Disclaimer: Yuugiou (Yu-Gi-Oh!, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters) is the property of Takahashi Kazuki and respective publishers, including Shueisha, Studio Gallop, Nihon Ad Systems, Toei Animation, 4Kids, and others. I would never claim to own it or attempt to make money off of it- just think of this as a written, free doujinshi and hopefully we'll get along fine ;)

Vocabulary: 'Mahoutsukai' literally means magic-user, so essentially, Bakura is being an ass and mocking Malik's lack of rank. 'Ore-sama' is made up of the masculine pronoun for 'I', and a respectful honorific which is translated as 'lord' in certain situations. 'Ou-sama' is one of Bakura's names for the Pharaoh, 'ou' being king and 'sama' being a respectful honorific. 'Haha-ue' is a respectful term for mother, 'ue' literally meaning above. Damned if I can find a source at the moment, but I'm positive that 'Oyakata' is a term which was used in some time periods for a village headman. 'Nii-san' is a way to refer to an older brother. Suteku (swtx) is from one of the Egyptian variants of Set's name. Wepuwaweto (wpwAwt) is a war deity who was later associated with Anubis (anpw) and thus death. Shenu (Snw) is the Egyptian term for a cartouche, used to record the names of the Pharaohs and sometimes their wives. Ammeto is from Ammit/Ammut/whatever (I'm trying to find the transliteration!), who devours the hearts of those judged impure when weighed.

Menchu is the name I chose for Malik's ancient self in my AE stories, taken from the Egyptian god Mentchu (mnTw), a war-god with a falcon's head.

The Oath of a Thief

He'd found him, broken and bloodied, by the cliffs leading to his lair, and something about the sorcerer had compelled Bakura to take a second look. Normally it meant nothing to him- he came across dead and dying people from time to time and had no issues with ignoring them. But this one…hair paler than any sand, the clear mark of one with innate Kaa, and eyes that showed as a deep amethyst when Bakura kicked him awake. He was pretty, if pretty was also bleeding and vicious-looking. An interesting combination in a man, and Bakura found himself indulging in curiosity.

"What, I'm not dead yet?" the sorcerer muttered, voice deep if hoarse, shifting on the stones and grimacing. "Damn, this is going to take a while…do me a favor and hurry it up?"

The manner of the request, if not the request itself, was somewhat startling, and Bakura found himself chuckling. "And why should I help you, mahoutsukai? Ore-sama is a thief…I do nothing for free."

"Do I look like I have anything on me?" the sorcerer snapped. "It would be the work of a second to cut my throat, asshole…"

"How did you end up like this anyway, mahoutsukai? Pissed off the wrong man?"

"Bandits, actually. Thought I'd try my hand at killing them, but they had some new sorcerer knifed into working for them…I was too busy with the dragon to fight them off properly…"

The sorcerer was starting to fall unconscious again, but Bakura's interest was piqued by his tale, and so he slung the sorcerer's body over his horse and took him into his lair. He did some perfunctory work on the sorcerer's wounds, though nothing too fancy, since he hardly planned on keeping him.

When the sorcerer woke up again his first reaction was to curse. "Damn it all, Suteku and Wepuwaweto take it…I'm still not dead?" He turned his head, and scowled at Bakura. "You, thief…what the fuck are you waiting for?"

Bakura shrugged, smirking. "I was bored, you were mildly interesting…thought I might as well get some entertainment out of you before you die, you know?"

"What, you have a fetish for fucking people who are half dead?"

Bakura laughed, the sound echoing around them in the caverns of his lair. "Hardly, though I might have fucked you if I'd found you in better health… It's your stories of bandits I want, mahoutsukai. You said they forced a sorcerer into working for them?"

The sorcerer stared at him, eyes level and hard, for a long time before speaking. "Aa. They choose young ones, weak ones…sorcerers who aren't trained well. Beat them badly enough to bring the Kaa out and then keep a knife to their throat so they won't turn the Kaa on them. Usually they kill the sorcerers before they can get enough control to be a danger to them. Works surprisingly well."

"Disgusting," Bakura said with a snarl. Maybe he'd do this sorcerer a favor and finish off his job with them.

The sorcerer raised a brow. "What, you have morals?"

"Here and there." Bakura's eyes narrowed. "The only law of magic Ore-sama follows- if you're going to profit off pain, make sure it's your own."

"A surprisingly good one, especially considering the source. The priests could do with following your law."

"Rulers care more about the kingdom than the people, mahoutsukai. Don't you know that?"

The sorcerer shifted, otherwise silent, before finally answering. "I do. Well, thief, is there anything else you want?"

"Entertainment, like I said. I am in the middle of nowhere with only a horse for company, after all."

"I should have tried to kill myself before you came along, shouldn't I?" the sorcerer asked. "I was having some trouble finding a way to do it without a weapon…perhaps I could just make my Kaa slit my throat."

