A/N: This fic is a surprise early birthday present for my darling wifey Rekall. Happy birthday!

Warnings: Yar, thar be OOCness ahead, and general craziness. Yar don't take it too seriously, yar mateys.

Disclaimer:I don't own Yu-gi-oh.

The Way it Goes, or a Narrative of Recent Events in the Life of Malik Ishtahl

By Malik

Living underground your whole life can really wreak havoc on your social skills.

How would I know? Well, since I lived in a cave with no one but my family until fairly recently, I'd say I was an authority on the subject. Oh sure, I had a decent enough education – my family saw to that – and my sister Isis even managed to sneak me above ground a few times, but I have to admit there were a few areas in which I was severely lacking.

Take friendship, for example. Nowadays Yugi-tachi are my friends – or so they've told me, at least – but I don't think I'll ever quite forget that we met because I was trying to kill them. Lucky for me they're forgiving people… though maybe friends are always that tolerant? I suppose I wouldn't know. Anyhow, I don't think I would ever know how to make a friend of my own; after all it's not like I was really trying to win Yugi-tachi over. But maybe an experience like that just automatically ties people together. It's the only reason I can think of, since honestly I can't see why they would want to be friends with someone like me.

On the other hand, even if the concept of friendship is beyond me, alliances are a different matter altogether. However lacking I may be in other areas, I've always known how to scheme. My partnership with Bakura would have worked just fine if he hadn't betrayed me at the last second, though now I'm rather glad he did. I'm not sure what I would have done if the two of us had actually succeeded.

Which brings me to my point. Bakura. The white-haired tomb robber and I hadn't spoken since he and the Pharaoh split from their counterparts – which happened a few months ago; I wasn't there at the time but I've heard a lot about it from Yugi and the others – until a few weeks ago, when out of the blue he showed up at the door of the apartment I share with Isis and my adopted brother Rishid, greeting me with a smirk and a flash of his sharp canines as if no time had passed whatsoever and there were never any hard feelings between us.

"Bakura…?" All I could do was blink in surprise and gesture him inside, noting the lazy elegance my former partner exuded, even in his beat-up old jeans and untucked button-up shirt with the sleeves rolled up on his forearms. "What are you doing here?"

Bakura grinned at me and flopped down on the couch, crossing his ankles and propping his muddy boots on the coffee table. I winced, thinking of what Isis would do when she saw the mess. "I can't pay an old friend a visit?" Bakura drawled.

I stared. "Friend?"

"Yup." With that Bakura crossed his arms behind his head and closed his eyes, relaxing completely into the cushions, until, after a minute or so of me standing there staring at him in shock and confusion he cracked open one eye and lazily gestured for me to sit beside him. "Well, sit down, Hot Stuff, and tell me what's new."

"Huh? Don't call me that, my name is Malik!" I protested, unsure what to think.

"That's what friends do, isn't it? Give each other nicknames?" Bakura's eyes had slipped closed once again.

"Um… Well, maybe. But not that one, I don't like it."

"Whatever you say, Sweet Cheeks."

I made a face. But I sat down beside him.


After that, we were friends. At first Bakura came over to my house nearly every day, and the two of us would sit on the couch and talk or play video games until our eyes crossed and our thumbs got sore – and it was nice. I soon discovered that I liked being friends with Bakura; he always had something interesting to say – even if it was weird and confusing – and somehow spending time with him felt less stressful than being with Yugi-tachi. Maybe because with him I didn't feel like I was constantly in his debt, or maybe just because he didn't expect as much. But whatever it was, it was comfortable.

However, our "friendship" had problems right from the start. When, one day while lounging around at the game shop with Yugi and the others, I made the mistake of asking if we could invite Bakura, they stared at me as if I were insane and avoided talking to me the rest of the day. Until then I hadn't realized that they were still frightened of him. I didn't bring him up after that.

Isis and Rishid, too, were uncomfortable around the former tomb robber. One of them would always hang around whenever Bakura was over, and once I caught Isis counting the silverware after he left, which ended in an enormous fight and Isis declaring that Bakura couldn't come over anymore.

I went to him instead.

Bakura seemed pleased when I showed up at his apartment the next day, flushed with anger and embarrassment as I explained the fight with Isis and how I'd asked Ryou for directions to his house. He merely granted me a nod and a smile and ushered me in with a hand splayed across the small of my back, shifting his arm to wrap around my shoulders when he sat beside me on his black leather sofa.

