Title: The Galaxy of Blues
Pairing: Yuugi Mutou/Ryou Bakura
Summary: Two boys and a conspiracy theory. On one fine afternoon Yuugi keeps secrets while Bakura spills his own.
Theme: #52, "The least I can do"
Spoilers: Egypt Arc, mangaverse, Chapter 319. And 320, I think.
Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi is the creator of Yuugiou and its related characters and situations. These things and this fic bring me no money whatsoever.
Notes: this is a slice-of-life kind of fic that contains simple fluff, wangst, and making out. YAY.
The title comes from the lyrics of "Another Universe", a song by Arno Carstens, because it popped up as I was tinkering with the wangsty bits and seemed suitable. (It's lucky that "She don't use jelly" is so far down on my playlist, or the making out might have taken a brand new direction.)
This fic is AU for events in Egypt Arc. And though it's set before Egypt arc, it happily ignores the fact that this smacks it into the middle of Yuugiou R. I started this back before I knew that Yuugiou R was not set after Egypt Arc, and I prefer to keep it like this.
Yuugi sighed, shifted the bowl he carried so it didn't dig into his ribcage, and knocked a little louder on the door. "Bakura-kun?" he called into the keyhole.
The door flew open and Yuugi jumped back. "Sorry!" Bakura cried. "I was hurrying! I didn't mean to keep you waiting."
"That's alright. Were you busy?" Yuugi grinned as he stepped into the apartment. He'd often mentioned Bakura's tendency to get so absorbed in what he was doing that his attention took the scenic route to wander away from his task.
Bakura gave him an embarrassed smile. "Yes, I was working on the game. Sorry about the way it looks in here..." Bakura passed his hand over his jersey as he gave the room behind him a shamed glance, tidying himself a bit. The living room and its owner were in much the same state; scraps of cardboard, sticky tape and paper were scattered over the floor and furniture as much as they were stuck to Bakura's jersey.
"It's okay," Yuugi said as he toed his shoes off. "It looks fine." Much better than usual, really.
He glanced at Bakura's feet and decided that if his host was walking around in socks, he could leave the guest slippers by the door. They were way too big and made him trip. Bakura was grinning when he looked up. "This time the mess is for a good cause. Come and see - I've gotten really far on the game!"
"Cool!" Yuugi said, walking to the worktable. If he didn't do it that way - going straight for it like Jounouchi at his best - he felt as if he might back up or even run away, and he couldn't do that to Bakura. He didn't want to be so weak either.
The memory world table was in the basement of the museum, where the spirit of the Millennium Ring and Bakura had put it ages before Yuugi had found out about the game. But Bakura preferred to work in his apartment, saying that the staff had bothered him a lot when he'd worked on the game at the museum. Most of his models were built on his living room table.
He assured Yuugi that this table was much less impressive than the proper game table. This was not difficult to believe, as this table stood in the middle of the mess of construction. A bunch of chairs were standing around the table, bearing glue, paints and Bakura's other tools.
"I'm building the ruined village," Bakura said. "It's supposed to be a sort of ghost town. I put some clay dust on the houses so they don't look so much like matchboxes, so they'll look really good when they're all fixed onto the game table. I'll paint some houses onto the mountainside, too." His voice had become almost businesslike, and his expression excited and absorbed as he looked over his work.
"Mountain? Ghost town? I don't even know what's going on any more!" Yuugi said.
"The work's going fast now," Bakura said. "I'm building houses that are going to make a small village, and the village is in a craggy valley. Some of the houses are supposed to be on the slopes of the mountain. It will be easier to paint those on, because boxes will be hard to attach nicely."
Yuugi felt a little dazed. It was good, of course, that the RPG was being built so quickly, but he couldn't really bring himself to be happy about it... He leaned against the worktable to keep himself steady, inspecting one of the houses to cover the movement up. "It looks almost real already." His voice came out a little too soft, so he smiled widely when he looked up. "Should we go into the kitchen? I brought brownies."
