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Chapter 5 - Deviant

"Life is bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I would go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I said too much
I set it up..."
--REM, Losing My Religion

Although Yugi had finished his exams on Friday, he was walking through the front doors of Domino High School on Monday before he had even eaten lunch. According to the schedule, Bakura - who had taken an extra-credit course in Calculus - would have written his exam at 9:30AM this morning, and knowing how meticulous Bakura was, Yugi knew that he would be one of the last people out, regardless of how well he knew the material.

The red, digital numbers of the pixelboard/hall clock just rolled over to 12:30PM as Yugi entered the near-empty third-year locker area. The silent, heavy atmosphere of exams had settled in firmly over the school, and Yugi had the distinct urge to tiptoe through the hallways lined with several students in small clutches of twos and threes, hunched over books and binders, or sitting on the floor with their heads together and speaking in quiet undertones over some piece of notepaper. Every now and then, there would be a student's bottom half sticking out of a locker with a garbage bag, or a box on the floor beside them half full of books, paper, and various other things like mouldy fruit or old socks. It was the second locker from the end of the hall that had the familiar bottom half of Bakura sticking out of it. As Yugi had expected, Bakura was still at the school.

Yugi stood still for a moment. Now that he had found Bakura, he really wasn't sure what to say to him. Somehow, the phrase: "So, Bakura, why did you club me in the head Saturday night?" didn't strike him as an appropriate opening line. Deciding to take a more subtle approach, he sauntered down the last few feet of hallway, stopped beside Bakura's locker, and gave the metal door a friendly, but abrupt, push against Bakura's rump.

"What the...?" came the muffled exclamation from the depths of the locker, and the jean-clad behind began a backward progression out into the hall. Soon, the dishevelled mound of creamy blonde hair emerged and Bakura turned his delicate face up to look at Yugi.

Striking was the only word to describe Yugi's childhood friend. Fair of skin with hair so blonde it looked white, the eyes that belonged to these features rebelled with a darkness that would rival the blackest night. Bakura was as slender as Yugi's lanky friend Joey, but not nearly as tall. In fact, he stood only slightly taller than Yugi. Yugi and Bakura had been close as children, and had often played together. As they entered high school, however, and branched into different courses, they had seen less and less of each other, Yugi finding friendship among his classmates: first Téa, then Joey and Tristan. As he forced what he hoped was a winning smile on to his face to greet his old friend, he noticed that the large, dark eyes of Bakura had changed, somehow. They seemed... more guarded, as though something disturbing lay in their depths. But then Bakura smiled up at Yugi in return in his warm, quiet way, and Yugi dismissed the sudden feeling of unease that had somehow crawled into him. Téa had to be wrong, he told himself. It couldn't have been Bakura...

...but then his eyes caught a flicker of movement at Bakura's chest, and he directed his violet gaze to a glimmering ring of gold hanging from a gold chain around Bakura's throat: the Millennium Ring.

This magical ring had been a part of Bakura's life for about as long as Yugi's Millennium Puzzle had been a part of Yugi's life. Although both Yugi and Bakura were unclear of exactly what kind of magic it possessed, they had seen some disturbing manifestations of its power - usually taking control of Bakura in some way. Once, Bakura had somehow placed all of them into a Duel Monsters game in the Shadow Realm, where he, Téa, Joey, and Tristan were the monsters, and if it weren't for Yami - who was actually playing against Bakura - they would probably still be part of Bakura's deck. But Bakura wasn't Bakura then - he had split into two souls, just like Yugi and Yami, and Yami, thankfully, had proved the stronger over Bakura's dark presence...

Oddly enough, in spite of this Yugi had never thought much about Bakura's Millennium Ring. He supposed that he had simply accepted the Ring as part of Bakura now - much like the Puzzle had become a part of himself - and had never thought to suspect the Ring's magical influence on his gentle friend.

However, as his gaze dropped down to the shining golden circlet hanging dormantly in front of Bakura's yellow "Tommy" sweatshirt, a dark impression fluttered on night wings into his mind...

...a shadow - a memory of a memory...

...power flying from his hands - Yami's hands - striking the dark mage who had destroyed with his lust everything that had been his world. Striking both him and a golden circlet. A ring. The Millennium Ring...

Samekh - Samekh and the Ring - bound forever...

And as Yugi stared at the Millennium Ring, a large and very ugly hatred began to grow inside him. Hatred of that... thing around Bakura's neck.

And for the first time in his life, a dark mistrust of the Millennium magic bloomed in his heart.

Off balance and disconcerted, Yugi suddenly realized he was still standing in the hallway, smiling down at Bakura, who's smile had become vaguely questioning.

"Hey, bud," Yugi said quickly, trying to sound casual while the disturbing darkness inside him fought to surface. "How'd the exams go?"

Bakura rolled his eyes with a smile. "They're over," he sighed. "Finally."

Yugi gave a loud, forced laugh, which he ceased almost immediately as he realized how nervous it sounded.

"Yeah," he agreed. He stared at the floor, avoiding Bakura's dark eyes, and kicked his toes at nothing.

"So," Yugi tried again, "any big plans for the summer? Like, uh, camping in the park, or something?"

"Nah, I'm not into stuff like that," Bakura answered. "Besides, I haven't been to the park in ages."

Bakura's answer came with a noticeable movement of his midnight eyes downward, and Yugi detected a sudden evasiveness in his manner that didn't make him feel any better about what he was doing, and left a sick feeling in his stomach as he began to think that maybe Téa was right about his old friend.

Bakura looked back up at Yugi, and his disconcertingly dark eyes dropped down to Yugi's hands.

Yugi suddenly realized that he had somehow managed to twist the chain for his Millennium Puzzle tightly around all five fingers of his left hand.

Trying to look nonchalant, Yugi began to unwind the chain - which left dark indents in his skin - all the time wishing Bakura would stop watching him so carefully from under the creamy blonde turmoil hanging low over the night dark eyes.

"I thought you were finished on Friday, Yugi," Bakura said suddenly, a creepy sort of wariness filtering into his voice. "What brings you back to school?"

"Uh," Yugi began, now furiously trying to yank his hand out of the devious tangle that refused to relinquish its hold. "I... uh... I just... uh... wanted... to... uh... see..."

Bakura waited expectantly, watching Yugi's struggle with a cold lack of emotion. Yugi began to think that he was actually very bad at being subtle.

"Listen, Bakura," Yugi said, finally giving up on all of this subtlety, "weren't you in the park Saturday night?"

"Why do you ask?" Bakura queried, more than a little defensive.

"Because... because Téa said she saw you," Yugi answered, trying to quell the sudden swarm of butterflies that had just infested his stomach.

"Téa was in the park Saturday night?"

"Actually, we were both in the park Saturday night."

"And you didn't see me?"

"I couldn't see you, Bakura," Yugi said, beginning to get irritated, "because I was flat on my face on the ground."

"Pardon me?"

"I was on the ground because someone walloped me with a stick, Bakura," Yugi went on, trying to keep the anger from his voice. "Someone Téa said was you."

* * *

 

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