"I'm so sorry, Bakura," I sighed, turning my head slightly to look at the brown eyes so close to my own. "I don't know why everyone thinks you're so awful; I mean, I've done just as much as you if not worse…"

"Don't worry about it," he cut me off, shrugging. "We can just hang out here; we'll have more privacy anyway."

Then he leaned down and chomped on the side of my neck.

"Ack!" I yelped and jerked backward, beating him away and staring in wide-eyed shock. "W-what do you think you're doing?"

Bakura grinned. "Just expressing my affection. That's what friends do."

"They do not!" I pointed a shaky finger in accusation. "You pervert! I defended you! Friends don't do stuff like that! You're sick!"

The white-haired thief seemed to ponder a moment. "Hmm, I suppose you're right. I guess that means we're not friends anymore, then."

"We're… we're not?" I lowered my hand. Despite my prior accusation, Bakura's statement hurt. A lot. "But… I thought…"

"Nope. We're best friends now." He pronounced the words solemnly, though he shot me a wicked grin and scooted forward on the couch to close the space I'd put between us.


"Best friends. And didn't you know? Everyone knows that it's perfectly fine for best friends to embrace, or kiss each other. It's how they show affection, that's just the way it goes." He scooted even closer, crawling over me as I leaned back and propping his hands on either side of my head.

"Uh… oh, okay… Yeah of course I knew that… I just… forgot."

I wasn't quite sure if he was telling the truth, but then again I had never had a best friend before. But as he lowered his mouth to the bite mark on my neck and began to soothe it with dozens of tiny licks and kisses, I decided it wasn't so bad.

Not bad at all.


When I returned home that evening Isis was waiting on me. I had barely started turning the doorknob before she yanked the door open, glaring angrily enough to scare even my psychotic other self – though one wouldn't think a woman could look intimidating in any way when she was wearing a bathrobe with her hair wet and pulled up in a high ponytail on top of her head. But that's beside the point.

"Where have you been?" she hissed. "It's nearly one o'clock in the morning!"

I shrugged. "I was with Bakura."

Her eyes narrowed dangerously. "I thought you understood I don't want you hanging around with him. You don't need that kind of influence around you anymore, Malik; you've worked so hard to change, I don't want to see you falling back into old habits now. And what on earth were you two doing? Your hair is full of knots and you have marks all over your neck! Did he take you to some sort of sleazy nightclub? Malik!"

I sighed, wincing as I prodded one of the tender red marks with one finger. "We just hung out at his apartment. And I'm not going to stop spending time with him, Isis. Bakura's my best friend."

With that I stepped around my wide-eyed, spluttering sister and headed for the bathroom, making sure to lock the door behind me. When I saw my reflection in the bathroom mirror I had to wince – no wonder Isis had thought Bakura and I were out at some club partying; I looked far from my best, to say the least. A chain of red marks – I supposed they were hickeys, I had never seen one in real life before – ran down the left side of my neck, from my ear all the way to my collarbone. My face was flushed, my eyes glazed over, my lips swollen and red, and my shoulder-length hair stuck out wildly on all sides, tangled in knots at the nape of my neck where Bakura's fingers had clenched in my hair.

Even worse, when I took off my shirt I could see that my nipples were hard and swollen, and sensitive enough to make me hiss as the fabric of my shirt slid over them. I knew Bakura shouldn't have been pinching them like that…

Having a best friend was turning out to be rather different than I thought.


I went to see Bakura three times that week, each time coming back ruffled and altogether worse for wear. Isis complained every time, and I don't think she believed me when I said that all I was doing was going over to Bakura's apartment, but she never tried to ground me or anything stupid like that. Not that it would have mattered if she did; I would have gone anyway, since best friends should be together.

Even I know that much.

But, like I said, getting together was never a problem for Bakura and me; he always seemed happy when I showed up, even though I never called first, and he would spend at least the first thirty minutes or so of our time together doing what he called "friendly bonding." I eventually put a stop to that, however, since my nipples were really getting sore.

After our first week or so hanging out in his apartment Bakura decided that was boring and that we needed to go out somewhere. He ended up taking me out for coffee, though true to nature he somehow got out of paying for it. I didn't ask how.

Somewhere around our third cup – something I hadn't anticipated about Bakura was his love of mocha lattes – Bakura had his head buried in my neck and his hand halfway up my thigh when I spotted Yugi and Jounouchi walking in the door. "Hi guys! Come sit with us!" I called, grinning and waving them over while I tried to shove Bakura off of me. He merely grunted and started nibbling at my ear, his hand slipping off my thigh only to creep up the back of my shirt.

