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The Punchline and the Resulting Silence

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There is a calming delinquency to their days, these days.

Bakura doesn't smoke, but he always comes home smelling like he has done and they both pretend, for the sake of argument - their arguments, close-quartered and eye-rolling and occasionally on the taut edge of smashing each other's skulls through windows - that they believe he has. Tobacco abuse is easier to have facetious disagreements over than the burning of corpses in back alleys and carving his name on walls where no one will see it. Marik, after all, is supposed to like those things. And doesn't.

He is a terrible villain. He's also terrible at video games, but at least he enjoys those.

"Bakura! Thank god you're home, the friggin' television's busted again. Fix it!"

He's on the floor, back to the rickety television stand that they'd stolen from a charity shop downtown - which seems counterintuitive and, in fact, is and had been from the start.

("But if we're stealing it anyway, why don't we go somewhere a little more worth robbing?" Bakura had asked him, when Marik had handed him his 'poor person' disguise, which had looked suspiciously similar to every single item in Ryou's wardrobe. "Pottery Barn, maybe. You like Pottery Barn, right?"

"Pottery Barn is for gays, Bakura." Marik had been wearing a t-shirt in a strikingly non-effeminate color and trousers too baggy for there to be any suggestion of buttocks. It had been very discouraging. "Besides, it's way more evil this way! We're depriving the poor of their cheaply available furniture! Now they'll have to go to Ikea, and that place is terrifying! Everything's written in Scandinavian!"

"I like Pottery Barn," he'd huffed - but had gone along with it anyway. He always does.)

Marik's bare feet tap against the dirty floor of their current hideout. His hair is back in a loose pony-tail, falling in thin strands across his eyes, and he looks two parts cheerleader and one part escaped mental patient. And maybe another part underage porn star from one of those videos marketed as 'ethnic,' that really just mean 'kind of brown,' and that Bakura routinely has to erase from his search history.

"I showed you how to fix it last time," he says, but slumps down onto his knees beside Marik anyway, shrugging out of his jacket and tossing it onto the stained sofa. He shows Marik every time but he never quite picks it up. Marik never really understands anything that isn't shoved into his head - or other places - over and over again.

"I forgot. You're not a very good teacher." He leans over, watching Bakura's thin fingers trip over the wires, reattaching the cables to the correct outlets. "Hey, why do you smell like a prostitute?"

He thinks about Marik smelling him - the momentary inhalation, quick and easily missable and missed; he misses it already - and then thinks about the girls at the bar and their fingernails and wrists and how easily human bones break. He turns to Marik, their faces too close, breath clouding each other up in the summer heat. "How would you even know what a prostitute smells like?"

"I don't," Marik says, lazy posture going a bit more defensive, because Bakura is playing with him and he knows Bakura is playing with him and he doesn't stop it. He never stops it. "Because I don't need to pay for it, obviously!" He slumps a bit, sniffing Bakura again, but it's loud and gaudy - a performance - and anything but intimate. Bakura's skin tingles a little bit anyway. "You just smell like vagina."

Bakura laughs, eyebrows quirking down with suggestion that is aimed straight at Marik but will still inevitably fly over his head. "And how would you know what vagina smells like?"

"Hey, I've touched lots of vaginas! And smelled them! And done other stuff to them." Marik sits up straighter, crossing his arms. "The way you do." His rod is likely in a drawer somewhere, or else he'd probably have his hands all over it. Nervous habit, he says. Gay, Bakura calls it. Shut-up, Marik responds, and he does, usually. What else is he going to do?

"It's perfume, what you're smelling," Bakura says, connecting the last of the wires, leaning in just a little closer in case Marik wants one more whiff. "Lilac, I think."

"It smells cheap," Marik tells him, wrinkling his nose. "Since when do you hang around with women in cheap perfume?"

Bakura can't tell if Marik's more bothered by the cheap or the women part. He's right, of course. Bakura doesn't typically have much extended association with women, but then the same goes for men, too. It's really just Marik - Marik in the morning, Marik over lunch, Marik in the warm buzz of the dusty grey evening. He has built himself a cage with this idiotic little boy and for some reason, no matter the stains on the cold stone floor or the blond hair all over the bathroom or the video games through-out the night, he hasn't managed to convince himself to want to leave. He should want to leave. He should be burning things. Marik doesn't even kiss him, most times, but he can't seem to go anywhere without him.

The cage should have been built the other way around, but it wasn't.

"I live with you, don't I?" he shoots back, pushing himself up from the floor and arching an eyebrow.

"Don't be a bitch, Bakura. My perfume's extremely expensive! And classy!"

Bakura lifts an eyebrow and hands him the controller, nodding at the television. "It'll work now." Both the console and the controllers are stolen property, only they'd forgotten the controllers on the first heist and had to go back later. It had been rather embarrassing, especially considering the staff hadn't changed at all. Marik hadn't noticed. He has no shame filter, when it comes to things like that.

Marik jerks it out of his hands with excessive force, planting himself on the sofa and grinning as the system dings obnoxiously to life. Bakura leans in the doorway, watching him and telling himself that he isn't and knowing that they both know that he is.

"I was looking for information," he says after a moment, subtly sniffing the air around him. It's possibly cheap, but then again, barely distinguishable from the fruity hairspray Marik lays on himself in sheets, staining everything he touches with the hacking scent of Strawberry Starlet!

He's barely looking at Bakura, too thrilled with having his game back. "Oh, right. I guess that's alright then." He blinks, processing the words as the loading screen struggles the game into operation. "Did you get it?"

Bakura's briefly thrown off by the question. It's been a while since Marik's cared about anything but his childish amusements and tanning hard-to-reach places and breathing soft and taunting against Bakura's skin, pretending - yes, surely pretending - that he doesn't know what he's doing.

"Yes," he says, after a moment, not even considering the truth of the statement so much as he is the reflection it will have on him and his ability. Yes, I've been gathering information. Yes, I am still haunted by my goal. No, I cannot live out the rest of my days staring at your midriff and fixing your television and pretending not to wank off to you in the toilet. Really, he can't.

"Wonderful!" Marik says, throwing down the controller and stretching idly, and Bakura's eyes automatically flick to the line of material the rides up over his abdomen. Bugger. "It better be good, because you were gone all night and I didn't eat dinner. I'm practically skin and bones here! We don't have anything left that you can heat up in the microwave."

Bakura sighs and moves into the kitchen, resigned to cooking breakfast for two. "Are you sure?"

"Well yeah, I friggin' tried everything," Marik says, following Bakura into the kitchen and leaning over their makeshift counter that's more a giant slab of rock than anything else. "Oh, and we're probably going to have to steal a new one of those, unless you can fix it too."

Bakura looks at the microwave. The door has been ripped off and the top has caved in, apparently crushed by a heavy, rod-shaped object. The wires have been pulled out and thrown in the sink. He blinks, worried for a moment - can imagine Melvin there, tearing things up, the laughter and the way his hands move, quick and clever and digging down deep, ripping everything apart - but Marik's sprawling there, unscathed, eyeing him with a blatant lack of guilt or nervousness that suggests he'd done it himself and is proud of the fact.

"What happened?" Bakura asks, cautiously, but trying to keep his voice unassuming.

Marik shrugs theatrically. "It wasn't behaving. I punished it. With my rod."

Bakura snorts, the tenseness of the situation diffusing with a few easy words, a flutter of Marik's eyelashes. There is nothing to fear here, except maybe the boy and his skin and the way he sometimes becomes startlingly self-aware, and looks at Bakura in a way that is neither glassy nor lighthearted nor half as empty-headed as he's meant to be. Bakura is the brains and Marik is the body, except sometimes it all gets twisted up and Marik falls asleep with his head on Bakura's thighs and bodies is all they are. Teenage bodies and heat.

And sometimes Marik smiles and he knows, he knows - of course he knows, it seems ridiculous to ever think that he doesn't - and there is more to him than golden lines and cotton-headed madness. There is something inside that pretty body and it moves and grabs and holds onto Bakura with its rabid little teeth.

The cage door is open, has always been open, but neither of them are going to leave while the other is still alive. It'd be best if Bakura just resigned himself to that.

He sighs, fishing the ruined wires out of a dirty bowl with one long finger, wrinkling his nose. "Maybe next time you aren't behaving," he says, "I'll throw you in the sink and see how it works out."

"You're not my mother, Bakura," Marik says, planting his hands on his hips and marching back into their quaint approximation of a living room. "Now hurry up with breakfast!" he calls back. "I want my eggs sunny-side-up!"

Not so long ago, Bakura would have dropped someone out of a window for speaking to him like. Now he just rolls his eyes and pulls on the ridiculous apron that Marik had given him for Christmas last April - "So what if it's late, Bakura? Look at all the ruffles!" - grumbling to himself as he struggles with the gas igniter.

 

---

 

"Bakura!" There's a small shake of the earth and his eyes fly open and it's the ground reeling up and the planets realigning themselves, reality snapping back into place and pulling him out of wherever he'd just been. Memories, he thinks, but not his. A boy that looks like him and a park and the fluttering, airy scent of spring in England. Ryou had sat on the bench while the other children had played, watching the ants march in long, strategic lines on the sidewalk below him. It's barely an event, nothing at all in the grand scheme, but it's with him for a moment and he feels it.

"Bakura!" He's shaken again and he blinks at Marik, who's leaning over him and staring with wide, expectant eyes. "Bakura, get up, you lazy sod! See, I'm speaking British so that you'll understand in your frazzled state. Bugger! Wanker! Queen Elizabeth! High tea!"

"Marik," Bakura says, rolling the 'R' with something like resigned disdain. For half a second, before the British invasion - an overload of poorly pronounced slang and trivia that has nothing to with his actual heritage - Bakura had flickered under the impression that they were in the middle of something, that he had fallen asleep halfway through a conversation or - something else. Marik is on him, after all, practically leaning into his lap, hands on his shoulders. It had felt like waking up and stepping into one of his fantasies, except with a lot more clothes and terrible lighting and Marik's obnoxious blathering about whatever the bugger it is this time.

His fantasies don't involve that. His fantasies involve gags.

But Bakura remembers now anyway, remembers watching the ceiling as he'd fallen asleep, unshowered and still smelling like lilac. Marik hadn't been there, but he is now, pushing himself back from Bakura to flop down on the bed next to him, as careless as if this was his own room and Bakura was the one intruding.

"What is it?" Bakura asks, possibly foreseeing emergency but, more so, expecting nothing of any great import.

"I'm bored!" Marik tells him, falling back so that his hair splays wildly on the pillow - and no, that's too suggestive. Why is he doing that? What does he think he's doing, doing that? He needs to stop doing that, smiling wildly and flicking his eager eyes over at Bakura. "Let's play a game!"

"No." Unless this game involves putting their tongues in each other's mouths, Bakura is uninterested.

Marik ignores him. "The game is called 'tell Marik what information you got yesterday. And also make him smores!'"

Bakura rolls his eyes. He'd expected this eventually; once Marik had processed everything and played his video games and sorted out his thoughts, he'd want more detail. He's like that. He also really, really likes smores.

("Wow, we had fires and stuff back when I was growing up, but the only thing you were allowed to put in them was your hand, and only if father was really bored! Marshmallows are great! Hey, Bakura, it looks just like your hair! Ow!")

"I've never heard of that one before," Bakura says, and rolls over, burying his head in the pillows. He's not sure of the time and he's not sure he cares, only that Marik is violating at least four laws of 'pretending to be straight' and should probably get out of Bakura's bed before something drastic occurs. And by 'something,' he means sex, and lots of it.

He's closes his eyes, trying to block out Marik's presence - the stuttering warmth of his body curling up Bakura's spine, tickling his skin - but he's too close. What does he mean by being this close? He tugs obnoxiously at Bakura's shoulder, who tries his very best to feign sleep. Play dead and the beast will leave you be. But Marik's not allowing him his peace. As if he ever has.

"We're having an evil council meeting, Bakura, you can't fall asleep!" He shakes him again. "Wake up!"

He's practically back in Bakura's lap, which is equal parts horrible and wonderful. They should just have sex. What they should really do is just have sex, but Marik's hands are on his shoulders and his knees are against his thighs, and they should, they should, but they don't. Bakura could grab him by the jaw, hands skittering up his waist, along his ribcage, but he doesn't move, and Marik - Marik barely knows his head from his own arse, let alone Bakura's head and arse respectively, and how to go about doing anything sexual with either of them. Well, he knows the mechanics - not especially well, has never been very good, in the classic sense - but that's not where Bakura doubts him.

He is afraid, or else just stupid, and he will not take it, even when Bakura offers it up to him willingly. Anything. He'd let him have anything and bloody hell, that's a horrible thought. He has to stop thinking horrible things like that. He shifts so Marik has to move off of him slightly, giving them both a little more breathing room.

"I thought we were playing a game," Bakura says, flicking his eyes off toward some dark, dampened corner of the room.

"We're doing both! Shut-up! I'm president! "

Bakura blinks at Marik, where he's planted cross-legged in the center of his bed - typical - and the low walls and empty space that accompany him. "We're the only ones here."

"The rest of the evil council is a bunch of moronic do-nothings!" Marik huffs. "We're the brains behind the operation!"

Bakura sighs, leaning back against the stone that functions as a headboard. "One of us, anyway."

Marik's face scrunches up, childish and strange and as far from seductive as an expression could possibly be, but it sends spots of warmth fizzing under Bakura's skin and this, this is the entire reason, isn't it? He can tell himself what he likes, but there's this small, swallowing pin-prick of attachment, and he feels it at times like this - barely measurable, but a violent contrast to millenniums of detachment, of lack. His world has been made of absence for so long - of light and power and any binding tethers of existence - it's nice just to have something that is here, and his.

Marik hits him with his rod, and not in the way that Bakura would enjoy, but the spikes and the metal and the force of his silly tantrum sparks something in Bakura and then he's grabbing hold of the rod - heh - and tugging Marik forward by it, back to being nearly on top of him. He can't quite remember for the moment why he'd ever wanted him off. His skin is warm, pupils dilated in the dark, a rabid little animal thing.

Bakura tilts his chin up, so their mouths are more level, and smirks. "So that's the only reason you're in my bed?"

"Why else would I be?" Marik asks dumbly, voice too loud, probably barely aware of where he is or what he's doing. What he's always doing to Bakura.

