. Though the first chill winds of autumn had begun to blow, no fire had been lit in the grate, and the shutters hadn't been latched. It wasn't a surprise; no servants had been allowed in this wing since he'd been born. Despite the background checks, his father still worried that one of them might get greedy and had locked himself, his treasure, and his son away.

Or so he thought.

Ryou slid out from under the covers and made his way over to the wardrobe. Hidden behind his fine jackets and shoes were a simple cotton shirt and pants, and a pair of battered boots. He slipped them on and crept from his room, being as silent as possible as he snuck past his father's chambers.

At the end of the hall, he ducked behind a tapestry and through the doorway it hid, following a twisting path and climbing a ladder before pulling himself through a trap door and up into a storeroom. Down another hallway, through a door and suddenly he was greeted with the hustle and bustle of the kitchen as the servants began the work for the day.

"Oh, there you are Ryou!" Mai, a well-known flirt and the castle's head chef, smiled at him over the stovetop. "Go crack those eggs over there for me, hun. The main dish today is gonna need a lot of them."

Ryou nodded and weaved his way over to the table to get started. It wasn't exactly normal, he knew, to work in his own castle. It wouldn't even be possible if his father's paranoia hadn't ensured that none of the servants had seen him as the prince. But, as strange as it would seem, he enjoyed the role of servant far more than the role of prince. "As a worker, he had friends; people who talked to him, told him jokes, and in the case of one of the gardeners, Joey, played good-natured pranks on him.

Not to mention, Ryou looked up from his work as a set of palace guards walked into the kitchen to get breakfast before relieving the night watch, his eyes zeroing in on the one with wild silver hair and a devilish smirk, when he acted like a servant, he got to see Bakura.


This was taking longer than he'd expected.

Bakura leaned against the castle wall, adjusting the sword strapped to his waist with an irritated sigh. Why were palace guards required to have swords anyway? He much preferred knives. They were just as deadly but far more easily concealed, necessary traits when, say, mugging a guy and stealing his credentials.

The white-haired man smirked, rather proud of himself. After all, taking another person's identity was the only way for a thief to get a job in a castle with such a paranoid king.

And yet… Bakura let his features settle into a pensive frown as he dwelled once again on the borderline-dangerous amount of time he'd already spent here. For a person who was quickly gaining a reputation as the King of Thieves, it wasn't a smart idea to stay in one place for a substantial amount of time, let alone a castle filled to the brim with people more than happy to put any thief six feet under without a second thought.

All he had to do was knock out a couple of guards, take what he wanted, and get out. So why was he still here?

"Good morning, Bakura!"

Right, that's why. Bakura straightened up slightly as a certain white haired kitchen boy walked up to him, balancing a precarious pile of rolls on a tray. "Good morning, Ryou."

Ryou smiled brightly and held out the tray. "Here, take one. They're from Mai, to tide everyone over until lunchtime."

"Thanks," Bakura grinned and took one from the top, careful not to knock over the whole pile. "You got time to sit for a while? Guard duty can get pretty boring with no one to talk to."

He watched as Ryou looked up, gauging the time by the sun. He bit his lip and looked off to the side, and Bakura had to restrain himself from wetting his own lips.

"I want to, but Mai needs me back at the kitchen soon, and I still need to…" he inclined his head at the tray, and Bakura nodded.

"It's fine; I understand. You'll still be able to meet in at the usual time, right?" He laughed lightly at Ryou's enthusiastic nod. "Good."

As Ryou turned to continue his rounds, Bakura couldn't resist leaning forward. Lips grazing the shorter boy's ear, he breathed, "I'll be waiting."

Ryou's face flushed a deep red and he stumbled, then yelped as he maneuvered the tray in a desperate attempt to keep the bread from falling. As soon as it was out of danger he peeked back over his shoulder, only to blush deeper at Bakura's easy smirk. He whirled around and walked off as quickly as the tray would allow, disappearing around the corner of the castle.

Bakura leaned back against the wall and tore a chunk out of the bread with his teeth. He didn't consider himself a sentimental man (though at eighteen, most would question whether he could be considered a man, rather than focus on his sentimentality), but there was something about Ryou that had him rethinking that outlook.

