Note: Oh…my…God…I really don't know what to say…except that I'm so sorry that I took so long to update, and that this is the last chapter, took FOREVER to write, and nearly killed me in the process. I nearly cried while writing it…and I hope you forgive if you hate me for ending it like this…but it had to happen.
Thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed; I love you all (especially Midnight Raven, for putting up with my complaining) and I thank you for reading. Please leave me a review and make sure you have some tissues on hand…thanx.
Can you forgive me again…?
I don't know what I said…
But I didn't mean to hurt you…
I heard the words come out…
I felt that I would die…
It hurt so much to hurt you
Then you…look at me…
You're not shouting anymore…
You're silently broken…
I'd give anything now…
To hear those words from you Forgive Me
Each time I say something I regret, I cry…I don't want to lose you
But somehow I know that you will never…leave me…
Cause you were made for me…
Somehow I'll make you see
How happy you make me…
I can't live this life…
Without you by my side
I need you to survive…
So stay…with me…
You look in my eyes, and I'm screaming inside that I'm sorry…
And you forgive me again…
You're my one true friend…
And I never…meant to hurt you…
That was it.
That had been their last resort.
That was the end.
And they had failed…
Ryou could faintly hear the shouts and cries in the room, his temples throbbing deafeningly. His Yami was returning to the Ring, destroying the last chance of his mind's recovery. There was nothing he could do as the tomb robber's spirit pushed the last remaining ounce of energy out of Ryou's body as he returned to his refuge.
The white haired teen wavered on his feet, his blank eyes on the panicked expressions of his friends…taking in their fear and doubt, before he tilted forward lifelessly, his eyes still wide and unblinking, as he collapsed on the ground.
He found himself in his soul room, lying face down on the ground there also. His body had become too weak to sustain even his own soul for the time being, and had caused both him and his Yami to retreat to their soul rooms.
His body was nothing for now but a lifeless puppet.
Eyes stinging and temples pounding, he raised his head off the ground and found himself staring silently at Yami Bakura, who looked back at him from his own soul room, the two separated by the lone hallway.
The tomb robber's eyes betrayed the expressionless look on his face, as he watched his Aibou return his stare, a painfully confused and remorseful look on his face. His hand twitched, and he found it rising to rest against the sarcophagus lid that was the door to his soul room, as he lowered his eyes from Ryou's image, tears blissfully obscuring his image.
Ryou's eyes widened with disbelief, his lips uttering a cry of anguish as he reached forward, attempts unheeded…as Bakura bowed his head and disappeared into his soul room, the door trailing shut behind him.
"I knew it," Joey whispered, his chin resting in his palm as he stared at the motionless form of one of his best friends. "I knew that Bakura could never…" He trailed off, unable to finish the sentence as he bowed his head, cursing softly under his breath.
Yugi, Tea, and Yami had managed to drag Ryou's limp and lifeless body into a wheelchair in Audrey's room, which they somehow were able to get out of the hospital unnoticed. Ryou now lay motionless on his bed as his friends hung in the background, silent and weary.
Tea had finally managed to contact Joey and Tristan, and it had been Yami's painful duty to inform them of what had happened.
"It's getting late," Yugi whispered, breaking the eerie silence. "You guys should go home."
"What about you?" Tristan said sharply, narrowing his eyes. "Don't think that we're going to leave you here to take care of Ryou by yourself. We're staying here too!"
Yugi smiled weakly. "Thanks, Tristan."
"Yeah, me too," Joey sighed, getting to his feet and stifling a yawn with his hand. He blinked, and glanced down at Tea, who had dozed off in a chair.
"Hey, Tea," Joey whispered, nudging her with his elbow. "Wake up."
"Huh?" She mumbled, cracking open her watering blue eyes. "Wha? What is it?"
"I think you should go home for tonight, Tea." Joey said firmly as she rose to her feet, blinking tiredly at the floor. "Tristan, Yugi and me will watch Ryou."
"Right," she murmured, glancing momentarily at Ryou. "Okay. I'll see you guys tomorrow."
Moments after Tea left, Yugi called his grandpa and told him that he'd be spending the night at Ryou's house, soon followed by Joey, who informed Serenity and told her the same.
After Joey hung up, the four stood in the room, feeling tense and awkward.
"You think we can leave him up here for the night? By himself, I mean?" Yugi questioned softly, glancing at Yami.
"Yes," Yami answered, without looking up. "He will sleep the rest of the night."
"We'll sleep in the den," Joey replied, yawning again. "I get the couch. Yugi, you get the other couch. Tristan…" Joey looked at him, managing a small smirk.
"You sleep outside."
Hours had passed since they had left the room. The house was dark, and only the sound of Ryou's breathing gave any indication that life existed in the dark, cold room. Barely visible in the darkness, Ryou's hand clenched and unclenched his bed sheets, as the fatigue that clouded his consciousness subsided.
It was an hour later when his eyes finally fluttered open, his soul finally back in possession of his body.
Exhaustion lay on him, nearly smothering him to the point of unconsciousness again. Gritting his teeth, he took hold of the bed spread, forcing his head downwards so his forehead pushed against the soft material of his bed.
Ignoring the urge to pass out again, he lifted the upper half of his body off the bed, his right arm trembling as he leaned his weight against it. Unfortunately, the arm he leaned on was the one injured, and the sudden shock of pain forced him to collapse back against the bed, his pillow muffling his cry of frustration and anguish.
He couldn't hold it in anymore…
The pain he felt, physically, mentally, and emotionally…
And his Yami…
The tears came in torrents as he finally gave up, letting the sound of pain tear from his throat in an agonized cry. The sobs racked his body, his tears soaking relentlessly into his pillow and trailing down his face.
