A/N: I kind of consider this my experiment fic. It's my first serious attempt (outside of oneshots) to write in first person. Also I've decided to write in the present tense which is kind of uncommon for chapter fics.

Besides exploring different stylistic methods than I'm used to, I also want to go more in depth into the relationship between the Spirit of the Ring and the Thief King. It's generally accepted that Yami Bakura is one and the same with the Thief King, but after reading the manga I'm not so sure. Though he does talk about the horror of the massacre of Kuru Eruna, YB also claims that he is Zorc (not to mention the whole "I am Darkness" thing from Battle Ship). This and other aspects of the AE arc leads me to believe that the Thief King (Touzouko in this story) is more like Ryou than anything and was possessed by the evil spirit Yami Bakura. As for YB, I believe he is a piece of Zorc sealed within the Ring. I know that in the AE arc Zorc is sealed in the Underworld, but even watching the dub we know the Ring allows its owner to store bits of themselves within other objects. Perhaps that is what he did to ensure his resurrection.

Wow, that was a really long and confusing explanation. I could go on with more examples that support my theory, but that would take several pages and no doubt be incredibly boring. Anyway, regardless of whether or not you think my crackpot ideas are plausible, I do hope that you as readers will enjoy my story and tell me what you think. Here we go!

Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi's, not mine.

Warning: sex, dirty language, and violence; rated Mature

Chapter 1-Temptation

In the three-thousand plus years since I was sealed within the Sennen Ring, few things have ever surprised me. The Darkness of Malik Ishtar is one of them. I often think of that duel on Kaiba's airship. Mariku was insane, hopelessly, cluelessly, utterly insane, but he was also smart, and for that even Zorc, or Yami Bakura as they now call him, finds him strangely fascinating.


The object of my curiosity is standing in the doorway. A towel is draped around his waist. His hair is wet and glistening. On slender legs he walks out onto the balcony of our Domino apartment to stand beside me.

"What are you staring at, Touzouko?"

"Where's Bakura?" I answer the blonde's question with one of my own.

Mariku shrugs, but I can tell it's getting to him. The two spirits have been together since our resurrection, and Bakura's absences always leave him on edge. Staring out towards the millions of city lights, I feel a sudden flare of animosity for the creature now known as Yami Bakura. How like him, to use Marik only when needed then neglect him like some trivial plaything. After all, that's what he did to Ryou, and yes, even to myself. But that was back when he had power, back when even the devils bowed before him and he was known by all as Zorc the Dark One.

However without shadow powers that remnant of Zorc's soul, the remnant that kept me company in the Ring for all those centuries, is no different from any mortal. Yet there is still a darkness to him, just as there is still a darkness to Mariku. Perhaps that is what attracted them in the first place, the knowledge that neither will ever be quite human.

Sighing, the blonde leans against the railing. "I hate this place," he murmurs, glaring down into the urban jungle beneath us. "I really hate it."

"Why? It's certainly step up from the Shadow Realm."

He laughs, a sound that causes me to visibly grimace. I can't help it. Marik's just so dark, so unfeeling… It's as if it's wrong for him to laugh. Like he shouldn't be allowed. But what am I saying? It isn't Mariku's fault. He can't help being what he is anymore than I can help being both intrigued and repelled by it.

The blonde has stopped laughing, and I chance a look at him. He must have seen me flinch because he is suddenly very cold. He stands there stiffly, face immobile, his eyes like two black holes reflecting nothing but a lifeless abyss. It's strange how someone so malicious and cruel can be so easily wounded.


He doesn't reply but backs away, eyes still vacant, until he reaches the open doorway. Then he does something strange. Before he goes he smiles at me, and I am at once struck with how darkly beautiful the gesture is.

"Goodnight, Touzouko."

The Mariku of today is not the Mariku of Battle City. He is no longer a raving lunatic. Rather, he is a silent one. There is something about him now that is almost tragic, a sort of wistful silence replacing that which was once an all out inferno. Yet somehow this fall from insanity has made him even darker, an eerily maddened apathy that is as frightful as it is alluring.

