Ryou's eyes were wide and scared as they looked across the rough ground to where Bakura stood, still restrained by Mariku's minions, the short distance suddenly feeling like thousands of miles as he registered the distrust in his Hikari's eyes. "Wh-what's going on Bakura?" His voice shook, pajamas doing nothing to shield him from the icy wind that whipped his hair around his face like a halo, squirming to sit upright, seeming confused he wasn't being restrained any more.
"Looks like the cat's got his tongue." One of Mariku's thugs mocked, twisting Bakura's arm harshly, making him hiss in pain and scowl, eyes pointed stubbornly at the ground, refusing to speak. He couldn't bring himself to raise his eyes and stare into Ryou's face, couldn't stand to see the betrayal and hurt that would be in the usually soft and open chocolate orbs.
"I guess I'll explain then." Mariku looked like the cat that got the cream, as he began to speak, voice cold and vindictive, boiling over with spite and malicious hate. "I'm sure you've realized by now that this was all planned months before you even knew about this 'holiday.' Show him."
These last words were an order, the precious package of cocaine being held up in front of Bakura, who suddenly hated it more than he ever had anything before, it had caused him so much trouble, and there was no way it was worth it. The runner must have doubled back to meet Mariku with it, Bakura scowled.
"Is… is that..?"
"Cocaine. Worth two hundred and fifty thousand on the street."
"I thought you'd stopped dealing… You promised Bakura." Ryou's voice was already laced with hurt, and Bakura felt it pierce his heart unpleasantly, shrugging like he didn't care even though he wanted to explain himself, but how could he explain this?
"Oh he promised, did he? You can't trust a word he says cream puff, I thought you'd know that by now." Mariku crooned, kneeling down to caress Ryou's hair, who was far too distracted with staring at Bakura in silent horror to even try and shuffle away, flinching violently instead. "I offered him a good deal, he smuggles it over here, under the pretense of a lovely holiday for you two, and he gets twenty five grand. He agreed very easily. I got him the passports and tickets, all he had to do was pretend nice and get you to agree to go."
"Kura…" Ryou's voice was a broken whisper, carried to the listening Thief on the wind, who swallowed heavily and raised his head, taking a shaky breath through his teeth as Ryou's eyes met his, and they were filled with unshed tears.
"So the Thief pretended to be happy families and brought you on a nice holiday to see Daddy, carrying pounds of illegal, high-class cocaine in his bag. Two brothers going abroad for Christmas, to see their dad." Mariku smiled as if he was telling a nice goodnight story, instead of revealing Bakura's deception for what it was, and destroying any trust Ryou might have had for him. "You were his safety net. So innocent and sweet, who'd never think Bakura could be tricking him."
Mariku's tone turned nasty as he gripped Ryou's chin, forcing his face up and staring at him, "stupid, naïve, foolish little Ryou. Did you honestly think that he could care for you? He's a Thief, Ryou. Not to be trusted." He scoffed, smile showing just how pleased he was with the situation he'd forced them in to. "And to think, all this time, you though he was doing a nice thing. It must hurt, Little Ryou." His grip on his chin tightened, spiteful words spat into his face like daggers. "It must hurt like hell."
"Leave him alone." Bakura growled, still struggling in the arms of the men who held him back, brain frantically trying to work out an escape plan, but every option he had ended with him being shot attempting to flee, and Ryou being captured.
Ryou was unceremoniously dropped back down to the floor, eyes wary and filled with distrust as Bakura tried to defend him.
"Oh it's a bit late to protect him now Thief. Don't act like this wasn't all planned." Ryou's stomach sank as he managed to stand up, wary of the men who flanked him, planned? This? No... Surely not even the Thief would plan this.
"Kura? What's he talking about."
Mariku's smile was wide like a Cheshire cats as he bent down to whisper in Ryou's ear, deliberately making it so Bakura couldn't hear.
"Ryou! He... He's lying! Don't listen to him! He's-" Bakura shouted across the ground, struggling madly to escape, words cut off as Mariku whirled around.
"Would you SHUT HIM UP!" He bellowed, amethyst eyes angry as he glared at his thugs. "I didn't hire you to stand around."
