It had to be there. Somewhere in his mind, the memories had to still exist. From the moment he had slammed on the brakes of his motorcycle, glaring at this boy who dared to get in his way, he had felt a strange pull. A fascination that kept him from simply plowing him over. The millennium ring that hung around his neck was part of it, of course, but only a small piece. Here was someone also trying to defeat the pharaoh, someone who he could use to obtain his goal. Someone like him.
It wasn't as if that'd happened before.
"So? What's your decision?"
Bakura regarded him coolly, arching an eyebrow. "Hasty, are we?" He demanded.
"We don't have that much time," Marik retorted. "The finals will be in a few days, maybe not even that. We will never get another chance li--"
"We would. Or, at least, I would," Bakura interrupted snidely. "Chances to attack tend to come around when you and your target are in the same location. It's all a matter of finding them, and adapting the plan."
Marik gawked at him. His fingers itched for the rod, that smart-ass smirk testing his restraint. "You think I don't know that?! Bastard" He bristled as the grin widened, a chuckle slipping from the spirit's mouth. "What's so funny?!"
Bakura only continued laughing to himself, pulling the knife from his belt. "Youth," he replied shortly, twirling the weapon.
"What about it?" Marik said distrustfully. "You're not much older than I--"
"This body is my host's. My original form saw the pyramids when they were still young."
The blade flitted between his fingers, agitated, drawing Marik's eye. "You mean to say that you followed him all this way, for three thousand years?!"
Bakura frowned, his eyes cold and hard as they looked past the blond. "My destiny has been connected to the millennium items for a long time," he said. The blade spun faster, never nicking the skin. "I can never forgive the pharaoh for what he's done."
"And what has he done?" Marik asked quietly, curiosity spurring him onwards. Were there more tombkeepers than he had thought? People who could see the pharaoh's crimes against his family?
"We're wasting time." Bakura said. "Yugi's friends were headed to the aquarium. We'll need to get going if we don't want to miss them."
"Right." Hiding slight disappointment, Marik slipped the rod back through his belt loop, hopping back on his motorcycle. "Give me your knife, and maybe I'll even give you a lift."
Bakura regarded him coldly for a minute, then pressed the folded blade into his hand. "If you drop it, I won't need it to kill you."
Marik smiled, revving the engine loudly. "You'll want to hold on. This baby goes fast." He shot off, the vibration of the engine hiding his flinch as Bakura wrapped an arm around his waist.
The sun was just cresting over the buildings of Domino City, the neon lights flickering off with the dawn. Marik watched, his chin resting on his arms. He had never really fallen asleep that night, instead staring out into the darkness, trying to remember all he could of Battle City. Had that been the first moment? With Bakura's hands around his waist, his breath making the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end?
There hadn't been much time after that. They had brief conversations, just relays of information. Bakura needed to join him in the finals, Bakura needed to stop losing this duel. Bakura needed to stop fucking around and let the pharaoh attack his host. Then it was over, Bakura was gone, then Odion was gone, and before he could blink he was gone...from his own body, anyways. Desperately he traced his mindlinks back, shoving his way into Tea's mind. She was talking to his sister, and a pang ran through him as he realized that this was the closest he'd been to Ishizu in months. His own sister...but she would have to wait, at the very least until he was back in control of his body to talk to her.
He hurried as quickly as he could through the darkened hallways, trying to keep the dancer's feet quiet. Bakura's door was at the end of the hall, the ring urging him on, as if he needed persuasion. As if his other half didn't have his sights set on Odion even as he rushed to the spirit's side. He set the ring down by his head, waiting to hear that snide voice.
"C'mon Bakura, wake up, come on..."
The brown eyes snapped open, his hand jerking up to grab the intruder by the throat. His gaze was wild and confused as he pulled the girl down to his eye level.
"Bakura, it's me." Marik dropped Tea's mind, sliding through the reestablished connection with his partner.
The spirit glared at him. "Oh yay," he drawled, crossing his arms. "If this is about the duel--"
"There's no time for that," Marik interrupted, running a hand through his hair. "I'm--I'm in deep shit, Bakura."
Brown eyes followed him warily. "What's wrong?"
"Are you blind?! I don't have my body anymore!"
"And here I was, thinking you just enjoyed taking the form of a woman."
Marik swung, catching him hard in the cheek. "This is serious, goddammit! I need...I need your help."
Bakura stumbled backwards, gaze still skeptical. "My help. Really."
"Do I have to smack you again?!" Marik spat. "He stole my body."
"Who is 'he'?!" Bakura retorted.
Marik bit his lip. "It's hard to describe...He...he's a different person...he's been there since I was little, since the initiation...when they carved the pharaoh's secret into my back. He would take over when the cuts were at their most painful..." He gritted his teeth, snapping back to face Bakura once more. "It wasn't out of weakness..."
"I never said it was," Bakura replied. "So you're telling me that he's taken over your body now...to do what?"
