Disclaimer: Yuugi and friends are property of their respective owners.
Notes: ... I've read Ryou's dad is curator at the museum....whether or not that was a fansite or a fanfic I can't tell you, but that's what I'm doing for this one.
Jou's kinda OOC. XD And the beginning kinda sucks. V.v
Was inspired to write this after the youth group meeting on May 16, 2004. (It was the meeting about killing your enemies with kindness, for those of you that know what I'm talking about.)
Oh, and Daricio helped me with the Jou-yelling-at-Malik-outside-the-video-store part. She was on a fluff roll that night. n.n
For future reference, '-kun' is an ending put on boys' names to denote friendship and informality.
Checking to make sure no one was nearby, the blond grabbed him roughly by the collar and leaned towards him until they were inches apart.
"Look, I'm going to make this clear right now. You are not my friend, and you never will be."
His face melted and blurred until he could no longer be seen. He was now replaced by him, smiling a crooked smile, pupils dilating in eyes shadowed by his wild sandy blond hair. He held the gold dagger over his victim. He opened his mouth, perhaps to ask his victim what his last words were, laugh an evil laugh, or cry out 'DIE' as was his nature. The sound he made was none of the above.
Yami no Malik was ringing
Malik sat bolt upright, cold sweat on his brow.
Ringing, ringing...the phone was ringing.
Malik had been sitting in his room, still acquainting himself with his new home. He must have dozed off. He got up and shuffled out of his room, making his way to the phone in the hall.
"Hi, Malik?" Yuugi's voice came through the other line.
"Hey, Yuugi," Malik greeted. For a moment neither said anything. An awkward silence built up.
"Um....." Yuugi paused. "I was wondering....well, because it's summer, and, well, you're back and everything.....Jiichan's letting me throw a party at our house this Friday night while he's away, and then the guys are going to have a sleepover at my house, and Anzu and Shizuka will go to Anzu's house, and, well, I was wondering if you could come."
Malik blinked, shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot. "Well, I....uh....." He lowered his voice, as though the walls were going to laugh at him. "What exactly is a sleepover?"
There was a pause, and Malik swallowed the lump in his throat, sure Yuugi was laughing silently at him.
"You see.....you go to someone's house, and....you sleep...over....at their house...." Yuugi said slowly. "It's kind of like an overnight party."
"You watch movies, and there has to be a lot of soda and snacks and stuff like that, and video games, of course, and then everyone brings a sleeping bag."
Malik chewed his lip. "Well, uh....what's a sleeping bag?" he mumbled.
"It's...a bag.....that you sleep in....." Yuugi stumbled.
Malik had to smile despite himself. "I gathered that much, Yuugi."
"It's okay if you don't have one," Yuugi said quickly. "We've got a couch, and some blankets, so we'll make it work."
Malik sucked in his breath and exhaled, his bangs flopping against his forehead.
"So will you come?" Yuugi asked eagerly.
"I guess," Malik replied.
"Then I'll see ya around, okay?"
"Right," Malik said, relieved that the conversation was coming to an end.
Without another word, they hung up, and Malik sighed. He'd come off sounding sour at the whole idea of a party, but he hadn't meant to.
He'd only been in Domino for a little while, and maybe that was why he still felt hesitant toward Yuugi's friends. Bakura and Yuugi seemed nice enough, and Anzu seemed to be on somewhat friendly terms with Malik, but Malik definitely felt tension between him and Jounouchi, Honda, and Shizuka.
And the dream... He just couldn't shake that memory. He couldn't forget that day, when Jounouchi drew him aside after school, informing Malik he hated him.
He could understand why Jounouchi, Honda, and Shizuka didn't like him, but it didn't stop him from wishing it wasn't so. He just wished there was some way they could all let go of the past and move on.
Malik was doubtful about the whole party throughout the week, and every time he tried to ask Rishid and Isis for their opinion on the matter, he'd find himself feeling stupid for being so indecisive that he'd just give up.
