It was freezing outside. The shabby little apartment had no heat, and Akefia Touzouko now had three blankets wrapped around him.

The government could’ve at least given us an apartment with heat; Akefia thought bitterly, Ryou and Bakura are going to freeze to death in here!

Ryou and Bakura, Akefia’s two smaller twin brothers, were currently at school (which had heat, Akefia mused) on a cold, snowy day in Domino City. He briefly wondered why they had school today, seeing how there was ice on the roads and snow at least a foot high on the sidewalks.

I suppose I should be glad, though; they’re warm and safe at school, I should just try to make the best out of a bad situation-

Akefia’s train of thought stopped when the phone rang, an annoying high-pitched sound. He quickly unwrapped himself from the warm bundle of blankets and went into the small kitchen, hurriedly picking up the phone.

“Hello?”

“Hello sir, this is Ms. Chono, from Domino Elementary,” a woman answered, probably the pricipal. Akefia cursed silently to himself; whenever the school called, it was usually bad. Bakura often liked to get into fights, whenever someone decided to pick on Ryou, or sometimes just for fun.

“Did something happen? Are Ryou and Bakura alright?” he asked, already knowing the answer.

“Yes, they’re just fine, but Bakura got into another fight with a student – again.”

Akefia sighed, and said, “I’ll be right there.”

With that, he hung up the phone, and ran a hand through his tangled, spiky white locks. I swear…Akefia thought, not bothering to finish his musings before grabbing his keys and walking out the door.

1

“This has gotten completely out of hand, you should have that little monster expelled before-”

“I don’t care who you are, you will not call my little brother a monster-”

“I can call that boy whatever I want, thank you very much, he’s been nothing but a nuisance in my class-”

Voices rang out from the principal’s office, both male, and the shouts turned heads from both teachers and students.

Inside the room, Ryou and Bakura sat in chairs in front of the principal’s desk; Bakura looking extremely surly, Ryou twisting his hands in his lap, eyes filled with sorrow.

Akefia and the twin’s math teacher, Mr. Mikazuki, however, their faces only inches apart, had been shouting at each other for the last half an hour, and Ms. Chono’s acts to calm them down went unnoticed.

Mr. Mikazuki turned to Ms. Chono and all but shouted, “I demand that these two be suspended right now!”

“These two? Ryou did nothing wrong!” Akefia snarled, but immediately quieted when Ms. Chono held up her hand.

“Mr. Mikazuki, I believe you have no right to demand anything from me. I will not suspend these two. I suggest you go back to your class, I believe they get out of lunch soon, am I correct?” she said sternly. Mr. Mikazuki’s shoulders slumped before muttering, “Yes, Ms. Chono.” He then turned and left the room, but not before shooting a disgusted look at the two white haired boys. Akefia sighed, grateful that the man had finally left the room. Ms. Chono turned to him.

“While these two aren’t being suspended today
---

"YOU GUYS NEVER HAVE THE `EFFING GREEN JELLO!"

"I wanted to touch your sex."

"Wanker's Cramp - The most deadly of British diseases."

"MY BRIZESTS ARE OFF THE HIZZLE FO SHIZZLE!

DAYUM."
--

New School, New Beginning.

For the past two years, I’ve been bullied. I know some people think that that’s not as bad as some of the other things teens have problems with, like drugs or pregnancy. I used to think it wasn’t as bad either, especially since they were saying little things. My mom, who was also bullied in middle school, told me that middle school was possibly the worst, because kids don’t know whether to be mature, like the high school kids, or immature, like how they were in elementary school. She told me that it was best if I just ignored them, because soon they would run out of things to say. I tried to follow her advice.

Like I said, it was just little things like “you need better clothes”, or “your shoes are outdated”. Soon they started saying I was ugly, and laughing with their friends. They would even make fun of me because I always did my homework. I still tried to follow my mom’s advice even then, but after hearing those same things over and over again for the past year, I sort of gave up.

During my whole summer vacation and about half of my eighth grade year, I stopped eating. I also became extremely depressed, sometimes crying at little things, and sometimes nothing at all. I would lie on the couch all day, only getting up when my parents needed me to do something. I started to lose weight, and already being skinner than your average thirteen year old, it showed. My entire family, even cousins that I may not have talked to in months were worried about me, because I would get sick easily and have to stay home from school. Sometimes I would even fake being sick just so I wouldn’t have to go, other times I would purposely miss the bus so I could be driven, since most of the bullying happened on the bus. It wasn’t until I got on the scale myself and saw that I was only eighty pounds, instead of around a hundred, that I realized starving myself, staying home from school and failing classes wasn’t helping anybody, especially me.
--

Ryou sat in the empty apartment, looking at the parcel he had just brought up from his mail slot in the lobby. It was from his father, who was all the way in Egypt, digging up ancient tombs from the past. Ryou’s father had told him that having this job would bring in a lot of cash, so that he could give Ryou a good education. But Ryou knew the truth.

His father didn’t love him anymore.

His father wished Ryou had died instead of Amane.

It was horrible to know, but sometimes Ryou wished his father had just told him the truth instead of leaving him there, in the empty apartment.

All alone.

Ryou sighed and picked up the letter that was attached to the package, ripping the envelope open and beginning to read the note, kicking his legs slightly against the sofa.

Dear Ryou,

I know I haven’t called in awhile, but work has been busy. I’m sorry I didn’t get to speak to you on your birthday, but I hope you had a good time. I guess you could call this a late gift.

I hope you like it,

Dad

Ryou sighed sadly. No ‘I love you’ or anything. He supposed he had to be grateful though, at least his father bothered to send anything at all. Ryou sat the letter down and picked up the present, shaking it just a tiny bit. It felt a tad bit heavy, but he couldn’t hear a thing.

