A long, dark, ominious silence grumbled in his mind before a sullen version of his own voice answered, //What?//
"You're not still mad at me about the game, are you?"
Another silence, this one a mixture of contemplation, confusion, and... something else that made him feel distant. //The game?//
A sharp pain struck within his head, almost like it was ripping. "Monster World?" he managed to get out.
It was odd, but he could feel an identical pain to his strike the other now. //Is this game why there's a hole in my hand now?// Both of them glanced around the room, taking stock of their surroundings. //Why I'm in a hospital with an IV in my arm?//
Another wave of agony struck. Any more and he was going to have to hit the button to page the nurse. "If it wasn't you, then...?"
//I think I know who.// He didn't say the name, thought. He would not ever say the name if he had his way. There was some nebulous power to the name that he didn't want to give its owner. //I just... So what happened to my hand?//
He shifted nervously on the hospital bed. "Umm... I've got a better question?"
"Why are you talking to me now? We both know what I am. It makes us look crazy, you know, yami-mine."
It was his turn to shuffle nervously in the nothingness ether of his mind. //Who else am I going to talk to? I've tried silence. It drove me crazy.//
"They're going to lock us away in the nuthouse and throw away the key."
//They can try. I'll laugh over their corpses.//
"Yuugi and the others have probably called the men in white jackets."
He frowned, his chest unnaturally tight at the thought. //Somehow I'm doubting it.//
"Oh, I suppose you're right. 'But, Doctor, he locked me in a lead figure then started talking to himself' doesn't exactly scream sanity."
Very faintly, he heard the other snickering, and he almost felt a grin himself. //So, about my hand?//
He chuckled nervously. "Well, it's almost healed already anyway." He held his left palm before their eyes, pulling bandages down to reveal a raised, reddened scar, jagged despite the stitches, on both sides of his hand. "It's not so bad."
//It looks like someone skewered it.//
Another nervous laugh escaped him. "That's pretty much what happened." He frowned in thought, remembering something perplexing. "There were two Yuugi's."
//Two? Like this?//
"No. Like two people in one body, nothing like us at all."
//Weird. I'm going to have to see this next time. There... will be a next time, right?//
"I think I pulled an okay save out of the whole mess." He nodded. "There will be a next time. But yami-mine, I still have one question."
He sighed. //What now?//
"Why are you talking to something like me?"
This time the sigh was combined with a low growling noise before he muttered an explanation. //Because I 'd rather talk to a figment of my imagination than sit around in the silence. The silence makes me crazy. Crazier.//
"If you're crazy and know you're crazy, are you still crazy?" he quipped.
//Shut up. No, better, tell me more about this 'other Yuugi'.//
He opened his mouth to try to describe the two he had played with when the door opened and he had to clam his mouth shut fast. He could almost hear the other pouting somewhere in his mind when a severe-looking nurse stepped in the room, but they both perked back up when four others followed her in. "Yuugi-kun!" he greated, beaming. "Everyone! You came to see me!"
Somewhere in his mind, he could sense the other waiting to see the 'other' Yuugi, if he made an appearance. Or maybe he was just paying attention to Yuugi. //So this is the boy who solved the Puzzle... Interesting.// Interesting indeed, but not so much as how the other was acting.
"So, Bakura," he made himself turn his attention to Jounouchi now, even if the other was still focused on the spiky-haired teen out of the corner of their eye, "how's the hand?"
Mazaki nodded. "It looks like your eye's better, but your hand... and the castle tower..." She shuddered.
//It slammed my hand through the castle tower?!// the other shrieked. He was halfway surprised they didn't hear him.
He winced. "It's getting better. Thank you, Jounouchi-kun," he acknowledged with a nod to the nurse. She finished checking his vital signs and left, pulling the door closed behind her.
The blond released an exaggerated sigh of relief. "She's finally gone."
"Bakura-kun?" He glanced over to see Yuugi standing a lot closer to the bed than he had been. "Have you had any more problem with the Spirit?"
//Does he mean...?// the other started.
"I haven't had any more problems with the Spirit of the Ring since the game, Yuugi-kun. Thanks for asking," he hedged.
For a moment, staring at Yuugi's wide purple eyes this close to him, he almost considered telling him the truth about the other, as well as about him and the real Spirit of the Ring. //Don't you dare!// the other snapped. //I created you to play nice with them and gain their trust, not blab my dirty laundry to all and sundry.//
"You'll tell us if you do, right?" the boy sounded so worried. It was almost touching.
"Bakura-kun?" Yuugi ventured again. "Where is the Ring?"
//Egypt. In the Pharaoh's tomb. No...// The other's voice trailed off. //The man with the Ankh and Scales took it. What year is it? I can tell you where the Ring is with that... unless he means right now...//
"It's safe." He left it at that. When he got home, he'd have to turn the apartment upside down and find it. It wouldn't let them go now, not now that the Puzzle had been solved.
"Don't you think maybe someone else should-"
"No!" Even he was startled by how fast the other leapt into control, as well as the vehemence in his voice. Of course, now he was fading, once out of the driver's seat, so to speak, like the shade he ultimately was. He was little more than scraps of Bakura, created for this task, and with Bakura in control, there was no need for him.
Without all the monologuing, it was suddenly very loud in the room. Jounouchi's voice seemed to echo around his mind. "Why not?"
What was the excuse he'd been using? Ah, yes. "My father gave it to me before he left. I need to keep it, for him." Maybe perfect coherency was still a little beyond him. Still, he had to try. "No matter what else it's done, it's one of the few things I have of him."
It was Mazaki who spoke in that suddenly dark silence. "Didn't he come to see you here, Bakura-kun?"
Where was his father? In Egypt, in the sand? Digging in some tomb? One of the ninety-nine souls in the Items? He wasn't in the Ring. Maybe he was in the Puzzle? He found his hand moving towards it when he realized they were still waiting for his answer. "Father never came to see me." It was the truth at least.
The silence suddenly became oppressive, interrupted by the nurse returning. "Time for you kids to clear out. Visiting hours are over for the day."
"We'll see you later, Bakura." He'd almost forgotten Honda was there.
"Take care," came from Mazaki.
"We'll see you soon." He nodded at Jounouchi as the nurse shooed them out.
He almost thought she'd get them out before Yuugi could say anything. It was actually a bit like a game, waiting to see which way it went. The small young man caught himself on the doorframe and called back in, "My mom works at this hospital. I'll ask her to check in on you," before he too was pushed out and the door closed.
Well, damn. Nice people - and no sign of this 'other' Yuugi.
13 February 2006
And here I am, working on this, when I should be working on packing or getting Blood and Sacrifice finished.