Bakura was apparently willing to forgo that hideous robe when it was just the two of them and Mokuba in a room. It was a little odd to him how close in color the bandages were to Bakura's skin. Honestly, he had never seen anyone nearly as pale. Mokuba had actually made a comment the other day about the likelihood of Bakura having ever seen the sun before in his life. As he stole furtive glances at the bandages and the pale skin visible next to them, he had to wonder the same thing himself.
The next time he did it, Bakura followed his glance and snorted in amusement. Kaiba glanced up in confusion, and he commented, "Television and the movies get it wrong all the time. It's down the block, not across the street."
If anything, the explanation was just as confusing as the original amusement. "What?"
"Cutting down the arm," Bakura explained, gesturing with an imaginary knife, "is how to do it. Across the wrist, that's just to get attention. So, down the block, not across the street."
"I'll have to take your word for that. I'm not planning on doing that any time soon." There was no chance of that. He couldn't leave Mokuba alone. He didn't want to risk break up their little family.
"Well, then, it's 'Bakura's Helpful Hint of the Day' or something. If you're going to do something, you might as well do it right, yeah?"
He frowned, considering. "So then..." He trailed off. Just because Bakura didn't care enough to ask the taboo questions, there was no reason for him to breech etiquette and ask about things that really weren't any of his business.
Fortunately, Bakura didn't seem to take offense to the aborted question, instead seeming amused by it. But then, a lot of things seemed to amuse Bakura. "So then why didn't I manage to off myself?"
"Well, yeah," he answered slowly, shifting nervously on his bed. He had long ago put the pillow in his lap and picked at it now. "If you don't mind, I mean."
Bakura shrugged, making himself more comfortable towards the foot of the bed. There weren't exactly a lot of places to sit in Kaiba's room. "No problem. I did it right, I know that. Amane -- that's my little sister -- managed to find me and call 911 pretty quick though. That, and she's studying to be a nurse and all is why I now sit before you today. Not that I remember any of the whole daring rescue or anything. I was pretty much unconscious at the time."
"Is it bad that I'm kind of glad you failed?" he asked after a long pause. Honestly, he couldn't believe he was actually saying this. Too much damn therapy, making him say things that were better off kept private. "Otherwise I wouldn't have my first friend."
Bakura leaned back slightly as if shocked. It turned out that was pretty accurate. "Woah, wait, time out. I'm your first friend? You're how old, and I'm your first friend? What? Did they keep you in a box before you were here or something? Because, really, I'm a piss-poor person to be your very first friend. I mean, I'm kind of crazy and all that, so really, how?"
"I was in an orphanage and a couple foster homes before I was here. It doesn't exactly make for a lot of permanency in a person's life, you know? Either people were always coming and going, or I was always going and coming." He paused and frowned hard. "And I wasn't going to stay with anyone who wouldn't take my little brother too."
The other man made a quiet sound of agreement. "I agree. I wouldn't be willing to stay anywhere where they wouldn't take Amane in too. It's part of the big brother code or something: take care of the younger kids."
Good! It had made sense to the other man, what he had been trying to say. "Exactly!" He paused, a thought occurring to him. "Is Amane old enough to be on her own right now, or is she with your parents or something?"
Bakura shook his head. "Our parents have been gone for a really long time. It's just been me and Amane for a while. She's legal now, though. I guess it's good that I waited 'til now to have my big nervous breakdown, huh?" He nodded. "What about your little brother? How did that go down?"
Really, why was he letting Bakura get away with all these questions? Normally, he would have shut the person asking them down hard and fast so that he didn't have to deal with it. Yet here he was trying to think of how to answer instead. "I don't remember our parents. We grew up with our uncle. I guess the whole voices thing got to being too much for him, so he renounced custody of the both of us, and we ended up in the orphanage; I don't really remember too much about why Gouzaburou took us there. We were in the system for years, then they figured out I'm crazy. So here I am."
"Yeah, here you are, keeping me entertained and from doing something potentially stupid," Bakura finished for him.
-Have you found our guy yet?-
Kaiba winced and bit down hard on the inside of his cheek. Damn it, why did they have to start up again now? The voice was familiar too; it was the one that had told him to kill himself so that it didn't have to.
-Then what's the holdup? I'm bored and ready to go back now.-
It sounded like the voice was having a discussion with someone, maybe even the first voice, but he couldn't hear the other side of the conversation. That was unusual. Typically he could hear the whole conversation regardless of whether or not he actually wanted to. For half of it to suddenly drop out would be worrisome later, when it wasn't hurting his head and wrecking his concentration.
-So what? Just go ahead and kill him, or steal him, or -- Hey! Do you still remember how to do that trick with the ice pick? The one that makes them do nothing but drool afterwards? Because that one's always going to be a classic.-
He moaned quietly, hands covering his temples as his fingers dug into his hair as he tried to bury his head in the pillow in his lap. It didn't help, but it was worth a shot.
-I really don't care, you know.-
Another hand carded through his hair, the touch tentative. It wasn't Mokuba; the hand was too large, and besides, Mokuba typically didn't touch him when the voices started up. Therefore, it had to be Bakura. Most people in general, with the notable exception of Kawai, didn't touch him at all, and he was fine with that. Right now, though, he wasn't too concerned because the touch felt sort of good.
-All right, fine, a little while longer. We need to get back, though. Things are probably going to shit without us.-
"Are you all right?" Bakura's voice was quiet, and that was nice, after that voice's sudden reappearance. "Do I need to go get someone?"
He shook his head and then immediately regretted the movement as it sent new pain spiraling through his skull, along with a bout of nausea that he really could have lived without feeling any time soon. "I'll be all right," he responded just as softly. "I just need a few minutes."
