A/N: This fic is totally based off of an Roleplay of mine on GaiaOnline. I took the idea of our Roleplay, but changed it around a little bit to fit this story a bit better. If you'd like to see the original Roleplay, I believe my RP partner will be posting it on here soon... If not, PM me and I'll send you the link to it. ;)
Warnings: Shounen-ai. (MalikxRyou... and possible others.)
Disclaimer: I do not own Yuugiou, sadly. :'(
How to Save a Life
PART ONE --- HOW IT WAS
I never wanted to be a waiter. If you approached me ten years ago and asked me to tell you my goals for the future, serving in a restaurant – five-star or otherwise – definitely would not have been the answer you received. Back then... ten years ago I had big plans, huge plans for myself. I wanted to go to college and study to be a psychologist. I was smart enough to get into just about any college I wanted. Top of my classes all through high school. Graduated as valedictorian. I was overwhelmed by college scholarship offerings; schools wanted me. I could have gone anywhere, studied anything I wanted. I had the opportunity to make a name for myself... the chance to do something with my life.
I turned it down; gave up on the dream.
Maybe I wasn't as smart as everyone thought I was. And whatever intelligence I might have possessed has certainly diminished over the years; that I know for a fact.
Hear I am, advancing on thirty, getting older and more sluggish with each passing day. By this age I should be financially secure with a promising career. I should be married with three kids, living in the colonial house on the beach with the dog and everything. The whole nine yards,
But here I am instead, waiting tables and barely managing to pay the rent for my run-down apartment each month. Who knows what I'll be doing next month, or where I'll be. I can never manage to hold a job for very long. I get restless. If I stay in one place for too long, I begin to remember events of my past... events I don't exactly wish to remember. The memories start to get triggered by anything. Whenever that starts to happen, I pack up and go to another county, another city. I've never left the country or the state... but one day I'll run out of places to go here.
I'm single. Not really into the whole dating scene anymore. Actually, I find it rather embarrassing to go out on dates – almost as embarrassing as admitting to be twenty-seven and still not wearing that golden band. Some people say they understand. They tell me I just haven't found "the one" yet. The one... my soul mate. I say maybe they're right, just to please them. But I know they're not right.
My soul mate... the one I want to marry... I met him already. But there was no hope for us from the beginning. Our relationship was doomed to fail from the start. And I think I knew that, even when I first got involved with him. But I still wanted to give us a chance... to try for that happiness. I was still innocent enough to believe in hope... to believe maybe we really could be together forever.
God, I loved him so much.
We met ten years ago, almost exactly. It was the week after Seto Kaiba's infamous Battle City tournament. I was by myself, as usual; taking a walk near Domino Harbor. I must have walked right passed him and not even noticed him. He called out my name.
I wonder: would I have just kept on walking if he hadn't called out to me? Would it have been better for me if I never met him that night? Sometimes I think back on our relationship, and just think to myself if I could have lived that year without him. I certainly would have been spared a great deal of pain. But before I met him, I was already in pain, and he erased it for me. It is difficult to answer whether or not being with him was worth it.
Regardless, he cried out to me that night, and I stopped walking and turned to face him.
Was that the biggest mistake of my life? I don't know anymore... It's hard for me to think about this. But unless I think about it, I can't come to terms with and accept all that happened, and I'll never be able to put it all behind me and move on.
What do you think?
I suppose you need to know more. I guess I can tell you. My shift doesn't start for another two hours. Come, sit down next to me.
It began ten years ago, as I've already told you. I remember it was raining that night... He always hated thunderstorms. I always loved the way his hair looked when it was wet...
Domino City was very still at night. Now that the Battle City tournament had ended - with the non-surprising victory of Yugi Mutou over the feared Malik Ishtar - many tourists left the city and the population had returned to normal, as did the life of the town. There was no more commotion. No more excited noise.
Everyone went on with what they usually did - whether it be going to the movie theater with friends or, in Ryou Bakura's case, taking a quiet walk along the Domino Harbor. His other friends had gone to the arcade, forgetting to extend an invite his way, as usual. But Ryou was never angry with them for leaving him behind. He understood why they did, after all; they were afraid that the Spirit of the Sennen Ring would take over and try to fight Yugi again.
A slight drizzle surrounded him, and he maneuvered around the falling raindrops unskillfully, getting soaked in a short amount of time but not really caring. The rain never bothered Ryou. In fact, he rather liked it. He considered it perfect thinking weather, and at the present moment he was consumed by thoughts of Battle City. He recalled all that happened during what was only meant to be the friendly competition... all the lives that had been put in danger, his own included.
