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.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Ryou and Yugi's musical talents are a gift from me for the duration of this story ;D
Yami Yugi sat at the back of the auditorium, in a relaxed pose completely at odds with the expression on his face. He was leaning forward with his chin propped on his arms, which were resting across the back of the chair in front of him. He looked as though he were in pain. Not surprising considering that the screeching sound currently coming from the stage bore a striking resemblance to the battle cry of a Blue Eyes White Dragon. Only not as musical.
"That's the most annoying sound I have ever heard. What are they supposed to be doing?"
Yami glanced at the scowling figure sitting a few seats away. "I believe that is the school orchestra. Yugi said they were playing…" He frowned slightly as he tried to remember what his light had said. Yugi had been so excited about this 'School Talent Show' that he had told him a considerable amount in a constant stream of chatter for over an hour. It had made Yami's head hurt trying to keep it all straight, and he wasn't completely sure that he had grasped it all. "Something about cats."
Yami Bakura raised an eyebrow and stared at the group of teenagers on the stage, his expression a mix of fascination and disgust. "If they're trying to imitate the sound cats make when they scream in pain, I'd say they're succeeding."
"No, I think it's supposed to be music." Yami refused to admit to the fact that, for once, he agreed with Bakura.
"In that case, even Ryou could do a better job." Bakura sneered and leaned back in his seat, his hands behind his head as he lost interest in the so-called performance.
Yami smirked slightly. Bakura had a point there, although he'd never tell him so. At the mention of Bakura's light, he automatically scanned the stage and spotted both Yugi and Ryou standing together near the end of the line of students. He sighed. "It looks like they're going last again."
"What?" Bakura sat up and peered at the stage, annoyance radiating out of him. "I don't believe it! I told Ryou that he was to get it over with early tonight, so I didn't have to sit through the whole thing!" Bakura glared at his light who was, fortunately, too far away to notice. Ryou seemed to sense something through their mind-link though, because he suddenly dropped the sheets of paper he was holding. As he and Yugi started picking them up, Bakura sighed and sank back into his seat, muttering something under his breath.
Yami frowned at him. "You're not helping, you know. Yugi told me that Ryou's very nervous about performing in front of everyone."
Bakura rolled his eyes. "As if I don't already know that! I'm the one who has to share his body, after all! What do you mean I'm not helping, anyway? I agreed to this 'separate forms while rehearsing' nonsense of theirs, didn't I?" He folded his arms and sulked. "I still don't see why they won't let us remain in our soul rooms for this. I could be catching up on my sleep…"
Yami sighed. They'd been arguing about this since Yugi had first tentatively mentioned it, over a week earlier. "It is important to them that we are here, but not as part of them. This way, we can still watch over them, and help them if they need it, but they will be able to do something entirely for themselves. It is such a small request, how could you even consider disregarding their wishes?"
Bakura scowled. "I agreed to it! That doesn't mean I have to like it!"
He was about to go on when he realised that the sounds coming from the stage had stopped. "Thank Ra!" he muttered feelingly, causing Yami to grin.
A tall, thin woman with dark hair pulled back into a tight bun and wearing a shapeless black dress that hung to her ankles, bustled the orchestra off the stage. Both Yamis winced as her high-pitched voice rang through the auditorium. "That was very good! All right now, Tristan, Téa, time for that lovely duet of yours!"
Bakura groaned and glanced at Yami. "If you still want to send me to the Shadow Realm, do it now and I'll go without a fight. Just bring me back before Ryou's turn, or else you'll have to explain my absence to him!"
Yami smirked. "Oh no, you're not getting out of it that easily! If I have to sit here and listen to this, so do you!"
Bakura scowled and sank even lower into his seat, until he was almost lying down. "Well it was worth a try…"
The stage director's voice rang out as she motioned a young girl forward for her turn. The girl started her act; she was reciting a poem she'd written herself, only to be stopped by the woman because she wasn't standing exactly where she was supposed to stand. The girl started her poem again, but was interrupted again. This time it was because she wasn't reading loudly enough. By the time she finally started, she was near tears.
"You know, if I didn't think the monsters would complain about it, I'd send that witch to the Shadow Realm. She'd fit right in."
Yami looked around, raising an eyebrow in mild surprise at the conversational tone of Bakura's voice. Usually a threat about the Shadow Realm was spoken in a low growl.
"Really? I thought you enjoyed watching people being tortured?"
"People, yes. My light, not particularly."
