Kokoro no Naka

Disclaimer: I don't own the idea for Yu-Gi-Oh! But, I do own Malik, Ryou, Seto, Jounouchi, Bakura, Yami and Duke. I also own one of the outlying islands of Japan and Hawaii. Oh, and I also own a spotted, flying camel. ^)^

Notes: Welcome to the random world of insanity. [points down] There's a small list of "niceties" down there that you may want to review before continuing. If one, a few, or all of them offend you in any way and you proceed to read at any rate, please don't gripe about it. Comments and constructive criticism are always welcome. Unintelligent flames will be laughed uproariously at.

Warning: Violence, bloodshed, language, and yaoi

Pairings: Seto/Joey, Bakura/Yami, one sided Marik/Malik, Malik/Ryou

Summary: "While Yugi and Yami deal with freeloaders in the Puzzle, Marik steps up his quest for total power with his unwilling hikari as the attack dog. As plans play out, two reluctant souls find themselves dueling in seduction for their own individual gain. (Yaoi)."

Who's who:

Ryou: Hikari - Bakura: Yami

Malik: Hikari - Marik: Yami

Yugi: Hikari - Yami:... Need I explain?

Communications:

blah= telepathy - blah= personal thought

/blah/= Yugi to Yami - //blah//= Yami to Yugi

(blah)= Ryou to Bakura - ((blah))= Bakura to Ryou

[blah]= Malik to Marik - [[blah]]= Marik to Malik

And, before I close this long-winded opening, the review button is in the lower, left-hand corner of your window. Press it at any time! ^)^ If you have any questions or comments, e-mail me at Tamer_ofthe_Dragons@yahoo.com.

Also, when you're done here, go over to Evaru's profile and Trei's as well. They're both awesome writers and well worth the read. Arigatou minna!

-Kiirar

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Chapter One:

Cruel Destiny

Clouds the color of tarnished silver hung low in the sky that day, accompanying a dismal sheen of light rain that would make it seem like the heavens were crying along side those who had gathered around a freshly dug grave to say their final farewells.

Sobs and hushed words of comfort floated through the cemetery's misty air as the closest friends and father of the dearly departed Ryou Bakura lamented their loss. For the youth's father, it was a crushing blow to his already shattered heart, having lost his wife and only daughter previous to this tragedy. For his friends, Yugi Motou, Joey Wheeler, Tristan Taylor, and Tea Gardener, it was another reason to keep fighting against the evil that had claimed Ryou's short-lived life.

Only those four knew of the soft-spoken Brit's true demise. They had said, each looking as guilty as the other, that Ryou had been murdered by a deranged madman during the grand Battle City tournament. This lie wasn't that far from the truth, in reality. Malik Ishtar, a fellow participant of the tournament and holder of the Millennium Rod, had been terrorizing the small knot of friends, claiming to be after the Spirit of the Puzzle.

He had come close to killing each and every one of them, albeit Tristan, but had never followed through on any of the threats. This fact alone had made everyone feel a tad bit more secure when Malik had challenged Ryou to a duel for the teenager's Millennium Ring. Unfortunately, the pair had conducted their affairs in the Shadow Realm, leaving the others clueless and helpless. Time crawled by and eventually the haze cleared.

The sight that greeted them wasn't a pleasant one by any stretch of the imagination. Malik was no where to be found and Ryou was lying, unmoving, in a cooled puddle of his own blood. Under any other circumstance, they would have held up hope that the snowy haired Brit was still clinging to life.

But, they had learned long ago that when it came to the ages old power struggle surrounding the Millennium items, anyone caught in the crossfire was as good as dead eventually. Still, it didn't lessen the shock of losing the always-helpful sixteen-year-old.

So now, they stood in a tight knot with the shared knowledge that someday, whether it be sooner or later, Ryou's fate would be their own.

"Thank you, kids, for being here," Aaron Bakura whispered, trying to tear his eyes from the handsomely designed tombstone that lie before him.

Yugi nodded, being the only one present with at least half a voice. "He was a good person and I know he's gone on to a happy afterlife."

