Chapter 5: In which a devil does evil

Tea tapped her foot impatiently, casting her eyes towards the bank of unused machines that bisected the laundromat. "Hurry up, she complained. "I don't have all night, you know."

There was no response from the other side.

Tea folded her arms over her chest. "I don't know why you have to change back there anyway. I mean, it's not like you were wearing any clothes to begin with." She narrowed her eyes, suddenly suspicious. "And what's taking so long?" Not hearing any reply, she started heading to the other side. "If you're trying to escape on me..."

"I can't escape," he reminded her bitterly as he emerged from the other side of the Laundromat. "You chained me to yourself, you damned witch."

"Language," Tea warned him.

"What?" he frowned. "I said witch, didn't I?"

Tea would have argued the point further, but the sight of him knocked all other thoughts out of her head. There he was, The Spirit of the Millennium Ring, the single most malevolent being she had ever known, decked from head to toe in a skintight red devil costume. All he needed was the pitchfork.

"Don't you dare laugh," he warned. She almost did anyway, but the look in his eyes froze the laughter right out of her.

So she choked back a chuckle and drew herself up to her full height as she let her eyes run over him. "Well, it's not much of an improvement, but..."

"Improvement?" Bakura snarled. "How is this an improvement?"

Tea planted a hand on her hip. "You want a list? We can start with not making little old ladies pass out on the street and end with me not having to look at your naked butt anymore. Somewhere in between, you can toss in not freezing your man-parts off."

Bakura made an incoherent grumbling sound in the back of his throat.

"Now if you're done showing off your 'master thief' skills, I'd really like to get to the magic shop before the night is over." She made her voice bold and brassy, but there was something about Bakura that made her nervous—despite the ridiculous red costume. There was a kind of energy that pulsed about him—a dark, restless kind of energy.

"Why?" Bakura was frowning.

"What do you mean, why?" Tea scowled. "Believe it or not, I'm not exactly enjoying your company."

"Enough with the insults, woman. My patience does have its limits. But what I meant was, why does it have to be before the night is through? Is that a part of the incantation you used to call me up?"

Tea opened her mouth to make another smart retort, but her mouth dried suddenly. It had been a part of the spell, at least the way the spell had originally been intended to function. The old lady at the shop had told her the spell would bring Atem back for just one night. She looked sideways at Bakura. Did that mean that Bakura would just disappear when the night was over? Or had her screw-up made other things go wrong too?

"You have no idea, do you?" Bakura sighed. "Some kind of witch you are. Back in my day, we had proper sorceress, who could handle a hex and knew their way around the black arts."

"Well, hooray for you," Tea muttered. "Can we go now?"

The two figures hurried from the laundromat, with its dingy fluorescent lights, into the velvet night. Tea hurried along as best she could, but she was unsure of the way and was too worried about getting lost. It was almost reassuring to hear Bakura's soft footsteps behind her, assuring her she was not alone in the dark streets.

That was absurd. Bakura was by far the most dangerous thing out here this night. So far, she'd gotten around that fact just by not thinking about it, by treating him like he was a minor annoyance or a child who'd stayed up past his bedtime. He'd let her—maybe because she bullied him into forgetting he had a choice, maybe simply because it amused him to do so. But the taut anger in his eyes told her she was running out of time. Sooner or later. Bakura's temper would snap, and it would not be pretty for anyone involved.

It was sooner.

They were walking along the sidewalk, headed towards the main part of town, when three teenagers—punks, by the looks of them, with as much leather as muscle—came toward them. They took one good look at the two of them and burst into laughter.

"Aw, now isn't that sweet?" mocked one of them, a tall, lean boy with pimply skin and a blue mohawk.

"Aren't you two too old for trick-or-treating?" another of them wanted to know. He was shorter than his friend, but solidly built. He had an ugly scar across the bridge of his pug nose, and his handful of greasy dark hair was streaked with green.

A wicked grin ripped across Bakura's face. "That depends on whether we're talking about a trick on you, or a treat for me."

Tea pushed herself between the males. "Look, we really don't have time for this, okay."

The boy with the blue mohawk grabbed her arm and leered at her. "Why in such a hurry, sweetheart?"

"Let go!" She tried to jerk away, but his grip was too strong, and he just laughed at her. She gritted her teeth. Stomp the foot…

"You'd better do what she says." There was an edge to Bakura's voice that sent currents of danger rippling down her spine. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to have the same effect on the jerk who'd grabbed her.

"Or what, you'll stab me with your pitchfork?"

A low, unearthly laugh rumbled through the night air. "Or else this."

Something glinted in Bakura's hand as he lunged forward. Mohawk screeched, letting go of Tea and trying to bring his hands up, too late, to defend himself. Bakura's elbow landed solidly in his solar plexus and he fell backwards on the concrete. Blood dribbled from a gash across his thigh. Bakura gave a contemptuous chuckle as he kicked at his ribs. He waggled the still-red switchblade at him. "Thanks for the treat."

Still reeling, Tea pulled herself together enough to glare at Bakura. "Was that really necessary?"

He shrugged. "Maybe not, but it sure the hell was satisfying. Besides, I went easy on him. I didn't even use any shadow magic."

The remaining two punks were frozen on the sidewalk, looking back and forth between their leader, who was now convulsing in agony, and the latex devil who was looking pretty much as scary as the real thing right about now. It would take a moment for their fight or flight response to kick in.

They didn't have a moment.

A few short minutes later, all three punks were lying bleeding on the sidewalk, sobbing hysterically as a hideous green monster advanced on them. Though she was already a block away, Tea cringed when she heard them scream. Bakura just smiled.