Bakura barely had time to tense his stomach muscles, let alone lift his knees to try and protect himself before the fist connected with his flesh so hard it tore the air out of his lungs and made his vision swim with bright colors. He choked for air, gagging as sharp, acidic bile rose in his throat and seemed to skin his lungs as he bent doubled, coughing blood onto the floor. These guys weren't to be fucking messed with, he could see that now, just one punch and he was practically useless, if he'd been standing freely he knew he'd be in the fetal position on the cold ground, squirming pathetically. The hit left him wide open for more, unable to defend himself and just recovering from the savage blow to his stomach when a second lackey flung a tremendously powerful uppercut into his chin, probably bruising his windpipe and flinging his head back. He became a dead weight in his captor's arms, wheezing harshly as he tried in vain to recover, in too much pain to even hear Ryou's gasp of horror as he watched the scene from afar, trapped in Mariku's hold.
Ryou was no longer focusing on Mariku's poisonously whispered words, eyes locked on the Thief's swaying form, amazed at how quickly he'd been subdued, without even being able to put up a fight. He didn't understand, if what Mariku had said was true, and they'd been in cahoots the entire time why would he be fighting to get free, and why would Mariku let his men beat him up? Something here just didn't add up…
He could see Bakura struggling to raise his head, blood spilling down his cheek from where he'd presumably bit his tongue, his eyes looked wobbly and unfocused and his feet failing him when his jailers released his arms, staggering forwards uncertainly before tumbling to the ground. He looked drunk as he raised his head from the ground, hands trying to raise him from the gravel only to fall back down as he misjudged the distance, sending his cheek smashing into the ground. He looked dazed, staring around in confusion, as if uncertain of where he was and what was happening, hand pressed to his head as he managed to stand, feet stumbling uncertainly as he righted himself. He could still see Ryou entrapped in Mariku's snares, even with his blurry eyes and the throbbing pain in his chin, trying to make sense of the seemingly uneven ground as he stepped forwards, not sure what he was supposed to be doing.
"Ry..." His stomach contracted as he drew in a breath to speak, words cut off as he bent double and coughed, blood spraying the floor and trickling warmly down his lip. The liquid in his throat choked him, words coming out strangled and wet as rich metallic iron coated his teeth. "He's lying."
If anyone else could see him now he'd be ashamed, Bakura, put out of action by two punches? It was laughable. He forced himself to straighten up, trying to ignore the fuzziness at the edge of his vision that was almost certainly a severe concussion, not bothering to wipe his face clear of blood. He stood straight backed and proud, glare once again resplendent on his battered and swelling face. If this was going to happen, if he was going to fight, be beaten to death, and finally meet his end, he'd do it with his head held high. He refused to die like a fucking rodent, trodden under the heels of Mariku and his accomplices.
"He's lying." This time his voice was hard, and icy as the ground upon which he stood, sure and overflowing with conviction as his eyes met those of Ryou, ignoring the wind that whipped his hair into matted knots. "This wasn't in our deal Mariku, you got what you want, so give him back."
His ears were beginning to ring and he was vaguely aware that he was swaying on the spot where he stood, aware that if he even tried to move he would undoubtedly collapse, again.
"Oh no, Thief. I remember the plan exactly. You transport the drugs here, using Ryou as cover against airport security, spend a week attending to his every whim and trying to put up with him. Then you come here," he spread his arms wide, gesturing to the deserted station around them, the sky gradually lightening as daytime approached, cold, icy blue sky bringing a bitter, biting wind with it that chilled Bakura to the bone more than Mariku's sharp words. "Get rid of the drugs and Ryou in one easy transaction, and get rewarded handsomely."
Ryou's face was white, brows orbs wide and horrifyingly dry as Mariku's words sank in, staring across the hard ground to where his roommate, and, dare he say it, friend, stood, swaying in the breeze. He couldn't believe what Mariku was saying, or he'd like to think he couldn't, but something about it all resonated unpleasantly truthfully in his mind. Could Bakura really have been faking all this time? Worming his way into his good books only to use him to earn some cash before handing him over to Mariku like some sort of repulsive human trafficking deal? He could feel bile rise in his throat and swallowed it down hard, forcing himself to take calm breaths and stay in control even as any trust he'd had in Bakura shattered like glass into tiny, unfixable fragments.
