Author's note: All right, so this is the final chapter! It is more than twice as long as any other chapter, but I really didn't want to split it into two. It was a killer to write, and I vastly prefer the last chapter, but at this point I'm kind of just glad that I don't have to think about what to come up with next for these guys any more. My advice is that if you start a story, FINISH IT WITHIN ONE OR TWO YEARS. Otherwise things get really, really difficult.
The rest of the night-slash-early-morning passed in peace and quiet, although nobody really slept well. Everyone had something or other on his mind.
Marik was lying on the couch with the TV on, gleeful as he imagined announcing that he had won, that everything had gone to plan, to Bakura the next day.
Yami was in a spare bedroom (not the Sex Room), still trying to get his head around what he'd seen and heard, and being somewhat frightened by Bakura's dedication to the bet.
Ryou had been asleep since eleven forty-five and was oblivious to what had gone on. However, he was having some rather alarming dreams about everyone he knew forgetting what clothes were and running around naked in public.
Malik was perfectly still next to Bakura, pretending to be asleep, but burning with anger inside. He hated everything Marik said to him, and hated that Bakura did nothing but prove his point. Bakura made a terrible boyfriend, and Malik was only going to abide so much of his shit. And why the hell was he tossing and turning like that?
Bakura had all but forgotten he was in his bed with someone else. His mind was a mess. He kept replaying the events in his head over and over again, each time noticing things he hadn't the previous time.
No, I didn't fucking moan. I don't moan. Honestly.
And even though he was vaguely aware of Malik's naked body next to his, he was thinking about Marik's. He didn't want to, but the memory was there. He couldn't tell if his mouth was dry or salivating or both at the same time.
He couldn't tell if he loathed sex with Marik or revelled in it or both at the same time. Somehow.
And he had been so elated immediately after, by both his victory and the Pharaoh's horror. That one still made him snicker. If there was one thing he loved more than winning itself, it was shocking people with how far he was willing to go to win.
Bloody Marik, making him suddenly feel like he had hardly won at all –
"Bakura," said Malik, obviously irritated, "lie still or I'll smother you."
And now Malik again. Every Ishtar was out to screw him and then royally piss him off.
It was eleven o' clock, and the bet officially ended at half past. The mood was very tense, mostly due to the fact that all five people were sitting and eating at the one table. Noise levels varied between frosty silence and awkwardly loud chewing.
Bakura was looking disgruntled, which Marik noted with interest. Did he know about last night?
No better time to find out.
"Say, Ryou, what's the best sex you've ever had?"
Everyone either dropped, banged or choked on something after Marik said this. Both Ryou and Bakura turned a delightful, identical shade of puce, presumably for very different reasons.
"Excuse me?" Ryou spluttered over his cereal. "Why would you – would I – I don't have to answer that!"
"Good response," Bakura growled, which possibly shocked everyone even more.
"Did you just compliment me?"
"Honestly, Bakura," Marik said, shaking his head. "One would think you didn't want Ryou to reveal something. You weren't his best, were you?"
"No!" three voices yelled: Bakura, Ryou and Malik.
"There's nothing like that between them," Malik snapped. "Never has been."
"Oh? Well, what about you, hikari of mine? You don't embarrass easily."
That was indeed a claim Malik made a lot. He had a slight obsession with convincing people he was unshakeable. Innately good, but with a brazen exterior.
"Fine." He stabbed at some food with his fork. "But it's not interesting or anything. My best sex w- is Bakura. About the only reason anyone can cope with him."
Marik's lip curled. "How insightful." His predatory gaze left Malik and moved on to the Pharaoh. "And how about – "
"Leave me out of this," Yami said bluntly.
Fine by Marik. He didn't particularly want the details of Yami and Yugi 'making love' or 'sharing themselves completely' or whatever the hell they did. "You, Bakura?" he said in his sweetest, most poisonous voice.
"Mind your own fucking business."
Bakura didn't even look up; didn't see Marik's grin or Malik's look of murderous rage, infuriated that the correct answer – him – had not been given. And was that a troubled expression on Bakura's face?
Dramatically, enjoying his game, Marik sighed. "Was that question really so hard? Fine, I'll make it easier. No thinking or comparing involved. When did you last have sex?"
