This story is set post-Series. Malik now lives in a small apartment located in Domino City, with Isis and Rishid.
Who am I?
He asked the mirror he stood before, and was rewarded with the general din of the street outside. Of course he knew who he was. He was Malik Ishtar. He was head of his family, and former holder of the Millennium Rod. He was also the last person on earth that would ever carry the secret of Pharaoh Atem's memories.
Well. They're not really secret anymore. He thought to himself. Atem had gone on to the afterlife, and he supposed everything had returned to normal. So why didn't he feel normal?
Because he didn't know what "normal" felt like, he thought with a touch of misery. Here he was. Living in Tokyo with his older sister and most trusted friend. His mother had died at his birth, and his father by his own hands...but not quite. He had been stricken with a severe mental illness that was only exacerbated by that damned trinket. It had been months since Battle City - longer still since he'd come to Japan in search of Yuugi, and he was still struggling to understand where his emotions came from, and why they had led to such drastic and disruptive actions.
He sighed and sat down. The mirror was a long one. It sat vertically before him, affixed to the wall of their apartment, and he stared into his own eyes. After Battle City, he tried not to think about things too much. He had never really had a chance to be schooled and he had certainly never had the privilege to actually attend classes. His Japanese was clumsy at best, and he had a difficult time navigating his way around the city. He didn't go outside unless Rishid was with him. Like him, Rishid had never gone to a school. Their father wouldn't allow it. However, Rishid had been receptive as a child, and he learned everything he could. Their mother had hidden away books for them to study. Anything she could get hold of. She managed to barter a few books from the scientists that passed near their home sometimes, and Rishid learned a lot of Japanese by reading an Arabic-to-Japanese dictionary that one of the men had given him, to appease his curiosity. Rishid helped him along when they were small, and that's how he'd learned enough to duel during Battle City. His words had been fueled by anger then, and that's when they seemed to come easier. Now though...now he felt the full impact of being a foreigner in Japan. People stared at him all the time, and they figeted and gave him tight-lipped smiles when he screwed up their language.
He hated all the attention. He hated people looking at him. After all his flashy antics at Battle City, it seemed strange that he would become self-conscious around strangers, but he knew they stared at him. He worried about what they would think about the scars on his back now that they no longer had a purpose. He had started wearing extra shirts, and now he was wearing hooded sweatshirts outside. It was barely cold enough for one, but he just didn't want anyone to see. It had been bad enough showing his scars to Yuugi and everyone else. He hated the scars even more. Because they were different. Because they bound him to a duty that didn't exist anymore.
He was still staring into his own eyes all this time. Who was he, really? Was he that cackling...thing, that Yuugi had fought so hard to destroy? Was that even a part of him anymore? Was he a Tomb Guardian? How could he be the keeper of something that in all figurative sense, didn't exist anymore? He slumped forward, faced with his dire prospects. The Rare Hunters had all been released from his control when he handed over the Rod to Yuugi. He was used to having a goal. No matter how grizzly his goal was, it was still something to work toward. Now though, he couldn't get a job anywhere because he couldn't understand Japanese very well. He probably couldn't get into school, either, because he had no transcript. Even the exchange programs with minimal Japanese requirements expected some kind of high school accreditation.
He sighed miserably. He'd gone with Yuugi and his group to Egypt, to watch all the ultimate showdown between him and Atem. He felt just as out of place in his homeland as he did here. He didn't have anywhere in the world to call home except this tiny but functional room.
With it's mirror.
In the duel between the Other Bakura and Hiself, he had seen his body twist in horrible ways. For some reason, those images stuck with him to the point where he dreamed about his body being horribly distorted and malformed; Inside out and upside down like those proverbial fun house mirrors that were always referred to in this cliche manner. His lips twisted wryly. He hated himself. He had always hated himself. Because he was born as the first male child and had to undergo that cuttingburningohsopainful hot knife. Because he was male.
He hated it.
He was very tolerant of himself. He didn't cut, or drink or destroy himself in any way. He didn't want to cut into his skin again. To have to see his own blood spill at the bite of a knife again...he didn't want that. He also couldn't bear to see his body shrivel up as the result of some destructive substance. Besides, he would have had to go outside to get any of those things.