He clenched his trembling hands and pulled them close to his chest, attempting to prevent the tremors that accompanied each of the harsh sobs that he so desperately tried to prevent. He turned his head, forcing his eyes shut and feeling the tears manage to leak out anyway.
A gasp escaped his lips as he clutched his throbbing head with his pale hands, his wide eyes glistening in the dark, disbelief and grief emanating in torrents from the woeful brown orbs.
"I tried…" he whimpered, lowering his eyes to the tear-stained bed spread.
"But I couldn't…help…I tried, I tried…!"
"You did try, Aibou …"
Ryou's sobs ceased, a sharp intake of breath causing his cries to catch in his throat. His tear-filled eyes widened as a cold, yet comforting hand came to rest against his head, the fingers resting limply against his downy white hair.
"Don't blame yourself…"
The hand gently stroked the strands away from Ryou's sore eyes.
"Because it was my fault…and mine alone…"
Ryou couldn't suppress the trembling that possessed his body as Yami Bakura laid his hand against his Aibou's head, an expressionless look on his face as he stared down at the tear and blood stains on the bedspread, a small smile gracing his emotionless features.
"Yami…" Ryou whispered, only to have the rest of the words die in his throat as he felt something fall against his hair. The warm remnants of Bakura's tears fell against Ryou once, before they were wiped forcefully away by the bloodied hand that rested so protectively against Ryou's head.
Yami Bakura felt Ryou stiffen as he knelt closer, his hand returning to Ryou's head, the touch attempting to instill some comfort into the only person he cared about.
"I'm trapped, Ryou," the former Tomb Robber whispered, his body sagging against the headboard, his head tilted slightly toward Ryou, a trace of a smile on his face. His fingers twitched slightly as he encountered the ever-sounding pulse near Ryou's temple, the warmth of his Hikari scorching his eternally cold skin.
The heat did not reach past his fingertips, and a bitter smile enveloped Bakura's features as he tilted his head to the side, the rest of his body aching to feel the breath of life in him once again.
He watched his other half silently as he breathed, and a sense of longing overcame his being.
Ryou shivered, his eyes closing as his Yami's cold touch drew the warmth from him.
"I have nothing left…" Bakura murmured, mostly to himself.
"Nothing left to hold onto…nothing left to give…"
Ryou didn't answer, because he felt the truth in the words.
"Who knew?" Bakura suddenly laughed, his voice hoarse. "Who knew that this would happen after such a foolish request?"
He lowered his eyes back to Ryou.
"Do you remember?"
Ryou nodded slowly, an unreadable look in his eyes.
"You told me to hit you back…"
Ryou tensed when Bakura's hand suddenly came away from his head, and he let out a gasp of pain and shock when he was forced to sit up, Bakura's grip painfully strong on his arm. The sudden movement caused Ryou's vision to deteriorate into a haze of colours and pain, and he could barely decipher the obscured look of regret and anguish on his Yami's face.
"I didn't mean it," he whispered, his voice shaking with remorse. "I never meant any of it…!"
"Yami," Ryou said weakly, only to be silenced when his vision cleared and his Yami's face became visible.
The Tomb Robber was paler than usual, the tear-streaks fresh on his face. A look of pleading enveloped his features as more than three thousand years of pain cascaded down his face.
"It's too late now," he whispered harshly, his tone choked. "But you have to understand, Ryou…you have to understand…"
Ryou became alarmed as Bakura said this and bowed his head, his frame trembling.
"None of this was your fault…" Bakura whispered forcefully, shaking Ryou. "It never was. Don't blame yourself, ever, please…"
"What are you talking about?" Ryou cried, terrified at the desperate look in his Yami's eyes. Bakura lowered his eyes to the cuts on Ryou's arm, and his face twisted into a pained grimace.
"You've forgiven me so many times…" he whispered, his tear-filled eyes focused on the bloody gouge in Ryou's arm. "Even when I didn't deserve it…
"And still I hurt you…"
He released Ryou's arm and clutched his head in his hands, trying to hold back the furious scream that threatened to tear from his throat. Gritting his teeth, he remembered the look of horror on his Hikari's face when he had snapped Saber's neck…when he had shown his true colours…
And after ridding himself of those police officers, he faintly remembered lying curled up on the cold, wet pavement as drops of rain beat down on him.
I'll come…but I won't stay…
She'll come back to me…
"And hold me in her arms once more…" Bakura murmured faintly, his voice barely audible. He raised his eyes slowly, until his gaze came to rest upon what hung around Ryou's neck.
His prison, his home…
"I've suffered too long, Ryou," he whispered hoarsely, his eyes intent on the Millennium Ring that hung around Ryou's neck. An odd glint seemed to come into the Tomb Robber's eyes as his hand unconsciously reached forward, his fingers resting against the cold rim of the Millennium Item.
"I'm bound to this place…this place of misery…" he said, his voice near-silent. "Because of this…"
A cold, numbing feeling suddenly enveloped Ryou's body, and he looked into his Yami's eyes, his lips parting in shock as he realized his Yami's meaning. Bakura glanced up at him, regret dawning in his gaze.
"I told you, I'm trapped…" he whispered weakly, as a small smile suddenly appeared on his face, his crimson gaze returning to the Millennium Ring.
"But no longer…"
Ryou didn't even have time to blink.
Bakura's form dissolved into light and disappeared into the Ring forcefully, depriving Ryou control of his body as his spirit was forced into his soul room once more.