Bakura has returned. I do not know this because of any palpable evidence like a noise or the flash of white hair. Rather, I sense him on a more subconscious level. Even now, with our own bodies and our own souls, we are bound to one another by a sort of unfathomable attraction. It is strange how little animosity I hold for the creature who destroyed the childhoods of both myself and Ryou. It is true that what he does annoys and often angers me, yet I do not hate him. Bakura is a shadow of myself, a shadow of Ryou, and a shadow of Zorc as well. He doesn't even know what he is anymore. Man? Monster? Spirit? He and Marik are really quite similar. They are both intelligent and insane, frightening and strangely pathetic. Perhaps this is why I am able to endure them.

I can hear them shouting from inside. Their fights are frequent and violent, carrying on long after the neighbors have given up complaining. I don't usually bother getting involved so long as the two don't try to kill each other. After all that's the initial reason Yugi asked me to live with them, to keep their destructive tendencies in check.

"What the hell did you say to Marik? He hasn't been this bitchy in ages."

Bakura is standing in the doorway, leaning against its frame. One hand is on his hip, the other clutching the keys to Ryou's ancient Chevy Lumina. A freshly lit cigarette dangles from his lips, already forgotten.

I shrug. "Where were you? It's past midnight."

Bakura knows me too well. "So that's what it's about, huh?" He laughs. "Shit, that blonde's getting more like a jealous school girl every day!"

Mariku must have heard this because the distinct sound of a glass being shattered echoes through the apartment. The paler yami gives me a smirk that I do not return and walks back down the hallway towards the kitchen.

"Come on, Ishtar! Stop being such a Ra-damned child!"

A slew of Egyptian curses is the blonde's only reply.

About an hour later I am still on the balcony. It is late, well past midnight. Still, I have a hard time forcing myself to go inside. I already know what I'll find. Marik and Bakura have stopped arguing, and that can mean only one of two things. Either one of them has walked out or they are having sex. I haven't heard the door slam since Bakura returned so it's safe to assume the latter.

Sighing heavily, I finally reenter our apartment. My bedroom is the third door on the right. It feels quite strange having a room of my own. As a child I always slept with the rest of my family and then, after they were murdered, under the chill of the desert stars. Never before have I had a permanent place that belonged to me alone. But now, in a world of urban wastelands and ridiculously large houses, I am admittedly grateful for it.

The room shared by Marik and Bakura is across from mine. The door is open, and I can see them lying together on the bed. Marik is on top, mass of golden hair cascading down his back in a way that offsets the harshness of his scars. He runs his tongue across the expanse of Bakura's abdomen, causing the paler's hips to jerk impatiently.

"Shit Ishtar! Get on with it!"

The blonde is unfazed. "Stop complaining. You know you like it." He dips a bit lower, brushing his tongue across Bakura's navel. I shouldn't watch. I know I shouldn't watch, but as dark and insane and morbidly heartless as they can sometimes be, no one can deny that the two are beautiful.

"I'm serious, Marik! Just fuck me already!"

For a moment the look of detachment in Mariku's face slips into something more akin to hurt. But only for a moment. Just as quickly it is gone, and he bends down to nip playfully at the tip of Bakura's manhood.

"DAMNIT MARIKU!" The other bucks his hips violently, at the same time grabbing the blonde's hair to keep his head from moving. "Didn't I tell you to stop fooling around?"

Mariku doesn't reply, but chokes as Bakura's cock is rammed inside his throat. His shoulders shudder with each thrust, and I can only imagine the painful burning sensation this must induce. Finally Bakura has proven his point and allows the tanner Darkness to pull free. Marik rubs his throat and coughs, sending a spray of slightly pink saliva across the bed sheets. "What the fuck was that for?"

"For being stubborn." Bakura throws him a dark smirk. "Now come here."

Marik laughs, and it is that same horribly broken laughter that caused me to shudder out on the balcony. How can he find Bakura's stunt funny yet be so offended by a single involuntary grimace? Insanity? Madness? The blonde's depravity goes even deeper, to a point mere words fail to describe.