But he still hated himself. This...maleness. He shut his eyes tight when he cleansed himself, couldn't help shudder and choke when his hands brushed over the only major distinction between himself and his sister. In his lifetime, he had gained a brief thrill when he learned to pleasure himself, and enjoyed the pleasure of others at times when he still had the Rod. They were compliant slaves, and his lust was driven by his anger, his hatred. When Yuugi...after Yuugi accepted him as his friend, all that anger and hatred went away. Almost so suddenly that he was sick. He was sick. He spent a few days almost solidly in bed after Battle City, without the strength or will to move. When he finally rose to shower, he found that he couldn't tolerate himself. His body was still prone to pleasure, but he felt viciously ill any time that part of him was aroused.
So here he sat. Before this piece of silvered glass. He had never had a mirror when he was a child. He still remembered the first time he had seen himself, and he was intrigued. He was starting to mature sexually then, and he...and he. He shuddered to think about that now. Taking his cloths off and watching himself in the mirror. Watching the changes in his image as he touched himself. He tried not to be ill at the thought of it. His stomach lurched and sent him into a heavy fit of coughing. God, he felt so sick. Hated this body. Hated it. Wanted the Rod back. Everything was so much better when he could...when he took over other people, used their bodies. That felt much better.
...but he was stuck with this body. This...maleness. He squeezed his eyes shut and whimpered softly. He suddenly felt very, very lonely and the thought of going out by himself, of traveling to the museum to stay in his sister's office, was terrifying. He hated the stares of those...of those people. They looked at him like he was a monster and they were all the same. To get downtown would mean a trip on the train. By himself. The signs confused him and no one here spoke his native language. Even if he managed to get on a train, he would knew they would be there. Staring at him. Young, old. Emotionless dark eyes and rounded faces stealing glances at his face, his hair, his back, his body. They would reach out and inspect his...maleness with blatant curiosity and total disregard for his personal "space". He sobbed. He'd gone alone on a train only once since losing the Rod, and they'd treated him...they'd touched him like he was an animal. An animal placed there for them to examine and experiment with. Those that weren't staring at him or pressing up against him were typing away on their tiny phones. The train resonated with the sound of a thousand tiny clicks and he shuddered. No. He couldn't go stay with his sister. He just had to wait until everyone came home again.
He glanced outside. When he was a child, they had used mechanical clocks to tell the time. It was difficult, living under the sand all those long days, to keep track of the darkness and the day. The light was always too bright in the day there. Too bright. It made his eyes water. Here, clouds always seemed to obscure the sun, and everything was cast in an ethereal bluish-white light of agreeable intensity. It looked so strange, to look at the street and see all the black-haired, white-skinned people. They moved like a living river on the footpaths, lining the sea of multi-colored cars and motorcycles. He had never seen anyone with light-skin before he came to this country. Even in his madness, he had somehow felt alienated from the boy...Bakura. When he had dressed the wound Bakura's Other mind had created. His skin was so different, soft and light and electrified. He remembered to strange sensations he had experienced when he touched Bakura. It was almost as if he felt the Other mind, moving like poisonous liquid mercury under Bakura's skin. The remembrance made him shiver. Bakura's Other mind had destroyed part of its Host with mocking laughter. Done it so he could infiltrate Yuugi group. The Host mind had been so defenseless and easy to overcome. He remembered looking down on Bakura after Rishid had "freed" him from the Ring Spirit's control. He didn't see a person then. He saw a body, a thing. His ticket to power and glory. He didn't pay any attention to Bakura's panicked and pain-driven helpless cries. Then, then Bakura's Other mind had defied his control, had overtaken the Host once more and...protected Bakura, from the Saint Dragon's attack.