He rolls his eyes, and it's not so much a conscious, forthright decision as it is a moment, a snap; an opening for the joke that is not really a joke and never has been. "For sex, Marik," he says, loud and clear and enunciating spectacularly.

Marik blinks at him for a moment, and perhaps Bakura's expecting shock and outrage and feigned disgust - the usual melodrama - but there's a twitch of realism to this moment, and the charade drops just long enough for him to look at Marik and for Marik to look at him and for sex to be a subject on the table, a thing to bargain over, to discuss. Remember last time? My hands on your waist and yours over my mouth and keeping very quiet so as not to -

No, of course he doesn't remember last time. He doesn't remember most times and that - it's not even really his fault.

"I know for sex, Bakura, you don't have to say it!" Marik snaps, and he's blushing, eyes flicking around, skin heating up and Bakura can feel it and it would be very easy to kiss him now, but it's been so long since it was just the two of them and he doesn't. He should but he doesn't.

"You asked!" he retorts, his own face going uncomfortably warm as he looks away.

"I was being rhetorical!" Marik crosses his arms, but he's still half in Bakura's lap and it's hardly a full-out rejection. "You're very unsubtle. I'm embarrassed for you."

Bakura snorts, looking back at him. "Yes, for me, of course." He swallows and it would be - physically, at least - easy to push Marik down and strip him and have his way. And Marik wouldn't mind, even if he played the tragedy, even if he threw a fit and shouted insults and pulled Bakura's hair, he'd still melt against him and let him have anything he wanted. At least, in theory.

Bakura looks down at his lap, where the blankets are falling over his hips, hardly covering anything, and watches Marik's eyes follow and then quickly jerk away. He wants to smile, to feel smug, but there's a jittery nervousness to this whole situation, like touching something that could shatter at any moment. So he doesn't kiss him, or touch him in any of the places he wants to touch, just sits there, still.

Marik scratches at his hair. "Uh, Bakura?" he says awkwardly, after a while.

"I didn't find out anything that would be important to you," Bakura says quickly. A bit too quickly. "Last night, I mean."

Marik frowns, but abandons whatever he'd been about to say, clearly grateful for the change of subject. "How do you know?"

"Because," Bakura huffs, "I know what's important to you: shit video games and your hair and the number of likes on the 'Marik Ishtar' Facebook page and pretending - " He stops. It's pathetic, in a way, but he stops.

"Pretending what?" Marik asks.

"Do I even have to say it?"

"Yes! Pretending what? Bakura! Bakura, tell me!" The shrillness of Marik's demands is almost as unpleasant as the previous awkwardness and Bakura winces through it. "Florence!"

He winces harder at the name - the one that only Marik is allowed to say without having his fingers torn off, one by one. Bakura doesn't answer, just shifts the subject again. "Did you have a shower?"

"So what if I did?" Marik leans back as Bakura leans forward, pointedly sniffing him.

"You don't smell like hair product anymore," he says.

"I never smell like hair product!"

Marik looks frazzled and uncomfortable, but there's an agreeable strangeness settling over them and they could get on like this, could stay like this all night, maybe. It's not the ideal outcome, but it could be satisfactory, for the moment.

So, naturally, Bakura sabotages it and any burgeoning functionality. "Are you going to sleep with me?" he asks, mostly just for the expression that flashes over Marik's face, wide-eyed and panicked and edged with a sort of thrill - and then continues. "I'm tired and I'm not playing any stupid games with you and I'm not having a council meeting when it's just the two of us, so either get out of my bed or be quiet and go to sleep."

He crosses his arms, rolling over, back to Marik, and feels immediately like an idiot. Turn around. Turn around and kiss him and touch his hair, that's what you should do - but.

But Marik's getting up, already off the bed, feet padding across the floor, and Bakura doesn't move.

Bloody idiots, the both of them.

 

---

 

He doesn't know how long he sleeps or what time it is when he wakes, only that the room is still and the space next to him on the bed is cool, so it must have been long enough. His head rolls in an erring, unkept way, hair flopping in his eyes in tufts. He feels like he'd fallen asleep in the middle of doing something important. No, that's not quite right. In the middle of fucking up something important.

Heh, important? Marik may be all Bakura thinks about these days, but that hardly makes him important. In the grand scheme, and all that. There are bigger things. Somewhere out there, far, far away from where he is now.

He sits up, shoving his hair out of his eyes and frowning at his surroundings before climbing out of bed. The floor is cold all the way down the hall.

There's an airy openness to their living room, despite being windowless and several yards underground, and from the doorway, Marik looks warm and welcoming, a thing to sink into and be immersed in, sitting the way he is on the sofa. No surprise there. It should be depressing, the rugged monotony of it all, and the real trouble with the situation is that it isn't and probably never will be.

"Morning," Bakura murmurs, rolling his shoulders. "If it is morning."

Marik doesn't look at him as he walks in the room and it's barely a moment of delay before Bakura realizes that something is off. Not the usual off, either, in the manic, excessive, developmentally-stunted way that Marik always is. He's too quiet. Everything about the room is very still.

"Television's busted again," Marik says after a moment, and Bakura is prepared to sigh and complain and make many cups of tea in admonishment, but then -

Oh. He blinks at the television. That's not going to be a particularly easy fix. He glances at the glass on the floor, the dented plastic, then back to Marik, and says flatly - with as little flittering panic as he can manage, "Did you put your rod through it?"

He shifts his shoulders, movements awkward and strangely self-conscious. "No." He holds up his hand and Bakura swallows a bit as he realizes where the rest of the glass had ended up. It looks painful, little gashes all across his fist, blood dripping down his fingers. And ugly, too, the sort of wound that would have to have been at least somewhat deliberate. And Marik, though fairly tolerant of pain - for understandable reasons - usually throws a fit over any imperfections marring his oh so perfect skin.

("I'd hardly call it perfect," Bakura had huffed, after Marik's most recent mosquito bite related tantrum.

"Like you've got any room to talk! You're as pasty as those underground people! You know, from that book about people who live underground. They're pale. Because they don't get any sun. Like you!"

"Marik, we both do live underground."

"Shut-up, I need ointment!" He'd gestured wildly at the bite on his thigh, which was honestly rather high up and close to places that Bakura really didn't mind… examining. " Ointment, Bakura! Ointment!"

They'd driven to the nearest 24-hour drugstore on Marik's bike - Bakura certainly not exploiting the open opportunity to grab onto Marik very tightly around the midriff and not let go for a long while - and performed a rather lazy hold-up, the cashier barely bothering to look up from his magazine as Marik had monologued loudly about all of the things they were totally not stealing. Which had consisted, mostly, of ointment.)

Marik frowns at his hand. "I don't know why I did that."

His brow is crumpled in concentration, but not the pretty kind - blond and ditzy and what Bakura sometimes imagines fluttering in his eyes in the fantasies he uses to bring himself off late at night. It's weighted, and surprisingly self-aware. Bakura looks at the TV again. It's not the sort of damage one could inflict unintentionally. He should probably just edge out of the room now, but -

"Foxy boxes," he tries.

"Heh, foxy boxes." Marik's laugh is suddenly light and all-consuming, and it fills Bakura up with blessed relief. This is his Marik. Melvin's not here. At least, not anymore. Marik must notice the intensity of Bakura's eyes on him, because he clams up slightly, open humor sliding away, hand dropping down to his lap. "What?" He doesn't appear to notice that he's staining his trousers red.

At least he's wearing trousers. Melvin sometimes has a tendency to… not.

"Come on," Bakura says, shrugging off the question and nodding him towards the kitchen. "I'll clean you up." When Marik doesn't follow immediately, Bakura goes back to grab him by his uninjured arm, pulling him along after him, like a child or a pet, something that needs to be led around. Marik is a lot like both of those things: loud, constantly desperate for attention, and completely incapable of taking care of himself.

Bakura sits him down at the table and pulls out the shoddy little first aid kit they keep under the sink for occasions just such as this. He cleans the wounds in silence, then wraps them up with cool, imprecise fingers. His hand lingers on Marik's too long once he's done, and he only snatches it back when their eyes meet and the heat rushes to his face. Which is patently idiotic. This is no time for - any of that. There ought to never be, truly.

Things are too quiet, taut, almost, and Bakura feels as if he's doing them both a great service by finally saying the thing that needs to be said. "You know, he shows up sometimes, and you pretend he doesn't and I pretend he doesn't, but you could die from blood loss or something, you understand that, right?" No response. "Marik?"

"Oh come on," Marik sighs after a grudging moment, already scratching at his bandages, "he wouldn't kill me. He'd die, too."

Bakura crosses his arms. "Okay, well, he might kill me. Would you like that? Perhaps you think you'd be better off?"

"No way!" Marik snaps. "You're not dying! If he kills you, who'll cook for me?"

Bakura's teeth clench and there's a strange, heady mixture of something like hurt and annoyance, both struggling under his skin. His arms flex and he wants to shake Marik, to demand he actually think for once, instead of just making everything into one big messy joke. He's such a joke. And Bakura is too, by extension, if only for - for caring about him at all. He shouldn't care. Wanting to fuck him is one thing - possibly an unavoidable thing, considering his skin and his shoulders and his calves and the way he smells - but worrying about his personal safety? That is a thing that shouldn't even be a thing. It shouldn't factor in.

Marik obviously notices his quivering offense, reigned in as it is, because he rolls his eyes. "Jeez, Bakura, I'm kidding. Calm down. You're such a drama queen. He won't do anything to you. What do you expect me to do, anyway? He's me. I could kill me but then I'd be dead and that would suck! I just have to not get angry. You just have to not piss me off!" He crosses his arms, wincing theatrically with the jolt to his injured hand.

Bakura finds himself mirroring Marik's pose, arms folding over his chest like a barrier between them. "What did I do this time?"

"I don't know," Marik says, more focused on Bakura's ankles than he is his eyes. "You were just being stupid with your stupid hair and your stupid… striped outfits!" Bakura looks down at his shirt. What's wrong with this shirt? "Maybe you should just be less stupid and everything will work out."

He uncrosses his arms, settling into a queer amusement at the situation because that's what he needs to do. "Yes, my stupidity is the problem here."

"Yes," Marik says, but there's something stunted and awkward about it - even more awkward than Marik usually is. "I'm glad we're on the same page."

They're skirting around the real issue here, the way they always do. Melvin, Bakura's… feelings - such as they are: these are the sorts of things that get shelved in exchange for the day-to-day mundanity of their squabbling over the telly and what to eat for lunch and who left a wet towel on the bathroom floor. It's much easier to put the difficult things aside and just live out hazy, slow days, here in this little home they've patched together for themselves. Maybe they're both safer this way, but -

Marik looks so good in sunlight. He looks good bleeding and bandaged and frowning in the gloomy light of their hovel of a kitchen. He looks good everywhere, in all situations. Bakura sometimes thinks he's far more suited to simply being an image of a person than he is to actually being a person. As soon as he opens his mouth, he becomes ridiculous, and he makes Bakura ridiculous with him. This whole situation is just so ridiculous.

So.

So Bakura does what he always wants to do and leans forward on unsteady arms, palms flattened to the table, and kisses Marik. His lips are soft, moving as gently as he can make them, but that's overtaken soon by the thrum of want stirred in him by Marik's tiny puff of air against his lips, making a sound that's not quite a sound, only barely registering to Bakura's ears. It's been so bloody long since they've - since it's been like this. It feels far too good.

Marik's lips part slowly and Bakura sinks into him pathetically, expecting to be knocked away at any moment and savoring as much contact as he can possibly get. Softly, though, not forcing it, not pinning Marik down and taking what he wants, in the ways that sometimes tinge his fantasies. It's all probing and permission-seeking - Please, can I do this? Are we finally allowed to do this? - but he can feel the inevitable denial coming before it hits, so he takes what he can get in the meantime. Like a dog begging for scraps. He really is pathetic.

Then Marik's hands are on his shoulders and Bakura braces for the shove, firm but not violent, the way Marik always is with him - but it never quite comes. Instead, Marik appears to have lost track of what his hands are meant to be doing and is instead grasping Bakura closer, palms grappling with the lithe muscles of his neck, curling around his head, pressing toward him so hard that -

Ah, there's the shove.

Marik, apparently getting ahold of himself enough to remember his utter and all-consuming heterosexuality, pushes Bakura off of him - or else himself off of Bakura - with startling, wide-eyed force. He looks like he's been caught in the headlights of this whole situation. Bakura, resigned to having already taken as much as he's allowed, enjoys the small pleasure of the blush that lights Marik's cheeks, the uneven little rushes of his breath. God, he's so beautiful it's sickening.

"I'm not gay," Marik says, voice too dry and winded to lend any particular weight to the claim. Bakura just slumps against the counter, trying to keep from outright growling. Marik pushes up and away from the table "I'm not gay!" he repeats, louder this time. Perhaps he thinks volume will make it sound less like a defensive little lie. It doesn't. He stares at Bakura and Bakura stares back, each daring the other to make some sort of move. After a moment, Bakura lifts an eyebrow, and then Marik storms out of the room.

"Fine!" Bakura calls after him, strung halfway between frustrated - and not just sexually - and pathetically resigned to the fact that, no matter what he says or how often he says it, Marik is not going to come around. "Have fun reading yaoi in your room! Like any straight man would do in this situation!"

At the very least, watching Marik walk away isn't exactly unpleasant.

 

---

 

Bakura thinks about going out - a walk maybe, or a trip to the local pub, something to release all the nervous energy spiraling in him - but, as usual, he just ends up in his room. He knows what that energy really is, anyway. It's stubbornness more than anything that keep his hands from slipping below his belt, a determined revolt against the parts of himself that are virtually helpless in the face of Marik's… charms. That's the wrong word for it, but he thinks perhaps there isn't a word for it. For what he is to Bakura.

He deliberates going next door. He could pop in on Slenderman to raid his liquor cabinet, the way he does sometimes, but then that usually ends up with him flattened face-first against the floor the next morning, and Marik kicking him in the side and demanding that he wake up and fix the television.

("What the frig are you doing hanging around with him, anyway? What, am I not enough for you anymore? Bakura? Bakura, my face is beautiful. I have a beautiful face. He doesn't even have a face! Bakura!")

They don't keep alcohol in the house - not that it's much of a house - because Bakura would likely end up taking a shot whenever Marik opened his mouth and, without him cognizant enough to see to things like food and sleep and not letting their alternate personalities run amuck, they'd probably both be dead within a bloody week.