"That's not what we agreed Mariku, and you know it." Bakura growled, still trying to figure out why the world was spinning, oh shit, he felt like he was going to pass out. But he couldn't, if he did Mariku would take Ryou and he would be utterly fucked. "Give, him, back."
Mariku examined his fingernails absently, barely taking Bakura seriously, though the two strong men either side of him may have been something to do with it. "I don't think I will, Thief. I've been looking for a new toy. And your precious vanilla slice fits the bill perfectly."
Ryou's face was paler than Bakura had ever seen it, eyes widening as he realized what Mariku meant, what his plans were. But he was powerless, and by the look of it, so was Bakura.
"I'm bored of you now," Mariku remarked plainly, sounding like a spoiled child growing uninterested in a toy. "Deal with him."
"Wha-" He didn't have time to speak, so much as try to defend himself, the blow came from behind, a cheap move, knocking him to the ground so hard blood erupted from his mouth. The last sounds he heard before he blacked out were the terrified screams of Ryou, yelling his name over and over as he was dragged away.
Bakura had let him down, he had failed him.
When he came to, everyone was gone, but that was what he'd been expecting. There was no point chasing after them, the light of the sky and the blue tinge to his fingers made it obvious some hours had passed, they could be miles away by now. He dragged himself slowly to his feet, dizziness still not subsiding and injuries pounding as he staggered in the direction of the tube station.
The journey back to the hotel was a sickening blur, probably only partly due to the blood trickling into his eyes and obscuring his vision. He was grateful for the early hour of the morning, the less people to interfere the better, and he was left well alone as he curled into a seat in the corner of an almost empty carriage. The only other passenger shooting him curious and mildly scared looks over his broadsheet newspaper.
The hotel, he had to get to the hotel, maybe there'd be a clue, some hint as to where Mariku had taken him. Knowing the tomb keeper the way he did, he'd probably have left something to scorn him further with the knowledge that he had won.
He needed to breathe, he needed to clear his head and he needed to fucking think. He needed a plan, to save Ryou, and to rip Mariku's head off those bastard shoulders and show him what happened to people who dared mess with him, the Thief King of Kul Elna.
Trashing the hotel room was high on his list of priorities, he was angry and scared and fuck it all he just needed to destroy something to remove the tension sizzling through his veins and get his head back in a logical, deadly order. The receptionist didn't even respond to his haggard appearance as he ran through the entrance and sprinted up the stairs to their room, hoping for some clue as to where they'd taken him and what for, though his imagination was active enough for him to suppress a shudder.
He unlocked the door with shaking hands, dropping the keycard twice before he managed to slide the door open and stepped inside, mouth going dry as he took in the scene.
Trashing the hotel room was out of the question, someone had already done that, the beds had been torn apart, clothes ripped out of the wardrobe and the bedside tables emptied and smashes, contents scattered about the room. The finality of it, the sheer proof that Mariku had known their location all along, had probably been tracking them the whole holiday, it was almost enough for Bakura to give up. But a buzzing from underneath a pile of Ryou's t-shirts drew his attention, snapping his head over to it and forgetting the sharp stab of pain that tore through his temples at the movement. He scrambled across the room clumsily, feet stepping on books and clothes and a toothbrush. His hands wouldn't co-operate, a mixture of the fear and cold meant they were shaking so furiously he could barely read the text that lit up the screen.
It was from Mariku.
'Transferred in the money, that should pay for the damages to the hotel at least. You've grown sloppy, Thief, you didn't even notice you'd been followed the whole time.'
He wanted to throw the phone, to smash it into the mirror and scream and destroy the fitted wardrobes but all he could do was stare at it blankly. He knew it, they'd been followed from the second they landed, every place they went, every time they left the hotel, somebody was staking them, feeding back their every movement.
