Shadow: Mischiefshipping – Mana x Thief King

Warnings: mature themes/events, pretty dark.

Like Dead

The Millennium Ring's pointers pressed into her forehead, sharp and cruel, jagged as the pieces of Mana's broken, splintered heart as she cried before her abductor, hating the man, hating the situation she was in, missing her Mahado and her life at the Palace dearly, dearly.

A rude voice from above her interrupted her thoughts:

"Does it bother you that I wear the symbol of someone you loved around my neck?"

Mana ignored the harsh tones, crying harder, forehead still pushing against her tormentor's stomach. "Master…"

Bakura slid down, pulling the girl's fingers from the Ring and sitting back on his haunches with a self-satisfied expression. "Do you miss him, little magician girl?"

Mana only continued to sob openly, kohl smudging and staining her cheeks, hair tangled about her usually so cheerful face. She didn't care anymore.

The caravan took a break in their journey along the desert road to Thebes at a handily-situated oasis, hiding from the noontime sun under the shade of the trees at the water's edge. A few servants occasionally bustled out of the large tents that had been speedily erected for the caravan's people to rest in, filling up water skins and bowls as their masters and mistresses rested, sleeping out the intense heat.

Lethargy hung over the camp, and most of the people inside the tents were sleeping, catching up on rest lost during their night journey. A young girl, however, rebelling (although not consciously so) against the tradition, was wide awake and chattering to her weary mother, the child having slept during the night as the rest of the caravan moved.

She was a pretty girl, dressed in the traditional Egyptian fashion, head hid under an impressive stylised wig of raven-black hair. Her skin was tanned; her arms and ankles wrapped in bangles and bracelets, sitting by her mother as the servants nearby fanned them repeatedly to try and drive off some of the oppressive heat.

She hated him. Hated him, loathed and abhorred him and told him so again and again and again as he laughed at her, mocked her coldly for her tears. She slapped him in response, and he grabbed her wrist, twisting it, furious at her rebellion.

Mana cried out once, lowly, at the pain, before gritting her teeth and refusing to let her captor have any more of the same.

Bakura twisted her arm higher, higher, until she felt her arm would break –

"Stop it!" Her plea cut through the tomb they stood in, loud and terrified, and Mana almost fainted at the thought she could have disturbed the peacefully slumbering dead. (Anubis would have to take pity on her, surely? When she wasn't in His domain by her own will?)

Bakura smirked at her, turned her around and caught her chin in his harsh grip. His eyes looked black to Mana in the gloom, like those of an unblinking snake. "What would you give me if I did…?"

She was the perfect Egyptian girl, at first glance. Clearly born of a fairly rich family she had no worries in her life, and her bone structure was built petite, singing of her heritage. Glancing up from under her kohl-rimmed lashes however…

Her eyes were green. Bird-bright, vivid green, a startling contrast to her white clothes and black hair. No Egyptian bore eyes that hue and claimed a parentage fully Egypt-born, and so it was the case with seven year-old Mana. Her father was Egyptian, her mother hailing from Greece, and Mana bore both of her parents' native traits well. Her Grecian mother, however, anal about fitting into the society she had joined, tried to repress anything about her daughter that seemed un-Egyptian in any way, scolding Mana for wearing her dress in the foreign fashions, and showing off her lighter-than-dark hair.

It grew hotter. Everyone moved inside, even the servants fetching water, horses and camels tethered in the shade close enough to the pools at the oasis if they needed a drink. Everyone slept, made drowsy by the soaring temperatures, and Mana joined them.

No-one saw the rapidly approaching dust-cloud on the horizon.

He was dirty – unclean -, and she wriggled furiously in his dusty, smelly touch. He stunk, filth that he was, reject of the gods and society, and Mana wriggled, writhed, trying to get free, unwilling for his dirt to taint hers further than it had done already. Ma'at would weigh against this man's soul, and Ammut would devour his heart, bloody and red when it was torn from his chest. Bakura was damned to oblivion, Mana knew it, all knew it, and she refused to be sucked down into the pit alongside him.

Bakura did not take well to her protests, overriding them, overriding Mana in all ways that counted when magic and justice was pushed aside, and his sheer physical strength outweighed her completely.

Mana despaired.

No-one was fully awake when the thieves hit the camp.

They brought the wrath of Set with them, riding into the tent and ripping the cloth open with sharp-edged swords. The horses were cut loose, driven into the cackling band of brigands and snatched up to be sold on, bags lying about the place grabbed and emptied, everything either spilling out over the sand or ending up in grubby, thieving fingers.

There were women screaming, men yelling, metal singing as some of the guards finally woke up enough to grab their weapons, trying to beat back the intruders, sword meeting sword in a violent clash of noise and light. The sun burned down mercilessly and the sand kicked up into the air coating everything, blinding, choking, and people ran about dazed, panicking.

