Heads are going to roll.
I swear to God, I'm going to find responsible parties - or even people who look vaguely responsible - and rip them limb from limb. Whoops, bad analogy, given my current situation.
You know, it wasn't too many nights ago that Yami, the brat, Mini-Me, and I were on a couch laughing at a bootleg horror movie, with characters caught in a situation very much like the one I'm now finding myself in. And, somehow, the only thought that keeps circling through my mind is, oddly enough, I didn't think it would smell like this. Weird. I'm probably not too far from being torn limb from limb myself, and I'm more concerned about how the things about to kill me smell. Oh well, the brat always did say I'm the odd one, though, as I recall it, he didn't use those exact words.
"Somehow this is all your fault."
I hold back a growl - barely. "I hate you. This is not my fault. You were the one who got the invitation, not me. I just tagged along to be nice."
"You don't know what that word means, Bakura."
"Like you do?"
Okay, just how the hell did we get here?
If there's one thing living in the Kaiba household for the past two years taught me, it was never taken anything, even a 'hello', at face value. I turned slowly and looked up. I'm not short by any means, but the burly guy in front of me with the beat puppy look might have topped Treeboy for size, not the easiest thing to do by any stretch of the imagination. He was also more built than Magnum and darker than the nutjob - and neither of these were easy feats either. And that didn't make me particularly happy. And no one could say I was a cheerful person, even on my best days, few and far between though they might be. "What?" I demanded. A polite, young Japanese boy, I would never be.
He let out the loudest, most annoying sigh of relief I'd ever heard in my life. "I've been trying to speak with you for the longest time." Great... Another basket case. Just what this house needed. Like we were running short on our quota or something. He cast me a desperate look and leaned down with imploring eyes. "Look, I just made the sandwiches! I didn't do anything to end up like this!"
It was on the tip of my tongue to ask "Like what?" when he reached down to grab my shoulder -- and I felt a distinctive familiar chill go through me. I still don't really remember jumping back, but I do distinctly recall that I howled, "Holy shit! You're dead!"
And he nodded, like it was elementary, like I should have known it from the moment he appeared before me. "Of course. Could you ask him to let me go? I just made the sandwiches! I didn't want anyone to get hurt!"
Okay, I had my suspicions already. There were only a few people in Japan who could do anything with the dead, and only one who could do such high-quality ghosts. Still, better safe than sorry. "Ask who to let you go?"
I knew it. I fucking knew it. Only Yami could do ghosts of this caliber, that look life-like enough to fool even me. "Of course," I forced out through clenched teeth. "Who else would it be?"
Don't get me wrong. Yami was one of the best things in my life, right up there with my siblings, but there were times when stuff like this got to being too much for me to take. I was never polite under the best of circumstances, but a lack of sleep -- due to the guy I was in bed with having nightmares every night for the last week -- only made me more irritable and short-tempered. And Yami had had one of those screaming bloody murder, sheet-ripping ones the night before; that didn't help matters any at all.
"So... could you ask him?"
With a world-weary sigh, I cast around till I found the guy's signature... then frowned when I turned up a couple others. "How many of you are there?"
"Three," he admitted, sounding a little sheepish. Good! I've never liked being surprised.
"I'll do what I can, but I'm going to need some info to work with here, like how the hell did this happen? What's your name? And are you who I think you are?"
"My name is Karim. I was... one of the people involved with the Mutou kidnapping five years ago. As for how it happened, I'm not certain, but I believe... Atemu-san pulled our souls from our bodies in revenge for what happened to young Yuugi-san."
"I can't say I blame him. You guys shot his little brother right in front of him!"
"I didn't shoot anybody! I didn't even know they were planning on kill him! I just made the sandwiches."
"Yami described them as the most horrible things he'd ever eaten," I had to chip in helpfully. I always had to make things worse.
He looked so put out that it took every ounce of willpower I had not to laugh out loud in his face. "They were perfectly healthy and well-balanced."
"And you gave healthy food to fourteen- and fifteen-year-olds? What the hell were you smoking?" But I was just babbling on to kill time while I traced the bond linking all three signatures to Yami. "So if you've been following Yami around since the kidnapping.." I trailed off with a slight growl.
"We don't look at you guys having sex or anything!" Nice to know I could even get a spirit all riled up.
"Okay. I'm cutting all three of you off from Yami. It might take a little while for you to pass on or whatever, since it looks like you've still got a good bit of juice left in you. I'd give you a week, tops."
