DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters are the creations of Kazuki Takahashi.
Over a year before, Bakura had given Ryou two small, fluffy white kittens with wings, charmed so that only those with the Shadow Magic could see them.
At least, he claimed they were both for Ryou. Considering that one of the kittens was usually with Ryou while the other was usually found sitting on Bakura's shoulder, foot, lap or head whenever the yami was in his physical form... that probably hadn't been entirely true.
A year before, Bakura had given Ryou a Christmas with his friends, by using Change of Heart and Nemuriko on Father to prevent him from stopping them going out.
He had since found out that he had given the boy a second gift that night, when he had admitted that Ryou was the only bearer of the Millennium Ring that he had ever truly known, heart and soul, and that he was also the only one Bakura had ever recognised as his Light.
Not long after that, Bakura had given Ryou a white rose that would bloom forever and never wilt or fade.
It had been his way of apologising for upsetting the boy the day before.
On Ryou's birthday, earlier in the year, Bakura had presented Ryou with the gift of a spell. He'd had it made especially by Dark Witch, to change the size of any sweater or other item of clothing.
As he had known it would, it came in handy a week later, when the birthday present from Father finally arrived. One spell casting session later and the three oversized sweaters and pair of beige dress pants two sizes too small all fit Ryou perfectly.
Bakura was very proud of himself for finding his Light so many wonderful presents. Every time Ryou had thanked him with his shy smile, delight shining in his eyes, his ego rose another level.
So when he realised that it was only a week before Christmas and he had no clue what to get his Light for a gift... his ego had quite a long way to fall.
Bakura could hear his Light in the kitchen, humming happily as he made a batch of cookies. Normally, the sound of Ryou's cheerfulness made him grin, but at that moment it just made him more agitated.
"Shadows. He's going to hate me if I don't get him something good!"
Muttering to himself, Bakura paced the living room. Every now and then he sent a dark glance in the direction of the Christmas Tree. Finally, he stopped in front of it and gave it a full-on glare. "It's all right for you. You're just a tree. You don't even have to try to make him happy. You just need to sit there and look all sparkly and he'll love you for it."
*I could chew the cord for the lights. Then they wouldn't come on and Ryou would pout at it.* The voice sounded rather amused.
Bakura considered the suggestion for a full five seconds, then scowled at the small ball of fluffiness currently draped over his shoulder like a little white fur rug. "What are you thinking? I don't want Ryou pouting at Christmas! Think of something else, Dragon." He lightly poked the kitten's nose.
*I am not here to think up your schemes for you. I am here to get scratched, fed, paid attention to, scratched, waited on, and scratched.* The kitten still sounded amused.
Sighing, Bakura took the less-than-subtle hint. As he scratched his kitten under the chin where he liked it, he frowned at the tree again. "Maybe I could give Ryou a real tree instead of this plastic one." For a few moments, he entertained the thought of tossing the sparkly thing out, but then the image of Ryou's sad eyes took over his mind.
"No good. Ryou likes this tree. We decorated it ourselves." Bakura smiled a little at the memory.
*I know. You tried to use me as a decoration.* The kitten's mental voice was no longer amused.
"That was an accident! How was I supposed to know that you'd become tangled up in the tinsel?" The yami grinned and kept scratching his kitten. "Didn't I get you down as soon as I realised?"
*As I recall, I had to tell you to do so three times before you finally did!* He sounded grumpy.
Bakura's grin widened and kept on scratching the little fuzzball. "Not my fault that you were still learning to mind-speak two weeks ago. It's probably because you needed to do it that you mastered it, so you should really be thanking me."
*I was speaking fine! You simply were not listening!* Dragon the kitten was definitely grumpy.
"All right, all right, don't get your fluff in a twist." Bakura snickered and gave his kitten an extra good scratching. "Anyway, a new tree's out. What else could I give him?"