"I've heard that having it around while you die can be messy," Bakura warned him. "I remember a sorcerer down in Kush…he ended up with the rest of his soul bound into his Kaa that way, got stuck as a monstrous scorpion. May be more worthwhile if your Kaa is pretty, but…" Bakura shrugged.

The sorcerer sighed. "I suppose dying would be better. Maybe I'd see Nii-san again…" he trailed off, and soon fell unconscious again.

Bakura tried to get some work done with the newest magic scrolls he'd stolen and sent to his lair, but the sorcerer's body drew his eyes, as if his wounded body were a blemish needing to be fixed. He was pretty enough and decent company, but the indecision was aggravating.

When the sorcerer woke again he cursed Bakura. His vocabulary was really quite inventive…was that even a language from Kemet just then? When his invective died down he spat on the stone floor. "You're a fucking bastard, you know that? What will it take to make you get it over with and kill me?"

"Feel free to make a suggestion, mahoutsukai."

The sorcerer snorted. "It's Menchu, bastard."


Menchu's eyes ran over him, narrowing slightly. "I've never heard of a name like that…"

"A meaningless name. Us 'demons' are never popular."

Menchu nodded. "I always thought that my father would have claimed I wasn't his if it wouldn't require him accusing my mother of adultery as well."

Bakura cocked his head, and found himself offering some personal information. "Ore-sama's village was one of thieves- they had no problem labeling Ore-sama a bastard and Haha-ue a whore when Oyakata-sama refused to claim us."

"And yet you're a sorcerer…probably better than all of them," Menchu said, voice hard but matter of fact.

"Aa. They always regret treating demon children the way they do, one way or another."

"Mhm…" the sorcerer turned his head, staring at the far wall. "The priests say that powerful Kaa is a gift from the gods. What do you think? I'd say either it's bull or the gods really think humans are evil."

Bakura stared, trying to interpret Menchu's voice and expression, but his face was blank, and his voice the same as ever- a criminal's confidence. "In the end? I'd say they just know what we are. Humans are capable of many other things, but the parts of us capable of the most destructive force are always our negative emotions. You hate, don't you? The sorcerer who hates without holding anything back is always the most powerful. Even innate Kaa can only make up for it somewhat."

"Hmm. Our evil is the strongest, then?"

"The most powerful forces in this kingdom were created by murder and torture." Bakura turned away as he felt the stirrings of Heka, his temper rising.

"Were you tortured, then?" The sorcerer's voice was serious again, as it had been when speaking of seeing his siblings in death.

Bakura's Heka flared up in response, and he snapped back, "Well, what about you, mahoutsukai? You say you have access to your Kaa, and I can tell that you're powerful and used to using that power, even as you lie dying before Ore-sama." He rose, sweeping over to the sorcerer and standing over him. "If I can recognize your power even as you lie here mercy to Ore-sama's every whim…" he laughed darkly. "I could do anything to you, mahoutsukai, and you couldn't fight Ore-sama off."

Menchu had grown tense, eyes narrowed and teeth bared, and now Bakura felt the stirrings of his Kaa, the screaming of a bird of prey… "Do not…don't even think about it, Bakura. Kill me, leave me to die…but I will not stand for being used by you. Try it and I'll be sure to rip you to pieces, even if I don't get my chance in this lifetime."

"Oh?" Bakura raised his brows. "Used, you say? Hmm…it was those bandits, wasn't it? You were their tool before you grew strong enough to escape them. Seems you've been used quite a lot, mahoutsukai. What's one more time?"

Menchu trembled, snarling, and the bird screamed, before springing forth and striking at Bakura, slashing his chest with its claws as it swept past him. In response Bakura brought forth Diabaundo, throwing the bird back to the wall of the lair, and the bird trilled, vanishing before he could even get a good look at it. He glared down at Menchu, ready to insult him again, but snorted and turned away when he saw that the sorcerer had fallen unconscious again.

He paced for most of the day, temper rising again whenever he looked back down on the sorcerer. He really should have just killed him, shouldn't he? Instead he'd taken the ingrate in for entertainment, and every damned word out of the sorcerer's mouth pissed him off but also lessened his willingness to kill him. Menchu was a hate-filled, arrogant bastard, and the most like-minded person Bakura had ever met. He really was proving entertaining.

Damned sorcerer…finally Bakura gave in and looked at his wounds again, putting some real effort into cleaning them, and after some consideration covered them with acacia and sycamore leaves before wrapping them in new bandages. He was a bit feverish but nothing too serious, so Bakura returned to his studying for a time.

"What, still alive?" Menchu's voice was somewhat groggy when he next awoke, but just as annoyed. "Do you regularly take people in and watch them die? You have a fucked up sense of entertainment."

"Ask something intelligent and I might answer, mahoutsukai," Bakura said, not bothering to look up from his reading.

He heard movements, the shifting of a body, and then Menchu's voice. "Why did you do this?"

"It doesn't matter. Or are you so determined to die that you won't accept a way out?"

