"How the hell were you able to see it?" I demand again.
Better still, if they both have powers this similar to mine, how have they
hidden them from me this long? I mean, Mahaado told me once that powers
concerning the dead are some of the rarest out there. Shouldn't I have
noticed that the freaks had them too? I mean, His Highness seems so damn normal,
and the only thing really strange about Mini-Me that I've really noticed is that
he's too damn happy all the time. So... I slam my hand (thankfully, not
the one that's mummy-wrapped) down on the tabletop and push myself to my
feet. "How, damn it?!"
"I don't know, okay?!" His Highness yells back, standing as well. "We just were, all right?"
"Not good enough." Did that snarl come from me? Not bad, if I must say so myself.
"Do you know how you can see them?" he counters.
"Yami... Bakura-kun..." Mini-Me sounds almost nervous. I refuse to believe us yelling at each other is the cause. No one's that sensitive, not even the brat, and he's pretty damn sensitive. It's just too ridiculous, not that everything where these two are concerned isn't. "Please stop."
The Bossling breaks off our glaring contest to send his brother a contrite look. "I'm sorry, Aibou."
I snort softly and exit the booth on the opposite side. "Whatever. I'm going to get some air. There are still some places I want to hit before dark."
I wander outside and sink down to sit on the curb. Times like this almost make me wish I smoked. Hmm, maybe I should take up some kind of relaxing hobby, like target practice. I could give all the targets spiky hair. It'd be great. The brat would never approve, but I could live with that. And I think target practice is much healthier than smok-
Great. I really can't get rid of them. "What?"
Mini-Me sits down on the curb near me without waiting for an invitation. Now that I think about it, he has one of the widest definitions of personal space I think I've ever seen; he doesn't let anyone get within two feet of him. Maybe that has something to do with the 'bad things' that happen when he and His Highness are separated. And where the hell is the Bossling anyway? He'd better be inside paying or we're never coming back here again.
"I'm sorry about all that."
I have to roll my eyes at that. "What, the Bossling can't apologize for himself?"
He shakes his head. "Yami-niichan doesn't remember he can see ghosts, Bakura-kun." I wish I could see my face right now; I bet it's the very definition of a 'what the fuck' expression. I think you could knock me over with a feather right now, but let's not test that, okay? Now he nods slowly. "It's been years since he has. I'm surprised he saw this one."
He glances over his shoulder. I follow his gaze to see His Highness paying. That's good, I guess. I was just thinking about getting out of there and calmed down before I lost my temper for real. Pulling an Oyaji is the last thing I was to do, even on the freaks.
"It kind of goes along with what happened three years ago and why Jounouchi-kun doesn't hang out with us anymore." What does Jounouchi have to do with this?! I really don't like being confused. "I've tried and tried to get niichan to accept what happened so maybe he'll start remembering, but he won't listen to me. I think maybe I'm too close to the problem."
"You know you're not making a word of sense, don't you?" I glance back again. The Bossling's on his way finally. Does he look a little nervous about the two of us talking, or is it just me? "What about you? Why could you see it?"
"Because of niichan. That's all I can really say. Jiichan - or maybe Jounouchi-kun - will be able to tell you more." He turns huge amethyst eyes on me, and damn it, they might be more lethal than Ryou's equivalent. "Please help him, okay?"
Damn... Lethal... Pitiful... It's like he's one step away from crying. And what are his eyes made of: kryptonite? "I'll see what I can do. I have to finish this before I get in more trouble."
Yuugi nods, a faint smile appearing and tears seemingly forgotten. "Niichan's waited three years. A few more days shouldn't make any difference."
The door opens behind us, and it's all I can do not to sigh in relief: crisis averted. I never thought I'd be so glad to see the Bossling though. That Mini-Me of his is dangerous, I swear it. And speaking of the miniature freak, he bounces to his feet and turns those eyes on full wattage at the Bossling. "Are we ready, Yami?"
"Yeah, I guess so." He stops between us and offers me a hand. Well, that's... unusual. Or maybe not. I bet spoiled princelings don't have much practice in apologizing. Hmm, take what I can get or antagonize for better? You know, I think I'll be nice this once. I grab his hand and let him haul me up. "Where else did you want to try?"