He got so embarrassed by Bakura's flirting, though the thief didn't think he even recognized it as flirting; he probably thought Bakura was just teasing him. Such innocence and naivety would normally grate upon his nerves, but Ryou somehow made them tolerable, endearing even.

Bakura huffed angrily and resisted the urge to punch the wall. He was a king among thieves, a cold-blooded killer, damn it! He wasn't supposed to be feeling like this! He shouldn't be happy just thinking about meeting Ryou every day just to talk and play cards.

This was getting dangerous. If he didn't leave soon, he knew that he'd fall too far to be able to get out. And then it would only be a matter of time before he was discovered and executed. He had to take the treasure and escape, tonight.

He sat back, fiddling once again with the sword. All of the sudden, the thought of a priceless treasure didn't sound so appealing.


Ryou sat on an ornate stone bench in one of the palace's many gardens. He watched the sun set past the tops of the trees as he waited for Bakura to show up.

Bakura. Ryou sighed, curling his knees up to his chest and draping his arms over them. Ever since the young guard had come to the castle in late spring, Ryou had been fascinated by him. Sure, he was a bit uncouth and ill-mannered, but they gave him this presence that drew Ryou in without a thought about shying away in the normal princely response.

And therein lay the problem. He was a prince, even if his father was leaving most of the decisions to his advisors nowadays. He couldn't afford to be so infatuated with a guardsman, regardless of how interesting he was or the way his grins always managed to turn Ryou's brain into a puddle of goo.

Ryou let his head fall onto his crossed arms. He knew he had to get out while he still could, but even as his mind made the decision, his heart was screaming at him to reconsider.

"What's got you so miserable? Did Joey try to stick your head in the butter churn again?" Ryou looked up as Bakura grinned and stretched out next to him, an answering smile automatically crossing his lips.

"After what you did to him the last time he tried it, I doubt he's brave enough to," they both laughed. Ryou glanced up. "Thanks for that, by the way."

Bakura waved it off, and the two lapsed into silence. At the lack of conversation, they both fell back into their thoughts of earlier. Ryou, despite his conviction to cut himself off from Bakura, was finding it almost impossible to go through with now that he was here. Unbeknownst to him, Bakura was going through a similar thought process.

The silence continued to thicken as they both stewed in their internal dilemmas. All at once, they whirled around to face each other.


"Bakura, I-"

They froze as they found themselves only inches apart. Bakura's eyes widened fractionally, and Ryou began to turn a light pink, but neither moved away. Ryou blinked slowly, a tremor running through him as Bakura moistened his lips.

"I, uh…" Ryou trailed off as he unconsciously shifted closer.

Bakura leaned down as well. "Yes?"

In the end, he couldn't be sure who moved first. All he knew was that one second he was struggling to remember all of his reasons to leave, and then his mind went blank because Bakura was kissing him, and how in the world could he ever have been prepared to give this up?

Bakura's fingers threaded in his hair, pulling him closer and gently changing the angle of the kiss. Ryou's eyes fell closed as he all but melted against the older boy. Bakura lightly ran a hand down his side to rest on his hip, and Ryou couldn't stop a muted sound from echoing in his throat.

He tossed an arm around Bakura's neck and tugged him forward. Bakura, however, hadn't been expecting it, and with twin cries of shock they tumbled off the bench and onto the grass.

Ryou stared up at Bakura, taking in his light flush and panting breaths with wide, glazed eyes. They stayed frozen like that for a few moments before comprehension dawned and the lists detailing exactly why it was a really bad idea to do what they just had slammed to the forefront of their minds.

Bakura scrambled off of him as if he had been burned. Ryou swallowed and propped himself up on one elbow.

"I… I should-" the older boy jumped to his feet, the move graceful despite his uncharacteristically edgy behavior. After one last, desperate look, he turned and almost sprinted towards the castle.

Ryou flopped back to the ground, ghosting a hand over his lips. As his mind fully caught up with the situation, he felt like crying even as he told himself that it was for the best.

After all, Bakura had only done what he'd been planning to do. So why did it hurt so much?


