Doesn't everyone just hate it when authors begin a chapter with an apology? Me too! So let's just forget that it's been four and a half months since I updated! Enjoy! Assuming people are still reading this.

Disclaimer: I'm too tired to be witty, I don't own anything. I make no money off this, I just sacrifice my life and soul for fun.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Midday

Almost ready.

The roof has been repaired, new furniture bought. New table, new bed, we even got a new couch since the old one was falling apart. Mariku didn't want to fiddle around with the gas line out here, so we have a junky camping stove for the time being. We've moved most of our stuff back in and rearranged our furniture. Mariku turned the electricity back on. We're almost ready to move back in.

I'm busy sweeping the floor, getting rid of the bugs and dust bunnies that got in during the year no one's lived here. Thankfully Mariku put a tarp over the hole in the roof after it was damaged, so no rain or snow got in. No damaged wood. Which is good, or else Mariku says we would have to replace the entire floor. I lean down and push the broom under the bed and to collect all the filth that has accumulated in the corner. Pulling the broom back, I feel the bristles catch on something. That's odd. I get down on my knees, reaching under the bed and feeling the floor. I hear footsteps coming up beside me.

"What are you doing?" Bakura's socked foot nudges my arm. I don't look up.

"There's something down here, under the bed." My finger catches on a splintered piece of wood. I snatch my hand away automatically, staring into the dark space.

Bakura grabs my hand. "Leave it alone." He says, almost whispering. "Leave it alone for now, I'll tell you what it is later."

I'm confused, but I nod. Bakura quickly turns back to dusting things off, and I pick up my broom again. Mariku hasn't even glanced at us, fiddling with the electronic lock on the door. But he'd hear our conversation, so Bakura and I don't talk.

I'm really curious now. There's a million things Bakura may want to say to me without Mariku overhearing, (anything but the lightest, most vague conversation is 'suspicious' to him) and the questions are just eating at me. What's down there? Why doesn't Bakura was Mariku to hear?

Has it always been there? I've never noticed anything before. But I've never really had a reason to go poking underneath the bed before.

"The fuck do you think you're doing?" Akefia is at the doorway, a box tucked underneath his arm, staring down at Mariku quizzically.

Mariku doesn't turn away from his work or move to let Akefia through. "I'm fixing the lock. The electronic one," he explains. "Trying to keep it working right. It hasn't been used in about a year."

Akefia rolls his eyes and steps around Mariku. "Is it even necessary to have both locks now? I told you, they won't leave. And even if they did they'd have to deal with the other lock, and even if they managed to bypass that, they can't get out of the backyard."

"They could try to get Ryou's attention," Mariku snaps. "Or they could just be outside, say Ryou just happens to see Bakura-what the fuck are you going to tell him, Akefia? Are you going to tell him you're fucking his brother?"

"Never mind." Akefia sighs and puts the box down on the couch. "Come take a look, boys. Something to keep you occupied in here."

We put our cleaning stuff down and run over. Inside the box is Akefia's old Nintendo, which we played pretty much constantly when we were with him. I think it's about as old as we are, but still.

"Haven't you had this forever?" Bakura asks. "Won't Ryou want to play with it?"

"I'll tell Ryou it broke," Akefia says, avoiding Bakura's gaze. "I don't play it anymore, I don't need it. You guys are in here all day with nothing to do. You'll get much more use out of it."

We actually have plenty to do in here, but I'm not about to complain about getting a video game system. "Thank you," I say.

Akefia acts like he doesn't hear me. He's focused on Mariku getting to his feet.

"You're spoiling them."

"What, by giving them something to do besides stare at the wall? They're teenagers who don't go to school, don't leave the house, don't even have friends besides each other-what do you expect them to do their whole lives? Just sit? Watch TV and rot their brains?"

Bakura and I busy ourselves with hooking up the console to the television, the new one that sat in our room before, so we look busy and Mariku and Akefia don't drag us into their fight.

"You baby them. Bakura especially."

"I do the exact opposite of 'babying' them. And even if I do spoil them a little bit, don't you think we owe them that?"