"No!" He cried, as his Yami took control once more, trapping him within his soul room. He ran at the door and pounded relentlessly, desperately, his cries unheard.
"No, Yami, don't!" Ryou wailed, falling to his knees, his body slumping against the soul door.
"Don't do this…!"
Yami Bakura gasped, his eyes opening wide as he realized that he was in control of Ryou's body again. Pain clawed at his very being, forcing him to remain still for a few seconds, until it subsided.
Though he had no need to breathe, his breath came out in short rasps as the pain nearly rendered him senseless.
Cursed Pharaoh…Bakura thought, struggling to sit up. He felt his head throb when he realized that Yami had been right about the consequences of his self-injury.
"But she waits for me…" Bakura gasped, refusing to relent to the blinding agony that engulfed his body.
Staggering out of bed, he slumped momentarily against the wall, the sound of Ryou's protests echoing in his mind. Shaking his head, he pushed himself off the wall and stumbled towards the window, too aware of the sounds of voices coming from downstairs.
He cursed Yami again, hearing the sounds of footsteps ascending the stairs.
Bakura limped towards Ryou's door and slammed it shut, locking it. A small grin overtook his features at the shout that emanated from Yami, probably telling the others that something was wrong.
"Never too good for you, Pharaoh," he whispered to the door, before he went back to the window and slid it open.
The door shuddered as they attempted to open it, and soon a deafening bang echoed throughout the house as Joey and Tristan rammed the door and knocked it from its hinges. Yugi flicked the light switch and they stared into the empty room, as the curtains fluttered lightly by the open window.
The street lights cast a dim glow over the silent and barren street, doing little to fight the darkness of the night. The light seemed to avoid the limping, haggard figure that was the Tomb Robber.
Bakura kept his eyes on the ground, one hand clutching the arm he had so earnestly scarred. The pain had once pleased him, but now it just…hurt. Hurt all over. He forced himself forward, his eyes watering with agony and fatigue.
"I'm coming…wait for me…" he whispered weakly, raising his eyes to the dark sky, the bright lights of the stars encouraging him to go on. There was no firm destination…he just hoped to find some place where he could lie down, and rest his aching head against the Earth…and never wake up again.
Take me, Osiris…he prayed inwardly, as a drop of blood splattered against the road he left behind. Take me to her…
He could still feel Ryou beating relentlessly at his soul room door, begging for him to stop, begging and weeping in despair. But Bakura ignored him, somehow feeling that this would be for his own good.
He raised his eyes and came to a slow stop when a warm, dim glow cascaded over his body, momentarily letting him forget his pain. The burning orange glow of the sun peaked over the horizon, the warm light flickering in Bakura's crimson eyes as he watched dawn approach.
Glancing wearily to his left, relief suddenly flooded his body when he saw what lay a few paces before him.
Clenching his jaw, he started in that direction, feeling closer to home with each step he took toward the dark graveyard that waited ahead.
A long way behind him, Yami cursed as he, Yugi, Joey, and Tristan searched haplessly around the neighborhood. Abandoning the pointless searching, he put his faith into the Puzzle. He knew that Bakura's Ring had the power to detect other Millennium Items with great accuracy, but if his Puzzle contained even a fraction of the homing powers Bakura's Ring did, it would be enough to at least point him in the right direction.
Concentrating hard, he focused his mind on the image of Yami Bakura, hoping against hope that he would have some sort of response. He waited, and waited…until he realized that it was futile. He lowered his gaze to the road, eyes closing in dismay.
Please, Ra…he prayed inwardly, grasping the Puzzle and bowing his head towards the rising sun that barely peaked over the horizon.
Just give me a sign…
He opened his eyes when he felt the dim light of the sun flicker against his eyelids. His lips parted in shock and relief…when the dim sunlight bathed the road before him, and brought the drops of Bakura's blood out of hiding.
The red droplets glistened in the sunlight, and as Yami raised his eyes, he saw that a glistening path of blood lay before him.
"Thank you…" he managed to whisper, feeling a little burst of hope within him, before he shouted back to the others and ran down the painted path that shined before him.
Yami Bakura smiled in relief, slumping against the black iron fence that surrounded the cemetery. The cold metal provided some relief to the throbbing wounds on his body, and he rested momentarily before he ventured forward.
A deep feeling of reverence overcame his being when he stepped onto the dew-ridden grass, feeling his feet sink slightly within the freshly dug earth. He glanced at the tomb stones that surrounded him on both sides as he walked between the pillars, head bowed, the telltale drops of his blood sliding down the wet blades of grass.
He continued on this way, though his body screamed for rest, the dismal atmosphere doing nothing to dampen his hopes.
The sight of a small and fresh grave made him pause, and a tender look came into his eyes as he stopped and looked down at the fresh lilacs that lay there. He paused momentarily, regretting it as his legs gave away beneath him and he fell to his knees, sinking slightly into the wet earth. He grasped his shoulder, leaning forward slightly towards the tomb stone, his eyes searching the carved inscriptions.
Dear daughter and sister.
He wondered faintly how such a young child came to such an early death, and he stared intently at the tiny statuette of a somber angel, standing atop the stone and staring forlornly down at the grave.
Blinking tiredly, he tore his gaze away from the angel and looked at his surroundings, realizing that he was at one lone grave, dug atop a small hill.
Smiling faintly, he slowly crawled onto the empty patch of grass next to the little girl's grave. Rasping with effort, he shifted onto his side, getting as close to the girl's grave without touching the dirt, before he relaxed and immediately felt himself collapse on his side, his head lying comfortably against the soft, cool earth, inches from the grave next to him.
