Bakura and Drakken reach an agreement (which neither of them intends to keep, naturally).
Warnings: Shonen ai, more lame humor.
-- Interlude One: Telephone conversation, Domino City, Japan --
"Honda, have you seen Ryou?"
"Not since Friday at school, Yugi. Come to think of it, I didn't see him around on Saturday, and he's usually at the computer lab in the morning. Why, what's up?"
"Well, probably nothing... His Other Self isn't very happy with Yami at the moment, and I'm afraid he might keep Ryou from hanging around with the rest of us because of it."
"Uh-oh. I thought they'd managed to call a truce?"
"They did, but now Bakura wants Yami to do something for him and Yami won't do it."
"I'm not surprised. Anything Bakura wants isn't likely to be a good thing! What did he want?"
"He asked Yami to give him his own body."
"No kidding! Okay, that's gotta be a bad idea. I'm glad Yami said no, even if it did tick Bakura off. Uh, could he even do that?"
"Yami's not sure, but it might be possible using the magic of the Millennium Items and the power of the Shadow Realm. Yami thinks there might be very bad consequences if it did work, though."
"I agree, Bakura running around on his own is a scary idea. I just hope he doesn't make life miserable for Ryou because of this."
"Well, you know Ryou can stand up to his Other Self when he has to. But I've been wondering about something else as well...."
"What is it, Yugi?"
"Well, I was thinking: what if Bakura thinks there's another way for him to get his own body? I mean... it might not be so bad, really..."
"You've gotta be kidding, Yug! I'm gonna count on seeing Ryou back in school on Monday, and not Bakura!"
"Um-hm. I guess you're probably right, Honda...."
- end Interlude One -
Chapter Three: In Which Bakura and Drakken make a Deal
Shego wasn't kidding about the handcuffs - they were the first thing Ryou noticed when he woke up. On the positive side he found that his wrist was only a dull, aching throb, actually quite bearable.
As he struggled to sit up, he discovered he'd been covered with a blanket and had a pillow under his head. Even so, his back was stiff from sleeping on the short sofa. He couldn't believe he'd been out long enough and deep enough for Shego to have done all this, including wrapping his wrist in a surprisingly effective splint and bandages. He wondered whether Bakura had been awake for any of the time he'd been asleep.
Ryou managed to sit up, grateful that at least his hands were cuffed in front. He became even more grateful for this when he realized that a plate of food had been left on the desk. The last time he'd eaten was before taking the taxi to get here, very early in the morning. He couldn't tell how long ago that had been but judging by his appetite, it had been quite a while.
He had just figured out how to maneuver the fork with his left hand cuffed to his heavily bandaged right hand when Bakura's dim form appeared opposite him at the other side of the desk.
"Are you sure you want to eat that?" the spirit asked. "It might have come from that kitchen contraption the mad scientist was building."
Ryou paused, fork poised in mid-air over the plastic plate of what appeared to be enchiladas. He thought it was probably the frozen kind heated in a microwave. It smelled like Mexican food, and although that wasn't his favorite, his stomach growled.
"I don't care, I'm starving," he said after a moment's hesitation, and dug in.
Bakura watched him eat in silence. Ryou wondered why he was staring so intently, as if he really expected the food to be poisonous or something, but he didn't let it slow him down. Several minutes later he let the fork drop with a clatter onto the plastic tray and sat back, feeling much better. Bakura was still watching him closely.
"Did I miss anything? Were you awake at all for this?" Ryou asked, holding up his bandaged arm.
"Not really. I started to wake up when Shego came in with the bandages and the handcuffs, but she gave you a whiff of something, probably chloroform, and I couldn't fight it."
"She did a good job, if it was her," Ryou said, looking more closely at his wrist.
"I doubt it was that klutz, Drakken," Bakura said dismissively. "And I'm quite sure there's no one else on the premises. It was nice of her to tuck you in," he added in a leering tone. "Maybe next time you can get her to give you a goodnight kiss."
"I don't think she's the type to do that," Ryou said. He knew Bakura was joking, but he wasn't quite sure if the joke was on Shego or on him, so he used his usual tactic of ignoring it and changing the subject.
"Anyway, what happens next? What are you expecting them to do? I don't think Drakken believed me," he added.
"He wants to believe," Bakura said. "He'll believe in anything if he thinks he can use it in his quest for power."
"I'm still not sure how that's going to get him to make you a body," Ryou said.
"Wait and see, Yadonushi," Bakura said.