"Yesterday afternoon," Malik answered immediately, showing his shamelessness. He was still glaring.
"We know," Ryou said miserably.
"And you, dear Ryou?"
"Why me?" he exclaimed. "Why the sudden obsession with getting me to reveal my sex life?"
Yami cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Ah. I believe I know."
"Yes, the Pharaoh knows all about it, don't you?" Marik smirked.
Bakura still wasn't looking up, but Marik was definitely going to get his attention. And crack him, hopefully. Make him explode, and blow his fling with Malik to smithereens.
"I think I'm missing something," said Malik.
"Oh, well then, it would only be polite of me to inform you," Marik replied lightly. "Ryou and I had sex last night."
And there it was: Bakura's death stare. A beautiful thing.
"Huh?" Ryou looked like someone had smacked him in the face.
"Like fuck you did," Bakura growled.
"Oh, we did, thief. Ryou's just playing innocent. And while he does it so well, I have to say, now I think I prefer his guiltier side . . . "
"Like fuck you did!" Bakura roared, jumping from his seat, which clattered to the floor. Marik laughed maniacally has Malik tried to calm Bakura down; meanwhile Ryou seemed too stupefied to deny anything, and the Pharaoh was shaking his head with . . . pity?
Well, anyone might pity Bakura, knowing how badly he had just lost.
"Christ, Bakura, get a hold of yourself!" Malik yelled, grabbing the thief's shoulders to restrain him. "You don't think he was angry the first time you slept with me?"
"And every time after that," Marik interjected.
"But I'll tell you what I told him then: none of your goddamn business."
Bakura was seething. Disgusted, he stormed out of the kitchen and down the corridor. Marik grinned and slithered out after him.
Not bothering to shut the door behind him, Bakura trudged into the Sex Room, glaring at the bed as if everything were its fault. Maybe it was. If it hadn't been here, he would have had sex with Malik somewhere else, and not seen Marik naked.
If it hadn't been here, he and Marik wouldn't have – well, they would have – who was he kidding? But maybe if they'd just done it against the wall, he wouldn't have enjoyed it so much.
Yes, he'd enjoyed it.
And the longer he thought about it, the more he enjoyed it in hindsight. It had been raw and dark and strangely kinky: how many people could say they had sex while impersonating someone else, and pretending to be under the influence of a mind-control device?
He wanted these sick feelings dealt with, though he had no idea how best to achieve it. Killing Marik seemed like a considerable option, but at the same time so did forcing him to proclaim that Bakura was the greatest fuck of his life.
Having to listen to Ryou getting positively praised out there was another thing altogether, but it still ate away at Bakura like nothing else. How dare that little shit take credit! And why didn't the Pharaoh deny what was happening?
Suddenly Marik emerged from the doorway into Bakura's vision. He still had a stupid, smug grin on his face.
"Your knickers are in quite a knot," he said. "Not that I blame you, of course. That must have been so hard for you to hear."
"You asshole – " Bakura had to stop himself from lunging at Marik. Though why he didn't just go through with it, he didn't know. But he felt instinctively that he needed restraint.
"I mean, losing a bet is one thing, but to have your own hikari betray you by having it off with someone you hate! There sure aren't many people who experience that."
Bakura's hands had balled themselves into fists.
"You were so sure little Ryou wouldn't fall for me, weren't you? And yet here I am, able and very willing to recount to you just how hot he was last night."
"You . . . "
"From what Malik's told me about your performance, Ryou's leagues ahead of you. How humiliating to be outstripped by someone so pure and inexperienced!"
"Inexperienced my ass!" Bakura exploded, unable to contain himself any longer. "You honestly believe Ryou, my whiny, conservative Ryou, could do those things to you? You think anyone else could be that good?"
Marik's grin didn't falter, but something in his eyes changed. "I'm sorry, Bakura. I don't quite understand what you're saying. Could you be clear?"
"It was me!" Bakura roared. "I was the one you were fucking last night! Is that clear enough for you? You weren't even close to getting Ryou, even with the Millennium Rod doing your dirty work! What do you think of that?"
