Hey guys! For those of you who don't know me, I'm Elliot. This fic is part of the Alchemy of Thiefshipping group that I was lucky enough to take part in, so you should definitely check out the other stories! Hope you enjoy the first chapter. I'll be updating every Wednesday.
CW: Some gore (Kul Elna), anxiety, minor self-harm (scratching).
A fly buzzed around the living room's butter yellow light. Bakura huffed and swatted at it, but missed it. "Shut the fuck up."
"Leave the poor thing alone." Ryou grinned. "Don't take your anger out on it just because you're losing."
"I'm not losing." Bakura crossed his legs and leaned forward on the couch. His elbows rested on the crook of either knee, and he smashed the buttons on his controller. The fly was barely audible over the Mario Kart music, but it was still irritating.
Just as he was about to pass Ryou - okay, and maybe purposely bump him a little - a blue shell shot at them and hit them both.
"Motherfucking son of a shit-sticking cuntbubble!" Bakura snarled as his character tumbled off of the rainbow road track.
Ryou groaned but managed to stay on the track. He began driving again just as Bakura was lifted out of space, onto the road. "This is what we get for picking this road."
"It's gay," Bakura huffed, "and it's two a.m.; did you really expect us to pick anything else?"
"No." Ryou overtook two other cars and took the lead just in time to flash over the finish line.
"I fucking hate you." Bakura glared at the screen as he slid into third place, just between Bowser and Peach.
Ryou shook his head and leaned back into the couch cushions. "You knew this would happen." He took a sip of the cider in his bottle. "I always beat you at Mario Kart."
"Dickhead." Bakura tossed his controller onto the table and snatched his beer. He drained the end of the can. "I can't believe I lost that. I'm meant to have gay privilege with rainbow road."
Ryou shot him with a finger. "Yeah, but Luigi is a disaster bi. Disaster bi plus gay road equals happy bi player."
"Gods." Bakura tried not to laugh. "You're such a nerd."
"Says you!" Ryou whacked him with one of the cushions, and then stretched. "I think I'm going to go to bed."
Bakura tilted his head back. "Come on - one more game. You can pick this time."
"Maybe-" Ryou yawned and glanced at the clock. "No. No, sorry, Kura. It's nearly two, and I have work tomorrow."
Bakura folded his arms. "You work behind the counter at an arts and crafts store. How hard could it be?"
"You don't have to deal with my manager." Ryou rolled his eyes and reached over to ruffle Bakura's hair.
Bakura caught his hand. "One more game. Or an episode of something."
Fuck. Ryou paused and looked at him. "Are you okay?" Fuck, fuck, fuck. Why'd he say that? "There's nothing going on, right?"
Bakura looked away and raised his bottle to take another drink before remembering it was empty. "I'm fine, yadonushi," he sighed. Ryou's jaw tightened. "I'm just bored."
"Fine." Ryou stood up. His ponytail swept over his shoulder, falling down his back. "I'll see you in the morning."
Bakura winced as he heard the door to Ryou's room slam. He squeezed his eyes shut. He shouldn't have said that. He should not have said that. But he shouldn't have said please either. Fuck. Motherfucker.
He hit his head against the back of the cushions. It didn't hurt. Not the way he wanted it to- fuck. Now he had to kinkshame himself. Wait, that didn't make sense. He squinted up at the light. The fly was perched on the ceiling just behind the bulb. Memes made even less sense than he was used to them making when he was drunk.
He sighed and looked at the screen. His eyelids felt heavy - he hadn't slept properly in days. He reached up a hand to rub one of his eyes, but it only made it more itchy. And sore. He dropped his hand to find the remote. He managed to salvage it from in between the couch cushions, and turned off the television.
He needed to sleep, but his stomach was already sinking down into the growing pit of foreboding. His nails dug into the palms of his hands as he made his way towards his room - or Ryou's guest room. He didn't even have his own room, his own space. He wasn't worthy of it, wasn't worthy of what he had. He squeezed his eyes shut.
No. No, he wasn't meant to think like that. His nails dug deeper as he shouldered his way through the door, and kicked it closed behind him. The darkness welcomed him, soothed him.