He heard of the way Bakura's Other mind mistreated their earthly body. One of Yuugi's friends had explained it once. How Bakura's Other mind punished the Surface personality for sabotaging the RPG they had all played together when Bakura had first arrived in Domino. He had also overheard Atem, speaking to his sister, about the other RPG. The one that had allowed Atem to find his true name. He spoke of how Bakura's Other mind...the entity within from the Millennium Ring, had forced Bakura to construct an elaborate rendition of Atem's own kingdom and he wondered why. Why did this...Ring Spirit, conjure a plan so...grotesque. Why he quested after the Items like he did, and he wondered; Just what was the Spirit of the Ring, Bakura's Other mind. He knew that Atem, the Pharaoh...was truly the soul that his family had sought for so long but...the Ring Spirit didn't fit into any of the Scriptures. He had learned nothing of a second adversary for the Pharaoh. Through his studies and his father's teachings, he only knew of the Nameless Pharaoh who had sacrificed his life to seal away some unspecified Darkness.
There was one book that he was forbidden to touch. It was written in a language more ancient than the oldest Khmetian dialects. He had only seen a small bit of it, but it mentioned a blood ritual as part of the process for creating the Millennium Items. Could the Ring's Spirit have been...? That was impossible though. The book was ancient alchemy, and flesh transmuted...changed form. The victims of the Items...once Kul Elna, couldn't have retained an active consciousness. Maybe...maybe Bakura was like him. Maybe the Ring Spirit was just the Reverse side, the Hidden aspect of Bakura's mind. He had seen Bakura recently. He was still quiet and polite as he had been. There was no acknowledgment of the conditions under which they had first met beyond a small smile and a quiet but empathetic 'thank you'. Bakura didn't remember Battle City like he did. Maybe, in that final RPG, Atem had destroyed Bakura's Other mind like he had destroyed his Other mind.
He was suddenly struck by an intense connection with the shorter, white-haired boy. He wasn't afraid of Bakura. The boy would never say anything, and he didn't stare. He only asked deeply personal questions in a soft voice as smooth as silk. Bakura could even speak to him in arabic - although the other boy's speech was limited and somewhat stilted.
As soon as it had come, the urge to visit Bakura disappeared. Talking to him was difficult because Bakura had an insidious way of making him want to talk, and he couldn't...couldn't say the things that he felt. He looked in the mirror again, and glared at his reflection. He didn't want to tell anyone about his fears, about his contempt for his body, and about his pride in his past actions and how good it felt to bend so many people so completely to his will. Since Battle City, he had attained an annoying sense of morality and he knew Bakura would avoid him if he heard those things. He felt a kinship with Bakura, but he knew they were not friends and probably could never be friends. Let alone anything more. As much as Bakura seemed not to remember about Battle City, he certainly had the sense that he was someone to be avoided, it was obvious. Bakura was always overly formal with him, to the point where he got lost and frustrated in the long, complex distal speech Bakura used when talking to him. Bakura knew how bad he was at Japanese and so he explained things in the longest way possible just to make him look like a fool in front of everyone else when he had to ask Bakura to repeat himself or someone else had to step in and clarify the topic for him. Then Bakura would smile and he really wondered if Bakura's Other mind was gone because the expression on Bakura's face then would be so demonic. He didn't want to give Bakura anything else to use against him.
He slowly got to his feet, and he stared into the mirror. His hair was in his face and his cloths were a frumpy mess. He'd taken to wearing pants and socks and long-sleeved shirts even around the house. Anything to cover up his dark skin. Anything to distract him from his maleness.
"You're not me!" He cried suddenly, and the words seemed to echo around the room. There was a tightness in his chest and his eyes stung. All his muscles tightened up and he fell to his knees in front of the mirror. "Not me!" He sobbed helplessly, clutching the worn carpet.
He knelt there for a long time, shivering and shaking in the warm apartment. The carpet was damp with his tears, and his face reflected the intensity of his dispair. When he finally sat back, his stomach gave a great lurch and he doubled over. His body convulsed and he gagged as the tears continued to stream over his cheeks.
After his body had calmed, he lay on the floor gasping for breath and whimpering pathetically. He didn't have a safe place. He was a stranger in his own body. He struggled to his feet and ignored his appearence in the mirror. Hated himself. Hated, loathed, despised, abhorred, and resented. He walked into the bathroom and stripped automatically. He squeezed his eyes shut and took a seat before another mirror. Picking up the shower mechanism, he began to rinse his body with nearly-scalding water. This was still a strange thing to him, to have running water. His ship had showers but he couldn't recall if he had ever used them. He could only remember cleaning himself with water as cold as the earth it was drawn from. He found that he liked hot showers. In spite of his anathema for his body, he had a habit of taking long showers in which he luxuriated in the feel of the stinging water beating down on him as if he would never touch water again.