Marik was frozen, either unable to speak or just unwilling. The room was flooded with silence; even breathing seemed to have ceased. Then –
"You slept with him."
Bakura's blood turned into ice.
"Oops," Marik said lightly. "I didn't see you there, Malik."
Clearly, this situation had somehow morphed into an absolute nightmare. Was Bakura dreaming or something? A second ago he had been angry, but still triumphant at delivering that blow to Marik, but Marik hadn't responded at all! He had to have cared about losing, he had to. But the only one looking shocked and like he was about to lose something was Bakura.
Malik didn't look surprised, nor furious, nor upset. His face was tensed up, which made it seem like he was attempting to make Bakura die by sheer force of will. His eyes were narrowed to slits as he stared unblinkingly, neutrally, but still somehow completely venomously.
"So yesterday I was barking up the wrong fucking tree," he said, voice quivering dangerously. "And yet a few hours later you were only too happy to prove me right. Do you think I'm pathetic enough to let you tell me it's my fault or something? How the hell did you expect me to ignore this on top of all the rest of your shit, Bakura?"
Bakura may have been an expert liar, but he was also an expert on recognising when there was no hope of explaining away a situation. Malik was a lost cause now.
But for some reason, he wasn't as bothered by that as he could have been.
"Speechless? Good," Malik snapped.
"I'm not speechless, you idiot," Bakura shot back. "Just waiting for you to shut up."
"You think you can talk to me like – "
"I'll talk to you however I bloody well want!"
"Fine." It was said with absolute resolution. "Fine, but I don't have to listen. I'm leaving. You two can have each other."
Malik turned to leave, but then stopped to face Marik.
"And give me the Rod, you traitorous son of a bitch."
"Make me," Marik snarled.
WHAM! Malik's fist came out of nowhere. Bakura remembered all too well what that felt like, and wasn't surprised that Marik's cheek turned instantly red. Malik located the Rod where it was hidden in Marik's shirt and snatched it.
After he made his grand exit, he left Marik and Bakura to deal with one another. Despite having just been punched in the face, Marik looked like a kid at Christmas. Or Doctor Frankenstein with his monster coming to life for the first time.
Bakura was the first to speak. "You knew. You knew the entire time that it was me."
Marik smirked. "Of course."
"You might make a convincing Ryou," he said, "but you make a terribly unconvincing virgin."
Although Bakura didn't know or care whether Ryou was actually a virgin or just naive anyway, the point was the same. And it wasn't even really an insult. But Bakura was still trying to get his head around this revelation.
"In that case, why the fuck did you go through with it? You wasted your time and lost the bet, Ishtar. You couldn't seduce Ryou at all."
Marik chuckled deeply. "I didn't need the bet. Winning that was of no consequence."
What the hell did that mean? The bet had been everything for the last twenty-four hours. How could he say he didn't need it when the stakes – "
Then Bakura realised something.
Oh, he had been stupid. An idiot. String along by Marik in a way he hadn't anticipated.
Malik was gone. He hated Bakura's guts now. And wasn't that all Marik had wanted, not just today and yesterday, but for as long as Malik and Bakura had been together? The added stake of Bakura going without sex was merely a malicious afterthought. And even so, without Malik in the picture, who knew how long it would be before Bakura could seduce someone else? It was like he needn't have won the bet at all.
Oh dear Gods. Had he – had he lost?
He might as well have. What good was winning if he had lost the physical rewards of it? Keeping Malik was supposed to be his trophy.
But no: this wasn't a total failure. "Interesting that you say that, Marik. Because I seem to recall that you failing to seduce Ryou meant that you had to take your ass back to jail."
Expecting Marik to stagger in shock, Bakura was unpleasantly surprised when he laughed again.
"Oh, I remember the agreement," Marik said. "Don't you worry; I'll follow the rules."
"Like you've followed them thus far," Bakura retorted.
"What can I say? If I'd obeyed all of them, I wouldn't have succeeded."
Bakura gritted his teeth. Still, Marik was managing to turn his loss into a victory. "Your 'success' will be short-lived. Malik will come crawling back."
"My hikari doesn't crawl, and even if he did, what possible reason could he have for wanting you now?" Marik smirked. "He thinks you were only using him as a cheap substitute for me."