"We don't owe them a goddamn thing!" Mariku roars. He makes a motion with his arm like he's throwing something to the floor, but there's nothing in his hand so he just looks like an idiot. "They're m-ours. They can't leave, we don't have to give them a damn thing if we don't want to."

"There's no arguing with you." Akefia sighs as he pulls out a cell phone and glances at the screen. "I have to go pick Ryou up from the airport. I'm still going to be checking on them, Mariku, so don't think you can get away with anything.

Akefia turns to face us. "Boys, don't be dipshits. Be smart. Avoid pissing off psycho over there." He bends over and kisses the top of Bakura's head. Bakura doesn't react. "I love you, kiddo."

"Whatever."

I wave goodbye as Akefia walks away with a tired look on his face. He does a slight wave back, but he doesn't smile. Mariku glares at his back as he leaves.

"Well, didn't you two have such a lovely vacation with Mr. Stick-Up-His-Ass." He rolls his eyes, shutting the door. "But vacation is over. Time to get back to work."

"You really can't think of a better nickname for him? That's really the best you can come up with?" Bakura says with a bored expression on his face. I try to motion for him to shut his mouth without Mariku seeing, but Bakura doesn't notice.

Mariku sits down on our bed, turning to us with a fake smile. "You're so clever now, Bakura! Come over here, let me show you exactly what I think of your cleverness."

The smile drops off his face as he grabs the broom I abandoned earlier. Bakura visibly pales. Mariku growls. "Now."

Shakily, Bakura gets to his feet. I silently watch as Bakura crosses the room and stands in front of Mariku, who runs his eyes up and down Bakura's body for almost a minute before lunging. He grabs Bakura by his shirt collar and immediately begins hitting him with the broom handle. Bakura yells out once, but then he shuts his eyes and doesn't utter a sound. Mariku keeps hitting Bakura for what seems like hours, though I'm sure it's maybe a minute or two. Time seems to slow down as I watch Mariku hurt my best friend. Finally, he drops the broom and whips Bakura around, onto our bed. I get to my feet, thinking the punishment is over. Maybe there will be sex, for one or both of us, but for now, the beating is over.

Then Mariku picks up a pillow. Spreads his hand over Bakura's chest and puts the pillow over his face.

I'm across the room in a heartbeat. Bakura is struggling, his hands grasping Mariku's forearm and attempting to push it away, but Mariku doesn't budge. I grab the pillow and attempt to pull it away. Mariku immediately raises his arm, taking the pillow off Bakura's face, thankfully, and slams his fist down on the top of my head so hard I see stars.

I'm staring at the ceiling. I'm on the ground, my head hurting like a bitch. Mariku hovers above me.

"What the fuck was that?" he spits. I blink. Mariku seizes me by my hair and pulls me up. "Don't you remember what I told you? You are not allowed to interfere with anything I plan for him. I'm the boss here. Not you, not him, and certainly not Uncle Fancy-Pants over there."

He pushes me away, but not hard enough to make me fall over. I open my mouth to apologize, but nothing comes out. I don't care if he hurt me, I don't care if he yelled at me. I'm not sorry I helped Bakura.

Mariku grabs Bakura by his wrist and pulls him to the top of the bed, rooting around his pocket for something. "Thought these would come in handy today…" he mumbles as he pulls a pair of silver handcuffs out. My eyes go wide, but I resist the urge to grab them out of his hand. We might be okay, if we can avoid pissing him off again.

Bakura is still as Mariku cuffs his hands to the headboard. I can't see his face, so I can't tell if he's scared or not. I stand there, unsure if I'm supposed to watch them have sex or ignore them. Then Mariku turns to me and hands me the pillow. "It's your turn."

I don't even think, the word just spills out of my mouth. "No."

Mariku slaps me, but I hardly feel it. "You'll do it. You're going to put it over his face and you're not going to take it away until or if I say it's okay."

My fingers wrap around the pillow without me telling them to. A tear slips down my cheek. "I don't want to hurt him."