Yami Bakura's sudden groan pulls me back into reality. Mariku is inside him now. Porcelain clashes with bronze. Strong, heated bodies move together, becoming one. I turn to go. However at the same time Marik tilts his head to flip the bangs from his face. In that instant our eyes meet, and I am at once stunned by the sheer volume of emotion in his gaze. Loneliness, desire, lust, pain. They come together to form a sort of miasma in his violet clouded eyes. Yet what surprises me most is the shame, shame so deep, so all consuming, that everything else is tainted. It is the shame he feels as he gives in to Bakura's commands. Shame when he realizes that, since the very making of his own existence, he has never once held true control.

And that's what it's all about, isn't it? Control. Without control we are nothing. We would fade back into the shadows from which we pulled ourselves. Like the blonde Bakura understands this. That is why, even when dwelling in the throes of passion, he always finds ways to remain the master.

Quietly I slip into my room. It is dark in here, empty, silent. Stripping myself of all clothing I make my way into the adjoining bathroom. Seeing the two spirits together like that, it's…both Mariku and Bakura are in their own ways very attractive. I don't suppose it's because I'm jealous, rather…a shower. That's what I need, a cold shower.

I hiss as frigid water assaults my body. It's freezing, freezing, freezing cold, but it isn't working. I keep seeing them, two pairs of hooded, not quite human eyes clouded with lust. Hot bodies unconcerned about sin or the consequences that come with it. Together they are more beautiful than any angel could ever be. For this and so much more I hate them, yet I can't help but love them also, Marik for the brutal acuity with which he experiences the world, and as for Bakura…well I suppose if you're around someone long enough you can't help but love them, true?

These thoughts clash with the torrents of icy water beating on my skin. Sinking to my knees, I allow my head to drop. 'Control,' I try to remind myself, but already my hands are drifting to the hardness between my legs. Hopefully the sound of falling water will muffle my groans.

I awaken suddenly at 7:30 the following morning. It is midwinter, so the sun is only just beginning to paint the sky with light. At first I do not know what has so abruptly retrieved me from unconsciousness. Then I sense it. Someone is watching me from the doorway. It's Marik. His aura is easily distinguishable from Bakura's. Carefully opening my eyes, I give him a questioning glance.


I laugh. He actually jumped. Clad in nothing but a pair of boxers, he shakes his head distractedly. "I…uh…the coffee maker. How does it work?"

I roll my eyes. Of the three of us I am usually the only one up before eleven. Therefore I am also the only one capable of operating most of the kitchen appliances. "Did you put in a new filter?"

"A what?"

"Never mind." Getting up, I cast about for something to wear. However the only clothing in sight is piled in the laundry hamper, so I wrap a loose bed sheet around my waist instead. The blonde gives me a funny look but says nothing as we make our way into the kitchen. When we reach our destination I look around.

"Damn cat!" A half dead bird is sprawled out on the floor, its rapidly beating wings spewing blood all over the white linoleum. Circe, the fugitive responsible, looks up from her place on the kitchen table and mewls.

"Come on, Touzouko. It's instinct." Walking over to the snow-furred feline, Mariku scoops her into his arms. Of all the creatures in this world, the only one to which he shows genuine affection is that Ra-damned cat. Ryou bought it for him sometime around Easter as part of his 'introduce yamis to responsibility' plan. Bakura predicted she would last about a week. Malik gave her three days at most.

It is now mid January, and Circe is healthier than ever. She tolerates no one but Marik, eats as much as the average hundred pound Great Dane, and has a nasty habit of dragging injured birds and rodents across the kitchen floor. Still, she's the least of my problems. Keeping Bakura and Marik in line has proven much more difficult.

"Touzouko…the coffee?"

I snort. "Fine. But I'm not cleaning up after your fucking pet!"

Setting down the cat, Mariku shrugs and walks over to scoop up the bird. For a moment its broken body rests delicately in his hands. Its body is gray, but the creature's head and chest are a bright scarlet. A sparrow? Or maybe some sort of house finch. Marik also takes a moment to admire its plumage. He seems to like the contrast, drabness erupting into something more fascinating. Then, face devoid of all emotion, he snaps its neck and throws it in the trash.

"It was a pretty bird."

"Yes," I agree. "It was."

