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

Warnings: This will get very angsty in later chapters, sometimes gory so this is not for the faint of heart. Also, this is AU. (My first AU story, wee!)

Her Sweetness: Hello. Back again with another angst story. People who liked AFSR will love this, I think. So please read and drop me a review because I'm not continuing if no one likes it. What would be the point?

— Everybody, Everybody —

Chapter One

A name is a very important thing. But Marik Ishtar did not think so. And maybe that's because Marik Ishtar's name was mostly forgotten about, not a name but a word. A word that was never used and meant very little to anyone, even himself. He never called himself by his name, never even addressed himself. And in that aspect, maybe he was like all the other kids in the class. They never addressed him either. Not even the teacher, who called roll everyday right after the morning announcements.

She would call every other name but 'Marik Ishtar'. It was noticeable to him the first few weeks of school, it stood out because his last name is right in the middle of the alphabet. And after a few days, he listened, sitting at his desk near the back of the classroom, he listened to the words and the names she called as if listening to the radio after a while. Like music. Like a song, flowing throughout the classroom. But everyday, as he thought that maybe she would not skip him that day, she ran right by his name.

Melanie Gadwall.

Tad Harrington.

This is it, he thought, my name is next. She cannot skip me today, everyone will hear and someone will say, 'Ms. Sinclair, you skipped Marik Ishtar.'

Walter Javin.

Everyday after that day, Marik Ishtar ceased to exist in the classroom. Ms. Sinclair did not call his name to answer questions, to read aloud to the class or even for detention, for punishment. During group projects, everybody pushed their desks together and laughter and gossip surrounded him but he was not included. He was not even gossiped about. No one knew he was back there, sitting and somewhat wanting for someone to say something to him.

After those days, he wondered if he scarred people away. He wondered if there was something wrong with his appearance. That, he considered, could be the problem. High school focused on looks and faces and if there was a problem with his, that would be the answer, that would be why no one sat with him at lunch or asked him to join the swim or soccer teams that Domino High was so famous for. He had skipped a whole day of school to stay home and examine himself in the mirror, check every angle of his face and hair and body. And it baffled him. He did not think he looked bad. He wanted to almost brag, he thought his looked handsome. Tanned skin and hazy purple eyes, blonde, unruly hair. Wasn't he handsome?

He concluded that his appearance could not be the problem. And for Marik Ishtar, that was even worse than concluding that he was ugly. At least if he was distasteful to the eye, he would've had a problem that he could concentrate on solving. But all he had now was the unknown and that question still remained, Why does nobody acknowledge me?

There are days when the lack of friends or even acquaintances does not bother him. Days right before a final exam or days when he is depressed for other reasons and is glad that no one will talk to him, bother him. But those days are fleeting and in his junior year of High school, he is amazed and appalled that he has not had one friend since his freshman year. He admits that he has not tried very hard. Had he expected someone to just come up and start conversation? He had told himself long ago that he would have to make himself known. But these attempts were always blocked by his shyness.

Yes, Marik Ishtar was shy. Though he did not look it — having a somewhat mischievous, verging on demonic appearance — he hated the idea of beginning conversation with a perfect stranger and avoided it. Still, he was lonely.

An idea ran across his mind one day as he sat in that crowded lunchroom, in the corner and barely picking at his food. He was not popular in the least but then, there were others in the school who were also disliked by the rest of the student body. And they dealt with it. They talked to teachers, became teacher pets and did well in school and went to college. Though Marik knew he did not have money for college or the brains to make good grades, he tried to be gentle and sweet to the teachers but it never worked. They never even knew his name.

"Ms. Sinclair," He said to her, once the students in the class had left for the day. To him, his voice sounded high-pitched because he was nervous but in reality it was deep, throaty, his past years of growth now taking affect on his voice. "I was wondering what courses you recommend for college…"

She raised an eyebrow at him, lowering her owl-like glasses to the tip of her nose and peering out, "College?"

"Well, it's not that far off and—"

"A career path, is that what this is about?" She said, not in question form but in statement as if she were dismissing him. She turned back to her desk, her computer and began to type, "You need to see your guidance counselor. Who's homeroom are you in?"

Shocked, he didn't say anything. He looked at her as if she had just struck him in the face, hard. She waited, her fingers paused on the keys, and turned back to him, repeating, "Your homeroom teacher. Who is it?"

Still he stared and she wore more of an annoyed look. "What's your name?"

Marik Ishtar, he wanted to call out but found it hard to even breath, Marik Ishtar. My name is Marik Ishtar and I am a junior, I am in your homeroom, Ms. Sinclair. But he didn't say anything and instead turned around and calmly walked out of the room, leaving his notebooks and school bag behind. Shortly after that day, he paid no attention to school or his studies. Yes, he went everyday and got out and walked home, like clockwork, but they were just motions and he did not mean any of them. They just happened.