"Oh!" If you judged by the smile, Yuugi's revelation had made a major dream come true for Bakura. He really loved food. "That sounds great! And I have cream to go with them!" Bakura tipped everything off one of the chairs standing around and dragged it to the kitchen - it was for Yuugi, since Bakura used all but one of the kitchen chairs as extra tables in the living room.
As Bakura whipped the cream and fussed about with plates, Yuugi sat by the table and looked around. He noted with relief that the kitchen was cleaner than it had been the last time he'd been in it. Actually, the whole apartment looked okay. It was the kind of messy that his mother wouldn't mind because she could threaten him with a ladle and it would be cleaned up in an hour.
The first time he'd come over to Bakura's apartment since the Monster World RPG, the air had smelled sour and stale. Bakura had turned a shocked, cleanly pale colour that made him look strangely groomed in the middle of the bugs and dirty clothes and plates they were pretending didn't exist. He'd squeezed stiffly into a corner of the couch to Yuugi and looked at his hands as he let Yuugi talk at him about school for fifteen minutes. "You should really call before you come over, Yuugi-kun," Bakura had said with some force when he closed the door behind Yuugi. So the next time he went over, Yuugi had phoned first, and Bakura had still been in the middle of cleaning when he arrived. That time they'd gone out for a burger.
Bakura put down a bowl of cream, a spoon, a damp cloth for cleaning their hands with, and pried the lid off the bowl of brownies. "These look good. Did you bake them?" He piled four brownies onto his plate and settled into his chair with obvious anticipation.
"No, my mother did. She loves cooking." He smiled at Bakura's noise of enjoyment at the first bite. "So are you doing okay?" It was a good question to ask Bakura. He could choose which way he wanted to answer it.
Bakura swallowed. "Definitely. The game is going really fast," he said. "The ghost town will probably be done by Thursday, and I'll have it attached by Friday afternoon."
Yuugi nodded, reaching for the bowls of brownies and cream. So Bakura was going for the easy way out. Okay. "I can't contribute anything yet; I'm only getting my pocket money on Friday. Grandpa always says I should spend big on the weekends ... I think it reminds him of when he was younger."
Bakura laughed. "I can imagine your grandfather being a party guy. But anyway, that will be fine. I don't need to buy materials right now. And my father emailed to say he's also paying money into my bank account on Friday. I think together we should have enough to finish the RPG!"
"You've worked so quickly. Thank you," Yuugi said. His voice came out too softly again, and he had to consciously stop himself from starting to fiddle with the edge of the cloth that lay near his fingers.
Bakura straightened, preening a bit. "It's my pleasure," he said warmly. "And you helped so much. It would have been impossible to finish it without you."
Yuugi nodded, and looked down at his plate. Again he told himself that this had to happen. The RPG had to be finished. He had to say goodbye to his other self.
He curled his hand into a fist on his chest, wishing that he had the Puzzle to cradle; but he couldn't bring it along on his visits to Bakura. His other self wouldn't approve of what he was doing. Yuugi's eyes prickled as the lack of that familiar weight around his neck jumped to the front of his awareness.
Finally he sighed and reached for another brownie. Bakura was watching him with his head resting on one hand, expression full of admiration.
"Don't look at me like that," Yuugi murmured. "I have to do this. I couldn't do anything less, for my other self."
"That's why it's wonderful of you," Bakura said. "I know you don't want to do it."
The ache welled up, and Yuugi pushed the moment aside. "Anyway," he said sternly, "speaking of money: you mustn't spend all your pocket money on the RPG. We should go over your budget together, so we can work out properly how much we each need to give."
"I have been doing my own budget for a long time, Yuugi, you don't need to worry. Besides, just keep coming over here with stuff like this and I won't have to buy food!"
Yuugi smiled back, but he wasn't totally reassured. Half the reason he'd brought the brownies - and was always taking Bakura out for burgers - was because he worried about Bakura's eating habits. Bakura was getting thinner or anything, but ever since that first visit, Yuugi didn't quite trust Bakura to take real care of himself anymore.
