Author's notes:

Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh. I also do not own this corrupted society.

Finally, I squeezed something out from my drought of fanfiction writing. For
the better or for the worse, that's for you to decide. This fic was written for
Snare-chan, who challenged me to this very familiar plot suggestion. It is also
dedicated to anyone else who needs a "happiness machine".

Oh, and the story starts in the past, in ancient Egypt. The rest you can pretty
much figure out as you read along. In my eyes, Ryou did NOT exist in ancient
Egypt.

Warnings: Abuse, mild swearing.

*********************************

"…These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye…"
- Wordsworth, "Tinctern Abbey"

*****************************************

The Happiness Machine



It had happened again.

It had been such a wonderful day too. The sky was blue, the day was
warm, and the thieving had been perfect. It had been today that he had struck
the jackpot, stealthily squirming within a sea of rustling bodies until by
chance, an opportunity had hit him.

It was simple too – a twist of his hand and the pocketed gold fell into
his possession. That, and the scatter of his feet scurrying along the desert
ground, ensured his new prized collection.

So now, Bakurah fondled his newly obtained treasure, admiring the
way the sapphire jewel glistened in the center of the gold-encrusted broach. It
compelled him ad lulled him with its exquisite beauty. Never before had the
young scamp seen such magnificence, and never before had he dared to hold
such wonder in his hands. One more glance at the treasure and it was
confirmed – this treasure was _his_ and his only.

Or so he had thought.

The door to the broken-clay rectangular hut slammed open, a
gigantic shadow blocking the only entrance. Bakurah whimpered, hiding the
object under a pair of grubby hands behind his back. The scruffy boy watched
his father pick his way into the room. True, his father had never been
considered large, though in the eyes of a small boy, the full-grown man with a
constant scowl across his reddened face was indeed a frightening sight.
Bakurah whimpered, scuffling to the furthest corners of the tiny room in
attempts to escape his father's piercing glare. A part of him desperately
wished, hoped, prayed that –

-"Give it to me, Bakurah." His father's tone was stern, eyes flickering
emotionlessly.

Bakurah's heart fell as he saw his father extend on hand in
beckoning. He should have known that absolutely _nothing_ could hide from
his father. With reluctant, trembling hands, he pried apart his fingers to reveal
the extravagant broach resting on top of his sweaty palms.

Eyes cold and nondescript, Bakurah's father took the treasure,
hissing with a rare delight at the beauty now trapped within his hands. He
brought the other hand in a gesture to fondle the prize before suddenly
dropping it a delivering a heavy blow against the small face below him.

Totally caught off guard, the blow sent Bakurah collapsing
backwards, head painfully cracking against the wall while his free hand
rubbed his sweltering cheek, now a vicious throbbing red.

"You know why this was your reward?" Bakurah's father stated,
booming voice overwhelming and completely authoritative. He sneered,
watching his son attempt to rise before delivering another throttle right at the
boy's nose. Luckily, Bakurah had enough sense to dodge, though his actions
were painfully slow, and the jarring blow impacted against his jaw with a
painful crack. The white-haired boy's head snapped back in whiplash from the
hit, starts streaking across his vision while tears began to brim threateningly
around his eyes.

"You disobeyed me, and purposely tried to trick me." Bakurah's
father continued to lecture. "Normally, I would have skinned you alive, but
since you're my _son_ and must have some relationship to me, I shall spare
you." The grown man once again glanced fondly at the broach in his hand.
"But next time, I will make death seem like a luxury."

With that, Bakurah's father turned to leave, fingers never releasing
the exquisite treasure in his large hand. Bakurah sighed and watched his father
leave before collapsing into sniveling tears. They trickled shamelessly down
his face, each stain creating a path of ivory-white along the gritty brown
surface.

His cries were suddenly silenced by an ear-splitting crack. Seconds
later, Bakurah gasped, biting his lips to prevent the scream from escaping his
throat. He brought a hand to the right side of his skull, brushing it gently with
his fingers. They fell on wet, matted hair and something moist and warm. The
incredible pain confined with the trickle of ruby-red liquid sliding along his
cheek confirmed the wound.

