Contest Fic, Season 9.75, Second Round: Geminishipping (Thief King BakuraxYami no Bakura)

Big thanks to Crysanth for being my beta, and deviant art's thooruchan for the cover art. :)

origin: Greek [from palin (again) + genesis (birth)]
1. rebirth; regeneration.
2. the doctrine of transmigration of souls.

A chill seeped through the empty room; the torches did little to dispel it, their warmth lost to stone and darkness. The Thief King felt the cold keenly, his skin quickly losing any heat that lingered from the Egyptian sun, as if he was fading into a corpse.

A tablet stood in the center of the room, and he knelt before the stone slab, his head bowed respectfully for a breath. At some unknown cue, the thief raised his chin, ignoring the grit that dug into his knees, sand that had found its way through the cracks.

"The Pharaoh is dead," he said. He received no response aside from his own echo, dead and Pharaoh bouncing off the walls, mocking him.

"Zorc the Dark One," the thief spoke again, more loudly this time, the echo becoming an angry cacophony. "I sought your allegiance, but the king is dead, and with him my chance at vengeance. If you desire the rest of the Millennium Items, then you will provide me a means to seek him in the afterlife, or you will find yourself a new servant."

The torches flickered, and Bakura kept his eyes on the dais; it was a perilous thing, to challenge the Dark One so directly. Yet there was no one else who could help him, and so he had taken the risk and entered the chamber, prepared to die.

At first there seemed to be no response; but no, something wasn't right. The torch lights flickered more rapidly, and then the flames abruptly turned from orange to bloodthirsty violet, flaring intensely. His eyes darted around the room, braced for a supernatural attack, but he knew that even the Millennium Ring would not have enough power to save him from the ruler of the shadow realm.

He was not prepared for the attack to come directly from the ring itself.

He hissed as the ring's needles tore through his skin, five rivers of blood streaming down his chest. Fumbling for the item, he tried to yank it away, but the needles only dug deeper, as if claiming him. He rose to his feet, but he swayed unsteadily; he felt unusually weak, as if he'd spent days in the desert with scarce food or drink. Bakura trembled feebly with anger. He'd offered his life, his soul, and he never received his revenge-

It was then that a demon flickered into existence before Bakura's very eyes. At first it remained silent, unmoving, but as he watched it seemed to gain strength and substantiality.

"The Pharaoh will suffer," the demon spoke at last, its voice startlingly similar to Bakura's own. "The Dark One always keeps his promises to those who are loyal."

The agony of the ring's tearing points faded to the back of his mind as he observed the new arrival, forcing himself to breathe. Staring at the apparition suspiciously, he studied its inhuman features. The demon was entirely void of color, from its mane of hair to its milky, translucent skin: the only exception was a set of crimson, glowing eyes. Even its skin lacked the normal Egyptian tan, having instead an ethereal pallor usually only seen on the deathly ill. The spirit's pale lips twisted down scornfully, and its white hair spiked up in uncontrolled chaos.

The Thief King was unimpressed.

The spirit lacked both size and power, and Bakura didn't find the creature properly terrifying at all. Its only intimidating attribute was its contemptuous sneer, and the thief was uncertain if he should be more offended if the ghost had been sent as his reward or as his executioner. The demon's thin build and pallid appearance was not what one would expect as a gift from the master of shadows; it certainly did not look powerful enough to stand against the Egyptian gods. And if such a gaunt spirit had been sent to take his soul, then the Dark One was not taking him seriously.

"Fool," the demon said. "It was your own weakness that resulted in mine."

The thief's eyes widened, his heart pounding when he realized the dark creature had responded to thoughts he had not voiced. More blood trickled down his chest, and his broken skin peeled away from the golden points, but he forced an arrogant scowl across his features.

"What are you?" the thief spat between clenched teeth. He hunched over as he clutched his chest, trying to stem the flow of blood. A trickle of saliva splattered on the ground as he did so, causing the black dirt to turn even blacker.

"I am your desire for vengeance," the demon replied, watching the thief with a wide, cruel smile. "Mixed with the wrathful souls of Kul Elna and the bloodthirst of the Dark One."