But one night he realized, with a wry smile, that they already knew of his nervousness. They already knew about his fears and his confusion. Because the three of him could just understand each other like that. When one cried, the others cried with them; when one was happy, the others were happy; and Malik honestly hoped it would always remain that way.
Friday afternoon found Malik in his room, duffel bag open on his bed. He threw in his deck, a change of clothes, and the pair of pants he slept in. He had thought he was done packing, when he suddenly realized he had a problem – he normally slept without a shirt.
Malik dashed to his closet and shuffled through it, finally yanking out a large black t-shirt. It would have to do. He zipped up the duffel bag and shouldered it, heading downstairs.
"I'm leaving!" he called over his shoulder.
"When will you be back tomorrow morning?" Isis asked, poking her head out of the kitchen.
"Around ten, I think," Malik shrugged.
She nodded. "Have a good time."
Suddenly, Rishid stepped out of the living room, and for a moment all three of the Ishtars looked at each other, unspoken reassurances being said. Malik smiled softly, and headed out the door.
He swung himself over his motorcycle, and headed down the street to Yuugi's house.
He was remembering.
He and his siblings had returned to Egypt after Battle City, only to find that the entrance to their old home had been sealed off.
They'd stood there, in the sand, staring down at the blocked-off doorway that led to the place where they had grown up.
And Malik had found himself crying there, over what had passed and what would come to pass. But when his siblings came to him and put their arms tight around him, he'd found himself hoping that tomorrow, maybe it would seem worth it to get out of bed.
It had taken a lot of work, but now they were together, in Domino, with a house of their own.
Isis worked at Domino Museum, of course, because Mr. Bakura (curator of the museum) was only too glad to have her running the Egyptian wing smoothly again. (That was the main reason Malik knew Bakura a bit better than some of the others.)
Rishid and Malik did a few odd jobs now and then, but for the most part they were doing alright.
Malik just wanted some friends.
"Hey, Malik!" Yuugi called, waving as the motorcycle pulled up in front of the game shop. Malik waved back, noting that Anzu, Honda, Jounouchi, and Shizuka were already there.
He carried his bag across his back, stopping in front of Yuugi. "Where do we put these?" he asked, gesturing to his bag.
"I'll show you, c'mon." Yuugi waved him inside. "I was just about to get some sodas."
They returned with some bottles of soda, and set them down on the front step. Jounouchi picked one up, and offered another to Malik.
"You like sodas, Malik?" he asked.
Malik nodded slowly, accepting the soda. "I haven't had very many of them, though, really...."
"You know....." Jounouchi said slowly, seriously. "They're a lot better if you shake them first."
Honda sniggered. Shizuka didn't say anything.
"Jounouchi!" Anzu's voice held a hint of anger.
"Jounouchi-kun....." Yuugi warned, giving Jounouchi a 'C'mon, be nice' look.
Malik was totally clueless. "What happens when you shake a soda?" he asked.
"The pressure builds up," Anzu explained. "And then it pretty much blows up when you try to open it."
Malik stared at the ground. "...Oh."
Malik looked at Jounouchi, and winced when he noticed the pure contempt in Jounouchi's eyes. Their eyes met, and Malik masked the hurt with an icy stare fixed on Jounouchi. It was just like a bandage covering a wound that had yet to heal.
"Hey, Bakura-kun!" Anzu called suddenly, waving to the white-haired boy crossing the street to the game shop, wisely changing the subject.
Jounouchi walked over and greeted Ryou, while Malik remained shook up.
The group had set off to the video store to rent some movies for the night.
Malik had strayed away from the group, idly picking a DVD off the shelf and reading the back.
"Yuugi's sleepovers are normally a lot better than this," a voice murmured in his ear. Malik jumped and spun around to face Jounouchi.
"He's only invited you because he feels sorry for you," Jounouchi told him, his voice low so Yuugi wouldn't hear him.