And more than likely, for that week, I'd have to deal with a hyper Yami again. It probably wouldn't be too different than that time with Mini-Me: he didn't know just how much energy he was pouring into Mini-Me, but once he suddenly wasn't, it was like this huge energy spike. He bounced off the walls for days on end. Nonetheless, I had no interest in this guy trailing me, nor any of the rest of those kidnappers, so I cut the link without another thought.
I'd been getting better at it, really. Two years of (relative) peace and quiet allowed for a good bit of time to improve on a lot of things, not the least of which being my dealings with the dead. Still this incident was going to require a long conversation (and probably a yelling match) between myself and my boyfriend. That... wouldn't be fun, but then, it never was.
Two years of peace and quiet, all over in a single moment. Again. And all thanks to Yami, also again. I enjoyed being with him, really I did, except in moment like these where we were screaming at each other almost loud enough to wake the dead. It was only 'almost loud enough' before none of the vampires had yet to come down and inform us we'd awakened them from their beauty sleep.
"What I don't get is why you're so upset!" he yelled back at me. I'm not sure what I said that set him off with that, but then, we'd been yelling at each other at least a good hour, so it was really all starting to run together.
"Why? Because you knew there were a fucking merry trio of ghosts following us around all this time -- and you didn't say anything! What else am I going to find out again? What else haven't you told me about?"
"Oh, like you not telling me about having a sister?"
He would bring up Amane... He just could never let that drop. "Maybe because I knew you'd never let it go! And you aren't!"
"So it's all right for you to keep secrets, but not me?" he yelled back.
"Don't put words in my mouth, Yami," I returned in a hiss. At my side, I could feel myself clenching my hand into a fist and releasing it over and over. It was helping keep me from really losing my temper. Actually hitting him was at the bottom of my list of things to do; I'd probably never regain the privilege to have sex with him ever again. And I'd never forgive myself either, since I'd done so well dismissing the ghost of my father within me.
"It's what you said." It was probably a bad thing that he finally stopped pacing in front of me.
"Yami, I barely knew you then!"
"We'd been together two months!"
"I'd known Malik two years before he ever laid eyes on her!"
And that was the wrong thing to say. We'd had one of our only multi-day fights when I came clean with the fact Malik had been something of a friend with benefits back in Tokyo. We'd run together for years, and in the last year or so before I took off with the brat, we decided it'd be better to be together than chance what could happen on the street; it was safer with a friend. 'Fuck buddies' was the best term for what we were back five years ago. It's not like there was any real affection beyond our strange friendship we'd had for years and the camaraderie the gang provided between us, but Yami never seemed to get that.
I had half a second for all that to rush through my mind before there was a sharp pain throbbing on my left cheekbone and a weird ringing in my ears... and Yami standing in front of me looking as stunned as I felt. Had he just--? It was certainly far from the worst punch I'd ever received, but it was a bit shocking. I mean, he had hit me. Last I heard, the running bet was that, if and when our relationship would ever turn aggressive, it'd be me doing the knocking around on him. I wonder who just won this pool.
"Kura...," he floundered. "I--"
"I guess I earned that?" Even I could tell my voice was deadly quiet.
"No! I didn't mean--"
Oh God, the temptation to hit the shit out of him was so fucking strong, but that would get us nowhere, except in more trouble. Okay, I needed to clear my head, and that meant getting out of the room for a bit. I turned on my heel and started to march out of the room when he spoke up again, "Where are you going?"
"I have to get out of here and calm down." Before I wake up and find myself killing you. I glanced over my shoulder at him, and My God, he looked more miserable than I felt. "I'll be back in a while." With the look on his face, it felt a bit like kicking a puppy, but in this case, one that had already bitten me. I mean, I love him, but I spent most of my life getting the shit kicked out of me by Oyaji; I wasn't about to start taking it from anyone else and especially not someone I cared about as much as Yami.
"...You will be back though?"
"When I'm calmer." However long that might take.
The sun was down. That was fairly easy to tell immediately as I closed the door to our room and stepped into the hallway: Mokuba and Noa were out and about, they were definitely drastically active. I've never said I didn't live in a madhouse. No sign of the taller two Kaibas, though, but no surprise there. Seth and Treeboy were usually holed up in the office downstairs as soon as the sun went down; I'd have to walk right by them to go to the den to crash for a bit.