It was rubbish, of course, but Bakura would have no way of proving it. Shouting that he and Marik slept together hadn't really helped that cause. Nor had enjoying it. No! He wasn't going to think about it again!
"Let's just go!" he snapped, with a bit more vehemence than he intended. He made a move to shove his way through to the door, but Marik forcibly blocked him, grabbing his arms. The contact set Bakura's skin on fire: his body remembered what Marik had done to it last night.
But Bakura clenched his jaw and ignored the feeling. "Get out of my way."
"You don't want me to do that."
"Oh, I don't, do I? Now why the fuck might that be?"
"Because." Marik did something entirely unexpected: he pulled Bakura right up against him, so that he could whisper in his ear. "You can't fool me, thief. Surely by now you should know that."
His breath gave Bakura's neck goosebumps; how he hated the way his body kept betraying him! Did he have no control any more?
He answered, "Let go of me before I show you just how many slaughtering techniques I've invented over the last three thousand years."
Slowly, Marik released his grip. With a small snicker, he asked, "Any of them involve a tiny guillotine?"
Bakura ignored him and marched out of the room. He went back to the kitchen: Yami and Ryou didn't appear to have moved since he'd left. Upon seeing him, Ryou's face immediately took on an expression of shock mingled with disgust.
"Yami told me what you and Marik were up to, Bakura," Ryou said. "That's . . . you were . . . I don't even know where to begin. I'm horrified."
"Boo – freaking – hoo. Nothing happened, so you have nothing to complain about," Bakura said impatiently.
"Nothing to complain about! You can't just make a bet over me without my consent! And apparently Marik's had the Millennium Rod hidden on him, which explains why my memory's all hazy right now! God, it's like you didn't consider me at all!"
At that point, Marik also entered the room, and Ryou turned on him.
"And you! I defended you when Bakura said you had sick motives for being friendly with me! I didn't once think you were capable of trying to mind control me into bed!"
Marik, as usual, looked unfazed. "Well luckily, nothing happened to you. So what the hell are you complaining about?"
"That's what I – " Bakura began, before remembering to whom he was talking. "And besides, Ryou, you should be thanking me with all that you have for sacrificing myself last night. Otherwise you'd be here shrieking about what did happen as opposed to would could have."
"Oh yes, I'm sure sex with Marik was a huge inconvenience for you," Ryou said bitterly. "You know, Malik had the right idea. I don't think I can be around you right now. I'll be back . . . eventually."
He stood up and exited without another look at either Marik or Bakura, leaving them only now with a disapproving-looking Pharaoh.
"Well done," Yami said. "You completely destroyed both Ryou and Malik. Now, if you had even a shred of the compassion I have for Yugi – "
"Shut up," Bakura and Marik said simultaneously.
"You'll never learn."
"Nope, not a chance," Marik said. "Now, I believe I have somewhere very dirty to be. Pharaoh, I lost the bet. It's an outrage, a conspiracy, a travesty, and all that crap. Mind giving me a lift?"
And as they left (Yami scowling the whole way), Marik threw Bakura a wink. "See you soon."
"Yeah, right," Bakura muttered. He never wanted to hear an Ishtar's annoying voice again.
Seven days later, he was perfectly satisfied. Ryou wasn't talking to him, Malik wasn't moaning at him, and of course Marik was in jail. Things had never been better.
Of course, he hadn't slept with anyone in a week, but that didn't dampen his spirits. Much.
Honestly, Bakura just couldn't shake the disturbing feeling that he had still been the one to lose the bet, whatever Marik admitted. He was sure that Marik was still sneering at him, even from prison – but why? What was giving him this insane idea?
He would run through the day of the bet in his mind, repeating every word and action. For the most part, he had been in control, knowing exactly what he was doing. That only changed when -
No! He had to quickly shut down the mental images. After Night One of being on his own, he had discovered that remembering his sexual encounter with Marik caused his body to commit treason: it went renegade against his hatred and shot back messages of again, again, again. It had never felt better than it had that night, and it wasn't going to let him forget it.
Bakura forced himself to skip that part of the recollection, refusing to give in to his stupid urges.