A baritone chuckle tickled the back of the small teenager's mind, reminding him of the presence of his darker half, Yami. //You've been listening to me too much, aibou.//

Yugi smiled, appreciating that the former Pharaoh was trying to lift his spirits. But, Ryou's death had struck a definite chord deep within the spiky haired youth; a painful reminder that despite the Spirits that guarded them, the holders of the Millennium items were anything but immortal.

"It looks like it's going to start raining heavily," Aaron pointed out, his tone as dismal as the weather. He turned bloodshot, chocolate eyes on the teenagers surrounding him. "I don't want you to get sick."

"We're fine," Tea replied softly.

"No, no. Please, go home. I promise I'll be fine."

"Can we at least see you home?" Yugi offered, truly worried about the heart broken man.

Aaron gave a weak smile of reassurance. "I'm just going to be here a while longer before I take my leave. I don't want you getting caught in the rain."

"If you're sure," Joey piped up, his voice devoid of its usual, hyperactive spark. "We do 'ave a long walk back home, guys."

Yugi, Tristan, and Tea reluctantly agreed, each placing a rose on Ryou's tombstone before slowly leaving the neatly kept graveyard.

* * * *

Standing by a gracefully sweeping willow tree, keen lilac eyes watched the small group surrounding a fresh grave site disband, a scowl of discontent set upon a handsomely tanned face. Gripped loosely in one hand was the Millennium Rod, originator of the heart breaking scene that played out in the damp cemetery while the other hand was fastened securely to the Ring that once lay around the neck of Ryou Bakura. The enchanting eyes, lined dramatically in the Egyptian fashion, closed for a second.

It was never supposed to go this far. The leader of the Rare Hunters, Malik Ishtar, had never meant for anyone, save the Pharaoh, to die in his quest for ultimate power. Of course, in his struggle to reach the top, people had fallen under his sword. But, while it was his body and his weapon that had extinguished so many a life, it was never him that really committed the sin.

No, those senseless murders had been the doing of his insufferable dark side, named Marik for lack of any other name. The deranged guardian of the Rod believed highly in acceptable losses and proved repeatedly that he would go to any length to obtain what he wanted.

But never before had those killings been so downright cold-blooded. Marik seemed to keep his own twisted code of honor, murdering anyone that crossed him or tried to touch what was his. That he had struck down someone as completely innocent as Ryou was a sign to Malik that his dark side was becoming more agitated with the constant set backs in his plans and was pulling out all the stops.

Malik sighed and took his leave from the depressing graveyard, trudging over the wet grass with an ever-darkening scowl. He was growing frustrated with the sudden resurgence of his supposedly dead conscience, trying to figure out why Ryou's murder weighed so heavy on his iced over heart. It's because you know he was just an innocent bystander and you did nothing to stop it.

But, there was something else that tugged at the Egyptian's emotions, something more profound that he didn't want to admit.

[[Stop your whining.]]

The command, spoken in a harsh, dark rasp, sent an involuntary shutter though Malik. [I wouldn't be "whining" if I didn't have to question my sanity all the time.] He knew the words were brazen and would earn him a sound thrashing, but the Egyptian was fast growing tired of Marik's scare tactics.

[[Are you questioning my judgement, little one?]] Marik sneered.

The flaxen-haired youth sighed, trying in vain to pick up the pieces of his shattering patience. [Yes, yami, I am. Why in the hell did you just kill the kid?]

A cold laugh echoed through Malik's mind. [[It wasn't the child, dear hikari. It was what controlled the child that I sought to destroy. Unfortunately, he was just a victim of circumstance.]]

Something in Marik's completely flippant tone fanned the flame of hate that fluttered deep within Malik's soul. [Oh, so killing two innocent people makes it okay?] Suddenly, steel claws fastened around the seventeen-year-old's mind, yanking him away from his body and into the twisted corridors of his shared mind. Before he could regain his bearings, a fist connected with his face.

"That tomb robber was the farthest thing from innocent," Marik snarled, his dark lilac eyes dancing with a murderous light. "If I didn't destroy him, he would have destroyed me. That thing and his little albino pet had to die."

