There were many things that the Voice in Ryou's head was fair about (though the Spirit tended to push the meaning of that word until it almost outstretched its definition, but he always managed to stay inside of the line somehow). Ryou, however, knew better than to trust him when he had a pair of dice. "Come on, Landlord," he said in a voice that was as smooth as as the flat of a sword, "let's play a game."
"No," Ryou answered immediately.
Of course, it wasn't as if the Voice was standing in front of him – that was impossible when they shared a single body. The Voice was purring at him from inside of his mind, in a part he couldn't quite reach no matter how long he tried to get to it. It was the host himself that held the die, and he rolled them in his palm. It was comfortable to fiddle with them, but it did not make him feel at all safe. When the Spirit wanted something, he would not back down just because Ryou said to.
"The power will be on your side this time," the Voice goaded.
"No," Ryou spat.
"Make your deal with the Devil and your payout will be more than you could pray for from a god."
The brown-eyed teenager closed his hand around the die and the edges bit into his skin. The sensation was grounding. "What, then," he asked but it didn't sound at all like a question.
"I will retire back into the Ring. I will never bother you or your friends again."
"You're a liar," Ryou accused.
A chuckle echoed in his head. "I have never lied about anything, Landlord."
Ryou pursed his lips and then huffed through his nose. No, perhaps the Voice didn't outright lie, but he did to the word "truth" exactly what he did to "fair". "And what will I wager?" he asked.
He didn't get a response.
"No," he said again and his tone was firmer than before, with his annoyance clearly showing through. His tolerance for the other was already so very low to begin with.
"Fine, fine," the Spirit chided. "I'll spoil the surprise." Ryou wasn't exactly holding his breath, but he was very close to snapping when the words just faded after that. He was not asking for much at all and even then, he was strung along like a toy! That actually described their relationship quite well, though Ryou Bakura had a strong bite when he needed it. Just as he was about to slam the two cubes onto the living room table, It spoke up again. "I want you to love Me."
That threw off any retort that Ryou had already planned and he went just as silent as the Spirit had a few seconds prior. "That's impossible," he finally managed to think up. "I can't just love you because you tell me to." And that was that; there was no debating it further.
Or he thought that, anyway. "Then you have nothing to lose," the Voice said, encouraging him. Ryou still didn't trust this at all. "I just want to hear you say you love Me if I win." The way the Spirit said that, it sent chills down Ryou's spine and sounded warning bells in his brain. No, that wasn't all this was. It couldn't be. He could trust this as much as he could trust a venomous wild snake to not bite him if he reached out for it. The words were said too easily, and they were said invitingly. Every part of this said that it was just a trap.
"Why?" the host asked. "Why do you want me to say that?" Instead of sounding angry he just sounded confused. Out of everything, why would the Spirit ask for love? The thought made him sick to his stomach.
"Because I am lonely," was the reply.
That sent Ryou reeling and he knew that was an outright lie. He couldn't prove it, but he knew and that made it even worse. If he could convict the other with evidence then he would go away and let the host win this battle. No, that tone of voice was not sincere. He would be gaining something from this, and he would never tell Ryou what it was until it was too late to fight back. That was the tone that was meant to be the bait that he took – no, bait was not the right word. The fish suspects nothing until it bites down, and that was never the case with the Spirit. With the Spirit, he would lure the fish into a false sense of security as he offered the bait to be eaten. He would even go so far as to pamper the fish with gifts after the bait was gone. He would shush the fish and assure it that it was perfectly safe for as long as it took. And just as the fish would begin to believe this, the Spirit would break its spine and render it helpless but very much alive. It was so much more complicated than simply baiting him. "I don't trust you," he said. It made him so disappointed with himself that his voice shook when the words left his mouth.
"I am not asking for your trust."
That answer was simple enough. The unease sloshed around more in his gut, and Ryou thought that rice was a very horrible thing to have to throw up. "But if you really hate the ones you call friends so much... I could take care of them for you."
That was undeniably a threat.
"Fine," he answered in defeat – but he kept his answer firm even so. "We will play a game, and if I win you will leave me – and them! – alone. If you win, I will tell you I love you and I don't have to mean a single word of it. And that's all I'm doing. Nothing more than that, do you understand me?" He didn't wait for an answer to that and honestly he didn't expect that there would have been one. "But you have to tell me what 'game' it is we're going to play."
"Of course," was the softer than silk answer. "We are going to play a nice game involving dice–"
"No," Ryou interrupted. "You know how to cheat with them and I've watched you." He was controlling his dice rolls just fine when he played the Game Master in Monster World (which was the last time Ryou had ever played his favorite game and this personal ban on it was a painful one).
His response earned another laugh. "Which is why you're going to be the one making the rolls."
Ryou frowned and spread his fingers to stare down at the die. "No loopholes," he whispered after nearly half a minute of silence that left his ears ringing. It wasn't a fact he was stating; it was a demand, even if it was less than forceful.