Yugi and Jou gave me a funny look but glanced at each other and nodded, Jou walking off to order their drinks while Yugi approached me. "Um… hey Malik, what are you doing?" the spiky-haired teen asked, shooting a nervous glance at Bakura.

Noticing the glance, I sighed inwardly. I had forgotten Yugi-tachi didn't like Bakura. Still, I mustered a cheerful grin and gestured to the seat beside me. "Please, sit down. Bakura and I were just out for a cup of coffee… or three." My grin turned genuine when Bakura let out a huff of annoyance against my throat and sat up, scowling at me.

"I can have as much coffee as I want, thank you. I'm paying for it."

I had to laugh at that. "No you aren't!"

"Ah." He paused. "Well, you may be right about that. Still… you don't hear me complaining when you insist on eating onions."

"Why on earth would that matter—" I began, but before I could finish my sentence Bakura leaned over and kissed me deeply, teasingly licking the sensitive spot where my gums met the backs of my teeth and making me whimper before he pulled away.

"That's why, stupid," Bakura answered, smirking, and from the look in his eyes I was sure I had a goofy, dreamy expression on my face.

"Oh yeah…" I murmured, and leaned in to kiss him again, but almost before our lips touched we broke apart at the sound of something splattering and a sharp cry of pain.

"OW! Ah! Hot! Ow!"

Jounouchi was jumping around, spinning in circles and shaking his hands in the air. Coffee had spilled all down his shirtfront and over his jeans, some even splattering on his face and into his hair. "Oh gods, Jou, are you okay?" I gasped, scrambling up from my chair to help him.

He paused in his jumping long enough to stare at me, wild-eyed. "What were you guys doing?"

"What did it look like, shit-for-brains?" Bakura snapped. I shot him a look – Jou might not know about best-friend bonding, after all; Bakura shouldn't just assume these things – and started over toward Jou but Yugi grabbed my arm.

"Come on, Malik, let's go get some paper towels from the bathroom for Jou," he said, through gritted teeth, and dragged me through the tables full of staring people into the bathroom, where he promptly locked the door behind us.

My eyebrows furrowed. "I thought we were getting paper towels."

"In a second. We need to talk." Yugi focused his enormous purple eyes on me, staring intently, and I shifted, feeling a little self-conscious.

"About what?"

"What's going on between you and Bakura?"

"We're best friends," I answered slowly. "Why?"

"Friends? Is that all?"

"Well, best friends, but yeah. Again, why? I know you guys don't like Bakura, for whatever reason, but really you should give him a chance. I mean, you did for me…" I trailed off when Yugi sighed and shook his head. "What?"

"Malik, you're different. Bakura's trouble; he lies, he steals things, he's manipulative—"

"He is not!" I cried.

Yugi raised an eyebrow. "Oh really? Then tell me why you're making out with him when the two of you are just 'friends."

"We… we're best friends. And it's okay for best friends to do… that."

"Oh Malik…" Yugi sighed. "Jou and I are best friends. Do you ever see anything like that from us? Or Yami and me, or Jou and Honda? Can't you see Bakura's taking advantage of you? He knows that you don't quite… know everything, because of how you grew up, and he's using you." Yugi reached out to lay a hand on my shoulder but I jerked away, turning my head when he gazed at me sadly.

"I may not know everything about how to be friends, but I know Bakura's not using me," I stated, as calmly as I could though by now I was shaking. "And… and besides, he never did anything I didn't want." I reached behind Yugi and unlocked the door, ignoring the pleading way he said my name as I walked through the crowd of tables back to my 'best friend.'

When I reached Bakura, he was staring in amusement at Jounouchi, who was being patted dry by a group of girls who had stolen all the napkins from several tables. "Yeah, right there… I think you missed a spot on my chest…"

Bakura grinned at me and nodded at the display. "Why do the dumb ones get all the chicks?" he asked, feigning disgust though I could tell he didn't really care. Bakura never seemed too interested in women, though maybe he was just too busy mauling me to have the time to pursue them. "What happened to the paper towels?" He took a long look at my face and his eyes narrowed. "Malik? Are you alright? You look strange."

"I… Bakura, can we leave? Please?" I looked away, not wanting to meet his eyes. Not after what Yugi had said.

