If I'm Not Already Crazy, Then I Must Be In Love
The next few months passed by in a blur of laughter, tears, fun, getting-to-know-you type activities, family dinners – both Malik's and Seto's, and it didn't surprise Malik at all that his sister had taken to Mokuba so quickly. Isis had always been a nurturer at heart – shared books, shared life stories…
Shared bodies, and hearts. And dare he even think it? Shared souls…
Malik had never felt so close to anyone as he did to Seto. And it wasn't just the physical closeness – though sex was just as wonderful as his sister's favored sappy romance movies made it out to be – but the mental closeness. He'd read somewhere that the word 'intimacy' originally came from the Latin word meaning 'lack of fear'.
He thought it fitting, especially since it was oh-so-very true in his and Seto's relationship. Malik never felt safer than when he was with Seto. Nightmares came infrequently when he dozed in the brunet's arms, and even when Seto convinced him to watch a horror movie marathon on late night television, he wasn't scared of the televised terrors.
As long as Seto held him in his warm embrace.
And though Seto never said anything, he was pretty sure the brunet felt the same way.
"We should do this more often," Malik said, a sleepy, happy smile on his lips.
"No way. Experimental sex is for the weekends, when I have at least a forty-eight hour window in which to recover from whatever you've put me through," Seto said tiredly, leaning back against his pillow and massaging his wrist where the faint red marks of silk scarves still lingered.
Not that it hadn't been fun, but bondage was physically draining in more than one way, Seto thought with a small smirk.
"Aw, you know you like it," Malik teased.
Seto just smirked, rolling his eyes.
"We could just skip school," Malik suggested, one hand creeping out from under the covers to rub soothing patterns on Seto's bare stomach. "That way we'd have more time to do…things."
Slanting his koi a look out of the corner of his eye, Seto drawled, "And what would you tell Isis?"
A panicked look entered Malik's eyes before vanishing as if it had never been. "I'd tell her that I skipped out of gym in order to get a more…vigorous workout," he quipped, leering at his lover's body beneath the only partially concealing sheet.
Seto snorted. "You're insatiable, Malik."
"I'm a teenager; what do you expect?" Malik said practically.
"Two more weeks," Malik said out of the blue, dropping down next to Seto on the bench outside of school the Monday following their little excursion into the realm of bondage.
"Until graduation?" Seto guessed correctly, turning to face his koi.
"Aa. I cannot wait to get out of this hideous torture known as high school." Malik shuddered mock-theatrically.
Seto smirked at the accurate description of their soon to be alma mater.
"I actually can't believe I lasted this long," Malik said in disbelief. "I thought for sure I would have gotten kicked out, suspended…or Ra, at least gotten a detention by now. Six months without causing trouble…that's practically unheard of for me." He shook his head and leaned back against one trenchcoat-draped shoulder.
Snorting, Seto turned to give Malik's head more support and said, "I'm sure if Domino High knew how much trouble you've caused previously in your life, they would have run screaming from you, and never let you enroll."
Malik shrugged laconically. "Either that or they'd have shot me on sight."
"Unless they were wooden bullets, I don't think they'd have done any good," Seto joked.
Turning his head, Malik smirked, baring the elongated canines that were one of the few physical remnants of his yami's possession – aside from slightly spikier hair and an extra inch of height – and drawled, "Heaven won't take me and hell is afraid I'll take over. The Powers That Be don't know how to classify me. Thus, I will never die, if only to save the deific bureaucrats from a mound of extra paperwork and red tape."
"Immortality isn't all it's cracked up to be," Seto cautioned, suppressed mirth making his cheeks bulge slightly.
"And don't I know it," Malik replied fervently.
Seto just shook his head and went back to holding up the wall.
"So," Malik drawled. "What do you want to do tonight, Brain?"
One brunet eyebrow quirked. "The same thing we do every night, Blondie," Seto replied dryly.
"Try to take over the world!" they chorused, before breaking out laughing.
"Oh, no," came the sound of a familiar British voice from behind them. "They've teamed up! We're doomed. Doomed, I say."
"FCF alert," Malik hissed out of the corner of his mouth as he scooted a polite distance away from the CEO. No need to let the friendship group know about their true relationship.
"Taylor," Seto said in agreement as said brunet walked up to them. "And the mutt," he said with a smirk as he saw Joey trailing along behind the other.
"And Téa, Yugi and Ryou," Malik added as he caught sight of the smarter half of the roving stupidity that was the FCF heading their way.
"What are you two doin' tagether?" Joey asked as he came to stop in front of the two lovers.