I wonder what it could be…Ryou thought, slowly unwrapping the paper. As soon as the last bit of wrapping paper came off, he held the item in front of him and stared at it in awe.

It was a necklace. About the size of his hand, maybe bigger, with an eye in the middle of it, and five pointy spikes dangling down. It was pretty, the gold glinting off of the light shining through the window.

Ryou let a small smile grow on his face, and slipped the necklace over his head. The cord was just a thin piece of string, and he would probably have to find something stronger for it.

Thoughts were tumbling through Ryou’s head. The necklace looked so valuable and expensive; surely his father wouldn’t have gotten him such a fine item. Unless…

Unless he truly cares? He just might, he just might care-

Ryou was snapped out of his thoughts when a jolt of pain shot through his spine. He had never felt this sort of pain before; it was like something was ripping him in half, tearing his soul-

He blacked out.

-

When Ryou awoke, he did not know where he was. It was a small white room, with a tiny bed that he was currently laying on, a bookshelf, and a desk with pictures on it. When he looked closer at the pictures, he noticed that some of them were of his little sister, Amane, some of them pictures of his mother, and the rest were the three of them together.

Where am I? Where did these pictures come from? Where did this room come from?
--

Ryou walked home alone nowadays. No Yuugi or his group inviting him to the arcade, or to the movies. Those days were gone.

They were afraid of him. They never told him that directly, but he could see it in their eyes, or just the way they reacted towards him. Or in school, how they would walk a different direction when he came down the hall. Or in class, how they would lower their eyes when he walked by to get to his seat. Maybe they weren’t afraid of him, but afraid of what he might become.

Ryou’s Yami, Bakura had his own body. He, along with the Pharaoh, had gotten their bodies after what happened in Memory World. Ryou was happy, hoping that everything would go back to normal, but apparently, that wasn’t going to happen.

“We could get rid of him, Ryou. He might hurt you, or try to go after the Pharaoh again! Think of all the people who could get hurt!” Yuugi said to him one day after class.

“Yuugi, he’s not going to do that. Everything is over and done with. He doesn’t like the Pharaoh, yes, but he promised me that he wouldn’t go after them. I’ve got him under control Yuugi, you don’t have to worry about me,” Ryou had replied.

“You think he’s going to listen to you, Ryou? He’s a criminal, a thief, he’s lied to you before, hasn’t he?”

“Yes, Yuugi, but that’s all done with! He’s –“

“You can’t say he’s changed, Ryou. You can’t. It’s like you don’t even care about what might happen to us if he remains here. He’s corrupting you, Ryou! He’s evil! Can’t you see that?”

“He’s not corrupting me. I completely trust him, and I know he’ll keep my promise. And how can you say that he’s evil, Yuugi? You know from Memory World what he’s been through. How can you blame him?”

“He’s not like us, Ryou. He’s a parasite who’s hurt you countless times. He is evil, and manipulative! Please, Ryou, I’m only trying to help you!” Yuugi said, exasperated, desperate.

Ryou had narrowed his eyes at this. He couldn’t believe Yuugi was saying all of this. He thought Yuugi was his friend, but from the way he was talking to Ryou it was the complete opposite.

“Yuugi, I don’t need you help. In case you’ve forgotten, he’s the other half of my soul. I need him here! He’s been my friend longer than you have, and he’s saved me countless times too! I wouldn’t be able to bear it if you took him from me!”

Yuugi sighed. “I’m sick of wasting my time on this with you, Ryou. You’re either with us or you’re with him. You decide.” With that, Yuugi had walked away.

Ryou hadn’t talked to Yuugi or his friends since that day. And every single day since then, when he walked home, he thought of that day. He felt as though he had made the right choice. Although he hated that he no longer had any friends, he tried not to let it show when he was at home with Bakura. He didn’t want Bakura to feel as though this was his fault.

But, every time he walked into his apartment after a long day of school, he would always go back to those words.

You’re either with us or you’re with him.

Every time he thought of that simple sentence, he would doubt himself. He had longed for friends, hadn’t he? And then he met Yuugi, Jounouchi, Anzu, and Honda, and he felt as though everything were going right for once. And then…

They were gone.

You’re either with us or you’re with him.

Ryou shook his head, emptying these thoughts from his mind. I should really stop thinking about this. I can’t change what has happened, and I shouldn’t doubt myself, he reasoned. He hadn’t even realized he had made it back to the apartment, because he was too busy thinking. Ryou sighed as he reached in his bag to take out his keys.

You’re either with us or you’re with him.

I can trust Bakura, can’t I? Ryou thought, stopping himself from turning the key in the door. He could, couldn’t he? Bakura had given him everything he wanted, had helped him when he was in trouble, he should be able to trust him…right?

You’re either with us or you’re with him.

Gosh, I need to stop thinking about this. I can trust Bakura, I can! Ryou thought firmly, twisting the key in the lock and pushing the door open.

You’re either with us or you’re with him.

“Bakura-kun, I’m home,” Ryou called out quietly. After a few seconds, he heard shuffling coming from one of the rooms, and then Bakura’s head popped out from the doorway at the end of the hall.

“Welcome back, Host. No school tomorrow, right?” Bakura greeted him, coming out fully from the door and walking towards him.
You’re either with us or you’re with him.

“Yes, no school. Why?” Ryou asked, curious about the answer. Bakura let the tiniest hint of a smile on his face.

You’re either with us or you’re with him.

“I was hoping we could watch a movie together, if you weren’t too busy,” Bakura mumbled, a light blush on his face. Ryou smiled, a small smile, but a real one.

“Sure, why don’t you go set it up and I fix some popcorn?”

With him.