Pairings: Yami no Yuugi/Yami no Bakura, Malik/Bakura
Notes: This was a request by cresselia.
It began as a thought.
Bakura had been reading a letter from his father and, somewhere between "I'm sorry I haven't written" and "but the tomb is richer than expected", he began to wish that he was there. He could see it in some clear part of his imagination: the crumbling shabti, furniture turning gray with dust, and here and there the faint gleam of gold in firelight.
He was too realistic to think that he was picturing an actual tomb, of course. More likely that it was just a series of images he'd seen in movies, all combined into one unique scene. The pictures his father sent helped it along, and that was all.
He ignored the way the silence in his mind had suddenly become attentive.
Bakura was lucky that Yuugi was the one to approach him after class, because Yuugi (while uncomfortable) was at least kind when he asked why Bakura had been staring at him. He got beat up enough for looking as effeminate as he did; it would have been worse if anyone else had noticed him actually watching another boy. So he smiled warily and explained that he hadn't noticed what he'd been doing, that he was distracted with news of his father, and of course, that he was sorry.
Really, he only got as far as the lie about his father before the Voice chuckled softly at him, and then his mouth wasn't moving the way he wanted it to. Instead of a soft, practiced apology, his voice cooed out a snide greeting.
Even from the hazy background of his own mind, he could see the challenge in Yuugi's eyes as he Changed. He stopped watching then, thinking that as long as whatever battle was going to take place was over before midnight, he'd have enough time to write a letter and maybe squeeze in dinner before he had to sleep.
He should have known something was different when he woke up the next morning on his own bed, instead of in a hospital room. He had his school uniform still on, but there were little dark splotches on the jacket that he didn't want to look too closely at, and every muscle ached, even those in his jaw. But the cool silence in his head was still there, so he figured everything was as normal as it would ever be, and he went off to school without bothering to pick his sheets up off the floor.
Yuugi was sitting funny, Anzu said, and Bakura finally looked over and had to agree. The other teen usually slouched down when the teachers spoke, and sat straight when he had a chance to sort through whatever game of the week he'd smuggled into school. Today, though, he was pressed forward against the desktop, keeping his back as far from the seat as possible. Even when Jounouchi prodded him about it, he refused to say why, and the subject was put aside.
...Well, put aside until he could be cornered the instant school got out, Bakura amended. Yuugi's friends would never really leave him alone.
He was distantly pleased that, even in his own head, he could keep his words so neutral-sounding.
It didn't really take Bakura too long to suspect what was going on when the Other Yuugi came around. They never went to Bakura's apartment (the Voice probably didn't like the idea of welcoming someone into his own home) and they couldn't go to Yuugi's home because he actually had family living with him, but that didn't mean either spirit was willing to spring for a hotel room. As a result they ended up wherever was the most deserted at the time; an empty grocery store after hours, a seedy club they really shouldn't have been able to get into, a quick meet up behind a movie house that left Bakura sore and bruised for days after.
Bakura didn't mind it all that much, as long as he didn't think about it. The problem was that he could only ignore things for so long before even he had to admit that the bruises on his shoulders were teethmarks, and the scabs on his ribs and back were from someone's fingernails. He could even have learned to be okay with that, but when he thought of Yuugi-kun scratching bloody tracks into his skin, he shook so hard he spilled his morning coffee over the front of his uniform and ended up being late to school so he could change.
That was why, as he was carefully making his way out of a particularly sticky bar, he let the one familiar face there--Malik's--catch his eye. He was still bleeding under his t-shirt, could feel a trail of it making its way slowly down towards his jeans, and he focused on that as he smiled politely at the other teen and stopped to talk.
Malik didn't say anything about the cuts, even when Bakura took him home and he could actually see--and feel--where all of that blood had come from.
Almost a year went by before Bakura could bring himself to acknowledge that when Malik slipped an arm over his shoulders as they ate dinner, he wasn't just stretching out. Bakura supposed it was a good thing that the Other Yuugi and his Voice were still discreet about their side activities (even if that was mostly because it had no emotional importance to either of them, and therefore wasn't worth thinking about except when they were actually having sex) because he had to admit that Malik was growing more and more possessive. Only people who cared grew possessive, he mused grudgingly, and made quiet efforts to step out of Malik's grasp.
While Bakura fixed a pipe under his sink, Malik was sprawled on the couch--an old, well-used piece of furniture that looked like Bakura had pulled it out of a forgotten dumpster. The fabric made his skin itch when he lay on it naked, but it hadn't escaped his notice that Bakura hadn't let him get naked in some time.
He heard a metallic thud from the kitchen, and a muffled "Ow" but was too annoyed to snicker. Bakura came out of the kitchen a moment later with a damp cloth in one hand, while the other rubbed the side of his head. He gave Malik a wincing, one-eyed glance and started to turn back around.
Malik sat up in an easy, graceful move and leaned against the back of the sofa. "Hey. Come here." When Bakura hesitated and started to offer an excuse for himself, Malik stood, and Bakura fell silent. His expression was curious, rather than wary, though at the moment Malik almost wished the other boy had been afraid. "Come here."
Since there was no arguing when Malik got like this, Bakura sighed faintly and took a few steps closer. "What's wrong?"
"Yeah," he scoffed the word. "What is?"
Bakura glanced at the sink, which was making ominous gurgling sounds, and then back. "I don't understand."
"You trying to get me to leave?" The less Bakura said, the hotter Malik's tone grew. "What's going on?"
Malik had it right, of course, but Bakura wasn't sure he ought to admit to it yet. He tossed the damp towel onto the sofa and shrugged a shoulder. "I don't know what you mean, I've just--"
"Don't lie to me," Malik grabbed his arm--which the Other Yuugi, or his other Voice, had managed to bruise extensively again--and jerked him closer when Bakura winced. He was used to Bakura being bruised, but somewhere over the year, the smaller boy had managed to convince him that the occasional injuries were just because Bakura was clumsy. It wasn't hard to believe. "What'd I do? What's wrong with you?"
Of course Malik had to turn it back around, push the blame onto someone else, Bakura thought blandly. "Nothing's wrong, let go of me." He glanced up at Malik, hoped he wasn't scowling, and added, "Please."
"Tell me the truth." Bakura stopped struggling fairly quickly, and just stared at Malik's hand. "Is it someone else?"
"Yes." That was probably what Malik was most afraid of, and so probably what he most needed to hear.
"It's..." he kept his voice steady, his gaze steady, but he was wishing he'd had more reason to lie lately; he felt out of practice and exposed. "...there's more than just--it's not important." He smiled so that he would seem insensitive. "I'm sorry, Malik-kun. I should have told you sooner, but I never meant for that to happen." When he looked at Malik he felt sick. The sink, graciously, gave him an excuse to turn away.
"Who is it, Ryou?"
The use of his given name--which no one used, not even Malik usually--made him pause. Something else in it made him answer. "...The Other Yuugi." And then he escaped the few steps necessary into the kitchen. Malik was gone long before he was done with the pipe.