This shouldn't bother me. After all, even before Zorc I was no stranger to death. As a child I saw my parents die, and as a man I myself learned to kill. That was how things were back then. Your only options lay at the tip or hilt of a sword. No, I really shouldn't care about the bird, but as usual anything involving Marik affects me differently.

"Wash your hands. I've heard that some birds carry diseases."

"Yeah. Okay." He nods and heads over to the sink. In the meantime I busy myself with the coffee maker. Coffee's another thing about the modern world I like. Leaning against the counter, I take in its heavy aroma.

"Smells good, huh?"

"Yeah." I do not mention why I like the scent of brewing coffee. It reminds me of the sultry desert rain, of that soft, heady lilt that colored my mother's voice.

Grabbing the coffee pot, I fill my mug to the brim. The first sip sends warmth radiating throughout my body. I love it. After knowing the chill of the Shadow Realm for so long, any heat is welcome.

"Fucking Ra, Marik! Where the hell did all that blood come from?" Bakura is standing just inside the doorway, viewing the blood left by the bird with a trace of amusement.

The blonde smirks. "Circe."

"Oh. For a second there I thought Touzouko had finally wigged out and attacked you."

I roll my eyes. "Silly bastard. I'm reserving that for you."

A gleam that is both playful and very dangerous flickers in the paler's eyes. "Then by all means, reserve it. Though after a few go rounds in my bed, you'll probably change your mind."

Suddenly the kitchen is too small, the sheet around my waist no more substantial than air. I know what Bakura wants. He wants to take from me what he took from Marik, and in truth a part of me wants to give it…but no. He has taken everything, everything from me but that, and I refuse to go back to being his pawn.

"Go to hell, Bakura." Hitching the fabric more securely on my hips, I brush past him into the hall. I catch a brief glance of both their faces as I pass. The spirit of the ring looks angry, bemused…determined. I don't like that. Yet as uneasy as his gaze makes me, the blonde's is stranger. There is a look on Mariku's face I've never seen before. Not hatred, most certainly not love. Rather it is something more ordinary, more run of the mill. Is it amusement I see? Admiration? Perhaps not. Perhaps he knows that it's simply a matter of time.

Either way one thing is certain. I have to get out of this house. I'll go to Ryou's. He always complains about being lonely anyway. Discarding the sheet, I dig around in my closet for something to wear. Good thing it's a Saturday. If not Ryou would be at school, and I really would have nowhere to go.

Finding my last pair of clean jeans and a shirt that is only slightly rumpled, I dress and make my way back towards the kitchen. Marik and Bakura are still in there…making out on the table.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing? People eat off of that!"

The paler of the two gives me a vicious smirk. "Jealous, Touzouko?"

It's not even ten o'clock, and already I've had enough of Bakura's bullshit to last a lifetime. Times like this make me wonder why I even fucking bother, why I was stupid enough to agree to live here, to baby sit a soulless shadow and his mental disorder of a lover. It would be easier if I could hate them. Hatred is easy. It's when you throw love into the mix that things turn ugly. How is it that I can both hate and love them at the same time? It doesn't make sense. I...

I shouldn't complain. After all, I'm here of my own choosing. I could have stayed with Ryou, lived a normal, sane life away from the maddening darkness that has haunted me since childhood…but no. I chose to remain, and even now I can't explain it.

"Where the hell are you going?"

Marik's words lack everything, warmth, life, even emotion. Yet for some reason they calm me, and I am able to respond.

"I'll be at my hikari's."


"See you in a bit, Touzouko."

I exit the apartment quickly, eager to leave behind Bakura's smirk and Mariku's hopelessly vacant eyes.

"Touzouko! What a surprise!" As usual, Ryou appears happy to see me. He ushers me in quickly, his face, so like and unlike Bakura's, glowing with joy. "It sure has been a while. You look tired. Would you like to sit down? How about something to eat?"

I ruffle his hair gently. "No, I'm not hungry. How's school?"

The boy shrugs. "Oh, it's pretty much been the same old thing. My grades in Physics and Calculus were starting to slip, but I brought them back up, and I…"

As quiet as he can be there are times when Ryou never stops talking. Then again, he probably feels abandoned much of the time, living alone in such a big house. I try to keep him company as much as possible. So do Yugi and his friends, but ever since Malik left my hikari's been rather forlorn.

