Spoon for a thief

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Warnings/notes : pseudo-Ancient-Egyptian AU, Bakura/Malik, indirectly mentioned violence and death.

Disclaimer : I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh.

written at 30th october 2004, by Misura, in reply to a Trick-or-treat-challenge made in my livejournal by Rainekitsune which offered as a subject:

"BakuraxMalik...the inanimate object can be a spoon"

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Malik stared at the prisoner that the guards had caught three days ago. They'd assured him he was a very dangerous criminal, who'd fought like a madman and would certainly have killed some of them, had they been any less skilled in battle.

They'd reminded him, not so subtly, that they'd get a bonus in pay only if -he-, as the Royal Keeper of the Tombs, petitioned for it with the Pharaoh. And that they thought they deserved one now.

Looking at the skinny and severely bruised young man who was lying asleep on the floor of his cell, with nothing but a threadbare blanket to protect him from the cold, Malik found it very hard to believe any of the guards' accusations.

Oh, he had little doubt that the boy had, indeed, been trying to steal some of the valuables that belonged to the Pharaohs of the past, but the rest of it ...

Malik sighed, somewhat startled as that soft sound seemed to be enough to wake the young thief from his dreams. A pair of eyes that were such a dark brown they almost appeared to be black studied him warily.

Neither of them spoke, though Malik had at least a dozen of questions he wanted to ask, from 'what's you name?' to 'how did you manage to get as far as the treasury before they spotted you?'. He doubted if he'd get any answers.

A moment's later, the sound of approaching footsteps informed Malik that there might be a much simpler explanation for the boy's sudden alertness; it was dinner-time. Stepping out of the way of the gruff guard who distributed the food, Malik noted that the grub in the bowl that was placed in front of each prisoner looked far from appealing.

Of course, these people had all been convicted for various crimes, or caught red-handed, but Malik knew the amount of money that the Pharaoh reserved for their basic needs, and he was pretty sure it should have been enough to buy much better fare than this.

The guard disappeared again, giving Malik a curious glance and a curt nod in the passing. Most of the prisoners were wolfing down the food with the spoons that the guards provided. Knives were considered to be too dangerous, but a spoon could be used for little else but eating.

Only the young man who Malik had been watching stayed away from the food.

"Aren't you hungry?" Malik asked, curiosity getting the better of him.

The thief studied him for a few seconds, before shrugging, as if the answer to that should be obvious.

"The food isn't poisoned or anything, I assure you," Malik added.

"I'm not some animal," the young tombrobber said suddenly. The vehemence in his words surprised Malik. "I refuse to act like one for your sick entertainment. If you want me to eat, give me a spoon like everyone else."

Malik blinked, wondering if there were really guards who'd force a prisoner to humiliate himself by refusing to give him something to eat with. Keeping clean was important to all Egyptians, and it seemed unnecessary cruel to him to do something like that.

Perhaps they'd simply forgotten.

Impulsively, Malik grabbed his own spoon out of the pouch he always wore at his belt and held it out to the young man. It was of a far better quality than the usual hand-outs that were distributed in the prison and collected by way of taxes.

The thief reached for it cautiously, as if he was afraid that Malik would snatch it away at the last moment and only wished to mock him. When Malik didn't, the spoon was torn out of his grip almost desperately.

Watching the young man gobble down the grub that passed for dinner, Malik felt oddly proud and satisfied with himself. He also made a mental note to mention the appalling state of affairs in the prison to the Pharaoh's council in his next report.

"What's your name?"

Malik was woken from his vengeful thoughts to find dark-brown eyes staring at him curiously.

"I'm Malik." He considered adding that he was the Keeper of the Tombs, but refrained. It might make the other suspicious of his motivations again.

"Well then, Malik, thank you for the use of your spoon. My name is Bakura." Malik gasped, and Bakura chuckled. "I see you've heard of the other person with that name."

Malik nodded, feeling slightly embarrassed at having believed for the smallest moment that this young man could be the notorious King of Thieves. Naturally, he was far too young for that. Bakura wasn't exactly a common name, but it was not that rare either.

"Keep it, if you wish. It's my spare one." Malik smiled, feeling better than he had for weeks. It was good to be -doing- something, instead of spending day after day poring over documents and reports.

-----

It was a few hours past midnight, and Malik still couldn't sleep. He'd considered getting some herbal tea from the healers, but that would probably mean disrupting their rest as well. His problem wasn't serious enough for something like that; the healers already complained about being overworked on a regular base, and Malik preferred not to ruffle their feathers unnecessary.

Suppressing a yawn, he froze as he saw the slim band of light on the floor of his bedroom widening, indicating that someone had opened the curtains to his balcony. Whoever that 'someone' was had to be quite skilled too, since Malik wasn't able to hear a single sound.

He spun around, wildly making a dash for the table on which his sheathed dagger was lying. The unknown intruder tackled him before he'd even taken three steps though, landing on top of Malik as they both fell to the floor.

Malik opened his mouth to scream for the guards, but the sensation of a cold blade being pressed against his throat convinced him it might be more prudent to remain silent.

A hand grabbed his chin, turning his face to the light. Malik caught a glimpse of long, white hair, before a familiar chuckle confirmed the identity of his attacker.

"So ... the high and mighty Royal Keeper of the Tombs is the same person as the fool who provided me with the means of my escape. How disappointing," Bakura snorted.

Malik swallowed. "Why?" he squeaked.

"Thief's honor," Bakura replied cryptically, removing his knife from Malik's throat. "I can't kill someone who helped me, however unknowingly," he clarified. "On the other hand, I can't have you telling people what I look like. You see my dilemma, I'm sure."

Malik's mind raced. He could offer to swear to never tell anyone what he knew about the fabled Thiefking, but whether Bakura would believe him ... not to mention the fact that it was rumored that one of the Pharaoh's advisors possessed an object that allowed him to read people's minds, regardless of their own wishes.

"You could take me with you," Malik proposed, desperately. Honor was all very well, but he doubted if Bakura would hesitate too long if he could choose between compromising his honor a little or risking his own life. Especially without any witnesses around.

"You talk very easily about betraying your master," Bakura remarked coolly. "Who is to say you won't turn traitor on me as well at your first chance?"

"Because you'll kill me if I do?" Malik suggested.

Bakura grinned, then rose, helping Malik to his feet as well. "Maybe you're not as dumb as your job suggests. Though you still bought my story about my name being the same as the King of Thieves' by coincidence. -And- you let me escape, of course."

"I only gave you a spoon," Malik retorted, feeling a bit more snappish now that he no longer seemed to be in mortal danger. "How could you use -that- to get out of your cell?"

"That, my dear Malik, is a secret of the trade. A trade which, in time, will be yours as well. Now, pack whatever you want to take with you, so that we can get out of here."

Malik obeyed, wondering why he felt like he was about to start a new life, instead of like he was being taken along as a hostage by a dangerous criminal.

OWARI