Yu-Gi-Oh! One-Shot

November 7, 2010
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It was just another warm summer day as Ryou Bakura sat on the edge of the pier, his pant legs rolled up to his knees so they didn’t get wet as he soaked his dirt-stained feet in the warm afternoon water of the lake that boldly reflected the light of the setting sun through the window of the two Bakura siblings’ kitchen every day at dusk. Their house sat, lonely, on a small hill overlooking the miniature body of water.
Amane Bakura sat faithfully beside her older-by-one-year-and-eleven-months brother, grinning out at the iridescent surface of the lake.
The two could always be found at the lake just before nightfall. If you asked them why they waited until the day was almost over to go outside, they would simply answer that that’s when the lake was prettiest.
It was no fib.
Ryou would never let the deep purples and pinks and yellows and oranges of the sunset falling behind the lake grow old, nor would he ever give himself a chance to miss the stringy, thin clouds that tried their best to cover up the awesome sight, to hide it from human view, only to fail and make the scene that much more enchanting and wondrous.
Amane would never forget how her mouth hung open in a smile as the glittering surface of the lake reflected off her wide, brown eyes. She would sometimes imagine what it would be like to look at the lake from above—from the sun’s point of view. Would it be more stunning, more of a graceful, attractive sight? Or would it look—oh, dare she think it?—ugly? It made her mind whirl in a dizzying way to think that such an awe-inspiring sight might be unsightly from a different angle, but Amane had always been one to see multiple sides to everything, all sides of a story. Like a judge, fair and collected, observing.
The two siblings didn’t speak to one another when they were out at the lake, so as not to ruin the peaceful atmosphere. Never, in the years they’d spent every evening together by the glistening water, had they uttered one word.
But words didn’t matter. They both knew they were sharing the same emotions, that each afternoon was tightening their already iron clad relationship into something more than just siblings. They were best friends, as well as close family.
One night, after the two had run back to their home and were sitting together on the couch in front of the powered-off television, waiting patiently for dinner to be served, they shared a conversation that would, much to Ryou’s ignorance, sculpt the rest of his life.
“Hey, Ryou?” Amane asked in the voice that usually told Ryou that his baby sister was about to say something either extremely insightful or incredibly inappropriate. Or both; it varied.
He gave her a smile anyway, to let her know that he was listening.
“Have you ever thought about what happens to people when they die?”
It was definitely insightful this time.
“I think everyone wonders about that.” Ryou replied in a low voice. Death wasn’t really something he enjoyed talking about, per se.
“But have you?” Amane persisted.
Ryou nodded slowly, letting his long bangs cover his face.
He’d started pondering things like that after the death of his grandfather, a man Ryou had both looked up to and loved, even though he’d only been ten at the time of his grandfather’s death. He wanted to know what happened to Grandfather, not that lifeless doll that had been casually dumped in a six-foot hole. Grandfather—as in his spirit—was still alive somewhere, Ryou could feel it.
After giving it some thought, he’d decided that maybe people were reincarnated after they died.
Ryou found this depressing. That would mean that Grandfather didn’t remember him, right?
“I think…” Amane paused, preparing the right words. “I think people don’t die. Their bodies give out, they pass on when they get too weak, but the person is still alive. Like, their soul. It watches over us to make sure our lives are happy even when they’re gone.”
Ryou chewed his lip in thought, gazing deep into his sister’s eyes, which were set so as to let him know that she was serious.
Amane was so intelligent and creative, even at her young age. This was something Ryou had noticed long ago, but never really thought much of. He was so used to his younger sister’s psycho-talk, that it had become a part of his daily life. But he wasn't complaining. Amane usually sounded well experienced beyond her time, and her musings were often very interesting.
“They’re, like…angels in Heaven, you know?” Amane continued, realizing that Ryou wasn’t going to say anything.
The older nodded. “I understand what you mean, and I think it’s possible, Amane.”
There was a pause. Amane took a harsh breath, her face set into a serious frown. “Ryou, if…if I die before you, I promise to always watch over you. I won’t ever let anything bad happen to you because I love you, and I don’t want to see you in pain. Not ever.”
A single tear slid down Amane’s face, and Ryou was soon to follow in the gesture.
“D-Don’t ever talk like that!” Ryou let himself get angry, something he rarely did, but not before pulling Amane close to him, letting her bury her face in his chest, soaking his shirt in her tears.
