Sorry for the wait, but this chapter is extra long 'aka' I got a little carried away haha. Enjoy!
Beta: Strange Liou.
Warnings: M. Yaoi, Language. Supernatural themes. I own NOTHING! The plot is mine.
Chapter 29: Clouding up.
Slayers. In the Human Realm. Yami shook his head. It was absurd. Marik had always had a flair for making storms in glasses of water, but Seto... and the state Joey was in…
Yami was certain he would clear up what was surely a stupid misunderstanding. But first he'd make sure Yugi made it home safely. Just in case.
Yami perched himself on the edge of a building watching the busy street as humans rushed about doing whatever it was that humans did throughout their day. His crimson eyes turned on a group of students who were wearing the same school uniform as his mate did. He scanned each one of them to see if Yugi was among them.
"You should have a muzzle on that thing!" A shrill voice cut above all the general buzz of the street.
Yami turned to see a woman side-step the snapping jaws of a dog. A very large German shepherd, held back by a balding middle-aged man. With what he had been told, even if the notion was absurd, Yami was immediately suspicious.
The Demon Lord refocused on the dog and infused his gaze with his powers. At first he saw the dog, but then the human and dog facade fell away.
A Slayer emerged from the human skin, bound in hard hide from another world, carrying all kinds of deadly weapons – the most dangerous of which being the Hell Hound at his side.
Yami couldn't believe it. He wouldn't believe it if he wasn't at that moment looking at the evidence with his own two eyes. What were Slayers doing in the Human Realm? It made no sense! Who could have sent them here? Who would have violated ancient laws?
The Demon Lord needed to consult his Council to find out what was going on and to get the Slayers out of the Human Realm before they did any more damage.
"Watch it human, you wanna be dog chow?" Yami's sensitive hearing picked up the small commotion further down the street, but he was too far to see and the street was crowded enough for someone to see him on the roof.
He dropped down into an alleyway and entered the busy street. He walked briskly, eager to see if it was another Slayer. He wondered how many there were crawling around the streets just waiting to cause a disaster.
Yami's heart ceased up. He knew that voice. He pushed past a lady and saw his mate pick himself up off the floor.
"Whatever. Watch where you're going next time," the dog owner sneered. He jerked on his heavy chain and the dog – a large Hound – snapped out.
"I said I was..." Yugi's words of defence died in his throat as Yami suddenly stepped in between him and the dog.
"He said he was sorry," Yami growled, barely preventing his powers from lashing out and revealing his identity.
The Slayer stepped back, surprised at his sudden appearance, and Yami thought for a moment that he recognized him. But the Slayer's scowl returned quickly. He muttered something under his breath and dragged his dog away with one last backward glance.
Yami stood watching the Slayer's back, but with the increasing distance his gaze failed to keep penetrating the disguise and Yami saw a mere human with a large dog disappear into the crowd.
"Yami? What –?"
"Yugi, are you alright?" Yami asked, spinning around to look at his mate.
"Uh, I'm fine." Yugi looked bewildered for a moment, then his face broke into a smile. "It's good to see you, Yami."
"Come with me." Yami grabbed his hand and lead him down the street, searching for an alley. They found an appropriately hidden one where Yami pulled Yugi close to him and disappeared.
They reappeared in the Mansion.
Yugi wobbled a little on his feet and the Demon Lord grabbed his mate's arms to help steady him.
"Would you like to sit down?" Yami asked, taking note that teleportation had made Yugi dizzy.
"I'm fine," Yugi said pressing his palms to his head. At the Demon Lord's worried look, he added. "Just a head rush."
"Sorry," The Demon Lord muttered.
"I'm fine, really." Yugi lowered his hands and placed one on the Demon Lord's arm with small smile. "I'll survive another trip back home."
Yami straightened up uncomfortably, wishing he didn't have to have the following conversation. "You're not going home."
Yugi's eyebrows rose quizzically.
"You're safer here."
Yugi shook his head with a small laugh. "Yami, if this is about that guy back there, don't worry, I've handled worse. And you know I can't stay over like that, especially out of the blue. Grandpa is expecting me home; I don't want him to worry about me."
Yami did his best to put on a face of stony resolve, but somehow it was harder when he was looking at Yugi. "This isn't a request," he said shortly in an attempt not to drag it out into a discussion he couldn't hope to win.
But his brusque reply had the opposite effect to what was intended. Yugi's eyes widened in dismay. "What?"