It wasn't complete darkness. He had black-out blinds, but even with that, it was hard to get any room with windows completely dark in Japan. Especially Domino. The lights from the streets peeked up at his ceiling from the narrow gap between the curtains and the window, and below, he could hear the sounds of light night traffic.
Sound was really the only thing that kept him sane, that assured him he was no longer in the Ring. The Ring had been completely silent, nothingness trapping him, isolating him, his only company the voice in his head that grew more bitter with each passing second. And Zorc.
Bakura's eyes snapped shut. No. He dropped onto his bed and sank into the comforting mattress. His body ached - he hadn't noticed it until he lay down. He didn't even pull his blanket over him. He just let himself slip away.
Sleeping was something he was still becoming accustomed to, even after months of being back. Almost three years. Three thousand years of not being able to sleep had left him out of practice with the action. He wasn't used to dreaming.
The blood and fire melted the darkness beneath his eyes, the dull rumble of cars muted by screams and pleas for mercy that none would be shown that night. The gods had forsaken them.
Bakura hid behind the wall. His father died first - he was asleep, like he had been for days. His grandfather faced them as his mother tried to hide him, but the spears ripped through the man Bakura had seen as unstoppable like... he didn't even know.
His mother turned and screamed, fury dripping from her voice, scorching them. She had always been too powerful for the village. She should have been in the palace. The first few guards fell back, unprepared for her ka to spring forth. One froze solid, the other was pierced by an icy spear.
But eight or nine trapped her in a circle, and she died screaming curses at them. One of the guards walked up to the wall to look for Bakura. Bakura's eyes squeezed shut. He didn't want to die. He didn't want to die.
Something warm surrounded him, hugging him. He looked up to see a pure white, scaly creature weaving around him. The guard was looking straight at him, but the creature- Diabound, the name came unbidden. Diabound was blocking him.
The guard turned away and shouted something to the others. His parents and grandfather were grabbed and dragged down the dusty road, and Diabound silently carried him out of the house. The guards had started a fire in the middle of the village - a large black pot sat atop it.
Bakura stared at them as a child, one who had teased him for his white hair, screamed and kicked in their grip. They held the child over the pot and dropped him in. He wailed for a few seconds, and then fell silent. He didn't have a face. None of them did bar his mother and the guard that almost caught him.
His mother was heaved up over the cauldron. Just as she was lowered into the boiling liquid, gold began to spill over the edge of the pot. Her eyes flashed open, she looked at Bakura, and screamed.
Bakura jolted up in the bed. Screaming filled his ears and he tried to cover them to block it out, but it wouldn't stop. His door swung open and Ryou burst into the room. "Bakura?" His eyes were wide. Bakura could almost see his mother in them.
Ryou carefully climbed onto the bed beside him and wound his arms around Bakura. The screaming stopped, and Bakura's throat burned. He. He had been screaming.
"Bakura..." Ryou rocked him gently, back and forth. A hand rubbed Bakura's back. Bakura turned and hid his face, half in Ryou's shoulder, half in his hair. "What happened?"
Bakura just shook his head. His chest heaved as he fought for breath and hot tears of gold and fire dripped down his face. "They-they-th-th-they-the-they-" He couldn't even get the single word out. Sobs wracked his body and Ryou held him closer.
Ryou's hand brushed Bakura's hair out of his face. Bakura only cried harder. His calloused hands felt so much like his mother's had in the dream, as she hugged him and kissed his nose and whispered to him that he had to stay safe and quiet. For her.
"It's okay," Ryou whispered. "You're safe."
But they're not, he wanted to scream. The only thing that he managed to force out was another choked sob. With the lack of air, it made him feel like he was going to vomit.
"What was it?" Ryou asked.
Bakura squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head. He fought for breath for a moment before he even tried to respond. "Gold."
"Hi there. How are you?" The potential customer didn't even look up from the box they were examining. Malik's smile became more strained. "Cool, I guess I'll just go die then," he muttered under his breath. He pushed himself up on the counter.
