Disclaimer: Don't own YGO.
Qualifier Requirements: Must concern any or all of the Bakuras (Ryou/Yami Bakura/TKB/Zorc *seeing as Yami Bakura is apparently Zorc*), must involve bathtime.
Author Handicap: Must be run serious - can one create a dark bathtime-oriented fic?
Reviews/Comments: Concrit and praise are much loved. Unintelligent flaming is not. Since the contest isn't yet over, I'd be pleased to get some feedback on this, see if I can revise it a little before the due date.
The Bathtime Incident
The rain poured down on the ten–year–old, currently struggling soggily down the road with school bag dragging. His normally immaculate clothes were muddied and weighed down, head hanging as he beheld his once–white sneakers before him, stained with dirt. In short, he was absolutely filthy, battered and exhausted, having run a metaphorical mile to get away from Them. Shivering, he drew the parcel he was carrying closer to his chest, nestled under his school jacket. He doubted that the landlady would allow him to enter the flat… unless…
He closed his eyes a moment, working to keep his face emotionless despite his growing terror. There was only one possible remedy for his current condition, and it was indeed a horrifying one.
Putting it simply, Ryou Bakura did not like baths.
There was, for reasons somewhat uncertain, a tub of gleaming white porcelain in his flat, one that the landlady would undoubtedly force him into on his return. Ryou shivered whenever he beheld that thing inside his bathroom, for it reminded him too much of his school life:
"Awww, duz liddle Wyou wan' a bath?"
"I–I honestly– Please, don't–"
They would force him to kneel then, legs buckling with a sick crunch. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't hold his head up, because They had him by the hair, slamming his neck forwards, until Their mocking laughter became distorted and muted by the water he'd been dunked into.
Ryou would be drowning as They held him down, only releasing him a moment for air, before the button would be pressed and the surface of the liquid would rise turbulently, smacking him in the face. And as he would come up to gasp and gulp, again and again, he'd wish that he'd fall unconscious, he'd wish it with all his heart. But his body continued to struggle, adrenaline mixed with survival instincts, and he could not avoid remembering it all afterwards–
He really shouldn't have thought about that; his stomach was churning and cramping now, making it harder to walk. Resisting the urge to hold a hand across his belly, Ryou took another step, then another, then another–
"WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!"
–jumped a foot in the air, then staggered against the clean white doorframe, his palms making dirty marks against the paint. Strange, the pale child didn't remember coming into the flat, but he supposed he must have. And from looking at the furious old lady, he guessed that he must have been here a while for her to notice.
As she advanced on him, walking stick slashing the air before her, he automatically ran his fingers through his white locks, smiling sheepishly. "I... uh… I was…"
He stopped, his grin wavering– something sharp was in his right hand, and it had just scraped across his scalp. A wire, but he didn't own any wire. There were pieces of brown paper littering the ground around his feet, too - remnants of the parcel he had been carrying. A piece of cord lay amongst them, a piece of cord remarkably like the one that held the pendant around his neck... a pendant that he didn't remember seeing before. It must have been in the parcel, he decided; a pretty thing that ensnared the light and-
"You were what?"
Ryou jumped again; he had almost forgotten about the angry resident, and she was now dangerously close. "I–I was– I mean, I was going to–" He stopped, swallowed, tried to control his growing terror. He was shaking; she towered over him, demanding an answer, but he didn't have one. If only he could remember, if only he had time to-
"I was simply trying to find my key. I only just found it."
His mouth had moved, and he hadn't meant it to. He tried to say something else, but his jaw was locked stiff; the muscles refusing to move–
–and then they worked, and the pale boy did say something else. But it was something he would never have said; the words were like honey, pouring out over Ryou's vocal cords.
"Lady, I was just about to have a bath. So, if you don't mind…"
The door opened.
The door closed.
Someone laughed, someone that the ten-year-old somehow didn't think was himself, but was either very close to him or was him, without him knowing. Not that there was much time to really consider this, because the sound itself startled him, thoughts swiftly spiraling into blind panic-
The sound came again, bubbling laughter, mocking laughter, laughter just like Them.
And Ryou Bakura absolutely tore down the hallway, crashing into furniture in a mad dash to get away from that lady, limbs overpowered by fear. They were right there, They were after him, They could come at any moment–
–until at last, he somehow bolted into the bathroom, and the laughter finally eased.