While I've got his hand, I check the time on his watch. "Our time's starting to run short. We can take our chances with shrines in the area, or we can make the trip to University of Tokyo. Either way, I need to be back at my apartment before dark to hear what Treeboy turned up." And to make sure my own little brother is all right, but I'm not saying that part out loud. The fewer people who know my number one weakness, the better off we are.
"If we're on a time limit, the local shrines would be a better idea." I don't think I've ever heard the Bossling sound quite so hesitant before. Did I break him or something?
Then again, when I stop and reconsider it, I probably wouldn't be too wild about people knowing about gaps in what I know about me either. In fact, I'd probably dislike it as much as I would people knowing about my great weakness... And what are gaps in your memories if not a weakness? Smooth, Bakura. Well, shit. Shit. Here it comes. I can't stand feeling guilty.
"Let's see what we can turn up then," I mutter. I'm not going to make him release my hand, not after that, but this changes nothing. I want some answers to the questions they're leaving me with, and if those answers happen to fulfill Yuugi's request, all the better. But I want my damn answers! First chance I get, I'm talking to the Old Man.
We had time to hit two shrines before it started getting close to dark. I
think all we really gained was a new appreciation for Mini-Me's ability to
bounce about. Really, I didn't think it was possible to hop up two
hundred-plus steps, but he did it and twice at that. I guess he really
does have lots of energy to burn. His Highness, on the other hand, looks
like he could do with a few hours' worth of quality napping time. I'm
starting to feel the same way personally. Something about disappointing
days seem to do that to me.
We're walking back to my apartment now. Mini-Me's a few meters ahead of us, not far enough as to be out of sight, but probably far enough to keep from overhearing much. Now, how do I want to go about this? Oh well, the blunt approach has always worked best for me.
"Hey." He looks over at me. "You asked how I knew I could see spirits," I start off abruptly, keeping my voice pitched low.
I think he winces slightly, but if he does, it comes and goes too quickly for me to be certain. "Yeah. I shouldn't have pushed the matter like-"
"I found out when Ryou finally asked what the color the cat I'd brought home three months before was."
I think I startled him. That, or really, really confused him. "What?"
"We were four. A stray cat followed me home, and I decided to adopt it." I have to laugh at myself now. "Of course, I had to wonder why it never ate the food I left out for it, but I told myself it was a cat and was catching its meals on the go. And I bought that for three months. Then again, I was a kid and therefore stupid."
"And Ryou-kun or your parents didn't say anything before then?" Yep, looks like he's getting curious enough to get out of his funk.
I snicker to myself. "If the Makiko incident didn't show you already, Ryou humors my... abilities way too much. And our grandmother, sometimes I think she saw stuff too." Might as well give a full confession while I'm at it, shouldn't I? "Our mother was already dead by then, and Oyaji... didn't give a shit. We were all a bit too freaky for him." I turn a smirk on him. "So I'd had a ghost cat for a pet for three months and never realized it was dead the whole time."
"What happened when you realized?"
"She hung around a couple more days then vanished." I frown at the memory. "I think Ryou cried for a week straight because he thought he'd killed my cat." Where the hell am I going with this? I'm not sure. Did I even have a purpose when I started talking? I don't remember. "That's how I found out about my... abilities."
"So you've had a while to get used to them."
I shrug. "Fourteen years, give or take. But till yesterday, it had been two years since I'd seen a spirit."
He snickers, and for some reason, I feel a little better at the sound. "How the hell did you manage to avoid them that long in this town?"
Now that he mentions it, how did I avoid them? I managed to keep myself away from any corpses, concentrated mostly on my work and the brat, and generally tried to lay low. Not that I was a social butterfly back in Tokyo or anything, but I know I spent more time out and about than at home, especially given how little Oyaji and I ever got along - and I was always looking for a good place to hang out and be far away from him. Hanging around some of the clubs that didn't check IDs is how I met Malik, after all - or was it Marik I met first? Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. Imagine my surprise when the little nutball decided to show up in Domino a few months after we split. Apparently, he got bored by himself in Tokyo. Imagine that. And I still want to know how he fooled Kaiba Corp's personnel manager! I mean, I've seen the lady, and she's a dragon. Treeboy seems to have this real obsession with dragons, I've noticed. Of course, you'd have to be blind or an idiot to miss it.