"I mean it," Yami said, refusing to back down. If he did he'd lose, and that could mean losing Yugi to a Slayer. "There are creatures out there that I have no control over. For the time being, stay." Then he added, "Please."
"What's going on?"
Yugi's tone made it impossible for Yami not to come clean. "Joey and Ryou were attacked." At Yugi's look of dismay he quickly added, "They're fine now. And I'll make sure nothing happens to you either."
"What happened?" Yugi asked.
"That's what I'm going to find out."
Yugi took a step back, his eyes clouding over with worry. "Where are they now? I've got to go see them. Oh my gosh! What about Grandpa?"
Yami's lip twitched with distaste. That was why he didn't want to tell Yugi everything
"He'll be fine," Yami said impatiently.
"Not if Ryou and Joey were attacked!" Yugi grabbed his hand, pleading. "We have to do something; my house has been attacked before by creatures. I won't stay here when my Grandpa could be in danger."
Yugi's Grandpa being killed off by a Slayer would be an unexpected bonus as far as Yami was concerned. But one look at Yugi's face, lined with worry, told him that was not going to be an option. "I'll see what I can do."
"No, we have to do something now, bring him here, or, I don't know, I don't care, I just want him away from that house."
Yami knew the old man wouldn't willingly come to his mansion. "But Seto won't like having a –"
"If you think for one moment that I've forgotten that everyone here is at your beck and call, you're insulting my intelligence," Yugi said sharply. "I know you don't like my Grandfather, Yami, but I love him and he's the only family I have."
Yami scowled. The old human surely can't live much longer. "It'll be impossible to bring him here; you know he hates me and I think he knows what I really am."
Yugi shook his head and held out his hand. "C'mon, take me home."
Yami took it reluctantly. "Fine, but if you can't convince him then you're staying here without him."
They disappeared and reappeared within Yugi's bedroom. Yugi stumbled out of Yami's arms and made his wobbly way out his door. Yami followed him down the stairs and down the hallway to the shop.
As he stepped into the shop, Yugi glanced over his shoulder and asked, "Are you sulking?"
Yami snorted as he caught the door with his foot before it closed and paused. How had he gotten there? Where had the plan to be resolute gone? He shook his head. Discussions with Yugi never went his way.
The moment he entered the shop he felt a drop in the temperature. Or maybe it was the sudden silence. He looked up to see Yugi's Grandfather glaring at him and Yugi giving him a nervous smile. Suddenly Yami missed the council where his every word was respected and Demons, even the most powerful in the realm, cowered in his presence.
"Yami." Yugi gave him a meaningful look.
Yami grit his teeth and turned back to his mate's Grandfather standing behind the counter. "Hello, Mr. Tadaaki," The Demon Lord drawled out his name. He was somewhat satisfied to see the old man shift nervously on his feet.
But that didn't stop the human from retorting, "I thought I made it clear I didn't want you near my Grandson."
Despite the stern tone, Yami was happy to note by the protective way the old human put his arm around his Grandson, that he was scared. Good, Yami could work with scared. "Foolish old man, do you really think you can –"
Yugi jumped in before an argument could start. "Yami has offered for us to stay with him at his mansion for a few days to get to know you better..." Yugi stopped talking when Grandpa gave him a sharp glare.
Tadaaki returned his glare to Yami quickly, as if he had to keep a dangerous and unpredictable beast in sight. "No. As for the fiend, I want him out of my house. We need to talk about this, about him."
"Grandpa, please!" Yami saw that Yugi was struggling to prevent himself from saying just how dangerous the dark corners of Domino truly were. It was pointless.
"Yugi, this isn't open for discussion." Solomon snapped.
"Won't you just listen?" Yugi snapped angrily.
"You!" Solomon pointed at the Demon Lord. "Stay away from my Grandson, stay away from my house, stay away from us." He grabbed his Grandson by one of his shoulders. "I don't want you to see him anymore!"
The Demon Lord snarled. That sounded awfully like a challenge, and family or not Yami did not back down from challenges. His human disguise fell away leaving the Demonic Lord in his true form for all to see.
Solomon gasped and stumbled backwards out of shock and fright.
Yami moved in, grabbed Solomon by the neck and forced the old man to his knees, the ends of a small spell already leaving his finger tips into the old man's throat "Listen to me human."
"Yami what are you doing?" Yugi tried to shove him off his Grandfather.
Yami watched as the old man stopped his struggling and stared blankly, heedless of Yugi now pulling at his arm. "You are going to pack some of your belongings and take a holiday. You need to go far away and not return until Yugi calls you and asks for your return."