Bakura sighs, trying to will himself calm and uncaring. There's a queer sense of unprecedented shame that bubbles in him whenever it comes to Marik - his affection for him, his… reactions to him - a secret, unreal feeling and the distant humor he has to view it with if he doesn't want to go completely mad. He needs to find that humor now. He needs to step back from this situation, laugh at it, and then file it away with every other failed attempt at seduction, or whatever it is he was trying to do back there.

He'll have to set the situation right eventually, go to Marik and offer a few jibes and some well placed disdain and let everything seep back to what it always is, into the comfort of denial. That is how their days have gotten on so far, and that's how they'll get any farther.

He's willing himself to open his eyes and stand when he feels it, the shift in the room. Not like something has walked in the door, but rather, has crept in along the edges, slipping inside and making room for itself in the quiet of the night. Day? He doesn't know. They never remember to steal clocks and for the love of god, he never knows what time it is. He's fairly certain he's gone to bed at least six times in the last twenty-four hours.

He blinks his eyes open and stares at Marik, who's standing over his bed. Except, of course, it's not Marik. Not really, not unless he's gone mad with the hairspray, which has been known to happen on occasion, but still. Hairspray doesn't usually reek with the stench of darkness and violence and gutted loathing. Not unless it's gone several years bad.

Melvin grins at him, showing teeth and tongue and flashing the whites of his eyes. He holds up both his arms, clutching some rumpled, well-used little yaoi comic in his uninjured fingers, popping his eyebrows with sickly manipulation of his facial muscles.

"I can't masturbate with this on my hand," he says, motioning explicitly with his bandaged palm, "so you're going to have to do it for me." The overlapping thrum of his voice fills up strange space in Bakura. It's been a while since the last time and he can feel himself reacting like one of Pavlov's dogs.

Except instead of salivating, he just wants to jump out a window. Why haven't they got any windows in this god forsaken place?

"Melvin," he says, sitting up slowly and trying to keep his voice even. "Back so soon?" It's barely been a few hours since Marik had smashed the television, after all.

"I missed you last time." Melvin's smile splits wider. "Wanted to come and say hello. Maybe get a hug?"

He opens his arms wide and Bakura feels the hair on his skin go stringent, flesh tingling with a heady fear and it's - it's exciting, in a way, but any semi-pleasant associations he might have with Melvin's presence are far outweighed by the unpleasant.

He straightens his back, trying to look unconcerned. "I'm rather busy at the moment, actually." Sitting in bed, thinking about Marik; it's as busy as he ever gets. Torturing people only counts for as much information as he gets, and it's usually not much. Especially these days.

Melvin is still smiling at him and Bakura knows from experience that he's not going anywhere, not until Marik's worked out his issues through him anyway, and that usually means smashing appliances and stabbing things with his rod and - other things. Bakura really ought to step out to the shops. What time is it, goddammit, and where are Marik's keys? What had Marik even been doing that had gotten him in such a huff that he -

No, it's obvious, of course it is. You know your relationship with someone is hardly going anywhere good when kissing them summons their psychotic alternate personality.

Bakura moves slowly, eyes darting toward the doorway, calculating whether or not he could make it. It's rather pathetic to run from Melvin, especially since he likes to think of the two of them as on par with each other, as far as villain status goes. Physical strength and the ability to cave in the human skull, though - Melvin's a bit ahead of him in that department.

And so before Bakura can even start to move, Melvin is grabbing him - with his bandaged hand, no less - and pulling him close, face-to-face, a purposeful invasion of space that makes Bakura's throat lock up for more than one reason. The knowledge of his imminent suffering is certainly factoring in, but then, as separate and warped and unfamiliar as Melvin is, he is still partly Marik. Marik's body, Marik's breath, Marik's blood soaking through the bandage. Twisted and far removed, perhaps, and beautiful is hardly an apt description anymore, but -

Bakura's body doesn't necessarily care.

Bakura's? It's Ryou's. Ryou's white skin and fragile bones and skittering breath. Bakura is just inhabiting it. He doesn't have a body of his own, not anymore. When he's with Marik, pressed close - the way best friends surely ought to be - and moving against one another, Bakura's distance from his physical form is unsettling. With Melvin, on the other hand, it's rather a blessing.

He grips Bakura's chin, tilting his face up and rushing hot breath across it with his words. "He wants to fuck you," Melvin says. "Or for you to fuck him. He's not picky."

Bakura knows better than to jerk away, but the urge is there, tingling under his skin, and he focuses on that instead of what Melvin's said. The words spin in him, like white noise.

"No, he is picky," Bakura says sharply, eyes dragging to the ceiling. "He's the pickiest buggering person I've ever met."

Melvin laughs, deep and dark and hollow. "You know that's just a smokescreen, Florence." His hand goes softer, more like a caress - which, in turn, is more like a big mocking fuck you to everything that they both know Bakura feels. His skin prickles against the touch and it's not as unpleasant a feeling as it should be. "Underneath the surface, it's all desperation, wild and spiraling," Melvin says. "And there you are, feeding it. Making him want things - " there's a hand on Bakura's hip, sweeping towards his waistband, " - and then not giving them to him."

Melvin's hand dips into his trousers. Bakura's back stutters into a line of rigidity, tensed and anticipatory and he could maybe fight him off but he really rather doesn't want to and never has before, so he just shifts his hips and closes his eyes and tries to imagine that the hand on him belongs to its original owner.

"He's welcome to take whatever he likes," he breathes, arching slightly.

"But he won't. We both know that."

Melvin's smiling and Bakura can hear it. Everything about the situation that ought to disgust him is only serving to turn him on more. The rough feel of the palm against him is heady and warm and close and there are things he'd like much better than the staggering, hopeless degradation to be found here, but - but those are not things he can have.

Marik laughing on his bed, loose hair making his sheets smell like Strawberry Starlet!, ranting about his latest ridiculous plan that will end up nothing but a magic marker drawing shelved away with the rest of the worthless, forgotten things in this place. Marik laughing and Bakura smiling and trying not to and the soft, unreal push of skin against hands against lips against - cocks, definitely cocks at some point, too - and wild, bright, warm completion. A place in the world that is closer than the one he already has, beside a boy who has had no place anywhere and will probably never earn one.

That is something Bakura cannot have. So he thrusts into Melvin's hand and tells him to go faster in a teeth-grit grunt of self-loathing.

"He's terrified of you, in a way," Melvin says, never setting aside the opportunity to give running commentary - he's at least similar to Marik in that respect. "I don't understand why. You're fairly pathetic at this point." He flicks his wrist in just the right direction and -

Fuck.

Bakura really is pathetic, but it feels good enough that's he's not excessively bothered by this fact. And it's not as if Marik isn't pathetic, as well. Ah, what a set they make.

The hand stops then, and Bakura barely has time to blink frustratedly up at Melvin before he sees the twitchy little hitch of his mouth and knows what's coming - so to speak - and what he should have foreseen from the start. After all, what's a sexual encounter without a bit of mutilation involved?

His rod appears in his uninjured fingers, no doubt conjured from his buttocks - the area from which all of Melvin's most deadly attacks stem - and he slams the sharp end straight down through the top of Bakura's hand in one smooth movement. The skin slices with ease and goddammit, he really wishes this would stop happening. Wounds are very sexy and he appreciates the aesthetics just fine, but he's less enthusiastic about the unbearable sparks of glass-hot pain shooting through his body. Bakura much prefers the gaping stab injuries to be on other people during sex, if it's at all possible.

Evidently, in this case, it's not.

"There," Melvin says, holding up his bandaged hand and twisting the words with his grin, "now we match."

Bakura's hand throbs and he's still rather hard and this whole situation is so unbearably stupid - strung halfway between being tortured by and having sex with someone in the body of the person he actually wants to have sex with, sans the bleeding - and the only thing he can think to do in order to improve things is to, rebelliously and with solid resolve, pass out.

It doesn't last long. The world around him flickers in and out and there's a head-rushing, stomach-turning, under the skin sort of pain that doesn't come from any real source, but rather radiates within him. The actuality of the mattress at his back or the blood dripping down his hand fades and crackles, replacing itself with slower, more muted realities. Tea in the morning in a house he doesn't recognize and sand under his bare feet and Marik yelling at the television, voice cracking, frivolously enraged. And then there's purest darkness and a thousand hells and tormented longing and all that rot, rattling around somewhere in there, but he feels farther from that then he ever has.

He blinks and it's as surreal as it isn't, staring back at someone who wasn't there before. Or was, just… quietly.

Oh, not you, he means to say, but doesn't, possibly because he may cough up his liver if he speaks, but also because he is most likely still collapsed under Melvin in their bloody tomb in bloody Egypt and conversing with one alternate personality strikes him as more than sufficient at this point.

Ryou just rolls his eyes - which are Bakura's eyes, too, maybe, but don't look it from here. "Get up, wanker."

Shoulders snapping tense and reactionary, Bakura slips back into the world with a sharp gasp, trying to sit up and half knocking into Melvin in the scramble, who's watching him with dull amusement. Bakura breathes heavily, air rushing in and out, and glances down at the gaping wound in his hand. The blade has been withdrawn, but the pain still sizzles, raw and fresh and strikingly cold - but pain is nothing. He doesn't know why he'd passed out.

Maybe just to get as far as possible from the situation.

"Don't be such a lightweight, Fluffy," Melvin says, smirking down at him. "It's no fun if you're not conscious." He grabs Bakura by the collar of his shirt, shaking him up a bit. "What did you go and do that for, anyway?"

Fainting is one of those distinctly human things that Melvin can never quite seem to puzzle out - along with the purpose of home decorating or why people obey traffic signals when they're not being bodily forced to or the self-check out machines in grocery stores. He is the parts of Marik that haven't yet adapted to society. Not that there are many parts of Marik that have.

"My host's body is rather useless when it comes to these things," Bakura says airily, settling into a sort of distant resignation. The pain feels washed out, like it exists more for effect than anything else. "Most things actually."

Melvin's lips split, tongue peeking out to skate over his teeth obscenely, as he looks Bakura over with leering appreciation. "Not all things."

A hand slides over his hip, fingers too rough by a half and it's not even - Marik's not even really here, not even a hazy part of the situation that Bakura can lock onto in his mind, and he should be better than this, should have violent objections stirring within him - but.

His legs fall unsubtly apart. "Are we doing this again, then?"

"Did you have other plans? Besides staring at Marik and watching old clips of Zorc and Pals all day, I mean."

"I don't - " Of all the denials to make.

"He checks your youtube history," Melvin drawls, tugging at Bakura's jeans.

"The bastard," Bakura breathes, hips bobbing up to make it easier. His bones are sharp against the skin - Ryou's bones against Ryou's skin, really - and Melvin digs his fingers in like he wants to claw away the flesh.

For all the pseudo-sadomasochism, though, it feels oddly casual. Like fucking any strange man in any strange room, a thing that Bakura likes to imagine himself the kind of person to do - although, the reality is that his existence has comprised of more midnight snacks and pillow forts than it has seedy trysts. Any disgust he feels at Melvin's touch is inverted and multiplied into sickening pleasure by even the slightest remembrance of Marik's presence, and whatever he gets out of these encounters is only added to by the knowledge that Marik would be horrified if he ever found out.

It's a betrayal, certainly, fraternizing with the enemy, even though Marik's own fraternization has been a given from the first - being said enemy, after all, in enough ways for it to count - and it ought not spark as much of a thrill under Bakura's skin to remember that as it does. He is not wholly conquered. There are wild, protesting parts of him that Marik does not own, small and scarce as they are. But the pleasure of that rebellion is minuscule when compared to the reality of his guilt-ridden weakness, and the combination is electric.

It is devotion, perhaps, or else simple idiocy.

"Don't look so guilty," Melvin says, sprawling over him like a careless lover, eyes sparking with rabid amusement. "He appreciates it, after all, even if he doesn't realize quite how all that tension gets released. He likes having it gone. And we both know how much you appreciate it." A pause; his breath hitches as Melvin's hand tightens around him. "I'm practically doing charity work. I should get a tax refund."

"We don't have taxes," Bakura growls. "We're villains. We live outside the law." His uninjured hand comes up to wrap around Melvin's back, pulling him closer, down over himself. Not kissing - that would be a bit too gay, after all - just breathing in each other's frenzied air.

"You don't live at all," Melvin tells him, lips moving to his ear. Bakura's trousers are all the way down his thighs now and he should be ashamed, but he mostly feels tired. "You'll waste away down here, because of us."

"Because of him. You don't even factor in."

"I am him. He's me." Melvin's rough fingers press him into the mattress and Bakura shoves back up, body moving against him with a seething mix of arousal and annoyance. "It's really rather confusing and someone should probably make up a chart for the bunch of us, but that's how it is. When I make you bleed, it's because some part of him wants it, and when I fuck you, it's because he wants that."

The words, true or untrue as they might be, spiral through Bakura, making his skin flare up and his cock hard and he thinks if Melvin's going to sexually assault him the way he so loves to do, he ought to get on with it already.

"Well, if he wants it so bad," he says, teeth grit, "why doesn't he come and take it?"

Melvin snarls, or possibly smiles, grabbing him by the hair and wrenching him up. He takes a short, disparaging look at Bakura and it's nothing like Marik's eyes on him - familiarity and a stilted sort of untaught kindness that slips in at the edges - and the combination of difference and similarity is what makes his blood rush maddeningly under his skin. Melvin yanks at him, makes it hurt, but throws him down before it becomes unbearable.

Bakura falls limply off of the bed, sinking down the floor. He lies in a heap of desperation and he imagines, for just a quick second, Marik regaining control at this moment. Blinking his pretty eyes down at Bakura's half-clothed body lain out at his feet, offered up to him.

"Pathetic." Melvin says it at the same time Bakura thinks it. He conjures an image of Marik saying the exact same thing, and it aches as good as anything can.

 

---

 

"Clean yourself up," is the last thing Melvin says to him, and the the last thing Bakura remembers before letting his eyes drop shut, the torrent in his head cooling to tempered exhaustion. It doesn't feel like more than a moment of unconsciousness before he's being woken by Marik's shrill squawks, the ground beneath him shaking with his footfalls.

"Bakura!" he calls, blundering into the room. "Bakura, get up you lazy layabout! I'm not going to let you just swan around in bed all day while I do all the - hey what are you doing on the floor? Have you been drinking with Slenderman again? Bakura, what have I told you about associating with that guy?" Marik stops, blinking down at him. "And where are your pants?"