Bakurah's father now held a whip-like object in his hands. It was
made of worn leather, a barbed spearhead gleaming wickedly at the end. "You
know I can't stand people crying." Was all he said before snapping the whip
in a graceful arc. It sprang to life, suspended in the air, only to disappear in the
blink of an eye.

And unearthly howl of a pain-wracked child proved it otherwise.

Before Bakurah could even attempt to recover or nurse his freshly
gouged wound, it came again, the small, sharp edge digging into an exposed
area of flesh, rapidly extracting itself upon command and spewing messy
globs of deep crimson. There was also a sizable chunk of raw flesh caught in
the now-gleaming hook.

Crack! Another snap of the whip.
Crack! Again.

The impact of such force was an overwhelming sound, breaking the
calm and silent landscape. The impact of the pain became indescribable, the
lone cry echoing across the desert for what seemed like eternity.

However, that was not to be worried about. It was still a wonderful
day, and the person who had lost his precious brooch was currently being
compensated by a fair sum of money.

Yes. Life was good.

**************************************

'Wait here', she had said, before disappearing into the labyrinths of
her house.

Bakurah sulked for a few moments. Waiting did not mean standing in
one place forever! Gratefully, she submerged only a few moments later,
cradling in her hands a strange trinket.

"Look!" She beamed, extending the object in front of Bakurah in
flushed triumph.

The white-haired youth barely flickered his unpreturbed eyes. "So?
It's a wooden doll."

However, she brought the object of sentiment back into her arms,
fondling it in the most appreciated fashion. Upon seeing Bakurah's sigh of
distaste, she cocked her head towards the other. "You don't get it, do you?"

Bakurah sighed again. "Get _what_ Isis?" He rubbed an impatient
finger against his forehead. "I came here to find Malik, not to admire some
wooden doll of yours!"

Isis just shook her head sadly, tsk-tsking. "This doll isn't _just_ a
doll! It's my happiness machine!"

A confused expression spread across the white-haired youth's
features. "A happiness _what_?" Never before had he heard such a peculiar
word.

Isis giggled. "Machine, you silly!"

Bakurah rolled his eyes. "What in Ra is a 'machine'?"

Isis had always been a peculiar girl, gifted with strange dreams often
able to foresee the future. Most of her drams were true – the ones that had
_come_ true, that is. There had also been other dreams, dreams too confusing,
too futuristic, or just too unrealistic to be believes. Those were the drams that
grew into her childish fancies.
"A Machine," Isis giggled, "Is a large object. It doesn't have to be
large, but a lot of the ones I see in my dreams are. They can do spectacular
amounts of work, just like Magic, and can even help affect your mood or
change what your are."

Bakurah snorted. "That's just stupid."

Isis looked slightly hurt. "But you don't understand," She protested,
"One of the greatest powers of these machines is that they can revolutionize
_you_." She hugged her doll closer to her chest. "And though my doll doesn't
nearly come close to such wonder, it _can_ change my feelings. When I'm
sad, hurt, or depressed, I just remember this special doll, and it helps bring me
comfort. Therefore, it is my happiness machine."

"And why are you telling me this?" Bakurah's cynical statement
reflected his disinterest.

Isis pouted. "What you need, Bakurah, is a happiness machine of
your own. Something that when you think of it, will make you happy. It
doesn't even have to be the object itself! Maybe a _part_ of the object makes
you happy, or even doing a specific action to the object makes you happy."

"I don't need one!" Bakurah retorted hotly, though an image
immediately flashed in his mind. It was the most exquisite broach, laden in
pure gold and centered with a perfect sapphire jewel. Just remembering such a
delicacy melted the white-haired youth's heart. The true object had long since
disappeared after the _incident_ though its beautiful memory burned like a
wistful vision in his mind.

"Everyone has a happiness machine." Isis stated. "Though they
might not know it, and surely will not call it a 'machine', it _will_ be a
something that brings that wanted spark of happiness into their lives."

"Maybe I do have a 'happiness machine'", Bakurah finally admitted,
closing his eyes in memory. The jewel shone and glistened within his
imagination, "But it's nowhere as wonderful as you described it to be. I have
yet to see it bring me such pleasure or happiness."

"Well," The dark-haired girl laughed, voice softly melodic, "You just
haven't found the right one yet."