"Yeah," Bakura responded, though it didn't necessarily sound like agreement. The other man was silent for several long minutes before he spoke again, which he appreciated; it gave him time to gather himself again. "You know, I can't say any of my hallucinations ever hurt me like that, even the worst ones."
He lifted bleary eyes from the pillow to glance up at his friend. Almost immediately, however, he regretted the movement, as Bakura's hand moved away from his head. "They always have."
Bakura growled, running a hand through his own hair in obvious sharp annoyance. "Then how do they call it schizophrenia then? That's not one of the symptoms of it. The voices are supposed to tell you to hurt yourself or stand on your head or something like that. They... They aren't supposed to hurt."
He shrugged and repeated his last answer again: "They always have."
"Then it isn't schizophrenia, and your doctors are stupid."
There was an odd tone in Bakura's voice, one he couldn't immediately place. He sounded pissed off; that much was immediately obvious; but there was something else too, something that his exhausted mind processed as 'old' and 'powerful'. That couldn't be right, though. Bakura was no older than he himself was.
"I like that theory," he returned, slowly and carefully sitting up straight again. It was weird, but he felt a bit more shaken by this bout than any of the others he had felt over recent years. To try to combat the oddness, he tried a bit of Bakura's humor. "Think we can have them arrested for practicing medicine while stupid?"
"Oh, something will happen to them for it, believe me."
Oddly, he did. "I can get behind that."
"Good." Bakura took a deep breath, releasing it slowly. With it, that impression of age and power seemed to slide away, leaving behind only the man his age who was a bit crazy but with a good sense of humor. It left the Bakura he was becoming used to, in other words, and as if in response to the silent thought, the white-haired man grinned. "What do you suppose they'd do to them for it? Practicing medicine while stupid?"
"It'd be too much to hope for, I think, for them to all be locked away in one of these places, wouldn't it?"
Bakura wrinkled his nose. "Maybe they should be condemned to eat that Cream of What stuff every meal. I could totally get behind that as punishment. I'm still trying to figure out what I did in another life to deserve it, because seriously, it's some of the grossest stuff I have ever tasted, and that's counting Amane's cooking."
He winced. That sounded a bit like some of his and Mokuba's experiments over the years, before they had been completely banned from setting foot near any sort of kitchen... or even a hot plate. Really, it wasn't as though they had meant to burn stuff as badly as they had. Last he had heard anything about it, they were still trying to get little bits of popcorn off the ceiling.
"Mokuba and I used to have some pretty amazing kitchen disasters. Amane's can't be that bad," he offered, "not compared to ours."
Bakura offered him a flat look. "She nearly burned down an entire forest once. If it hadn't started raining when it did... When she's not causing wanton destruction, her food tends to be cooked to mush. At least she has discovered the beauty of spices, which is more than I can say for these schmucks, though."
"Your sister sounds... pretty amazing."
"And completely someone you don't want to get involved with. She's a vicious thing when the mood strikes her."
There were worlds of warning and threats tied up in those few words. If his sister Amane was someone he didn't want to get involved with, then the implication was there that instead Bakura was someone he wanted to get involved with. There was also the threat about messing with his younger sibling. The latter he was familiar with and might have used himself at some point, but the former implication was more than a bit foreign to him.
"I'll bear that in mind," he offered uncertainly.
"Bakura?" Mazaki's voice cut through their conversation, even as she stuck her head in Kaiba's room. "We're locking up for the night. You need to head back to your own room."
He could hear Bakura's eyes rolling, even as he groaned aloud. "Yeah, yeah," Bakura complained, standing up slowly and stretching. "I'll be there in a moment."
Mazaki seemed to take this as fact and disappeared again through the doorway, though she did make a point of leaving the door open as a reminder.
"God, she's annoying," he moaned. On a worse night, he might have even called it whining. Despite his confusion, though, he had been having a good night, so he wasn't going to go as far as that tonight.
"Yeah, she is. Remind me to smite her later."
He chuckled, picturing that to himself. It would be great, he thought, if Bakura could either smite her or curse her but good. Really, the whole being stuck eating the food they served the patients was good, but there had to be much more creative ones out there. He would have to ask Mokuba tonight. The boy was vastly more imaginative than he was.
"Yeah, I'll remind you. Good night."
"Good night." Bakura paused at the open door, turning to look back at him, a curious expression on his face. "It's supposed to be a full moon tomorrow night. Think we can sneak out and see it? Would you be interested? No iron latticed windows in the way?"
He shrugged. What an odd question that was. "Yeah, I guess. It could be interesting. Getting out could be harder than hell, though."
Bakura winked, a slow grin building on his face. "Leave that part to me. I've got skills the world hasn't even seen yet."
He laughed, the combination of sure pride and confidence in Bakura's voice a bit amusing to him. "Sure."
"Don't think I can?"
"Oddly, yeah, I think you can, but I'll believe it when I see it."
"You're on," Bakura countered. "Meet me right here, tomorrow night, after rounds." Again he winked. "I'll show you the world, baby."
07 July 2010
I was actually a little worried that this chapter might end up being a day late, but I somehow managed to succeed. Each chapter is not being uploaded until the one after it is done, and Part 4 was shaping up to be quite a doozy.
I can finally say this for my long-term readers: Cacoethes Publishing has broken the terms of its contract with me, so I have take the first Preterhumans book to Lulu.com. You can search there to find it. After the end of July and JulNoWriMo, I will be post the second novel to Lulu as well, along with the third once it's been finished and edited. This way, I can make sure you get copies if you want them. As a note, they will also be on Amazon, but for the same price as they are on LuLu. If you buy through Lulu, it helps me out more.
Help get me off a ramen and instant stuffing diet! I'm too broke for mac and cheese!