Ryou didn't have long to wait. Drakken was pounding on the door shortly after he'd finished eating.
"Your turn," Ryou said wearily. The Spirit smiled and faded from view. Ryou's eyes closed.
When they opened a second later, it was Bakura looking out at the world.
He stood up and went to the door, absently tugging on the handcuffs as he did so.
"I'm here," he said quietly through the door. "Let's talk."
The door was unlocked and Drakken entered. He was brandishing some kind of weapon. Bakura stifled his laughter; it looked like a very cheap toy ray gun.
He took Shego's glowing hands much more seriously, though, as she followed her boss into the room, looking like she was itching for another fight. Bakura glanced past Drakken and caught her eye, grinning; he wouldn't mind going another round with her, either. She just smiled back at him.
"Ah, I see what you mean, Shego," Drakken said, looking at Bakura from head to toe and then peering sharply at his face. "It's the eyes, isn't it?"
"And the attitude," Shego muttered.
"Okay, start explaining. What's this all about?"
"It's about ancient magic, and a great deal of power, more power than you can imagine," Bakura said haughtily. He guessed what effect that would have on Drakken.
"Oh, I don't know, I can imagine quite a lot. Power to do what, exactly?"
"Power to destroy or control the world, and bring forth chaos. You saw the creature I conjured, and that was only one weak monster. There are many others that can be drawn from the Shadow Realm to do my bidding."
"Uh-huh. Not without these, though, am I right?"
Drakken waved the deck of cards in front of Bakura's face. Bakura resisted the urge to try to grab them with his cuffed hands.
"The cards help to summon the monsters, but they are only one part of my power."
He proceeded to explain about the powers of the soul, the ancient Egyptian concepts of "ba" and "ka," and the forms of the creatures that could be summoned. Drakken listened with a parade of expressions crossing his face: interest, skepticism, eagerness, and plain bewilderment. But at the mention of the Millennium Items, his eyes narrowed and gleamed.
"Ah yes, that glowing ring that seems to have disappeared entirely. Shego, you're certain you made a thorough search for it?"
"Absolutely. I couldn't have missed it."
Bakura noted Ryou's alarm at realizing that he'd been searched, as his other checked to make sure the Ring was still in its usual place, under his shirt, cool against his skin. Ryou was puzzled, wondering how thorough the search could have been, and why Shego hadn't found the Ring and taken it. The thought that she might have done so had him near panic. Bakura gave a low laugh.
"You won't find the Ring, no matter how heard you search, unless you can reach into the Shadow Realm for it, and I'm quite sure you don't have the strength for that. At least, not yet. But I may be able to teach you, if you are willing."
"Teach me what? I'm not interested in a lot of hocus-pocus, mumbo-jumbo so-called magic. I'm a scientist, not a magician," Drakken said. He sounded dismissive, but Bakura was certain he was intrigued in spite of himself.
"I might be able to show you how to harness this power for yourself, but it would depend on the strength of your spirit whether you could make any use of it or not. As I've already explained, to the people of Egypt 3000 years ago, this was science. What does it matter what words you use for it? I've already demonstrated how well it works. I don't need to know how it works to be able to use it."
Drakken gave him a look of disgust. "Superstition is not science. I am a scientist," he said, puffing himself up to his full height, which was only a little taller than the tip of Yami Yugi's spiky hair. "I'm not interested in your parlor tricks!"
Bakura glared at him. The man was being ridiculous.
There was the sound of muffled laughter behind Drakken. Uncertain which one of them she was laughing at, they both turned to glare at Shego.
"Quite the pair of egos you two are," she said, smirking. "Y'know, Drakken, Lord Monkey Fist does stuff like this all the time," she continued, "and there was that wrestler who transformed himself into a super-wrestler with some ancient amulet or something, remember that story? Anyway, 'any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' I don't need an explanation for this-" she brandished her glowing fists "-to be able to use it."
"Huh." Drakken said, looking from Bakura to her and back again. "I suppose Shego has a point. But what exactly do you expect me to do for you, if you don't even have a rational explanation for your, er, condition?"
Bakura did let his laughter escape. Drakken using the word "rational" was too funny.
"My condition of being a dead spirit inhabiting a borrowed body, you mean?" he said. "I can tell you part of what you must do, and you, as the scientist, will have to figure out the rest.