"You will. You will if I say so."

I get up onto the bed, but I don't look at Bakura's face. "Will you let me take it away before I…before…"

"I won't let you do anything. I tell you what to do."

I position myself over Bakura's body, one knee on each side of his torso. He stares up at me almost blankly, and more tears fall from my eyes. I position the pillow above his face, wondering if he'll be dead when I take it away.

"Do it," Mariku commands.

I thrust it down. Bakura is still for a while, but soon he starts almost convulsing, trying to push me off. My tears drip down my face and onto the pillow below me. I can't do this. I can't do this to him.

"Okay. You can take it off."

I snatch the pillow away. Bakura immediately begins gasping for air, heaving a bit. I resist the urge to hug him, I want to wait until he recovers. I barely even put the pillow down when I hear Mariku's voice. "Alright, do it again."

My head whips sideways, more protests coming to my lips, when Mariku thrusts the pillow back into my hands. "Argue with me again and I'll lock you both in here and set the place on fire."

I'd actually prefer that. I'd hold Bakura, cover his body with my own and pray that I'd be burned to death before I had to see Bakura suffer. But Mariku may not have me kill Bakura. He might. I hope not.

Bakura is still breathing hard when I put the pillow back over his face. This time, he begins fighting back right away. I lean into him and hope he's not actually strong enough to throw me off, because Mariku will surely make me kill him then.

"Okay." I take it off, hope this is it. But I know it isn't. Bakura barely gets a few gasps in before Mariku commands "Again."

It goes on forever. I probably put that pillow over Bakura's face and take it away dozens of time. It feels like millions. I don't stop crying. Mariku just watches with an impassive expression on his face, silent save for the chorus of "Okay"'s and "Again"'s he utters right before Bakura can't fight anymore or can fully catch his breath.

Finally, I take the pillow away and Mariku never tells me to put it back. My hands tremble as I set the pillow down, Bakura heaving and choking below me. Mariku's fingers dig into my hair. His lips touch my temple. "Good boy."

He unlocks Bakura's handcuffs, kissing his forehead and whispering something similar into his ear. Then he stands up.

"Well, I was planning to fuck one of you, but I'm not really horny anymore. I think you both got uglier living with that asshole." He yawns, getting to his feet. "I'll probably be back later tonight. Shave your legs, wash your hair. We got a lot of work to do."

Mariku leaves us then. Walks out the door, slams it behind us. Turns the key in the lock. Types in the secret code into the electronic lock. Beep-beep. We're locked in again.

Bakura is still heaving, turned onto his side and curled up into a ball. I press my hand to his forehead. "Are you okay? Do you need a glass of water, or…"

"Bathroom," he whispers. "Get me to the bathroom."

I try to carry him, but he's Bakura and he refuses to be carried. He leans against me as I lead him to the tiny bathroom and flip the toilet seat up. Bakura drops to his knees and begins retching. I hold his hair back as he vomits, rubbing his back. When he's done, he braces himself against the toilet and breathes hard.

"Can I do something for you?"

"Leave me alone."

"…What?"

He sighs. "Leave me alone. Please. I want to take a bath."

"I can draw it for you." I get to my feet and turn the bathwater on. It comes out a little brown at first, but then it begins to run clear and I plug up the drain. I watch the tub fill up slowly, testing it a few times to make sure it's not too hot for him. When it gets pretty full, I turn the water off and return to Bakura. He's still kneeling by the toilet. "Do you want me to help you undress?"

"I want you to leave me alone. I can't look at you right now."

"I'm sorry."

"It wasn't your fault." He takes a deep breath. "It wasn't. But I can't be around you right now. Please, just go away."

"I love you."

"I know. Go away."

I do. I'm scared. Bakura's unstable, I'm afraid he'll hurt himself. But what can I do? If I insist on staying with him, he'll just get angry. More upset. And I understand why he doesn't want to be around me right now. I was the one playing with his life. Mariku made me, but I chose to obey. My choice. My hands.