"Don't worry…" he whispered, closing his eyes and twisting onto his back, finally lying flat against the wet grass, his bleeding arms lying motionlessly at his sides.
"You won't be so lonely anymore…"
He breathed deeply, the scent of lilacs from the other grave gracing his senses. The soft, wet grass was comforting against his back, and he opened his eyes and raised them to the canopy of the trees above him, as the autumn leaves fell through the air and landed against his body.
The sun's dim light bathed a few of the headstones below the hill, the light rising slowly but steadily up towards the hill.
Bakura turned his head toward his neighboring grave, and reached towards a single, stray lilac that had fallen from the bouquet and lay nestled within the grass. Grasping the stem between his thumb and finger, he twirled the delicate flower, admiring the simple beauty of it.
Lowering it towards his lips, his eyes closed once more as the sweet, delicate scent washed over him again, the cool wet petals embracing his lips. Grasping the flower in one hand, his eyes opened partially and his gaze fell upon the Ring.
He lowered the defenses in his mind, feeling his Hikari's frantic presence hovering within his soul room. He had stopped trying to escape. Bakura could feel his despair, as he paced the room, desperate and fearful.
Bakura blinked, when the sound of his name echoed faintly off in the distance. He paused, and heard it again, realizing that it was Yugi's voice.
He wondered faintly how they had managed to track him all the way to the cemetery, and realized that it was probably from Yami's tireless efforts.
"Not this time, Pharaoh," he murmured, twirling the flower against his smiling lips, the other hand reaching for the Ring.
"Not this time…"
His hand closed around the Ring, smearing blood against the ancient gold. He sighed, raising his eyes to the canopy above him, the leaves circling in a downward spiral towards him. Numbly, he reached forward, fingers extending towards the Heavens, aching for his mother's touch.
The pale hand trembled as a dim beam of light broke through the canopy and lighted the mournful look in his eyes as they filled with tears.
"Mother…" he whimpered; glistening pools of crimson searching the break of light in the trees above him. "I wait for you…"
Another beam of light broke through the canopy, and he inhaled sharply as the warmth of the light enveloped his body. Trembling, his grip tightened on the Ring.
His eyes fluttered closed, the smile widening slightly as the warmth of the light embraced his body, as if it were an embodiment of his mother enveloping him in her arms. He tilted his chin upwards slightly, attempting to intensify the feeling of security and comfort.
Fleeting memories from his forgotten childhood rose like wisps of smoke before his closed eyes. His brow furrowed slightly as he saw himself, immersed within his mother's arms, her soft hands stroking his hair as her lips laid a gentle kiss against his forehead.
An intense feeling of yearning swelled within him, causing his still heart to ache for her presence.
"An ungrateful son…" he whispered, his tone agonized. "A bastard son…that's what I've been for so long. I've made you wait, and I suffered needlessly. I killed for you…for Ryou…but I will wait no longer, kill no more. I'll break the seal I foolishly placed upon myself…no matter the pain."
Bakura's eyes opened slowly, as the sound of his name being called echoed throughout the graveyard.
He had little time.
He couldn't let them stop him.
"Bakura!" Joey hollered, glancing around the cemetery with a frantic look on his face. He lowered his eyes to the grass, squinting in the dim light for a sign of the blood Bakura had left behind.
Somewhere within the dense mass of green, something red caught his eye.
Immediately, he came to his knees, his fingers parting the dewy blades of grass. His eyes widened when he finally found the barely visible blood stains nearly at the roots of the grass. He crawled forward, until he finally found another trace, and then another, and another.
Swallowing hard, he noticed the path starting to go slightly uphill, and he scrambled to his feet, shouting back to the others.
"Yugi! It's this way!"
Not bothering to wait, he scrambled up the slippery wet hill, hoping he wouldn't see what he expected when he reached the top.
Ryou sat against the wall in his soul room, his face buried in his arms. His eyes were dry, unblinking, weary from crying. Attempting to knock the door open was futile; his body was simply too weak at this point.
His mind was blank, devoid of everything except for the look on his Yami's face when he had seen him last. The desperation in the Tomb Robber's gaze had frightened him more than anything in his life.
A shuddering sigh escaped him, as he leaned his head against his upright knees and grasped fistfuls of his hair. He squeezed his eyes shut when he felt his Yami's defenses weaken deliberately, and soon his presence could be felt right outside the door.
Ryou faintly wondered what physical condition his body was in, especially now that neither of them was in control of it.
The door opened.
Ryou didn't glance up until his Yami knelt down before him.
His tired brown eyes rose to meet his Yami's, somewhat surprised to see the peaceful expression on his Yami's face, accompanying the small smile of sorrow.
"I'm done," he said suddenly, his tone resolute. "I will not make her wait any longer."
Ryou stared at him, literally at a loss for words. He just blinked in response.
"I thought…" Yami Bakura paused, the resolution in his eyes flickering. "I thought I should warn you."
"Warn me?" Ryou echoed faintly, surprised at how small and hollow his voice sounded. "Why…?"
The pain that crossed Bakura's face was so sudden and strong that Ryou raised his head from his arms, his eyes wide. A small sound of anguish escaped Bakura, and he bit his lower lip, hard, as a deep loathing came into his tearful eyes.
"Get up," he whispered, his voice hoarse.
Ryou put his hands at his sides and obeyed silently, leaning against the wall for support. He stared, petrified of the calm fury in his Yami's eyes, and before he could stop himself, he remembered the beatings.
That look in his eyes…the very one Ryou saw right before his life would crumble temporarily in the past; when pain was present, and the air was devoid of everything but the sounds of his Yami's maniacal laughter.