The museum gift shop was illuminated by bright white lights that reflected off every silver and glass shelf in the damn room. Coupled with the white walls and gleaming countertop, one hour in the shop was enough to give Malik a headache for the rest of the day.
The customer finally looked up at him and smiled. "Oh, hi." Malik gave a nod and opened his mouth to return the greeting, but she just held up the box. A marble-esque pattern in white, gold and black decorated the top of it. From the size, it was one of their jewelery boxes. "How much is this?"
Malik's eyebrows arched. The price was very, very clearly labeled in red marker on a sticker on the side of the box. "That's two hundred and ten pounds."
The woman started laughing and put the box back. "I don't suppose you ship anywhere?"
No. No, we don't, because we're a fucking museum. The words itched at the tip of Malik's tongue, but he just smiled and half-chuckled. "No, we don't unfortunately. But that's a handmade jewelery box. No two in here are the same."
The woman hummed and tapped one finger on the box. "I'll just have a little look around the rest of the museum and I'll be back."
No she wouldn't. Malik's lip curled up into a sneer as she left the shop. Twit. He settled, leaning over the counter, chin propped up on his hand. He eyed the clock. Twenty more minutes.
Gods, he fucking hated this job. He took a slow breath and forced a smile across his face as someone walked into the shop. Calm. "Hi there. How are you?"
"Not bad, thanks." The woman returned his smile and wandered between the shelves to look around. Malik practically held his breath. He needed this sale to hit his target for the day. Come on, come on.
After a few minutes, the woman emerged with a small Tutankhamen bust. Of course. Everyone wanted him. "This please," she said in English, setting the bust on the counter.
Malik rang it up for her. "That's four hundred pounds please." He took the money she handed him and passed back a receipt. "Thanks. Have a nice day."
"You too." She smiled and left the bust.
Malik let out his breath and scribbled the sale onto his commission sheet. He had to stop his nerves acting up whenever a customer came in. He knew what to say, he knew how to work the till, everything was priced. There was nothing to be anxious about.
He ran a hand through his hair, and looked at the clock. Ten minutes. Fuck it. He began to tidy the shop, and at six, when no one else was in the vicinity, he shut and locked the doors.
He handed the keys in to security, and made his way up to Ishizu's office. He knocked before walking in. His sister looked up from a binder in front of her and smiled. "Is it time already?"
Already? Malik had been watching the clock for two hours. "Yeah." He walked over to the seat across from her desk and sat down. "Busy?"
"A little." Ishizu rubbed her forehead. "We have some new artifacts coming in over the next few days, so I'm just tying up loose ends on that." She closed her binder. "I can finish it in the morning anyway."
Malik had a feeling that he would catch her with the binder at home, working on it after dinner. Ishizu picked up her keys and coat and walked out to the car with him. The security gave her a smile, but their eyes passed over Malik.
When they were caught in the usual traffic, Ishizu's eyes flickered over to Malik. "How was the gift shop today?"
Malik leaned his head against the car window, eyes on the red motorbike weaving between the cars. He missed his motorbike. "The usual." He drummed his fingers on his thigh. "I was thinking about looking for a new job."
The car jolted, and Malik hit his head off the window. Whoever was behind them beeped. Ishizu raised an apologetic hand and began driving again as the light turned green. "What do you mean?" Her voice was tight. "You have a good job here, Malik. You're getting higher than minimum wage, you get paid holidays-"
"I don't like working at the museum," Malik sighed. "I've told you this before." He had - multiple times. He had told her how nervous it made him; he often got sick at the thought of going to work the next day.
Ishizu shook her head. "I don't understand."
Malik sighed and looked up at her. He was taller than her by a few inches, but he held his height in his legs, while Ishizu had a long back. "I'm not asking you to understand," he protested. "What I need you to do is listen to me."
"I'm listening." Ishizu pursed her lips. On the steering wheel, her knuckles were beginning to pale. "But that doesn't mean I have to like what I'm hearing."
Malik shook his head. "Forget it," he muttered. He shouldn't have said anything. He let his eyes slip closed. "It doesn't matter anyway. I turned in my notice last week."
