Categories > Anime/Manga > Yu-Gi-Oh! > physicality

physicality

by exdee 4 reviews

Truth is made real; hate is made flesh; the end begins. This is how the spirit of the Millennium Ring learns his way around his host.

Category: Yu-Gi-Oh! - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Ryou Bakura, Yami Bakura - Warnings: [!] - Published: 2006-02-16 - Updated: 2006-02-16 - 6279 words - Complete

2Insightful
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! and all things that relate to it are the creations of Kazuki Takahashi. This fanfiction is non-profit copyright infringement of love.

Note: This is based on the dub, so Bakura's in England.




The pendants of the Millennium Ring shivered, and the spirit inside it stirred awake.

It was the first thing from outside his soul room that he'd sensed in ... years, probably, though he couldn't be sure. He uncurled a tendril of awareness and felt a particular feeling of constriction - it was something that always came when the Ring found itself a new owner.

The spirit tried to worm his way out of his soul room, but his thoughts were sluggish. Before he could escape the subtle feeling tightened into something more tangible until it formed a featureless, translucent wall. This was the barrier that the Ring formed between its bearer and its resident, allowing the Ring to integrate itself with the bearer without letting that soul corrupt the spirit within it. Of course, the barrier made it that much less easy for the spirit to take the Ring-bearer's body, too.

The spirit settled back to gather himself for an attack, wondering idly what game to play with this soul. Should he pick an easy one and win the body quickly, or something challenging so he could toy with the other soul a little? Never mind, he'd decide once they were in the Shadow Realm. He stormed the barrier, ready to feel it shattering, leaving the other soul vulnerable.

When he hit it, screams erupted around him - then he fell back, terrified, and added his own screams to the chorus.

*

"Nothing to get angry about," the spirit told himself, then thought about how It was the fifth day that the Ring had been with its latest owner, and the spirit was still in his soul room instead of the body. So he insisted: "Nothing!"

Echoes followed his raised voice, bouncing round the walls, and the spirit wished it were possible to skewer the sounds. There was nothing - and that was the problem.

The sounds flinching around the edge of his understanding didn't count as something and neither did his glimpses of the Ring-bearer's soul. Those things were worthless and became less than that when considered alongside his inability to do something about them. So there was nothing, and no way to get rid of it.

The spirit pressed his magic outwards, pushing at the hard curve of the barrier to find the best place to strike it - then jerked away.

"No, no," he muttered. "It won't do any good to do that again."

The echoes returned as he spoke, and he snarled in irritation. It only made the sounds stronger, so that he could hear cadences of cheer in them.

"If you have to echo, couldn't you repeat my voice?" he yelled at the walls, but only nothing answered him, happy and nonsensical.

The echoes shouldn't exist. He hadn't asked the Ring to let him hear the sounds, and though they followed his words they were of the Ring-bearer's voice.

It shouldn't be this way. It had never been this way before. How could this soul have trapped him in the Ring?

"And you might be talking about why this is happening each day," he muttered to the Ring-bearer. He barely remembered the language the echoes came in and couldn't figure out anything useful from what he understood. As the current echoes faded, he only caught a few words in the stream of conversation: 'gold', 'Egypt' and 'old'.

What use was that? Egypt was a pleasant enough country and he had a whole lot of gold and years already. None of it gave a clue to how the bearer had trapped him in the Ring, unable to take the body.

The barrier between himself and the bearer looked the same as all the others had been. It should act the same as all the others.

Wilfully, he turned to the innocuous-looking thing again, ready in his rage to ignore that fact that he couldn't break it, but the temptation was removed before he could touch it. It seemed that it was night: the Millennium Ring was being unhooked from the bearer's presence, as had happened every night so far. The barrier flashed a bright gold, then the colour dimmed like lava cooling and turned into the stone of the spirit's soul room walls.

"That's better," the spirit said. And the dead, grey silence swallowed him.

The thrum of life jolting from the bearer into the Ring kept him alert and waiting even when the Ring was away from the bearer. It made him remember what itching was like. He was forced into awareness of the emptiness around him, and how he'd been there for days and might stay there for weeks ... years!