Malik clenched his shaking hands into fists. It was frightening, in a way, to be witnessing the personality change in the blond; to be interacting with a side of Jounouchi Katsuya the others had never seen.
"He feels sorry for you," Jounouchi continued, "because he knows you'll never make any friends here in Domino, or anywhere, for that matter..."
Malik finally shoved Jounouchi out of the way, darting out of the video store, the bitter words pounding in his head every time his feet hit the pavement.
'He feels sorry for you...'
Back in the store, Malik's flight did not go unnoticed.
"Jounouchi!" Anzu cried, striding over to the blond and grabbing his arm. "What did you say to him!?"
Jounouchi said nothing.
Honda had overheard. "Jounouchi....d'ya think maybe....that was going a bit too far?"
"Jounouchi-kun!" Yuugi had joined them. "Why can't you give him a break?!"
Jounouchi still didn't answer.
"Jounouchi-kun... can't you just give him a chance?" Yuugi asked softly. "Because that's not the Malik we met in Battle City. That's a Malik that no one knows, really. I don't think he even knows himself. All he wants is a friend."
"Well, maybe he should've though of that before he tried to take over the whole freaking world," Jounouchi scowled, and with that, he strode out of the video store.
'I guess I really messed up this time.'
Malik was leaning against the brick wall of the store, staring up at the darkening summer sky.
'I thought maybe I'd find somewhere to belong here, in Domino. But I was wrong. I thought maybe we could make a new start here – Rishid, Nee-san, and I....but it didn't work. But we don't belong in Egypt, either. Nor here.'
"But where, then?" he asked out loud, his tone desperate.
Suddenly he heard footsteps behind him. He turned.
It was Jounouchi.
Malik turned back and stared at the ground.
"You messed everything up," Jounouchi scowled. "Now everyone's turned on me in your favor. We were all set to have a great summer, and then you came along." He looked at Malik, and then suddenly pinned him to the wall. "Maybe the gang thinks you deserve a second chance, but I know better. Don't think I'm going to overlook or forgive you for what you did to me, to us. You are and always will be my enemy, Malik."
Malik looked away. "Okay."
Jounouchi started, dropping Malik as he did so. "W...what did you just say!?"
"I said 'okay'." Malik repeated, regaining his balance. "I can't change your mind about me, and I don't intend to try to. But I am sorry. I'm sorry for everything I did. I know it was unforgivable. I guess I just thought that maybe we could put the past behind us and start over."
"Yeah, well, you thought wrong," Jounouchi interjected, visibly shook by Malik's passive response.
"I know," Malik said sadly.
Jounouchi pushed him again. "Dammit, would you fight back already!?" he demanded.
"I...I don't want to fight anymore," Malik said tiredly. "I'm sick of fighting. I'm sick of the past always catching up to me. But you never can truly escape your past, you know...."
"Oh, shut up," Jounouchi scowled. "Just because you have a bunch of scars on your back, don't go talking about more than you know." Malik cocked his head at the blond.
"You think you know so much," Jounouchi continued, "because of everything you've gone through. You think you've got life all figured out, but you don't. No one does. All I know is that life can be really, really stupid, sometimes. Sometimes you try and make something of it and then it just turns around and..." He trailed off in a frustrated sigh.
"What are you getting around to?" Malik asked slowly.
Jounouchi scuffed at the ground. "My dad."
"What's he like?" Malik asked, trying not to let the hope show in his voice. Maybe, just maybe...there was common ground between them.
"Why would I tell you?" Jounouchi retorted, realizing he'd been letting his guard slip.
"My father scared me," he said suddenly, his voice barely audible. "If he could do those things to Rishid, Nee-san and I...without flinching...
"But maybe it wasn't truly his fault. We're the Ishtars – not meant to see the sun. My father...my father never did. Maybe at one time, he was like me. Maybe at one time, all he wanted was the life he couldn't have. I've been trying to convince myself of that – because if I don't, I'll never be able to forgive him for what he did. And if I can't forgive him...I can't move on."