So days went by and not once was his name called. He was half expecting — just a little bit of hope left — that Ms. Sinclair would recognize him one morning and apologize but, of course, that never happened and never would. And maybe that was okay with him. But deep inside he still wanted some recognition, someone to turn to him and say with a smile, Want to hang out, after school?

But that would never happen, either. Marik Ishtar faded into the background of the school, he might as well have been a chair, nothing more than part of the scenery. And as part of the scenery, he later found out, he could watch people — the important people, the ones with friends — without receiving glares or obscene hand gestures. He did not watch them with lustful or psychotic eyes, anyway, just pure curiosity. He liked it, too. He liked going about his day and watching out of the window as the world went by and watching the students as they passed notes in the classroom, behind Ms. Sinclair's back.

There was one person, though, that he enjoyed watching most of all. The boy who sat in front of him. Of course, sitting in back of him all the time, he wondered how he knew it was in fact a boy. Everything about this person was utterly feminine. Long, silver hair settling right below his shoulder blades, and big brown eyes that he caught a glimpse of when the boy turned to someone across the room and flashed a smile. That was Marik Ishtar's favorite. When that boy acknowledged someone else, spoke or smiled or even laughed, he felt good for some reason.

Maybe it was the pretending.

Yes, it was probably the pretending that he did when the boy was interacting with someone else. He imagined that it was he who the boy was talking or smiling to. He imagined that maybe someday, that boy who had always sat in front of him, would look back at him and smile and that smile would be for him and him alone. And maybe, just maybe, he would smile back and they would become friends. He liked that idea.

But the boy who sat in front of him already had friends. More than enough friends. Marik sometimes tried to count how many people throughout class would contact the boy one way or another. People would whisper, pass notes — these notes were never passed through Marik of course — or do something to grab his attention. It made Marik feel good to know that he was not the only one craving a gesture from this boy. These notes that were passed to him, Marik always enjoyed because even though he was not popular or apart of any clique, he would get caught up on all the latest gossip of Domino High.

He would bend and twist just a little bit to see over that boy's shoulder and watch as he unfolded the paper with his delicate hands, revealing to him all the secrets of the world he knew nothing about. That made him laugh. He was not apart of that world and yet he knew it inside-out. And in that aspect, he felt that boy brought him closer to this unknown world.

Marik would never forget the day he learned this angelic messenger's name. His name.

The bell rung and everyone happily jumped from their seats, some rushing to the door but some lingering in the classroom and some others coming to pick up the boy who sat in front of him. A few teenagers crowded around him and as they began to walk away, a girl giggled, asking loudly, "So Ryou, are you going to come to my swim meet tonight? Remember, you didn't come last time."

"I know, I know. But I can't tonight."

And during roll call the next Monday, Marik stopped listening like it was radio and closed his eyes, concentrating, trying to hear an exact breath, a certain name.

Felicia Applegate.

Ryou Bakura.

He lifted his head, opening his large, purple eyes and watched as the boy flippantly lifted his hand and a rather bored word came from his lips, "Here,"

Marik Ishtar was then overcome with depression yet again. That aching loneliness that he had socked away had come back, tenfold. It was worse this time. Not only was he not apart of that wonderful, bouncy, teenage world they called High school but he was now not apart of Ryou Bakura's life. In those small seconds, he had gone from anxious and somewhat excited to beyond despair. He wished then, more than ever, that Ryou Bakura would turn around and ask that funny little question that he knew would never be asked.

Want to hang out, after school?

Marik Ishtar?

But no, those words would not be spoken, not to him. He hoped that there was another Marik Ishtar out there who was happy and full of life and who had a Ryou Bakura to be with and maybe even hold. What would it be like to hold Ryou Bakura? To touch him? But, quickly, he shook those thoughts away. There were too many things he could not have already. He did not want to think of that other thing as well.

The bell rung and they all went out, and Marik went shuffling out, last, as usual. He gave a fleeting glance to Ms. Sinclair, sitting at her desk, hands flying over the keyboard and glasses poised at the tip of her nose. She did not look back and Marik left, feeling more than a little defeated. He walked out into the busy hallway, not watching the other students as he usually did, now not interested in their world, in their way of life. What did it matter now?

The wind was nearly knocked out of him and suddenly his books dropped to the floor. He looked down and saw Ryou Bakura, rubbing his head and muttering delicate curses. Marik began to panic, but not physically, mentally. His mind raced and questions ran through it. Had he hit him? Ran into him without even knowing it? Before he scolded himself for his folly, he was interrupted by that same voice that had earlier said, Here. He looked down again and Ryou Bakura was holding out his grammar textbook to him.

"Sorry, Marik. I can be a real klutz sometimes," He grinned softly and Marik took the book almost like a zombie. Ryou Bakura began to walk off and Marik stood there as the hallways emptied and the tardy bell rung.

Sorry, Marik.


To be continued.