The spirit hit the wall that had taken the place of the barrier with Shadow-reflections of his strength. It should have been easy to attack the Ring-bearer. "It's weak!" he shouted. "It should die easily - it opens every time it laughs!"

Instead he was trapped and helpless, with that soul bright and taunting beyond his reach.

His tension snapped and the spirit lashed out in every direction at once. Chests blasted their contents across the floor, hanging cloths tore from the pillars they were strung between, trap doors sprung open and the walls cracked ominously.

Something screamed, shrill and enraged, cutting through the spirit's rampaging impatience like a razor.

He scoured his room for the source of the sound, then relaxed. "Oh, it's you," he said.

Silence followed, and the screamer had probably vanished - but as there was otherwise nothing but grey silence, the spirit kept speaking anyway. "It's better than before. If I spread the strike I don't break as many things."

He moved to the mess so he could see if he was right. "But I should fix this," he muttered. "To fix this ... stone by stone, memory by memory, principle on purpose. Statue here ... the head goes with trophies. Ah, head; I bet you remember Italy too. Why couldn't the Ring have gone back there?"

He flung jewellery back into chests, satisfied with the jangling of metal in the silence. That noise made more sense than that brat soul!

"Answers ... I must get answers. I need knowledge more than I need to hate that soul for burying me alive! Leave confusion behind," he muttered, picking up wall hangings as he reordered his thoughts. "Find a new way to fight!"

The Ring had a bearer, but he couldn't use it like he'd used the others ... but he was the spirit of the Millennium Ring, and he'd find a way. "This soul is young, and speaks of a father." He set a chest back in its hidden niche. "That means the bearer is probably a child - young and inexperienced."

He pushed paper memories back into place between unobtrusively loose bricks. "I need something that it wouldn't know it has to defend, something that I can get from here to make it weak."

He drew a dagger to him - the weapon he'd had the longest, with its copper blade - and kept it close.

"Ring," he ordered, "steal your bearer's name for me."

When the bearer put the Ring on the next morning, the spirit gladly watched the barrier reforming.

"Good morning," he said, and listened intently. There wasn't the smallest echo to be heard - perfect. The Ring's task kept it too focused to reverberate with the bearer's words. The spirit only had to wait for someone to say the name so the Ring could steal it from the air.

The spirit found that the silence wasn't so bad when he could gain something from it, but he hoped it didn't have to last too long. It wasn't easy to push magic out of his soul room without a body.

The previous Ring-bearer suddenly seemed like a shining goal to strive for, though it hadn't offered him much. Its owner had only been rich, and he'd let the body go after a while in hopes of finding one with magic that he could steal. But at least that body had obeyed him. It hadn't trapped him. It had been an adult, and he'd mastered the language of that country.

"Ryou," said a stolen voice, and the Millennium Ring shivered.

And the wait was over! The spirit etched the name into a plate of gold with a spike of power. He would never forget it, even when he'd obliterated the one it belonged to.

He regarded the name from all sides. Souls often got the same kind of name when they were reborn, and he'd never known anyone with a name like 'Ryou'. That meant this bearer wasn't a familiar soul that could draw him. This soul had no right to trap him.

"Your name is still important, Ring-bearer," he said. "It gives me something to curse."

There were no echoes, as if the bearer was scared into silence. The idea was satisfying.

He moved to the barrier, and through its dimly golden tint could see something far brighter: Ryou. The name gave him power over it. He muttered his chosen curse, gathering his strength.

His magic roiled against the barrier, striking sparks from it, eager to reach the pale pink-white mistiness on the other side. The spirit imagined the Millennium Ring resting on skin of that colour. Soon he'd pour all his power into that skin. People wouldn't notice him when he had a child's face. They wouldn't have any idea of the ways he could destroy them.

He pulled the darkness that the Ring lent to the corners of his room near, adding it to his strength, threw himself at the barrier and...

...sank...

Gentle light wrapped itself around him, tightly, so that it squeezed him and scraped him into pieces, taking his mind and his power away from him.

He dragged himself out, back, away, until he was free - and stared in horror as the bricks near the barrier turned into damp clay, the strength sucked out of them. He fell further into his room, deeper and deeper, and finally dived behind a cloth strung between two pillars that cut off his view of the barrier and placed it almost outside of his consciousness.