"Yes." Bakurah's tone was clipped, signaling an end to the
conversation. "Maybe I just haven't found it yet."

The beautiful broach glimmered in his mind and filled it with
longing.

*****************************************

"Bastard!" Screeched Bakurah's father, bringing the whip down once
again. The tan leather was now soiled an ugly ochre-brown, though a
current renewed shade of pure scarlet trickled down its side.

Bakurah bit his lip, tasting some blood in his mouth with an
experimental tongue while barely grunting over the inflicted pain. Recently,
he had been plagued with a rash of these beatings. Perhaps it was because his
father had fallen out of favour with the townspeople he traded with, or perhaps
it was the drought of successful thievery.

Whatever the reason was, Bakurah was certain that besides
occasional cases of drunk stupor, his father's only other form of pleasure was
in the beatings. In fact, his father seemed to take pleasure from just _seeing_
Bakurah whimper and cower.

The youth curled into a tighter ball to avoid obtaining any nastier
wounds. He closed his eyes, slowly counting to ten and envisioning a
distraction in his mind.

The broach was more beautiful than ever, and it beckoned with an
eternal light. Yet, the closer Bakurah tried to reach for it, the further it seemed
to disappear until nothing was left of it save a glimmer. Bakurah clenched his
hand into a tight fist. How could such an unattainable object make him happy?

A particularly sharp sting set Bakurah's nerves on fire, the white-
haired youth's eyes cracking wide in surprise. He caught a full view of his
father's greedy eyes, and saw the sparkle in their black-brown orbs.

And it was that moment, gazing into his father's shiny dark eyes, that
he saw his father's true happiness machine.

It was slender and bruised and covered in blood, but still good.

**************************************************


"Ass!" He screeched, cuffing another powerful blow at the other. It
was strange how a single swipe could come hurtling down and so quickly
reduce the other into a whimpering bundle. There was an incredible amount of
self-esteem driven from each blow a reassurance that he _did_ have control;
that he _did_ dictate power. Most of all, it helped him heal the scars and
refurbish his once-shattered confidence. This acknowledgment of power was
the cement that could rebuild the crumbling walls into a colossal fortress.

The object being dealt with was a youth, no older than perhaps
fourteen. The fair-skinned boy sobbed uncontrollably, stuttering an apology.
"P-p-please. I-I'm sorry."

And _he_ growled, enjoying the other's reaction of pure terror. Such
power! Magnificent! "How dare you use your stupid weapons against me!
Don't you know that with the Millennium Ring, I can control every bit of
you?"

The boy being addressed to nodded dumbly.

"Don't you know that I can dictate your reality?" He continued,
pressing the facts. He paused, remembering his past so long ago as the feeble,
helpless Bakurah. Only too late had his past self leant the meaning of power.
But _now_ - now, as a spirit, he had all the time in the world. Enough to
compensate for every scar in the past.

"I'm sorry." The boy apologized again. "But, I didn't know that the
egg beater would hurt you. It wasn't even meant as a weapon! It's _just_ a
harmless machine!"

He growled. "Stupid machines!" He spat out every word as
vehemently as possible, past life filling it with spectated experience. "I _own_
you, Ryou, and when I say 'don't touch', then you do NOT touch it!"

The boy, Ryou, nodded dumbly. "Yes, Yami… Bakura"

True his present name was a mouthful, though it was reminiscent of
his identity in the past. Yami-Bakura sighed. "You're lucky that the
Millennium Ring actually ties our souls together, or else you'll be wishing
you were dead." With that, he extracted a sharp knife from his pocket,
fingering it fondly before sticking it suddenly into Ryou's flesh. He heard the
other gasp helplessly, and he grinned.

In this new world filled with change, life often because confusing,
depressing, and anger-filled. And yet, all Yami-Bakura needed to do was
remember his happiness machine, for that was the promise that filled his
agony with hope.

It was slender and bruised, and currently seeping crimson blood. But
it was still good.


***************************************************

End notes:

I have nothing to say. Flame me, you fools! I want to laugh at your remarks
about an inconsistency within _FANFICTION_!!!

*coughs* Okay… no more cough drops for me. I wrote this while admiring a
blood-orange harvest moon yesterday night. Plus, I'm slightly delirious from a
fever. It might explain some things.