Although he had been comatose more than half the time, Yugi had no problem filling him in with the events and the outcome of each duel. Mai Kujaku's soul had been sent to the Shadow Realm by Malik's villainous alter-ego, along with Katsuya Jounouchi's soul, and even the real Malik's soul. But they overcame Malik's evil half, and freed the real Malik from his possession.
Ryou was intrigued by this information. It reminded him vaguely of his own situation of the Sennen Ring, and the Spirit it housed. Malik was possessed by his alter-ego, just as Ryou constantly surrendered control of his body to the evil Spirit of the Ring. He found it odd, this similarity between them, and he liked the knowledge that someone else out there felt what he was going through even if they didn't know him personally.
Mocha orbs blinked, and Ryou stopped in his tracks. Was it just his imagination, or was someone calling him? His friends were all at the arcade, so it was weird that anyone else would recognize him. Perhaps someone from school? But who, besides himself, would be out during such weather?
Hearing his name again, he decided it was definitely not his mind playing tricks on him. Turning around quickly, his eyes landed on a familiar slim and dark-skinned male figure.
Speak of the devil, he thought, forcing himself not to laugh at the irony. He had just been thinking of the Battle City finals and those involved in them, and out of nowhere, it seemed, appeared the runner-up of the tournament who Ryou had just been likening to himself. Talk about a coincidence.
Not wanting to be rude, Ryou closed the large gap between them, coming to a stop about three feet across from the Egyptian. As was expected, he gave a small, polite bow in greeting.
"Um, hello, Ishtar-kun," he said unsurely, not quite knowing what else he could say to the other teenager. He'd never really spoken to Malik before – not in his right mind, at least; he was sure that whatever encounters he may have had with the Egyptian during Battle City were all at times when Bakura had been in possession of his body, for the albino couldn't remember a single time when he and Malik conversed before this point.
Malik gave a small chuckle; it was a pleasant sound to Ryou's ears. "Good evening," he greeted in a voice as cheerful as he could make it. "What are you doing out here on such a dreary night?" he asked, stepping aside to take shelter from the rain underneath the covered entrance of a closed store.
Ryou was once again reminded of the rain around him as he watched the Egyptian move to stand underneath the store's awning. Looking down at himself and seeing his clothes were already soaked all the way through, he figured moving under the canopy would be rather pointless. But he moved to stand with Malik anyways, figuring he would probably catch cold if he stayed out in the open rain for too long. He kept a relatively safe distance between them, not wishing to make the other teen uncomfortable in any way.
"Oh, just... taking a walk," he said in response, a casual smile on his face. "What about you?" he wondered. Surely Malik Ishtar would have other friends or evil henchmen that he could be hanging out with on a Saturday night.
"Same here. Isis and Rashid are back in Egypt, but I decided to stay here in Domino a while longer."
Malik was silent for a moment, his lilac eyes focused on the pavement beneath his feet. Ryou thought he wasn't going to say anything more, so he was surprised to discover he was wrong.
"Look, Bakura-kun –"
"Ryou," the white-haired teen interrupted, earning a puzzled look in response. "You can call me Ryou, if you like," he elaborated with a gentle smile. He'd never asked anyone to call him by his first name before, but after the last two tournaments involving the Spirit of the Ring taking over his body, he began to associate the name 'Bakura' with his darker half; he didn't ever want someone calling him by the name he referred to his darker half as. So ever since he gained consciousness after Battle City, he'd been requesting that all of his friends call him by his birth name from that moment on.
"Okay... Um, look, Ryou," Malik said, his voice different – lower, apologetic sounding. "I hope that I didn't hurt you or your friends--well, I know I did, but I didn't mean to... And... I'm just...really sorry for all the things I've done."
A sigh escaped his slightly-parted lips. Ryou smiled, letting out a small laugh.
"Oh, well, thank you. But you don't have to apologize to me," he said honestly.
He really didn't have anything to blame on the Egyptian. It wasn't as if his friends hadn't distrusted him before Malik came along or anything like that. And while there was the whole incident with Malik forming an allegiance with Bakura, he blamed his darker half more than the Ishtar.
"I was pretty much unconscious the whole time." He placed his hands in the pockets of his faded jeans. "And that doesn't really explain what you're doing out tonight, when it's raining..."
Malik shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. "So I don't really have an excuse... I guess I like the rain. It doesn't rain a lot in Egypt... and even if it did, I was underground most of my life, so I never would have gotten the chance to see or enjoy it."