Menchu snorted. "I'm wondering what ulterior motive you have, Bakura. Or are you going to tell me you've had a sudden altruistic inspiration?"


Things continued in that vein for two more days, with Bakura checking up on Menchu's state every once in a while and the sorcerer complaining and insulting him whenever he was awake and had the energy. There was an edge of wariness behind his insults, though- probably afraid of what Bakura was trying to keep him alive for.

"You know that if I recover I'll be a match for you? You won't get much use out of a sorcerer who can face you equally," Menchu said, sneering.

Bakura growled. "Would you shut up, mahoutsukai? I don't have any plans to use you, you ass!"

"Then why? I know you're not doing this just to help me. What are you planning on getting out if it?"

"Nothing, idiot. You're entertaining and I decided it would be a waste to sit around and watch you die."

Menchu looked up at him, eyes narrowing for a moment before he smirked. "What, that boring out here? Or maybe you do want to fuck me- can't be any other available bodies around."

Bakura rolled his eyes. "Opium. Take it, and stop exposing Ore-sama to your idiocy."

Menchu ate and drank sparingly, unable to keep much down, and though Bakura would never say anything it worried him. It was only a few hours later that he finally decided to look into the sorcerer's Baa and see if he could do anything from there. It looked healthy for a moment, relatively uninterrupted silver…before with a shudder Bakura realized that it was growing distant from Menchu's body.

Leaving his exploration of Menchu's soul and returning to physical awareness, Bakura's ears roared, and he dimly acknowledged the hollow feeling in his stomach. Just as he decided to keep him around the sorcerer had to go and die? Growing faint with rage and shuddering, Bakura clenched his fists. The pain as his nails scraped along his skin, drawing blood, brought him back to awareness a little, enough so that he heard Menchu.

"Are you angry because I'm going to die or because I'm going to live, Bakura?" The sorcerer asked, sounding almost dryly amused.

Bakura snarled. "This isn't some joke, mahoutsukai!"

"I never said it was," Menchu said, eyes blank and his expression level. "You're the one who made entertainment out of my situation."

"You think it's been entertaining for Ore-sama, doing healer's work? Dropping everything for-" He broke off, muttering curses, poisonous as the Heka that was surrounding him.

Menchu watched him, gaze still blank, as he paced about his lair, kicking down piles of treasures and burning some of the uglier pieces with his Heka. His eyes followed Bakura everywhere, though he said nothing, gave away not a hint of what he was feeling. He was better at hiding emotions, Bakura thought distantly, with the small part of him not focused on raging. Arrogance was the only front Bakura was capable of when he needed to hide his true feelings.

Wasn't he afraid of dying? He was a thief like Bakura, would probably end up in Ammeto's jaws if he didn't find a way to escape an honest judgment. And yet he asked for death, waited for it, as if he expected something good to come of it. Idiot.

It was hours later when Menchu spoke again, when Bakura's rage had fallen to simmering, low at the moment but gathering strength to flare out again. "You wanted to save me, didn't you, Bakura?"

Bakura said nothing, but didn't deny it. Apparently that was good enough for Menchu, who caught his eyes, emotion entering his face and eyes again though Bakura couldn't read them. "When I realized what you were doing…I thought that if you saved me I'd give myself to you. You could have me. I don't have much else to go for, and I owe you, don't I? But you can have me anyway, even though you can't save me."

Now confusion ran through Bakura, and he covered it with arrogance. "I thought you'd kill Ore-sama if I tried to use you, mahoutsukai. Why the change of heart?"

Menchu snorted in disgust. "I'm not talking about that, idiot. I'm giving myself to you."

Bakura raised a brow. "There's a difference?" he asked, making the disdain in his voice evident.

"Fucking idiot, yes! It's choice, it's will…" Menchu's expression grew distant. "I doubt it's worth much, but you have my oath."

"Oath…" Bakura's eyes widened, and again felt the unpleasant sensation of his ears roaring. The sorcerer couldn't possibly be serious… "What sort of idiot are you, to think you can do that?" he snapped. "To think that you have the right to do that? Don't you know that the oath of a thief means nothing?"


Bakura had to wonder what the fuck Menchu had learnt as a child, to do this. He had grown up in a village of thieves, taught their ways and what was denied them from birth, and wasn't idiot enough to believe in this. Oaths…swearing yourself to someone was for nobles, priests, the Pharaoh even. No one gave a damn about the oaths of people like tomb robbers, and no tomb robber gave enough of a damn to make something as idiotic as an oath like that.

And yet he was sworn to gain revenge for his people…but even so, he didn't expect the gods or anyone else to honor it! He knew that if he wanted to survive for long enough, continue on if he failed in this lifetime, then he'd need to preserve himself and return through his own powers.

"If my oath isn't honored then I'll make it happen," Menchu said suddenly. "It's my promise and the rest of them can go hang- I'll keep it if I have to get Anguha to set the gods who touch me on fire."