"Destroy the pharaoh, and take the power for his own."
"So what you wanted to do--"
"---Only worse." He glared. "I don't want to destroy the world, not completely. He does."
Marik smiled ruefully. "There are some things I enjoy in this world, you know. Things I haven't seen yet...and will never get to see unless you help me get my body back." He sighed at Bakura's still-stony glare. "He also has the millennium rod. If you still want it, you'll have to take it from him."
Bakura mused over these prospects, peering into the manic, desperate glint in Marik's eyes.
"Where is he?"
...And then there was nothing. Nothing but the pain, and the flames, and the barest flashes of the duel--Bakura disappearing, limb by limb, as he tried to make him see the danger they were in. His yami's face gazing gleefully down at them from atop the Winged Dragon of Ra, ordering the attack that destroyed them. The flames were all around him, tearing him away from Bakura's side and spitting him out into the shadow realm. The darkness crushing his chest, his head, memories swarming his mind. His father, the knife, the agony, his blood, whose blood? His? His father's? The rod, the laughter, the blood; he was staggering, falling, slipping farther into the shadows as everything bore down on him, crushing him. Suddenly, Bakura's face flashed before his eyes, rage spiking through his chest. If I ever get ahold of him, he had thought dazedly, I'll kill him, for stranding me here.
He had staggered around for an eternity, fighting the memories with the single thought of finding the spirit and giving him a piece of his mind. It was the least he could do before he faded into the shadow realm's oblivion.
By the time he found him, he could barely stand. He remembered striking out, raging at him with words that were all but forgotten. Darkness was overtaking his sight, he couldn't stand it anymore...
"To think that I ever cared about someone as heartless as you."
Marik's eyes snapped open. Had he really said those words?! To Bakura, of all people? He sat up too fast, clutching his head before grabbing the nearest shirt and pulling it on. He had to know...
"Where do you think you're going?" The pain in his head worsened, back to the pounding drums of the previous night.
Mairk gulped. "None of your business," he retorted quietly. "Go away."
"He'll kick you out if you try to talk to him."
"I don't care," Marik replied, his hands clenched around the edge of the dresser.
"There's only one solution, one way to make sure he never bothers you again," Yami Marik said gleefully. "Kill him,"
Marik's heart leapt to his throat. "No..."
"Kill him," Yami Marik ordered again. "Before he kicks you out--"
"No!" Marik repeated, panic flooding his chest as he stared into the mirror. "I won't do it. You can't..."
"Have you forgotten why you created me?! You wanted to survive, so you'll do what I tell you--"
Marik clutched his head, nails digging into his scalp. "That's not--"
"You don't have a choice," Yami Marik hissed. "You created me because you weren't strong enough to deal with your pain. To protect you from more pain. And this is how we'll be doing it--"
Nails dug into his brain, threatening to tear him in two. Marik bit back a scream, the chair tumbling over as his knees hit the floor. "NO!" he shouted. "GET OUT! GO AWAY!"
"Marik?! What the fuck is going on?!" Bakura yelled from the other room, irritation clear through the walls.
"You going to call for the thief?" Yami Marik spat. "Scream for your host?"
"I'm...fine," Marik yelled back through gritted teeth. "Just fine!"
Yami Marik scowled in his mind, ramming against Marik's mental defenses. "You can't even live on your own without leeching off him, can you? How do you expect to live without me?!"
"That has nothing to do with this!" Marik protested.
"What the hell are you doing in there?!" Bakura's door opened, his footsteps in the hall.
Marik scrambled over to the door, locking it frantically. "Just go away!" he yelled, backing into the corner. "Leave me alone!"
"Why don't you let him in?" Yami Marik demanded, grinning. "Are you trying to protect him?"
"Marik, I'm coming in--!"
"NO!" Marik screamed, pushing back against Yami Marik's presence in his mind. "Leave me alone, I said I'm fine!"
"You won't be able to protect him from me...You can't protect anyone." Black and white dots were swimming in front of his vision, as if he were being strangled; drowning in the anger that threatened to consume him. His yami was forcing him down, further into the depths of his mind. It was suffocating, terrifying....like being pinned to a stone slab, waiting for the knife to come down. Something in his mind snapped.
"GET OUT!" He screamed, slamming his fist into the wall. "THIS IS MINE, MY BODY! GET OUT--"
There was a crash as the door rocked off its hinges, Bakura bursting into the room with eyes wide .
"KILL HIM!" Yami Marik roared, taking advantage of Marik's surprise to spur him forward to where the knife lay, still attached to his belt. With a feral yell, he slammed Bakura into the wall, his pupils pinpricks as the blade came down. It quivered against the spirit's head.
"You shouldn't have come," Marik growled, rage and fear swimming in his gaze. His fist was shaking, clenched on the knife.
Bakura stared at him, tensed under Marik's weight. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?!" he demanded, staring up at him. "If this is your idea of--"
"He wants me to do it..." Marik's desperation flashed in his eyes for a moment as he spoke, his body straining against Bakura's. "He wants me to kill you."