Bakura tries to make his eyes focus. The first thing he notices is that he is in the same place that Melvin had left him, trousers around his calves and semen on his thighs and blood drying on his hand. The second is that Marik is wearing a towel on his head.

There's a flash of confounded mirth that flashes across his face for half a second before the situation really registers, where the idea of finding Bakura in some sort of compromising situation to which he can eternally refer at opportune moments seems to blot out any other thought, but it fades in an instant and he quickly goes still and - is that concern?

"Bakura?" he says, voice dropping half its volume and most of its theatrics. "Bakura, what happened?"

He kneels down beside him, hands reaching out and stopping in midair, twitching above his chest like an aborted attempt at CPR. Bakura's mind is slow to catch up with the situation and even as it registers that he is half-naked and Marik is staring at him with something between horror and sympathy - which may qualify most accurately as embarrassment - there is a quaint thrill lining the edges of the moment, stirring enjoyment up along with the shame and self-disgust.

Marik looks him up and down, seeming almost afraid of what he sees and there's a gnawing, ridiculous, light-headed desire rising in Bakura for this to be the moment.

Jokes and insinuations and muffled euphemisms aside, here they are, Bakura laid bare in more than one sense of the word and Marik leaned over him, examining all the parts that have been left splayed in Melvin's wake. And it's hardly ideal, hardly one of his warm, improbable, late night fantasies come to life - it's usually Marik missing the pants in those - but there's a fissure here, a crack in the veneer they've lacquered on over their relationship, painting it in stripes of partnership and close breath and laughter and never quite touching the things they want to touch, and never bringing it up later if they do.

They have made something, maybe, out of their silence and their denial and their dusky desert mornings, and perhaps Bakura will destroy it if he keeps on the way he is, if he doesn't get up and shove Marik away and bark out a steady stream of well delivered excuses, interspersed with the odd insult, and set them firmly back where they started: safe and frozen beside one another.

But Marik is so pretty now - towel on his head, skin scrubbed clean, eyes not even lined and brow twisted with dawning realization. And Bakura reaches for him.

"Marik," he murmurs, smirk curiously absent, voice curiously soft. His fingers grasp at Marik's arm and he misses, the world bending twofold for a moment, and he's not even sitting up but he feels like he could fall down again. His thought processes crash over one another like a highway pile-up and his bright, clever, world-changing plans that shone so brilliantly a moment ago coalesce into a desperate and unrealized desire for Marik to touch him. Or to touch Marik.

He's not picky.

He tries again, right hand moving jerkily as the left lies gutted on the floor, cooling in its own blood. There is something severely off about this situation but it's hard for him to quite conceptualize it, to see it playing out from a position other than his collapsed and dizzy one on the floor.

"Bakura," Marik says, grabbing his arm to stop him swinging it around. He looks serious, but Bakura watches him try to smooth out his expression. "I hope you're not about to tell me that Slenderman did this to you." He tries to laugh slightly but it falls flat, even more so than most of his jokes.

"Don't play dumb, Marik," Bakura tells him, trying to sit up but not quite knowing how to maneuver his weight properly. Okay, so he's a little less conscious than he'd originally thought. Marik's staring at him wide-eyed and helplessly questioning and Bakura snorts, condescending to him even in his lowest moments, and says, "As if you can't hazard a guess."

Marik stills for a moment, looking him up and down like he doesn't know what to think or do about the situation, but the sight of Bakura's ravaged hand spurs him back into animation. "Is that blood? Are you bleeding? Did - " He stops. He knows, of course. It's not as if he can wake up after a shower he doesn't remember taking and expect everything to be as he left it. He's obviously trying to mask his mortification, but Bakura sees it flash clearly across his face. "Did I - "

Bakura shrugs limply. "Your body did, anyway."

Perhaps he should sugarcoat it for him, but then he rather doesn't want to.

"Melvin. He…" Marik reaches out with a labored sort of panic, but he doesn't hover for long. He wraps his fingers around Bakura's wrist, lifting it up, getting a closer look at the hand. The ceiling swims above Bakura, the room wild with liquidity, and he imagines a scenario where they could have written it all off.

("Oh, this? Wanker's cramp."

"I thought you were cured of that?"

"I'm afraid it's rather terminal."

"Probably because you're a terminal wanker. Heh. So, hey, when are we going to get a new television? Not that I don't love playing 'guess how much glass is stuck in your foot' every time I walk through the living room, but I'm pretty sure I've hit the high score on that one so there's nowhere else to go with it. We should schedule a heist! I'll draw up the plans! Don't agitate your hand in the meantime, okay? Try not being such a wanker and see what happens!")

A few more minutes and Bakura could have woken up, showered, and cleaned himself off, and Marik would have been none the wiser. That's how these encounters have always gone before, and how he's sure Melvin expected this one to go. He doesn't know why he'd chosen this time of all times to stay on the floor, right where he was left, waiting for… for what, exactly? For Marik to come pick him up and set him right? As if Marik could set anything right.

No, if he's honest - and it's easier to be with his mind faded and his jeans around his ankles - it's less about the resulting reactions to such a revelation and more the revelation itself. This has been something that Bakura has kept and owned for long enough, and he is tired of reigning it in. He accommodates Marik's self-delusion because Marik asks it of him - not in so many words, but still he can interpret the discomfort in his eyes, the defense in his arms crossed over his chest, the demand to please not ask for anything that Marik doesn't offer him first. And he is not so far gone as to want to tear down that barrier. Rather, he is tearing down his own.

What good is it to say, Yes, you are gay; yes, you are in love with me; yes, your other personality likes to fuck me bloody? No good.

So, instead, what he has is, Yes, I am gay; yes, I suppose I am more in love with you than not; yes, your other personality fucks me bloody, but I let him and I like it and so what does that say? Nothing good, probably. But it is what he has.

Marik's stopped examining his wound by now and has move onto pointedly trying not to stare at his crotch, an endeavor at which he's not achieving particular success.

Bakura smirks as best he can, and says, "Do you want to have a go then, too?"

Marik freezes. It's all well and good to be half-naked and injured and questionably intelligible next to your partner in crime, it seems, as long as neither of you acknowledge the implications of the situation. But Bakura has done just that and now Marik looks completely uncertain of how to react.

"Christ, Bakura!" he says after a moment, dropping his wrist. "I - I know you're into some weird things but this is a little out there even for you. Are you bleeding out? Is that what happening?" He frowns comically, scrutinizing Bakura's crotch now with little modesty. "Is it giving you a boner? Oh god, that's weird." He puts one hand on Bakura's knee. "You're weird."

Bakura can't help but laugh, but it comes out muffled and exhausted and, oh, there goes the room on a tilt-a-whirl again. "Marik," he murmurs. The warm weight of the hand on his knee seeps into his skin. It might be all he's going to get from this. It might be enough.

"Just, shut up and let me fix this!" Marik snaps, sounding a little bit frazzled and a little bit awed. "I'll walk out of the room and you'll get up and put some clothes on and stop bleeding and then I'll come back in and we'll take it from the top. Bakura?"

Bakura laughs again but he doesn't think it makes a sound. His eyelids drop and Marik's fingers are digging into his knee and this may be the last of him he ever gets, and it's ridiculous, and it's pathetic, but it feels startlingly worth it.

All that's left to do is pass out again.

"Bakura? Hey, don't do that! Bakura!"

 

---

 

He wakes up in his bed. Going to sleep and waking up seem to be just about all he's done lately, aside from the odd violent sex act.

Oh. Did that happen? He blinks a the ceiling, flexing his hands. The sting of pain is dull and distant, but certainly there, so yes, he supposes it had. It's not as if he isn't expecting to see Marik there, but it still rather shakes him up to find him curled up on the chair by the bed, squinting sideways at Bakura's copy of The Count of Monte Christo. It's a little bit like waking up in the morning after a bad bender and realizing you've sent several incompetent, drunk texts, only to find the recipient waiting at your door, looking for explantations.

He shouldn't have done that. Zorc above, he should not have done that. What in the whole buggering universe convinced him that it was a good idea to do that, of all things? He winces, half considers faking sleep for the rest of forever, but resigns himself to the necessity of having to face Marik at some point, and sits up.

"I didn't think you were interested in the classics," he mutters, stumbling the words out inexpertly. His throat feels sore.

Marik glances around the book, blinking at him. "I'm reading the notes you wrote in the margins," he says, voice curiously calm. There is no frivolous charm to the words, none of the characteristic excess, and for a moment, Bakura thinks he should be very worried. Then Marik swallows and smiles and his whole demeanor shifts. "I made tea!" he announces, dropping the book with the thunk and reaching over to the side table. "It's gone cold by now so you should probably just pretend it's iced tea."

He forces a chipped, room-temperature mug on Bakura, pressing it into his hands with wavering insistence. Bakura takes it, for lack of anything better to do, fingers barely brushing Marik's during the exchange. His left hand is freshly bandaged, wrapped in the same gauze as Marik's right. The first-aid kit sits open on the table and Bakura supposes they've performed a trade-off of sorts, Marik for once slipping into the role of care-taker, rather than the care taken.

As if there has ever been any care involved at all.

"Marik," Bakura says, moments after the proper window of timing has ended, the word sounding awkward and misplaced between them. He looks at the tea, at the pale lines of his fingers - Ryou's fingers - and wonders if it's at all possible to pretend that none of it had happened. And, conversely, if he even wants to.

"You really friggin' freaked me out for a while there," Marik says, falling back into the chair and crossing his arms over his chest. He's dressed properly now - or as far from proper as possible, rather, but what constitutes as the norm for him: make-up done up, eyes lined, hair dried, earrings dangling heavily and tossing around the golden glint of the lamplight. Bakura idly wonders if he'd gotten to his beauty care regiment before or after he'd patched Bakura up and put him to bed.

That, of course, conjures an image of Marik's arms around him, lifting his unconscious body, pressing close enough to get a good grip and move him to the mattress. He's strong, as strong as he looks and stronger than he acts, but Bakura forgets sometimes that he is anything at all but eyelashes and laughter and excessive incapability. The thought of Marik's skin against his stirs something uneasy and warm in his throat, and even though their bodies had been far closer than that just recently, it doesn't quite compare. Melvin, absent of all characteristic shortcomings, barely qualifies.

"Sorry," he grunts, perfunctorily, without particularly meaning it - but the more he thinks about it, the more true it becomes.

Bakura shouldn't have done what he did. He should have gotten up off the floor on his own and put some bloody clothes on. He shouldn't have let himself be seen like that and Marik should not have had to see him. Stripped of their respective delusions, the reality between them has become difficult to navigate.

"You weren't kidding when you said he might kill you one of these days, were you?" Marik asks after a moment, voice shrill, but nearly absent of its usual theatrics. He looks as uncomfortable with the situation as Bakura feels.

"I wasn't in any danger," he replies softly, sure he wants to say something else, but unsure of what or how. "It's a flesh wound."

"There's a hole in your hand, Bakura!" Marik snaps, moving so quickly that Bakura doesn't realize what he's doing until Marik's fingers are wrapped around his wrist, gripping Ryou's thin bones with caustic force.

Bakura breathes sharply, air locked in his throat, skin suddenly gone warm and hyper-aware, and it hurts, but not in a way that he minds. "Yes, well, my hand is flesh, isn't it?" he says. He ought to jerk out of Marik's grip, but he can't quite make himself try. It's pathetic, but then he is that and has been for a long time now. Marik's fingertips dig into his flesh and they will probably leave marks, but that's just a few more for the collection, isn't it? His body is already lined with them.

He smirks self-deprecatingly at Marik, but the intention is perhaps not represented accurately in the action, because he's let go immediately after, hand dropped like a stone. It hits the bed with a soft sound and Bakura's wound aches with the force of it. He winces and Marik rather does too, stepping back and crossing his arms over his chest.

"How often… does this happen?" he says, words chosen with a stumbling sort of caution. As if alluding to it more clearly will make it realer than it already is. "Do you make dates or something? Go on strolls through the park together?"

He should deny it furiously, but - "Marik, we live in the desert."

"Strolls in the sand, then!" Marik nearly yells, and it's comical the way his tantrums always are - the way he perhaps cannot help but be - but the accusation in his voice outweighs the amusement value and there's nothing particularly funny about this situation besides.

Still, it's not as if Bakura's the only one with any involvement here, and he doesn't like being treated like the sole perpetrator. It's perhaps unfair to conflate Melvin's actions with Marik's desires - even though he'd said they were one in the same, even though Bakura wants, with disgusting fervor, to believe it - but since when has Bakura ever been fair? He's a villain. He's evil and he doesn't care and he wants to fuck Marik over tables and against walls and why shouldn't he? What's bloody stopping him?

"It's - " he begins, not sure what he's going to say, but not particularly caring either. He could stand up now - doesn't think he's even wearing trousers, from the feel of it - and show Marik exactly what him and his other personality get up to together, and all the ways in which is does not involve strolling. He could do that. There's no reason why he shouldn't.

"It's my body!" Marik snaps, voice high and slightly hysterical, and he looks afraid of the words as he says them, panic flashing in his eyes. "It's my body you're sexing, did you ever think of that?"

And Bakura freezes. He can't move. He wants to grab Marik and throw him against things and shut him up, but that's - that's not really true. That's all posturing, conjured from the wild loathing that spirals within him - purest darkness and all that - but not a feeling that he can even truly manufacture properly, when it comes to Marik. Laughing on the bed, hair on the pillow, close and warm and comfortable. That's what he truly wants, and it sickens him like little else, but he cannot stop the unfettered affection from rising in him, watching Marik ball his fists and clench his teeth and fight himself so earnestly. He really is terrified of Bakura.

Bakura really is terrified of him.

"I'm sure it never crossed my mind," he says, after a moment, looking away. He doesn't mean for the sarcasm to be cruel, but it sounds that way anyway.

Marik frowns, the tense arc of his shoulders only growing tenser, and Bakura realizes he's blundered things up even more with that. "Look," he says quickly, scrambling to right things, to make Marik look at him kindly again, "it's not as if he gives me much of a choice."

He regrets the phrasing as soon as it's out of his mouth, the utter self-victimization of his words, but Marik's brow goes looser, less accusing, and the sudden flash of concern in his eyes is perhaps worth the humiliation.

