The X-Effect

He wasn't sure what exactly they were trying to accomplish by doing this. It interrupted a daily routine, a ritual, and threw them all for one demented loop— and yet, here they were. It had started as a mutual hatred, which somehow transpired into mutual neutrality. Now, it was far past that for not just one set of brothers. Violet eyes bore into mahogany, and one phrase was murmured: "I want to date your little brother, and I demand your permission." Seems the wires got a bit crossed.

- ThiefShipping: Yami Bakura x Malik -

- DeathShipping: Yami Mariku x Ryou -

Here it is, everyone. This is a fic that I've been having just too much fun with. Certain things bother me, such as my internal conflict with what to call Yami Marik. I decided on Mariku because "Marik" vs "Malik" is just too hard to decipher quickly when reading. So, yes! That's that!

DISCLAIMER: I own nothing in this story that is mentioned throughout this chapter or the following; all rights go to the respective creator(s).

I still hope that's terribly obvious. Isn't it? Yes. Yes it is. Otherwise, why would I be here? This would all be canon. Obviously.

Prologue: You're In My Seat

The day was about as typical as any other.

He got up after knocking the alarm clock to the floor, took a shower, got dressed, and bitterly ignored his brother, rambling about the day lying ahead, beside him. It was normal, perfectly normal.

It got boring fast.

Breakfast didn't happen— the milk had gone sour seeing as the younger brother had forgotten about buying more and the cereal was stale. The bread was moldy and the freezer was empty. Eventually, out of options, the two ended up just skipping the meal after throwing out all the food that hadn't survived its expiration. They really needed to go shopping but the money just wasn't there at the moment. Maybe he could con a "friend" into loaning him some money for the groceries. Maybe.

The phone suddenly rang, striking him from his thoughts.

"Hello?" spoke the quiet and shy, but personable voice. "Yes, this is Ryou speaking… Oh, hello Yugi-kun! Are you on your way to school now? I was wondering… " The younger left the kitchen to go and gather his things while his brother stayed at the table moodily. His stomach grumbled but he pushed it off with a sigh, slumping in his seat. "Bakura-nii?" The addressed glanced to his little brother.

"What?" He grumbled snappishly.

Ryou didn't look bothered. "Are you ready to leave? Yami-san is going to give us a ride so we don't have to walk in the rain." He smiled, something that lit up his entire face. Bakura scoffed but didn't say anything on the subject in particular.

"Yeah." He stood up and pushed the chair in unceremoniously (an old habit he supposed) before grabbing his bag lazily off the table. "One day I'll have my own car, you know." He paused, then added: "Or at least a bloody bicycle for you."

"One day," Ryou agreed with another smile. He was used to his brother "dreaming" like that. He never stopped it nor really encouraged it— whatever kept the other going, he was okay with. It was rough but it was their life. The two brothers fell into silence and eventually a horn sounded outside.

Ryou pulled the curtain back, looking somewhat surprised. A dark red car was parked in the driveway, a tall and multi-colour haired boy sitting in the driver's seat. A boy similar in appearance was in the passenger, waving and grinning as he saw them from the window.

"They arrived sooner than I thought. Let's not keep them waiting," Ryou said with a smile, grabbing his coat as he opened the door. He waited for his brother, who sighed, before grudgingly following.

Ryou was sprinting to the car, bag over his head to keep the rain away, laughing as he got in. Bakura simply fast walked, not caring he was getting soaked.

He didn't really like hitching rides from the Mutou brothers.

"You look like a soaked cat, Bakura," came Yami's absent voice, smug and condescending as usual. He was older than them by one year and he flaunted it often— even though to most it meant little to nothing. Bakura scowled but didn't say a word. Yugi chided the driver, apologizing to his friend for his brother's behavior but the white-haired teen was still silent, glaring out the window. Ryou just laughed awkwardly.

School was boring.