It seems like the shed is smaller now. My hip smacks the arm of the couch as walk out of the bathroom. We rearranged a few pieces of furniture, so now our seldom-used desk is pushed up against the back wall, with our new TV set up against the wall to my right and our second-hand loveseat sitting across from the television with its back to the rest of the shed. It's such a small little area, Bakura and I can barely both fit on the floor at once. Our thin, tall chest of drawers sits in between our desk and the foot of our bed, which takes up more room than I remember. The adjacent wall only has enough space for the width of our bed, our bookcase, and our crappy stove. Our table is in the middle of the main area, there's really hardly any space to walk around it without bumping into the counters. I remember this place as being bigger. But I guess it was bigger before, to me. I was smaller in comparison.

I'm so big now. Not huge, not like Mariku, but I'm getting taller. And bulkier. I'm noticing my shoulders broadening. And I'm stronger than I was before, stronger than I think. I know I can overpower Bakura easily, which I'm not really comfortable with. I don't want to say Bakura's defenseless, because he's Bakura, but he…he's still small. He's gotten bigger, yes, but not to the same degree that I have. I know, if I wanted to, I could really hurt him and there wouldn't be much Bakura could do about it. I don't want to, but I know I get angry. Sometimes I can't help but lash out at him, and I'm afraid that I'll get physical more often, hurt him badly on accident. Mainly, I'm terrified Mariku will make me use my strength to hurt him. I don't want to see Bakura hurt at all, but I especially don't want to know it was my hands that hurt him. I don't want him to see me that way.

I don't want Bakura to be afraid or me, or hate me. I didn't want to hold that pillow over his face.

It's not that late, but my stomach growls. I should make dinner for me and Bakura. I wish I could make steak, since that's Bakura's favorite food. But Mariku would never buy steak for us, and I don't know how to prepare it anyway. I look in the freezer, but we don't even have hamburgers or any kind of meat. I settle on spaghetti. It's probably Bakura's favorite non-meat food, and it's easy to make. I start cooking right away.

Later on, Bakura comes out of the bathroom stark naked except for a towel on his head. He folds his arms and stares at me. "What are you doing?"

"Making spaghetti for dinner. We don't have meat sauce, sorry."

"It's okay. Spaghetti's good."

"What's with the towel?"

He touches it, his eyes rolling up to stare like he forgot it was there. "I have a lot of hair and it's annoying to let it dry."

"No, but how did you figure out how to do that thing with the towel? My sister did it all the time and it seemed like witchcraft to me."

The corners of his mouth twitch upwards, but he doesn't laugh. "I don't know, I guess I just remember watching my mom do it."

I smile to myself. He doesn't seem mad at me, at least.

Dinner is finished almost as soon as Bakura gets dressed in his pajamas. We eat in silence, not bothering to turn our old television on the counter on. Bakura smiles a bit, responds when I talk to him, even makes eye contact. But I notice he flinches when our hands accidentally touch.

He's busy washing the dishes while I put the leftover spaghetti in a container to heat up later. I sneak up behind him and wrap my arms around his waist. Bakura stops what he's doing, but he doesn't push me away. I rest my chin on his shoulder. "I don't want you to hate me."

Bakura steps away and turns to me. "I don't hate you."

"You don't now. You will if I keep hurting you like this."

"What happened wasn't your fault." He dries his hands on a towel. "Mariku's just insane. I don't blame you."

"I do. There's a million things I could have done differently that wouldn't have made him do that." I play with a lock of his hair. "I could have gotten you out of here. We could have been free."

Bakura's silent for a long moment. He stares at the floor, focused on something I can't see. Then he speaks softly. "Follow me."

Bakura leads me out of the bathroom, past the couch and table and to our bed. I expect him to get down and look under the bed, where the weird thing in the floor is, but he just sits and leans his back against the bed. I do the same. He stares off into the distance for so long I wonder if he's forgotten I'm here, but then his mouth opens and he begins talking again. "I tried to escape."

The air whooshes out of me. "What?"