And surely enough, they were in the office, arguing loudly enough that hearing them through the walls and the closed doors wasn't really an issue, even for an almost regular human like me. Guess it was time to check up on my vamps, whether they liked it or not. As per usual, I just barged right in without bothering to knock, not that it seemed to make any difference; they seemed too far into the argument to notice me right away, so I just dropped down into a chair to sit it out.
Predictably, at least for Treeboy, it didn't take long before hard blue eyes settled on me. "What are you doing here, Bakura?" Woah, I couldn't tell if there were fangs in that, but if there weren't, then they weren't far off.
I shrugged easily. "Just checking in on my favorite vampires, seeing what all the yelling is about."
He frowned a bit, and that was how I knew just how bad half my face was starting to look. Live with Treeboy a couple of years, and you start picking out the meanings of his many varieties of frowns. This one, for instance, was annoyed with a half side of concerned. I might be a bit harder to hurt now, but that didn't always mean anything. "Nothing important." Just like that didn't mean too much coming from him.
"Bullshit." Gratifying, to see how fast he could go from perplexed back to the default stoic/pissy look. "Coming from you that means exactly two things: jack and shit. It's your standard answer when you don't want someone getting involved. Seth, what the hell's going on?"
There was a longer debate behind darker blue eyes, and for a moment or two there, I almost thought even Seth wasn't going to say anything, at which point I would have had to resort to more drastic measures, which may or may not have included beating it out of one of them. Thankfully for them, though, it seemed to be confession time. "Seto's been getting some strange letters lately."
"'Weird'?" Well, that opened up a lot of possibilities when it came to people in this house. Weird could range from actual fan letters to death threats. Yami had gotten more... Not thinking about Yami. "Define 'weird'."
Wordlessly, Seth handed me over a sheet of paper. It was handwritten in a spidery script, nothing I recognized. It was good thing I'd been in this house for over two years; it made reading weird handwriting in English a less difficult, though definitely not easy. "'Meet me. I have information about what happened a year ago'?" I read aloud carefully, at least partially to be certain I was getting it correct. "The hell?"
Treeboy shrugged. "All I can guess it means is other vampires we met at Halloween." And the less said about that, the better. No one knew about the mark or the ass-kicking we received -- and frankly I think we were both happy with it staying that way. He shrugged again. "We do need to find out what caused them."
"Are you fucking mental?" If looks could kill, I think Treeboy would have just planted me. "I know what you're thinking, and you are not going alone. We just got you broken in. I don't want to have to train a new Master of the City."
Mister Smooth-as-hell Seth jumped in right then. "Why don't you go with him then?" I'm pretty sure my eyes nearly fell out of my head when I goggled like that at the man. Apparently Treeboy's better than I realized at only giving the bare bones of a description. It's either that or Seth was sending us out to off us both. "The two of you did pretty well with that situation last year, and as you said, Seto doesn't need to go alone."
Well, it was not like he didn't have a point, and there wasn't any way to argue it without revealing what happened last year. Treeboy didn't look any happier about the matter than I felt, so it wasn't like I wasn't going to get a chance to make someone fucking miserable. "Fine. I suppose Treeboy does need a keeper after all."
Damn, I must have been slipping; all I got was an eyeroll. "Whatever. Let's get out of here." I got a half-hearted push towards the door. "Come on. It'll do you good to get out of the house." Which, given the glare he sent upstairs as we headed out the front door, I was guessing to be Treeboy-speak for I needed to spend some Yami-free time. Great, one little mark and he starts to think he could run my life.
Oh yeah, guessing who was definitely going to get lectured on the car ride to... Where were we going anyway? "Do you even have any idea where you're supposed to meet this guy?"
Rather than deign himself to give a real answer, he thrust a slip of paper at me. I caught it reflexively and glanced down at the address on it. No building name or anything, and it was an area of town I didn't recognize. "This was in the envelope with the note."
This would not go well. "Okay, but if it's a trap, don't blame me."
03 December 2006
Please don't kill me. The fight came out of left field. I didn't know it was coming till the punch was thrown.
I'm also really sorry about how long it took to get this chapter out. I hope the next one will not take nearly as long.
Final note: It helps to have read "Spellbound" before this one. The order thus far for my Endless Loop stories are: Color of Life, Blood and Sacrifice, Spellbound, and now Automatic Paranoia. Reading them in order would be advisable.