And Bakura had to laugh, amused and a bit hysterical. "Now you're making more sense, mahoutsukai. You were starting to sound like some idiotic priest for a moment there."

"Should I be insulted?" Menchu asked, his voice containing a small hint of a drawl.

"What do you think?"

"That it's probably the largest insult you've dealt me since we met," Menchu replied, and now amusement was evident in his voice.

Bakura didn't say anything else, hardly in the mood for joking. Energy deserting him, he swept over to Menchu's side and sat by him, looking down at the sorcerer…his sorcerer's face, emotions and rage and something he had no name for, perhaps desire, settling to a slow burn in him. He examined Menchu's features, pretty hair and eyes and hard, lean body. He focused on the thought that Menchu was his, the reality of it, and was distantly surprised to find his throat aching.

A thought came to him, a memory of a magical experiment with his innate talent long past… The spirit's appearance took after a person's appearance upon separation from the body- if Menchu was left like this his spirit might be stuck looking this way, covered in now useless bandages and only an old kilt, forever.

Though he was reluctant to move from his place, he forced himself to rise and go digging through his treasures. Better kilt, a purple robe like his sorcerer's eyes which, unlike his, would cut off at the elbows and knees…earrings, collar, arm bands, bands for the calves…they'd suit Menchu's looks.

He returned to Menchu's side, placing them down and pulling him to a sitting position. "You don't want to look like that for the rest of your existence, do you?"

Menchu's skin was hotter than ever, and perhaps the fever had begun to grow too high for even a sorcerer to stay fully sober in; he didn't bother responding, and his eyes were slightly glazed, though he glared well enough. But he seemed to like the clothing and jewelry, nodding over them and muttering, "Well, at least you have good taste…"

As he helped him dress Bakura removed the bandages on some of the lesser wounds, but the one on his stomach bore covering- a raw mass of flesh which he'd only been able to stitch roughly, and which had probably led to the worst of Menchu's illness.

Menchu looked used to the riches in a way that Bakura hadn't when first trying on his new riches as a child thief using Diabaundo's skills. For a moment Bakura's eyes narrowed, wondering at Menchu's original rank, but he shoved the thought aside as unimportant a moment later. Maybe it could have been, but as it was…

His throat, damn it all, was tight again, had been for ages, and only grew worse. He let out a shuddering breath and finally lay down by Menchu, more exhausted than he'd been in ages. But he couldn't sleep, instead staring at him, not sure if he was waiting or trying to silently will Menchu to live.

For a time Menchu dozed, his body sometimes growing so still that Bakura would have to lean over him to check, feeling Menchu's breath on his cheek. It didn't take long for him to grow sick of the nagging fear and its flow and ebb, so he finally remained there, lying over Menchu with their foreheads pressed together.

When Menchu opened his eyes again Bakura saw little but dark amethyst, even more hazed by fever now. "Bakura…" Menchu's voice was hoarse now, little more than a murmur. "What, scared of killing me?"

Bakura opened his mouth to protest the ridiculous notion of the Thief King being afraid of killing, but Menchu took the opportunity to shut him up, using a weak hand to pull Bakura's head down so that he could kiss him. His tongue slid into Bakura's mouth, hot and tasting of opium, and Bakura was surprised by how that much aroused him. But maybe he shouldn't be…it made sense, given how much Menchu was like him.

Their kiss grew more vicious, teeth clashing and tongues twining, as if they were trying to get all the energy that could have one day been put into fucking in this one exchange. Menchu was dying, but he felt alive under Bakura, arms slipping under his robe and scratching his back, kissing him with all the rage and desire he was capable of. And in the face of that Bakura could do nothing but respond in kind, biting Menchu's tongue as he thought of the idiot sorcerer's death, placing a knee between his legs and pressing down hard as he thought of being left unfulfilled like this… He probably kissed like a man about to die as well.

He would have bitten Menchu in other places if he'd had the will to pull away from their current exchange, and he had a feeling that Menchu knew that…if he wasn't too far gone to know anything anymore, and the thought of that had him pulling one of Menchu's arms away from him and grabbing hold of a hand, squeezing almost tightly enough to break bones.

When finally both were exhausted enough to end the kiss, Menchu's breath was short, and Bakura doubted it was just from exertion. His gasps were too shallow, too quiet. Their eyes met, Menchu's blank amethyst, and Bakura saw that he was too far gone now- there was no recognition in them, and his forehead was burning like the desert in the day. They disturbed him in ways he couldn't say, but he continued to look into them, holding the blank gaze until Menchu's breathing stopped and long after, focusing on them and thinking of nothing, not death and not life and not oaths…

Bakura felt almost blank with fever himself, rage and something he hadn't felt since that day which had defined his life…sorrow. Finally he closed his eyes and let himself rest, allowing himself a few moments of weakness as he never did in this life after. His eyes were wet and he didn't try to stop it, let it continue until he could bear no more and slept.