"Yugi." Solomon sounded automated, which meant the spell was working.
"Yugi will be with me, safe and taken care of; you need not worry about him. While you're away reflect on all the reasons why I'm good for Yugi and you." Slowly and cautiously the Demon Lord removed his hand and stepped back, his human façade back in place.
"What did you do?" A slight tremor in Yugi's voice. He fell to his knees before his Grandfather and cupped the old man's face in his hands. "Grandpa, are you alright?" Yugi asked panicked. The old man wasn't moving, staring blankly. "Grandpa?" Yugi shook his shoulders trying to get any reaction from the old man.
Yami frowned beginning to worry if he had done some kind of damage to the old man.
As if on cue, Solomon rose to his feet. "I think I may go visit Professor Hawkins for a while." He moved Yugi out of the way as he made to exit the shop. "Yami will watch over you in my absence." He headed upstairs.
Yugi stared after him in shock.
A moment passed as they listened to the faint sound of the old human rummaging through his things upstairs.
Yugi suddenly curled his fingers into fists then released them, deflating. Yami felt the unpleasant niggling that he had taken things too far. When Yugi turned to him, Yami looked away guiltily.
"Yami, we are going to talk again about this later," Yugi growled and went to follow the old man.
Yami snapped back to life and grabbed Yugi's shoulder, firmly deciding to put his own feelings aside for the good of his mate, even if Yugi ended up hating him for it. "Now isn't the time. He will be fine. In the meantime I'll take you home."
"What if I don't want to go 'home'?" Yugi snapped, shrugging off Yami's hand and glaring at him. "I at least should stay and see my Grandpa off safely."
"There is more going on here then you realize, someone has been targeting mates. Last I checked your Grandfather isn't mated to any Demons, but you are." He grabbed Yugi's hand. "I'm busy ensuring the safety of your Realm." He threw another look in the direction Yugi's Grandfather had gone in. "I have too many things to do and resolve to waste my time on a human." He teleported them back to the Mansion.
Yugi stumbled out of his grasp and whirled to face him. "On a human like me?"
Yami frowned. "Don't be ridiculous, Yugi."
Yugi's voice dropped. "Take me back. I can't leave him like–"
"You're not going back," Yami growled, unable to understand his mate's need to protect the old man. "Your Grandfather is leaving that house as you requested for his own safety. Your safety is my top priority. With your Grandfather leaving, you have no reason to leave this house."
"Yami, I can't –!"
"You will have to." Yami cut him off.
"No," Yugi snapped back. He ducked about Yami and headed for the door. "I'm going home, now!"
Yami felt a slight flutter of panic and almost ran after Yugi, but he stifled it in time. "I'm sorry to be so forceful with you."
Yugi stopped with his hand on the doorhandle.
"I'm only worried about you," Yami said, trying to put all his sincerity into his words.
"With Joey having been attacked here in the human Realm, seeing you in the street with that Slayer and his Hound, I panicked."
Yugi turned back to face him. "Slayer?" Yugi's eyes widened. "You mean that man?"
Feeling Yugi's will swaying, Yami felt bold enough to walk over to him. He was relieved when Yugi didn't back away; he wouldn't have to do anything drastic like locking Yugi up in the basement. "Here you are safe; I don't like worrying about you."
Yugi's frown slowly smoothed over and he sighed. "I get that. But Yami, my Grandpa…"
"I will see to it personally that your Grandpa leaves the country safely before I return to my Realm."
Yugi wrapped his arms around him. "I'll stay."
Yami hugged him back tightly and breathed in his scent. "I must go; I'll be back soon, help yourself to whatever you want."
Yugi's grip tightened. "Alright, but we still need to have a talk." He pulled back enough to give Yami a kiss. "A serious talk." He kissed him again.
Yami smiled into the kiss. "Can it be a serious sexy talk?"
Yugi pulled back, his arms still around the Demon's neck and looked into his eyes. He smiled wryly. "First the serious, then the sexy. Just, please, come back safely."
"I'll be fine. Now don't you have two injured friends to play nurse for?"
Yugi smacked Yami's arm playfully. "That's not funny." He bit his lip. "I have a geography assignment due next week and mid-semester exams to study for. But I suppose that's not going to happen."
Yami didn't know what to say to that. He was relieved when the door to the living area opened and took Yugi's attention.
Anzu entered and paused. "Yugi! Did something happen?"
Yami stepped out of Yugi's embrace. "I'll let you two catch up." He turned away and brought his powers up to transport himself back to the old man.