His comfort was short-lived, however. No sooner than he had glimpsed the tub than his stomach flip-flopped at the sight of his own reflection in the thing. The gaunt figure looking back at him was dirty and disheveled – and much more worryingly, was now sporting a maniacal grin so wide the ten year old worried that it might tear his face open. Try as he might, he couldn't get it to leave; once again, his jaw seemed to be locked.
"Scared?", his mouth sneered, though of course Ryou could not answer.
Then: "I see. Those brats."
Brown eyes widened in shock, and he laughed derisively. "Yes, Landlord, I can read your mind. And I don't think you like those other kids very much…"
Who are you? , the child thought frantically at his possessor, sweaty hands gripping the rim of the tub.
"I am your best friend. No–one understands you better than me."
But how? No–one understands m–
"Mind reading, remember?"
Ryou thought about this a long moment, then slowly nodded, desperately trying not to think about how strange it felt to have someone else operating his mouth. You have a point. But that doesn't mean that you truly understand WHY I think those thi–
"Oh, I see. They all say they understand you, don't they? All those councilors. So, you don't believe me when I say it…" The grin returned, twice as large now; the ten year old winced as his jaw popped with the movement. "Don't worry, little Ryou. I know exactly what you want. I can give it to you."
Brown eyes narrowed in suspicion. Well, what is it?
He blinked, his grip loosening in surprise. But how? You can't possibly expect to–
–and now he stood triumphantly over Them, with Their hands tied behind Their backs and Their legs lashed together, and his mouth let loose with a great cackle, as he forced Their heads into the water of the tub.
And They screamed, and so did Ryou's mind, his body backing away from Them as fast as he could. They were right there, he had to get away–
His mouth twisted into a smirk. "They cannot reach you. I have tied them up."
There was a long silence, while the ten year old stared at his tormentors.
And then, quite unexpectedly, he was sporting a maniacal grin – a grin that was his. Because every human being, no matter how nice, is a sinner. And so every last human being does not forgive, desires revenge if they have been wronged…
He slammed the bully's heads into the hot water, two minds acting in tandem with each other, laughing gaily as they howled and screamed. And the more they protested, the more he laughed, removing his clothes so that he could leap atop them and slam them into the walls, scrub them with rough brushes until their backs bled, suffocate them with dry towels, giving them only a moment's air before plunging them headfirst into the water, kicking feet into their sides to make them struggle. With that came an immense feeling of satisfaction, and he hungered for more and more, red liquid dribbling into the tub – but soon they breathed no longer, and the boy's eyes widened at the horrible realization of what he had done… no, because it couldn't have been him, he was so gentle, everyone said so–
You! This is your fault! You brought them here!
And his mouth moved without willing it, a sick smile on a terrified face. "It's not my fault that you killed them."
B–but… but… I didn't mean…
Ryou curled into a little ball at the centre of the tub, naked and shivering as the water drained around him, the suction shifting bodies across porcelain slick with blood. Now he felt sick, desperately wanted to forget that he'd ever done that to anyone, he'd never kill, he'd been framed, it wasn't his fault, this was horrible…
"You want to forget?", said his mouth, and the ten year old wailed in his head and nodded so hard that water went everywhere–
–and then he was dry, clothed and sitting in a bus, his first day at somewhere new. Domino, said the badge on his uniform, and Ryou supposed that that was the name of the school. Looking around at the other kids on the seats near him made his stomach turn for some reason; he felt as though he should stay away from them. They could be hurt if he got too close, and though he wasn't sure exactly why he was thinking that, the ten-year-old accepted it. He didn't really want to remember what had happened, anyway.
Touching the golden pendant around his neck, Ryou found it to be warm, comforting; a present from his father, he decided. He spent the rest of the ride admiring it, and as he joined the other students leaving the bus, slipped it under his shirt. Now the pale boy could take it to school without being detected; a small comfort. So, he wandered along the path, following the other kids as they walked alongside the parked bus, all gleaming metal and peeling paint-
And just for an instant, Ryou caught sight of a sinister smile in the side vision mirror - his own smile, impossible as that was - and his mouth moving of its own accord, lips parting a few times before it managed to hiss out:
"I am your only friend."
For some odd reason that the boy couldn't really explain, he found himself believing it, staring at the mirror until the bus pulled away. Maybe because it was his own words, after all; and you generally believed what you said, didn't you?
But maybe it was because he wanted, more than anything else...