The car jerked again, and Ishizu pulled up into their driveway. "You did what?"
Malik didn't want to open his eyes again. He didn't want to have to see the rage on his sister's face. But the darkness, even the one behind his eyes, made him uncomfortable. He sighed and looked up at her. "I quit. Tomorrow's my last day." His manager hadn't been all that annoyed about it either - in fact, his quitting had been treated as a relief.
Ishizu opened her mouth, and then closed it. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"You didn't understand." Malik unbuckled his seatbelt and climbed out of the car. Ishizu hurried to follow him, but he just made his way into the house.
"Malik, come back here! We're not done talking about this!"
Malik stopped in the doorway. Rishid peered out from the kitchen. Malik turned to face his sister. "It feels like we are."
"Do you even have another job?" Ishizu pressed. "Have you been looking for one? You've only been working at the museum for-"
"Two years, Ishizu." Malik scowled at her. "I worked there through college, just like you wanted. Two years." He shook his head. "I can't handle it anymore. Every time I go in there, I think of him-"
"You say that like it's a bad thing-"
"For me it is!" Malik laughed and spread his arms. "I'm done. I can't handle it anymore." His eyes burned. He still hadn't forgiven the gods for making him an angry crier.
"You said your counseling was helping with this-"
"It was!" Malik swallowed. "It is, but- but that doesn't mean I can deal with the museum any longer." His counselor was part of the reason he had worked up the courage to quit.
Ishizu stared at him for a moment before knocking the door closed behind her and pushing past him. "Do whatever you want, Malik," she huffed. "I've tried to help you time and time again. It's time for you to start helping yourself."
Malik flinched as her bedroom door slammed shut. Rishid crept out of the kitchen. "I take it that you told her?" He asked.
Malik just walked into the kitchen and sank into one of the chairs. His back hurt from bending over the counter for half of the day. "Yeah." He let his head fall into his hands as Rishid followed him into the kitchen. The smell of half-finished quinoa filled the room. "I don't get how she can stand working there."
"And she doesn't get why you can't." Rishid glanced at him and began slicing tomatoes for a salad. "You know this."
"She should get it." Malik peered up at him. "I-" He swallowed and looked away again. "She should get why I hate remembering him."
"She still sees it as an honour to serve the Pharaoh." Rishid diced the remainder of the tomatoes and tossed them into the salad bowl. "You can't force her to change her mind."
Malik drew circles and triangles into the pale wooden table. "She should try to understand that I can't stand being in that museum."
"She does try." Rishid took out an onion. "Do you want this in the salad?" Malik grimaced and shook his head, so Rishid put it back. "But you're both coming from different places. She's accepted everything that's happened."
"And I haven't?"
Rishid turned and raised his eyebrows. It was odd seeing him do that - the creases reached farther up than where his hairline used to be. "Do you want me to answer that?" Malik looked away again. "You've never really come to terms with what happened, Malik." Rishid reached across the table and placed his hand on Malik's arm. "And I don't think your discomfort with the museum will ease until you do."
Malik shook his head. "But I know what I did-"
"Do you?" Rishid tilted his head. "You didn't remember a lot of it when we came back. I had to tell you what happened."
"That wasn't my fault." His darker half. That was who was at fault. It was all him.
But it wasn't. Ishizu liked to blame his darker half, but it was Malik that organised it, that tried to kill the Pharaoh.
"I know." Rishid squeezed his arm. "But I'm not sure that you do understand the full extent of what you did." Malik heaved a low sigh. "Maybe you need to go back."
Malik's head jerked up. "Are you insane?" He hissed. "They'd kill me without a second thought." Granted, the last time he had seen everyone, they'd parted on relatively civil terms, but he doubted he'd been forgiven for all that he did.
"Well I don't think you're going to find what you're looking for here." Rishid gave his arm another squeeze before standing up. "And this is something you need to sort out, Malik. For yourself."
Hope you enjoyed! Please vote and comment to tell me what you thought! I'll try to reply to comments as soon as possible. See you next week!