*How about a new pendant? Gold rings are so old fashioned.*
"What did I do to deserve such a sarcastic kitten? Oh... right... ancient evil tombrobber and all that." Bakura sighed and then frowned unhappily. "Don't you have any good ideas? Seriously."
*Seriously?* The kitten was silent for a moment, then sighed heavily. *Well... there is one thing you could do...*
Bakura slipped out of the front door without a sound, carefully making sure that the door didn't squeak and give him away. He stood still for a moment afterwards, all of his senses alert to the slightest sign that Ryou had heard him and was coming to see what he was doing.
Although Ryou was currently distracted in the kitchen, the Light had an uncanny sixth sense when it came to his yami getting up to mischief.
In this case, though, the mischief was a good sort and Bakura had no intention of letting Ryou find out what he was up to until he was finished with it.
Satisfied that his Light hadn't heard him leave the house, the yami headed off on his fact-finding mission.
The first stop was the front yard. Bakura went over every inch of it, quickly and carefully. He only paused in his work once, to lightly tap the window and wave to the yawning kitten sitting inside on the windowsill. Dragon just gave him a grumpy look before turning his back on him.
With his investigation completed and a plan already formed in his mind, the next step was by far the trickiest one.
Somehow, he had to get the supplies he needed.
He had the money to buy the supplies. The big problem was going to be getting to the shops without Ryou.
Bakura decided that the best way was to be direct. He slipped back inside, then made his way to the kitchen.
Ryou was still humming happily as he took the cookies out of the oven. He was also wiggling his hips in time to the beat in a way that was almost mesmerising. It was with an effort that Bakura drew his eyes away from the other boy's hips and cleared his throat. "Ryou."
"Oh! Bakura!" Ryou looked over his shoulder and smiled sweetly. "They need a little time to cool, but then you can have one. Just one though, we need to save the rest for everyone to share tonight."
Bakura caught himself considering putting off his shopping trip to wait for his cookie. He shook his head slightly to clear it. He was a powerful ancient Egyptian thief and the spirit of the Millennium Ring on top of that. As if he'd let a little thing like a hot cookie deter him from his goal!
"I'll have it when I get home." At Ryou's startled look he shrugged, acting as if the trip was no big deal. "Marik told me about a new store opening, the last time we talked. I wanted to take a look."
"Oh?" Ryou looked curious. "What sort of store?" He smiles. "Can I go with you?"
Bakura had anticipated his Light saying that. He already had the perfect answer ready, along with the naughty grin that accompanied it. "Sure if you want to. It's an adult shop, though."
Ryou blushed deeply and quickly shook his head. "On second thought... Have a nice time, Bakura."
As he crossed the room to the cookies, Bakura snickered. "I will." He waited for the right moment and then his hand moved faster than the eye could see.
Even so, Ryou frowned at him. "Bakura! I told you to wait until they were cool!"
"I did. They're cooler now than they were when you said that, aren't they?" Bakura grinned at his Light. "Besides, I like it hot and a bit sticky. More fun that way."
"Bakura!" Ryou's deepening blush told the yami two things.
Firstly, that it was time for him to leave on a high note.
Secondly, that his Light was convinced that he was indeed going to be visiting a new adult shop.
Normally, Bakura hated shopping, but that trip was actually quite a lot of fun.
Not only did he get to spend over three hours choosing his Light's Christmas present, but then he actually did duck into the new adult store that Marik really had told him about.
He had to have something to show for his time away, after all.
Besides, if his grand Christmas Gift Plan backfired in some way, Ryou might like the Gingerbread scented massage oil that he'd bought there.
Bakura was in such high spirits when he returned home that he almost forgot to hide his other parcels before going inside to join Ryou for lunch.
He couldn’t wait to start getting Ryou's surprise ready. But of course, waiting was exactly what he had to do in order for it to be a surprise. Timing would be crucial for it. His light had to be out of the way for at least as long as it would take Bakura to prepare the surprise.
That was where Dragon came in.