The smirk became a maddened grin and then a full-out cackle, appearing even more crazed in the light of the flickering torch. The shadows strayed dangerously across the demon and the Millennium Stone, the sole occupants of the soon-to-be tomb of the Thief King.

"I fail to see how you are going to accomplish what I could not," Bakura hissed as menacingly as he could, glaring up the steps as the demon watched him from above. He couldn't muster much volume, but he knew the spirit could hear him, whether through his thoughts or the echoing whisper in the silent cavern.

"I fail to see how you can accuse me of such," the demon mimicked, stepping down the stone steps leading to the Millennium Stone. "When you accomplished nothing on your own."

"Neither have you," Bakura snapped, lifting a trembling hand to point at the monster. The fingers appeared bloodless, his desert tan fading with his energy. The demon appeared to grow stronger as he grew weaker, but Bakura was still unsatisfied.

"But I've only just arrived. You'll find that I'm far more powerful than your pitiful form could ever hope to be," the demon declared, stopping a few paces away and spreading its arms. "I'll finish what you began."

Bakura let out a choked laugh, almost wheezing. The ring around his neck tightened in response, but he didn't even wince.

"The Pharaoh's already dead, isn't he? There's nothing left to finish," he snarled, his face taut with rage. How dare this spirit accuse him of being nothing but a failure when he had given up everything to get this far?

"He's locked away in the Millennium Puzzle," the demon's eyes narrowed. "Much as I will be in the ring."

"Well then," the Thief King snapped, blood filling his mouth, overflowing and painting his lips and teeth red. "You say I've accomplished nothing, yet you also say the king is trapped in the Millennium Puzzle. Are you saying he didn't suffer, when his soul was locked away?"

The demon paused at that, looking down at the thief's hunched figure, at his torn chest and wasted appearance. The thief's vitality seeped away painfully, and perhaps the demon was imagining the Pharaoh undergoing a similar agony.

"Are you saying you're satisfied with the Pharaoh's meager suffering?" the spirit asked finally, watching Bakura's rapidly paling skin with disdain. "Just because of your sacrifices?"

"I've spent my entire life working toward my revenge. You've done nothing," he hissed.

"Compared to me, you're nothing but a child. The same child who stood to the side and watched as his village was slaughtered," the spirit retorted, its face an exact mirror image of Bakura's fury. "You think you're stronger?"

"I was until you sucked out my life force, you pathetic leech," Bakura bit out. "How do you plan to defeat a tyrant who holds the power of the Egyptian gods?"

The demon's aura darkened minutely, and its reply was vehement.

"The pathetic one is you," the spirit declared, leaning forward to grasp Bakura's chin—a sensation not unlike a flame flickering on his skin, but much colder. "You failed to obtain your vengeance on the previous Pharaoh, and then you failed to destroy his son. Now I will have to compensate for your inadequacy."

The demon's touch seemed to speed his energy loss, and Bakura found himself unable to reply.

What are you doing to me? Bakura demanded through his thoughts; he knew the other spirit could hear him, but the demon only responded by way of cruel observation.

"You're dying," the spirit said distastefully. "Can you smell it? Your skin is rotting, falling apart as your body loses its soul. Look, you're even running out of blood."

Translucent fingers reached out to touch the pierced flesh beneath his robes, grazing the bloodied skin and coming to a rest on the Millennium Ring. The creature was correct; the old blood had dried and the flow had stopped, but no scab had formed. Taking in a rasping breath, the thief smelled the spoiled, sour stench of his own deteriorating skin.

"Soon you'll be little more than a skeleton with mummified flesh."

Bakura glanced down at the see-through fingers, watching as the spirit placed one finger over each of the marks made by the ring's five sharp points. Once again, he felt the draining sensation that accompanied the deceptively gentle touch.

"Of course, I'm sorry this body has to go," the demon continued in a blasé tone. "This vessel was attractive. But these new powers are worth sacrificing your solid form."

Despite himself, Bakura's eyes dilated in fear, as if he hadn't already known he was about to die.

"It's true," the spirit stated with detached interest. "You've outlived your usefulness."