And I really don't enjoy thinking about the past. In fact, let me go on a limb here and say I hate it. Trips down memory lane are rarely pleasant in my experience. I send him the best glare in my current arsenal (which tends to grow the longer I'm around him or Tree Up His Ass Seto) and deadpan the response, "I wasn't around you."
He stops dead in his tracks, and I make myself keep walking. I barely get a few steps before I hear him stomping after me. See? I knew boots would be better for that than sneakers. His hand seizes around my arm, and - Holy hell, where did he get so strong? I think I'm going to have bruises - jerks me back towards him. "You think this is my fault?" he hisses through tightly clenched teeth. Apparently he's trying to keep this one quiet. I can't say I appreciate the manhandling any better.
I try to yank my hand back, failing to dislodge his grip. "Hey, if the shoe fits..." Why am I humoring him and keeping quiet? "The fact remains I hadn't seen a spirit in over two years, then I met up with you, and suddenly they're everywhere! I went from none at all to four in two days!" I close my eyes and take a deep breath to calm myself before opening them again and continuing more quietly. "It's a bit too much to all be coincidences."
"Well, if I'm causing you so much trouble, maybe Aibou and I should leave." How did I know the Bossling would the type to get really quiet when he's really pissed?
You know, yesterday I would have paid a good deal of money to hear him say that. Today, though, it's a little unsettling. What happened between then and now to get him so deep under my skin? And apparently, I just spaced out thinking because the Bossling's stalking away, which normally I wouldn't mind since it's a great chance to eye that ass in those tight jeans, but the crowd's going to swallow him soon and then we can just forget the view. And my body doesn't seem to be conversing with my brain because before I realize it, I've caught up with him, have a hand on his shoulder holding him in place, and am speaking. "Giving up already? I didn't think you were like that."
I shrug, barely resisting the urge to smirk. "Oh, you know: a quitter."
I can practically watch him bristling like a scalded cat. I wonder if he yowls like that too... Where did that come from?! Anyway, him being all offended like this is actually a good deal more amusing than it sounds. Not that I have much time to dwell on it for very long, since he's snatching my hand off his shoulder and dragging me in the direction Mini-Me went. He really seems to enjoy pulling me around town by the hand. Sometimes, I wish this weird power of mine included telepathy; I'd really like to know what he thinks he's doing. I mean, I'm decent at reading people, but he confuses the hell out of me on a regular basis. And, damn it, I might enjoy being kept on my toes, but the Bossling's impossible!
And that makes this all so much more fun.
I have to wonder if Mini-Me's going to make the elevator bounce down to the
basement with how hyper he is still acting - and I hope the princeling
makes it into my place before he drops. What the hell is his problem,
I wonder? He doesn't seem tired, exactly; it's more like he's drained
of energy, which makes no sense. This time yesterday, he seemed fine.
He's so strange.
Mini-Me turns slightly to regard me with purple eyes too solemn for the excited rocking back and forth he's continuing to do. Okay, the pair of them are so strange. Can Mini-Me read minds or something? Is that why he sees ghosts because of the Bossling? Damn Mutou freaks, so fucking confusing. Yeah, I've said it before, but they always lead to more questions than answers and I hate that. So, Mini-Me, if you're listening in on me, fuck off. My mind is none of your damn business.
...I don't think I've ever had my best glower laughed off before. I guess he can't read my mind, after all. It would suck for the Mini-Me to have the one power I think would be good (or at least useful) to possess. He glances over at his brother, then back at me, then back on the door. Okay, fine. I'll bite. Damn it. "What the hell's wrong with you, Your Highness?"
And that was a pitiful glare, even for him. "I'm just tired." He moves so he can look at me - and coincidentally (I'm sure) lean against the elevator wall.
I raise an eyebrow and ask with as much condensation in my voice as I can muster, "What? Am I keeping you up past your bedtime?"
Ignoring the Mini-Me, since the Bossling looks ready to drop. "I guess I'm just a little anemic or something." What kind of an excuse is that?