Of course, initially the kitten refused to help. Bakura had expected that. He knew his lazy little kitten liked napping more than running around the house causing enough trouble that Ryou had to chase around after him for the whole afternoon. But a bribe was always guaranteed to work with Dragon.
If there was anything that kitten wouldn't do for a tin of sardines, Bakura had yet to find it.
As the kitten set off to keep Ryou nice and distracted and Bakura set off to prepare Ryou's present, the yami reflected on the benefits of being owned by a kitten whose level of intelligence, ingenuity and natural sneakiness was matched only by his willingness to be bribed into helping when needed.
The first sign that Bakura's plan wasn't going to go as smoothly as he'd thought came within ten minutes of him starting work. While he was still opening boxes and getting everything unpacked.
The second sign came when he finally had it all unpacked and realised just how much of everything there was and how big a job it was going to be for one lone yami. Still, he refused to give in.
The third sign came an hour later in the form of a very loud crash, accompanied by the ominous sound of shattering glass.
As Bakura surveyed the damage, he felt an all-too-familiar tingle up his spine. His heart sank into his boots. "I was really hoping you wouldn't find out until it was done." He looked over at his shoulder at the pale boy who was standing on the front porch.
One look at the expression of shocked horror on his light's face and Bakura knew he was in trouble.
"Um... it's not as bad as it looks." He tried a smile, but could feel how weak it was.
Ryou slowly turned his attention from the state of the front garden to the decidingly rumpled yami standing in the middle of the chaos, trying to look innocent.
"Bakura... how could this possibly be 'not as bad as it looks'?" His voice was soft but the other boy winced all the same.
Bakura glanced around, trying to see exactly what had his Light so upset.
All right... so most of the strings of lights that he'd managed to get up on the house weren't very tidy. Or in the right places. Or looking good rather than weird.
True... the remaining decorations that were yet to be put up looked more like tangled balls of wire with the occasional bit of coloured plastic poking out than strings of lights.
Admittedly... even Bakura had eyed the jumbled assortment of leads and cables and power converters with a mix of awe and fear when he'd realised how many there were. He still wasn't sure how he was going to hook them all up to a power source, but he'd work something out. Once he worked out what lead connected to which set of lights, of course.
Okay... the branch of the large tree in the yard had broken off and fallen onto the bird feeder, knocking it to the ground. But that had happened with just the weight of one yami on a ladder leaning against it, so it had obviously been about to break on its own, anyway.
Yes... Bakura's instinctive grab for another tree branch when the ladder beneath him began to fall, followed by his equally instinctive kick of the ladder to make sure his feet were free of it, had caused it to change course so it had fallen into the bushes along the front of the house, knocking off quite a few branches and taking out the window of Father's study in the process.
Undeniably... the whole front yard looked like a whirlwind had set down in the middle of it.
Or a yami named Bakura had tried to decorate the outside of the house with lights for the first time and found that it wasn't quite as easy to do as he'd thought it would be.
Feeling more than a little embarrassed that his Light had caught him in the middle of such a colossal failure, Bakura again smiled very weakly at his other half.
"I can explain..."
Five minutes later, Bakura found himself standing in the livingroom, in the unusual position of being sternly lectured by his Light on doing dangerous things like climbing up ladders and trying to decorate houses all on his own.
As far as he could tell, it wasn't just the mess that had Ryou upset. It was also the fact that he had been trying to do it all by himself. As his Light explained, not only had Bakura been causing Ryou to miss out on something fun that he would have enjoyed helping with, but it was also not safe to climb up a ladder without anyone there to hold it steady or to go for help if an accident happened. Which it had.
Bakura was very aware of just how much worry and fear he'd caused the boy to feel that day.
Finally, Ryou stopped lecturing his yami, sighed, and then shook his head. "Honestly, Bakura. Whatever possessed you to do something like this, anyway?" He looked confused.