"So how are they?"

Sitting across from him at the dining room table, I give the boy a quizzical look. "How are who?"

"Marik and Bakura, of course."

"Oh, they're…" I remember the morning's bizarre events. "….they're fine. Things have been pretty quiet."

"No broken bones?"

I smile, though that is in fact a viable concern. "Not lately."

"Well I still think you'd have a lot less trouble if you all got out of that apartment and came and lived with…"

"Ryou, we've talked about this." The harshness of my words causes him to flinch. "We both know how crazy Mariku is, and as for Bakura…well you've seen for yourself what he can do to people. I'm not sure you can handle them."

"I handled Bakura for four years before you got your own bodies, Touzouko! And Marik really isn't that bad now that he can't use shadow magic."

"Yes, but…" What can I say? Ryou's stronger than he looks. In truth he probably would be able to deal with them, but that's just it. He shouldn't have to. It's a couple thousand years too late for me, but he can still escape, live the normal life that he always deserved.

"Touzouko, you need to have more faith in them." He grasps my calloused hands in his own, smaller ones. "They can change. It just takes time."

I remember the bird, how Marik seemed to hesitate before taking its life. Maybe my hikari's right. Maybe they can change. Maybe they can learn to shed their heartlessness and live like everyone else in a structured world. But that's a lot of maybes, and I'm not willing to risk Ryou's health on any of them.

"You stay here, Ry. I can handle everything on my own."

"Oh come on! I…" His sentence fades, leaving nothing but a sad expression on his face. "You can't keep doing this to yourself, Touzouko. This isn't ancient Egypt. You're allowed to have friends. Why do you keep isolating yourself?"

"Isolating myself?"

My hikari nods. "I hate seeing you so alone."

Alone… Am I lonely? I know Ryou is. He sits by himself in this huge house every day, humming tunelessly and praying for friends to stop by. In his melancholy he is an outsider to Yugi and his companions, yet in his sanity he is an outsider to ourselves. I truly pity my light. I never knew he felt the same towards me.

But he is wrong. I have never been alone. Even after I was orphaned I had Diabound, the silent, angelic monster who guarded me even when my soul became irreversibly entangled in Zorc's. Then, when my guardian was also claimed by Zorc and the ravenous evil of the Sennen Items, there was always Bakura. He was nothing but a small sliver of the greater Darkness, installed in me in case I decided to rebel. And though I hated him I was also grateful. Deceitful whispers were better than the crushing emptiness of desert sands.

"Malik's coming back for a visit."

"He is?"

"Yeah." Ryou grins cheerfully. "He called me last night. It sure will be nice to see him again."

"Yes, of course." Malik has spent the past eight months in Egypt with Rishid and his sister, and I wonder silently what has compelled him to return. The blonde couldn't cope with living in Domino. It was too crowded. He longed for the desert, for its heat and its people and its stark, cloudless sky. Also he wanted to get away from Marik. Malik was absolutely mortified when his yami returned, and his hatred has not diminished with the spirit's apparent reformation. No, Malik will hate him until the end of time, but Mariku, strangely enough, doesn't appear to feel anything at all for his light. Neither sadness nor rage cloud his visage when Malik's name is spoken, and never once has he brought up the subject. For someone born of pure malice this really is bizarre.

"I invited him to stay here. I hope you don't mind."

I shrug. "Why would I care? It's your house."

"Yeah, I guess that's true." Getting up, Ryou goes and stands by the window. "I've really missed him. I mean…it's been so long..."

"Since you had the chance to stare at his ass?" I laugh at the blush of embarrassment that rushes to my hikari's cheeks.

"Th-that's not…"

"Don't deny it. I've seen how you look at him, that stupid smile you get when he gives you a compliment. You can't deceive me! I'm your darkness, your tenant. I know all of your thoughts! I am your…"

Ryou bursts out laughing. Evidently my Bakura impression was a little over the top. Ryou is one of the few people who can get me to act like this. I suppose it is because I can relate to him. We both understand what it is to be controlled by darkness, and we both know the sadness of loss. He is much more intelligent than Yugi and his friends give him credit for, and much less innocent.