Anzu's apartment was freezing. When Marik and Kaiba appeared, their breaths came out in puffs of steam.
"He's in there." Marik pointed as he moved towards the guest bedroom where he had set up a barrier to contain his lover.
Marik made to walk in, but the Healer snagged his arm. "Until I say so, that barrier is to stay up at all times. I don't want him escaping and attacking random humans." Kaiba glanced at the room. "You also have to take into consideration that this could be the Witch's doing, an after spell of some kind."
Shadows suddenly parted as they stepped through to reveal Bakura in his true Demonic form standing only inches from the barrier. "Let me out, Marik, now!" Bakura was furious, seething through his fangs. But Marik noticed he seemed unsteady on his feet.
"I can't do that," Marik whispered. He was surprised to see, despite Bakura's emancipated state, his shadow powers lurking in the corners of the room, crawling up the walls and over the windows, even trying to push their way through the top, sides and bottom of his barrier looking for a way out.
"He can't control his powers, his energy is overflowing," Kaiba muttered observing the pale Demon.
"Where's Ryou?" Bakura snarled, his wings flexed as if to attack, but faltered. The Shadows receded slightly as the Demon staggered back and found a wall to lean on.
"Ryou is going to be fine."
"What do you mean? What happened to…?" His face slackened with horrified realization and looked down at his bloodied hands and chest. His dread leaked into his voice. "Take me to him."
"No." It came out before Marik even thought to say it. "He's recovering, Bakura, and Ryou… Ryou won't want to…" see you. Marik knew that it wouldn't do their human any good to see his mate in such a state.
"I'm afraid that won't be an option right now."
They both looked up at Seto.
The Healer sighed as if it should be common knowledge to all. "You are very unstable and even more so unpredictable. Seeing Ryou now may be somewhat troublesome if you can't control yourself. He's already been injured by you."
"You can't keep him from me." Bakura bared his full length fangs at them. "He's my mate."
Kaiba cleared his throat and said, "You are no longer mated; both yours and Ryou's marks have gone."
"That's impossible, mated marks just don't vanish," Marik hissed at Kaiba and looked to Bakura to deny that claim.
Bakura looked down at his chest and startled when he realized it was gone. He covered the spot where his mark should have been with his clawed hand. "Ishizu," A deep angry growl sounded from the pale Demon's chest.
"It might have been all part of her plan," Kaiba said. "You must re-establish the connection as soon as possible. How are you feeling?" He moved a little closer.
Bakura made a face. "Starving and exhausted."
"You've been in Hibernation for a while. I will retrieve some blood packs."
As Kaiba passed Marik, the blonde Demon muttered to the Healer. "Take your time."
Kaiba was about to make a rebuke, until he understood Marik's meaning. "Alright, but only as much as I dare in Bakura's precarious condition."
"I'm fine," Bakura snapped.
Kaiba ignored him. "If at any point he starts acting oddly send for me immediately, who knows what spells the Witch infected him with." With that, he left the room.
Marik turned back to Bakura, ran a hand through his wild hair and sighed. How had everything gotten so screwed up? It was almost impossible for him to think that there was a time when they were content and life was peaceful and uneventful. Yet things had been fine only a few weeks ago.
"How is he?"
Marik looked up to see Bakura standing only inches from the barrier and staring at him anxiously. Marik's chest twisted up painfully as the events of the last few weeks flashed through his mind. "He'll be fine. Seto's looking after him." After everything, it wouldn't surprise him at all if Ryou left them.
"Marik?" Bakura asked softly.
"He was still unconscious the last time I saw him."
Bakura's intense crimson gaze became unfocused and his wings slouched completely.
They were both silent for a few moments, both contemplating the difficult task of mending Ryou's broken trust ahead of them. Marik glanced up at his lover, remembering the bloody state he had been in when he showed up at Ryou's apartment and the sudden appearance of Slayers. "What happened to you?"
Bakura snapped out of his thoughts and focused once more on Marik. He furrowed his eyebrows. "Slayers?" He muttered as if unsure himself of what had happened to him. He rubbed his forehead wearily trying to get his thoughts together. "I don't... I woke up. I woke up in that place and right away I'm in the midst of a massacre and running for my life." Bakura fell silent once more for a long moment. "I don't know what they wanted from me, all I knew was that I had to get back to Ryou." Bakura reached out with his clawed hand. "Tell me the Slayers didn't hurt Ryou or Malik." Marik's barrier cracked with sparks, the pale Demon jerked his hand away, clutching it to his chest.