What was funny, made him chuckle derisively as the thought popped into his head, was that Ryou would know what to do. He'd be able to stay calm and formulate a plan, to keep level headed and reasonable when all Bakura wanted to do was rip Mariku's fucking head off and use it as a football.
He needed him back, that was all he knew, they'd been through so much and he couldn't bear to lose him now, he finally had something precious and he'd let it be taken away.
His hands were firmer, more solid as they searched through the phone, shaky, probably completely insane idea in his mind as he pressed the call button and listened to the tinny ringing.
"Hey Bakura, how's tha holiday goin'?" Joey's sunny voice filtered through the speaker and Bakura could have cried with relief, now maybe he could get help, there was no way he could do this alone, as much as it pained him to admit it.
"Ryou's been kidnapped." He spat it out immediately, as much as he knew it would confuse Joey, he had no time to waste on pleasantries, not that he usually did anyway.
There was a pause in which he could hear nothing down the line, removing the phone from his ear and praying it hadn't cut out.
"Whadya mean kidnapped?" There was noise rustling on the other end and Bakura could hear another voice, deeper and commanding. "Wait, you're on speaka phone."
"Fuck, I'm a piece of shit. It's my fault!" Bakura wasn't making sense, but fuck it all he was panicking! Ryou was gone with a homicidal lunatic who was probably planning to do all sorts of disgusting things to him and there was nothing he could do but somehow hope Joey of all people could help.
"Calm down," this voice wasn't Joey's, and Bakura didn't recognize it, but it was a damn sight calmer and more authoritative than Joey's. "Explain what's going on."
"The, the holiday- It was a fucking lie. I-Mariku said he'd pay me if I did it. I-I wasn't thinking properly, and now he's fucking taken him!"
Another pause, the sound of typing, "Mariku Ishtar?"
Bakura froze, how the fuck did they know who he was talking about? "Yeah."
"I'm going to need you to explain what's happened."
"Kaiba…" Joey's voice filtered back onto the line, sounding concerned.
Oh, so it was Seto Kaiba who he was speaking with, fucking hell, no wonder he sounded so in control, he'd probably remain unruffled if his own brother was kidnapped.
"I, Mariku offered me £25,000 if I smuggled cocaine into England for him."
"I assume you did it," there was no judgement in the voice, just the same calculative tone as the sound of typing continued.
"Yes." His voice was small, and Joey's inhale of shock didn't soothe his conscience any. "He said if I took Ry it would look less suspicious so I... So I did it."
Joey's voice was understandably angry when it came back onto the line, "are you for fucking real? D'you even know how he-"
"Pup, not now. This… Ryou is your friend, right?"
Bakura could hear them talking over speakerphone, the 'pup' nickname is something he would usually mock, but now he couldn't see the humor in it, just listening as Kaiba calmed Joey down.
"I might be able to help." Kaiba's voice was like a blessing to Bakura, who felt almost like he might cry, hot tears filling his eyes as hope, even a tiny fraction, was restored. "I need details. How did he get kidnapped? When, and by who?"
"I- This morning, about four hours ago, I'm not sure, I- I was unconscious. I went to drop off the… To drop it off, and got ambushed. There were five of them, they took Ryou. I only knew Mariku, the rest he said were hired, I- I don't know anything else."
"So he could be on a plane by now?" He could hear typing and other voices talking in the distance, words too quiet to be heard.
"Yes, they, they came to the hotel." He regarded the room around him, wondering how the fuck they'd managed to even get in and suddenly questioning if they'd been looking for something.
"Did they take his passport?"
Bakura's blood ran cold and he almost fell as he crossed the room to Ryou's bedside table, which was mostly intact, opening the drawers and heart falling as he realized that the drawer with all their important travel goods, was empty.
"Yes, I, they took both of them." How was he supposed to get home now? Undoubtedly Mariku would have taken Ryou to somewhere in Japan, but how could he get back without a passport?
"Where's my UK jet?" It was obvious Kaiba wasn't addressing him anymore and all he could do was listen nervously as the CEO issued orders and typed commands. "I can get a private jet to you in an hour, you won't need your passport. Are you injured?"