Bakura's eyes held no surprise, but instead a strange determination. A dawning comprehension as he wrapped his hand around Marik's. "You won't kill me," he said. "You'll fight it."
He slammed his head forward, knocking Marik to the ground. In a flash he had grabbed the knife, holding it to his throat as the taller boy stared him down. He nodded wordlessly, and closed his eyes, trying to calm his frantically heart. Struggling to keep himself under, he tried to find that dark corner of his mind, the source of his yami's voice. He was falling, slipping deeper and deeper into the darkness, until the twisted face of his alter ego suddenly emerged out of the shadows.
"Well, well, look who came down for a visit," Yami Marik said, strangely cheerful he leered at his other self. "Finally decided to listen? To let me take over?"
Marik stood his ground, steadying himself as he returned his alter's gaze. "No," replied coldly. "This is my body. I'm not killing anyone else for you."
The toothy grin disappeared in an instant. "Really. After everything they've done to you--"
"Who?! Everything who's done to me?! Father is dead, thanks to you. The pharaoh's been dealt with--"
"You let him win--"
"I did what I had to!" Marik snapped. "But that's over now! I'm done. I want to move on...I'm going to move on. I can finally do what I've always wanted, live my life the way I want. Not as whatever father wanted me to be, not what the pharaoh or anyone else told me to be...and certainly not what you want me to be. I won't be your host, or your vessel, or your mercenary! And if you can't accept that, then you've overstayed your welcome."
"You'll never get rid of me," Yami Marik snarled, his muscles rippling as he tensed to spring. "You need me, Marik--"
"Not anymore, clearly," Marik snapped. "Get out."
With a guttural scream, the man lunged, his eyes brimming with rage and confusion. He met Marik head on, the two colliding in a flurry of punches. They rolled over and over in the darkness, fingers tearing at each others throats. Two sets of purple eyes locked onto each other, identical mouths set in identical snarls.
As Marik swung, Yami Marik scuttled away, panting as he reeled to his feet. "What makes you think you're any better than me?!" he grunted, tongue lolling out of the corner of his mouth. "You had just as much of a hand in your father's death as I did."
Marik's eyes bulged. He charged, tackling him once more to the darkened ground. "I never wanted him dead!" He screamed, driving his fist into his face. "You were the one that killed him! You swung the knife, you stabbed him, it was all you!" Every other word came with a punch, a kick, his knees digging into his doppelganger's chest. They flew with enraged abandon; it didn't matter where they came down as long as damage was being done.
But suddenly a sound drifted up to his ears that made him stop, gazing down at the figure beneath him. The face, that twisted version of his own, was grinning, a dark chuckle rumbling from his throat.
"Because you're so different from me," he spat, teeth bared. "We're the same person, Marik. You can't deny that."
From far away, he could hear Bakura's voice muttering words he couldn't quite make out, calling him back. He grabbed Yami Marik by his neck, hoisting him up. "We're not," he said, pushing him away. He stared at him coldly, focusing intently on the figure before him. "I know when to stop, especially on a lost cause like you."
"Kehehe. Look who's talk--" He took a step and was jerked backwards, as if by an invisible chain. He glared at Marik, trying once again to run towards him, still to no avail. "What's the meaning of this?!" He roared, struggling against the bindings. The more he fought, the more chains seemed to appear, wrapping around his wrists and ankles. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!"
Marik shrugged. "As I said. Lost causes aren't my thing anymore." He turned, closing his eyes and looking for the way back--
"You won't keep me here forever," Yami Marik growled. "You'll come back, begging for my help in the end!"
Marik sighed. "You keep thinking that," he replied, waving him away as he floated back towards consciousness.
"Goddammit wake up, if you got me out of bed just to die then so help me--"
He sat up with a gasp, his arms flying to steady himself on the first thing he could reach. Bakura's shoulders tensed at the sudden movement, his eyes darting over to the boy. "What happened?!" he asked, trying to pull back from Marik's grasp.
He only held on tighter, unmoving as his tried to catch his breath. "I made him go away," he muttered. "I chained him up in my mind."
A skeptical pause. "Why couldn't you have done that before?"
Another long silence as Marik leaned into his chest, mulling it over. "It's hard to explain."
Marik shot him a quick glare. "I...could never go that deep to go after him before. I always had to keep part of my mind conscious, so I wouldn't do anything...anything I'd regret later." He bit his lip, hyperaware of their closeness, of Bakura's chest rising and falling against his. "But I figured you would keep me from hurting anyone, so I was able to...let go, I guess."
Bakura frowned. "Dangerous to presume something like that," he murmured. "Why would you trust me?"
Marik shrugged. "I don't know," he asked, a small smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. "Why did you break down my door?"
He felt Bakura relax ever so slighly against him, the pale hands caressing his shoulders. "Probably," he said slowly, "for the same reason you kissed me last night."