That should have worked! How could that soul do this? It didn't have power. But ... maybe the weakness itself was the reason why the spirit was trapped: so that his strength could be stolen in hungry little bites whenever he tried to break the barrier. Maybe the child had become skilled in taking power. The little soul wanted to absorb him and when it did, it would be stuffed with strength. Parasite!

"I'll get this body," he swore. There were things stored in the Shadow Realm that he hadn't used in centuries. He'd supplement his strength with them.

He'd own the body, and when he did he'd make a meal of meat. Beer, too. He'd draw the first person he saw into a dark game. And if Ryou's soul stayed for long enough at the scene of the brutal slow bleeding death he wished he could call on its body, he'd squeeze it with Shadow-fingers till it shrieked.

A scream sounded throughout the room like a thought brought to life. Another followed, and another, and then came a chorus.

The spirit relaxed, half unwillingly. "Back again, are you," he said, and the things in the corners of his room keened louder.

He shouldn't be relieved about their presence, especially since they tended to show up after his failed attempts to steal the body. He couldn't remember having seen them in his room before; these things like the shreds that were left after Shadows attacked a soul. Why were they here?

They were probably useless, or he would have kept them somewhere safe - woven into a cloth, or something. They should have been the first things he attacked when his tension grew too high, but in the oldest parts of himself, he thought they were ... familiar.

He ignored the unsettling feeling and thought that it was natural to like those things, since their screams were so inspiring. He'd make Ryou sound exactly like them. He'd take pieces out of Ryou, and he'd do it soon. One more night and he'd be free.

Or he'd feel that sinking again.

He went deeper into his room, around pillars and hanging cloths. The worst thing was that the sinking happened so easily. He could barely feel the slide away from himself.

What if, tonight, the soul felt him collecting his strength? It could push until the barrier shifted into his soul room and flowed over him. It would be gentle and painless. He knew because he'd used the Ring to get sounds and sights from outside, and had learned that Ryou kept hamsters, and carved small figurines, and liked to bask in warmth; he never hit first in a fight although he ended up in many and was rarely loud. That was the soul that might take him, and if it did, then it would have been kindness that killed the spirit of the Millennium Ring. Wouldn't that be funny.

Then he had another thought, swift and small: Maybe his soul being so peacefully erased was his chance at absolution.

That was even funnier. The spirit laughed, drawing his power nearer.

He turned to a shelf and took the pieces of flint on it. He hurled himself at the pillar that had oil-soaked cloth and sticks in its hidden compartment. He made a torch and lit it with sparks from the flint, and with the ferocity that had nowhere else to go he hunted his doubts and set them on fire.

By the time he'd routed out the last of them he was laughing and shaking, his fury was mostly gone. There were soot stains on the walls of the room of his heart, and some pillars had crumbling edges. He was purified and happy for it - with those thoughts gone, he'd overcome another obstacle.

He would not be beaten. It was doubly true that RYOU would not beat him!

He calmed himself in order to think clearly. What he'd done so far wasn't enough - he needed more power to fight the strange parasite. It was a simple: get more power and tie a stronger curse to the name-

The name.

The spirit turned his attention outward, listening. The screams from the shredded beings had died down, and there was nothing to be heard.

"Are you finally shutting up, Ryou?" he asked, and waited. Not the faintest echo of the child's voice dogged his words. But ... it made sense. The Ring had given one word, but there had to be more. A personal name and a clan name. He'd wait, then, because using a whole name would make his curse hit like a hammer.

It wouldn't take much magic to get the rest. The spirit decided to get a look at the body he was going to have. He sneaked magic into a pointer of the Ring and had it wait for the next time that Ryou appeared in front of a reflective surface. The chance came almost immediately, and the pointer stirred. It stole a reflection from a shop window, where a red arch of letters obscured part of Ryou's face. The child was so intent on the display of board games on the other side of the window that it didn't notice its reflection vanishing.

Through the red letters in the reflection the spirit made out that Ryou was pretty, and also that Ryou was a boy. Come to think of it, the spirit hadn't realised that before - but the looks would still be useful. Lots of things tended to be easier when they were done with a pretty face. But there was something that seemed odd ... the spirit reined in his power, letting the reflection return to the window.

