New pen name, same story. Anyway...

The Blue Heart Event is my favorite. I don't know. It just is. Expect fewer changes. Oh, and a bit of side-plot. I like side-plot. Didn't think this short little story would have one, but it does. Makes me happy.

Days passed, but Ryou never forgot the feel of Bakura's kiss. No matter how hard he tried, throwing himself into his fall crops, rescuing as many sprites as he could, and even doing some fishing, he couldn't get it out of his mind.

It was so bad that he worried that people were noticing. They didn't quite figure out what was wrong, but several of Ryou's friends around town were starting to notice that something about him was... off.

Flora had said he seemed distracted, and was he working too hard lately? She mentioned that Carter sometimes looked like that after he spent too much time down in the mines with her. She said that a home-cooked meal always seemed to make him better, although in a bit of an unorthodox way- she admitted she wasn't much of a cook, and that it was mostly threatening to make him eat it that seemed to bring some life back into him.

Ryou had smiled a little bit at that, only for Flora to offer to cook for him, too. He had declined as nicely as he could, embarrassed and flustered as ever, which had made his friend laugh. Flora said that it had worked, and there was a bit of his old spark in his eyes. Ryou forced himself to laugh and thanked her heartily, but as he left her that day, it was with a sinking feeling in his gut. It had worked because it had served as a distraction. Flora wasn't just bad at cooking, she was actually quite terrible. Of course it had taken his mind off of that kiss.

But not only that. Ryou had spent the time walking home doing some thinking about it, and realized that, if Carter was acting like Ryou was, maybe he suffered from the same malady- a confused and nervous heart. There was a look that Carter got when he thought no one could see him, a look that Ryou only ever saw directed toward Flora. A look Ryou suspected rested on his own face when he looked at Bakura, despite his best attempts. A sign of fluttering hearts and sweaty palms, nervousness and straying thoughts.

The question was, though- was he correct? Perhaps if Carter knew what Ryou was going through, he could help explain it. Carter was older, wiser, and more of an adult than Ryou. Surely he could clarify the situation. Yes, he could! It was an excellent idea, Ryou realized. Who better to talk to than someone who would know more about it than him?

This would be perfect. He could just drop by tomorrow morning before they headed up to the dig site, try to catch Carter on his way in, or just ask to speak to him away from Flora. It wouldn't be difficult. And he had been hoping to find something truly wonderful in the mines for a while now. Mostly he found small coins and such that weren't worth much, but made Carter grateful all the same. It would be nice to dig up a necklace or bracelet from times gone by, like the other two did every now and again.

The morning after, he woke up as early as usual and dressed in clothes that he didn't mind getting a bit dirty. After doing his chores, caring for his chickens and a small calf he had just bought recently as well as watering his fall crops, he headed up to the mines to talk to Carter. To his surprise, they weren't there. Strange. Usually they started early in the morning so they could retire early when it started to get late. Were they still in the tent?

He walked over carefully, hearing a conversation that grew clearer the closer he got. Concern grew within him, reaching a tipping point when he heard one of them mention 'Bakura' in a disgusted tone. He froze but forced himself to knock on the door support before he could chicken out.

The tent opened, and Carter's head stuck out. His hair was as disheveled as always, perhaps more so, and there was an anxious look to him. His expression brightened when he saw Ryou. " Ryou! You came at a good time."

"Why? What is it?" he asked.

Flora frowned, holding up a sheet of paper. Bakura's handwriting glossed across the page in ink so black it looked freshly written. "A note came from that thief, Bakura." Carter took the note and held it under a pair of what looked like reading glasses that sat on a table nearby.

"'At midnight, I'll be helping myself to the valuables in your tent. Thief King Bakura.' That two-bit, good-for-nothing snake-in-the-grass of a thief," Carter growled.

"We'll be set back for days if he takes our artifacts," Flora worried to herself. "It's one thing to let good people like you take the things you find home after we document them, but it's another for some thief to take them before we ever get the chance!"

Carter was silent, stroking his chin thoughtfully before finally speaking. "Not to worry, Flora, I have a plan. Ryou, if you lend us a hand, we can catch that thief! What do you say?"

Ryou was sure his expression was one to behold, and arranged it into a better controlled mask with more effort that should have been necessary. "Yes!" he said, perhaps a little too emphatically. "I mean, of course I'll help."

"Thank you, Ryou. Thank you so much!" Flora said. She smiled first at him, and then at Carter. Her grin lingered on him for a second longer than it did on Ryou. Carter just laughed and clapped a hand on Ryou's shoulder.

