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Chapter 7 - Failure

"Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man
It surely means that I don't know..."
-- Kansas, Carry On Wayward Son

I did it. I did it. It's gone...

Not that he had to tell himself that it was gone. There was a devastating emptiness - like a consuming black hole - that was pressing in on all of his senses. But he forced his eyes forward and outran it, walking, then running, then walking again in a blind, headlong rush to Bakura's house.

And the whole time he tried to make himself believe that he had done the right thing, that he was free now, in spite of the horrible weight encasing his heart, and the terrible sense of betrayal he felt as the image of that final look on Yami's face continued to play back in his mind.

Long shadows were increasing their dominion over the suburban street where Bakura lived when Yugi turned up the short walkway to the small cement step that preceded the threshold of a dusty blue door adorned with a flowered wreath, which was the entrance to Bakura's house. With a shaking finger, he pressed the dimly lit doorbell button on the doorframe. He heard the distant bong of the bell sound on the other side of the door, followed by footsteps that he prayed were Bakura's

The door opened and a warm orange-gold light fell across Yugi's face, and he squinted in the sudden brightness. The slight figure haloed by the light in the doorway halted abruptly, and the Millennium Ring caught the light as it swung gently from its chain.

"Bakura," Yugi's voice sounded foreign to him. "I did it. I mean... I could do it. And so could you."

Bakura blinked, looking confused. "Yugi? What... I mean, why are you here? I..."

"I came here as soon as I did it," Yugi suddenly found his voice, and it was a little shaky. "I was thinking about what you said at school, and I...

"'At school?'" Bakura echoed, still looking confused. "What did I say at school?"

Yugi faltered and stopped talking. Something didn't seem right, all of a sudden.

"When I was at school with you, earlier," Yugi tried again. "Remember?"

Bakura put a hand up to his head as though he had a headache. The night-dark eyes closed.

"Not really," he said.

Yugi's heart suddenly seemed to not be beating right.

"What do you mean, 'not really'?" he asked breathlessly.

"Yugi, I don't remember saying much to you at all," Bakura said haltingly. "I remember you talking about Téa in the park, and... something else..."

"You said that you were being controlled by your Millennium Ring," Yugi said, suddenly feeling frantic. "You said that you... couldn't help yourself. You said I was the same way, and I thought about it and I thought that maybe you were right. But you said that if I got rid of the Millennium Puzzle, that maybe you could find the strength in you to get rid of the Millennium Ring, and then we could all just... go back to normal..."

"I..." Bakura began, looking very upset.

"So," Yugi interrupted, ignoring Bakura, refusing to hear him, refusing to think that maybe something had gone awfully wrong, "so I broke it."

Any colour that was in Bakura's pale face drained completely.

"You did what?"

"I broke it, Bakura," Yugi barrelled on. "Now you can get rid of yours. I'll help..."

"You IDIOT!"

Bakura's sudden assault shocked Yugi into silence. He might as well have slapped Yugi across the face.

"Any chance I had of breaking the hold of this thing, I had because of your magic, Yugi. You and the Millennium Puzzle. You had the only light magic in this whole mess - and you broke it?"

"But," Yugi was finding it hard to breathe, "but... you said..."

Bakura cut into Yugi's feeble protest with a low, angry growl.

"Don't you think," he said, "that I've tried to get rid of this before?"

Yugi didn't answer. An internal surf was eroding his insides.

"It always comes back to me, Yugi," Bakura went on, his jaw clenched. "Tristan tried to throw it away once. I've tried it! It always finds its way back to me. It's magic. It's always here, around my neck! I'm never free of it!"

Yugi managed a choked whisper. "I... was... trying to... help..."

"Help? How could you even hope to help me without magic? How, Yugi?"

Yugi couldn't answer. Couldn't breathe. Couldn't feel. Could only watch Bakura's despairing eyes fill with tears.

"Without that puzzle, Yugi," Bakura said in a dead voice, "you can't help me. You can't help anyone."

Bakura glared at him for many moments before finally turning away in disgust.

"Just go away now," he dismissed him with a cruelty Yugi would not have thought possible in his gentle friend. "I don't want to talk to you right now. Just go... play with Téa or something."

Bakura closed the door behind him, leaving a shell that was once Yugi Moto alone in the gathering shadows of dusk.

* * *


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