He trembled as vivid images of the past re-occurred in his mind. The pain of regret had never become so evident, until he cried out as his Yami stepped forward, his response automatic.
"Please…" he whispered, pushing himself against the wall. "Don't hurt me…"
It looked as if someone had slapped Yami Bakura.
Ryou's lips parted, but no words were able to express the excruciating regret that engulfed his being.
Bakura blinked slowly, barely noticing the pain in his palms as his fingernails dug into the flesh.
He pressed his lips together, and nodded slowly, eyes dry and blinking, as he turned away from his lighter half and started towards the door.
He barely noticed it when his Aibou let out a cry, and something collided into his backside. Arms encircled him tightly as broken sobs filled the air, bringing him to his knees from the weight of despair.
His arms lay motionless by his sides, his blank gaze on the floor in front of him as his Aibou wept against him, clenching fistfuls of his shirt.
"I'm sorry…!" He wept, gripping the bloodstained shirt. "I didn't…I didn't mean it, Yami…please don't do this! Don't go…"
Bakura's hands rose to his sides, taking hold of Ryou's and untangling them from his shirt. His Hikari's hands released him reluctantly, and Yami Bakura turned around, kneeling in front of Ryou.
"You don't have to do this," Ryou breathed, eyes wide with desperation. "You don't have to make it end this way…just come back home…"
Yami Bakura stared at him, his face completely expressionless as he wondered how he ever could have laid a hand on the person who meant the most to him now. Ryou's sincerity and unwavering determination just made it harder for him to go through with what he thought was right.
But he would not succumb.
He would not waver…
Bakura cocked his head slightly to the side as he smiled, the sight chilling Ryou to the very core of his being.
"It's like you never had wings…" Bakura whispered, his gaze never leaving Ryou's, that small smile still frozen on his lips.
"Because…I never let you fly…"
Ryou's stared speechlessly as the former Tomb Robber slowly came to his feet, glancing upwards at what should have been the ceiling, but was instead a hollow expanse of room continuously rising into darkness.
"This is your cage," Bakura said, gesturing to Ryou's soul room, still smiling.
"And I…" he whispered, putting his hand against the Millennium Ring.
"Have the key."
"My mother never liked the idea of keeping birds in cages," he continued, his tone calm. "She said they were meant to be outside, where they weren't bound by prisons…where their wings were given purpose, and life could be experienced in full…"
His tone cracked slightly at the last two words, and he let out a quick laugh to cover it as Ryou stared despairingly at him. Bakura swallowed hard, and glanced upwards again, before he lowered his gaze back to Ryou, his smile straining behind the tears, a small laugh leaving his lips.
Ryou slowly rose to his feet, cautiously, as his Yami removed the Ring from around his neck and held it in his hands.
"You better hold on Ryou…" he whispered hoarsely, his crimson eyes intent on the Ring.
"It's about time I set you free…" The finality of his words startled Ryou from his stupor, and their eyes met momentarily as he gave his Hikari one last glance.
"No!" Ryou screamed as he lunged toward his Yami, catching nothing but air when the Ring glowed and Bakura vanished.
"Yami! No! Please, no, don't do this!" Ryou wailed as he fell to his knees, collapsing in a fit of sobs within his empty soul room, the foundations of his mind crumbling in around him.
"Oh God…" Joey whispered, when he encountered the lifeless looking body of Bakura on top of the small hill. He stood over the still body, the light of dawn breaking through the canopy of the trees above him and faintly illuminating Bakura's features.
Joey remained motionless when Yami, Yugi, and Tristan came running up behind him, coming to a dead stop beside him when they caught sight of the Tomb Robber lying on the grass near another small grave.
The intense determination in Yami's eyes faltered, and his wide eyes filled with silent anguish as he caught sight of Bakura's peaceful expression; eyes shut as if he were sleeping…
Yami cursed under his breath and fell to his knees near Bakura's body, head bowed in sorrow and rage.
"I'm so sorry Ryou…" he whispered. "I've let you down...I…I've let Bakura down…"
Yami's eyes snapped open at the hoarse, slightly sarcastic voice, and Tristan, Yugi and Joey stared, absolutely stunned as Bakura's eyes opened, a smirk gracing his lips as he glanced up at the former Pharaoh, his hands closing around the Ring.
"Never thought I'd hear that…"
"Bakura!" Yami gasped, literally at a loss for words. "What are you…where is…what in Ra's name did you think you were doing!?"
The former Tomb Robber let out a weak laugh, his grip tightening on the Ring as it began to glow faintly. He glanced wearily at each shocked face, and squinted at the dim light that shone at him from above.
He blinked slowly at the light, eyes darkening as realization dawned on him, and Ryou's cries echoed endlessly within his mind. Time to let him out…for good…Bakura thought, true fear tightening in his chest and clouding his eyes, something he hadn't experienced since he had read from the Papyrus of Ani and bound himself to the Ring.
Swallowing the lump in his throat, he raised his eyes to Yami, realizing that the Pharaoh was able to see the intense fear in his eyes as his hands tightened their grip around the Ring, knuckles white from the force.
"Bakura?" Yami questioned, deeply disturbed by the vulnerability and fear in the Tomb Robber's eyes, and the glowing of the Ring. "What are you doing…?"
Time is up, Bakura…
Break the cage.
Yami Bakura looked at him and clenched his jaw, tears of resolution flooding his eyes. It was going to hurt. Ra…he knew it was going to hurt.
Yami's lips parted in wonderment at the sudden determination that seemed to surface and accompany Bakura's fear, and as soon as he heard his next words, the meaning finally dawned on him, and his un-beating heart took the weight of it in one fell realization.