He got up and dragged his chair to the other side of table, next to Bakura's. He reached for another brownie and sat back so that his side pressed firmly against Bakura's. Bakura gave a pleased little laugh and put his arm around Yuugi's shoulders. For someone so quiet Bakura made a lot of noises; but they were always small sounds, surprised from him by the physicality he wasn't used to expressing.
"I get the feeling, sometimes, that you do too much for me. You shouldn't neglect yourself," Yuugi said, and took a bite of his brownie. "I don't want to sound preachy, but--"
"Don't worry!" Bakura said quickly. "You don't sound preachy! It's nice of you to worry about me. But like I said, you don't have to!"
Yuugi suppressed a smile. Bakura got clumsy when he was nervous, and the clumsiness carried over adorably when he spoke. "Of course I have to worry."
Bakura blushed and pressed a kiss to Yuugi's cheek. "No, you really don't. Yuugi, I would do anything to help you - but there is also my other self," he said quietly. "If I don't have enough money, he will steal for me, and I won't let that happen."
Yuugi nodded. Then he pressed the remainder of his brownie into Bakura's mouth - Bakura champed down on it automatically, and Yuugi smiled at his surprise. Bakura hated talking about his other self and got depressed if those moments weren't forced past.
And since his fingers were already on Bakura's mouth, Yuugi couldn't resist pressing them delicately against the lips. He could see the bulge in Bakura's throat as he swallowed. Bakura managed to avoid choking and eagerly took the crumbs and cream off Yuugi's fingers. He seemed determined to do it as chastely as possible, with just his lips, so that Yuugi's fingers emerged barely damp.
Bakura pressed another kiss against his cheek, fiercer this time, and lingering. Yuugi turned his head and they kissed properly.
"Hmm - sticky!" Yuugi giggled, leaning back. The angle was uncomfortable. "Let's move," he suggested.
"Yes! We should!" Bakura leapt up with a squeal from the chair legs, put a plate on the bowl of cream, slapped the cover onto the bowl of brownies and dragged Yuugi to the couch in the living room. "It's hard work to be the host," he muttered, and Yuugi giggled again.
Bakura pulled the couch into sleeper mode, but Yuugi knew that was where he slept. He did it so that he could work late on the game, then simply flop onto the couch behind the table when he got tired. "No, don't do that, Bakura-kun, let's go to the bedroom," Yuugi suggested. "I don't want to make a mess where you sleep."
"Oh, but..." Bakura swiped his bangs out of his face and gathered them into a ponytail so that his hair would be out of the way. "I haven't cleaned the bed from the last time..." He turned away from Yuugi's gaze as he tied his hair with an elastic band from his pocket. "Don't be worried, it's not a big deal ... and before I lose the nerve to ask, what do you mean by making a mess?"
"I meant ... oh, I don't know." Yuugi felt his cheeks get hot. "Do you want to go that far?"
Bakura nodded, and sat down on the couch. He was leaning back, leaving Yuugi to look up and down the length of his body. And his legs were a little bit apart.
Yuugi was bright red. "You shouldn't change the subject this way ... and you really do have to take care of yourself..."
"Come on, you're making me feel silly."
Yuugi gave in and clambered onto the couch. He remembered the first time they'd done this, when he hadn't bothered to take off those huge guest slippers and had knocked bruises all over Bakura's legs. But the memory didn't seem funny or embarrassing, as it usually did, because he was too busy kissing Bakura.
It was sticky and bitter-chocolate-sweet. Their fingers left smudges everywhere, but it was okay. Bakura had the most talented hands...
He'd just gotten Bakura out of his shirt when the Millennium Ring appeared, strap around Bakura's neck and gold resting on his chest.
Yuugi jerked away and fell backwards. Bakura looked down at the Ring, his mouth open indignantly, and kicked Yuugi off his ankles.
"Not now!" he said furiously. "Not now!"