He is a keen observer, and his interest in the occult is practically limitless. That is why when the Spell of Resurrection was performed my light was neither surprised nor frightened when two specters instead of one emerged from his soul room.

I still shudder, remembering what it was like to feel the earth beneath my feet after more than three thousand years. Unlike Bakura I was unable to control our host's body. I was simply kept chained away in the farthest reaches of Ryou's mind. It wasn't until Memory World that I was finally released, well not so much released as put to use.

The new world is much grander, more bizarre, and terribly crowded than before, yet I am surprised to find it very much the same. It is just as cruel, just as beautiful, and just as unfathomable as it was then. The human race has done much to alter it, but the soul of the earth is a resilient thing, and even after 3000 years of turmoil the palpitations of its heart are quite the same.

"Touzouko? Touzouko!"

"Yeah?" Once more I leave behind my reflections and force myself to focus on Ryou. He looks kind of worried.

"Are you okay? You were kind of…"

"Spacing out."

He laughs. "Yeah. Anyway, I have to go down to the airport in about an hour to pick up Malik. Want to come?"

"No." I shake my head. "I'd better get going."

"Oh. Alright." Getting up, Ryou walks with me to the door. "Call if you need anything, okay?"

Knowing full well that he says this as much for his benefit as my own, I give my hikari a fleeting smile. "Yeah, okay. Have fun with Malik." Then I am out the door. It is snowing, something I never saw in Egypt, and I pause to watch the flakes descend the brooding sky. It is around two o'clock in the afternoon, and I'm not ready to go home. Maybe I'll take a walk. After all, I'd like some time to myself before I have to go back to dealing with Marik and Bakura.

I reach home just as the sky is beginning darken. The clouds have cleared, and everything seems drenched in the blue-gray of twilight. Opening the door I am at once struck by how eerily quiet the apartment has become. With Marik and Bakura you can expect many things, but silence is not one of them. Making my way down the shadowed hall I suddenly feel a tingling at the back of my neck.


"Hmm…hello Touzouko."

I can sense more than see the dangerous smirk on his face as I turn around. "What do you want?"

Stepping into a patch of moonlight that spills across the carpet, Bakura winks. "We've known each other a long time, Touzouko. What do you think?"

"I think I've had enough of your bullshit. I'm going to bed."

"Oh, don't be like that." Mariku is standing in the doorway of their bedroom. His head is cocked like that of a spaniel, yet the desire in his eyes quickly erases any misguided thoughts of innocence. I shudder. There is something thrilling about the want in those amethyst orbs, something that is becoming harder to quell with each passing second.

"You know you want it."

Facing Mariku was a mistake. I can now feel Bakura's breath against the back of my neck, his pale arms moving to my waist.

"Give in." His voice is dark, rich to the point of intoxicating. "We want you, tomb robber."

My body, too shocked to function, quivers as he presses against me. 'Control,' I try to remind myself. 'It's all about control.' To escape the darkness that is Yami Bakura, that is Zorc, that is the twisted magnificence of Mariku's gaze. That is my ultimate goal. But Bakura is right also. I want it. I really do.



I compel myself to focus on the blonde's face, hoping it will somehow help me keep my sanity. He's coming closer. His perfect lips, kissed silver by the moonlight, are open in a voiceless sigh.

"Mariku! What are you…"

"Shh…" Almost shyly he presses his lips against my own. They are warm and amazingly soft, and though I wish I wouldn't I find myself leaning in to the madman's kiss. Vaguely, I am aware of Bakura's triumphant chuckle behind me, but it doesn't matter. All I can think about is that hot mouth that my tongue has only just begun to explore. Marik is moaning. His nails dig painfully into the flesh of my upper arms. I want to see him trembling beneath me, hear cries that are almost human limping about inside his throat. Then there's what I really want, the warmth of another body pressed tight against my own.

My thoughts must be rather evident because when Bakura speaks his voice is heavy with amusemen. "I told you." He licks my ear, grinding his newly formed erection hard against my ass. "You fucking want it. You always have."