He turns to me and smiles sadly. "A few times, actually. When I first got here, when I was seven years old. I hated it here. I told my Uncle every day I wanted to go home, or at least somewhere away from Mariku. He told me all the time that he was going to take me away and keep me for himself, and I was actually okay with that. Back then, at least. I think Mariku was getting really violent with me, I don't really remember. He would refuse to feed me for weeks at a time because I was getting bigger, I remember he would destroy some of my toys and books when he got angry, which was pretty much whenever I cried in front of him or didn't perform well enough in bed. I hated him." He laughs a little. "In a different way than I hate him now, at least."

I blink. I don't want to think about this. I don't want to think about these things happening to Bakura so young. When I was seven, I was practicing my letters and playing hopscotch at school. I had a Power Ranger backpack. Rishid still referred to me as his 'baby brother.' And Bakura was already having sex. Kinky sex, and giving blowjobs. That was his entire life at seven years old. I don't want to think about it, but I know I have to. Because it's what happened.

"Anyway, I got frustrated with my Uncle after a while, when it was obvious he wasn't actually going to save me from Mariku. I came up with the brilliant plan to escape from here." He laughs again, for real this time.

"What did you do?" I ask. Bakura and I came up with our own escape plan together, I don't know how effective he was alone.

"First," he points at the door. "I tried just picking the lock. I'd seen it done in movies, but all I had was a tooth I snapped off my comb, and I was fucking seven, so it worked about as well as you'd expect. I worked on that for a couple days before I gave up."

He closes his eyes and swallows. I watch as he breathes slowly, in and out, until he opens his eyes again and motions towards the window on our right, above our bookcase.

"I went for the window next. I thought the glass would be easy to break if I was using something other than my fists, right? No, Mariku replaced the original windows with polycarbonate ones, and had them tinted so you couldn't see in. You can't break windows like that, at least not when you're seven." He rolls his eyes. "I tried busting it down with a broom. When I figured out that wasn't going to work, I took a butter knife and tried to actually cut the pane away from the wall. I don't think I made any progress there, but my Uncle somehow figured out I was fiddling with it and freaked out. Maybe he walked in on me working on it? I don't remember. Anyway, that's why we have bars on our windows now. Extra precaution."

I always sort of wondered what was up with that. Bakura explained to me a long time ago what polycarbonate was, and how our windows were virtually indestructible because of it. Why we would require bars on our windows as well, no idea. I would have never thought of trying to remove the glass after finding out it couldn't be broken. I don't know if it would have even been possible, but I'm really impressed with Bakura for thinking of it. Especially when he was so young.

"Did you try anything else?" I ask. I'm actually fascinated. I didn't think Bakura bothered to try and escape before I got here, he's never mentioned it before. I wonder, if I was the one here first, would I have tried to escape? I want to say I would, but I think I probably would have been too scared. Either way, I wouldn't have thought of half the stuff Bakura tried. He's so much smarter than I give him credit for.

"Oh yeah. I was really stupid." He laughs. "So I decided to just wait until Mariku or Akefia opened the door, and then I'd just run out, right? How well do you think that worked out?"

"Not well," I say. Bakura rolls his eyes.

"I think my feet touched the grass. Then Mariku pulled me back in. I don't know where I was planning to go once I got outside, I couldn't climb the fence fast enough to get away from Mariku. Anyway, Mariku was so fucking pissed. He beat the shit out of me, and then he made me take these drugs that gave me hallucinations. They were about the most terrifying fucking thing I've ever experienced. That's when I started seeing that blue lady and stuff. Mariku just sat and laughed at me while I cried at all the shit I was seeing. It was horrible."

"What was the drug called?"

"I don't remember. Some letters that didn't make sense, I think. Anyway, he tried to keep me tied up whenever I was alone, but my uncle got pissed off at him. Said it was needlessly cruel to deny me movement. And of course I tried escaping in dumb ways again." He laughs again, loudly. "God, I almost forgot I did all this. I was such a stupid kid."

"What did you do?" I ask. Bakura wasn't stupid, I wouldn't have thought of any of this.