"An honour reserved for yourself then…" Yami muttered. Bakura ignored him and they were both silent for a time, their attention on the stage where their lights were both standing, nervously waiting for their turns. They were the last in line and, after over an hour of assorted methods of torture laughingly described as 'performances', it was almost their turn. Finally.
"I've half a mind to send her there anyway." Bakura broke the silence by continuing his original train of thought.
Yami smirked. "I'd agree with that." At Bakura's look of surprise, he clarified. "About your having half a mind, not your sending her to the Shadow Realm."
"Very funny, Pharaoh." Bakura glared at him.
Yami chuckled. "So, what has she done to Ryou that you find worthy of punishment? I know she's annoying, but it's not like she's actually hurting them." He waved lazily at the stage, where the stage director was telling off a young boy for not having memorised his lines for his skit yet.
Bakura snorted. "Maybe not your light, but you know what a weakling mine is! The slightest thing can upset him for days. He's been worked up about this for the past week. By day he can't concentrate, so it's impossible to have a decent conversation with him." He shrugged as Yami raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Not that I'd want to, but it would be nice to at least have the option. The real problem's at night though. She's got Ryou so tense he tosses and turns all night, every night. How's a spirit supposed to get any sleep with all that going on? Then there's the constant barrage of emotions coming from his soul room… He's a mess, and it's all very inconvenient for me."
Yami struggled to keep a straight face. "I see. Well, at least it won't be for much longer. Yugi told me that this is the final rehearsal. The show is tonight."
"About time. The sooner it's over, the sooner things will be back to normal." Bakura glared at the stage, but whether he was glaring at his light or the director, Yami couldn't tell.
"Since when have things been 'normal' for us?" He couldn't resist saying it. The glare he received was almost enough to make him laugh out loud.
"You know perfectly well what I mean…"
Yami was about to reply when a movement caught his eye. He grinned and nodded towards the stage. "Kaiba's turn." He didn't have to say anything else. Bakura immediately sat up and leaned forward, his full attention on the stage and the entertainment that was about to take place there.
Seto Kaiba strode forward to the front of the stage; somehow managing to ignore the stage director as she screeched the same things in his ear that he'd been ignoring ever since the first rehearsal. He lifted a small book up in front of him and began reading in a steady monotone that would easily send the most energetic child into a deep and dreamless sleep within moments. It was a particularly impressive performance considering that he was reading a particularly violent battle scene. At the end of it, he closed the book and walked off the stage without a word to anyone.
Yami and Bakura reacted the same way they'd reacted to his act since the first rehearsal. They both burst into laughter so loud that their lights glared at them from the stage. Fortunately, since they were in their spirit forms, no one else heard them.
"I hate to say it, but it's almost worth having to sit through everything else just to see that." Bakura smirked.
"Seto Kaiba, forced to participate in something that has nothing to do with either Duel Monsters or computers." Yami's eyes gleamed with amusement at his rival's predicament. "What a pity he won't be doing that in the actual show."
Bakura's smile faded into a scowl. "Yeah. I can't believe he's getting out of it!" He glanced over at Yami. "Any idea how he's doing it?"
Yami shook his head, looking thoughtful. "I've told you all I know. I have a feeling I was not supposed to overhear that conversation. I don't even know whom Yugi was talking to at the time. He merely mentioned that Kaiba was definitely not going to be in the show. Since then, I haven't heard anything else about it. Yugi has been very secretive for the past few weeks. I know he is keeping something from me. I asked him about it and he assured me that he would explain as soon as he could, and that I was not to worry." Yami sighed. "As if that were possible…"
Bakura nodded. His response was unusually subdued. "Ryou's keeping secrets too. Trying to, anyway. He never was good at hiding things from me. But… it's different now. I have to ignore anything he lets slip and pretend I don't notice when he's lying to me." He shot a pained look at Yami. "Ryou's a hopeless liar."
Yami understood Bakura's discomfort. Not so long ago, Bakura would have simply forced Ryou to tell him the truth, and most likely punished him for lying. But the events of Battle City had changed all that. Now, Bakura and Ryou were learning to co-exist and it wasn't at all easy for Bakura. He was literally having to change the habits of over five thousand years!
"Whatever is going on, it seems to concern tonight," he offered quietly.
Bakura nodded silently, uneasy about having said so much to someone he generally considered to be his opponent, if not his enemy. He glanced at the stage, where the director was supervising the set-up of an old upright piano and some of the tenseness left him. "It's their turn."