"Releasing the bird."
There was no time for them to react.
Bakura screwed his eyes shut and with a burst of inhuman energy, let out a scream of effort as he pulled outward and, with a flash of intense light, broke the rim of his ancient Millennium Ring. A flash of light as bright as the Sun exploded outward from the broken remnants of the Ring and knocked all those surrounding it off their feet.
The supernatural powers the Ring had bestowed upon Bakura literally tore away from him in torrents of black light, the swirling mass of dark energies plunging into the broken remains of the Ring.
Yami Bakura clawed his fingers into the damp earth he lay on, trying to prevent himself from blacking out as his very being was being wrenched for power. He kept his eyes shut tight, and screwed them tighter when he felt his and Ryou's soul rooms break.
Ryou cried out, falling to the crumbling and rising ground of his soul room. The walls seemed to be deteriorating right before his eyes, no longer separating his and his Yami's soul room.
Holding his hands over his head, he braced himself as the floor he lay on broke beneath him, shattering into a million pieces and sending him into the dark abyss below.
Yami lay against the grass, raising an arm to protect his face against the turbulent air that emanated from where Bakura and the broken Ring lay. The force of the Ring had knocked him and the others ten feet back, leaving them at the mercy of its power.
Turning his head, Yami spotted Yugi, Joey, and Tristan lying a few feet away from him, protecting themselves in similar fashion. Gritting his teeth, he crawled towards Yugi, putting an arm over him in protection from the destructive force of the Ring.
"Yami!" Yugi cried. "What's happening to Bakura?"
Yami wished he could answer his Aibou, but had no idea what to expect after the power of the Ring subsided. Just as it seemed the black light and intense wind were dying down, another eruption, and this time of white light, exploded outwards.
"Yugi!" Joey shouted, eyes wide as stared up at the hill. "Look!"
All eyes went to the hill to see Bakura standing in the midst of the light, his back arched as white light spilled from his being.
An invisible hand seemed to have tugged Bakura to his feet, because there was no way he would have had the energy to stand on his own. The harsh wind crushed against him, driving all that didn't belong to him out of his body.
And now there was only one thing left…
It looked as if a seam of light had split down his body, and the light exploded, ceasing as soon as Ryou suddenly separated from Bakura's body. The Tomb Robber's eyes opened as soon as the blinding glare of the light left his eyelids, and the invisible hand that held him up let go.
He stood on his feet for a moment, wide eyes landing on the crumpled form of Ryou. Then a thin stream of blood suddenly dripped down his chin, contrasting vividly against white skin, and he listlessly tilted back and collapsed on the ground.
Yami glanced at the hill between his arms, relief flooding his body as soon as the wind and light abruptly stopped and dissipated within the calm air. Getting to his feet, Yami helped Yugi stand up.
Tristan and Joey were staring at where the explosion of light had been moments before, where there nothing left but two separate bodies and the broken remnants of the Ring.
"Ryou!" Yugi yelled as they all scrambled towards the crumpled figure.
"Ryou?" Yugi whispered, kneeling next to his friend's still body, fear audible in his voice. Reaching out, he pushed Ryou onto his back and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw that he was conscious, but dazed.
"Yugi…?" Ryou whispered, his foggy brown eyes clearing at the sight of his friends' concerned faces. He blinked repeatedly as Tristan and Joey helped him sit up, his head pounding from pain.
"I was in my soul room," he murmured, still dazed. "It was falling apart, I think my Yami…" His eyes suddenly widened.
Scrambling to his feet, despite the pounding of his head, he whirled around and spotted Bakura's body lying on the other side of the hill.
"Yami!" He cried out, running toward the unmoving figure, the others following close behind with Yami fearing the worst.
Yami Bakura had broken the Millennium Ring.
The consequences were unknown to Yami, since not a single possessor of a Millennium Item had even contemplated the idea of destroying a Millennium Item.
Ryou fell to his Yami's side, his eyes widening in horror at the state of his other half. Yami Bakura's body was literally convulsing as he gasped for breath, his eyes wide and pupils dilated, focused on some point above him.
His fingers were curled into tight fists as his chest heaved, perspiration building on his forehead from the effort it was taking for him to breathe. Ryou reached for his Yami's hand and was shocked to feel…
The shock rendered Ryou speechless. It wasn't possible…
Yami stared in confusion as Bakura uncurled his right fist and put it against the left side of his chest, his fingernails digging deep into the fabric as if he were trying to tear something out, his eyes wide with shock and panic.
"Bakura, say something!" Yami demanded as he reached forward to prevent his hand from clawing into his flesh. He put a firm hand against his chest and used the other to remove his hand, but froze midway.
"Yami?" Yugi said, frightened by the look of absolute shock on Yami's face as the Pharaoh's hand jerked away from Bakura's chest.
"H-How…?" Yami whispered in disbelief, the realization dawning on him as he glanced at Ryou, who seemed to have realized the same thing.
"What is it, Ryou!?" Joey demanded, also unnerved by the expression on Yami's face.
Ryou stared wide-eyed at his other half, his lips parting to answer as Bakura continued to take deep shuddering gasps.
Reaching out, he hesitantly put a hand against Bakura's chest, and felt a rapid heartbeat meet his hand. His Yami was still here…now really alive. The panic and fear in his eyes was understandable.
How could one immediately adjust to having an alien sensation in their chest after feeling nothing for three thousand years? How could one adjust to having to breathe all over again?
"Yami," Ryou breathed, a small smile gracing his face. "You're alive!"