He concentrated on his memory of his first body. He was always falling out of that shape since it was hard to think of himself in physical terms when the shape of his power was so much more important, but it was no problem to remember it. His spirit had kept that form for a long time after the body was gone, after all.

The spirit thought of golden-brown skin, large hands, a strong body - until he had enough shape to take a hank of his hair in his hand. He held it out so he could see it; as he'd thought, the colour was about the same as Ryou's.

It made him want to remember something at the edge of his knowledge, like a secret that he kept wrapped up from himself. He couldn't begin to think why the bearer's hair colour would bother him. It was only a coincidence.

Then his thoughts shattered, because he heard the rest of the bearer's name: "Bakura," said the voice that the Ring had stolen.

"Ring!" the spirit shouted. "Let me hear them!"

A boy and a girl's voices spoke in the air of his room. The spirit understood only a few words and couldn't tell anything from the tone of their conversation except that it was light-hearted. He still knew what it meant when the girl, sounding teasing, said "Ryou Bakura".

Ryou, the spirit repeated silently - that was the first name. But the last name, family name, his name: Bakura.

With the drive of instinct that went deeper than real thought, the spirit dived at the barrier.

It was like hitting water. He was absorbed wholly and pushed past the barrier, where Ryou's soul tightened around him in that now-familiar way. It should have hurt, but this was Ryou Bakura, and somehow the torture was kind and fitting.

The sensation slowly became more bearable, and the spirit realised, that this wasn't a trap that would make him part of Ryou - it was a passage through the other soul, and while it scraped pieces from him, he also took pieces from it, so that finally he moved smoothly along.

Then he was through, and it was cold.

Cold. Dry. Walking. Breathing. Heartbeat. Electricity. Even a boy so soft in thought and voice and around his middle was alive and full of life-though his mind was quiet-no, just content-and then:

Language burst open to him and as he was immersed in the knowledge of it, he remembered about computers. You looked both ways before crossing the street, but if only strangers were in the habit of giving out candy it could definitely be taken. The rate of breathing is controlled here, and you know what the anterior pituitary gland is, really. The Ring is magic, things keep happening around you when you wear it and it's the best present ever. It's cold this winter like it hasn't been for years, and snow is some kind of crystallised water but no one really cares since it was lovely without knowing that, and it's important to slow the heart down now, do that over here. Muscles move without needing magic to jump start them - the brain makes nerves carry messages to everywhere in the body so that it does what you want, but that's different from 'having a case of nerves', which is what happens before PT classes with Barry and his friends. There is a hole in the ozone layer and there is always a war and there have been a lot of muggings around the area. The bullies have been overactive too, ever since you made those models for that school project and said how making the clothes looks better than painting them on. It's not doll's clothes and it really isn't girly.

"It bloody is!" he said.

"/Ryou/?" the girl gasped.

He gulped frost-scorched air. "Who the fucking hell are you?" he asked Emma, taking care not to squeeze the filling from the pie he held for her while she looked for mittens in her bag.

The spirit slammed back into his soul room. Without trying he felt Bakura's vast, busy mind turn cloudy (excluding the subconscious and the visceral minds, which worked on unaffected), and the wet scrape of snow-slushy pavement on his knees.

Bakura's? No, Ryou's. Whose?

God
.

No! That wasn't his!

It was barely Bakura's ... Ryou's.

Whose?

It took a long time to return to himself. He dug through his room for memories, sitting down as he looked at them to let the coolness of the walls and floors keep him grounded. He hefted his gold and thought of what he was, physical, spiritual and magical, until his form was so clear that he could count the threads in his shenti. He was still himself - just with that other's knowledge, too.

He was Bakura, and the boy was Ryou, he told himself; then he shook his head. No. He was the spirit of the Millennium Ring and had become infamous as such. Perhaps he'd only thought of that name as his because, long ago, he had stolen words from the minds around him until he could tell a scribe to write 'Bakura'. A ghost of the manuscript was in a compartment in the floor of his room, and he'd taken it out at times to remember the man he had once been.