Bakura dived off the couch. Yuugi leapt after him, down the short hall, and wedged himself into the gap as Bakura tried to shut the bathroom door, already fumbling with the key to try and lock it. "Ow!"
"Yuugi!" Bakura exclaimed, and for once he sounded frustrated. Then he turned away and sat on the edge of the bathtub. "You'd better go," he mumbled. "If it's decided to reattach itself, that's that. I thought we had more time..."
Yuugi rubbed his chest where the door had jammed into it and stayed quiet until he thought he wouldn't tell Bakura to stop sulking. Of course Bakura was upset, he told himself. Bakura hated to let the spirit of the Ring into their conversations, so this was far worse.
"It's no problem," Yuugi said. "We can watch TV. Or you can negotiate with your other self for more time apart, if you want."
Bakura said, "Please leave."
"No! Bakura-kun, you don't have to worry about my reaction to your other self."
Bakura flinched, turning away from Yuugi.
"Please calm down," Yuugi said. "I mean, I've known your other self is back since I didn't find your Ring where I left it when we were on Kaiba's blimp. And he hasn't hurt me, even though I come here without my other self." He wanted to put his hand in Bakura's, but that would only make Bakura flinch away. And he really wanted to say 'Ryou', but that was probably also too much closeness.
Bakura was hunching his shoulders up, shrinking into himself. "I-it's not about that..."
"Tell me what it is about!"
"You just shouldn't be here! I should never have let you keep on coming back." Bakura turned wide, frightened eyes to Yuugi. "It's not safe. You can't trust him, Yuugi-kun, he won't really help you!"
Yuugi looked at the Ring, then set his shoulders determinedly. "But I don't trust him," he said. He curled one hand around the doorframe, bracing himself; but it was his Bakura that sat up straight, shocked, and not the darker one. Yuugi pressed on. "But everything the other Bakura says about the past makes sense ... he told me things when I was playing against Otogi the first time, and those things were all true. He knows more about the past than my other self, so what he tells me is helping. I don't have to trust him."
"But it's not safe!" Bakura hunched up until the Ring's needles dangled on his thighs. "Have you really thought about this game we're making? Have you thought what it means?" The earnest look on his face flickered into pain, and he looked away.
This was the first time in a while that Bakura was behaving like a normal human being. It was also the first time that he had acted like Yuugi was a normal human being since the day Yuugi had found the sketches for the memory world RPG.
Ever since that day, when Yuugi had been so happy to realise that there was another weird table-top game in his future, Bakura had been looking at him like he was a hero. The spirit had made Bakura do horrible things, and Bakura had let himself start fading away; Yuugi had turned one of those horrible things into a wonderful deed, and Bakura had felt redeemed. But now Yuugi always had to make sure that Bakura knew he cared, so that he'd care about himself, too.
It was exhausting. It wouldn't work either; that was obvious ... Yuugi had learnt that well from his other self. He wasn't enough to keep two people going - well, with his other self it was different, and he could be enough, but he also knew that it would be the worst thing he could ever do. He shouldn't be a piece of anyone else, and no one else should be a piece of him. It sounded lonely, but it also sounded strong.
So it was a good thing they were finally talking about this. Now his stupid, stupid reason could come out, and he'd just look like a normal, stupid, selfish boy. "Bakura-kun, please understand," Yuugi said. "This might be my last chance to help my other self. I think that when he recovers his memory he will know what he's here to do, and I don't know if I have anything to do with that. I think ... I'll get left behind."
Bakura looked up long enough to hand him some toilet paper, and Yuugi blew his nose. When it came down to it, Yuugi didn't like talking about this stuff either.
"Why do you think I'm so glad about the RPG?" Yuugi asked. "I have thought about what it means. I know we're going to play a game, I know the players will be the spirit of the Ring and my other self. And I will be playing with him."
Bakura was completely still where he sat, staring warily at the tiles. He looked like he was waiting for something that was too much to handle and would hurt him forever, and bracing himself for it though he knew it wouldn't help.
Yuugi shut up. It was easiest.