"Sure." Taking one last sip of his latte Bakura rose, tossing the empty cup in the trash before wrapping an arm around my shoulders. "What's wrong, Sweet Cheeks? Are you sick? Don't tell me Yugi molested you in the bathroom, I might be sick and I wouldn't want to throw up all that precious caffeine."

When I didn't laugh, instead looking straight ahead and walking out from under his arm and out the door, he seemed worried, jogging slightly to catch up to me on the sidewalk and poking me in the side. "Hey, you're acting weird. What's going on?"

Realizing that I would have to confront him no matter how much I wanted to pretend my conversation with Yugi never happened, I slowed to a stop and turned to look at Bakura, the few stragglers out on the sidewalk walking around us without more than a passing glance. "You lied to me, didn't you Bakura?" I asked quietly, dodging the hand that shot out to cup my face.

"About what?" His eyes narrowed in confusion.

"About… about that stupid 'best-friend bonding' stuff! That was a lie, wasn't it? You just wanted an excuse to act like a pervert!"

"Oh that." Bakura closed his eyes and scratched the back of his head, looking altogether too pleased with himself. "No reason to get all huffy, I guess I just forgot to tell you."

"Forgot to tell me what?"

"Nothing, just that we're not best friends anymore."

"What! Since when?"

"Ah, I don't remember exactly. Anyway we're boyfriends now."

"Wha… boyfriends…" My mouth dropped open and I fumbled for words as my white-haired former best friend grinned happily at me. "You… you can't just decide that without telling me!"

"Oh come on, don't try and tell me you're straight or anything."

"Well, no… I don't know, I never really thought about it… But that's not the point!" Somehow in my shock and confusion I managed to pull together a decent glare. "You can't just say you're my boyfriend so you can stick your tongue down my throat! That's what you did when we were 'best friends' and Yugi told me that was a lie! I knew it sounded like something you just made up!"

"I didn't make it up. I'm supposed to be able to 'stick my tongue down my boyfriend's throat.' You can do it to me too, if you want. Won't hear me complaining."

"Gah! You're twisting my words around! I'm not your boyfriend!"

Bakura cocked his head to the side, an amused smile twitching at the corner of his lips. "Then why did you let me kiss you? Not to mention all the other stuff we did."

"Because… I don't know! Because you lied to me! You said it was okay!" By this time I had gone beyond confused; I was getting to the point where I wished my head would explode just to put me out of my misery. I groaned loudly and clutched at my hair, squeezing my eyes shut to combat the headache I felt creeping up to pound at my temples.

My eyes snapped open again at the sudden touch of arms around my waist as Bakura wrapped his arms around me and propped his cheek on the top of my head. "Hey, calm down, Sweet Cheeks. It is okay. Fine, I admit I was… teasing you a bit, but really, we never did anything you didn't like, right? And why can't we show affection if we want to? That's what boyfriends do."

I shoved him away, feeling my cheeks flush as I gazed up at his smirking face. "I'm not your boyfriend! You can't just say that I am and have it happen!"

"Why not?"

"You have to ask me! That's just the way it goes."

"How do you know?"

"I'm not stupid! And well… I've heard… you know…"

I trailed off and Bakura laughed. "Alright then, Malik, consider me asking."

"You can't ask like that! That's not…" He raised an expectant eyebrow and I gave up. "Okay, fine. Whatever."

"That's good enough for me." Bakura gave me a wicked grin and wrapped an arm around my waist, smiling wider when I didn't try to pull away. "Come on, we're going back to my apartment."


"So I can show you what else boyfriends do."


And that's what happened. Bakura out-schemed me in the end, after all. Maybe I wasn't as good at plotting as I always thought, or maybe Bakura was simply better. I don't know and I don't really care. After all when it comes down to it it's not like any of us really lost – except maybe Isis, since there's no keeping Bakura out of the house now, though we do tend to spend more time at his apartment where we can be alone. Though I've never seen her count the silverware again. I think she's more concerned with making sure Bakura's hands stay off of me than away from the valuables.

As for Yugi-tachi, they still don't like Bakura and I'm not sure they ever will, though Jou has been friendlier toward him ever since he got felt up in the coffee house. Yugi says he's manipulative and I know he's right but it doesn't bother me all that much. It's not like I'm the epitome of sweet and innocent myself.

All in all, I'd say I did pretty well for someone who spent most of his life underground. Occasionally there are still some things I don't understand but I know I can always ask Bakura to explain. He may not always tell the truth but at least he makes things interesting.