If This Is Monday, Then I Must Be In School – Or Hell

School sucked.

Or at least that was the conclusion Malik Ishtar had come to by the time the bell rang for lunch. The only people he knew at this school fell into one of five camps: A) they were scared of him, B) they hated him, C) they thought he was insane, D) any two of the above, or E) all of the above.

Actually, he was pretty sure Yugi Moto and his friends all fell into the 'E' category. Yami wasn't scared of him, since he and Yugi knew he wasn't insane anymore – but for all intents and purposes, he wasn't going to be making friends with them any time soon.

Forget about making friends; he just hoped he could make it through the rest of the day without getting sent to the Shadow Realm – again – getting Mind-Crushed – again – or both.


Sighing and grabbing his books, Malik slipped out of the classroom and headed for his locker. It wasn't really school itself that was bad – some of the things he'd learned in his history class were fascinating, and he'd been able to sign up for Auto Shop in the afternoon, which he thought would be pretty cool – but those kids…

You'd think being sent the Shadow Realm and Mind-Crushed would be punishment enough, Malik reflected, looking at the little sheet of paper with his locker combination on it as he tried to remember how many Ra-damned spins went between each number. I am grateful – though I'll never admit it – for what the Pharaoh did. Having him Mind-Crush the evil out of both me and Marik and then put our souls back together was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. But why do they all still hate me? I admit, I'm not exactly a nice guy, but it was Marik who was actively homicidal, Marik who tried to kill them, Marik who had an obsession with being Pharaoh…

Though since technically Marik was a part of me, albeit the dark side, maybe they are right to be afraid, he admitted silently.

Having finally managed to get his Ra-be-damned locker to open, Malik shoved his morning class books inside and grabbed his lunch sack, thankful he knew ahead of time about the lack of vegetarian options in the school cafeteria. Bad enough Isis had decided they were to stay in Japan where everyone ate dishes with raw meat and fish in them – and if you were going to eat meat, which he never planned on doing, why couldn't you at least cook it first? – but she'd also decided that he needed to go to school.

Apparently, a high school diploma was a must for getting a good job in this world. Who knew?

Grabbing the novel he'd been reading and his math book so he could brush up on his algebra, Malik headed down the hall towards the school cafeteria. He was pretty sure he had the right direction, since everyone else seemed to be heading there. He ignored the curious stares as he walked by – Ra, he knew he wasn't the only person at this school who wore jewelry, not even the only guy, and Duke Devlin wore eyeliner for Ra's sake – and finally made it to the lunchroom.

Standing by the doorway, Malik scanned the cafeteria for a place to sit. All the tables were pretty much full, but he did spy one table with only one occupant. Upon closer examination, the student playing 'No man is an island' and typing on a laptop proved to be Seto Kaiba.

Well, he had two options: try to find another place to sit – which would most likely prove impossible what with the lack of free seats – or hope that Kaiba wouldn't make a scene if he sat down at the other end of the CEO's table.

Decision made – since when the hell did he care what people thought of him anyway? – Malik skirted around the edge of the room, pointedly not going near the table where Yugi and his friends (or as he'd dubbed them, the 'Friendship Cult') were sitting, and soon arrived at the end of the table opposite from Kaiba.

The brunet didn't so much as flick a glance his way, but Malik knew that he'd been seen. Figuring it was best to err on the side of caution, Malik asked in a bored tone, "Mind if I sit here?"

Kaiba did deign to look at him as he answered. "As long as you don't try and involve me in any trivial conversation, you can do whatever you want," he said coolly.

Malik smirked and plopped down across the table, three chairs down from the CEO. "Whatever," he said. Placing his lunch on the table, he removed his salad and carton of milk from the insulated interior and, opening his novel to where he'd left off, proceeded to read. One hand picked up his plastic fork and dug into his lunch while his eyes scanned the pages of his book avidly.

Ten minutes later, he'd finished his lunch and the tenth chapter in his book. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles' by Patricia C. Wrede were actually pretty interesting, even if they were written for the adolescent crowd. Actually, especially since they were geared for younger readers; it was nice to read something where the bad guys weren't particularly evil and always lost, the good guys weren't always nice, but they did always win, and there wasn't a lot of violence involved.

Unlike his life.

Plus, Wrede's brand of humor had him almost laughing out loud at several points. He didn't laugh all that much, so he considered this a good selling point.