"To put it as simply as possible, I believe it will be possible to use the power of the Millennium Ring to transfer my spirit into another body, but it must be a body that does not already have a soul. That is why I need you to make me a new body, using your cloning technology or whatever it is you have to do. Since I am linked with this vessel," he said, indicating Ryou's body, "I expect that the new body must be a replica of this one in order for me to inhabit it permanently. Once you've made the new body, I can perform what you would call a ritual to transfer my spirit into it. Do you understand?"
"We provide the science, you do the magic," Shego summarized.
"Well put," Bakura confirmed.
"I understand all that, except for one thing," Drakken said. "Why should I? You're not exactly in a position to bargain," he added, looking pointedly at the handcuffs.
Bakura frowned at his trapped and bandaged wrists. He stared down at his hands, as if thinking very hard, considering his options. Finally he sighed dramatically.
"Unfortunately, it seems that I am at a disadvantage," he admitted. "It appears that you are the only one in the world who can do what needs to be done, and I have no choice but to cooperate with you."
"Maybe not," Shego said. "What about D N Ay--iee...."
"Silence, Shego!" Drakken roared, turning on her with his teeth barred, foam flying from the corner of his mouth. "Don't mention that name in my presence! Anyway, our friend is right, I am his only hope," he continued, pulling himself together with one final shudder. "But we already know that. Flattery, especially if it's true, will get you pretty far but not all the way. In other words, I'm still not convinced I have any reason to help you."
Bakura scowled at him, but went on calmly.
"As I already said, I can demonstrate how the power works, and possibly train you to harness it -- if the calling forth of creatures with great destructive power who are bound to do your bidding is of any interest to you, that is."
Drakken's eyebrow twitched. Bakura had noticed that it tended to do that at any mention of the word "power."
"An army of creatures at your command," Bakura continued. "Wouldn't that be worth the effort of making one new body?"
"Hand over that Ring and I'll consider it," Drakken said, surprisingly smoothly for someone whose eyebrow was doing a hip-hop dance.
Bakura smiled. "I need the Ring to complete the ritual. After I'm in my new body, I'll have no further need of it, and the Ring will be yours. If you think you can handle that much power."
Drakken twitched some more. Inside his mind, Bakura felt Ryou fairly buzzing in alarm, his thoughts barely coherent. Give them the Ring?? Our Ring? My Ring??
Gullible! Bakura thought at him. Ryou suddenly realized Bakura was lying to them, and his thoughts subsided into a quieter whirl of confusion.
Bakura turned his attention back to Drakken, whose eyes had glazed over as he apparently envisioned an army of Penguin Soldiers and Man-Eater Bugs at his command. Bakura waited, trying not to smile too broadly as his bait was taken.
"What do you think, Shego?" Drakken asked, pulling himself together and glancing at his assistant. "You seem to be up on this magical nonsense. Think it's worth a try?"
She shrugged. "As long as you're not cloning me, I don't see the harm in it. You're between projects at the moment, anyway."
"Hmmmm... alright, I'll consider your offer of that Ring in exchange for my expertise and assistance in making you a new body. No guarantees, you understand! And you remain my prisoner. The handcuffs stay on and these cards stay in my pocket."
Bakura frowned and gave a small snarl of frustration. "Very well," he muttered, "For the time being. However, I'll need some special materials for the transference ritual."
"And I'll need some equipment for the cloning and construction of the body. Including a sample of your DNA, of course."
"Ahem..." Shego interrupted. "I already took the liberty..." she held up a vial, wagging it at Bakura. It held a lock of Ryou's silvery-white hair. "Got a few skin cells, too."
He narrowed his eyes at her, but in fact he was pleased with her initiative and her grasp of the situation. It occurred to him that Drakken alone might well have been useless, but the pair of them, while more dangerous, were just what he needed.
"Great," Drakken said, rubbing his hands together. "We may as well get started then."
"Tell me what you need and I'll pick it up," Shego said to both of them. "I'm in the mood for a little 'shopping' trip, anyway."
"You're a thief as well as a bodyguard," Bakura said, unable to hide the admiration in his voice. "I should have expected as much."
"Yes, Shego's very versatile," Drakken said dismissively. She glared at his back.
Bakura smiled. "I can see that," he said. She glared at him as well.
"This is what we'll need...." Bakura said, and proceeded to give her a list of items. She nodded as if the bizarre assortment of materials was as common as bread and milk from the grocery store. Drakken added his own requests to the list, ending with "and find some decent take-out. Those frozen dinners are disgusting."
