Holy hell, it's been a while hasn't it? Had this laying around, thought I'd post it.

Very little happens in this chapter, it just sets shit up for later. It's actually exceedingly pointless.

"I'm not so sure about this..." Ryou muttered. To anyone else, he would have appeared to have been talking to himself, but Ryou knew better. He was talking to the spirit of the Millennium Ring, Bakura, who had, in explicit detail, explained exactly what the plan was. And Ryou was just a little dubious.

Bakura had been adamant about two things in particular- that with careful meditation and prayer to Kisara, he'd find a way to bring his body back from the spirit realm that he claimed held it captive, and that it was imperative to find all of these strange 'Millennium Items', as Bakura called them. The first of the Millennium Items was the ring, which Bakura had said was vital for Ryou to wear at all times as it was probably what served as the connection between them. There were six others, and if Bakura was to be believed, he supposedly knew where they all were. Generally speaking, of course.

Whenever he found one, he'd hidden it away so no one could steal it while he hunted for the others. He had, laughing, mentioned that there were many thieves on the open road, and only a fool carries everything of value together. Several were stored in the same place, which made it convenient. But the rest were scattered across the world, in all different nations. That made it difficult. And Bakura insisted on Ryou running away from his home to help him hunt these items down.

Never mind that Ryou had never been far beyond the city, and had then spent most of that time sick onboard his father's fishing vessel. He had never been to another kingdom, didn't have the slightest clue how to find food, or shelter, or protect himself from the possible fire nation soldiers he heard roamed throughout the Earth Kingdom. Ryou didn't know anything. And that was what he was so unsure about.

"Ryou, I've lived on my own since I was young. You aren't going to die if I'm here," Bakura scoffed.

"But what about my sister? She'll kill me! And my family, and everyone in town..." Ryou fretted. "What will they think if I just run off?"

"You just think about it, Ryou. Imagine all of the power you'd possess if you helped me. We could drain oceans, extinguish suns! Nobody will care what you did after they see how great you've become!"

"That's Avatar stuff..." Ryou muttered halfheartedly. "And there hasn't been an Avatar for a hundred years."

"Don't be ridiculous. When the Avatar dies, they just get reborn again in the next element of the cycle," Bakura said. "Why wouldn't there be an Avatar?"

Ryou's eyebrows clashed together. "Just how long have you been in that ring? He just disappeared from the world almost a hundred years ago. Nobody knows what happened to him."

Bakura's expression became one of surprise. "But that would mean... I'm at least a hundred years old! That's impossible!" he yelled suddenly. How had the world changed? How had he changed?

Bakura looked down at himself in shock. His hands were unwrinkled and strong, covered in the callouses of a thief comfortable with a knife and a firebender who often used his hands to channel the flames. They weren't the hands of an old man. They were his hands.

Small comfort, but while he was inside of this soul room, he looked exactly the same as he had when he had 'died'. He couldn't have aged, or else he'd be ancient and withering. But what did that mean when everyone who had been alive when he had was now dead and long gone?

Nevermind that the only people he had ever really cared about were dead and gone long before he had vanished from this plane.

The items... Were they still where he had put them? He had to escape, he had to get out! Who cared if he had lived for so long? What mattered was getting out of here. And this soul room, what he and Ryou had agreed to call the empty blackness for the time being, was still a prison!

Technically the soul room wasn't the prison, though. It was only the conduit between their souls, a sort of hallway between chambers in the ring. They called it the soul room because Bakura was pretty sure the ring bound their souls together when Ryou put it on, and stored the soul pieces on opposite sides. They could see each other only when they both stood in the center-most part of the ring. Still, despite the complication of the setup, it was fairly easy to use.

They had figured out that they could talk to each other whenever they liked without both having to be there. And while both could be in the soul room at the same time, one could be outside manipulating the body. The only problem with that was that people tended to look at you funny when you talked to yourself. Ryou had learned quickly to mutter and move his lips as little as possible.

For the time being, Ryou still had control. Bakura had decided it would be easier to simply leave control for the most part with the boy while they were still in the village. He still had a certain hatred of the cold and was perfectly content to order Ryou around from the nothingness of the darkness. At least it was warm there.

His expression hardened in the empty vacuum. "This makes things slightly more difficult," he said simply, tone carefully tempered. "The world has no doubt changed greatly in the last hundred years. This makes my quest all the more important. I am sure, hikari. This must be done as soon as possible."

"But-" Ryou began, but he was cut off.

"I will not argue with you. Pack your things, write that note I know you've been thinking about. We leave at midnight," Bakura said. The finality in his voice made one thing clear- this was not up for discussion.

Ryou nodded solemnly, leaving the darkness. He hated saying no. He just couldn't do it. When his eyes opened again, he was seated with his legs crossed on the floor of his bedroom. His mother and sister were long gone for the day, planning Amane's wedding. Amane, for all her freewheeling spirit and wild-child refusal to be tied down, had been forced to accept the moment their mother had heard the news.

After that came the screaming and yelling, the breaking of ice, and finally the silence of Amane retreating to her room to rage in silence.

But that had been last night, and now that they were gone, Ryou was left alone. He packed his things in complete silence, prepared a dinner of stewed sea prunes for his sister and mother for when they returned, and ate alone. His father was long gone on a fishing expedition for giant sea crabs, a rare delicacy, and wouldn't be back for a month.

By the time the two made it back, it was late, and Ryou fought to maintain his composure. He said nothing out of order to them, only wished them pleasant dreams, mentioned how much he loved them, and retired to his room. They suspected nothing. And when Ryou closed his bedroom door behind him, a single shimmering tear was trailing its way down his cheek.

He would miss his family. He would miss them all so very much. But Bakura insisted they leave, and for reasons Ryou didn't understand, something within him was telling him to do as Bakura said. And so he would go, and hope that he returned before his sister married. Somehow... he knew he wouldn't.

That night, he left a folded slip of paper on their table. On his back, he carried more than enough supplies to last him the entire sailboat trip to the Earth Kingdom and then some, as well as whatever money he could scrounge up. He didn't know how long he would be gone. Probably too long.

The taste of salt water was on his lips as his boat left the massive ice floe that was the Northern Water Tribe. He wondered why the world was suddenly so blurry, and why his entire body was shaking violently. It took him a moment to realize it was nothing more than sobs wracking through him like tremors and moisture filling his eyes. The salt on his lips wasn't sea water at all- it was his tears.

Again, had this laying around. Thought I'd put it up. Reviews are always appreciated!