How Marik wanted to tear down his barrier and set his lover free. It pained him to use his own powers to imprison him. "No, I was there to protect Ryou... They did attack Joey." Marik crossed his arms. "They've also attacked random humans. They wanted to know where you were badly."
"I've got plenty of enemies," Bakura muttered, reminding his lover why their lives were so often in danger. "Ryou's got plenty of enemies."
"So you think it's him they're after?" Suddenly Marik had a feeling that something bigger was stirring and not all of them would walk away from it alive.
"I'm not a great enough catch to break the inter-Realm laws for. Ryou however is a different matter."
"He's a human now," Marik said automatically, but there was doubt.
"You and I both know what he really is. Where is he now?"
"At the Mansion."
Bakura nodded. "We'll have to return soon, Malik's not enough protection against them."
Marik winced at the mention of his mate and his chest constricted at the knowledge that Malik was somewhere mad at him and out of his protective reach.
"What?" Bakura's wings twitched. "Marik?"
Marik sighed and decided to come clean. Keeping secrets from his lovers hadn't worked out all that well in the past. "I haven't really seen or talked to Malik. I don't think he's at the Mansion."
"With everything that's going on you let Malik out of your sight knowing full well he'll get himself into trouble, or worse, get himself killed and you left Ryou alone?" Bakura growled striking at the barrier wanting to get free now more than ever.
"Malik's fine and so is Ryou."
"The hell they are! How could you –" Bakura took a furious step forward and faltered. He groaned and fell onto his knees clutching at his midsection as his hunger grew intensely. "I can't believe you would leave Ryou and Malik unguarded," he hissed through gritted fangs. "Where is Malik? Why haven't you seen him?" When Marik didn't answer, Bakura opened his eyes and looked up at him. "Marik?"
Marik clenched his jaw tightly. "Something happened…"
Bakura rose to his feet once again now that the pain had subsided. "What did you do?"
Marik shifted uncomfortably and tightened his crossed arms. "You had been in hibernation for so long. Seto was right, only the Hollow could save you. I didn't want you there, I had no choice, they had orders from the Council to have you moved. Ryou was devastated. He almost never left your side." Marik averted his eyes away from Bakura's darker narrowed ones. "You had to go to the Hollow. You would have died otherwise. But Ryou didn't understand that…" Marik swallowed around the lump in his throat. "We argued, things were said and Ryou ran from me." He fell silent and gave a sad shake of his head.
Bakura knew him too well and had no trouble sensing that wasn't the end of the story. "And?" Bakura's voice lowered dangerously.
Marik looked at him sadly. It was better for Bakura to hear it from him. "I – Ryou wouldn't listen to reason. He was so angry at me, I had hardly slept or fed for the past few days, I wasn't thinking straight. He made me so angry," Marik ended in a whisper.
"What did you do?"
Marik looked at Bakura's face to see it was twisted with worry; the lump in Marik's throat got a whole lot bigger, catching his words. "I attacked him," he choked out. Whatever punishment Bakura saw fit for his actions Marik would take willingly. "I almost killed him. If it wasn't for..."
Bakura held his gaze for a moment before looking away. "Damn you Marik," he snarled. "I trusted you!" Some of his anger drained as another dizzy spell caught him causing him to slump with exhaustion. He massaged his forehead. "You were supposed to protect him in my absence."
"I know I was." Marik nodded in sad agreement and swallowed thickly. "Malik stopped me. We argued, but once Ryou walked away and you were gone, he couldn't take it. We haven't spoken since. Ryou forgave me the night you appeared." It didn't make his retelling of the events any easier.
"And then I went and fed on him," Bakura growled into his hand. He looked drained. Marik had never seen Bakura appear so…old.
Bakura tried to straighten back up. "Marik, let me out. We'll search for Malik and get him home-"
They heard Kaiba enter through the barrier before Bakura finished his sentence. "First you're going to recover," The Healer briskly walked up to Bakura, just as Marik took down his barrier long enough for Kaiba to deposit half a dozen blood packs. "Ryou will be waking at any moment and you have a bond that needs re-establishing."
Later that evening Ryou stirred. His limbs felt like they were full of lead and his mind was filled with wet paper, fogging up all thoughts and memories.
Then suddenly: Bakura.
He scrambled to sit up but a wave of nausea slammed him back down on the bed with a pained groan.
"Try not to do that."
Ryou couldn't tell who was talking and his eyes darted about the melting, fuzzy shapes, to locate the speaker.