It was just another routine. Bakura wasn't sure why but for some reason he really hated being in such a rut even though differentiating from it was something that felt almost awkward. A rut was rut, and he was stuck in it— although that was about to change as he walked into his first period class, Ryou in tow. Bakura refused to hang out with his little brother's friends (they were not his own; he had never been fond of the overly friendly troupe) on a daily occasion and Ryou, not wanting to abandon his brother usually, followed his twin to their shared first class. Only on Fridays did the younger white-haired teen stay with his friends, forcing Bakura to do the same. It was yet but another routine.

The class was usually empty seeing as most kids filtered in after the warning bell. After all, it was math— not many wanted to be there bright and early. Another routine.

Today? There was one sole boy (at least they thought it was a boy— he was in a boy's uniform after all) in the classroom. He didn't have his nose stuck into a book, but a pencil was carelessly in his hand with a notebook flipped open on the desk in front of him. Casually, he was slumped back in his seat, staring at the paper as if he was deep in thought.

It was then Bakura noticed something else. No, it wasn't the sun kissed tan skin, or the streaks of black under his eyes, or the platinum blond hair, or even the random jewelry that adorned him.

He was in Bakura's seat.

As if sensing the annoyance, Ryou shot his brother a look that said "don't do anything stupid" but the un-vocalized arrowed threat went right over Bakura's head completely. He strode over and a pale hand was slammed flat onto the desk, mahogany eyes glaring daggers but the face was blank. Slowly, stranger eyes trailed up the hand and to the owner's eyes. Piercing violet shot right through the brown-red, holding back no trace of annoyance or anger.

"May I help you?" came the bored voice of the blond being towered over by the other boy. Ryou was soon jogging over, worry spreading across his face. The boy in the desk didn't even acknowledge his presence.

Finally, Bakura spoke: "You're in my seat." The dark look he gave the new face hardened into the one he reserved for certain people— it was one that even made teachers uncomfortable at times. Somehow, this evil and penetrating glare was completely ignored as it was returned in almost full-force.

"I was told there was no seating chart. Therefore, this is a classroom with desks based on a first-come, first-serve basis." The tone was smug. Condescending. Smart.

Bakura hated every bit of it.

"Listen, you little brat," he seethed but did his best to keep his composure. He was more known for his "cool but fierce attitude and demeanor" rather than the actual temper. He was violent and vengeful, by no stretch of the imagination was he not, but he tended to keep his fists as controlled as he could. He couldn't risk being suspended— again. Usually, anyway, his words were more than enough. "Just move. And let's get one thing straight…" he was suddenly leaning down towards the other's face menacingly, "to defy me is not a bright idea. It'd be in your best interest to move. Now."

"I hardly see a reason to be scared, if that's what you are insinuating."

How Bakura controlled the fury that suddenly coursed through him, Ryou (nor Bakura himself) would never know. Somehow he did, and the hand that was on the desk simply slid to knock the notebook off the desk roughly. Violet eyes clashed against mahogany. The eyes fought not only in colour, but also in silent words. Move, one pair said. Like hell, the other responded.

"What are you, four?" the boy continued smoothly. He broke the gaze to look down at his notebook before returning the aggravated eyes to the pale face near his. "Angry about a stupid seat."

Ryou finally found his voice, thrusting his arm in front of his twin to shove him back and away. He smiled at the tanned boy, who looked momentarily confused, as Bakura stumbled back and into the desk nearby, stunned briefly. He glowered darkly at his twin threateningly after recovering (how could he let his guard down like that?), but Ryou paid no mind. He smiled sweetly.

"I'm terribly sorry about my brother! Please, excuse him. He's not a very good morning person." Ryou paused, smiling falling a bit as he looked thoughtful. "Or a good person in general, really— eep!" The white-haired teen winced, nursing his arm that had just gotten punched by his twin. He whimpered: "'Kura-nii, don't hit me! This just proves you are not nice!"

"Let's keep it that way."

Ryou glared (none too threateningly, it looked more like a pout with those round fawn eyes of his), but stuck his hand out this time in a greeting towards the new boy. He smiled again, as if the miniature fight didn't just happen. "My name is Bakura Ryou. You must be new here? I haven't seen your face around."