"Sitting on a bench," Malik quipped, leaning back on his spread palms.
Yugi rolled his eyes.
Eyes narrowing, Tristan said to the Egyptian, "You know what he means."
"Why doesn't the mutt just say what he means, then?" Malik asked pleasantly. "It's not all that hard to do. I'm sure even someone with his lack of mental capabilities could handle it."
"Here, I'll show you," Malik continued, ignoring both Wheeler's growing raging and Seto's growing mirth. "Joey, would you please leave? Note how precise and concise that phrasing was, instead of saying something like…oh…Wheeler, get the fuck out of here." All this was said with a polite, toothy smile on his face.
"Ishtar!" Joey roared, before he lunged.
And was stopped by a bladed golden staff in his path. The Millennium Rod's knife was extended and aimed at the blond's throat.
In order to get away from the threat to his jugular, Joey leaned back, leading with his neck, followed by his upper torso, and at the last, his feet. Without his feet under him to balance him, consequently, he overbalanced, and ended up flat on his back, the wind knocked out of him by his fall.
Téa and Ryou tried hard to hide their giggles at this so Joey-like demonstration of physical prowess. Tristan was a thunderstorm of murderous rage brewing in the background as helped his friend to his feet, and Yugi just sighed, knowing that no good could come from this. Antagonizing a Millennium Item holder was never a good idea.
Malik smirked, retracted the blade, tucked the Rod back in his jacket pocket and went back to leaning back on his hands. "Chaos, panic, disorder…my work here is done," he pronounced smugly.
Seto snorted, that spare, wry grin that Malik knew so well on his face; more a flash of sky-bright eyes than any motion of lips. "Sounds like my office when Mokuba's on a sugar high," he offered his first contribution to the conversation since its inception.
"Isn't he too old for that?" Malik asked curiously. Mokuba was twelve, almost thirteen, after all. Weren't sugar highs something that happened to really young children?
"It hasn't happened in almost three years – and I am extremely glad," Seto said fervently. "The last time it happened, I had to use a power cord to tie him to a chair just so he'd hold still long enough for me to finish my work without worrying he was going to break something."
"As interestin' as dis whole trip down memory lane is," Joey said, acting as if would have liked to add a loud 'NOT!' to the end. "Could we get back ta da matter at hand?" he inquired, belligerence dripping from every word.
"Which is?" Malik and Seto asked in unison, lavender and blue eyes blinking at Joey in feigned innocence.
Shaking his head at the cute yet…creepy image the duo presented, Joey demanded, not willing to be swayed from his course, "Why are you two so buddy-buddy all of a sudden?"
"We're friends, Wheeler. Surely that's a concept even someone with as little brain power as you possess can comprehend?" Seto quipped.
"Friends?" Joey squeaked. "You two?"
Téa raised one skeptical brunette brow; Tristan just looked pole-axed. Yugi and Ryou, for their part, just gave small, fleeting smiles and shook their heads in exasperation. They knew how much trouble those two could cause separately. How much worse would it be now that they'd combined forces?
"Yes, us two," Malik said irritatedly, glaring at the blond. "You have a problem with that, mutt?"
"You've been a bad influence on him, Kaiba," Tristan put in, coming out of his daze. "Ishtar was always screwy, but now he's picking up your insults."
"Malik is not 'screwy' as you put it, Taylor," Seto said, ice-blue gaze cutting ribbons through the other brunet.
"Well, now, I wouldn't say that…" Malik drawled teasingly, giving Seto a searing look out of the corner of his eye. A subtle smile tugged at his lips. "I have screwed up a few things in my day." Including you…three nights ago, Blue Eyes, the blond thought smugly.
Face flushing at the memories the Egyptian's words provoked, Seto responded, "And screwed down, too, I'm sure. Still…" He whirled on the other blond. "The mutt has no place to talk about someone else being weird."
Joey frowned, but said nothing.
"I'm weird and I admit it," Malik said blithely. The formerly repressed smile was now unleashed, pointed canines flashing in the fading sunlight. "But better weird than stupid." He slanted Joey a pointed glance.
Joey just growled and gnashed his teeth, but wisely refrained from attacking Malik again. "Never thought I'd see the day when Seto Kaiba would make friends with someone," he spat out. "Thought you said friendship was for losers, Moneybags."
"Your kind of friendship, anyway," Seto said tolerantly.
"Friendship is friendship, Kaiba," Téa said.
"People are unique individuals, Gardner," Malik said matter-of-factly. "And the relationships they form with each other are as well."
Stunned by the Egyptian's eloquence, the brunette couldn't think of anything to say to that. Malik was right.