His face was cupped gently and turned causing the room to spin and grow dull.
"Can you look at me? Focus on me and only me."
It took Ryou a few moments to do what was asked of him and saw the Healer.
"Good." Seto nodded. "I want you to take it easy for a few days; you're going to feel weak and light headed. It's nothing to worry about; they're only side effects from being rapidly healed after almost being drained. You'll make a full recovery." Seto took Ryou's wrist deftly, checked his pulse then ran his fingers up the inside of his arm no doubt checking something no human doctor knew how. "You'll be stable now. I'll let Joey and the others in to see you for a few minutes." Seto stood up briskly.
"No," Ryou croaked.
Seto stopped and turned back to him hesitantly.
Ryou cleared his throat. "Please, don't." He was too tired to see anyone but his mate. "How is he?" Last time he had seen Bakura he had been bleeding and broken – no. He shook his head and screwed his eyes shut against another wave of nausea. He had seen him later when he had… Ryou felt a stab as the last events caught up in his mind.
"He'll be unstable until he has fed properly. You need to keep your distance from him a little longer."
Ryou felt as if cold water ran down his back. He had thought, as horrifying that it had been, that Bakura's attack was a fluke, never to be repeated. But, the way Seto said it, it sounded like…like Bakura could still be dangerous to him.
His worry must have shown on his face, because the Healer cleared his throat and straightened up, as if preparing to give a well-rehearsed speech. "Bakura was in Hibernation; his body had shut down to survive, going into a purely instinctual state to feed. It was an entirely physical reaction."
Ryou's throat tightened up and his month went dry. "He didn't recognize me. It's because I no longer bare his mark, right? And if I no longer bear his mark..." Ryou croaked and barely managed to restrain himself from curling up into a protective ball.
"A mated mark may fade but it can be re-established. I'd suggest it is in both your best interests to re-establish it before the upcoming mating season."
The upcoming mating season. Would everything be alright then? Would the past few weeks be nothing more than a bad memory? Would Bakura trying to kill him be behind them, forgotten?
Seto sighed and sat down on the chair beside Ryou's bed. "How are you feeling?"
The unexpected question was enough to startle Ryou out of his depressive thoughts. He considered asking Seto to leave, but right now Seto was his only Demonic contact. "Like my mate tried to kill me."
"He didn't try to kill you. His body was simply on auto-pilot."
Ryou found himself resenting the matter-of-fact tone. He refused to let Seto sit there telling him that it was only logical that Bakura tried to bloody murder him accidentally. "You make it sound so simple and common," he said a little more sharply than he had intended.
"It is." Seto paused, awkwardly. "Between mixed matings where one party is human or faerie or elf, accidents do happen."
Ryou looked at him unable to believe what he was hearing. Was this supposed to make him feel better? "What?"
Seto frowned, but he looked obviously uncomfortable and Ryou got the feeling he had intended to breech this subject at some point. "Demons and other such creatures, especially vampires and werewolves, aren't built…" He struggled to find the right word, but he didn't need to. Ryou understood.
"So you're saying Bakura will try to kill me again?" Ryou asked stiffly.
"No," Seto said firmly. "Bakura won't try anything. Bakura will do everything in his power for this not to happen again. But you must understand that these things do happen. If anything you are lucky. Bakura is a very strong-willed person."
Ryou nodded to himself and lay back down on the bed.
"Will you forgive him?"
The question couldn't be ignored. "Of course I will!" Ryou gasped as a sudden pinprick of pain exploded between his eyes. "I already have," he groaned out, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Try not to get excited," Seto said sternly. "You need rest."
"What kind of question was that anyway?" Ryou demanded.
"One last thing, Ryou, do you want to tell me anything else? Anything that doesn't involve Bakura? Something you may have had for a while?"
Ryou glanced away at the hard meaningful look the Healer gave him. "No." What did he even want him to say?
Seto hesitated, but nodded. "As you wish. Do you want to see your friends?"
Ryou looked at the door a little apprehensively. "Are they outside?" How long had they been waiting to see him?
He sighing as he glanced back at the Healer. "When will I be able to see Bakura?"
"As soon as you regain your strength."
Ryou paused, debating whether to voice his question. He finally decided to, Seto was the one who started it anyway. "Do you have any advice for a mixed mated pair?"
Ryou snorted. Safety had been something of a luxury since his mother and sister died. Bakura, Marik and Malik had made his future, though not solid, something he could look forward to again. Even now, with everything seemingly spiralling out of control, Ryou knew that the only kind of future he was interested in lay with his mate and lovers.