"Well, you'd better make it in the apartment and on the couch because I'm damn sure not carrying you." If I don't have to, I add to myself. I doubt Mini-Me could pick up a twig, and the brat, while not exactly a slouch or a weakling, isn't exactly great at carrying anything over 25 kilograms. It's a damn shame Malik isn't here - no, wait, Marik, since he's the one who thinks dragging around unconscious people is fun. (I'm sure he'd prefer them dead, but we've established between the two of us that he's only allowed to have unconscious "dolls" when I'm not around.) So I'm the only one left here who can move him, no matter how much I would prefer to leave him in the elevator. Shut up. He's quieter that way.
Why the hell am I talking to myself? Great, I guess it's true if you hang out around nutcases, you turn into one too. I don't exactly hang out with normal people. Hells, the sanest person I know is either the brat or Mahaado, and that's saying something there.
Finally the door dings open, and Mini-Me hops out. I swear to God, if His Highness falls between here and the couch, I'm sending him home - maybe with a noose around his neck. Of course, there is always the possibility I might get creative. I don't give a shit what he says or how much he protests; if he's falling down and damn near unconscious, he'll just slow us down and something tells me time is getting short.
I trail the Bossling the short walk to the door. I've got to say I'm shocked he made it all the way. I fish the key out of my jeans but try the handle just in case. Unlocked. Why am I not surprised? Yami goes right in once the door's open, makes it to the couch, and flops. He does boneless and unconscious well. If I couldn't see him breathing, I'd swear he's dead. Mini-Me giggles then affects a huge yawn. "Is there somewhere I can crash too, Bakura-kun?"
I pause, listening. Okay, Ryou's in the kitchen. "Yeah, use the brat's room. First door on the right." I'm not letting either of the freaks loose in my room, not just because it's my room, but also because I don't want to have to find them later. Hey, I did say it tends to be a mess most of the time. I'd probably lose me in there if the brat didn't clean it up from time to time.
The Mini-Me gets the faintest blush might be cute, if I found anything cute and if he weren't one of the freaks. "Thank you, Bakura-kun." He vanishes down the hall with speed a vamp would envy, and I can't hold back a snicker.
Still, how strange is it for the Bossling's Mini-Me to be blushing and falling over couches because of the brat? I'm not sure if I like that or not. I mean, my little brother and the Bossling's baby brother? Age difference aside, I guess they'd be okay together. And I'll break Yuugi in half if he ever makes the brat cry. I know where the Mutou family lives after all.
And it'd be even weirder if the Bossling was making eyes at me, which he's not, or if I were ogling the Bossling, which of course I'm not. Really. I'm not. Why the hell would I want to eye him? I mean, besides the skin-tight clothes, and that damn near perfect ass, not to mention those unusual red eyes... And I'm getting off this train of thought right here. I don't like where it's going.
I shake my head to clear it and go into the kitchen. Sure enough, the brat is in there, puttering around with something that might one day end up being food. I clear my throat, not as quietly as I can but not too loud either, and he jumps and turns to look at me. "Niisan! Don't sneak up on me like that!" he scolds.
"The door?" Why do I bother continuing this argument? It does no good. I wonder how much the Old Man would charge me for a guard outside the building, if the brat's going to keep this up? Yeah, there's Mahaado's spell and all, but this is my only brother here; I don't leaving things to chance.
"It was just you, Mutou-san, and Yuugi-san," he counters.
"It could have been anybody before then." Will he ever see reason on this?
"But it wasn't going to be anyone else by." Apparently, that would be a resounding 'no'.
"You hardly ever get it when Mahaado's coming up, though," I try, hitting a possible arguing point. I hop up to sit on the table continuing. "It's like any major power is a black spot on yours."
"Mahaado-san wouldn't do anything to us. He likes us."
"Not everyone that powerful is as altruistic as Mahaado. You miss a dark power of some kind, and that'll be it."
Brown eyes as wide as saucers turn to me. "'It'?"
"It. Curtains. The last stand. The end. Need I go on?"
"I won't open the door till right before you get here." He frowns. "But wouldn't Mahaado-san's spell catch dark powers too?"
"Do you want to chance it?" I give him just long enough to squirm then press on. "Because I sure as hell don't."
"I won't open the door till right before you get here." Sounds like that's the best I'm going to get tonight, and I concede with a shrug. "Where's Mutou-san?"
I jerk my thumb over my shoulder, pointing towards the couch. "Dead in the living room. Mini-Me's asleep in your room."