Bakura looked a little guilty. "Well... it all started when I asked Dragon if he had any good ideas for a Christmas present for you..."
"Bakura!" Ryou frowned at him. "You are not going to blame this on that sweet little kitten!"
"No I... Wait. Sweet? Ha! You really don't know Dragon." Bakura snickered. "Most sarcastic little fuzzball on four legs." He shook his head as Ryou frowned a little more. "But anyway, you didn't let me finish. I asked Dragon his opinion and although I didn't think you'd like his idea, it gave me one of my own."
"Oh. I'm sorry, Bakura." Ryou blushed. "I got mad at you for nothing."
Bakura gave his light what was likely meant to be a pouting look, although his soulful eyes ended up just making Ryou blush even more. "Apology accepted... if you let me off the hook for messing up your Christmas present."
Ryou smiled very sweetly at his yami. "I was going to anyway. But on two conditions."
He smiled even more sweetly.
Bakura began to look very nervous.
"You have to let me help you put the lights up properly."
Relief caused the yami to grin. "Deal!" He was perfectly happy to do just that. He would have suggested that anyway, now that Ryou knew about it. "So what's the second condition?"
Ryou's smile was now sweeter than the candy canes they'd hung on the nearby Christmas tree.
"You also have to clean up all the mess you made."
The yami's relieved grin vanished and his complexion went several degrees paler as he glanced through the window at the waiting chaos before looking back at the sweetly smiling demon standing in front of him. "By... myself?" He sounded stunned.
He couldn't refuse and he knew it. The mess was his fault and it would need to be sorted out before he and Ryou could start putting up the lights together. At least doing this now would pave the way for some fun with his other half, later on.
When the two boys finally finished putting the lights on the house several hours later, twilight had already fallen. Bakura never did anything halfway and so there were quite a lot of lights now twinkling and shining merrily. They stepped back to survey the scene, standing side by side with their shoulders barely brushing as they took in the glorious sight of their home.
Ryou tilted his head slightly as he studied the effect. "Why are all of the lights white?"
"It was supposed to be your Christmas present. The white lights reminded me of you." Bakura spoke softly, his words making Ryou blush slightly as the boy smiled happily at him.
"Thank you, Bakura. It's a wonderful present."
The yami sighed and shook his head. "I'll get you something else as well." He glanced at Ryou. "Something normal. I should have done that from the start. I was so caught up in trying to beat my past gifts to you that I forgot the reason why I was giving you something in the first place. To make you happy." He looked uncomfortable with saying it, but Ryou's sudden hug seemed to relax him.
"What you just said is the second gift you've given me today. But if you wish to get me something for under the tree on Christmas morning... I could do with some new socks."
Bakura blinked at his Light. "Socks? For Christmas?" He blinked again and then winced. "Father has a lot to answer for with his constant gifts of clothes."
Ryou giggled softly at that, but it was Dragon's serious *Never underestimate a good pair of socks. They are perfect places for me and Fluffy to nap in.* that had both boys laughing out loud.
Ryou smiled up at their home, all decorated with pretty white lights, then smiled brightly at Bakura. "Well, we cannot stand here admiring our work all night. We need to get ready to go and visit the others." As his yami nodded and started heading in, though, he lightly touched Bakura's arm.
"Bakura, before we go in, there is something I've been meaning to ask." He looked very curious. "What was Dragon's idea for my gift? You said before that you did not think that I would like it."
"Oh, that. Well..." Bakura shrugged. "He thought you might like to wake up Christmas morning and find me at the foot of your bed in a big red ribbon with a bow on it. Wrapping up myself made me think of... wrapping up the house..." He grinned wryly. "It seemed like a good idea at the time."
Ryou giggled. "That sounds funny. Why did you think I would not like such a gift?"
The yami arched an eyebrow at his giggling Light, then grinned mischievously. Ryou was still giggling, so failed to notice the obvious warning sign.
"Because the ribbon and bow was all he thought I should be wearing at the time."