"Do we - " Marik starts, "does he… hurt you very badly?" He looks at Bakura, at his inexpertly bandaged hand and the way the sheets pool low around his bare hips. Bakura grits his teeth and doesn't respond and Marik seems to take the cue, catching onto subtleties for once. His demeanor shifts and he cocks an eyebrow, crossed arms going looser. "Is it like those videos about bad touching and 'tell an adult if someone ever puts their hands on your no-no place?'"

Bakura rolls his eyes. The mockery is pleasantly relieving. "It's not, actually," he says, sitting up a bit straighter. "Sure, he's a bit forceful, but I'd be lying if I said I minded." He flexes his injured hand, looking up at Marik through Ryou's pale eyelashes. He's not sure if it's safe to do this but Marik's slipping back into his comfortable vacancy and he doesn't want that. He wants laughter on the bed. He wants to touch his buggering midriff and he wants Marik to want him to.

"The bleeding's not much fun," Bakura continues, "but like you said, it's your body. It's practically you. I'd venture to say I like it a bit too much." He blinks, and smiles with utter self-deprecation. "Pathetic, isn't it?"

Curiously enough - or not, if their patterns are anything to go by - Marik returns the expression. Arms dropping, he sits down on the edge of the bed, suddenly close and bright and very warm. "A little bit, yeah." The nasal unevenness of his voice is jagged and familiar as it cuts softly through the room.

Bakura looks at his hands and at the unsure twitching of Marik's fingers, and there are so many places to go from here, so many things laid out for the taking, and he should really just reach out and grab at them, grab Marik - but. But instead he clears his throat and says, "So, video games and tacos again tonight, then?"

Nevermind that the television is smashed and they haven't gone grocery shopping in god knows how long. It's not the thing he wants to say, but it's the easiest. He retreats to the path of least resistance because it is too much to hope for more. Marik hasn't kicked him in the shin and walked out yet, so Bakura considers himself to have made it through relatively unscathed - stab wounds aside - but there's always more to come. One of the many - many, many, many, many - problems with Marik is that he has somehow made himself necessary. Loath as he is to admit it, Bakura will bleed as much as Melvin wants and keep as much distance as Marik needs, if only he can keep what he has. What he has built.

So, it's rather is kink in the plans when Marik leans in and kisses him.

It's the second time in as many days - possibly - and it's a lot like sinking into a pool of warm water, utterly overtaken and anesthetized for a moment, before sensation returns and hits with full force. Marik's lips are against his, nose pressed to his cheek. Bakura can feel his eyelashes tickling his skin, and the warm rush of breath he lets out, fluttering so softly it may not be there at all. He doesn't touch him otherwise and Bakura doesn't dare to touch for himself, just presses closer, lips parting slightly, breathing him in.

The startling unreality of the touch fades quickly, and then it is just a thing that is happening. Marik is kissing Bakura. Bakura is being kissed by Marik and it's not as if it's never happened before - Melvin aside, even - but it's so unsuited to the current circumstances that Bakura is not entirely sure how to deal with this event, undeniable as it is. Kissing back is certainly one option and, with minimal indecision, he puts this plan into effect. His lips part and he ignores the growing heat in his face, tilting his chin up somewhat awkwardly, trying for a pressure that is present but not forceful. Marik shifts against him and it's close and a little too warm and his hair tickles Bakura's temple somewhat uncomfortably and they never quite settle into an agreed upon rhythm, but it's still just… nice.

Marik pulls back after a moment, looking vaguely surprised, but also amused. Like his kissing Bakura wasn't so much a voluntary action as an interesting twist of circumstance. "That's payback," he says, before Bakura can decide how he feels about any of this. "Or compensation, I don't know. There's been a lot of bodily fluids and tongues today and we're both injured and I'm sort of confused as to who's wronged who and which one of us is the bigger creep, so I'm kissing you to make up for it."

Bakura blinks at him.

"Because you like kissing me," Marik continues, stumbling the words out quickly. An excuse. "I know that for a fact."

Bakura blinks again, lifting an eyebrow. "Sounds reasonable," he says, even though it sounds anything but.

Marik nods once, hair flicking with the force of it, and leans in again, as if - now that his innocent intentions have been established - it is safe to kiss a bit more. "But don't get handsy!"

With solemn resolve - lips barely kept from twitching into a smile - Bakura keeps his hands at his sides as he tilts his head and opens him mouth, sucking on Marik's bottom lip in the most respectable way he can possibly manage. Which isn't particularly respectable at all.

"Mmmhhh," he murmurs against Marik's lips, "so this is charity, is what you're saying?"

"Yeah, that. Definitely that." Bakura feels a hand on his chin, angling his mouth closer. "Not like I'm getting anything out of this." There's another lightly tugging on his hair. "Except confirmation of my straightness. Which is a thing that exists."

"Noted," Bakura says, as Marik shoves him down against the pillows and more or less climbs into his lap.

 

---

 

The television's still busted, but they're sitting on the couch in front of it simply out of habit. No one's cleaned the glass shards off the floor, as Marik's home maintenance abilities are fundamentally lacking and Bakura - to whom this sort of thing is usually left - rather thinks they lend the living room a certain ambiance. The air of dilapidation and disuse is quite charming, he thinks.

Although, like all things, it's offset by Marik's shrill vitality. Everything that sleeps is awoken by him and everything dead is dragged bodily, and with little choice in the matter, back to life. Bakura, of all people, can speak to that, as he'd been dragged from his bed at gods know what time this morning and marched downstairs to discuss the day's plans of action.

("Evil plans!" Marik had said. "Of evil action!"

Which had sounded fairly promising to begin with, but had - as all things inevitably do - quickly deteriorated into a grocery list and a few derogatory comments about Bakura's hair.)

"So! While I distract the cashier girl with my gorgeous body, you'll sneak behind the register and take her whole heap of coupons! And then when we purchase our groceries, we'll get like a million deals! She'll be all, 'Where did you get this many coupons?' and we'll be like, 'I don't know, I guess we're just smart shoppers!' and she'll have no choice but to give us, like, a whole fifty percent discount!"

Bakura doesn't even bother asking why they don't just steal the groceries in the first place and have themselves a nice 100% discount - he's had that utterly circular conversation more times than he'd readily admit - so instead he just sips his tea unassumingly and says, "How do you know the cashier will be a girl?"

"What?" Marik says, barely paying attention as he adds to his list in loopy handwriting. "Of course it will."

"Of course," Bakura agrees, "but what if it's not. Still planning to use your gorgeous body?"

Marik's eyes snap up and for a moment there's this quaint little smile flickering on his lips, something lit in his eyes that says, yesterday I put my tongue in your mouth and sat in your lap and I know that and you know that and everything about this situation knows that, but it's gone in an instant and then he's saying, loudly, an utter mockery of himself, "It will be a girl!"

For no other reason, Bakura assumes, then that that is what he is meant to say. They have set themselves up to be this and always this, no matter how many sloppy kisses and awkward, obvious erections, and Bakura is perhaps just as much to blame for it as Marik - there's always that terror, seething between them, and it keeps them from touching anything real - but he doesn't want that. He could live with it for the rest of - of Marik's life, perhaps, but it's not what he wants.

So instead of harping on the theoretical cashier in their theoretical plan - in all its theoretical ineffectiveness - he just sits up straighter, leans in closer, and asks, "Have you ever had sex with a girl, Marik? I'm honestly curious."

There's a stuttering pause, Marik's eyes flicking up, but the disorientation of the question only lasts so long, and as soon as the reality settles between them, he flings himself up and says, "Of course!" with the kind of wild, defensive mayhem in his voice that it is Bakura's chief pleasure to cause. "Loads of them! Just, friggin' dozens." He holds out his hands, making a wide and frantic gesture, no doubt representative of his multitude of female sexual partners, but there's something almost vaguely cognizant in the gesture that makes the denials more bearable that usual.

As if he understands quite plainly what a joke he is making of himself.

Bakura enjoys the joke, though, sad and squalid as it is, and enjoys even more being the one always tasked with the set-up. "Hmm," he says. "Happen to recall any names?"

"Like I'd bother to remember their names," Marik says, taking up his role as the punchline. "Ha! There were too many, anyways. Hundreds! I'd need a calculator to count them all up." He taps his pen, eyebrows up, waiting for the inevitable return serve, the teasing and the skirting around, all of things they always do, and Bakura tries, he tries, but Marik's ankles are knocking against his knees and he's draped everywhere, skin bared and eyelashes heavy and smile sparking in a way that twists him up and -

And for once it's very easy to ask, "Marik, have you ever had sex with anyone besides me?"

Marik blinks at him, lips moving over syllables that he doesn't voice. And, of course, his utter shock and indignation at the question is at least partially feigned, but then there is a good portion of it that seems genuine. As if Bakura has just violated some previously agreed upon rule, but then they don't even have any of those. They can never agree on anything.

"We've hardly had sex," he says, missing a beat, but sounding curiously non-hysterical when he does speak. As if he's forgotten to be what he is. He shakes himself out of it in a moment, though, and snaps, "Melvin doesn't count!"

Bakura smirks, not so much because he feels self-satisfied, but more because he thinks he rather ought to. The expression feels quiet, more than anything. There is comfort in this comedy of their's, rehashed again and again. "What about - " he begins.

"Doesn't count!"

"Not even - "

"Definitely doesn't count."

"Just because it was in Slenderman's loo doesn't mean - "

"Bakura!" Marik is leaned up on his knees now, looming above like he intends to strike. It's with a bit of comical relief that Bakura reminds himself that the millennium rod had been purposefully left out of the situation due to their unanimous agreement not to inflict any gaping stab wounds on one another for at least the next few days.

("Oh, come on, Bakura!" Marik had protested at first. "Blood is sexy! Scar's are even sexier!"

Bakura had been slightly gratified to know that Marik felt that way, but even the vague and tentative flattery had been outweighed by his desire to not get himself brutally murdered in some volatile emotional slip-up of Marik's. So he'd just said, "Melvin thinks the same thing," and that had ended the protestations rather quickly.)

"Marik," he says, lips twitching. They're both sat up, almost on their knees, facing each other like a pair of squabbling school children. Marik is, after all, just about the right age for that sort of thing. So is Ryou. So is Bakura, in some ways. "Have you ever even kissed anyone else?"

There is something like embarrassment and something like fizzing excitement in Marik's face at the question. He really is just a writhing little ball of uncontrollable hormones, and for all the darkness and strangeness, the twisted up parts of the boy, there is still mostly just that childish wonder. Any fear at Bakura's approach is mingled with anticipation, the thrill that overrides every so often and makes the denials not quite as easy to come by.

Typically, he would insist upon having a wealth of experience, and describe his made-up encounters with varied and extraneous detail, but now his nose just wrinkles and his eyes roll and he says, "Well, it's not like I have time, what with all my evil plots. And I'm never around anybody besides you. You scare everyone else off with your friggin' hair and your knives and your murderous tendencies. Maybe if you took better care of your split ends, I could get a date, but as it is, you're dragging the whole team down." He taps his fingers along his chin with an air of admonishment. "Shame on you, Bakura."

"So you're saying that you can't get a date?" Bakura asks, eyebrows up and idly sipping his tea.

"I'm saying," Marik tells him, with comical alacrity, "that you're lucky that I don't ditch you and get an eviler partner in crime with a much more solid beauty care regiment."

Bakura rolls his eyes. "Like anyone else would have you."

"Lots of people would have me!"

"Yes, in some ways, maybe," he says, voice lowering, roughening in a way that is born either of annoyance or attraction - possibly both - but certainly not jealousy. Even if it's quite conceivable that Marik could be found attractive by another villain - given all the skin he flashes at every given opportunity, how he dolls himself up and then begs for recognition - there is likely none so foolish enough to think that his multitudes of character flaws could be outweighed by his pretty surface. No matter how nice the lips giving way to it, Marik's idiotic blathering still remains as obnoxious as ever. Bakura can attest to that.

And yet he stays. And yet he, for all his protests, goes along with every stupid scheme and does everything that is asked of him and refrains from everything that is not. And sure, there is the body - Marik's sweat-slicked skin glinting in sunlight, head thrown back, laughing manically as they fly down Egypt's main auto-way - but it's more than that. There is something in him, something frantic and bright and bent on its own destruction, something that Bakura can no longer go without, no matter how much he'd like to.

"In what ways?" Marik's asking shrilly, but of course he already knows. His fingers are playing absently along the edges of Bakura's teacup and the familiarity of the gesture is striking.

Bakura smiles. He smiles and it's ridiculous, in all the ways they always are, and says, "Sex, Marik. Gay sex. In the butt."

Marik stares at him blankly, so much that it's impossible to tell if it's a bluff or not. "I'm not sure I understand what you're implying."

Bakura snorts, playing along. "Yes, 'in the butt' is rather a vague phrase, isn't it?"

"Anyone would be honored to work with me," Marik tells him sharply. "I'm an evil mastermind, renowned throughout the land."

Bakura pretends to cough around his laugh, but barely obscures the sound, ducking slightly behind his teacup.

"I am!"

"That time you landed yourself in overnight for drunk and disorderly aside," Bakura says, "you haven't done anything at all unsavory or in any way noteworthy in months." Unlike Bakura who, while not doing quite enough damage to make the newspapers, has dealt enough hits, sparked enough flames and left enough blood in the sand to convince himself that he is still working towards his goal.

The girls and their bones bend so easy, the boys too, and they're not far from it.

"Hey, I beat a guy to death with his own arm just a few weeks ago!"

"That was a video game, Marik." It had been the last time Melvin had shown up and one of the few times that had neither ended in bloodshed or… whatever the sexual equivalent is. 'Come-shed' sounds a bit crass. Bakura rather likes it.

"You're a video game!" He squawks at Bakura and it's all very innocent and unassuming as he leans forward, hand propping his chin and knee propping his elbow, and asks, "Is this you trying to romance me? You're not very good at it, are you?"

Bakura's hand tightens around his cup and he frowns. "I'm not attempting any such thing."

"You were asking about sex," Marik points out. Bakura doesn't like where he's going with this, nor the fact that he's going there at all. He wants them to settle into either making out or definitely not making out, because the wavering indecision of the situation makes his skin itch in awkward, burning ways.

"Friendly curiosity," he says, face heating slightly.

"I once read a yaoi with that as the title. Guess what? It ended in sex." Marik's practically leaning over him now.