Malik matched his dark side's glare, the insult hurled at Ryou making his stomach twist. "I highly doubt that would have happened. We had Ra on our side! Of course we were going to win! There was no way in hell we wouldn't have!"

Marik feigned another blow at his light, smirking when he jerked back. "There is no 'we', hikari. The god cards are mine. The Millennium items are mine." This time, Marik's fist made solid contact with Malik's face, driving the stunned Egyptian into a wall. "This body is mine."

Malik growled, a hand over his quickly bruising cheek. "Then what in the hell am I?" The seventeen-year-old's bravado was failing beautifully with the realization that Marik had the Rod in hand.

The sadistic Spirit advanced, drawing the hidden dagger in his precious artifact. A catty smile danced on his lips and his eyes narrowed, an expression that spelled death for many in the Egyptian's existence. "You are nothing." Marik grabbed Malik's collar-adorned throat, dragging the deceptively sharp dagger over the flawless skin of his light's shoulder.

Malik tried to lash out, only to find that he couldn't move his body. "You coward," the blond growled, his gaze darker then the shadows that clung to his soul room. He knew that Marik was using the possession powers of the Rod to keep him in place. He always did.

The ancient Egyptian only smirked and removed the collar from his counterpart's throat. He admired the smooth, silky skin, absently tracing his dagger lightly over the outline of his hand.

Malik fought back a shutter of revulsion and a vile curse. He had walked this tightrope many times before and knew that if he kept quiet, he would escape with his life.

Marik 'tsked'. "Such beauty... Nothing but pure perfection." He removed his hand from Malik's throat, instead using his Shadow magic to hold the teenager in place. "How can something as useless as you be so glorious?"

Malik felt bile rising in the back of his throat. Just being looked at by his dark side made him feel dirty. Again, another game of Marik's. He knew full well his light abhorred every fiber of his being and toyed with him accordingly. "Get away from me, you demon."

Marik seemed to ignore the fear-racked command, instead planting feather light kisses over Malik's neck. He smirked against the warm mocha flesh and suddenly raked the Rod's dagger across it, drawing a line deep enough to scar, but not kill.

Malik bit his tongue, trying not to show fear or pain. He could feel Marik's anger tightening around him like a hangman's noose.

"You don't command me, child! I command you! I own you! Your mind, your body, your very soul are mine to do with as I please!" Marik made another slash across his light's chest. "I am your only friend and your greatest enemy, Malik." He made a cut on Malik's neck to match the other one, leaning forward so he was nose-to-nose with the trembling Egyptian. "I am the only reason you still curse this earth with your existence."

Marik sealed his threat with a forceful kiss. "Remember that you are nothing. Just another pathetic moral that can be stripped of his overrated life at a second's notice."

Malik nodded dimly, hate and fear etched into his features. "I'll keep that in mind," he grated out. Ra, please let this be the end.

Marik growled predatorily and grabbed his light again by the neck and drug him to the corridor leading to his consciousness without another word.

Malik gratefully stumbled back into his body, feeling the cold grass underneath him and freezing cold rain hitting him from above. The seventeen-year-old moaned softly, a hand reaching around to take his collar off. When it hit the ground, he could see the smears of deep crimson that lay on the golden surface. The Egyptian rolled onto his back, letting the rain soak him completely. His injuries, deeper then anticipated, throbbed, but Malik could care less.

He was just thankful that he had once more escaped his dark side's grasp with his life.

* * * *

By the time Joey, Tristan, Tea, and Yugi had made it back to the Turtle Game Shop, they strongly resembled four depressed, drowned rats. Not caring that they were shivering and wet, the quartet flopped onto their choice of furniture bonelessly. A few seconds later, Yami's phantasmal form joined them.

Silence reigned supreme amongst the group until Yugi asked, "Anyone want something to drink?"

Joey and Tristan nodded numbly, requesting hot coca, and Tea just sighed.