"I… Um, yeah, it's not too bad though." He looked down at himself with a frown, it wasn't actually so bad, he had stopped bleeding and aside from the head pain, he was mostly okay now.
"You don't need medical attention?"
"Okay, be at Heathrow in 45 minutes, I'll send someone to collect you and fly you over. I can get my security to watch the airport in case your friend is flown in."
"We'll do our best, Bakura!" Joey's voice was firm and definitive even as the phone was put down before he could even think about thanking them.
What could he do now but shower, change and pack whatever of their belongings he could find? This was going to be a torturously long 45 minutes.
Sometimes Joey wondered if dating someone as efficient as Kaiba was really a good idea for an unorganized idiot like himself, but that thought was soon wiped from his mind as he regarded the sight in front of him with a slack jaw.
"Close your mouth pup, you'll catch flies." Seto, and when had he become Seto exactly? Spoke, smirk pulling up the side of his thin lips. Face soon falling back into cold efficiency as he looked down at his entire security force, who stood before him in orderly rows, half obviously just roused from sleep, crumpled uniforms and sleepy eyes barely noticeable under their disciplined stance. Stood stiffly like toy soldiers, the fifty strong team of private security, guards and trained military personnel waited calmly for orders, nobody daring to so much as clear their throat, let alone question what needed all of their attention at this time, early in the morning. Joey ignored his teasing, but closed his mouth none the less, waiting for Kaiba to instruct the force and get going with their task.
"I am only going to give you this briefing once, so listen up." Ears pricked up, shuffling of feet sounded as the team stood to attention, brains ready to accept and ingrain their orders. "An acquaintance of mine has been kidnapped while in England, my source there has notified me he will be flown back into Japan sometime tonight. Your job is to infiltrate the airport, identify him and track him to his final destination. You are not to be seen, it is of utmost importance that the boy's kidnappers do not know we are aware of their plans."
Here Joey clumsily activated the slides Kaiba had hurriedly prepared, image of Mariku projected onto a large screen behind their heads, soldiers taking in the tanned skin, muscled body and wild hair with calculative eyes. "This is the kidnapper, he is to be considered highly dangerous and is not to be approached unless the victim seems to be in immediate or grave danger." The chestnut haired boy nodded to Joey, who flicked over to the next slide, heart clenching and worried face falling further as the sight of his friend, smiling widely came onto the screen. Soft hair white and clean and eyes glinting with happiness as he posed, fingers up in a peace sign, Joey himself had provided the photograph, having taken it on their last day of school together.
"This is Ryou Bakura, the victim. He is sixteen years old, white hair, brown eyes, though his kidnappers may have disguised him. Commit his face to memory, we cannot let him slip by unseen." He stared across the sea of faces with a blank expression, no emotion seeping into his voice as he gave them their marching orders. "My contacts in the UK have been notified to watch the airport but there is a chance they arrived too late and the plane may already be in the air. They will be using fake passports and may be heavily armed. They are clever and they are organized, they will try to evade you if they feel they are being followed. You need to be inconspicuous, to blend in to the background. The safety of this boy and his safe retrieval at a later stage are our top priority."
The security shifted where they stood, some looking nervous, while some looked keen and ready to get going. They were an elite team, hand-picked by Kaiba himself and trained in every kind of martial art, espionage and combat you could imagine.
Joey couldn't help but be impressed at the power his boyfriend wielded at times like this, at only sixteen years old he could command a force of fifty men, all older and more experienced than him and know his orders would be obeyed rigidly. His brown eyes glinted with urgency as he turned to his second in command, Major Hayashi Kiatsu, eyes locking and an understanding nod shared between them.
"I'll leave this to you, Major Hayashi." He gestured for Joey to follow him, the sound of squads being divided and specific military orders ringing loudly down the corridor behind them. Joey didn't know what to respond to Kaiba's plans, he didn't know what the best course of action was, he just knew he wanted Ryou back to safety as soon as possible. The worry was coiled tightly in his gut, and the feeling of helplessness did nothing to settle his frayed nerves, biting at his lip anxiously, almost unable to feel the pain as he imagined Ryou, terrified and surrounded by dangerous men, miles away.