She didn't want this – she didn't -, even if her heartbeat pounded through her ribcage in a little more than fear, the twisting current in her stomach more than just dread alone. The very thought of possessing more than abject disgust and hatred for the thief terrified Mana, made her loathe herself even as she waged war internally.

Mahado burned in her mind – her once sweet, innocent mind – and she made her choice, fighting, fighting and resisting and so very much saying no –

It was too late, the world exploding behind her eyes in one sharp thrust of pain. Raw warmth trickled out of her, agony rushing from outside in, surge after surge after surge as the pain pulsed, flared, and Mana was out of her mind, nails turned to claws that scratched and drew blood and she pushed and she pulled and she whimpered as, mindless, she had no idea of what she was doing anymore. She was locked to that razor movement of pain, riding the crest half-smothered to death, ribs crushed and breath gasping – never enough breath, never, never. Pulses of torture tore up her insides and pulled her psyche to shreds, and he was everywhere, covering her inside and out, and there was just pain and more pain – on, and on, and on.

Mana missed her life in the Royal Palace, before the problem with the Shadows had reared its head, back when she had merely been Mahado's dearest student, the Prince's laughing friend.

Mana whimpered when her throat hurt too much to scream anymore, and the silent dead watched another part of her die, unforgiving.

Mana ran, dazed from drowsing, like the others were. A daughter of nobility her jewellery naturally caught the eyes of the thieves, one of the younger ones stalking her through the chaos and confronting her when she went to hide in one of the bushes by the oasis's water.

He was taller than her, older than her, cockier than her. Brazen and rude, snatching Mana's wrist when she tried to flee from him, frightened, and pulling at the silver armlet her father had given her as a present. His white hair hung in jagged spikes around his face, bright and hot as Mana's own flare of temper.

She kicked him, furious he would try to take what did not belong to him, too small to make the blow anywhere truly significant but upset enough to make sure the thief would have a charming bruise on his shin the following day.

She felt heavy, so heavy, weary and listless and uncaring as she lay upon the hard floor, hair fanning out around her head. Hot tears plucked at her eyes, dribbled down her cheeks but flushed as she was, skin still heated – and the air itself was still so hot, so hot – she never felt them, never thought to feel them, ache spreading from between her legs, from every finger-sized bruise on her limbs, to the bump on the back of her skull where she'd hit the wall and floor.

Bakura had left her there, in the tomb, and she was glad – so, so glad. She hated herself enough right then without having to hate herself more for being unable to move, unable to drive aside her own revulsion and pain and numbness to get up – had the thieving, bastard thief been there – and claw someone's eyes out of their skull.

Sand. Dust. Heat. Screaming.

The young thief went after the younger Mana, snatched at her again, and Mana fought him, irate, hearing her caravan around her go through woes quite like her on, the thunder of the horse's hooves on the unforgiving dirt. Metal clashing, sharp nails digging deep into her skin to try and yank from her what she would not willingly give –

A warning cry – the thieves attempting to move off –

Mana's assaulter left her with a snarl to the sound of approaching hoofbeats, lips bared, hands empty as he sped away. Mana stared after him dazedly, watching his receding figure through the sand in the air, staring, staring, staring until someone lightly touched her on the shoulder.

White – white – white, burned into her memories, the unforgiving rays of Ra upon the desert at noon -

She turned – saw a boy dressed all in white and gold, with brown hair and a concerned expression. Behind him were the colours of the Pharaoh – soldiers of the king.

Mana clung to the brunet.


The caravan was escorted to the Royal Palace.

Bakura's fault. Bakura's. From beginning to end, that hideous, insidious thief had wormed his way into Mana's perfect life, set her on paths she would not, in hindsight, rather have taken. It had been Bakura, she was sure of it, that had raided her caravan, had fought her, back when she had been so very, very young. It had been Bakura that had driven her to cling, terrified, to the trainee priest who had been riding with the army that had come to save the besieged camp. It had been Bakura who had taken the life of that selfsame priest, trainee no longer, that Mana truly, deeply and perfectly loved, bringing the Shadows, the pain, the suffering, and the uncomfortable truth.

Mana lay, upon the floor of the tomb, and wondered whether it would be alright for her to wish she was dead.

She saw the glint of the Millennium Ring before she saw Bakura. Mana could not summon the strength to do more than stare blankly at the returned thief, motionless upon the ground when the other approached her once more, crouched down so the golden Item dangled over her head, the eye of Ra swinging tauntingly into her vision.

Bakura, mockingly, patted her head, fingers catching in the knots in the girl's hair, seemingly amused by the other's fixation with the Ring, repeating his earlier question. "Does it bother you that I wear the symbol of someone you loved around my neck?"

"…Does it bother you," Mana weakly returned, past caring what the other would do to her, "that you're in effect wearing your own mother?"

Bakura paused in his petting, looking down. His eyes – cruel eyes -, were snakelike no more, cold and dead to fit in with the atmosphere of the tomb. They reflected perfectly the state of his heart.

Or perhaps they just reflected Mana's own heart then, she didn't know.

The tomb was silent.