A slight smile settled on Yami's face as he resumed his relaxed position, leaning against the back of the chair in front of him with his gaze fixed on the stage and the two teenagers heading for the piano there. He sensed Bakura also leaning forward.
On the stage, Ryou was sitting down in front of the instrument and Yugi was standing beside it looking very nervous. The stage director kept telling him, "Chin up now and smile!" but he wasn't really paying any attention to her. His focus was on the two shadowy figures sitting at the back of the auditorium, and on the thought that he had to remember to sing the wrong song! Luckily, that wasn't really something he could make a mistake with, since Ryou only had the one set of music with him. As Ryou started to play the opening notes, his fingers moving softly and hesitantly over the keys as though he hadn't been playing for very long, Yugi began to sing. Just like he had at every rehearsal. Badly enough that the stage director winced, and quietly enough that his voice wouldn't carry all the way up to the back of the room.
Yami frowned slightly as Yugi's soft voice barely reached him. "Poor Yugi, he is so nervous. He doesn't normally sing so softly, only at these rehearsals."
His voice was little more than a murmur, but Bakura still heard it.
A thoughtful frown creased the ancient tomb robber's brow and he started to lean towards Yami but sat back again as he thought better of it. Why should he bother sharing the fact that Ryou wasn't playing like he normally did? He sent a glare at the stage director; sure that she was the reason for Ryou's hesitation.
Ryou had been playing the piano for years. Bakura didn't know much about music, but he knew what he liked and he'd always enjoyed listening to Ryou play. There was one song in particular that had always been able to calm the spirit, even when he was furious with his light. Although there was no way he would ever admit the fact to anyone, least of all Ryou. He had never even admitted to listening to the music, although he suspected that his light already knew that much. Since Battle City, Ryou had begun playing more regularly than he had before. But the way his light normally played was far different to how he had been playing during these rehearsals!
Bakura waited until the two lights had finished their act before he spoke. "Ryou can play better than that. Either that witch is making them both nervous, or they're doing it deliberately." He hadn't intended to say anything, but the thought he'd had was too good not to share.
Yami picked up on his point immediately. "Perhaps they're trying to be so bad that they get excused from being in the show." He and Bakura traded a glance.
"That would explain Kaiba's little act too. Except that Kaiba seems sure that he's not going to be in the show, while Ryou seems sure that he will be." Bakura raised an eyebrow in silent question.
Yami nodded. "Yugi also assured me that he will be in the show. Even though I tried to talk him out of it," he admitted with a slight wince.
Bakura smirked. "Yeah. Me too. Ryou's been so nervous, I was sure I could convince him not to be in it. But he just said it was something he had to do." His smirk faded and he sighed. "I still can't believe I just gave in…"
"It seems to be important to them." Yami stood up as Yugi and Ryou started down the stage steps. "Time to go."
"Finally!" Bakura jumped to his feet with more energy than he'd shown during the entire rehearsal.
As they started down the tiers towards their lights, Yami thought of something. He glanced over at Bakura. "Did Ryou ask you to sit at the back of the auditorium?"
Bakura blinked and nodded slowly. "Yeah. I take it Yugi did too?" At Yami's nod, Bakura smirked. "How about tonight we find ourselves a couple of front row seats? So we can actually hear them?"
Yami looked surprised. "I didn't know you could use the Eye."
"You just read my mind." Yami smirked as Bakura glared at him. Then they were within earshot of their lights.
"Yami! Come on! We have to hurry! We only have a few hours before the show!" Yugi grabbed Yami's hand and practically pulled him out the door, waving to Ryou with his free hand. "See you tonight, Ryou!"
"Bye, Yugi!" Ryou smiled slightly, but it didn't quite hide the nervousness that had become a part of him for the last few weeks. He turned to Bakura and couldn't quite meet his yami's eyes. That was becoming a habit. One Bakura found very annoying.
"Why won't you look at me?" His tone was rougher than he'd meant it to be and he mentally cursed himself for causing the wounded expression that flickered through Ryou's gentle brown eyes. "Never mind, let's just go." He stalked to the exit, forcing himself not to look back at Ryou. He knew that if he looked, he'd just end up doing something stupid. Like apologising.
Ryou sighed softly as he followed Bakura out into the sunlight. He knew his other half was getting annoyed with him, and he knew why. He was also determined that Bakura would not find out what was going on. Not until it was time. He just hoped that Bakura's admittedly shaky patience would hold out for another few hours.
"Tonight," he whispered softly. "After tonight they'll know."