He didn’t voice his next thought:
In life and death, I will watch over you, Amane Bakura, so you can forget about dying first.
Amane always had been the stubborn type.
Needless to say, Ryou Bakura had been immediately sent into an unrelenting battle with tears the second he’d heard the news from his father, who looked like all he really wanted to do was lay down for a while to get over his own depression.
Your mother and sister died today in a car accident, He’d said. After that, the man had turned and walked away, up the tall flight of stairs that would lead him to the master bedroom of the house, where the eldest Bakura male would be spending much of his time in the coming months.
Ryou, however, had no refuge. He and Amane had shared a room for as long as he could remember. It wasn't a lack of extra rooms that pushed the siblings together, but Amane’s fear of the dark. She didn’t like to sleep alone, and Ryou had always wanted to make sure he would be there to comfort her when her imagination took hold and she was left victim to her own vast imagination.
He had no place to go.
His own room would remind him of his sister. The lake, where he had been planning to spend the evening as soon as Mum brought Amane back from soccer practice, (Ryou’s lip wobbled as a round of tears spilled from his eyes) would remind him too much of them. Even the house felt lifeless and empty, like Mum’s humming as she cooked dinner and Amane’s giggling as they raced out to the pier was just a distant memory, even though those simple sounds had just rung through Ryou’s ears the day before.
And since he had no place left to hide, Ryou Bakura, the boy who always had a smile in the worst of times, was left vulnerable to his own emotions.
Three years later, the same white-haired boy sat in a high school classroom in Japan, a rope bearing the weight of the solid gold “Millennium Ring” tied around his neck.
It reminded him way too much of a noose.
And at night, when he was alone in bed, he could swear he felt the rope tightening, tightening, tightening until he couldn’t stand it anymore, and he was forced to get up from his warm bed to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom.
Any excuse to leave the confines of the room he chose to sleep in in the cramped apartment space that his father had rented for him to stay in while he was off studying in Japan.
Ryou wasn't one to complain, but he really disliked his new home. It was empty and quiet, like the room in the horror movies before it happened.
The school was okay, though. He had met a group of people that enjoyed games just as much as he in the short time he’d been in Japan. They were pretty nice to him, but the girl with short brown hair (what was her name?) had an annoying habit of only seeing the good things, no matter how bad the situation.
Ryou had once been like that, but somehow, the Ring that was fitted around his neck was much too weighty to carry extra baggage like “hope”.
Another month or two after that (Ryou had lost count long ago), the boy was once again trapped in the boundaries of the school room. His fingers trembled nervously under the desk, and he felt a bead of sweat roll down his neck.
It couldn’t bother him in school, right? It couldn’t let itself be discovered, and surely, releasing itself on campus would attract too much attention.
He was safe in school.
He was safe in school.
As much as he wanted to, Ryou couldn’t believe the words. It was an unpredictable creature—surely not something to be trusted, judged, or taken lightly in any way.
He heard the creature’s low, throaty noise that could only be described as a chuckle trying to mask itself behind a growl. But it didn’t say anything. More often than not, it would let Ryou worry and bite his nails to nubs before speaking to him, assuring him that his precious landlord (Ryou assumed that was him) would not be harmed…
…in any way that could prove fatal, that is. Minor injuries were just a small sacrifice, but he could not afford to lose his latest host.
Its voice—oh, what a low, raspy, frightening voice!—reminded Ryou a bit of warm, sugary sweet caramel mixed with dull, rusty nails.
It could flow and convince, but once you were pulled in, there was no turning back and there was no guarantee that you would survive. And if you did manage to live, there was no guarantee that you’d come out unharmed or even sane.
Ryou just wondered—what exactly had he been pulled into? And why, why him? Did he anger the gods by not protecting his sister as best he could? By letting her lose her life?
His friends had noticed Ryou’s new personality. The one that had gone from charming and compassionate to tense and untrusting. They seemed weary of him at first, but had soon started gathering around him every morning at school, offering smiles and pats and empty words that were supposed to be comforting.
He frowned at the smiles, flinched away from the pats, and didn’t believe the words.
He was not safe in school.
He was not safe in school.
Ryou stared out his apartment window, watching the unusually loud rain pound against anything it could touch. The thunder was deafening, the lightening blinding.
It was bloodcurdling.
Ryou was already blind enough, what with his new development that had him positive he was going crazy. All the blank memories, waking up in places he’d never been before.