Yugi shoved his hands in his pockets and shuffled out into the kitchen, silently accompanied by Yami. He set about making the drinks, trying not to cry.

"Are you going to be all right, hikari?" the once Pharaoh asked gently, slanted amethyst eyes shining with concern and unshed tears.

"Yeah. I will be." Yugi turned to give his dark side a tiny smile. He saw the grief etched into Yami's usually stoic features. "What about you?"

The spike haired Spirit shrugged. "We'll all recover from this," he replied softly. His eyes closed briefly, trying to damn up the emotions threatening to drag him under. "If you need me, I'll be in the Puzzle."

"Oh... Okay."

Once in the safety of his ancient artifact, Yami sat down heavily, drawing his knees to his chest. He set up barriers he knew his protective light couldn't break through, setting his arms on his knees. The Egyptian sighed, thin tears trailing down his cheeks.

Ryou's death had crushed Yami completely. Not only had he grown attached to the gentle mannered hikari, but he had, like it or not, been in love with the youth's unhinged dark side, Bakura. Of all the memories the Pharaoh retained, the scant ones of his times with the tomb robber in Egypt were the brightest.

He had plans to amend whatever rift there was between himself and Bakura, try to rebuild what they once possessed. But, with Ryou's passing, all hopes of doing so died with him. Undoubtedly, this was the worst punishment for the monarch, bar none.

Yami sighed, wiping his eyes against his jacket sleeve. Amethyst eyes roamed around the deserted room filled with innumerable, deadly traps, suddenly narrowing. One particular trap, so blatantly obvious someone could miss it looked like it had been sprung and sloppily reset. What in the hell...?

The Pharaoh got to his feet, venturing toward the trap. He circled the area of bricks, a look of confusion splintering the mask of grief. Who could have entered my soul room without me or Yugi knowing? He examined the hastily reset trap. Whoever it was certainly didn't expect me to find their mistake.

The bricks, which were supposed to be ever so slightly spaced from one another and set horizontally, was now extremely close together and placed vertically. Yami almost had to laugh at the idiocy of the mistake. It didn't worry him that someone had been in his soul room, figuring that Yugi had ventured in as he did so many times before and tried to cover up his tracks.

I should really warn him not to go in here though. He could get hurt one day. Yami sighed and pulled the bricks up, putting them back in their place with all the care of someone handling spun glass. As the ancient Egyptian set the last brick in place though, he heard a strange sound reminiscent of growling.

What now? Yami climbed to his feet, and stripped his jacket off, leaving it lying over the trap he had just reassembled. He heard the sound again, followed by muted mumbling. Now the former monarch was worried. As he ventured into the deeper parts of his mind, the sound increased in decibel. "Who's there?" he called out.

Only a slight echo and another growl answered him. Yami continued forward, noting that it was getting increasingly darker as he went. This isn't right. I know my soul room is riddled with traps, but it's never this shadowed. He continued the trek forward, following the noise until it led him to the one room filled with ancient Duel Monster carvings.

The growling and mumbling were at it's loudest in the pitch-black corridor and the softer sound of even breathing joined it. Yami passed the carving the Dark Magician, wondering if his mind was as safe as he thought when he was presented with no resistance.

"M'wanta cream...puff..." The completely ridiculous statement was followed by another growl, that by now, Yami had identified as snoring.

The guardian of the Puzzle raised a thin eyebrow, biting back a chuckle. Whoever was in his soul room obviously didn't intend on being caught by him either. He ventured past the carvings the Mystical Elf and Red-Eyes Black Dragon, not missing a small, yet dim light shining in the darkness ahead. Yami picked up his pace, being careful to avoid his own traps as he came to the carving of the Lady of Faith. The small light peeked from the edges of the stone and a pair of black sneakers stuck out from the right side.

Yami crossed his arms, trying to figure out how he should feel about the whole situation. Fortunately for whoever had intruded upon the former Pharaoh's soul room, he was more amused then anything. Yami silenced his mirth for the time being and stepped over the sneaker-covered feet.

Suddenly, the Spirit's amusement dropped away as he got the largest shock of his afterlife.