Title: The Darkness of Noon

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Everyone thought Bakura's younger sister died accidentally years ago, only. . . it wasn't an accident. Now she only appears to Téa. . . which unfortunately sets her in the sights of Amane's killer. To make matter worse, Marik seems suspiciously protective of the teen dancer.

Author: Adelianna

Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh or any of its affiliates. I do, however, own any characters not mentioned on the show or manga.

The blazing sun had recently set, casting amethyst velvet across the pitch-black night sky of Domino City. Stores and restaurants cast a dim yellow glow to the outside world with neon signs blazing brightly, attempting to attract customers. A few cars drove every now and then down the street, headlights slicing though the ebony darkness.

Next to the city, the unmerciful Pacific Ocean lapped gently against the beach, the lights of Domino reflecting like a pouch of multicolored jewels spilled onto the dark sapphire of the sea, while overhead the satin onyx sky was studded with diamond like stars.

The smell of food drifted lazily throughout the street of Port Avenue, the aroma emitting from the Little Bit of Domino Café. In the shadows of night, the chipped paint of the restaurant barely showed, as did the broken bottles that littered the ground. An air of imposing darkness surrounded the eatery, as though urging the passerby to take refuge into the warmth and brightness of the café.

Téa sighed softly as she gave herself a cursory glance in the restaurant's bathroom mirror, attempting to wipe clean the stain that marked her white blouse. The wet tissue crumpled apart as she rubbed it against her shirt, causing her to groan loudly. Throwing the torn Kleenex into the trash can in frustration, the girl ran a hand through shoulder length chestnut hair, adjusting the short purple skirt of her uniform.

This time examining her appearance lengthily in the reflective glass with cerulean eyes the color of the ocean, Téa barely noticed the soft hum of country music playing in the background. She wore little makeup, just some pink rouge to give her wan cheeks life, matching glittery eyeshadow shining in the bright light of the lavatory.

"Gardner!" a horse voice overcame the music, causing the girl in question to jerk her head toward the exit of the restroom. "Customer!" Sighing again, Téa walked out of the facility, meeting the gray eyes of the manager. "He's waiting," she snapped, black crewcut hair falling over the manager's forehead, thick eyebrows enhancing her cold stare.

"Yes, Mrs. Grastricten," Téa replied, beginning to walk toward the dining area of the restaurant.

The administrator's grunt halted the teen in her tracks. "Your pay will be deducted."

Téa twirled around. "What?!"

Grastricten smiled, sharp teeth revealing behind thin lips, giving her the appearance of a vampire. Her large cream-colored blouse barely fitted the woman's obese form, black skirt crunched up around one end. "You young girls think your whole life is perfect, that everyone will make allowances and overlook lack of work. Well, I'm not one of those people, Gardner, and your time pruning in the bathroom is time away from your job."

Téa narrowed her eyes, about to defend herself when her manager again interrupted her. "Now, if you don't get your lazy butt to that customer, I'll deduct more money. Now move!"

The teen girl turned away, anger burning a slow flame in the pit of her stomach as she headed for the client. Attempting to take her mind off Grastricten, Téa imagined what the customer looked like. It was a game she played with herself, fancying how the person's features appeared before meeting them. More often than not, she ended up incorrect, and this time was no different. Let's see. Perhaps brown hair and . . . green eyes? Téa thought, rounding the corner and glimpsing at the consumer.

She gasped. "Marik?"

The sandy blonde Egyptian raised his head, and ceased fiddling with his keys on the restaurants checkered clothed table. A slow smile spread across his lips, as he cocked his head sideways. "Hello Téa."

Marik's blond bangs skimmed lightly in front of his enigmatic lavender eyes, his layered platinum-blonde hair falling in clumps around his shoulders. Beneath a shirt blacker than midnight, a beige khaki pants enhanced his tan skin, as his customary gold jewelry glittered in the light of the restaurant.

"What are you doing here this time of night?" She put a slender hand on her hip as she said this, feeling her stomach begin to flutter.

Marik chuckled. "Why else?" he stated, looking pointedly at the kitchen revealed toward the back of the store. "Ishizu may have many talents, but cooking isn't among them."