The transparent entity carelessly trailed his fingers over Bakura's fading skin, caressing the injuries with morbid fascination. As the thief's blood dried, his complexion lightened, and the spirit watched with mild curiosity as the muscles contracted and shriveled. Bakura found he couldn't reply, choking on his words and barely able to take a breath.

"Although," the demon began thoughtfully, his hand continuing upwards and stopping in his hair. Unearthly fingers tightened and yanked up the thief's head. "I might have use for you in the future."

Their eyes met, and Bakura set his jaw mutinously.

I refuse to be your sacrificial lamb, the thief declared across his thoughts, though the spirit did little more than gaze at him with depraved amusement.

"Yes, you could be a useful pawn," the spirit decided. "For a while, at least. I'll remember you in the future."

The thief struggled weakly in the grasp of the demon, but the long, willowy fingers only strengthened their grip.

"After all, you didn't fail completely," the spirit told him, leaning down so its washed-out mouth was mere inches from Bakura's own drained lips. "You created me. I will fulfill our revenge where you were unable to."

"I asked the Dark One for power so I could acquire my vengeance, not you," Bakura hissed in defiance, summoning the last of his energy to retort out loud. The last words came out strained, however, despite his forceful intent.

"Well, it seems like the Dark One thinks you too weak, so I'll steal the satisfaction," the demon claimed.

With a wave of nausea, Bakura collapsed on the rocky floor, jagged pebbles cutting into his bloodless skin. He forced his head to turn so he could stare up at the spirit with unseeing eyes in his last moments as the Thief King.

"Yes, I'll even steal your title," the demon mused. "From now on, there will be no more Bakura, King of Thieves."

The thief gasped for breath, his rattling throat unable to protest. He curled over his stomach, desperately trying to grasp the remains of his life before the demon stole even that.

"I shall be Bakura, Stealer of Souls," the spirit declared, nudging the limp man on the ground with an illusory foot. The thief groaned in pain, thinking that the demon was surprisingly solid for a ghost. "And I think I'll start earning that title with you."

The thief's white hair fell across his face as he attempted to steady his breath, and he lifted up a shaking hand to touch his struggling throat. His arm froze halfway to its destination, however, and Bakura stared at the ghastly, unusually white skin tone. His chalky pallor was almost as washed out as the phantom itself— almost translucent

"Oh, but don't you see?" the demon asked in mock surprise, interrupting the speculation. His red eyes flickered in the violet light, and his moon-colored hair almost glowed in the flame.

Bakura gazed out from his own bleached hair and between his now lifeless, white-colored fingers, and the thief wondered if he was staring at a distorted reflection. The spirit seemed solid, but the thief himself almost appeared to be fading. His body was stolen of its color, and he felt weak, thin, unreal—With a jolt, Bakura's eyes widened in realization.

He looked exactly like the spirit.

Leaning close, the spirit smiled cruelly at the thought, but didn't reply. With a demonic grin, he placed his lips on the thief's own, sucking out the remaining drops of his soul. He waited leisurely until he had fulfilled his purpose, and then licked the thief's lips one last time, enjoying the taste of the salty substance and last breath of life.

Bakura's watched him in utter confusion for the briefest of seconds before his eyes unfocused, and the demon watched emotionlessly as the thief's body crumbled to sand, unable to hold together without its soul.

"Fool," the spirit scoffed, remembering how Bakura had thought they looked the same. He watched as the Millennium Ring fell to the ground with a metallic clatter, and repeated his question to the empty chamber. "Don't you see?"

His smile stretched across his now solidified body, and he lifted his spidery fingers, flexing them with selfish delight. He laughed when he realized that before being locked away, his last memory would be that of the pitiful thief. His final touch would be that of the thief's lips, the last taste his blood, and the final aroma his rotting flesh.

Not an undesirable source of amusement for a five-thousand-year wait.

"I am you."

With a final laugh, the remainder of Bakura's soul flowed into the Millennium Ring, accompanied restlessly by the Dark One and an entourage of vengeful spirits.

And the demon flickered out of existence, drenching the Thief King's tomb in darkness once more.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think. :)