"They're both asleep?" He sounds so confused.
"Kind of early for that, I know, but still... I have a feeling Kitty and Treeboy are going to be keeping us up all night."
"Do you need to rest a bit too, niisan?" I glance over his shoulder at the stove in a silent question. "Dinner won't be ready for another thirty minutes or so."
"How long till sunset?"
"Maybe an hour or an hour and a half."
"Wake me up when the food's ready." Though I don't know how well I'll rest with the freaks in my apartment. It wasn't too bad last time, but still...
The phone interrupts my musing before I can even get down off the table. The brat answers it with a cheery "Hello, Mana-san." I should have guessed. She has a knack for calling right when I'm about to go to sleep. Then again, maybe if I wasn't always trying to go to sleep in the middle of the afternoon... "He said that? Sure, I'll tell niisan." Okay, that was serious-sounding for a Mana conversation. Then the brat bites his lip, looking like he's trying to bite back laughter. "Umm... Sorry, Mana-san, I didn't even turn on the TV all day. Really? Really? That's nice, Mana-san. I need to go. So I can tell Mahaado-san's news to niisan. Yeah, I'll talk to you later. Bye." He's going to break the phone if he keeps hanging it up that hard.
"Anime?" I have to ask.
He nods, affecting exasperation. I'd think it was for real if he didn't so enjoy hanging around her. "She missed an episode of something while she was at work."
"And you didn't watch it either?" I tease. "For shame."
"She also said Mahaado-san called from Osaka."
I sit up straighter. "What'd he say?"
"She said that he said that the answer you're looking for is in Tokyo." That's great. To which question? What's up with the Mutou weirdness? Where is the missing Master? Why does the toast always lands butter-side down? How is it that Malik always manages to find me? "He said the truth about the Master is in Tokyo."
"Then I guess I'll have to go to Tokyo," I reply absently, sliding down to stand. Why Tokyo? Why the hell did it have to be Tokyo?
"Not by yourself!" And there's Kaiba's favorite expression of the brat's: rabid bunny. "At least take Mutou-san and Jounouchi-kun with you!"
And even I saw that one coming. Really, it doesn't take a psychic. "I don't think I'm losing my new shadow too easily. I'm pretty sure Yami - the Bossling's coming with me."
Ryou raises an eyebrow but lets my little fuck-up there drop. See? That's why he's the good one of the two of us. I'd be tormenting him if the situations were reversed. That's why it's fun to be the bad twin.
"Yami-san really seems to enjoy hanging out with you, niisan."
I take it all back. I'm the bad twin, but he's fucking evil. He's just more subtly evil than I am.
And I just had to have a light enough complexion that I know the heat in my cheeks is showing up well. Really, I'm tanner than the brat, since I can see the sun without damn near spontaneously combusting, but I'm still pale compared to Jounouchi or His Highness, so damn it, blushes show up way too well. I can't decide if I want to blame the brat or His Highness for this one, but it's definitely not my fault.
Anyway, I guess we're going to Tokyo after all. It'd probably be wise to go ahead and call the train station and reserve four seats. No way in hell is Ryou setting foot in that damned town, and I seriously doubt Treeboy's coming with us, so four tickets should be sufficient: me, Jounouchi-kitty, His Highness, and Mini-Me.
This is not going to be fun.
First draft: 09 March 2005
Revision: 11 December 2005
Whoops! Sorry it took me so long to get this chapter out. Mostly it's due to the bronchitis lingering, but I've also been stalled out with helping Katsuko with some of her fics, including the side-story to Color of Life, "Cursed Gold" and several others. By no means do I intend to let the next chapter take so long to get out. I think there's only two or three chapters left to Color of Life, plus the epilogue (which is already finished) - and there are already plans for a sequel. To do this sequel, though, I need a bit of information confirmed: Is Bakura Amane dead or alive? Fanfictions point to her being dead, but I'm looking for a manga scan or screencap with info on it one or the other. I'm not much on fanon, if you haven't guessed by my almost rant on Bakura-beats-Ryou fics.
There will a small time skip between this chapter and Chapter Six. You'll need to check Katsuko's "Cursed Gold" if you want what happens between, but it's not really necessary. I just don't have it with me while I'm writing.