The restaurant was homey as well as medium sized, the darkness transforming the windows along the walls into reflective glass. Small flowers of various shapes made up the wallpaper of the café, the beige tile floors showing dirty footprints. The dining tables were spread out, fans revolving slowly overhead as scents of food wafted throughout the eatery. The kitchen was in plain sight, revealing metal cabinets and huge stoves as a man in a white apron glared warily at the Egyptian, impatient for him to order.

Téa laughed softly, the serene sound spreading like a blanket over the café. "Well then, let me get a menu and you can pick something." The girl returned shortly and placed the carte on the table. She didn't need to retrieve a menu since the Egyptian ordered the same thing each visit, but Grastricten previously yelled at her for 'neglecting her duty', as the obese woman eloquently put it.

Marik smiled up at her. "Do it. I'll give you a tip."

Rosy pink hues highlighted the girl's cheeks as she blushed. "Marik . . . "

The Egyptian boy continued to smirk gently. "Do it."

Téa sighed, digging into her pocket and rummaging past keys and lip chap for an item. Finding it, she placed the crimson clown nose upon her own and gave a happy-go-lucky grin. "Welcome to Little Bit of Domino Café where we have anything and everything your tastes buds want." She gave the nose a little honk. "Your heart will leave here happy and light and your stomach full."

Marik burst into a fit of chuckles as Téa glared at him and removed the fake nose from her face.

"I hope you get paid extra for that," he gasped, still chortling.

It was on the tip of the girl's tongue to tell Marik that Grastricten planned to dock her pay, but decided against it. Her manager might fire her if the Egyptian confronted the obese woman, and Téa needed the money to pay off her newly acquired car. Biting her bottom lip in frustration, and twiddling her silver bracelet between fingers out of habit, the girl again asked Marik what he wanted.

"The same as always," he replied, not bothering looking at the menu. "Glass of water and a vegetable salad."

"Any meat with that?" Téa joked, knowing full well her friend was a vegetarian.

Marik lifted an eyebrow at her.

"C'mon. Meat has good protein."

"So do insects, but I doubt you consume them."

Téa shuddered. "Eew. Gross!"

Marik smiled and nodded, satisfied at crossing swords with the girl and winning. "Have you completed all your tasks for the night?"

The teen girl rolled her eyes to the side, pondering. "I think so. I mostly did everything, but the Wicked Witch will probably find something else for me to do." She made a face.

"Well . . . I wouldn't mind some company. I feel conspicuous, being the only one currently dining." He glanced around the almost empty room, devoid of Diners.

"Um . . . maybe." She nervously placed her chestnut hair behind an ear. "If Grastricten finds out . . . "

"Don't worry. The customer is always right, correct?" A dimple formed in his left cheek as he smiled pleadingly, eyes wavering softly.

Téa's sapphire eyes narrowed dangerously. "Ishizu and Rishid spoiled you as a child, didn't they?" she joked.

"Perhaps. They gave me everything within their power, except the world, of course." Marik's amethyst orbs seemed to look through Téa, as though he were in another universe as his smile fluctuated, transforming into a frown. The boy sighed as he looked down at his hands, staring at them with a look akin to hatred.

"Marik . . . " Téa hesitated, and then pulled up a chair and sat next to him. Placing a pale hand upon his darkly tanned one, she tried to soothe him. "It's in the past, Marik. You have to let go."

The Egyptian suddenly grasped her small hand, looking into her startled eyes. "I killed, Téa. I murdered with these hands."

"It wasn't you who killed your father—"

"I'm not talking about my father!" he practically yelled, causing Téa to flinch. "I killed people to satisfy my dark desires, or to make examples of them. I wanted to murder Yami . . . I-I almost killed you," Marik said more quietly. "I don't deserve your trust or friendship." He released her hand and turned away, staring at a withering yellow plant next to the exit.

Sadness and frustration rose within Téa as Marik turned his back on her. "Don't you dare block me out, Marik Namu Ishtar!" She grasped the sides of his warm face and jerked his head toward her. She stared directly into his shocked eyes. "Yes you killed. Your Rare Hunters were criminals as well who would do mostly anything to make a profit. That's no excuse, though, for taking a life. But you have been through what would almost qualify as hell, Marik Ishtar. Wallowing in self-pity won't help them. Grieve and honor them, then, but don't you dare use them as an excuse to pity yourself!"

Marik growled and yanked his head back from Téa, glaring at her. "I would grieve for them if I could. But I can't! My heart has been hardened for so long I almost believe it's impossible for me to perceive any kind of emotion at all."