When Bakura rose again he had returned to himself, but tempered, steeled again, and with a new oath of his own. He gave himself a short glance at Menchu's body before burning it with his Heka, sorrow and the rest of the emotions walled behind a tomb. He didn't allow himself it, because it was mad and screaming and insane and new in a way which would only hurt his quests- he would only be able to use it without abandoning his sanity after a far greater time tending it, allowing it to simmer and burn.

He carved a shenu bearing Menchu's name in the spot where Menchu's body had lain, the emotions concerning his sorcerer walled up too tightly for him to even know exactly why. And then he left, embarking on his quests, the old oath and the new one burning in him.

As he'd promised himself, he found the bandits and killed them, using a spell to invade the Baa and Kaa of their captured sorcerer and keep her from acting. Soon they were the only ones left alive, standing before each other in the blood-strewn sand. She was a pretty thing, he had to admit, with pale skin, hair like moonlight and turquoise eyes. She was also thin and beaten, and Bakura found himself taking pity on her.

"I don't have time for any stragglers, not with the task I've taken…but head towards the city. The priests will probably be glad to take in someone with your strength," he said curtly, before mounting his horse and riding away.

If he'd known what trouble she would get involved in he might not have done so, but what was done was done, and fate was seemingly made by whim, after all.

He battled the Pharaoh and his priests, accidentally summoned a demon, and saw the Pharaoh die in a victory that was not a victory at all. His own soul he placed within the Sennen Ring, hiding, waiting for a chance to break free and again try to take his vengeance and grant his people their freedom.

Trapped within the stone walls of the Ring and his mind, he paced and planned…and occasionally he thought to wonder how Menchu would fulfill his own promise. And so the years passed, until eventually the Ring was moved from its slot in the Tablet of the Underworld…

This time he had been found by the sorcerer, a tomb robber now, not as good as Bakura but definitely the best thief he'd ever seen after himself. He'd stolen into the chamber, past the keeper, there and gone, running off with the Sennen Ring before he'd ever noticed a breach. All the while Bakura felt his presence…his sorcerer, Menchu…and laughed from within the stone chambers of his mind, knowing that their game would begin anew.

As he'd known he would, the sorcerer placed the Ring around his neck, cursing and trying to remove it when Bakura's laughter sounded in his mind. As the pointers of the Ring dug into his chest he brought forth his Kaa, a great bird with feathers and fur like his hair and plumes of violet and amethyst like his eyes. But it was useless- he wasn't the first to try to fight the power of the Items and he wouldn't be the last.

Finally he collapsed, and Bakura slipped into his mind. An opulent tomb, but full of rot…it suited him. Even more so when a trap sprung, arrows just missing him as he dodged. "It's no good, mahoutsukai," he called out, amused. "You can't fight Ore-sama…well, you can, but you can't win."

"Who are you?" Menchu's voice rang through the rooms of the tomb, echoing so that his location couldn't be determined easily.

"Bakura. King of Thieves…remember?"

"Red robe, white hair, purple eyes, a crossed scar…you're the thief they talk about, who killed the previous Pharaoh?"

"Oh? So it hasn't been as long as I'd thought. And here I was thinking I'd have to wait multiple lifetimes to be found…still, you took your time in coming, Menchu."

It was the first time he'd bothered using the sorcerer's name, but it was worth the reaction he got. Menchu's Kaa swept out, wild cat's claws prickling Bakura's throat, and the sorcerer followed, stepping out from behind a statue and surveying him with narrowed eyes. He looked similar to how he had when he'd last lived, open purple robe over a darker kilt and covered in gold…the kohl was a new touch, though, and though it made him look rather like a noble it also suited him, the lining emphasizing his eyes.

His gaze was like before, eyes so deep that they could give the impression of being blank, emotionless. It was the rest of his face that gave him away- wary and interested. Fitting. "Bakura, how is it that you know my name?"

"You told me, of course," Bakura said, smirking.

Menchu snorted. "You died before I was even born, Ou-sama. I've never told you anything."

Bakura glared for a moment, annoyed at hearing his old name for the Pharaoh directed at himself. "Ah, but you did, mahoutsukai. Certainly I never would have bothered asking your name…"

"If I'm of so little consequence to you then why are you wasting time invading my mind?"

"Eh? I never said you were of little consequence to Ore-sama…you should try listening, mahoutsukai." The claws broke the skin, and Bakura grimaced. "Fine, fine…we met in your past life."

The claws moved back slightly, and Menchu frowned at him. "Past life, you say? But I'm a thief- why would the gods bother sending me back to earth when they could send me to Ammeto's jaws?"

Bakura shrugged. "Who knows… I suppose the gods will honor even the oath of a thief. Why else you'd be reincarnated so easily I don't know."