When he was finally done, he wrapped himself in the first towel he found. Their towels were very rough to the touch, but large. He was grateful for that. He puttered around the apartment, and searched for food. He managed to find some store-brand pita bread and he filled it with some slices of red and green pepper and leftover rice. A very agreeable meal in his current state and he sighed. The Japanese were creative with the basic staple meal of fish and rice, but there was little variety. He had never much liked any kind of meat, and sushi just seemed stupid to him. He liked sushi because the wasabi made it hot and he could only stand that much animal protein at one time, but was it really a chore to toss the fish on a cooking surface for a few moments before putting everything together? He ate his food without really tasting it.
He wandered back to his room for cloths. He had wrapped his towel around his chest, and thrown another one over his shoulders, but those were pathetic attempts to sublimate his body issues. Dejectedly, he pulled out a randome assortment of tanks, t-shirts and hooded shirts. For his lower half: boxers, socks and pants would have to do. He tossed everything on his bed and stripped off his towels.
He caught sight of himself in the mirror. His skin was still as dark as ever, maybe darker since Japan didn't get as much sun as the Middle East. His legs had lost some definition from using the trains and cars in Domino, and he had gained a little weight from having food so readily available. Not like before, when the markets were several miles from the ancient home of the Tomb Guardians. His young face was still round and smooth, amazingly given some of the expressions his Other mind wore when he dueled Bakura. His naturally blond hair fell over his face in shaggy clumps. Perhapse his sister would give him a haircut when she returned? Deep purple eyes stared from under his hair and back again. His eyes looked smaller and less intense without the kohl he was accustomed to wearing.
His hand came up of it's own accord to touch the decorative tattoos at the corner of his eyes. His lips were essentially colorless, hardly deviating from his overall skin color. The color difference was minimal on his palms as well. There was no question as to why people stared at him. The people of Japan had, in all likelihood, never seen anyone as completely dark as he was. His sister's skin was a light brown color, and even Rishid was lighter than he. He had hoped his skin would lighten a little after living in Japan for awhile, but he seemed to soak up whatever sun broke through the clouds and grow darker. His body sought every chance to alienate his mind. His hand dropped uselessly to his side. His chest was still decently defined. He abhorred the American-based fast food restaurants. He'd been raised on whatever the local farmers managed to wrestle from the ground, and the chemical smell of processed food sickened him even worse than the knowledge of what when into the all-beef patties on the grills. He always had found a way to excuse himself when Yuugi declared he needed a hamburger.
His waist was still small even though he had gained weight. His eyes were drawn to his hips and he ran his hands over the curve of them and sighed in simple pleasure. He had always held a secret fantasy that he had been able to escape his inheritance. Even as a child, he could remember hiding in his own mind to escape the fate that awaited him. After that night, as he lay still bleeding on his bed with no one at his side, he had been faced with the inevitability of his situation. He would live out his life protecting the seven secrets for a king who had disappeared three thousand years before to await a vessel that had so far failed to appear. His despair became rage. He had been locked away under the hot sands of Egypt to do nothing but father a son to pass the secret of the scattered Items, wait for the king, and to die. He had been born into a life of subservience to a dead god because of his father, because of his sex.
All that was past now. Somehow...somehow he had been born in the same year as Yuugi. His mother had died for it, but the Pharaoh had come again. He had been able to carry out his duty and now at seventeen, his life held no purpose. He was free to do whatever he wanted, just as he had wished for when he had been a child.