"So what?" Bakura says, leaning back. He can feel Marik's breath on his face and his lips twitch and the blood under his skin fizzes a little, rushing to the surface, and he's slightly hard in a matter of moments, and how is that fair? Why should Marik be allowed to move a certain way, shift his body ever so slightly and tilt the conversation ever so teasing and suddenly make the entire room go rose-colored and maddening. Bakura wants to fuck him. Bakura's hand aches from yesterday but he wants to grab Marik and absolutely sink into him and it's in no way fair that Marik can drag this utter wretchedness out of him whenever he likes.

"So," Marik begins, but doesn't continue. He breathes in and his mouth twitches a little and maybe he's waiting for Bakura to kiss him and maybe he's not, but -

"HI, GUUUUUUUYS!"

The knock at the door is heavy and slow, like a horror movie, but the voice that calls from behind it ruins any possible suspense, and Bakura slumps back against the lumpy cushions, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose as Marik glares at the door.

"Oh, bugger me."

"Not now, Bakura," Marik grumbles, "we have company."

Bakura grunts, trying to resist the urge to shove his fist through the nearest solid surface. If anything, the interruption has at least served to lessen his hard-on.

"So," he says, shifting up onto his elbows and nodding over his shoulder, "do you want to get that or shall I?"

 

---

 

Slenderman's suit looks a little rumpled as he glides in, but the lack-of-expression on his face is just as poised as usual. After answering the door, Marik disappears with the excuse of 'getting drinks,' leaving Bakura to greet their guest. He doesn't bother getting up, just stays splayed on the sofa with his rapidly cooling tea, and only acknowledges Slenderman's presence with a roll of his eyes.

"I HEARD YOUR TELEVISION WAS BROKEN," Slenderman tells him, curling his hands together with uncomfortable liquidity, but Bakura's used to it enough that it's more obnoxious than it is frightening.

"Where the bloody hell did you hear that?"

"I TALKED WITH MELVIN YESTERDAY," Slenderman says. "HE SAID YOUR TELEVISION WAS BROKEN."

Bakura snorts. "Yes, well, he shouldn't be gossiping with the neighbors. Haven't you got children to devour, anyway? What do you want?"

"I THOUGHT I WOULD OFFER YOU THE USE OF MY TELEVISION, SINCE YOUR TELEVISION IS BROKEN."

Bakura only blinks for a second - trying to come up with a reply that doesn't involve yelling for Marik to bring a knife with him when he comes back in - but the momentary flicker is all it takes and then Slenderman is suddenly right next to him, perched on the sofa with his hands crossed quaintly in his lap.

"Ah, well," Bakura says, trying not to trip over his words, "that's very thoughtful of you, but we're not interested."

Slenderman rests his chin - if it still counts as a chin, without any other defining facial features - on his hand, leaning in. "BUT YOUR TELEVISION IS BROKEN"

"We like it that way," Bakura rather stutters, shifting away slightly on the cushions. He glances over his shoulder. "Marik?" he calls.

No response.

He looks back at Slenderman, at the charmingly unassuming smile that he somehow wears, despite not having much of a mouth, and swallows. He should probably make conversation, that's what you do when you have people over, isn't it? He's not sure. He's not sure how to do these things and he's not sure how he'd gotten himself into a situation where he has to. The last time he'd had a proper house with proper neighbors was 5000 years ago and, though he's not certain, he thinks the customs have probably changed since then.

"Marik!" he tries again, giving it one last shot. Still no response. If they had windows, Bakura would suspect he'd climbed out of one. And you know what? That sounds like a rather brilliant idea.

He stands, shooting Slenderman a dazzlingly fake 'I'd like to clobber you over the head with several large rocks' sort of smile, and says, "Alright, bugger this. I'm going out." He grabs the keys from the side-table and pulls on his sneakers with a few hasty tugs.

"BUT DRINKS ARE COMING," Slenderman says, seeming slightly aghast at Bakura's poor manners.

"You can have mine," he says, shoving on his jacket. It's probably bloody sweltering out there, but he doesn't care. It makes him look cool. "Tell Marik I've gone to run some errands."

"Tell me yourself, traitor!"

Bakura winces, turning around to see Marik standing in the doorway, hands on his hips. "Would you believe me if I told you I was going to pop out to grab a pack of cigarettes?"

"You don't even smoke!"

"Yes, well, I was thinking of taking it up."

"I WOULD NOT DO THAT IF I WERE YOU. SMOKING CAN LEAD TO MANY ADVERSE HEALTH EFFECTS, SUCH AS INCREASED CHANCE OF HEART AND LUNG - "

"Shut-up, Slenderman," Marik snaps, turning back to Bakura. "You were going to leave me with him, you bastard! I've never felt so betrayed in my life! I'm not sure I can ever trust you again!"

It is then that Bakura - in the middle of a rather pronounced eye-roll - notices that not only has Marik failed to bring back drinks, but that he's pulled on his own boots and jacket. And that his motorcycle helmet is tucked under one elbow. Bakura waffles for a minute, struck by the complete inanity of it, and can't quite keep himself from laughing outright.

"You were doing the exact same thing, you bloody hypocrite," he sighs, shaking his head. He cannot even be very surprised by this situation or its utter ridiculousness, nor can he particularly fault them for ending here again, in some silly play-through of some silly catastrophe.

"I was not!" Marik splutters, forcing himself to sound insulted by the very suggestion.

"Yes and you're straight, too," Bakura says, smirking.

"Exactly! Wait - "

Before he can continue, Bakura tosses up the keys with one hand, catching them with the other in one fluid movement and he hopes Marik's impressed, because it's very impressive. He'd practiced this sort of thing daily when he was alive. "Whoever's got the keys has got the ride," he says, and waits for the inevitably click - the pretty turning of pretty gears behind Marik's pretty eyes, then -

He's running at him.

Bakura can't help the giant grin that forms on his face, before he turns on his heel and dashes for the door, not glancing behind him to check if Marik is following. He is. There is nothing else for him to do. There is nothing for either of them to do besides chase each other in circles for as long as they possibly can - and then possibly kill the pharaoh at some point - but mostly the chasing.

"WHAT ABOUT THE DRINKS?" Slenderman calls after them.

"Help yourself!" he hears Marik yell back, from only slightly behind him.

They climb the stairs at a rampant rate and then Bakura's slamming his shoulder into the trapdoor, shoving up and into open air, the world folding out wide around them as Marik follows him up. It's early evening, the sun barely settled behind the smooth horizon, turning the sand a deep, scorching orange. It's beautiful, in a vague, dusty, no-time-to-breathe way, as they struggle over one another like wrestling children. Marik pulls himself onward, using Bakura's shoulder for leverage, and Bakura laughs sharply and uses his bandaged hand to shove him back, wincing with the force of it. There's a hazy flash in his head of this all going very differently, of Marik's hands on him with real intent to harm, of Melvin smiling sudden and cold behind him, but it's gone in an instant.

They careen unsteadily onto their makeshift drive-way, both piling onto the motorcycle at more or less the same time, and whatever this is, it is the genuine article. It is Marik's hair on the pillow, his laughter, the cloying scent of him. Bakura would like to grab him now and fall to the ground and fuck him in the sand, but, lacking that - he would just as well like to manage to calm his heaving breath enough to glance sideways at him and say, "Compromise?"

And he does.

 

---

 

The warm wind whips past them, pushing back with tangible resistance, and Bakura grits his teeth and holds on tight to Marik's midriff. Abdomen. Waist. Middle. His bloody stomach, is what it is. The skin is firm and tempting underneath his fingertips, but, perhaps thankfully, the situation doesn't allow him much extra attention with which to be distracted by it.

Marik wears a helmet. Bakura doesn't. Not only does this markedly increase the risk of him dying from blunt force trauma in a motorcycle accident, but it's hell on his hair.

"I really miss the car," he grumbles into Marik's shoulder, but it gets caught up in the rush of the wind.

"What?" Marik yells back. He sounds giddy. Absolutely wild with it.

"I miss the car," Bakura repeats, voice strung with aggravation - aggravation, definitely not fear for his life - grunting it into Marik's ear.

"What?"

"I said, I miss the bloody car!" he yells. He can feel his arms tightening around Marik with the force of it, fingers digging into his chest. They fly over a particularly sharp hill and he winces, body strung tight, face a breath away from Marik's neck.

He catches the corner edge of a smile. "What?" Marik says again.

It's then and no sooner that Bakura realizes that Marik is blatantly screwing with him. It's difficult, because he never really can tell whether he's being clever or utterly idiotic. It's usually a fifty-fifty shot. Bakura should maybe feel insulted, possibly ashamed of himself for falling for it, but most of what's stirring in him is pride. And possibly arousal.

He smirks, leaning as close as possible to Marik's ear and whispers, "I said, I miss your cock."

The reaction is immediate, the whole line of his back tensing against Bakura, folding sharply away from him, but Bakura just holds on tighter. "I definitely didn't hear that!" Marik yells, the words flying off behind them, rushing away with the air, as they keep on down what barely constitutes as a road at their usual break-neck pace.

 

---

 

The bar is a sad affair, all colored lights and rowdy music and tanned skin moving against tanned skin, but unsettling in a way that is tangible. This is the place where people go when they haven't got anywhere else. Perhaps then, he and Marik are well-suited to it.

"We should dance, Bakura!" Marik says, grabbing him by the arm with his uninjured hand, but Bakura keeps his knees locked, unmoving.

"I'm not dancing, Marik," he grunts. "Not again."

"We should totally dance!" Marik repeats, as immovable as usual, not hearing anything that doesn't mesh with his bright, wild ideas.

Bakura tugs his arm out of Marik's grasp. "I came here to get away from Slenderman, not to get… jiggy with it, or however one gets at a place like this." He moves further into the room, edging around the crowds of people towards a willowy barstool to which he can lock himself and remained locked to for as long as it takes to get properly pissed to the eyeballs. "I will partake of the refreshments, however."

He doesn't look back, can't quite bare to, but he assumes that Marik's already lost in the crowd, pressed between overexcited party-goers and ecstasy-rattled young things. Skin pressed to skin, skin pressed to Marik's skin - and no, he's not bothered. He orders whatever's on tap and glares at the bartender's slow, grubby fingers as he serves him, taking thick gulps and waiting for the world to blur around him. He's got a fair tolerance, but it's one he'd built up from scratch, seeing as Ryou's delicate little teenage body could barely stomach a few sips to begin with, and there'd been many a night of adjustment that had involved pressing his head against Marik's neck and laughing uproariously at all his terrible, terrible jokes.

Marik had enjoyed that, at least. Bakura had, too, in his way. Mostly he'd enjoyed Marik.

He feels warm breath on his neck a moment later, a bright laugh - equal parts forced and giddy - ringing in his ear, tickling his skin and making it rise and shiver. He slides his glance over to Marik, who's rather hanging over him, one arm slinging around his neck to rest across his shoulders.

"I thought you wanted to dance," Bakura mumbles, barely looking at him.

"Yeah, with you. Do you really think I want some friggin' stranger groping me to the beat? The only people allowed to grope me are specific people of my choosing! And you, because you won't not."

He slumps off of Bakura and into the seat next to him, elbows holding him up against the bar counter.

"I - " Bakura stutters, not really knowing where to go with it. "I haven't - I wouldn't - if you don't want me to do something, then - "

"Ooooh, those ones have umbrellas in them!" Marik squeals, pointing at some ridiculously fruity girl drink. "I want one of those!"

Bakura's grateful for the change of subject, sloppy and utterly obvious as it is. He sips his own drink, head throbbing with the dull hum of the music. The whole room shifts sharply between being very dark and very bright at uneven intervals, and he winces for the glare.

"Marik," he says, watching him wave inexpertly to get the bartender's attention, "are you even the legal drinking age?"

"We're villains, Bakura, we don't abide by the law!"

"Yes, well, have fun explaining that to the bartender, as you haven't got a fake ID and he doesn't look like the type to be particularly moved by your… charms." The wide jaw of the man in question grits as he barks something in rapid Arabic at one of the more inebriated patrons, who's spreading himself with little ceremony across the bar counter. Bakura watches with disdain, watches the sharp jut of the man's collarbone peeking out through his shirt and imagines tugging the bones through the skin. He's not a particularly attractive man, but bruises can make anything appealing. He turns back to Marik, eyes twinkling. "Though, you never can tell, so perhaps give it a shot."

It's more an anomaly than it isn't that he finds himself more often bandaging the boy than marking him up.

"You're not the legal drinking age either!" Marik say shrilly, but sinks back into his chair without any particular fight. "What is your host, my age? Younger? He's way shorter than me, anyway. How'd you get them to serve you?"

Bakura huffs, choking down a protestation at way shorter - slightly, perhaps, but certainly not way - and says, utterly deadpan, "I've got an old soul."

"Your soul hasn't got ID!"

Bakura sighs. "To be perfectly honest, I've been here before. The staff aren't… unfamiliar with me." And by that he means he's broken more than a few arms and stained the floors with a wee bit of arterial spray, but he doesn't elaborate and Marik doesn't ask him to, just frowns at him for half a second, before letting his eyes drop back into the usual vacant grin.

"What for?" he asks. "Information? Is this where the prostitute smell comes from? Why don't you ever ask me along? We could burn a place like this to ground!" He smiles wide and it just gets wider as he leans in. "Oh my god Bakura, we should totally - "

"We are not burning anything to the ground, Marik." He takes another slow sip of his drink. "At least, not until we're sure Slenderman's left and it's safe to go home." He looks up and sees Marik staring wide-eyed at him, cheek leant against his palm, gaze strung between awed and slightly embarrassed. "What?"

"You said 'home.'" There's something more than the usual delighted frivolity in his voice at the moment and Bakura thinks he probably enjoys the sound too much.

"No, I didn't," Bakura snaps on instinct, clutching his glass like a sort of shield between them. "And even if I did, so what? We do live there." Marik just keeps staring at him, the edge of a smile curling onto his lips. Bakura swallows. "You and me. We're roommates. No need to get sentimental about it."

Marik giggles slightly, a drunken sound, even though Bakura's the one who's waving around his glass for a second fill. "Like you're never sentimental, Bakura." He leans forward even further and Bakura doesn't like the look he's giving him, how knowing it is, or thinks itself. Marik's lips twitch and he says breezily, "You should write me poetry. If I were you, I'd write me poetry."