Ryou, Bakura, it didn't matter. The name was a sign that what he needed was here. This boy was his vessel. He had been waiting for the vessel; he remembered that now.

The shredded things lurking in his room began to scream, louder and wilder than ever.

That sense of familiarity returned so strongly that something opened up in old parts of him, and he remembered: weakness, jarring noise, the corner of a wall cutting into his palm - and screams, like the ones they made.

There was more than that, though, he knew it. He didn't know what it was, but the empty parts of him ached, like what he remembered of the feeling of inflamed cuts and leprosy.

Ryou had the answers. The vessel was not like other Ring-bearers; for one thing, it seemed that he could not destroy its soul without losing something vital. If that was the case, then to keep using the body he needed to find a way to keep their minds in close contact without mixing.

He eyed the deceptive barrier, then edged away. There was nothing he wanted less than to be Ryou.

Then he stopped, thoughts knocked out of him by what he saw. He leaned forwards, inspecting the barrier avidly...

It was changing.

*

He placed the knife and fork on his plate, crossing them neatly over each other, and pushed the plate away in favour of his dessert bowl.

"May I have the cream?" he asked, smiling at Auntie June as he dragged the apple tart closer.

"Here you go, love."

"Thank you," he said angelically. Sadly for his sweet tooth, however, there was a reason that Ryou was pudgy; as the cream poured from the milk jug and over the dessert, the spirit felt something stir within him that twitched his fingers out of his control.

He went back to his room, leaving his vessel to blink at the dining room table as if emerging from darkness into light. The barrier was changing so slowly. He could keep it between himself and Ryou at most times, but not all, leaving him in constant retreat from the body.

And this was a body that he would kill to keep. He could use it as he liked; it even walked the way he wanted it to! The other bodies had fought him with ingrained memory in the muscles that pulled him from his natural step, but this one fit him as if it had been waiting for him. And he knew that it had.

But it fit too well, he reminded himself and stepped further into his room before he sat. It was still easy for Ryou's mind to start swallowing him, three days after he'd first discovered that the boy was his vessel. The spirit particularly disliked what he kept picking up about Mother and Amane - he didn't remember having a sweet tooth before, either. And he hadn't even had one bite of the tart.

The spirit spat in disgust and hunched up, his cloak bunching around his neck - then grinned in spite of himself. Here in his soul room he had clothes without having to try and remember them, and he was using his mouth. Even in his mind he was getting used to owning a body.

He wondered what Bakura had taken from him in the first passage. Only a jittery bit of the boy's subconscious still wanted to believe the Ring was magic; he had been shocked to death by that moment on the street. Perhaps whatever he had gained from the spirit's mind was suppressed. Or perhaps he hadn't yet needed to think of why he knew ... how to milk a goat, perhaps.

The spirit pulled up his knees and rested his arms and chin on them. Sand scraped beneath his shoes and he grinned again; the details of the world were becoming natural to him. He wished for a second that his room allowed sunlight.

He was too close to the barrier, because with that desire sensations and impressions from Ryou pressed into his consciousness: thermal underwear-warmth, syrup-sweetness, cold and runny nose, stretching legs, the slippery, snowy ground. The boy seemed to like walking in the cold. It was the one thing the spirit had found that vaguely indicated strength in his vessel.

The spirit focused on the syrup left over from the tart. He flicked Ryou's tongue over his lips to chase the taste.

The boy stopped and was barged into from behind. Then Ryou walked on faster because of course he'd licked his own lips; it had felt weird because the cold was making him go numb.

The spirit smirked.

The days passed in experimentation, and the spirit learned that little bits of control were best. He stayed separate from the boy while being able to sense Ryou's thoughts more easily. The spirit felt rewarded on the day he moved his feet closer to the hearth and tasted a marshmallow at the same time.

On the day after that he pushed too much, spilling over to the visceral mind, and got such tangled control of the body that involuntary muscle all over the place reversed its movement. Both he and Bakura were thoroughly sick. Curled on the floor of his room, he poked their minds back into comfortable alignment.

He still felt sick when he had finished, though Bakura was happily falling asleep in his bed.