"Oh, god. I tried…" He shakes his head. "I tried attacking one of them."

"What?"

"Yep. I was this little seven-year-old, less than four feet tall. I weighed about fifty pounds, probably less than that actually. And I thought I could take one of them." He rolls his eyes and points to the counter. "There was no refrigerator then, I squatted on the counter with a plate in my hand, waiting for someone to come in."

"A…plate?"

"I was thinking of those shows where they hit people in the head with frying pans. I didn't have a frying pan, so I used a plate."

"Strange logic."

"I know. Like I said, I was an idiot. In hindsight, I should have used the lid on top of the toilet tank, since that's probably the heaviest thing in here that can be swung around easily. But anyway." He clears his throat. "The door opened, and I actually jumped off the counter. Tried to smash the plate over his head. And I did. It broke, and it didn't do a whole lot. It turned out to be my uncle-thank god it was my uncle-and he flipped his shit. Gave me the worst beating I ever got from him. I won't go into details, but it was pretty damn bad. Though I probably would have been killed if it were Mariku I attacked. He kept telling me that. He told me for the longest time that I had to respect Mariku and make him happy so Mariku wouldn't have a reason to hurt me. Fuck. Are you starting to understand why I hate him so much?"

I nod, even though I don't understand. Akefia was really just trying to keep Bakura safe from Mariku. Mariku would have hurt Bakura if Bakura attacked him, so Akefia discouraged it. I think that's the reasoning behind all of Akefia's punishments, actually. I've always hated them because I don't want Bakura getting hurt. But Akefia is actually trying to prevent Bakura from getting really hurt. To be perfectly honest, I wish I had it in me to do the same. But I'm just too afraid of the possibility of Bakura hating me.

"Did you try anything else?" I ask, genuinely curious.

Bakura bites his lip. "Yeah. Come look at this."

He turns over onto his stomach, facing the bed. "This is what you were asking about earlier," he says, extending his hand into the space underneath the bed. "Put your hand here. Do you feel that?"

I feel around under the bed, stopping when I get to the strange sharp part. The floor actually goes down a bit, abruptly.

"After my uncle got mad at me, I knew I couldn't…I couldn't let them know, I guess is what I'm trying to say. I was going to have to be far away from here before they figured out I was gone, or I just wasn't going to make in. I couldn't get out the door, I couldn't break the windows. So I tried to dig a hole."

"A…hole?"

"A hole." He smiles a bit. "I was thinking of some cartoon, maybe it was Loony Tunes. Where the main character digs a hole and ends up someplace else. I thought if I could just get through the floor, I could dig down a few feet with a spoon and dig below the wall. I could come up on the other side and find a way out of the backyard when my uncle and Mariku were sleeping. It would take a while, but it's not like I had anything better to do. It was either do this or just wait around to be rescued, which obviously never happened."

"Why didn't this work?" Really, why? Obviously it would have taken a super long time to dig a hole out of this place, maybe even weeks or months, but Bakura doesn't give up easily. Why wouldn't that have worked?

"Feel the hole again." Bakura guides my hand, and I touch the bottom of Bakura's attempted hole. There's something smooth and metal at the bottom, sort of tube-like. "Mariku told me about how he built this place. It was just a normal wooden garden shed beforehand, you know. When he and my uncle decided to kidnap me, they basically redid the whole place so it would be inescapable. They put in insulation foam, obviously, so I wouldn't freeze my ass off in here. Then they put in some sort of noise cancelling stuff, for obvious reasons. But then they hid a chain link fence in the walls, the flooring, even the ceiling. So I couldn't break out. It's impossible."

I'm silent. I didn't know any of this. Truthfully, I know nothing about how Mariku and Akefia decided this for us, how they really prepared for us and got us here. I know nothing of Bakura's four and a half years here alone. I've been here for two years and I know nothing.

"When Mariku found out," Bakura grimaces. "he laughed. He laughed so loudly for so long, he was just howling at one point. I was crying and that just made him laugh harder. I never hated him more than I did right then."

"Is that it?" I ask, trying to distract myself. "Did you try anything else?"