Finally the bird released him, though it still hovered behind him, a silent but warning presence. Bakura rolled his head, testing out the small cuts on his neck while he watched the sorcerer. Menchu leaned back against the statue, crossing his arms and smirking. "Well, you are interesting, Bakura, I'll give you that. Perhaps you'll be worth keeping around for a while."

"Keep Ore-sama around?" Bakura repeated, smirking back. "Well, if that's how you view it…try removing the Sennen Ring, really. You'll find quickly that it's not your will that matters, but the will of the Items…and of Ore-sama."

And Menchu did try removing the Ring, more times than he suspected either of them could count. Each time Bakura returned, spelling the Ring back around Menchu's neck regardless of the distance, and the smirk and sex the sorcerer greeted him with made it clear that it was all a game to him.

They stole together for over a decade, Bakura lending Heka in lieu of more physical aid. But Menchu was only mortal, and one night when Bakura again returned the Ring to its place around his neck, he found Menchu dying, a poison laced arrow having grazed him during a job.

"Ah, so I'm not dead yet," he muttered as he saw Bakura's spirit form hovering over him.

Bakura snarled, ignoring the idiot and inspecting his Baa for anything that could be done for him. Damn…nothing. The poison was too far along- maybe if he'd still had the old medicines from his lair and a fucking body he could have done something, but…

He spun away, cursing. "Idiot mahoutsukai! You couldn't have drained out some of the poison before it got into your blood so far?"

"I was rather busy fleeing the guards," Menchu snapped. "I might have been able to defeat the sorcerers they had with them…but it would have taken long enough that it would have been moot- I'd have ended up poisoned and dying either way, Ou-sama."

Bakura's Heka swept about them, a poison-laced mist. Wasn't two lifetimes of seeing the sorcerer die before him enough?

I can save him for you, a voice whispered, the sound licking around him and through his Heka. It sounded…disturbingly like his own.

Bakura stilled. "What?"

I can save him, and then you can keep your sorcerer for as long as you like…all you'll have to do is fight for Ore-sama, and Ore-sama's fight is yours…

He shuddered, some part of him remembering. "You think I'm that stupid? You'd take him for yourself, twist his desires to yours, and I'm not standing for that. If mahoutsukai is anyone he's Ore-sama's- I'm not letting you touch him even to save him!"

"Bakura, who the fuck are you talking to? I'm the one poisoned and delirious here, not you," Menchu snapped, his voice breaking through the haze.

Bakura shook his head, trying to clear his mind and figure out just what that damned voice had been. But it eluded him, though he was sure he should know…

"Dying here? Do you think you could spare a second to finish the job? I feel like shit," Menchu said, and his voice was weakening.

Turning back to him, Bakura felt true panic. Menchu's breathing was shallow, and he was clearly struggling for the limited control over his body that he had. Even so he was starting to spasm. Bakura sighed and entered his mind, dragging Menchu with him so that they stood in the rotting tomb that represented his heart.

He took hold of Menchu's arms and shoved him against the sarcophagus, then brought his mouth to the sorcerer's. Their teeth clinked together in a vicious kiss, and though it was only in the realm of the mind, the blood that formed in their mouths felt real enough. But it also felt healthy…not infected with poison as he knew Menchu's real blood was.

Finally he ended the kiss, resting his forehead against Menchu's and glaring into his eyes. Menchu stared back, gaze blank…a sure sign that he was terrified, really. Bakura shifted his head a little and spat the blood out, watching how it stained the floor of the tomb as if it were real.

"I said you could have me, didn't I?" Menchu murmured. "Even if you didn't save me, I'd be yours…it's still true. So, another twenty years or so?"

Bakura shuddered, throat tight, but he still smirked. "I'll kick your ass as usual, mahoutsukai. Count on it."

And with that he swept away, leaving the chambers of Menchu's mind and locating his Baa. All it took was a few twists with his Heka to stop Menchu's vitals, and as Menchu's soul left his body Bakura was forced back into the Sennen Ring, condemned to wait again.

And though the waits sometimes felt unbearable, he met Menchu again and again through the years. Once a nobleman, once a general, sometimes even a priest…but he did tend towards tomb robbing still, most of his lifetimes featuring their profession. With Menchu Bakura saw Kemet's fate turning, witnessed its fall to Greece and the Greek's Egypt fall to Rome in turn. Still the Pharaoh did not return, though now there wasn't a kingdom left for him to claim.

Bakura guided Menchu in attempting to steal the Sennen Items a few times, but it was useless- the bastard spirit guarding them was impenetrable, and made it clear that Menchu had only walked away with the Ring before due to his connection to Bakura. And searches for the Puzzle were just as inconclusive…it appeared that it was as the spirit said- the time for his quest would only come again when the Pharaoh was revived.

It was strange, though, for as the centuries passed by he noticed a significant decrease in magic, though Menchu was as powerful as always. But with the beginnings of Christianity those with innate Kaa were hunted more than ever, so many dying as youths before ever gaining a hold on their powers. Magic grew weaker…and Menchu stopped returning to him.