Bakura stared at him, continuously gasping for breath as a pained smile appeared on his face, tears appearing in his eyes as he shook his head slowly, the stream of blood continuing to drip freely down his chin.
Ryou's smile faded as he noticed that what little colour there was in his Yami's skin was gradually beginning to fade, his breathing growing shallower and more strained with each gasp.
Bakura grasped feebly at Ryou's shirt, a numbing feeling spreading throughout his chest as it became harder and harder to draw breath without choking on the blood that dripped freely from his mouth.
Ryou looked at Yami, worry turning to panic as the Pharaoh looked at him just as helplessly.
"I don't know what's wrong, Ryou," Yami said, his voice shaking slightly as he watched Bakura struggle to breathe. "I…" he trailed off when Bakura glanced at him and smirked weakly, a small laugh leaving his lips.
"I…I thought you m-might have figured it out…by now…" Bakura rasped, his voice weak with pain as tears streamed down his face, despite his laughter.
Even years later, Yami would be unable to describe the full devastation he and Ryou felt when Bakura glanced down at his shirt, at the two dark stains that were beginning to appear against the fabric that covered his stomach.
Ryou immediately unbuttoned the bottom of the shirt and lifted it up, a cry of shock escaping from everyone except Yami, who felt as if he had gone numb.
"Y-You have to…be dead…for the Papyrus to w-work, remember…?" Bakura whispered weakly to Yami, his smirk widening as he stared at the canopy of trees above him, a look of dazed contentment on his face.
Yami stared at the stab wounds Bakura had given himself three thousand years before, no longer just white scars. They were fresh, as if he had just done the act moments before, and bleeding heavily, soaking the grass around him.
Ryou seemed to have gone into shock, and could only stare wordlessly at the fatal wounds as Tristan got to his feet, panic clear in his gaze.
"What the hell are we still sitting here for!?" He yelled. "Let's get him to a hospital!"
"No!" Bakura gasped, sending himself into a coughing fit as he rendered himself breathless. "Don't take me anywhere…it won't…be long…"
"Why did you do this…?" Ryou suddenly whispered, sounding hollow as he stared despairingly at his Yami, tears anew beginning to drip freely down the sides of his face. "Why are you leaving…?"
"For her…" Bakura said, his voice little more than a whimper as he fought unconsciousness. "My mother…"
He glanced up when he said this, his eyes widening as the light that came through the break in the canopy of trees brightened, the warmth soothing the pain of death.
"She's coming…" he murmured, seemingly to himself, eyes sliding in and out of focus as his hands dropped listlessly to his sides. The blood had nearly flooded his lungs, and he struggled to use whatever little air he had left to speak.
He turned to Ryou, smiling dazedly at the blurry countenance of his Hikari's face, somewhat glad that he couldn't see his anguished expression.
"I'm sorry…for everything…" he choked out, his right hand rising to grasp at Ryou's shirt, his body shaking with the effort to speak.
"I'm sorry I…hurt you…I'm sorry—for not letting you fly…Ryou," he whispered. "And…I'm sorry – I can't talk any…more – hurts…" He whimpered now, clenching his shirt tighter.
The once rapid heartbeat that sounded firmly from within Bakura's chest was now reduced to a weak, dragging tempo, and the air he gasped for now barely had any room to enter his lungs, leaving him motionless and in agony, but it still didn't stop him from smiling.
The light bore down on him, and he closed his eyes, feeling his mother's presence. He saw her tanned face, the soft brown eyes, the smiling red lips,, and her warm, welcoming arms, enveloping him within her embrace.
He reached for her, feeling her warm arms encircle him, her scent comforting him, her touch driving away the suffocation, and constant pain.
Ryou stared, speechless, as his Yami's unfocused eyes brightened and closed, his colourless lips forming a smile as his hands released Ryou's shirt.
"Yami…?" Ryou whispered, his voice choked with anguish as his Yami's lips parted.
"Aan faush…hafaik…kal ai…" He whispered, the weak tempo of his heart slowly coming to a stop as his mother raised him up and away from the pain forever.
Ryou blinked away the tears, the droplets landing against Yami Bakura's motionless body, his face expressionless. Yugi bowed his head, biting back a cry as his shoulders began to shake with held in sobs. Tristan slumped forward, looking dazed, and Joey laid a comforting hand against Ryou's shoulder, who barely felt the touch.
Yami bit his lower lip, attempting to control the pain the lump in his throat was causing him, but did nothing to stop the tears that gathered in his eyes for the fallen human that lay before him.
He glanced up when the others gasped, and stared in shock as Bakura's form was enveloped by a haze of light, and slowly dissipated into the earth. Within a few moments, there was nothing left of the Tomb Robber but the broken shards of the Millennium Ring.
Ryou seemed to slowly come out of his stupor when he realized that Yami Bakura was literally gone, and was not coming back.
Breaking under the deluge of tears that suddenly flooded forward, Ryou fell against the wet grass where his Yami had lain, weeping in grief. His agonized cries were painful to hear, and Yami could do nothing but lay a comforting hand on Ryou's shoulder.
"He's happy where he is, Ryou," Yami whispered, his violet eyes burning as he stared down at the grass. "And he's promised you something...don't forget that."
Several weeks passed, and an odd stillness had settled over Yugi's residence, for it was there where Ryou was currently living. He had barely spoken after that night in the cemetery, when half of him had been literally ripped away.
Yami and Yugi shuddered to think how it felt, if they had separated like Bakura and Ryou had. There was little they could do, except keep a watchful eye on him and be gentle in his company.