He moved closer to the barrier, slowly and gently, and whispered at the boy's dreaming mind: "You can still wear the Ring. It won't hurt you. You like magic. You like thinking it's haunted, because then you know Mother and Amane are still somewhere. Don't get rid of the Ring..."

The spirit could still feel the claim Ryou's soul had on the Ring. Perhaps that meant he hadn't decided to give it away ... then again, it wasn't stopping Ryou from relegating the Ring to hanging on his bedpost for the rest of his life. And the vessel's body probably wouldn't be ruined by the Ring's power like the other Ring-bearers had been; Ryou could still live for decades.

When morning came the wall shimmered and changed into the barrier, the skin of a pale hand visible on the other side. The claim of possession was strong and the spirit could feel the boy's mind as clearly as ever. But this was the vessel, the only one he'd get - this was the one chance he could not miss.

"Take for my ears what is heard when Ryou Bakura speaks," he said, formal and quiet so that the Ring would act in as unobtrusive a manner as possible.

Bakura spoke of the Ring soon, in a somewhat weary voice that made it sound like he was being forced back into an old argument. "No, Auntie, it doesn't scratch me. The pendants aren't sharp."

A lie, the spirit knew, and was heartened; the boy was defending his constant wearing of the Millennium Ring.

"It reminds me of my father." A pause. "It's fine if I wear it under my shirt, isn't it? No one can see it that way!"

Ryou sounded perfectly desperate to wear the Ring, though it seemed as if his aunt disapproved of what must appear to be a gaudy piece of jewellery. The spirit wondered if he'd have to do something about the woman.

But the subject was dropped, and from there the conversation turned to goodbyes as Bakura left to go to school. The next thing he said was a whisper: "I won't get rid of it."

The spirit unclenched his fists, feeling muscles twitch as he let them relax and lengthen. He breathed out, and he laughed at the feeling of relief.

He pushed his hands inside the barrier and pressed strength into Bakura. The boy walked with uncharacteristic force, pushing past people and calling out apologies over his shoulder, then began to run far too fast, exhilarated. He fell on the slippery pavement, sat there breathless and knocked silly, then got up to run again.

The spirit stayed that way all day, relief greater than his aversion to the closeness between him and Bakura. They stared challenges at the world and smiled in their fierce sensory pleasure.

Eventually the spirit caught Bakura waiting for him. The boy stilled at the faintest loss of control, feeling attentively how his tongue grew numb in his mouth and slid around in search of lingering tastes, or watching his fingers play in his soft hair.

He felt Bakura's bewilderment thudding in his chest, a rhythm of excitement without reason as he felt the intensity of life in him. Bakura's body stayed on a high, and when the boy went to bed he tried to relieve the tension. Bakura's fumbling made the spirit put a touch of control into the hands.

Bakura waited for his mind to catch up with his hands and wondered why his stomach sometimes felt numb but still trembled when touched; why he touched himself in lots of places rather than just taking care of business; why things sometimes felt once-removed and other times much more intense. Puberty was getting really weird.

The spirit listened to the boy's thoughts, amused; he licked the inside of Bakura's lips and burst into laughter when the boy couldn't stifle a sigh.

Bakura twitched and stared into the dark; perhaps he'd heard the laughter. The spirit couldn't resist stretching his magic so that Bakura could become aware of how difficult it was for him to move his own body. Would he find benefits in that?

The barrier gave way at a steady pace before him, and Bakura's throat constricted with fear. The barrier stretched further - and stopped; this was the furthest he could go without the Ring touching its bearer's skin. Bakura's mind was before him, easy to access but beyond complete control. He was in time to watch curiosity surge across it like a cloud of sparks, and then ... Bakura reached back.

They touched for an instant. Then the spirit hurled himself into his room, shuddering - and stared incredulously as a door slammed shut before him.

Where the barrier had been was a wall like the others of his room, but with a stone door set in it. Cautiously, he pushed the door open. Beyond it was a passage that ran into darkness on both ends and another door directly opposite his. It was wooden, open by a slight increment, and he knew that it led to Bakura's soul room.

There was more of a bridge between them than a barrier. The change was complete, and it marked them as clearly distinct, yet irreversibly linked.