Téa's eyes softened slightly. "Marik . . . " She embraced him in a warm hug, his head nestled in her bosom. "Shh, it's okay."

The Egyptian stiffened, but then relaxed. "I'm not a child, Téa," he whispered hoarsely. Her warmth flooded through him, allowing him to feel unstrained.

"I know Marik. I find it impossible to believe you can't feel anything."

Marik stiffened again, hesitating somewhat. "That's because I'm with you." He raised his head, staring into her startled azure eyes. "When you are around me, I feel complete . . . whole, as though I'm human."

Surprise rose in great tides through Téa's body, enveloping her in uncertainty. The Egyptian rose a hand and gently stroked the side of her face, causing her to shiver. The girl found herself leaning into his hand as Marik's head came closer, his full lips hovering over her pouty ones, threatening to make contact.

Forbidden, visions of Yami rose in Téa's mind, filling her with shame. His crimson eyes boring into hers, as a confident smile played upon his lips. Conflicting emotions battled within her heart, causing Téa to jerk her head away from Marik. The Egyptian's eyes widened and filled with disappointment.

"Marik . . . I-I can't . . . "

The boy shook his head and turned away. "I apologize. I shouldn't have tried to take advantage of you."

"No. . . . Marik."

"Why?" he asked. "I'm curious. Is it because of Yami?" He looked at the girl as her cheeks flushed red.

"Never mind," he said quietly before Téa's mind fumbled together an answer. "I know the truth."

"Ms. Gardner!" a harsh voice suddenly shouted, interrupting their intimate conversation. "What in the seven hells are you doing?"

Téa blinked, then turned around quickly and stood up. "I was just . . . recommending dishes to him, Mrs. Grastricten."

The manager's face was becoming crimson, as though an artery threatened to burst. "You think I'm an idiot, don't you? I'm smarter than you, which isn't a great feat. Now get your butt over to the kitchen and stop flirting like a mindless whore."

The teen girl stood shocked into silence. Black hatred she never knew previously began to spread across her heart, binding itself tight.

Marik reacted first, though. He stood swiftly up, glaring daggers at the obese woman. "Excuse me?" He said through gritted teeth.

Grastricten took a step backward, gazing up at him. But then her lip curled as maliciousness crossed her features. "You've been here almost twice a week since little miss perfect started workin' here. If you want to get laid, I'm sure there are other prostitutes besides this stupid bimbo that you can sleep with."

Téa's eyes stung as she tasted bile in her throat from the remark, resentment of Grastricten rising with the foul taste. Glancing sideways at Marik, the girl saw he quivered with rage, hands clenching tightly so that his veins created aqua spider webs on his fists. The expression he currently wore on his face reminded Téa of how he looked at his evil other half. Not wanting him to do anything reckless that would have negative repercussions later, Téa placed a hand on Marik's arm to relax him. "C'mon, let's go."

She looped her arm around his, and attempted to drag him to the exit. Marik wouldn't budge until Téa scowled at him, and then he reluctantly—still glaring at the obese woman—allowed himself to be pulled away.

As they left, they heard Grastricten shrill after them, "leave then. It's not like anyone will care or miss you." It was shrieked in a bubbly prep voice, as though to mock Téa.

The door banged shut with a note of finality, as the cold night air slapped the teens' faces. Téa's lungs burned as her throat closed, unwilling to let the unshed tears fall. She wouldn't give Grastricten the satisfaction.

"Téa . . . " she heard Marik say, looking at her apprehensively.

The teen girl chuckled, shaking her head while rubbing her eyes, feeling moisture wet her fingers. "I was going to quit anyway. I guess this way is faster."

Marik pursed his lips. A tall streetlight illuminated his face, giving him a ghostlike appearance. The stars shimmered high overhead, drifting lazily in the black sky. The moon cast an eery glow across the land, reflecting off the teens' vehicles that were parked right next to each other outside the café.

"What are you going to do, then," asked Marik quietly, beginning to walk over to Téa's yellow Volkswagen Beetle, the night transforming the color into a light brown as shadows played across the smooth windshield. "You still owe money on this thing, right?"

Téa followed him, sniffling quietly. "Yeah."

"Do you have any other jobs in mind?" he inquired.