And the voice.
It still would talk to him, sometimes, but Ryou wished it wouldn’t. It was too harsh, like a waterfall crashing into time-sharpened rocks somewhere deep in an undiscovered, untainted forest.
It was demanding, like a newborn baby crying and squealing into the night, begging for its mother to come and play.
It was terrifying, like sliding on black ice early on a chilly winter morning.
He swore he could see the parasite from which the voice came at times, whether it was in his dreams or behind him in the mirror. From the glimpses he'd received, the monster was none other than himself. A twisted version of him with unkempt, spiked hair and narrowed eyes that lacked anything resembling emotion.
Just hunger. Hunger for power, hunger for blood.
Dear Amane,
Ryou scrawled in neat, cursive handwriting over the college ruled paper torn carefully from his school notebook.
Remember what you said all those years ago about souls surviving even after their bodies failed them? I believe you now, one hundred percent. Do you think the souls would be able to interact with the living?
If not, then I’ve gone insane, sister. Those are the only things I can think of: I’m either being haunted by some fettered, irate spirit or I’m crazy.
Do you have any other ideas, hopefully some with a more happy tone?
Please write back.
- Ryou.
Ryou stared at the paper, searching for any grammatical mistakes he may have made. After seeing none, he kissed the top right corner (it was a habit he’d developed somewhere in his young life—a kiss in hopes that it would reach his beloved) and folded the paper in half.
He heard an amused chuckle, and automatically, the familiar prickling of fear racing up his spine dominated his senses.
Idiot landlord, came the all-too-memorable rasp. It’s a waste of time, mourning the dead.
Ryou ignored the voice, standing up to stuff the finished letter under his pillow so Amane could come and get it while he slept.
Dear Amane,
Do you remember that time when we went out to play in the rain? It was freezing out, since it was nearing the cold December days, and Mum scolded us endlessly when we came back in sopping wet, after a few hours of being trampled by cold rain.
It was fun, nonetheless.
I wish we could go back to those days, Amane. I miss you so much. I’d give anything—ANYTHING—just to see your smile again, you know that?
Sorry, that’s a really depressing thing to say. I’ll lighten the mood.
Remember when we woke up the next morning after our fooling around in the rain? We were both sick for days. I still laugh about that sometimes, when I need a little cheering up. Who knew the aftereffects of something so fun could make you so miserable?
Certainly not us.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that my situation with…whatever this is has not gotten much better. I’m still in the dark, and now the voice won’t even talk to me anymore. I mean, he was never really the biggest chatty-Cathy, but now he’s just completely blocking me, and right when I realize I need him to tell me what’s going on!
It’s been a few months since the last time we spoke. I guess I can blame myself for his silence, since I sort of ignored him for the first year or so.
I’ll stop talking now, because I’m starting to cry and I don’t want to stain the paper.
How are you and Mum doing up there, sister?
Much love.
- Ryou.
Dear Amane,
It’s the Ring.
- Ryou.
The letter was not written in Ryou’s usual neat, curvy figures, but the unsightly insult-to-Kanji style he used when in a hurry.
And that he was.
The Millennium Ring tore at his shirt, clinging to his chest by the sharpened golden tassels that rimmed the powerful necklace.
It had begun to dig its way into his skin after mercilessly ripping his new shirt. Blood didn’t hesitate to seep around the offending knifelike objects, staining his clothes and running down his chest.
It hurt.
He was in his apartment, where he had come to spend all of his free time. He was alone, aside from the necklace that seemingly had a life of its own. It dug ruthlessly further into his chest, eliciting a gasp of pain from the young, white-haired man who was its current wearer.
He had only tried to remove it so he could polish it! Why was it hurting him so?
Ryou let out a scream as the necklace dove deeper into his chest. And then it stopped moving, suddenly relenting. Ryou didn’t have time to wonder if it had been his cry of pain that stopped the awful thing before falling to the floor, his muscles relaxing in relief. Though his chest was still bleeding heavily, he knew he wasn't going to die.
The voice had made it clear that he wasn't going to let Ryou die, no matter what. He’d then be at a loss for a host, once again rendered a lifeless hunk of once-precious metal.
Before Ryou’s body gave and he passed out, the only thing he was clearly aware of was the way the rope tying the Ring around his neck burned into his flesh, like it was just daring him to try and remove it again.
It reminded too much of a noose.

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