The spirit slammed his door shut. To be so close to that boy ... ugh. He could still feel the soul-touch. It was like being molested by a bloody great Care Bear.

He sank to the floor. He'd been marked by that simple touch, and now his mind was more vulnerable to this boy than it had been before mages, Shadows and killers, and even the relentless passing millennia.

"Hello?" Bakura whispered, and it sounded closer than ever before. Then, after a few minutes, "I am insane."

He would have told Bakura to enjoy it, but kept his thoughts tightly in his own mind. He started looking for a belt to girdle his cloak with and keep himself held in, but as he reached out to search through a chest he stopped and stared. The hands he held in front of him were far too pale ... the colour of his vessel's skin. He looked down at himself, and roared, "BAKURA!"

It was all he could express of his hatred. He didn't care if it went through the fucking doors and gave the boy a heart attack, because everything had changed and it was solely the fault of-

-Bakura. In front of him, asleep.

The spirit whirled around and saw not the familiar surroundings of his soul room, but Bakura's bedroom: cupboard, books, chair, curtains. This was the world, and he was in it, though he did not have control of the body.

Was he blocked from the Ring? From Bakura? Would this be death or banishment and would he /never do what he had to/?

No, there was the connection, telling him incomprehensible bits of Bakura's dreams. Bakura, his placid little keeper. Bakura. Ring. He held on to his anchors.

The spirit stared at his translucent hands. The Millennium Ring reacted to his touch, but only a few strands of Bakura's hair shifted in his desperate grip. His fingers sank into it as if it were water. He could barely feel the texture of the hair; perhaps he only remembered it.

He made himself think, slowly and factually.

This was the outside world. He was a ghost. He was outside the Ring, but he could feel his soul room there. In front of him was Bakura, a necessity willed into existence by him; a way to prove that fate favoured him.

He looked down at himself and thought about why his form had changed.

He was shaped in the image of Ryou Bakura, overlong pinkie toes, polka dot pyjamas and all. But it made no difference if his golden-tan body, shenti, and red cloak were gone. His near-imaginary shoulders need not be so broad and he need not be so muscular.

The change made sense. The magic of the Millennium Items did not give benefits to one party and leave the other with nothing. He remembered that. He knew that he would not be allowed to take this body and use it without consequence. The vessel belonged to him and he belonged to the vessel, and this change was to prove that point.

For a moment, he was afraid to move. Then he willed himself into his room and sank to the floor in relief that he made it there. He kept his eyes shut. Thousands of years had left only himself and his room familiar, and he did not wish to see what might have changed there.

"This is simply the last step," he told himself. As terrible as it was to have become so contorted, stretched and pulled to fit around a little boy - he could feel something shifting in his core. The power at his centre uncoiled. Slowly, it let him learn of things he already knew - memories that he had hidden to protect them from the passage of days - and he learned that he needed to rest.

He drifted to his sleeping pallet as memories hinted to him of power that would come close to him in the future; the Ring's pendants stirred promisingly as he thought of it. He even, just about, remembered where he had stored solid shards of memory, things that were like the parchment with his old name on it. Memories could be locked in objects, that was important...

He could almost remember why.

But that was not for now. He had time.

He curled up until he became the tightly bound being that had shrugged off aeons while in the Ring and comforted himself with the imprisoning, familiar darkness. He would be breathless and heartless for a while, so that he could be sure of what he was before he had to take up the entirety of his purpose on Bakura's narrow shoulders.

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Something I would have dearly loved to make clear within the story, but oh well:

The spirit of the Ring tends to refer to 'Bakura' in the dub (or his 'vessel'). This is probably because the dubbers have a weird aversion to the name Ryou, but I like to have better reasons. He vacillates between Bakura and Ryou in this fic, but settles on Bakura for two subconscious reasons:

The name let the spirit realise that he'd found the guy he'd been waiting a few millennia for, and now he thinks of the name as 'a way to prove that fate favoured him'.

The spirit likes to use himself as a tool. It appears in his duelling style ("I give up 500 life points! Now 1000! And some more, whee!") and in the way he messes around with Thief King Bakura. Referring to the vessel by the spirit's old name is a roundabout way for the spirit to make himself his own tool.
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