They closed and locked the door to his little room, and Bakura sat down on the orange sofa with a sigh.
You're not really planning on giving Drakken the Ring, then? was Ryou's first anxious thought.
Of course not, stupid, Bakura thought, but he was too pleased with himself to sound harsh. That was only to put the idea in Drakken's head. The mere thought of gaining control of that will keep him on track for the time being.
Then, he's really going to do it? Ryou thought, amazed. This really might work!
It had better. But it won't be this simple, I'm sure, Bakura mused.
What do you mean? Do you think they aren't really going to go through with it? Or don't you really think it can be done? Ryou fretted. You don't think it will be dangerous to you, do you?
There's a small risk, but it will be well worth it if we succeed. No, I only mean that Drakken isn't the type to enter into a simple partnership. He'll want all the power in the end. If he's not shrewd enough to figure out that I have no intention of letting him have any at all, Shego probably is, so eventually they'll realize I was lying and they'll come up with a plan to take the Ring anyway.
Ryou became alarmed again, and puzzled. I don't understand how they didn't manage to take it already. Why didn't Shego find it?
Bakura placed his hand over the hard metal shape of the Ring, pressing it lightly against his chest so that Ryou could feel its solid presence. Don't worry, it's still here. No one can see it unless I will them to. Didn't you know that? How do you think I kept it hidden from Yugi and his friends all this time? Even that bloodhound, Shadi, couldn't detect it when it was right in front of him. It can't be seen or felt by anyone else. Trust me, Drakken isn't going to get the Millennium Ring or any Shadow powers. He just can't know that yet.
Ryou sighed, mentally nodding that he trusted Bakura to know what he was doing. But he was still concerned.
How long do you think this will take? We've been gone three days already. I'm missing school, and I didn't tell anyone that I was going away; they'll be worried.
They'll probably think I've done something unpleasant to you, Bakura thought, finding the idea amusing. I'm afraid it might take some time, so be patient, Yadonushi. I've had to wait longer than this to get something I wanted. If all goes as I've planned, we'll be together soon.
He felt Ryou smile warmly at that thought, but his Other was still worried. To distract him, he began to picture what they would do once they had two bodies, once they could look into each other's eyes and touch each other. Ryou's thoughts grew very warm, indeed....
-- Interlude Two --
"What's the 'sitch,' Wade?"
"Well, it's odd, Kim. Could be just a bunch of break-ins and robberies that would normally be simple police business. I wouldn't even bring it up except for one thing that puts it right on your menu."
"It's like this: someone's been raiding all the New Age and magick stores in the state over the last three days. The only things being taken are pyramid-shaped crystals, some gold jewelry (but not necessarily the most valuable gold jewelry), and a kind of stone called Dragon's Blood, which is used by wiccans in their rituals. Several of the items are popular with people who are into the whole vampire myth, since they're linked with the idea of immortality and raising the dead."
"And it's nowhere near Halloween! Is that all?"
"Not quite. One of the stores had a bunch of very high-tech electronic equipment and a cash drawer full of money, but those weren't touched. But, there was also a raid on a high-security research lab in the same area. No info yet on what was actually taken. And, get this: one report of a break-in at a blood bank! All in the same area and on the same days."
"Well, yeah, that's all weird and creepy, but is there anything else to go on? I guess I could check out the Goths here at school for information, but it's a little hard to get past the hairy-eyeball factor with them."
"Yeah, I've heard that Goths and cheerleaders don't mix so well. But you probably don't need to. There's one other piece of info, and it's the really weird part. A security camera in one of the stores caught a glimpse of the thief. Not enough for a solid identification, but the description is of a young female, long dark hair, long dark green trench coat, and - get this - a weird green glow coming from her hands."
"Shego?! She's creepy but she's hardly the Goth type, and she's definitely not New Age. What would Drakken want with that kind of stuff?"
"I hate to say it because it sounds silly, but if you add the idea of zombies and vampires to the idea of army of minions to take over the world, it makes a warped kind of sense."
"Eww, Drakken building a zombie army? That's even worse than an army of senior citizens. Okay, disturbingly creepy as it is, I'll check into it. Any idea where Drakken's hiding these days?"
"Not yet. His old lair is still under repair. I have a few possibilities for his temporary base of operations. Judging from the locations of the break-ins, he's not far away. But I'll have to get back to you on that."
"Please and thank you! Keep me posted, Wade."
"Will do, Kim!"
-- end Interlude Two --