The control only appeared to shift when Marik smugly stated that he knew it wasn't Ryou he had dominated the night before. It shifted because Bakura couldn't make head or tail out of it. If Marik had known, why did he go along with it?
To break up Bakura and Malik? No way. No one would go that far just to stop someone screwing around with his hikari.
Oh, but wasn't that exactly the reason for your 'sacrifice'? snickered the frustratingly truthful part of Bakura's brain.
He didn't remember his brain being able to use inverted commas. Sneaky bastard.
Yes, so he himself had slept with Marik to stop Marik screwing around with Ryou. He still knew that Marik had had an ulterior motive. Aloud, he couldn't help but mumble, "Never expected to be tossing and turning over someone's reason for fucking me."
Saying the word 'fuck' made him feel calmer. And it was true: this was the first time he had ever questioned why someone would sleep with him. Every other time, it had simply been because he was hot and good in bed and the other person had known it.
And this is different because . . . ?
Because it was Marik.
True, that didn't make Bakura any less hot or good in bed, but he knew that to believe that something as simple as that was the answer, was to underestimate Marik. He had done his share of underestimating and being underestimated, and he wasn't going to do it again.
But, somehow, his mind became fixated on this infantile idea: he fucked you because he wanted you.
It was stupid.
But what if it wasn't?
Where did that leave him?
Yeah, deal with that, Bakura, his inner prick of a voice snickered.
"Oh, Boris!" crooned Marik from inside his cell. "When does the book cart come around again?"
The night shift guard, whose name was most definitely not Boris, took a deep, calming breath before answering. He always had to do that before answering Marik. "For you, I'm afraid never. You lost that privilege after you ripped out the pages of Angels and Demons and drew penises on them."
And threw them at other inmates. But Marik decided not to remind him of that. "I just thought I'd summarise the story in picture form. It was a public service."
"Can't you just go to sleep?" the guard said wearily.
"Well, if you let me exercise with everyone else, maybe I'd be more tired."
"You know why you're banned from exercise."
"Oh yes, the bottomless pit incident."
"I still don't know how you – " The guard broke off, shaking his head. "Never mind. I shouldn't even be talking to you."
Marik suspected that someone had given the order that no one was to interact with him besides giving him food at meal times. He created havoc then, too (with his patented turning-water-into-wine incident), but they couldn't very well deny him food along with everything else. So he was down to no physical activity, no entertainment and no friendly chats.
"Fine," he said, turning sour. "Get back to jerking off or whatever the hell you were doing before."
The guard groaned, looking ready to die, and then he suddenly did something quite unexpected. He got up out of his special little guard's chair and began to approach Marik's cell.
Marik frowned. "I didn't mean in here."
Ignoring him, the guard took a thick, brassy key from his shirt pocket and began to unlock the door.
"All right, if you're coming to give me some sort of present, I don't want it. Have you cracked or something?"
"Shut it, Ishtar," the guard rasped back, in a voice not entirely his own. Marik blinked in surprise once, before a broad grin settled on his face.
"Interesting," he said.
The guard opened the cell door and then rigidly turned and walked away. A moment later, he was replaced by none other than Bakura, wielding the Millennium Rod.
"Well, hello there, gallant saviour," Marik said.
"Shut up," Bakura replied. He was scowling, as usual. "Don't make this anything more than it is."
Marik thought smugly, I know exactly what this is.
He asked, "How's Malik doing without my staunch support?"
"Never better, I hear," Bakura grunted. "Ryou sees a lot of him."
"Oh, I see how it is. He didn't give you my Rod out of the kindness of his heart, then?"
"I'm a thief, Ishtar."
At this stage, neither of them had moved, but a noise from somewhere far off brought Marik to his senses. Just because he was in an isolation cell didn't mean he was off-limits to other guards. He left his cell and took a deep breath of freedom, despite still being inside. Bakura, meanwhile, was looking both irritated and troubled; an unusual combination for him.
"Anything you want to say, Bakura?" Marik offered.
"Or ask?" he added.
That one made Bakura stir, though reluctantly. He asked in a quiet growl, "Why did you go through with it? Any of it?"
Marik wasn't surprised that Bakura still had the bet on his mind. If he hadn't, he wouldn't be here.