"Glad to hear it! We'll be waiting in the tent when the time comes. Come see us between 10 and 12 tonight. That's probably when he'll strike. Think you can manage that?" Carter asked.

Ryou nodded. The two started to leave the tent, but he grabbed Carter's sleeve and tugged. "Wait," he said. Carter paused and turned. "I- I wanted to ask you something. But I didn't want to say it with Flora around."

"What is it? Is there something wrong?"

Ryou glanced at the floor. "Nothing's wrong, I guess, just... confusing. I wanted to ask you- I mean, if it isn't too much to ask, as in too personal-"

"Just spit it out, my boy," Carter said.

And though Ryou was sure he knew the answer already, he just had to ask. "What does it mean if your heart is jumpy when you're with someone, like it's trying to jump out of your chest however possible? Your palms get hot, and you don't know what to say most of the time. And when you do think of the words, they're always the exact wrong ones, like your brain isn't working anymore- it's shorted out? I thought- I thought I'd ask you, because it looked like, well, I mean to say that it seemed like you would know what I was talking about."

Carter grinned. "I get it. Who's the lucky lady? No, don't tell me, is it... oh, wow, I don't even know!" he laughed. "You came to the right place me, I know a thing or two about love."

"Is that- is it love? Just, what does it mean? The feelings are... strange. I don't know why I get them, and I shouldn't, but I- I do-"

"Ryou, relax, it's perfectly normal. Everyone eventually finds someone who makes them feel, hmmm, what's the word? Right. Yes, right. The best part about love is that it can quite literally come from where you least expect it. I personally- well, now really isn't the time for that!" he chuckled loudly. "But what I'm saying is that, if you think that these feeling are love, and trust me, you'll know when they are, then things will work themselves out eventually, especially if your lucky little lady feels the same way," he added with a wink. "By the way, do I get a name? A hint? Who is the beautiful girl who stole your heart?"

Ryou blushed crimson. "I- I'd rather not say. I'm not- I mean, I don't think-"

"Oh, don't worry about it, I'm just teasing. You don't have to say. As long as it isn't Flora of course!" he laughed, then eyed Ryou. "It isn't Flora, is it?"

"No! She's a friend, but just that. I know you like her anyway. It's why I thought to ask you."

Carter grinned. "Good. Glad we're on the same page. Oh, and tell me, if you find an old ring lying around the mines, think you could give it to me and not Flora? I've been looking for one that fell out of my pocket for a while now. Rather you find it than someone else, if you know what I mean!"

"Yes, I will," Ryou promised. "Thank you."

"Not a problem, my boy! Glad I could help. Least I could do after you agreed to help on such short notice."

The tent flap opened, and Flora's head poked through. "Carter, you coming?" she asked, head canted slightly to the side and skewing her blond hair across her face in a way she didn't seem to notice. A faint, lovestruck look glanced across Carter's face, and Ryou struggled to quell a tiny smile.

"Right away, Flora!" he said. He hurried out of the tent to follow her, leaving Ryou alone. He picked up the discarded letter from the table it had been placed on. He couldn't help but notice how nice the handwriting looked. The pen must have cost him, or whomever he happened to steal it from, a pretty penny. Ryou wasn't quite sure why, but the thought made him feel strange. Bad as stealing was, he had to admit, Bakura was confident. The kind of confident Ryou wished he could be. The kind of confident that didn't fear what others thought and did and was willing to do whatever it wanted just because it could.

It was bad, so very bad. Bakura was a thief. Bakura was a guy. It was completely, impossibly bad for him to think about someone like Bakura. And, in a sick way, just a little bit good.

"Thanks for coming. That thief isn't here yet. We'll have to wait a bit longer," Carter said when Ryou showed up that evening, the little watch on his wrist proclaiming the time to be five past ten.

Ryou nodded. He wasn't sure how long they would have to wait, but if he knew one thing, it was that it would be just when they least expected. He sighed. Bakura was certainly good at what he did. He cast his eyes around the tent in curiosity. Many of the artifacts in here were found long before Ryou had ever moved to this valley. They were interesting, and he always enjoyed looking at them.

"Fascinating, aren't they?" Carter asked.

"Yes, very," Ryou agreed. "What is that?"

"That's a dress made by one of my ancestors. It doesn't look much like a dress anymore, though, does it?" he said with a hearty laugh. "It's all rotting lace and ripped embroidery now. But it was beautiful once, wasn't it, Flora?"