At his silence, Seto stood up and went to the door. "Do you want to see your friends, or should I ask them to find another corridor to sit in?"
Ryou nodded. "Let them in." It suddenly struck him that he had been very short with Seto when it was clear the Healer had only been trying to help. But before he could open his mouth again, Seto opened the door, and his friends burst in like hens out of a chicken coop.
Ryou wanted to call him back and apologize for his rudeness, but Seto was already opening the door.
Anzu was the first one in, followed closely by Joey. "Ryou!" She cried, and promptly lowered her voice at a pointed scowl from Seto. "How are you?" They approached the bed as Yugi entered the room. Joey sat down by his legs and Anzu took Seto's chair.
"I'm ok. Do you guys really have nothing better to do?" Ryou asked with a small amused smile.
Joey snorted. "What do you think? With what happened we haven't been allowed out and nothing's on TV."
"What happened?" Ryou asked, remembering the attack on his apartment.
"Some sort of Demonic SWAT team with monster dogs happened," Joey growled, lifting his plastered arm in its sling.
"They're Slayers," Anzu piped in. "An infamous mercenary group. They shouldn't even be in the Human Realm."
"I told you they said they could do whatever they wanted because of some law thing." Joey idly waved his good hand in the air.
"I know, but it's still unprecedented!" Anzu huffed. "I hope Yami'll be able to clear it up."
Ryou looked at Yugi, who stood a little behind Anzu's chair, one arm on the backrest, but the shorter teen only shrugged helplessly. "Oh, Anzu, how's your house?" Ryou asked, knowing there had to be a reason the Witch was staying at the mansion.
"Huh? The house? It's fine, Marik just needs me out of the way so he can –" She clapped a hand over her mouth with a shocked little squeak.
Joey and Yugi gave her odd looks and Ryou gratefully realized she must have not told them what happened. Did they even know that Bakura was back?
"What's Marik doing –?" Joey asked.
"Nothing! Besides, who cares about my house?" Anzu suddenly gasped. "Remember the school's Halloween night? Will any of you be participating?"
Joey gave her a look. "Anzu, we're kinda busy caring about life-threatening things right now."
Anzu didn't look deterred. "That's precisely why you'd want to go; it'll get your minds off it. What do you say, Ryou? Once you recover."
Ryou was saved from answering by Seto. "Ryou won't be going anywhere without my say-so," the Healer said, opening the door. "Visiting times over. Find yourselves something to do."
Everybody stood up to leave, bidding Ryou a quick recovery.
Ryou cleared his throat. "Um, I'd like to talk to Anzu."
Yugi and Joey glanced back briefly, surprised, before leaving. Seto nodded. "Two minutes." He stepped out and closed the door to give them privacy.
Anzu sat down on Ryou's bed. "What is it?"
"How's Bakura? Did you see him?" Ryou asked.
Anzu looked away and chewed on her lip. "He'll be fine. I didn't see much before Marik set up a barrier."
Anzu looked back at Ryou sadly. "I wish I could tell you more, but I honestly don't know. I'm sure everything will be fine though."
Ryou nodded. "It's ok." He didn't have much time, but the words were difficult to voice. "Anzu, I… A lot has happened – I need –" He sighed heavily, embarrassment and guilt burning within him. "After what happened… with Bakura… and Marik."
Ryou looked up, startled.
Anzu looked close to tears. "You're going to leave Bakura?"
Ryou blinked. "What? No! That's not what I was going to say at all!" he said quickly. "Anzu, since you're a Witch and you know way more about this other-Realm stuff, I wanted to ask if there was some way I could protect myself, if anything happened again.
Anzu blinked rapidly, and calmed down. "Oh." She frowned thoughtfully. "There are some things, some charms, a few spells..." her frown deepened. "I must warn you that charms and spells aren't the answer and to prevent being attacked it's best that you place the spell directly on the creature... but I could maybe make you something."
"Nothing that would really hurt anybody just..." He wasn't sure what he was really asking for since she had put it that way. "If it wouldn't be too much trouble. Thank you." Ryou sat back against his pillow, glad he had gotten that over with.
"I should have thought of it before," Anzu said. "Maybe Joey and Yugi might want something too."
"Don't tell them," Ryou said quickly. He didn't want anyone to know he was seeking magical protection from his own mate and lovers. "Anzu..." Ryou bit his lip. "I'm frightened of what Bakura will think of me when…
Anzu frowned a little. "I'll be honest, Ryou. I don't feel good helping set you up against Bakura."