Ryou seemed to be hollow, his eyes were dazed and dry. He had cried all his tears on that night, and had shed none since. Yami theorized that it was the feeling of Bakura's soul missing, which had rendered Ryou into such a weak state.
Having another soul torn from you…it would be a long time before he fully recovered from this, which Yami was assured he would.
The Pharaoh had seemed to have been in a dazed sort of stupor after the fateful night, and watched Ryou with the same protective gaze he held for only Yugi. He watched…to check if he was strong enough to hear what Yami had to say...
….for he had not forgotten the promise that Yami Bakura had made to Ryou.
It was a bright, chilly day in December, two months after Bakura's departing, that Yami decided to see Ryou and talk. Admittedly, Yami had never felt this anxious in his life. He could only compare the feeling to when he had nearly lost Yugi to the shadow realm.
Yugi wished him luck, and he slowly climbed the stairs, shaky but resolute. When he opened the door, Ryou was sitting on his bed, reading a book. He put it down and managed a small smile as Yami entered, smiling in return.
"Good morning, Yami," Ryou said, still sounding somewhat hollow. "Does Yugi need help with breakfast?"
Yami thought it odd to hear him say that, especially since Ryou hardly ate anything in the morning anymore. He decided that Ryou was obviously trying to avoid talking about that night. But he wouldn't wait any longer…
Ryou had to know.
"How are you, Ryou?" Yami said softly, sitting at the edge of his bed as Ryou carefully placed his book down.
He shrugged. "Okay."
Yami stared at him, hard. "No, you're not okay. But I promise that you will be Ryou, soon…" He trailed off, and glanced out the window as Ryou gave him a confused look.
"I have to tell you, Ryou," he whispered now. "You have to know…"
Ryou became very still, and Yami took a deep breath before he turned to face him, not surprised at the expression on Ryou's face. It had gone pale, and his wide, doleful eyes penetrated Yami's gaze.
"He…he said s-something to me?" Ryou whispered weakly.
Yami nodded. "He spoke in his old language…he promised you something. I-I…I can tell you what he said, Ryou. I have to."
Unable to look Ryou in the eye, as he felt that it was too personal, he looked back out the window, his eyes focusing on the lightly falling snow.
"Aan faush…hafaik…kal ai…" Yami murmured, a faraway look in his eyes, as if the language stirred some of his forgotten memories.
"I'll see you again…my brother…"
Ryou did not leave his room that day, and instead replayed the sound of Yami's reassuring voice in his head. As soon as he was alone, he had locked the door and spent the next few hours staring at the ceiling, eyes unfocused.
The words were comforting ones, beautiful ones…but they were just words. Ryou felt…knew…that his Yami was gone. How could he possibly see him again? With this thought, Ryou stayed awake till the late hours of the night, twisting the meaning of the words to see if they could possibly be true.
He didn't know when he realized that they couldn't.
Tears that had remained dormant for months spilled silently and heavily down his pale face, as he curled up in the darkness, his sore eyes on some blank spot on the wall. His forehead throbbed with the dull pain of fatigue and sorrow, but he didn't care.
How can I see you again…? He thought repeatedly. You're gone…you're not coming back…
The tears started again, but this time they were tears of anger. Why did Yami have to tell him this, when Ryou had tried so hard to put the pain behind him, to forget it? Why did he have to say something that was utterly impossible?
Why did Bakura have to die?
The silent tears turned to a pitiful, quiet sobbing in the middle of the night, as Ryou buried his face in the pillow, attempting to muffle the sounds. There was nothing he could blame for making him weep…
He could have guessed that it was the painful throbbing of his head or the lump in his throat, but what did it matter…he couldn't help it.
He shivered when he felt something like a breath of warm air wash over him, suddenly, and realized without feeling that he was probably feverish. The warmth loosened his hold on the sheets, and he felt an extremely faint touch against his head.
His breathing slowed, and the tears slowly receded, his eyes widening slightly as Yami Bakura's last words echoed in his mind again…or so he thought, until he felt the voice and words in the room.
Delirium too… He thought foggily, deciding that he was probably losing his mind. But that thought was driven away when the light touch descended on his head again, soothing the pain and despair.
It felt familiar…
Not daring to believe anything, Ryou stared, his eyes half closed, at his pillow; afraid that if he moved, the comforting touch would disappear.
He panicked when he felt his eyes drift closed, and he forced them open, not wanting to leave the presence behind. He faintly wondered why his Yami was here…because it couldn't have been anyone else.
His Yami was there…and Ryou did nothing, because he wasn't meant, or able to. He just lay there, knowing that if he moved, or spoke, or looked up, his Yami would leave him again…so he just waited, his eyes closing in a serene expression as an equally serene voice drove away his tears.
A sweet, female voice, singing in a beautiful language he didn't understand, but felt the meaning of.
"Thank you…" Ryou murmured, nearly silently, wondering if he was asleep or not, the song inducing slumber, as the familiar touch on his head gently stroked the hair from his tired eyes.
Ryou stayed awake long enough to listen to the song again, and felt his grief fade away as a troublesome memory, leaving him in a deep sleep, believing the promise his Yami gave him.
Until then, Yami…thank you…
Run, run, escape from play…
It's night, it's dark, the end of day.
Rest, lie, close your eyes…
I'll hide you from the darkening skies.
Hush, hush, the Lotuses sleep…
Embrace me now, I'm yours to keep.
Rest, lie, close your eyes…
Entrust in me and end your sighs.
Hush, hush, I'll kiss your face…
Now down to dreams you will race.
Mother's here, she'll be nearby…
Rest, lie, close your eyes…