Sighing regretfully, he realized he needed to spend the rest of the lunch period studying. Tucking his bookmark back between the pages, he put his Tupperware salad container back in his lunch sack and got out his math book. Living underground had, while giving him a unique appreciation for history, and untold knowledge of dead languages, also severely stunted his education in other areas, mathematics being one of them. Thankfully he'd learned the use of the number zero, but otherwise he'd only learned rudimentary arithmetic…and he didn't think he'd ever understand what letters had to do with math.

Textbooks, unlike fictional fantasy novels, were not as engrossing as the latter. Malik had been able to tune out most of the sounds around him while he was eating since he was so involved in 'Calling on Dragons' but now that he was trying to study, a rather repetitive tapping sound kept intruding on his thoughts. Thinking that if he figured out what was making that irritating irregular clicking sound he might be able to ignore it, Malik looked up from his book and scanned the lunchroom.

Left to right, even studying the table full of the Pharaoh's fan club – who, he noticed with amusement, kept sending him wary looks – but by the time he'd made it back to the other end of his table, he still hadn't found the origin of the noise. Then he noticed Kaiba's laptop – and the fact that the clicking noises corresponded to Kaiba's fingers typing on the keys.

Well, I don't really think 'Could you type softer?' qualifies as trivial conversation, but since I don't think he can type softer, I'll live with it. With that decided, he looked back down at his math book and tried to tune out the clicking sounds.

Five minutes later he'd just about given up studying and decided to head for the library – surely it would be quieter there – when he realized that the sporadic rhythmic clicking sounds of the computer keys were actually helping him think. Mentally shrugging at this idiosyncrasy, he immersed himself in his math book and didn't surface until the warning bell rang.

Gathering his books together, he grabbed his lunch sack and threw his milk carton and fork in a nearby garbage on his way out the door. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Kaiba stowing his laptop away in his ever-present silver briefcase and by accident, definitely not design, they ended up exiting the cafeteria at pretty much the same time. At the doorway they parted ways, and Malik headed for his locker to put his lunch sack away and grab his afternoon books.

As he slammed his locker door behind him and headed for the dreaded Math class, he thought, Over halfway through the day; only three more classes. And no one's tried to kill me yet. School may suck, but at least it's not as bad as I feared…

Day two of his high school career dawned just as wet, gray and dismal as the previous day. Which meant that, once again, the entire student body was crammed inside the cafeteria. Normally, quite a few of the students would head outside to the picnic tables, but what with the liquid canines and felines descending from the heavens, that wasn't an option.

Again, Kaiba was the lone occupant of the only mostly-free table. Malik wondered why it was that no one dared sit with him – he'd noticed a few people in his classes the previous afternoon giving him looks, and while at the time he'd thought it was because of his jewelry, maybe it had to do with that fact that no one else had the balls to approach Kaiba – after all, as long as you didn't talk to him, apparently, he had no problem sharing a table with you.

Maybe I'm just the first person to try? Malik thought as he again took a seat three chairs down and across the table from Kaiba, this time without asking permission first. He felt Kaiba's penetrating gaze rest on him for a moment, but the other boy didn't say anything.

He'd packed himself two sandwiches today, but other than that lunch went pretty much the same. He read another chapter in his book while he ate, and then started studying again. Math class hadn't been as hard as he'd feared – especially since none of the Friendship Cult were in his class – but he still didn't completely get it, so this lunch period ended up being an almost exact repeat of the previous days', only he didn't have to look for the source of the annoying clicking sound.

The bell rang, and as he gathered his things in preparation for leaving, he breathed another sigh of relief that his second day was half-over. And, again, he hadn't gotten into any fights. Most likely that had to do with the fact that he'd been enrolled as a senior in the school and the Friendship Cult was a year behind him, so they had almost no classes together, and thus, didn't see each other much.

Maybe, he thought in a rare burst of optimism, if he just took things one day at a time, he could manage to make it through the school year without being sent to the Shadow Realm…or detention.

A frown crossed his lips along with his next thought, which thrust him back into his normal pessimistic frame of mind.

Two days, or even two weeks without screwing up was one thing. But he had a little more than seven months left to get through before he'd graduate.

Ra, he'd need the luck of a thousand rabbit's feet to keep this up.