Bakura's jaw grits and he's suddenly far too aware of his skin and Marik's breath and all the heat in the room. "Marik," he says, the words restrained, "do shut-up."

"What rhymes with Marik?" he asks Bakura, voice hitching with laughter, and there's teasing, unknowing sort of cruelty to the words. It's obvious that he's poking the wound purposefully. Just digging into it. "Larynx? Heretic? Oh, Derek! I don't know how that would work though, you'd have to find a guy called Derek and then you have to - ow!"

Bakura's pulling him forward by the chain on his shirt and Marik's just grinning with it, breathing in Bakura's air like he's got some claim to it, and when did he get so confident? If not for the obvious lack of alcohol, Bakura would call it a drunken fervor and let it alone, but he is sober and he is purposeful and he is saying these things for a reason. To get under Bakura's skin, surely - unless that's giving him too much credit? He likes to imagine that Marik is more than his pretty veneer, but then perhaps that is just the aforementioned sentimentality coloring things. Perhaps he's trying to make himself less pathetic by making the subject of his affections less pathetic.

Perhaps he's over-thinking this.

"The fact that I want to fuck you is just so funny, isn't it?" he says, giving Marik a tight smile. "Bloody hysterical."

"That's not the funny part," Marik tells him, still smiling. "Oh, hysteric! Hysteric, Marik - see, I knew there was a decent - hey, not the hair! Bakura!"

He doesn't give any proper thought to it, just downs his drink with one hand and pulls Marik after him with the other, ducking through the crowd and sending the night's party-goers scattering. A few people obviously recognize him and a few more catch his facial expression and don't necessarily need bloody murder spelled out for them in order for them to see the potential for it in his eyes.

"Bakura!" Marik's still shrieking in the rear, but he lets himself be dragged along with little resistance.

Bakura shoves the door to the loo open, barking at the lone man at the sink to kindly fuck off, before shoving Marik against the nearest flat surface, which ends up being a rather grubby tile wall with several outdated advertisements taped to it. He rest a palm above his shoulder, the other still clutched in his shirt, and exerts as much self-control as he still has swirling in him to keep from pinning him flat then and there. He wants to kiss him. It's utterly ridiculous but he wants to run his fingers through his bloody hair like the bloody sentimental wanker that he is. Ryou's somewhere in there, he thinks, and if he can see this he is probably laughing at it.

"Bakura," Marik breathes, softer this time.

"Do you always do it on purpose?" Bakura snaps, unable to the control the wild venom in his voice. And why should he? He's so utterly tethered, absolutely chained to this ridiculous little child and there is no reason for him not to resent that fact. "Do you just - "

"I'm straight," Marik says, too quickly, face flushed. "I'm very, very straight!"

"What does that even mean? I know you're utterly self-deluding, but even you're not stupid enough to actually believe that, so what do you even say it for? It's a thin protest and it never stops us from - ah!" His breath catches, the words dropping in his throat. He looks down, although he doesn't need to, as Marik's hips press up towards his, rubbing none too gently against his quickly tenting crotch. He looks up, leaning into it as he watches Marik's closed lashes flutter against his cheeks.

Bakura stares with open awe, lost for words for a moment and unable to quell the spiraling adoration in him, pressing in close, forehead knocking against Marik's. His eyes snap open and they stare at each other for several seconds, moving in stilted tandem, breaths quickening and bodies grinding against one another unevenly. It feels too good to particularly think about, but Bakura does anyway.

He leans in, head tilting, mouth lining up with Marik's ear. "So, when you say I'm straight, is it code for let's fuck? Because that's how it's starting to look." He smirks, Marik's body quaking against him. "And you do announce your straightness quite often, so - "

"It's code for shut-up and put your hand in my pants already because this bathroom is disgusting! Also, your hair looks stupid in this lighting."

Bakura groans, shifting against him and swiftly obeying the command, slipping his hand down to tug at Marik's belt. "Your hair always looks stupid." He has a brief struggle with his trouser button, but emerges, ultimately, victorious.

"Your face is - nghh! Don't - oh, well no, don't stop. What are you - ow! Don't you ever clip your friggin' nails?! It's like being jerked off by a woodland animal over here! Ah, that's - "

Bakura kisses Marik more to quiet him than anything else, but it only remains a gesture for a moment, before the feel of Marik's body thrumming under him pulls it all into tender reality and the sensations are no longer apart from the situation - from him and Marik and his hand on Marik's cock - but latched on at the very infrastructure.

It feels good. Almost too good to be allowed, as if some calamitous bit of hijinks will interrupt at any moment and they'll find Slenderman at the door or Melvin crawling out from beneath the skin. Bakura's hit by the terrifying thought that perhaps this isn't Marik at all, just another one of Melvin's jokes, but it lasts no longer than a moment, there and then gone, a fleeting what-if that is disproven by every ragged, alcohol-stained breath. It's all too soft. Not in feel - because Marik really is deceptively solid, fine muscle and well-weathered skin - but his lips part easy, laughing, falling into Bakura with a trilling, pretty easiness. He offers no justifications, as if the very fact of this - them - is self-evident.

"You're not drunk?" Bakura asks, pulling back slightly.

"No, Bakura," Marik says, trying to yank him back.

"And you're not Melvin?"

"Well, my head doesn't feel like a balloon, but - "

"Just checking," he murmurs, sinking back against him, lips nibbling softly along the rim of his ear. "After all, if that bastard is going to cut me open, I'd prefer him to do it somewhere a little more sanitary. Charming as public toilets are, I like my host's body just fine without the hepatitis."

Marik paws at the back of his head, grinding up, throat catching over a sharp breath as Bakura cups his palm tight around his cock. "I - hah - like your host's body too."

Bakura smirks. "Yes, he said something similar to me the other day."

Marik blinks up at him, body going rigid, suddenly far less malleable under Bakura's hands. "What, Melvin? Do you two sit around and chat? I guess you have a lot in common, huh, both being psychopaths and all."

Bakura almost snorts, eyes rolling instinctively. "Marik."

"I mean, excuse me for not being able to hold a conversation on the proper etiquette of enemy disembowelment, but I don't have time to waste with that sort of tomfoolery. A proper scheme needs careful planning and well-balanced execution! Brute force is for the weak of mind!" He's looking very earnestly at Bakura, as if it is of the utmost importance that he be told this. "Also, his hair is way stupider than mine, and I know for a fact - "

"Marik," Bakura says again, smile leaking into his voice.

" - that he used to eat bugs when we were kids. Bugs, Bakura! Bugs! Granted, there wasn't much else down in the tomb, but bugs!"

"Marik," he repeats, strung halfway between annoyance and endearment. The jealousy - if it is jealousy, and not simply idiocy for idiocy's sake - warms some low, thrumming, well-kept secret inside Bakura; the part of him that spends long hours doing nothing but staring at Marik, tracing the bridge of his nose, the shape of his lips, the way his face bends with laughter; the part that wants, very ashamedly, for Marik to stare back at him like that. To be wanted, not just because he is there and will always be there, but in his own right and for what he is, in his bare essential pieces.

Marik is still hard in his hand and Bakura can't help slight amusement at the contrast between that and the subject of discussion, forehead falling against his once again. "He's you, Marik," he says. "You're him."

Marik just blinks back at him.

"Bugs, Bakura!"

He could let it go, and has done before, but Bakura finds himself gripping Marik's chin in his free hand, tilting his face closer and making sure that their eyes meet. "You did what you had to do in a rather unfortunate situation, using the tools that were available to you. Namely, yourself. I have nothing but respect for that, and for you." It's more serious than he's often been, but then Marik has an inherent talent of draining all reason or credibility from any given situation, rendering even the most heartfelt solemnity rather comical.

Marik stares back at him, for a moment apparently uncomprehending, but then his expression shifts and of course, he gets it. He always rather does, in his way.

"It's multiple personality disorder, Bakura," he says dispassionately, looking elsewhere. "It's not very sexy."

"Personally," Bakura says, forcing their eyes to meet, "I think it's very sexy. I've got at least three personalities, possibly four, and I've got to say that there are few things sexier." He rolls his hips against Marik's, melding their bodies more fully together. "The fangirls certainly seem to enjoy it, anyway."

"I know!" Marik says, losing all hints of seriousness in a moment. "There's all sorts of Bakura-this and Bakura-that and Bakura-on-Bakura in places where there could be some perfectly good thiefshipping. It's a travesty!"

Bakura tamps down the little roil of self-satisfaction that lights him. He does, after all, share Marik's opinion on the matter.

"Quite. But, if you're up for it, I think we can manage some thiefshipping right here and right now, against this wall." He smirks, rocking his hips. His fingers are still loosely cupping Marik's cock, which is vaguely hilarious, if he thinks about it at all.

"What happened to respecting me?" Marik asks.

"I am respecting you. I'd like to respect you even harder, if at all possible. Preferably in the bottom. Any protests?"

"No way, I'm definitely going to be the one respecting you in your bottom!"

"I'm sure we can find a compromise," Bakura says. "Take turns, or something. A bit of mutual respect." The twitch of Marik's cock in his hand is as much confirmation as he's given and as much as he's likely to get, and he takes it with stirring energy.

He licks along the seam of Marik's lips, pressing in and against, and Marik folds open easily, letting him in. They've been strung somewhere at the beginnings of their hard-earned sex scene, all rising tide and heavy breaths, and Bakura thinks they ought to get on with the main event.

Marik doesn't stay simply receptive for long, fingers spreading through Bakura's hair, yanking him closer and shoving his over-eager tongue into Bakura's mouth. Things get a bit sloppy for a few moments there, but - bodies pressed together and Marik throbbing in his palm - neither of them seem particularly to care. Their knees knock each other with slight, jarring thunks and Marik grunts, pushing off the wall, tugging at Bakura's own zipper, trying to get as utterly close as possible.

A moment later they're both groaning, hanging on one another as they each squeeze the other's cock in their respective hands. Marik bites his lip as Bakura's head falls to his shoulder, resting there as he takes in harsh breaths and all he can really think about is how hot it is and how very much he wants to be inside Marik. Or Marik in him. Mouths would do, at this point, but it's been nothing but a slow burning tease for days, all fleeting touches and heterosexual make-outs that don't lead anywhere, and although the calm had been almost nice in the wake of Melvin's destruction, Bakura is - to put it plainly - frustrated.

He'd like to take his frustration out on Marik. He'd like to take Marik out of his trousers, all the way. He'd like to do some taking in general.

Shoving down the waistband of Marik's boxers, he pulls at one muscular thigh, parting his legs with heady incompetence to his movements. Marik doesn't seem at all bothered by it, kicking his pants down his legs and tugging at Bakura's. He palms his cock in one hand, smiling with his eyes closed as it jerks in his fingers, Bakura thrusting raggedly and trying to blink away the ravaging want for long enough to get properly undressed. It's not an ideal setting, but it's the first time Marik's let him this close in months, and one of the very few times he's let him anywhere while sober.

"Do you have… you know," Marik says, swallowing around a harsh breath, "the - the necessary equipment?"

Bakura pauses, frowning against Marik's jawline.

"Well, yes, I think so." He looks down at his crotch. "I mean, it's rather attached to me."

"Lube, Bakura!" Marik snaps.

"Oh," he says, hands stopping their crawl around Marik's backside. "Oh. Well, no." Should he have thought of that? Marik's expression says yes. "Have you?"

"No! Do you think I just carry lube around with me, in case an opportune moment presents itself?" he snaps breathily, looking at Bakura like he's made some giant faux pas, spilled the wine all over the table of their romantic dinner, except they're about to fuck next to a urinal, so it's not exactly like propriety was a factor in the situation to begin with. "I don't!"

Bakura scoffs, slumping slightly away. "Well, then what makes you think I do?"

"You're like a bazillion years old! You should have learned this stuff by now!"

Perhaps he should be pleased by how utterly flustered Marik's anger is, but he's so turned on himself, he thinks he might just curl up on the spot. Blowjobs, he should suggest blowjobs - and really, Marik's pretty golden lips wrapped around him certainly isn't such bad compensation - but he bristles a little at the age comment, hands sliding back down to his sides, relinquishing all previously claimed handfuls of buttock. He's not that old, after all, and it's not as if he was traipsing around for all that time. He was stuck in a bloody ring! It was more torture than it was not. Marik, of course, doesn't appreciate that at all, despite the relative similarity of his own situation.

"Believe it or not," Bakura grits, "for the majority of that time, I was not having homosexual intercourse in seedy public toilets! I was planning my vengeance, designing the torments of one thousand hells - you know, the thing you've gone and completely mucked up."

It's possibly a smack to the face - but then Marik's pretty, pretty face could use a few good smacks - and it's nothing they both don't already know. And know that the other knows. Bakura's millennia-long grudge against the pharaoh has been, however temporarily, benched in favor of playing house with a teenager in the middle of bloody Egypt. It's ridiculous and, standing there on the dirty tile floor, prick sticking out of his trousers, it strikes him just how much so.

"Oh," Marik says, face scrunching up with sudden peculiar malice - facetiously diminished as it is, "well excuse me for existing and being sexy! It's not my fault you don't leave me! It's your choice!"

"Hah!" Bakura laughs because he knows how true it is. "Fine, if I have a choice, then I'll make it!"

He's pushing back from the wall, grappling with his zipper before he truly knows what he's doing, but the utter shame and wretchedness is rising in him like a tide and - so what if he doesn't carry lube around with him? It's not as if he expects Marik to demand sex from him at random intervals. Fantasizes, perhaps, but -

"Wait, where do you think you're going?" Marik shrieks, grabbing after him, hands missing by a hair's-width. "Bakura, get back here! I have an erection and it's totally your fault so you're not going anywhere until you do something about it!"

Bakura stops. He doesn't know where's he's going, can't possibly get far in - in this state, but…

There's a part of him that would really like to be able to leave. That would give anything if he could manage not to care, to not be absolutely stuck to this spot. And perhaps he could walk away and perhaps he could steal the motorcycle and perhaps he could get fairly far - he's tried it once already - but it wouldn't be the same. Before there had been him and the world and the pharaoh, all orbiting each other at irregular points, missing by an axis but keeping on, driven through calamitous rehashings by the aching, violent, existence-defining need to destroy.

