Fate: Took me long enough, didn't it?

Disclaimer: Not. Ours. Not even the Othello reference, though that's kind of public property.

He turns the page. His darker half is curled up in the bed, sheets tangled around his form, eyes closed, bare skin punctuated by scratches. Most are self-inflicted. Some aren't.

The candlelight flickers on his skin, turning it from russet tan to gold. His eyes deepen to red in the murky light. He doesn't know the transformation happened.

Another page turns. His shirt is off, shredded on the floor during a nightmare. He left bloody tracks on his chest from where he tore at his heart. The tattoos are exposed for all to see, if they so choose.

But the door is locked and Isis is asleep, with Rishid off mending all the ills his beloved master has done.

And the spirit of the Rod sleeps fitfully in a tangle of sheets, needy and confused and wanting. So destructive and insane, yet childlike and confused. A paradox, and a violent one.

In the dark of the night, when shadows lurk and monsters crawl out from under the bed, no one is there to see Malik Ishtar crying into the pages of a book.

No one is there to tell him that everything will be all right. No one is there to lie.

Everything will not be all right.

The ache and the burn is there, the tears making his lashes cling in soaking points. The light reflects under his eyes and off his smeared eyeliner, almost eradicating the dark circles under his pale eyes.

He slowly drags his fingers through the blonde hair cascading over his shoulders, tugging it away from the cuts and ripping some of the clots loose by accident.

He crawls over to the bed, clutching the book to his bare, bleeding chest, and falls in a heap before it, a suppliant at a rumpled altar.

"I failed...Father, I failed..." he breathes, his voice thick with disuse, the language fading from Japanese to Arabic to a tongue long dead. "Failed...failed...failed..."

One red eye slides open, then another.

"You named me 'master'...and I'm nothing but a slave," he says, his speech dissolving into sobs. "I couldn't be a master, couldn't be a god...couldn't be anything but a slave..."

"Do you regret me so much?" Sleepily blinking in the flickering light, the catlike bones standing out in his face.

Malik looks up, his eyes wide and panicked. "You're awake?"

"Mmm." It's almost a purr, almost a growl. The blonde on the floor doesn't know what to do. What to think.

Usually he doesn't have to try.

"What did you save me for?" Malik asks, reaching for his darker almost blindly.

Marik looks at him wordlessly, a smile playing across his face.

"Why?" Malik sits up, pulling his knees up to hide the book clutched to his chest. "I don't understand..."

"Should you?" Marik pulls himself a little closer to the edge of the bed, and Malik moves a little farther away.

Marik smiles even more widely.

"You stole me from one master only to make me your own slave," Malik whispers. "He named me Malik, and you let me keep my name...you altered it to suit yourself, but you let me keep it. But neither of you ever intended to let me live up to it."

Marik inches forwards again. "Don't move," he breathes as Malik's muscles tense. "You're running from me."

"Why shouldn't I?" Malik asks. "You just want to enslave me."

"Do I?" Marik's eyes shine in the candlelight.

Malik's legs fall back to the ground helplessly, the book slipping onto the rug.

"Do you hate me?" Malik inquires.

"You desire so many answers," Marik replies. "Master," he adds as an afterthought, his eyelids lowered.

Malik stiffens and looks away wordlessly, reaching for the book on the ground.

One hand snakes down to touch his wrist. "Ah ah ah..." Malik glances up sharply to meet Marik's eyes. "And what are you doing now?"

Malik's breath catches.

"The Book of the Dead?" Marik inquires softly. "Interesting choice of reading, my...light."

"A book of death..." Malik muses, tracing the embossed cover lightly. "Why do you find it so interesting that I read it?"

"Mmm...what do you think?" That seductive, catlike smile is still on Marik's face.

"What do you want from me?" Malik's eyes are wide and his voice strained, nearly paralyzed by the sight of Marik lounging on the edge of the bed.

"Everything," Marik says suddenly, climbing down off the bed and languidly sitting between the headboard and the half-crying blonde. "I want everything. The world. Hell. Heaven. You."

"I hate you." There is no conviction in the words, no power there.

The blinding hatred that created the smiling, red-eyed figure in front of him is as dead as his soul.

"You don't hate me." Smirk. "You couldn't feel a thing if you tried."

Tears slide down along Malik's cheekbones numbly once more. "When you devoured my emotions, did you like the way they tasted?"

Marik's eyes fly wide at this question, his easy confidence shattered momentarily. "I...devoured?"

Malik flinches away, waiting for the impact of a hand or the candle or the Rod.

"You can't even bear to look on me?" Marik slowly reaches out, touching the tears with curious fingers. "You cry because of me now?"

Malik tenses as the fingers wander down to his neck and over to one shoulder. He slowly opens one eye, then the other. "There's no 'because' when you're empty inside and out," he tells Marik. "Deny thy father and refuse thy name. The minute I created you, I lost everything. I tried to save myself, but I destroyed myself instead. You're not to blame. I'm to blame. You...you're not even human. You never were."

Marik shoves him to the floor, slithering to crawl on top of him, pinning Malik with the ease of feverish rage. "Are you saying I'm nothing?"

"I can't blame my imaginary friends for anything," Malik whispers. "Da never believed me, even though Isis did...Isis loved me..."

Marik lowers his face to hover over Malik's, their noses touching lightly. "I. Am. Real!"

"But I'm not." Malik smiles. "Not anymore."

Marik's teeth clench. "Deny yourself and you deny me."

"Prove that I'm real." Malik's eyes slide shut. "Prove that there's something left for you to take."

Malik's eyes fly open when Marik bites his lower lip, working down to his throat with teeth and tongue. "Can you feel this?" Teeth along his collarbone, blood running from his lips. "Can you feel anything?"

"You're...asking me...for humanity?" Malik's eyes drift shut. "You're asking me to be human for you."

Marik makes a noise that would, in a different creature, be a gasp. "Y-you..." His eyes squeeze shut, then he moves back to Malik's face, licking at the bite mark with his eyes closed, blindly seeking sensation. "You...are..."

Malik can't speak. His eyes slide back open slightly, reaching up to push Marik away. "I'm dead."


"You can't bring me back," Malik breathes.

Marik's eyes open again as he hovers over Malik. "You'll not die until I let you." One hand blindly slides around Malik's shoulders as he flips them over, tangling his legs into the smaller boy's and licking the bite mark on his lips again. "Never die...never decay inside...never leave me stranded here..."

Lips on lips, someone's tongue in your mouth, it's not romantic or loving but it's possessive and lustful and melting what's left of your heart.

Marik's fingers touch hot wax, then cover the wick without any trace of feeling the burn.

One becomes two, oh so briefly.

"Put out the light..."

Lips meet again.

And put out the light...

Fluffy: It's a little shorter than you're used to from us, but it's a lot denser...and we're not going to tack on more for the sake of making it longer. Sorry. Visualize what they're doing in the dark. Draw fanart of what goes on in the dark. Go forth and be happy.

Oh, and EDIT, EDIT: You all need to reread Othello, dear podlings. "Put out the light and put out the light" is what Othello says when he's about to strangle Desdemona.

Duel: Hi. Review. Nyaaa.