"Anyway…" Yugi cut in, tugging Joey back from another confrontation. "I think it's time for us to go." Joey may be dense, but I for one know when I'm not needed, he thought.
"Yes, indeed," Ryou agreed, snagging Tristan and Téa. I'm glad for Malik, he thought. We weren't what he needed, but I've known for a long time that both of them needed a friend. Ironic – or maybe not so – that they found that friend in each other.
"See you at school tomorrow, guys," Yugi called. I wonder why we were all so surprised by their friendship? They eat lunch together every day.
Malik waved, biting down on the urge to stick his tongue out at the departing annoyances. "See you."
Seto just nodded in reply.
Once the group was out of sight, Malik heaved a sigh of relief and snuggled back up to his boyfriend. "That was close," he pronounced.
"You said it," Seto agreed.
"We should probably not be so 'friendly' on school grounds," Malik said reluctantly, making as if to remove himself from Seto's side.
"No one else is here," Seto argued, wrapping one arm around Malik's waist and tugging him closer. "Now that the FCF is gone, anyway."
Malik nodded in acceptance.
"Besides, like you said, it's only two weeks until school is over for good," Seto continued. "We won't see those losers all the time then."
"They're not all bad," Malik objected.
"They're not all good, either," Seto countered. "And Wheeler is an idiot."
Malik nodded, suppressing a smile. "He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death," he said contemplatively. "Or at least some time in the Shadow Realm. It would at least teach him the value of thinking before he opens his big mouth."
Seto snorted. "Indeed."
"You still planning to offer me a job after graduation if I haven't found anything?" Malik asked curiously.
"Why not?" Seto asked, pragmatic as always. "I can always use a good mechanic."
"Isis wants me to work with her at the museum," Malik told him.
"Doing what?" Seto asked, one brunet brow rising. "Cataloging old artifacts?"
"I think she said something about part-time security," Malik said smilingly. "Seems she thinks the Rod will be able to keep thieves away."
"Is that something you'd be interested in?" Seto asked curiously. He was always having problems finding people he could trust for his security details.
"Not full-time, no," Malik mused thoughtfully. "But in addition to something else…"
"You could work in the garage and on my security team in half-shifts," Seto offered.
"I might take you up on that," Malik said at last. "First, I should actually put some real effort into finding a job, though. I can't very well let you support me for the rest of my life." He rolled his eyes, tossing his platinum blond mane over one shoulder and snuggling closer to Seto.
Seto nodded; he could understand not wanting to be indebted to someone. Even someone to whom you were close. Even someone you trusted.
Even your lover.
Rather, especially your lover.
"Two weeks," Seto reflected. "And then we graduate and the world considers us adults." He smirked. "Or rather, the world considers you an adult. I've been an emancipated minor for the past four years."
Malik snorted. "Like I need a piece of paper to tell me I'm not a kid anymore? Civilization – bah."
"I agree. The need for paperwork has grown much too prevalent in today's society," Seto said complacently.
Silence reigned for long moments, before Malik heaved a sigh and pulled reluctantly away from his human pillow. "As wonderful as this is, we should probably go. I know you have work to do, and Isis made me promise to help her with some translations tonight."
"See you tomorrow?" Seto asked as they both rose from their bench.
"And every day after," Malik agreed amicably, preparing to leave.
Seto froze, stunned by those simply spoken words. What…? Reaching out, he stopped Malik just as he was slipping on his backpack before heading back to his motorcycle. "Every day?" Seto asked, a pensive note to his voice.
Malik was brought up short, the affirmation dying on his lips as he mentally replayed his words. I can't believe I said that…
But I meant it, didn't I? "Well…" He flushed and looked down at his feet. His words, no matter how carelessly spoken, were the truth. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with Seto.
True, he was young – maybe too young – to make such a decision, but…
It felt right. Like nothing had in life since…ever.
Shrugging diffidently, Malik said quietly, "Every day…if you want."
A small, genuine smile spread slowly across Seto's lips. "Who else am I going to live weirdly ever after with?" He reached out with one hand to pull Malik close.
"Weirdly ever after?" Malik asked hesitantly, arms coming up almost involuntarily to wrap around Seto's neck.
"As weirdly as possible," Seto agreed, leaning down to pressed their lips together.
Malik grinned into the kiss. He had no clue what the future would bring, but – for once – his life…his future…looked oh-so-bright.
Weirdly ever after was one thing…but suddenly he got the feeling that happily ever after wasn't impossible.
And it was all because of Seto Kaiba.
The man he loved.