Ryou nodded, his vision beginning to wander. He chewed on his lip thoughtfully, trying to think of something to say. This was why it was so difficult for him to make new friends; he always created these uncomfortable silences.
Think, Ryou, think... No, don't even think. Just say something, his mind yelled at him, and the albino agreed without another thought.
"W-would you like to get something to eat?" he blurted.
Brown eyes widened slightly and Ryou clamped his mouth shut, mentally scolding himself.
Think before you speak, moron, his mind snapped, completely forgetting the earlier command of not to think.
"I-I... I mean," Ryou stuttered, trying to correct the error. "We both aren't doing anything... and... uh... If you really are sorry and want to make it up to me you can buy me dinner," he added the joke quietly at the end, his cheeks blushing slightly.
Malik was taken aback by this. He was surprised to hear that someone wanted to spend time with him. Instead of dying of shock on the spot, he cracked a smile at the small joke at the end of Ryou's words and nodded his head. What was the harm in it? Even if it had been a joke, it was still an offer. And since Malik was in the market for real friends, he would have to be an idiot to refuse.
"Sure I'll buy you dinner."
Ryou's eyes widened slightly. Malik was... agreeing? He certainly hadn't expected that. Then again, he hadn't exactly expected himself to be so forward and ask the Egyptian to buy him dinner, either. This night was most certainly full of surprises, and Ryou hadn't even been out for very long yet.
"R-really?" he asked, still in disbelief, his face flushing.
"Yeah, why not?" Lilac eyes squinted as he turned to look across the street from the Harbor. Several tiny restaurants dotted the street, only few of them still open. "Which place did you have in mind?" He smiled, though his hands were shaking slightly.
"Oh, it... it doesn't matter to me," Ryou answered, following Malik's gaze to the restaurants across the street. "I'm not a picky eater. Any of these places are fine with me."
So is this a date? The albino wondered, before mentally shaking his head to the question. Don't be stupid. You don't even know the guy.
"Well, I must admit I don't know much about the food here, and I haven't really been out much except when I was in that whole...phase..."
Malik's voice died out into an inaudible whisper at the shame of his deed in Battle City -- where he went around performing his infamous mind-control stunts.
Ryou frowned, the embarrassment now gone from his face. "Hey, don't feel bad," he said softly. "Going by just what Yugi and the others told me, it sounds as if it wasn't even you who did most of that stuff. I mean, it was you, but... you weren't in total control when you did those things." He offered the Egyptian a sympathetic smile. "... I know what that's like."
The albino decided to leave it at that, not wanting to stir up any more painful memories.
Malik nodded his head and then cleared his throat. "How about we check out that place?" he suggested, looking back across the ways and pointing to a bar and grill.
Glancing over at the place Malik pointed out, he sweated a little. It didn't appear very inviting, but he supposed it was worth a shot. "U-um... sure, that's fine with me," he said slowly. "Never been there before."
The rain began to pick up.
"Alright then, let's head over." Malik said, stepping out into the now pouring rain. It felt nice to have those gentle droplets of water tickle and drop on his exposed shoulders. It didn't take long for the rain to soak his lavender top and black jeans, but Malik couldn't have cared less.
He looked back at Ryou and motioned him to follow, smiling at him, though Ryou probably couldn't see due to the rain pouring downwards from the melancholy gray sky.
Ryou pulled his shirt up a little bit so that the light material somewhat shielded the top of his head and chased after Malik. "W-wait for me!" he stammered, slipping on the wet pathway but catching himself before he could go tumbling to the ground.
A few clumsy seconds later, Ryou was back at Malik's side and standing in front of the bar and grill. The Egyptian began laughing as Ryou tripped his way underneath the canopy in front of the restaurant. He asked if the albino was okay, and Ryou merely flushed in embarrassment in response.
Ryou pulled his shirt back down, smoothing it out somewhat and chuckling softly as he realized that the fabric shield had done nothing to keep his hair from getting wetter. The long white locks were as drenched as every other part of him. Reaching back, he grabbed a fistful of his hair and squeezed the excess water from it before returning his attention to the Egyptian.
Malik flashed him a charming smile and grasped the doorknob, pulling the door open and gesturing for Ryou to enter before himself. "After you," he insisted.
"Oh my, what a gentleman," the fair-skinned teen observed with a wink, entering the bar and grill and then turning around to wait for the other to follow.
Malik followed soon after, and the gentle tinkling of bells was heard overhead as the door slowly closed behind him.