Trapped in the Ring, Bakura's perception of time was terrible, but he knew enough to recognize when he had missed one of Menchu's lifetimes…and then another and a third. He never knew what was holding Menchu's soul from him, and though he contemplated the problem, even turning to the dark powers of the Sennen Items for answers, he slowly went mad in the isolation.

Memories eroded, till all that was left was the quest for Sennen Items. He gained a new host, a boy called Bakura Ryou who shared one of his names, a weak young thing who only ever managed to fight him off at all when his so-called friends were in danger. But he had an interesting willingness to die, one that did gain Bakura's attention somewhat.

He battled the Pharaoh again, losing but gaining the Sennen Eye at Duelist Kingdom and slowly inching towards his final goal…it was all that existed to him, really, until one day he ran in front of some idiot on a motorcycle, the Ring having alerted him to the presence of an Item, and saw him.

"What is this?" the sorcerer asked, deep voice vaguely familiar, as he left his vehicle and drew forth the Sennen Rod.

Bakura cocked his head, looking the man over in interest. "So you're the one I've been sensing…hopefully you'll be less annoying than the last sorcerer I stole from. Well? Hand over the Sennen Rod if you want to live."

"Hmm? Are you a collector, then? What is your purpose?" The sorcerer was smirking at him, coolly amused. It would have been far more annoying if Bakura didn't share the sentiment somewhat.

"Isn't it obvious? To obtain the dark power that will be released when the seven Sennen Items are brought together over the Pharaoh's Memory Tablet and the Door of Darkness is opened…"

The man looked contemplative for a moment, then closed his eyes, smirking. Opening them again, he surveyed Bakura, gaze gone blank. "My name is Malik."

Hmm…for some reason he'd been expecting a different name, though the sound was vaguely similar. "Bakura."

"Bakura, I have no interest in the Sennen Items. What I want is the Nameless Pharaoh's life. As long is that bastard dies the Sennen Rod will be worthless to me." Malik spoke with confidence, the same Bakura always associated with criminals and powerful sorcerers, but the hate behind his words…there was a story there, certainly.

"Let's make a deal," Malik continued, smugness and hatred mixing now. "If you help me kill Yuugi I'll give you the Sennen Rod when this tournament is over."

Bakura frowned. "You're trying to bargain? I told you to give in and hand the Sennen Rod over to Ore-sama."

Malik chuckled. "Surely you can understand? Before I defeat Yuugi I can't afford to give it to you."

"How about we fight it out?" Bakura surveyed the sorcerer Malik, cocking his head a little. "Yes…our two powers against each other. The worthier sorcerer can take the Rod."

"Sounds appropriate," Malik said, smirking and bringing forth his power.

Bakura responded, poisonous power surrounding them, and it touched Malik's power, allowing him to take it in more fully. Hate, flames, violet, and the cry of a bird…his eyes widened. What was that? Eyes narrowing now, he tried to focus on it, the distant screech…

He saw the shadowy image of a firebird surrounding Malik, though vague and only out of the corner or his eye. When he blinked it was gone, but the screech of the bird remained, barely an echo but still present. It was familiar, as the firebird had been, like a long forgotten dream. But he'd never met Malik before…had he?

It was an interesting mystery, and he had to say that Malik really was too interesting to just kill off for his Item. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to go along with his scheme for a time. "It seems we're too evenly matched for one to kill the other off this way…and why go to the trouble of a Dark Game when our goals are the same?"

Malik chuckled, voice rich and dark. "Ah, so you do have some intelligence."

Bakura matched his smirk, and stifled the startle he felt, to truly be enjoying this exchange with the sorcerer. Well, he was attractive enough…and likeminded, which was more important. "And you have the power to back up your intelligence and upstart bargains."

Again Malik chuckled, though his eyes narrowed as he stared at Bakura. Dark expanses of violet, they gave the impression of blankness. They probably made it easy for Malik to school his face to be completely unreadable.

Dead for longer than he could remember and completely devoted to his goal, Bakura had thought that he'd abandoned the desires of the flesh…but he found that he wanted the sorcerer a great deal. He'd be entertaining, and he wouldn't mind a bit of blood…

But he shoved the thought back, unwilling to waste time on it, and set to outlining a plan with Malik. It was decent, though a sight more convoluted than anything Bakura would have devised. Still, good enough, and he could always intervene if Malik fucked things up…or just swoop in and take the Rod if he was incapacitated or killed.

They parted ways and set up their separate aliases, though Bakura had wondered just what the sorcerer had been smoking when he'd decided on the false name Namu. He couldn't have chosen something more realistic? Bakura knew that he had plenty of aliases with sufficiently arrogant names, having snuck a look through the false passports Malik carried (Amir Khan, really?). But Yuugi and his friends bought it, which was what really mattered.

Malik proved to be damned annoying to have in one's head while dueling, though he did return the Ring to his host's body when Bakura was incapacitated by Oshirisu, so he supposed that was something. Even if he had mostly done it in order to ask for aid in protecting his servant and regaining his body.