He looked at Jounouchi and smiled wryly. "Sorry...I know it's very melodramatic, but...."
"Maybe I need to do that with my father," Jounouchi mumbled. "Maybe he's the way he is for a reason."
Jounouchi stared up at the skies. "He turns to his beers a lot."
"He just...he yells things, things I can't block out no matter how hard I press the pillow against my ears." He stared at the ground, bangs falling in front of his eyes. "But sometimes...sometimes yelling isn't enough. Sometimes he smashes stuff, and sometimes....it's not even enough to hit inanimate objects...." He looked at Malik, hoping he wouldn't have to elaborate further. He didn't. Malik was staring back, understanding perfectly what Jounouchi meant.
"Don't tell Yuugi," Jounouchi muttered. "I don't want him to know."
"So this is something you're telling your greatest enemy, but not your best friend?" Malik asked.
Jounouchi shook his head. "No, I'm telling the only person who could possibly understand why I don't want to tell my best friend."
And then the skies burst and the planets aligned and the space-time continuum was shattered – that was how Jounouchi and Malik became friends.
But Malik was still confused.
How could they do it? How could they all be so comfortable with sleeping in the same room?
But why didn't he feel comfortable?
Malik was standing in the middle of the bathroom in Yuugi's house, trying to process what had happened in the last few hours.
He and Jounouchi had joined the rest of the gang after the incident in the video store, and they'd headed back to Yuugi's to goof off in the game shop and watch movies.
Malik and Anzu had both gone into the kitchen at one point to get sodas, and while in there she'd given him a look.
"What happened with you and Jounouchi?" she had whispered.
Malik shrugged. "We kind of found some common ground," he had mumbled back. "I mean, I don't know if-"
She had placed her hand on his arm. Surprised, he'd quieted. Anzu smiled.
Back in the bathroom, Malik had changed into the pair of pants he slept in, listening to the others. Yuugi had gone to change as well, but the rest of the boys were downstairs carrying on.
He'd sort of become one of them, yet he was still different.
Malik sighed. Why did he still feel so out of place? He removed the gold jewelry and placed it in his duffel back. He turned back to the mirror and stared down his reflection. Malik wet his fingers and wiped the kohl off his face, slowly, mechanically.
He looked back at his reflection. There. He looked a bit more like the people he saw walking down the streets every day.
He reached into his bag for the loose t-shirt he'd brought and pulled off his hooded lavender one.
And then he caught sight of the scars in the mirror.
He reached up and placed a hand on his back, idly tracing the markings with his fingers. The flesh was rough and tight under his fingers, and though it had been six years since they'd been put there, it still made him shudder.
And it was those scars that made him feel so out of place.
No matter what he changed about his appearance, those scars would always remain. He would always be different from the rest.
He bit his lip in determination. He'd been through this with himself many times. He was an Ishtar. And the Ishtars were different.
But it was the cold realization that he always would be an Ishtar that sent the angry tears to his eyes.
He heard footsteps in the hall walk past him, and it yanked him out of his reverie. He impatiently wiped at his eyes and slung his bag over his shoulder, opening the door.
Yuugi was standing in front of the door. "Oh, hi," Yuugi blinked. He was wearing his usual starred pajamas and carrying a few blankets. "Um, you could use these," he offered, holding the blankets out to Malik.
Malik nodded and took them with a half-hearted smile. "Thanks."
The two of them began heading towards the stairs.
"You okay, Malik-kun?" Yuugi asked suddenly, turning back to the Egyptian.
Malik froze, stunned. '...-kun?'
Yuugi grinned, an innocent-but-not-really-innocent look on his face. They both knew very well why Malik was surprised at being called 'Malik-kun'.
Then it dawned on him. He was different, he knew that. But that didn't mean there was nowhere for him to belong.
And the thought made him smile.
Mojobubbles: WHOO! Done! Um...yeah.
I've actually had this written for like forever; it was going to be a chapter in a story that never got off the ground. So, with some tweaking, it turned into it's own one-shot.