It was a slow night for the restaurant. Only about three customers huddled around a table near the bar, each nursing a bottle of beer and putting in their two cents about the outcome of the Battle City tournament. Even the bartender was involved in the conversation, adding her own comments every now and again as well as asking the men if they wanted another round.
A distinct smell of alcohol and smoke filled the air, causing Ryou to wrinkle his nose in distaste.
One of the men said something that caused the others to howl with laughter. The little group quieted down, however, as soon as they saw the two drenched young men enter. Their gazes focused primarily on Malik, taking in his exotic appearance and immediately recognizing him.
It was an awkward situation for Malik, and he lowered his head, hoping that his blond hair would cover up his infamous identity but knowing his attempt was futile.
"Hey... aren't you that kid Malik Ishtar?" one of the men asked, his mustache twitching as his lips formed a scowl.
"Yeah, I think he is!" the bartender answered the question, and there was a noticeable American accent in her voice.
Malik gulped, looking away and telling himself over and over again to ignore their words and glares.
"Ain't you gonna say somethin, tough guy? You were a big shot in Battle City, weren't ya? Didn't you go around ranting 'bout how strong and powerful you were?" a greasy-haired man sniggered.
Ryou moved closer to Malik, placing a hand on the Egyptian's shoulder. "Don't listen to them," he said softly. "They don't know what they're talking about. And besides... they're probably all just jealous because they tried and couldn't make it to the finals themselves."
Malik let out a breath and nodded. "I guess so..." He agreed almost silently. "Do you think we should head somewhere else?" he asked just as quietly, locking his lavender eyes with Ryou's almond ones. His gaze lingered there for a moment, mesmerized by the faint hint of hazel sunburst around the iris, which slowly faded to a rich, deep brown.
Ryou shook his head. "I don't think we should have to leave just because they're jerks. Then again, I don't really want you wasting your money on people who are talking about you like that." He tucked a strand of silver-white hair behind his ear and looked back over at the other. "You decide. It doesn't matter to me. I already told you I'm not picky."
Malik shrugged his shoulders. He figured that anywhere they went he would be recognized, and he didn't really feel like dealing with that. An idea suddenly struck him, lighting up his lavender eyes.
"How about I make you dinner? We can go back to my apartment and I'll cook up something there," he proposed. "And, not to brag or anything, but it'll probably be better than anything these jerks could cook up here."
Ryou's mocha eyes widened slightly at the suggestion. To say he was surprised would be an understatement. He couldn't believe Malik was inviting him over, considering they barely knew each other and all.
"Uh... well," he blushed, scratching the back of his neck nervously. "If-if it isn't too much trouble for you," he said after a moment, a shy smile appearing on his face.
"Trouble? Naw, not at all, Ryou. It's absolutely fine with me. Unless of course you would want to postpone it to tomorrow. Maybe the weather will be nicer."
Turn down the opportunity of making a new, handsome friend because of the weather? Not likely.
There were only a handful of times in the albino's young life that he could remember someone truly wanting to hang around with him, after all. Not to mention Ryou was a little tired of always eating dinner by himself.
"No, as long as it's not a problem for you then I'm fine with it. I don't mind the weather that much," he said honestly, his smile growing a bit. "If it gets really bad, we can always get a cab or something."
"Actually, I rode my motorcycle here – I was stupid enough not to consider watching the Weather Network before going out, so I had no idea it would start raining on me."
Malik laughed heartily at his own error as he made his way out of the restaurant. Ryou followed close behind him, hearing the grumbled insults of the men inside as they exited. He rolled his eyes, very used to hearing insults from ignorant people.
"So, you really have a motorcycle?" he asked Malik once they were out underneath the canopy again.
"Yep, I sure do have a motorcycle. And now to get to it, I guess we have to venture out into the rain again." he snickered, stepping outward from the awning and heading down the street.
"Must be nice. I have to walk everywhere," Ryou said more to himself than to the blonde, who had already begun to walk away. He didn't mind going places on foot, though a car would be a luxury that the albino wouldn't about if he had one. But, living only off of the checks his father sent monthly, a car was the last thing he could think about buying.
Hearing Malik call out his name, Ryou shook himself free of the thoughts and followed behind the Egyptian. He stopped in his tracks when he noticed a car heading down the street, but unfortunately Malik didn't see it – or the large puddle it was about to roll over – before it was too late and he was dripping with dirtied rainwater. Ryou burst out laughing, and to his delight Malik's deep laughter soon joined in.
"I guess today really hasn't been my day." he admitted, though he turned to Ryou and stated, "Although I did get to know you a little bit more, and that's definitely a good thing."