"No. My old job, Burger World, found out I lied about my age, and all the other times I applied for a job, the lie came back to haunt me. The Wicked Witch was the only one who hired me, probably to torment me, and now . . . now." She couldn't help it. Tears bursted forth like water breaking through a dam, spilling like pearls onto the ground. "N-No one will hire me, and now they'll repossess the car, and m-my parents will be furious." Téa covered her cerulean eyes. Shame erupted in great tides throughout her body, only causing her to weep more. She looked like the weight of the world was planted squarely on her thin, trembling shoulders.

Téa soon became aware that a hand placed itself upon her arm, cautiously at first and then—as if the person was becoming more sure of himself—began to rub her shoulder soothingly, the second hand following its counterpart's movement on her other one.

The girl stiffened, but then fell into Marik's embrace from behind as he continued massaging her shoulders, comforting her. "I heard Ishizu mention she needed someone at the museum. Perhaps you would like to apply there? You would get the position."

Téa twirled around, feeling his hands behind her back as she stared into his amethyst orbs. "You mean it?"

Marik chuckled. "Of course." He loved the way the moonlight danced upon her face, her hair shimmering in the light as she laughed, tears still streaming a river down her face.

He was taken unaware has she hugged him, nuzzling her face into his broad chest. "Thank you Marik. You're such a good friend."

The Egyptian's wonderful feelings came crumbling down into disappointment. "Only a friend?" He felt Téa stiffen again. Sighing, he released her. "Let's go home. It's late."

She nodded, smiling somewhat as she wiped away tears. "You must think I'm such a baby," Téa whispered.

"Not at all," answered Marik, beginning to fasten a gray helmet upon his sandy colored hair. "Everyone has moments of weakness, even the bravest of men. It takes an audacious soul to admit impotence and fright, rather than containing the emotions."

Téa took silver keys out of her pocket and fastened the biggest silver one into her car door. "Thanks Marik." She glanced at him as he straddled his crimson motorcycle.

He nodded. "If you don't mind, I wish to accompany you home."

"Why?" Téa frowned.

Marik shrugged. "You bought the car from a shady used car dealership. It might break down. Plus, I'll feel relieved knowing you are safe and sound at your home."

"Won't your sister be worried about you, though? And it wasn't shady."

The Egyptian gave a slight shake of his head. "She's working late tonight. She won't know."

"Oh . . . all right then. If you want to. You better hope she's working late. I always wanted siblings, and if I were her I would seriously ground you."

Marik smiled. "I would punish myself also. I'm sorry. . . that you are an only child for you obviously don't want to be."

She smiled weakly. "It's all right. You know, Bakura said the same thing to me years ago. . . I later found out he had a sister who died in a car crash. And to think, I made him remember. . ."

Before Marik could reply, she wiped away newly sprung tears, climbed in the car and placed the keys in the ignition, starting the motor. Téa felt relaxed as the smooth movement of the vehicle vibrated beneath her fingers, running through her veins and healing her despair. She felt sure of herself when she was behind the wheel. It was one thing Téa could be in control of in her life. The thought of losing her Volkswagen Beetle sent shivers down her spine.

Hesitating slightly, Téa treated Marik with a huge smile. "Thank you," she said before she shut the car door. Placing the shift into reverse, she began her long drive home.

The road they traveled was all but deserted. Shadows frolicked swiftly across the road, disappearing as the vehicles headlights illuminated them. Marik kept at a steady pace behind her, the loud roar of the motorcycle playing music for them.

Téa suddenly gasped and clutched her chest with one hand. Her heart felt cold, as though a freezing fist curled its fingers around her blood pumping organ. Dizziness swarmed in great waves through her head, swarming like bees and roaring so loudly in her mind that she cried out.

"It wasn't fair . . . It wasn't right. . . . Dead . . . I'm dead. DEAD!"

Téa couldn't discern the source of the shrieking, watery voice, clutching her head as waves of excruciating pain rolled through her. Next, for what could have been no more than split seconds, Téa stared into terror filled eyes as the body of a small girl slammed onto the windshield of the Beatle. Then the glass splintered into a crazed, opaque spider web pattern, and the horrified face was gone.

Adelianna: Thank you for reading my story. Have a good day everyone, and God bless! Also, please review, if it's not asking for much. It took me hours to write this, and all I'm asking for is a minute or less review. It doesn't take that long to leave reviews. Well, thank you!