"Yuugi-kun?" Bakura said, his voice a little too high, on the edge of cracking. "What if the two of you lose?"
Yuugi thought of the deck he'd prepared that even his other self didn't know about. He thought of how he was duelling against Anzu and Honda more, and how it had gotten them into the habit of carrying a deck of Magic & Wizards cards around all the time, just like him and Jounouchi.
Ever since he'd learned of the Black Magician and the Blue-Eyes White Dragon on the tablets in the museum, he'd wondered if Magic & Wizards could be important even in his other self's memory. The god cards had made him feel that it definitely would be. So he'd gotten himself and his friends prepared, because he knew they would also want to help his other self ... and say goodbye, if they had to.
"We're strong," said Yuugi. "We'll fight as hard as we can."
"It's still a bad idea," Bakura said. "But it doesn't matter. It'll happen anyway. We can't stop the spirits..." Yuugi could see him slowly relaxing, breathing deeply in and out, until he managed to stop looking as if he was made of glass. But as his arms unfolded from his waist to rest on his legs, his fingers crept up and tapped at the needles of the Ring.
Yuugi pushed himself away from the wall and went to sit beside Bakura, hoping he wouldn't be pushed away. Before he could speak, Bakura grabbed his arm; then his hand wormed downwards, clutching all the way, until it reached Yuugi's. "I was worried," Bakura whispered. "Of course I knew you wouldn't jump into making the game without thinking, but you were so happy about it. I couldn't understand. I thought that he might have done something to your mind - the other Bakura, I mean - and I didn't want you helping if the game was supposed to harm you, but I couldn't stop any of it--"
"Ryou," Yuugi said, and the hand he held almost jerked out from between both of his. "Don't worry about that."
There was a tight, panicked silence, and Yuugi quickly added, "I'm calling you Ryou from now on. We're not just normal friends anymore, and you don't need to push me away."
"That's okay," said Ryou, with sudden finality, and looked as if he were slightly surprised by himself. "But the others might wonder why ... but..." He shook his head. "Thank you."
Yuugi rubbed Ryou's shaking hand. "I'll call you Bakura-kun as usual when we're with the others."
Ryou sighed; the sound held peaceful relief. He turned his head and was even closer, perhaps so that Yuugi could hear his whisper: "I was so glad when you weren't angry when you found out about that RPG..."
"I know," Yuugi said. He knew far too well.
"I'm glad I can help you now, at least," Ryou said. "I mean, later, the other Bakura will probably ... so if this the only way I can help ... well. I would never think of doing less. Not for you."
Yuugi got up and hugged Ryou hard, burying his hands in the big, soft ponytail hanging down Ryou's back. No matter what, he was glad about the day he'd come to Ryou's apartment; he felt as if he'd almost been too late somehow. He also felt like he should apologise, though he wasn't sure for what. Maybe because he'd only visited the first time to try and get information from the other Bakura about the past; maybe for being the vessel of the Nameless Pharaoh and making Ryou's life a mess because of it; probably for a bunch of other things that he couldn't have helped.
Ryou pushed him away enough to cup Yuugi's face with his hands and kissed him. He was getting good at it. Yuugi thought it was some kind of kiss-induced wishful thinking when he rocked back, opened his eyes and saw nothing around Ryou's neck: no Ring resting on his chest.
"He ... left." Ryou looked down bemusedly. "I think he was starting to feel a little, uh ... unwell."
"Oh." Yuugi grimaced briefly, and then laughed. "Does that mean you have more time apart?"
Ryou looked even more bemused, and began to smile. "Yes," he said. "Um, but I think I'll just get dressed, though..." He looked apologetically at Yuugi.
Yuugi shrugged. That whole discussion had been kind of a mood killer. "Can I still stay?"
"Of course, Yuugi." It sounded so forceful that it could have been a demand.
He was a little scared of the way he and Ryou were when they were together. But he thought they had the strength to keep their happiness stronger than the other parts of their relationship, and one thing he had learnt for sure was that they had the strength, if it became necessary, to let go.