A blush spread across Ryou's pale cheeks at the comment. Mocha eyes quickly turned to the ground, staring at the pavement as if it were the most wondrous thing in the world. He's glad that he got to know me a little bit more? Ryou felt butterflies fluttering in his stomach, and he fought the urge to smile giddily.
Once they arrived in the parking lot, Ryou brought his gaze back up. The lot was empty, with the exception of one sleek motorcycle, which the albino could only presume belonged to the Egyptian. He moved towards it, catching his reflection in the polished metal. He smiled.
"It's really something," he commented. "Looks like you take really good care of it."
"Yeah... She's my pride and joy," Malik said with a grin. "Hang on a sec, I think I got a spare helmet for you." He rummaged through the pack on the back of the Harley, and after searching a moment pulled out an old looking helmet. "I'll use this one. You can use the one strapped to the handlebar; it's probably a lot safer."
As instructed, Ryou took the helmet from the handle.
"Thanks," he said, smiling again as he placed it onto his head, fumbling with the clasp underneath his chin. It felt weird. He wasn't used to wearing these things. "I probably look ridiculous," he giggled at himself as he moved to stand beside the bike.
Malik looked at Ryou and smiled. "You don't look ridiculous at all. It really looks good on you." he assured.
He was about to strap his own helmet, but then stopped as he noticed Ryou hadn't strapped his own helmet correctly. Chuckling, Malik walked over to Ryou and came face to face with him, his strikingly beautiful purple eyes focusing on the tangle in the straps.
"It takes a while to get used to these helmets, but you did a number on this one!" he teased, reaching his caramel-colored hands up to the straps at an attempt to untangle it.
Ryou almost took a step back since he wasn't sure what the Egyptian was up too, but he stopped himself as the other's hands took hold of the helmet straps and the other busied himself with fixing the mess Ryou had made out of them. Ryou stood rigidly still, his chocolate-brown eyes staring down at Malik's working hands. Every once in a while, he would catch his eyes wandering to his companion's slightly-parted lips, and he'd have to tear his eyes away quickly.
Face coloring in embarrassment, for more than one reason now, the albino apologized softly about the helmet, trying to get his mind off of how warm Malik's breath felt against his neck...
"S-sorry, I thought I had done it right, but... I g-guess--"
Malik's fingertips gently brushed against Ryou's chin unintentionally as he fumbled with the clip on the strap -- and during that split second, Malik felt a sudden rush of adrenaline flow through his suddenly stiff body.
Ryou appeared to be having a similar reaction to the touch. He knew it was an accident of course, but his heart still fluttered in his chest. Malik's fingers were rough, yet still gentle, and their touch caused his chin to tingle pleasantly. W-why am I getting so worked up? All he did was touch my chin... and it was an accident, even.
"Uh... sorry, Ryou. It's fixed now," the Egyptian stuttered, finally untangling the straps in a shaky way.
Malik turned back to the motorcycle, laughing nervously, and mounted it while patting the back seat and looking at Ryou with a friendly smile. His hands shook with a sensation of more than one feeling. "Hop on."
Swallowing the lump in his throat, Ryou nodded, licking his lips nervously as he approached the bike once more. Brown eyes moved back and forth between Malik and the vacant seat behind him. His heart seemed to pound louder in his ears as he mimicked Malik's actions from a second earlier and got onto the back seat. Hesitantly, he wrapped his arms around Malik's stomach, knowing there wasn't really anything else to hang on to.
Ryou felt awkward, sitting on the bike like that with another guy - especially since the guy was a good-looking one. He nearly groaned out loud.
I cannot be getting a crush on a guy I just met, he thought, closing his eyes. ..Malik would probably flip out if he knew I was thinking about him that way. It's not normal, after all. He'd probably ditch me if he ever found out.
As the motorcycle started, Ryou jumped, releasing a startled squeak. He pressed himself closer to Malik; his cheek touched against the other's soaked back, arms tightening around the Egyptian.
"It's hard to get accustomed to at first, but enjoy the ride. Just don't let go or you'll fall!" Malik teased over the roar of the engine, pulling out of the lot and driving into the semi-crowded streets.
Ryou gave a small laugh, but his insides were jumping nervously as Malik pulled out of the parking lot. He scooted forward so that his front was practically flush against Malik's back. It was a little uncomfortable, but he felt safer by doing it. Allowing his eyes to fall shut, the albino tried to tune out the fact that there was nothing separating him from the ground beside him, hoping instead to enjoy the ride as his companion had instructed him to...
To be continued...