"No loopholes," the Voice agreed.
"So what is it, then? Highest roll? Lowest roll? Odds and evens? What about guessing the number?" Ryou thought that he really should have asked this before, but there had been more important things at the time – like making the contract. He knew that it was all tilted in the other's favor (as it always was), but that didn't mean it was impossible for him to come out the victor. And honestly, what would he be losing except a few minutes of his time and an exceptionally awkward moment that no one else would ever have to know about? If he won, though... the idea of it, of the other truly leaving him and his friends alone... it was like a distant sort of dream. He didn't plan on keeping his hopes too high because things never went that smoothly, but it made him giddy and excited without his consent anyway.
"Highest roll," the Voice replied. "I do enjoy greatness."
Ryou pursed his lips at that but he nodded to confirm. "Alright," he said, and his heart began to beat like he was getting up to run a race. His gut twisted with anxiety and he regretted already that he agreed. But he couldn't go back now and the Spirit really wouldn't have let him say otherwise. "This is my roll," he began. Then he jumped to add "You can't interfere with these." He didn't immediately make his move, but instead he worked to steady his breaths. One, two, three, that's it. Then he shook his hand and let the cubes drop to the table. They rolled with several loud clacks and then stilled. He felt a knot surge up into his throat and lodge there as he stared at the number markings. One was a two, and the other was just a one. He had only rolled a three, out of a possible twelve. He nearly called out that it didn't count, or that it was actually the other's roll he had been making and not his own. But he couldn't. He hated that in the end it boiled down to that he was an honest person and what's done was done. He weakly reached out to sweep them off of the table and he felt oddly detached. It wasn't the sort of detachment that came from being possessed, though. All the while the Voice said nothing – no snipes or mocking commentary and backhanded compliments. With a shaky breath Ryou steadied his hand and repeated the action a second time. The dice flew against the table and the sound was just jarring now.
One landed as a two and the other a three. A five. Both numbers were low, but Ryou truly felt humiliated that he had lost with nearly the worst roll possible. He wished over and over that he had switched who the rolls were for, that he had gone second instead of first.
The detachment hit him even harder and now he felt almost as if he were floating, half-asleep. "I lost," he murmured. Even still, the Spirit said nothing. Ryou attempted against to swallow but his throat was very tight. "I just have to tell you I love you?" he asked.
"Yes." The answer was short.
To tell someone he loved them when he did not was a violation of his morals and it made him angry that he was being forced into this. (Even though he had agreed.) That anger made him wonder if the other had actually influenced the roll, or even both of them! He certainly wouldn't rule it out.
"I love you," he managed out with difficulty, but he sounded either hurt or furious. Perhaps both. "There," he snapped after. "You got what you wanted. You can't do anything else."
He forced himself up to his feet and decided that he was going to go to his room and throw himself onto his bed. No, it wouldn't get him away from the problem, but it was something to do and he felt very childish just now.
The sensation of having the mattress press back up against him was a sobering experience and he took solace in that. The fact that saying what should have been a serious confession wasn't as bad as he had made it out to be in his head got to him. That ate away at his mind and he wanted none of it.
The Spirit treated him differently after that. He encouraged him in school (and that worried Ryou a lot) and many other places, and he complimented the host in general. Ryou had noticed that his presence seemed less overwhelming and more... considerate. He couldn't honestly use "considerate" to describe the other but that was the word that fit best. It certainly wasn't gentle, but it came awkwardly close. And the most important of all of it was that they talked. They talked about subjects that were so mundane it should have, in all rights, bored the other to death. …Or past death, if that was possible. They talked about religion, they tore apart the psychology behind that and the societies' behavior today. They talked about governments and kingdoms of the past. They talked about the weather. They talked about their favorite games and movies. They talked.
This went on for weeks. It went on for almost a month. During that month he was lured into other "games" where the wagers were the same. Each time Ryou had lost and he felt like he was growing to accept his fate instead of sitting there, numb or angry. The Spirit was always... especially... kind afterward. So kind that it made Ryou's heart ache because it was something he missed. He had purposely banned himself from being close in this way with anyone (because of the Spirit), and going without it had gotten to be easy, but now he had a fresh taste of it, and it was horrible. It was horrible and it was winning. It became hard to remember exactly how cruel and terrifying the other was in action. It faded into a fog that made it seem less intense and less real. It became hard to see the other a some Great Evil as he used to, because his words were so attractive and so easy to ingest. Ryou had grown to crave them.
He realized, after a time, what the Voice was doing. He realized that the Spirit was playing with his head (and his emotions). He realized that the Voice was trying to manipulate him, to make it so that Ryou would hesitate the next time he tried to side with his friends. That second of hesitation could be all it would take to change the outcome of the battle. He realized that he was being used again as a pawn, and, after a time, Ryou didn't care.
It turned out one could make another love them after all.