"Yes, very. I made a sketch of what I thought it would look like. It's on the wall there," Flora said, pointing.

Ryou turned and smiled. It was just a doodle with a bit of shading and color, rough but showing promise, of a very old dress with a ruffled collar. The paper was wrinkled slightly and the corner was torn, but other than that, it was in excellent condition. "It's fantastic," he said. "I didn't know you could draw."

"Oh, I'm not that good," Flora said, looking embarrassed.

"Nonsense, you're excellent," Carter said.

Flora smiled appreciatively, until her eyes landed on a stately, old clock that was on a table. "Thief King Bakura still hasn't shown up. Maybe he forgot about the note he sent," she said, thumbing her chin.

Carter's eyes shifted along the artifacts in silence for a moment before he lurched upright, eyes wide. "That dirty thief!" he said, looking furious. Ryou blinked, not catching on. Flora seemed equally confused. "He could be stealing goods from the dig site at this very moment! Let's move, Flora! Ryou, we need you to stay here just in case!"

"Got it," Ryou said. The two ran from the tent.

"I was wondering when they'd leave."

Ryou jumped, then winced when he realized that Bakura had, once again, caught him by surprise. He almost decided that he needed to get used to that and stop jumping every time Bakura caught him unawares, but that, of course, that implied that he planned on meeting Bakura more in the future.

"You know, I had a feeling we'd meet tonight," Bakura drawled, stalking into the tent. Ryou turned around, cowering slightly. Bakura caught the gesture and grinned. "Don't be nervous. I won't use my magic here. I sent a note today, but I'm not here to steal anything. I came to see you, Ryou. Ryou," he repeated, seeming to savor the way that the word rolled off his tongue.

Ryou caught a flash of teeth between his lips.

"And I was hoping you'd spend some time with me. Don't look at me like that. I think you'll find I'm being perfectly honest. I just want to spend some time with you. What do you say?"

Before Ryou could stop himself, before he could even think, he was blabbing, "I'd love to." He rubbed his sweaty palms together. His heart was fluttering irregularly. If Carter was wrong, Ryou was never listening to him again.

Bakura chuckled softly. "Thank you, beautiful. Why don't we go somewhere else? Those other two could be back any minute."

"Y-yeah, alright," he said. Bakura offered his hand, and Ryou swiped his own quickly against his pant leg to dry it before taking it. He wondered if Bakura noticed the slight quivering of his fingers. From the grin, he figured Bakura was well aware of it.

Quiet as the night, Bakura led Ryou out of the tent and into the shadows outside, keeping to the furthest reaches of the gloom and dancing through the darkness like a wight. And though Ryou's footsteps thundered through the grass and leaves, Bakura's feet never made the slightest whisper. He was a phantom, invisible to everyone but Ryou. This was why Bakura had never been caught, and why very few had ever even seen him. He was a master at this, a king. He was the King of Thieves.

At first Ryou wondered where they were going, but Ryou quickly realized their destination- the beach that emptied early, without fail, every single night. Bakura led him across the sand with a strange little smile on his face, eerily seductive and yet almost genuinely happy. They stopped at the water's edge, and only then did he drop Ryou's hand. He flopped down, crossing his booted heels in the sand that was damped by the receding tide and burying his hands somewhere behind him. He pulled one up just long enough to pat a patch of sand close to him.

Ryou sat down, leaving a few inches between them. Bakura rectified this quickly, wrapping an arm around Ryou's waist and drawing him closer until Ryou's hip was flesh with Bakura's. The hand buried itself again. "Much better." Ryou looked from Bakura to the open water, fighting the red that filled his cheeks. "The ocean is especially beautiful tonight, isn't it? Maybe it's because you're by my side, Ryou." The red color in his cheeks darkened.

Bakura winked, but allowed the silence to stand, seeming to enjoy just sitting beside Ryou. Ryou kept looking between the water and Bakura, but both were the same sort of enigmatic mystery, the unanswerable question that left a bitter taste on his tongue. Bakura's eyes, with their bottomless crimson depths and thousand mile stare, and the ocean that no boat could battle long without capsizing like the little fishing boat that rested, ruined, on the sand to their right.

Finally Bakura spoke again, and this time, his tone was much softer than before. Not as playful, and much more serious. "I'm going to tell you something I have never told anyone else before, alright? If you tell anyone, you'll regret it... But, well, I actually pride myself in making curry. That's how I knew you were the one.