"But you already know the answer to that," Marik said easily, looking Bakura in the (very suspicious) eye. "To get you away from Malik."
"But why did you want that? If you say it was for his welfare, I'm going to call bullshit and lock you back up."
Marik chuckled. "You seem uncomfortable evasive tonight, Bakura. Why don't you just ask what you really want to know? 'Did you do it so you could have me all to yourself, Marik?' That about right?"
"You son of a – "
"You'll never know if you don't ask. Was I jealous of Malik? Jealous of you? Hating you? Desperately in love with you?" He gave a Cheshire Cat smile, bearing all his teeth. "Planning weeks in advance how best to go about fucking you?"
Bakura had gritted his teeth, and his face had flushed slightly. Was he angry, or was it something hilariously different?
"Tell me," he hissed.
Marik shrugged, still grinning. "You'll just have to come to me one day looking for a lay. Then I'm sure you'll find out."
Even in jail, he hadn't lost his upper hand. Bakura, for all his arrogance, had been playing Marik's game from the beginning, and was only now becoming fully aware of it. He couldn't escape or walk away, because after being trapped for so long, he had grown invested in it. He liked it, even if he didn't understand that Marik was in control.
Marik knew all of this.
He was freaking awesome.
Bakura looked like war was being waged inside him, his inner egotist fighting against his inner hedonist. His pride versus his pleasure. One had to lose.
"I'm freeing you, aren't I?" he said furiously. "I have come to find out."
Not as subservient as Marik would have liked, but clearly pleasure had been the winner. He'd accept it. They walked a little way towards the exit, and Marik swiftly moved right up next to Bakura and snaked an arm around his waist. Bakura froze from what was clearly a paradoxical mix of disgust and desire – exactly as it had been on that delicious night a week ago.
"Of course I wanted you," Marik breathed. He forced Bakura to keep moving as they came closer to reaching the outside. "I don't just have sex with people, Bakura; I own them. I possess every fibre of their being. I could only imagine how satisfying it would be to own you."
"You don't – " Bakura snarled.
"Oh, shut the fuck up. You know I do. If you weren't mine, you'd have left me here. In fact, I'm surprised it took you a whole week to come. Didn't want to admit anything?"
Bakura just glared. It didn't matter now how furious he became, though. He was caught.
"But anyway," Marik continued. "You went for Malik. And I couldn't have that. It wasn't jealousy – it was just anger. Anger that I'd been planning ways to get you for weeks, months even, and then suddenly Malik had the chance and he was doing it wrong.
"He wasn't possessing you at all! You were always in complete control. And I knew that the longer you had more control over Malik than I had, the more impossible it would become for me to steal control from you."
Bakura was hating this. The realisation that Marik had been seeing things in such a different light, for so long, all to defeat him. They finally reached an exit, wide open and waiting – probably from when Bakura had entered.
"So you tried to even the field by controlling Ryou," Bakura said darkly as they were bathed in moonlight.
"Being with you made Malik smug. I wasn't going to get control back easily. So yes, I went after Ryou, and I contrived to make it a competition. You wouldn't turn it down, I knew," Marik said. "And then, to make things even better, I learned that Malik had noticed the attention I paid to you. He couldn't tell if it was because I hated you or something else, and he became terrifically insecure. I played on that."
"Did you suggest something to Ryou?" Bakura asked sharply. "He asked me if you and I were a couple."
Marik laughed. "He did, did he? I may have hinted. I figured he and Malik would talk. Ryou's big conscience wouldn't let Malik stay involved with a cheater. But Malik wasn't sure what he believed; he needed proof. You took care of that all by yourself."
To his credit, Bakura kept composed. They were in public now (late though it was, people were still about), and causing a scene right after a jailbreak wouldn't be ideal.
"And now?" he said.
This was the easy part.
"Now, I haven't slept with anyone in a week and I'm quite tempted. And since I own you now, I'm guessing you won't say no."
Marik had always known that an unwillingly subordinate Bakura would make a most exciting plaything. Last week had proven him right, and now he could have this fun for . . . how long?
Until he got bored, he supposed.
He was so fucking awesome.
At long last. Five freaking years, right here. Hope you've enjoyed it!