Bakura flops down on his back, staring at the ceiling. "I thought about a few other things. But the hole thing, that happened over a year after I got here, and-"

"It took you a year to do all this?"

"They kept me tied up for so long, Marik. Whenever one of them wasn't in here with me, I was chained to the bed. Fuck, I was pretty much only allowed to stand when I used the bathroom, I ate and had sex in that fucking bed and that was all I was good for."

I keep my mouth shut. Bakura continues ranting, making angry hand gestures at the furniture.

"Even when they started letting me run around here with just a pair of handcuffs, I had been doing nothing but laying in bed for months and I had shit muscles, I couldn't even walk to the bathroom without assistance because my legs couldn't hold me up. It was probably summer by the time I could actually do anything with myself."

He closes his eyes. "After the hole thing, I kept looking out for different ways to escape. Then it was Christmas. Uncle told me the day after Christmas that my mom and my sister died, they actually died on Christmas Eve, but he wanted me to have a happy Christmas so he waited until the day after to tell me. I sort of shut down for a few weeks, I didn't want to do anything. Then Uncle told me my dad was moving back to England with my brother because they didn't want to have to live with the memories. I think my dad thought America was evil too, but I guess I'll never know now. After that…I don't know. I gave up. I didn't see a point in getting out. I was as good as dead. No one cared about the truth anymore. I just…I gave up. I stayed. I didn't have anything to fight for anymore."

I want to understand Bakura. I want to say I know what he went through, that I know that feeling of hopelessness. And the strange thing…I do. I've felt it, felt that neutrality towards life and death. I've felt that emptiness that makes you think that there's nothing in the world that'll make you feel okay again. I've gotten glimpses of that emotion a few times since I came here, but I've only felt it full-force once. When Mariku told me Bakura was dead. Those few days where I thought Bakura was in the ground and never coming back to me. My entire world stopped for him. I didn't want to fight for anything then. I didn't care.

Part of me wants to be angry at Bakura for giving up, not because he could have gotten free but because I know his family must still wish for him to come back to them, that they still love him. But I know what he feels too well. Bakura fought for his family. I fight for Bakura.

It's why I get angry at him so easily, why his abuse affects me more than my own. If I was in Bakura's place, if I believed I lost the only thing I considered important in my life…I'd give up too. I already did.

"You…" I bite my lip, not wanting to say what's really on my mind. He'd probably just be angry. "You're so smart," I say lamely.

Bakura chuckles. "I had to be smart in here. I still do. When I first got here, I practically turned back into a toddler. I could hardly walk, barely managed to feed myself. I couldn't even control my bladder, I wet the bed a ridiculous amount for a seven-year-old. I barely had issues with that as an actual toddler! Uncle said I was suffering from physical developmental regression because of my living conditions, it's the real reason I was allowed to get out of bed and start to take care of myself. I was so…weak and helpless. I still am. There's absolutely nothing I can do about being weaker than them, nothing either of us can do." He sits up again, turning to look at me. "Marik, we have to be smart in here because we literally can't afford to be dumb. I mean…look at what Mariku did to me today." He sticks out his arm. Bruises are already beginning to appear on his skin. "I was stupid today. I made fun of Mariku when I knew he might now take it well. He didn't, and look what he did to me because of it!"

I did it to him too, but he doesn't mention this.

"We have to be smart. If we aren't, we can't take care of ourselves." Bakura says quietly.

I bite my lip. I don't say anything. I understand what Bakura is telling me, but I don't know if I agree with him or not. Being smarter than Mariku can't save us all the time. He's too crazy. Too unpredictable.

"Anyway, Mariku told us both to get ready for him tonight." Bakura gets to his feet. "I already shaved and everything, you might want to do that."

He starts walking away as I get up, walking towards the bathroom again. Probably to finish washing the dishes.

I reach out and grab his arm. Pull him back to me. I wrap my arms around him and inhale his clean scent.