Ryou jerked his head up to look at her. "What?"
"You and Bakura are mated, you should trust him."
Ryou felt his face burn. "I do – you don't understand –!"
"Please, don't get upset," Anzu said quickly, holding up her hands in surrender. "I just felt I needed to tell you. I'm sorry."
"Right. Sure." Ryou settled back into his pillows, a little upset. "It doesn't matter anyway; I'm not apparently mated anymore."
"What happened with Bakura doesn't mean you're not mated, Ryou."
"I'm not, Anzu." The thought of telling her about his mated mark filled him with shame. "I - I don't have the mark anymore."
Anzu just looked at him blankly. "Are you alright, Ryou?"
Ryou gave an exasperated sigh. "Anzu." He pushed back the sheets and lifted his shirt high enough to show the unblemished patch of skin on his hip. "It's gone."
Anzu gasped in shock and jabbed the area with her cold fingers before either of them blinked. Ryou jumped back and groaned as a wave of dizziness struck him and Anzu retreated sheepishly. "Sorry," she said quickly. "I just, that's so strange."
Ryou rubbed his forehead and opened his eyes again to see her biting her lip thoughtfully. Her expression looked troubled and it did nothing to ease his nerves. Why had he told her anyway? "Don't tell anyone, Anzu. It's… it's probably nothing..." He felt stupid the moment the words left his mouth. Anzu, a supernatural person, would know damn well it wasn't nothing.
Anzu shook her head and seemed to snap out of her thoughts. "I'm sorry, Ryou, I'm probably only making things worse for you." She sat back slowly. "But you shouldn't worry, really. If you think missing the mark means something bad, you're wrong. Marks can fade." At his look, she added, "Really, they can. It's happened to my parents. But that doesn't matter. The mark is just the symptom of the condition. Once marked by your chosen mate it binds your souls together." She smiled and placed her hand lightly on his chest. "It grants you the right to give into your desires for Bakura and binds Bakura to you and you alone. And vice versa, of course." She gave a happy sigh removing her hand; the soft smiled never leaving her lips. "It's the most powerful magic there is and it'll never break, it's mysterious and it'll keep a forever hold on you, don't dismiss it so easily Ryou, it works in your favour."
Ryou suddenly understood; she was voicing her inner most fantasies. "How badly do you want to be mated?"
Her cheeks flushed red. "You have no idea," she said a little sadly as if she had lost all hope of finding her own special someone. "Despite everything that's happened I see how much Joey, Yugi and you are happy... not school boy crushes happy, but the kind of happiness that comes from truly being in love." She blinked back tears and straightened up. "Enjoy what you have Ryou, the good times will out-weight the bad." She sighed getting to her feet.
Ryou took her hand to stop her from leaving. "About the charm, I'm not frightened of Bakura or of Malik and Marik... it's as much for them as it is for me. If something happened to me by their hands it would hurt them too..."
Anzu nodded. "Yeah, I know, you're right. I'm sorry for what I said, I was out of line. You're right."
"No, it's alright, I get it," Ryou said quickly.
Anzu smiled. "I'll get the charm ready for you and I'll teach you to use it. Now please, rest up, or Seto'll be cross with me."
Ryou nodded. He was exhausted. He lay down and drew the sheets up when he noticed Anzu reaching out to him. "Uh, Anzu?"
"It's just a small sleeping spell," Anzu said.
"I appreciate it, but I'd rather get to sleep on my own."
Anzu blinked, hesitating. "But it'll be faster this way."
Ryou sighed, seeing the slight look of hurt on her face. "Fine, but ask next time."
Anzu smiled and rested her hand on his forehead. The spell seeped in quickly and soon Ryou's breathing slowed. "Everything will look brighter when you next awake," Anzu murmured to herself. She turned to leave and stopped with a gasp at seeing Seto glaring at her in the door's threshold.
"A mated mark doesn't define a relationship; it's not a 'be all, end all' matter. What you filled his head with is nonsense."
Anzu approached him stopping at his side and glanced up at the tall Healer. "It's better than letting him worry himself sick about it."
"If you make that charm for him, Bakura will know as will Malik and Marik." Seto glanced down at her. "And they'll know that he doesn't trust them, it'll break them apart."
"I need to do something for Ryou's piece of mind, not yours or theirs." She moved by him and left the room.
I'm working on two updates of Fragments and Silent Mind, just putting it out there for those of you who are interested R&R (love and cookies)