Bakura slunk through the shadows, a dark scarf protecting his distinctive hair from the moon's rays. He had to get the treasure and leave tonight. He couldn't see Ryou again, not after what happened. Just seeing his face would destroy his willpower in seconds, and he couldn't afford that.

The memory of Ryou's lips on his own, his silky smooth hair twined around his fingers, flashed through his mind, and he almost stumbled.

"Damn it," Bakura swore under his breath and continued on even more carefully than before. He couldn't let himself be distracted; messing this up meant death.

He slowed as he neared the king's chambers, but he needn't have worried. The pair of guards outside the door lay slumped against the wall, fast asleep. As a fellow guard, drugging them had been child's play. They hadn't even suspected the sleeping draught slipped into a 'friendly drink.'

Getting it into the king's wine goblet had been a bit trickier, but things had been more than a little hectic in the kitchens that evening. Apparently the prince had refused to join his father at dinner for one reason or another, and the king had had the cooks running around preparing dozens of dishes in hopes of coaxing him from his room. The pass of a hand over the king's drink had easily gone unnoticed in the confusion, and ensured that he would have no interruptions.

Just as the thought crossed his mind, he heard the tell-tale tap of a footstep behind him. He spun around and pulled a knife from his belt, slashing across in one smooth motion. He heard a yelp, and the tearing of fabric as the other dodged backwards.

Whoever it was stumbled as Bakura followed after. Then, as they both moved into the moonlight, they stopped.

"Ba… Bakura?" Ryou stuttered in disbelief. His shirt was torn across the front, and Bakura stared at the marking on his chest just as Ryou took in his own appearance.

"You're a thief."

"And you're the prince."

Ryou looked down and ran a hand through his hair. He paused, and then suddenly he began to laugh. Bakura raised his eyebrows, silently wondering if the shock had caused the prince to go insane.

"Looks like we're both liars." Ryou shook his head and the smile fell from his face. Keeping his gaze on the ground, he pulled something out of his pocket and held it out to Bakura. "Here. Take it."

Bakura reached out, hesitantly taking it from Ryou's fingers. It was a key. "What…"

"It will open the door to my dad's room. I'm guessing you were the reason he was nodding off at the dinner table, so he won't bother you. Just take what you want and get away as quick as you can; I don't know how much of a head start I can give you."

Bakura stared at him, slack-jawed. "Why… why are you doing this?"

Ryou finally looked up, and Bakura's eyes widened at the tears running down his face.

"Because that's what you came here for, right? If this treasure's going to be stolen, then you should take it. I…" He looked back down. "I want you to be happy. So take the treasure while you still have the time, alright?"

Bakura stared at him, then slowly looked down at the key.


Ryou looked up, his eyes widening. "What?"

"No." Bakura clenched his fists, his shoulders tensing. "There's nothing in there that I want. Maybe I did, but not anymore. There's only one treasure in this place that I could ever leave here with and be happy. But-" Bakura snapped his gaze off to the side, his expression painfully torn, "I can't steal you!"

Though he couldn't see Ryou's face, Bakura could almost feel the shock rolling off of him. There was a beat, and then:

"Yes, you can." It was Bakura's turn to stare in surprise as he suddenly found himself with an armful of Ryou.

"Steal me," Ryou whispered into his neck. "Take me away. Anywhere, I don't care as long as I'm with you."

Bakura blinked as all the feelings he'd been repressing thundered through his body. Instinctively, he lifted his arms, pulling the prince closer to him and pressing his face into his hair. "I'm a thief, Ryou. If you leave with me, you won't be able to come back to all of this."

Ryou looked up, met his gaze, and smiled. "I've never fit here. My father is too busy worrying about his riches to talk to me, and my servants have no idea who I am."

"And what about the throne? Aren't you the heir?"

A shrug. "The advisors have been running the country wonderfully since I was born; why shouldn't they keep doing it?" Ryou leaned up and brushed a soft kiss across his lips. "You're stuck with me now, I'm afraid."

Bakura let his signature smirk settle across his features. "I think I can handle that."

"We should go," Ryou said after a moment. "If we wait too long we might not be able to leave."

"As you say," Bakura grabbed Ryou's hand and lifted it to his lips with a wink, "my prince."