I can't survive without Bakura. And I can't protect him here. But I know I can't escape from this place, I can't get Bakura to safety. I'm just going to have to do the best I can. I don't know what I'll do if I fail. I pray I never have to find out.


Soooo it's been a really long time, hasn't it? Ack, I'm sorry. I did have an honest-to-god excuse at first. My computer got randomly really slow and non-functional for a while, and then it died. I was completely without a computer for about two weeks. And then it was finals time when I got it back, plus I had two weeks worth of late assignments to do (because nothing can be done without a computer now) so I couldn't do anything then. And then it was Christmas break and I was lazy. Then I got back to school and I...had no ambition. For anything. Seriously, the past couple weeks I've been sleeping for fourteen hours a day and barely eating because I just have no energy to do anything constructive. I did play Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines and Fallout 3 (LK does a good job of advertising video games, they looked like such fun!) and a bit of Skyrim during this unannounced hiatus, as well as watch Attack on Titan. Been fun, a good distraction from how my life is crashing and burning. But anyway.

I hope this chapter is better than previous ones. They've been sort of-okay, REALLY sucking lately. But we get more Bakura storytime here. Also, I love Mariku pointing out that Akefia totally spoils Bakura. Of course, he feels ultra-guilty that he's condemned his nephew to a life of sexual slavery and abuse, so he basically just gives Bakura whatever the fuck he wants to make up for it. Bakura knows this, and since he's a little shit he exploits this by bringing up the abuse whenever he wants something. I don't get why Bakura's always portrayed as some charismatic, fancy-talking dominant person, that's Marik. :D Bakura is some little rebellious shit who likes being a dick to people. I love them both. Other things related to the actual story, (that's all this A/N gets, one paragraph related to the actual story) is anyone picking up on these smaller plot points I drop hints about? There's several things I've hinted at going on, some/most of them aren't going to be important in any way, but they're interesting and you'll earn a gold star if you guess right.

Okay, I'd like to say something really important here. I'm sorry, but people have been like...really fucking abusive towards me. Not even just with the accusations of pedophilia and such, though that was bad enough. For one thing, I know I've been absolutely horrible with updates lately. And I'm sorry, I honestly feel bad about making everyone wait. But let's get something straight. I make no money off this. I don't get graded on it. Literally the only thing I get out of writing this is reviews, (not to pressure anyone) and as much as I love my reviewers, writing a few sentences to me does not give you control over my life. Don't demand I get things done by a certain time. You are not my editor, unless you're paying me you have no right to give me deadlines.

Speaking of demands, I'm getting really fucking sick of people demanding I put things in this story. Not just suggestions, which I'm now regretting asking for, but straight up demands to do certain things or even to end the story fast because apparently people can't read ratings or summaries and thought this was going to be a happy story. Yeah, don't demand shit from me, again, you aren't my editor. Also, to all the people telling me to hurry up with more porn-I'm really regretting putting in the graphic sex scenes now. I really don't care if people are getting shipping feels from this, but for the love of god, I am not writing this to get you off. And this one's not really related to people demanding shit from me, but this is the paragraph where I bitch, so I'll bitch some more. Please quit asking me why they don't just leave. If you've actually been reading, it should be fairly apparent at this point in time, and if you're still wondering, just google Stockholm Syndrome. I'm about ready to put a link to the Wikipedia entry up on my profile, I seriously get at least two people asking me every time I post a chapter and it's really tiresome to explain the same concept over and over. Alright, I'm done being a bitch now.

Okay, happier things! I'm pretty sure almost everyone stopped reading this fanfic anyway, but assuming there are still a few people, I'll clue you in on what's to come. I have like, no idea how much longer this will be. I know what's going to happen, I just don't know how long it's going to end up. Especially don't know how long it'll take. Oh well. The longest fanfic I've read was a Danny Phantom fanfic that was about 85 chapters, almost 2 million words...so I suppose as long as I don't surpass that, I'm okay!

But seriously, can some of you let me know you're still reading this? Because with some of you, I really don't know, and it makes me sad.

Alright, this embarrassingly long A/N is over now. Review, pretty please!

-Fai