He glanced at the mirror. The shaft of flesh between his legs hung uselessly and he shivered. With the Rod, he had embraced his cause with the charisma of Jesus Christ or James Warren. He had gathered his followers and set out on a crusade to destroy the Pharaoh and take his place. He wanted to gain control over his destiny by watching the Pharaoh suffered as he had suffered. As his fathers had suffered, back to the time of the Nameless Pharaoh where his ancestor had perished - sacrificed in the Pharaoh's name. His young life had been hedonistic as he was physically aroused by the knowledge of his own power - both over the life of the Pharaoh and his vessel, and of the absolute control he had over his followers. Men and women had pleased him equally well, with no thought in their minds that he could and did end their lives with a flick of his wrist. His Other mind lurked then too, and he didn't care. It was nothing more than an internal voice then. Just pushing him on. When he lost his body, became as fragile as the Pharaoh, all his resolve, his charisma which he had relied on just melted away as if he were simply sobering up. Atem won his body back from that evil...thing, and he knew that he had to give up the Rod.
It was still the hardest thing he had ever done.
He had changed so much after Battle City. Fallen into what the doctors called a "depression". Nothing aroused him. His hate for his body was so intense at times that the meer thought of sex, of taking himself in hand and working his body to orgasm was intrinsically wrong. He had never cried when he was a child. He had a goal, he knew that even from an early age all his misery rested on the shoulders of the Pharaoh and so he was angry and he planned. Now though, now he knew something was wrong with him and he had no idea what to do. He couldn't...couldn't talk to his sister. She wouldn't understand his suffering. Rishid, his closest friend, would only ask with sincerity what he could do. There wasn't anything they could do!
He was surprised to find himself on the floor again. He was crying again. He was so confused. He struggled to sit up again and he looked into the mirror once more. Useless. It was all useless. He was useless. Useless and afraid. Afraid to even go outside for fear that they would know.
He was sitting before the mirror, his skin still completely bare to the mirror's scrutiny. His legs were thrown to his sides, slightly bent. He looked over his form silently. What was he so afraid to tell them all; His sister, brother, friends, therapist and his new home country? His amethyst eyes traced the image of his hips in the reflection, and his hands rose as if posessed. Those hands touched his chest and his fingers spread and arched as if he were holding bowls. He brought his knees closer together and leaned forward, his hands still in place, and he was suddenly struck by an intense image. His body was softer, and curved gently but provocatively. His lips had color and he was no longer paranoid about walking outside. He sighed, wanting to fall into the vision. It was perfect, it was right. The maleness which confused him had been destroyed, and he felt a shiver of arousal at what he saw.
Himself as a female.
He stayed there a long time, not wanting to open his eyes. He was smiling and he almost laughed in spite of himself. He finally had a goal. He felt so good. After months of torture, he knew what he needed to do. He stood up and his hands dropped to his side. The image he had seen was now locked in his mind and he did laugh then, giggling into his hand like the schoolgirls he passed. He got dressed quickly, still layering his cloths out of pure contempt for his body. He had no idea what matching the image in his mind was going to take, so now he needed to do some reasearch. He padded into his sister's office without socks and turned on her computer.
Hours later, he heard the key turn in the lock and the crinkle of shopping bags and the mummur of voices as his sister and brother arrived home. He logged off and grabbed the printouts he had made. He stepped into the hall and went to greet his family.
"Isis? Rishid?" He didn't normally address them so directly, and they turned to gaze at him. They had been so supportive of him for the last few months, he reminded himself, and tried to ignore the fluttery feeling in his stomach. "I have something that I need to talk to you about..."
This is a one-shot created out of discussions with close friends of mine. The idea behind this is that Malik was bound to the Pharaoh by his gender. His body is dedicated and carved up to preserve the secret of the Pharaoh's memories and this is what causes him to dissociate in the Series. Following Atem's death, Malik's entire purpose of existance was lost and he fell into complete and abject anhedonia. Malik's decision to change his gender is seen as his only recourse to a personally-fulfilling identity created apart from his father and his ancestors whom he worked so hard and so unsucessfully to "avenge".
I would like to stress my awe for medical science, and I hope that I am representing the feelings of a transgendered person in way that is not insulting. I have learned a great deal from the production of this fiction, and I hope that Malik(-chan)'s story is ongoing.
Thanks for reading. Drop me a line or leave me a review if you have any comments.
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Kazuki Takahashi, obviously.