"I worked hard at it day after day, gathered various ingredients, and tasted curry made by many different people. But I could never seem to make the curry I'm going for. I've got the right flavor and all, but still it seems to miss something important. And whatever it is that it's missing, you've got in yours. That was the start of it. And now I have to know. What is it? What secret do you hold in that pretty little head of yours, hidden behind that face that seems to, quite honestly, haunt my dreams?"

"You aren't cooking with love," Ryou said in a small voice. He looked up at Bakura, hiding behind the hair in his face and the full, feathery darkness of his lashes but looking at him all the same.

Bakura chuckled gently. "Love, huh...? Something so simple... Could it be that easy? But of course, you may be right. I have been so focused on flavor that I never thought about it. I hope you'll try my curry the next time I make some. Perhaps by that time I will have finally figured out just where to get that oh-so-special secret ingredient." He grinned. "Maybe I can steal it. I might know who I could take it from."

Ryou forced himself to swallow, but his throat didn't seem to want to cooperate. "R-really? But what would that person say if you did such a thing?"

"I doubt they'd mind. Maybe I'm over-estimating myself, but I think that if I ask nicely enough, it won't even be stealing. I could be wrong though. What do you think, angel?"

"I think they'd be... okay with it. If you asked nicely," Ryou said. "Well, if they still had it. I mean, you're a thief who is good at what you do. Who's to say you haven't stolen it already?"

Bakura's grin grew very, very wide. "I must be better at thievery than I thought, then, to have stolen it and only found out for sure tonight. But what happens if I lose it? What if it is misplaced?"

"Then, I suppose you will just have to get some more. I don't think it will be so easy the second time, but if it is worth the effort, then what else can you do?"

Bakura broke out into laughter. "A very good point, beautiful. Thanks for spending time with me tonight. It's getting late, though, and you have to work." Ryou fought his disappointment, sifting sand through his fingers. Bakura stood and helped Ryou up, tipping his chin up so he wouldn't be able to look at Bakura through his half-closed eyelids. "I'd walk you back, but a nice guy like you shouldn't be caught out with a thief. Good luck with your work, Ryou. Have a good night."

Bakura began to fade into the darkness, when Ryou cried out, "Wait!" Bakura paused. "I mean, you said you didn't know if you had stolen it yet. The love. But shouldn't you... make sure? It would be terrible to get home and realize you had forgotten it, right?" Ryou asked.

Bakura grinned lazily. "If you're asking me what I think you are, then the answer is 'no'. I'm pretty sure I have it, but you're right. Getting it back if I lost it would be very, very difficult, so I think I will take the time to make sure that I have it in a safe place before I risk anything. Next time, beautiful. Something to look forward to."

And as Bakura disappeared into the night, Ryou realized one thing from the swelling feeling in his heart- Carter was right. Carter was so, so right. He would know when he was in love. And Ryou had fallen harder than he had ever fallen for anyone or anything ever before.

With a start, he realized that he had left the dig site tent alone, and Flora and Carter were probably looking for both him and Bakura. He fled back to the tent, blowing in just in time to see them taking careful inventory.

"Did that thief come by?" Flora asked.

"Uh, yeah, but he left when he saw me," Ryou said. "I tried to follow him, but he... got away."

Carter grunted, looking up from his checklist. "Hmph. There's no trace of anything missing at the dig site."

"Well, case closed then!" Flora said. "Thanks for your help, Ryou. Looks like we thwarted the mighty Thief King. Teamwork is a marvelous thing, isn't it?"

"Yes," Ryou said. He smiled. "Well, it's late. I think I'm going to head home. I've got an early morning tomorrow."

"Of course, of course," Carter said, nodding. Ryou turned to leave. "Oh, and Ryou?"


"Did you think about what I said earlier?" he asked.

Ryou smiled. "I did. Quite a bit. And you're right about knowing when it's right. Thank you, Carter."

"Not a problem, my boy!" he said, laughing. Flora sent him a confused look, but Carter just shook his head, a sort of 'tell you later' gesture. Ryou left and headed home. The whole night he dreamed of mysterious, faceless thieves stealing his heart away under cover of darkness- hilarious because Ryou knew the truth. His heart was already gone, and he knew exactly what his dashing thief looked like. His thief was the king of them all.

Flora and Carter are adorable together. Not as adorable as Ryou and Bakura, but still pretty adorable.

Yup, that was definitely my favorite heart event. Love the blue one :D And the extras that I added.