"I suppose I could help you out, Malik," he drawled when asked, smirking and glancing sidelong at the sorcerer, "But know that you'll have to give Ore-sama something…else other than the Sennen Rod in payment."

"Yes, yes, I will," Malik snapped. "Now go! We can discuss this later sometime when Rishid isn't about to be killed, Bakura."

Bakura rolled his eyes but did agree to go. Slipping into the room, he gained his first glimpse of Malik's so called other self. Hair standing on end and eyes hooded, he looked mad. And that was what he was, apparently- all the worst aspects of Malik shoved inwards until they couldn't take it and struck out. And Malik was a nasty enough sorcerer on his own…but a real mind tempered it somewhat, he supposed. This detachment looked like he knew nothing but destruction and the enjoyment of it.

And Bakura understood some of that, summoning the best of it as he laughed, sending his power to wrap around Malik's body and still the detachment's movements. "Oi, Bunshin. Your real self has a message for you."

"Oh? And what does Shujin-kaku-sama have to say to me?" The detachment's voice was deeper than Malik's, lazy and mad, and it set Bakura's teeth on edge.

"That I'll never let you touch Rishid," Malik said, sounding surprisingly calm. There was a tension in the back of his voice and the blankness of his eyes that belied it, though. He guessed that it was the way Malik responded to disaster- forced rationality. "And that I'll have my body back."

The detachment smiled, and his grip on the Sennen Rod tightened as he sent his own power out, wrapping about Bakura and trying to force him back into the wall. He let out a muffled cry, the force and pain of it taking him by surprise for a moment, before regaining control and tightening his own hold on the detachment.

"So our powers are matched," the detachment said in a disgusting parody of Bakura's first meeting with Malik. "It seems the only way to resolve this is a Dark Game."

So the two made their way up to the top of the blimp, where Bakura agreed to one of the stupider Dark Games he'd ever competed in- a game where the loser's body and mind would be devoured by darkness. But he was pissed off at this stupid detachment, and he would have the Rod and Malik indebted to him when he won…

Or so he thought. It was rather typical, really. Bakura wasn't one to deny that while he was capable of being quite patient concerning his far-reaching plans, he sometimes tended to be hasty and sacrifice a great deal when he did reveal himself and make a move. Sacrificing all those life points hadn't helped, not that he'd ever admit it to Malik, and when the bastard detachment revived Raa and invoked its special ability…

The flames burned both of them, taking hold of Malik and continuing to burn him as the game ended and the darkness began to grab at the remainders of Bakura's body.

Malik, pain showing clearly in his face, glared at Bakura. "Bastard, you couldn't have listened to my strategies? And I was actually thinking of keeping you around…so much for that."

The words were familiar, strikingly so, and Bakura's eyes widened as memory returned to him, the witnessing of death after death and a seemingly eternal struggle for power between them which didn't even matter… "Menchu…" he murmured, shock and relief and frustration and elation coursing through him…

"What? You're about to die, Bakura- now isn't the time to start acting like an idiot," Malik said, eyes narrowing.

Bakura had to laugh- how many times had he said just that to Menchu? Barely in this world anymore, he suddenly felt more attached to it than ever, and amusement and even elation coursed through him as he tried and failed to encompass all of the years in his thoughts during the short time he had left.

And maybe he'd forget and be driven mad again, but he knew now, the turns of life and death and how little it all really mattered in the end. He was Malik's and Malik was his, and tomb robbers and murderers though they were, even their oaths would be honored.

So as he watched Malik being burned by Raa's flames, and felt his own body being devoured by darkness, he could still laugh, smirking over at his sorcerer. "Apparently it's going to be a while…kill this bastard for Ore-sama all right? I'd like to be able to kick your ass again when I return, you know."

For a moment, though he doubted that Malik truly remembered, there was a flash of recognition in his sorcerer's eyes, and an answering smirk was the last thing he saw before his body and soul vanished into the darkness.


Baa (bA) is, in Yuugiou, often described as a kind of life force. Characters refer to 'replenishing' Baa in order to heal themselves, and not being able to use their Heka (HkA) or Kaa (kA) when their Baa has been lowered too much. Heka is specifically the magical aura and the use of magic (and can also refer to the exercise of the Kaa), a definition I pull from the many uses of the word in the last season of Yuugiou. Since there was no clear term for it, I describe the aura that precludes the full appearence of a person's Kaa as Heka as well.

The meeting between Malik and Bakura is based heavily off their interaction from episodes 68 and 69, though there are some differences in dialogue (I decided to go for the general feel rather than an exact translation, but the dialogue is quite similar, thus not really my own creation). Yes, it's AU, but not to the point where their reactions upon meeting each other would be terribly different. The meeting with Malik's other self is also based on the interactions in episode 96, though by this point it's a bit more divergent. So again, not actually my own creation.