That need is in him still, somewhere, floating around with the waste and the tea and Ryou Bakura's weak little mind, but it's diluted. There was a sharp collision somewhere between Marik's motorcycle stopping in front of him and now. Bakura had hit the ground with a smack, falling to earth to writhe around in the dirt with the rest of them. No more orbiting, no more thrashing around above. His chase has slowed to a crawl and Marik Ishtar is the one leading him.

And to Zorc knows where.

He's not even sure Marik knows where. No actually, he's fairly certain that he doesn't. He's also certain that - somehow, through some strange twist of events - he is rather okay with that.

He turns back, spinning on one trainer-clad heel. "Are you ordering me to get you off?" he says, voice tinging with a bit of appreciative disbelief.

Marik's posed there, hands on his hips, cock straining out of his boxers, looking for all the world like he feels very justified in it. "So what if I am?"

"That's…" Bakura closes his eyes, locking them shut for a moment, then blinking them open again, "really hot, actually." He can't help the quiet smile twitching on his lips and he watches as Marik registers it and responds accordingly, expression near mirroring his.

Bakura steps forward, just a bit closer, and Marik moves with him, making slow progress until they're back in each other's airspace.

"Handjobs, then?" he asks.

Marik laughs and if there is embarrassment in it, it's hidden in the wild tufts of his hair that tickle Bakura's face. "Handjobs," he agrees.

And then, with little warning, Bakura finds himself pushed against the sink.

His head falls back, knocking at the mirror, and it's possible that he could break it, cut himself and bleed out, but the imagery of that only lights him up further when it's combined by the strangling, glorious pressure of Marik's hand on him. They kiss with utter incompetence, half-missing one another's mouths and luxuriating in the utter ridiculousness for a few giggling moments - no, not giggling, manly chuckling - but -

Oh. Oh gods.

He closes his eyes. There's a street and a light rain and Ryou's trainers tapping against the sidewalk and a man with an umbrella tugging softly at his hand and then it's gone, fading out, replaced by the village, the village in flames and the wife of the local prophet screaming, voice tearing through the bright hot night and - and. He bucks into Marik's hands, clawing at his shoulder, choking on a grunt of pleasure. Then there is blood dripping down his legs and Melvin is laughing and asking if they've got any cheetos in their tomb and it's the first time and Bakura remembers telling him, no, even though they had, and staring at the dull brown cracks on the ceiling and thinking that there was not much lower for him to go.

Then Marik had come back, showered and glowing bright and unaware of a single thing amiss, and Bakura had wiped up his legs and lied through his teeth and spent the whole night bouncing around terrible plans with the him, as per usual. He's not sure if that had been lower or higher or anything at all.

He's not sure how being pinned awkwardly against a sink in a bar bathroom ranks in all of this, but he fits neatly enough underneath Marik's body, so he need not complain.

Though, he does anyway. "Harder."

Marik grinds against his hip. "Harder yourself, I - "

Bakura takes the demand to heart, wrapping his finger's through Marik's hair and pushing them together in a cacophonous jolt of bones and fabric and rushing breath, reaching down with one hand to wrap his finger's around Marik's, guiding him through the motions of rubbing him off. Sparks of pleasure rip through him, lighting behind his eyes and turning the room sharp. He's going to come soon at this rate, and he really doesn't want to leave the fever pitch of arousal for the slowness of reality by himself. If he's going, Marik's going with him.

He grips him hard, feeling the wetness of pre-come soaking his fingers and his head sings with it, back bending instinctively with the wild pleasure of having Marik willingly in his hands, body hard and demanding against him, forgetting for the moments all of his heartfelt protests. His famed straightness is discarded somewhere on the floor, around where his khakis pool at his ankles, and Bakura - if not for the maddening thrum of his body - would drag this out for as long as he possibly could.

He'd keep them both here. Well, maybe not here exactly. Probably somewhere with a sofa. And lube. Definitely lube.

"Flo - orence," Marik gasps, face burrowing against a sweat-stained tuft of Bakura's hair.

"I'm - hah - " oh bloody buggering buggering - oh - "tempted to call you - nghh - Billy."

Marik's hips cant into his hands, Bakura's more or less mirroring the action, and he whines lowly, breath stumbling over itself. "Do it and I will kill you - aghh - Binky-boy."

He gives a particularly hard squeeze Bakura's whole system shuts down for a moment, organs tripping over themselves - which doesn't sound very pleasant and, in some ways, isn't - as he huffs a cacophonous laugh at the same time as his hips stutter and he spills frantically into Marik's hand.

Not looking to be outdone, he retains enough sensibility to do Marik the kindness of giving him several rough jerks and, in a matter of seconds, getting him off as well.

The wet rush of blinding pleasure lasts several long, taut moments, but soon settles into boneless lightheadedness and they slump against one another. The sink digs into Bakura's lower back as he wraps his arms over Marik's shoulders and holds him to his chest. It might be rather romantic if not for the sound of pipes and the smell of piss and antiseptic.

After his breathing has wound down enough and his limbs appear to regain function, Marik slides off of him, letting go, and stares down at his semen spattered hand with curious vagueness in his eyes. "Ew," he says, with no particular intonation, and moves to the next sink to wash his skin clean. He jams his fingers into the empty soap dispenser, getting nothing but a few bubbles, and Bakura -

Bakura just starts laughing.

The scene is amusing enough when he thinks of Marik alone, flush-faced and dirtied and annoyed with his predicament, but it only becomes more so as he remembers himself - his fear and his ragged want and the terrifying momentousness that he has previously assigned to occasions such as this. He and Marik, doing exceedingly non-platonic things to each other whilst both in control of their own bodies and - mostly - uninebriated. There should be midday light and fingertips and a quiet agreement, an admittance, all the stuff of boyish daydreams and closely guarded secret idiocies. Instead, there is grime and sticky clothing and a feint aura of conspiratorial madness filling up the whole room.

Or perhaps that's just the smell of sex.

His head falls to the mirror and he can't quite help the chuckles from racking his body, making an oddly cold sound as he rustles against the porcelain and glass. As it winds down and his movements start to still, the exhaustion sets in. He blinks his eyes open at Marik, who's watching him, curiously lacking expression.

"You know," Marik says after a moment, his voice a shrill contrast to the soft din rolling in from outside the loo door, "I think you probably love me, Bakura."

The smile freezes on his face, stuck there like a video paused mid-shot, and he can't quite figure out how to feel about those words or the look Marik is giving him as he says them. Perhaps, somewhat fortunately, there's a forceful jerk on the doorknob and someone shouts something undoubtably disparaging at them through the door, though it's muffled and in Arabic - which Bakura only speaks when he it's convenient for the plot. A loud fist bangs on the door.

"Piss off!" Bakura yells back, turning on the faucet to drown out the noise. The wispy rush of the water fills the room.

Marik is still looking at him, head-tilted sideways, the ghost of a smile on his lips. Bakura closes his eyes. He can practically see Ryou peering out at him from the dirty mirror, and he rather doesn't want to.

"Marik," he says, after the yelling fades out a bit, "as straight as you undoubtably are, I think you probably love me, too."

He opens his eyes again. Marik's expression hasn't changed.

 

---

 

They exit through a window in the back, leaving the door locked and the faucet on, squabbling the whole way out. Marik climbs on his shoulders, knocks at his jaw with uncoordinated ankles and makes a whole production out of Bakura's unbearable weight as he pulls him out after. They collapse in a laughing, uncomfortable heap on the gravel outside, tripping over each other and insisting with vehement surety that they know where the motorcycle is parked and the other is talking out of their respective arse.

All in all, it takes them thirty minutes longer to find their ride home than it had to wank each other off in the toilet.

 

---

 

They drop by the grocery store on the way home - Marik doing 60 in a 30 lane and Bakura holding him against his chest more for self-preservation than any sort of pleasure, and stumbling around the parking lot with the dizzy gratefulness of a man long out to sea - and buy taco ingredients, toilet paper, a new tube of mascara, and a box of popsicles shaped like rocket ships.

("These are extremely phallic," Bakura says, pointing at the picture on the front of the box.

"Yes," Marik says, arms crossed slyly and back leant against the cool, foggy glass of the freezer section.

Bakura smirks. "Let's get two.")

He even goes along with Marik's ridiculous plan, hopeless as it is from the start, and slips behind the counter to grab a stack of coupons while Marik incompetently flirts with the middle aged woman in hijab who's manning the register. The heist goes off without a hitch but, unfortunately - as it isn't double coupon day - they're only allowed to use one. They get a third box of popsicles for half off and Marik seems to consider it a sweeping success, so Bakura just takes the bags and follows him out with a comedic sort of resignation, trying valiantly to remain composed on the ride home.

After minimal investigation they find the tomb empty of any forms of life, save perhaps the rats and a few internal organs that Bakura likes to keep sealed in jars for rainy Sundays - which are rather more dead than alive, but certainly provide a whole person's worth of amusement. Marik sighs melodramatically, falling onto the sofa in a choreographed heap.

"This place is a mess!" he cries. "Look what he's done to our house, Bakura!"

Bakura doesn't remark of the fact that he's fairly certain that this is more or less how things had looked when they'd left it - cheeto wrappers between the cushions and dirty tea cups resting on almost every flat surface. "Well," he says, "he's gone now."

"But his stain remains! I'm going to have to wash everything I own to get his faceless friggin' stench off of it. No wait, I have no time for that." He pauses for a moment. "Bakura! You're going to have to wash everything I own!"

He's about to shoot a somewhat taunting, but mostly placating, response, when he sees it. The industrial shine is hard to spot in the low light of their cavernous living room, but it's sleek and silvery enough to stick out from the surrounding relics, and once noticed, it's impossible for Bakura to not see it. "Marik," he begins.

"No wonder he and Melvin get along!" Marik continues, paying no mind to anything but his tirade and the self-righteous amusement he's no doubt getting from it. "Not only do both of them enjoy violent murder, they're also both giant slobs!" He blinks, rolling over in an uncoordinated slump. "Hey Bakura, you're not sleeping with Slenderman, too, are you? Because I'm very mature and I can forgive a lot, but - "

"Marik," Bakura repeats.

"Geez, I'm kidding, don't get your panties twisted. Or knickers, I guess you'd say. Heh, knickers."

"Marik."

"What?" he sighs, sounding extremely put-upon in utterly tragic way, and finally honoring Bakura with a glance. "What's so friggin' important?"

Bakura sighs, falling into a comfortable heap on the cushion beside him. "I'm not sure," he says, nodding directly ahead at the new piece of technological equipment that seems to have appeared in their home, with no apparent intervention from either of them, "but I think perhaps Slenderman has gotten us a new telly."

Marik blinks, frowning in the direction that Bakura indicates. There's a fairly expensive looking television set up on their rickety table from the charity shop, all black and shiny and evidently just as foreign to Marik as it is to Bakura. He's not expecting wild shock and awe in particular, but Marik's slow registering silence is unusual in the face of something new. Most days he'd be bouncing on his heels, thrumming with childish excitement to not only try out his new toy, but solve the baffling mystery of where it had come from.

He doesn't do either of things, just slumps a little farther into the cushions and gives a tired little, "Huh," that seems neither very theatrical nor very unthought-out - a sure contrast to what usually passes through his lips. That is, at least, until he shoots a look sideways at Bakura and says, "But it's not because you're sleeping with him, right?"

Bakura answers the question by throwing a box of popsicles at his head.

 

---

 

It's maybe an hour off of dawn when they make it to what qualify as their respective bedrooms, standing between the two doors with what is probably embarrassed indecisiveness, and Bakura might have the decency to feel ashamed of his stumbling awkwardness, were he not so tired. In the end, instead of making the choice himself, he leaves it up to Marik - which is perhaps both a kindness and a cruelty at once - wandering into his own room, pulling off his shirt, and climbing into bed.

It's just been long enough that he assumes that Marik has taken the coward's route and retired to his own room, when he hears the soft footfalls on the floor and feels a slight pressure on the edge of his mattress. Rolling over, he catches just enough light from the doorway to see the vague terror at the situation shifting through Marik's eyes and, taking pity, he holds out a hand to tug him in.

He falls over Bakura with the ungainly grace of a child, arms wrapping around his body insistently as soon as they touch, and perhaps he means to kiss him and perhaps he's just attempting a vague sort of spooning position, but what they end up is collapsed across each other. Marik lies on him like a thing that had been discarded that way, rather than having chosen the pose through any will of his own. Bakura can feel his muscles through the skin, bones sharp in places and padded with warm flesh in others, and there is no laughter and if Marik's hair is on his pillow he can't quite see it - but still. The stuff of fantasies or not, the touch soaks through him, swirling away his mind, and he can't think of anyone or anything particular he'd rather have sprawled across his lap than Marik Sebastian Ishtar the third.

Part of him wants to freeze solid and not jar the moment out of its quiet solidity, but another part of him thinks that's rather bullocks, and reaches up to trail a hand down the long slope of Marik's back.

There's a soft breath of almost laughter against his neck and he thinks maybe it tickles and he thinks maybe Marik is laughing sheerly at the situation itself - at them and their tragedy and their uneven slopes from deafening cacophony to stilted, teenage silence.

"Marik," he starts, because he doesn't want him to fall asleep quite yet. Things unsaid aside, the boy is rather heavy.

Marik huffs a sleepy breath against his neck. "In the morning, I'm probably going to pretend this never happened."

Bakura freezes for a moment at the words, but they're said with a self-deprecating sort of humor that assuages any worries that may have otherwise risen in him. Maybe he will. And then? They'll be no worse off than they've ever been and, all things considered - millennia old spirit of darkness and traumatized child that they respectively are - they've gotten on just fine until now.

"Mmmhh," Bakura breathes back. "And I'll probably cook you breakfast. So these things go. The important part is that we have time." He drags one bent little hand through the silvery strands of Marik hair. "In fact, I've got nothing but."

He's not sure, but from the shift of his body weight and the new cadence of his voice, he thinks Marik's looking up at him now. "What about the Pharaoh?" he asks quietly. "And Yugi Muto?"

Bakura keeps his eyelids resting closed, but can't quite stop the small smile from twitching onto his face, as he mumbles, "I hear his sock drawer could do with some rearranging."

Marik's loose breath tickles his neck.

"Now go to sleep, Billy."

Bakura's not sure quite where he'd gotten it - his buttocks no doubt, treacherous as they are - but he can't but do anything but laugh, even through his pained wince, when Marik hits him sharply on shoulder with his Millennium Rod.

But he listens. He goes to sleep.

 

---

end.