The tanned hand was hesitant, but eventually it reached out and grasped the other boy's firmly in a hearty shake that honestly surprised Ryou a bit. The new boy smirked. "I'm Ishtar Malik." He retracted his hand as the other one absently scooped his notebook off the floor. "Yes, I'm new. I just moved here last week and transferred yesterday," he said without much thought. He closed the notebook and set his pencil on it. "Pleased to meet you, Bakura-san."

"Please just call me Ryou, if anything." The boy corrected with a laugh. "I'll get confused otherwise." Before Malik could respond, Ryou gestured to his brother, "This is my twin brother. He goes by Bakura. His— well, he might hit me if I tell you his first name."

Malik looked unfazed. He was good at that. "It's bound to come up in conversation later on, I'm sure." Violet eyes trailed to the clock in the upper right-hand corner of the room. The bell was about to ring to signal the warning bell, and 2 minutes to get into the class before it started. He scowled a bit. 'Where the hell is that idiot?' he thought maliciously, before brushing the thought away. He returned his gaze to look at Ryou, who had sat down in the desk beside him. The boy beside him— Bakura, was it?— didn't move off the desk's top, despite his little brother attempting to place his books there.

Bakura's eyes hardened. "You're still in my desk."

"You do not give up with that, do you?" Malik drawled, slumping his cheek into his hand with boredom. "You're a bit annoying."

"Me? Annoying? Tsk tsk, poor brat…" Bakura mocked, clicking his tongue a few times as he shook his head. "If anyone's annoying here, it's you, dear transfer student."

Malik only rolled his eyes and took the gaze right back to the more pleasant twin. "So, Ryou-san was it? It's nice to finally meet a friendly face," he began, chuckling lightly. He ignored the irked look that crossed Bakura's face— he didn't like to be ignored. Ryou paid his brother no mind.

"Has your day been all right thus far?" He questioned with a cock of the head, "I realize it's early morning, but…" the white-haired boy trailed off with a laugh of his own. "Has it been a hard move?"

"Not particularly hard, just a mild adjustment. Although I can't say my day started off well, considering someone stole my bag." Malik explained, but instead of scowling he threw his head back with a hearty laugh. "I don't see getting it back, but at least I have my schedule if nothing else."

Ryou looked shocked. "O-oh my! What did he look like?" He had a sinking suspicion.

"Don't know. I was a bit too stunned to realize I was on the ground and missing the thing. Somewhat tall, though." Another laugh. "No harm no foul. I needed a new one anyone, I'd had that thing since I was 7." Malik shrugged.

"That's an old bag," the softer white-haired teen remarked with slight surprise but amused. "Say, if you don't mind me prying, where did you move from? You don't look like you're from anywhere around here." Ryou suddenly flushed, worried he had offended the other inadvertently as he quickly waved his hands defensively. "N-not that I think it's strange or anything—!"

"Egypt," the boy said smoothly, cutting Ryou off, with a smile as he cocked his head a bit in his hand as if proud of the fact he was almost enticingly exotic. Ryou looked on in wonder, taking in the boy's appearance in a whole new light. It made much more sense now, if you counted out the light hair and eyes. Ryou, back when their father traveled, was often told stories of that country and he had never heard of anyone with such an odd look. Contacts and dye, perhaps? It'd be rude to ask.

Bakura snorted. He wasn't impressed.

"Wow, all the way from Egypt," Ryou finally gasped, looking completely intrigued. "That seems like it'd be terrifying! Your Japanese is perfect— I don't even hear an accent. How long have you been studying?"

Malik looked contemplative, tapping a finger to his lips. "Mm… Perhaps only a year or so." Ryou looked blown away. Malik raised a brow in curiosity. "What's that look for?"

"You… Only a year?" The white-haired boy repeated, jaw agape. "I can't believe that! You must be very diligent…" He paused, knuckle to his lips in thought. "Or Ishtar-san is very smart—"

"Tch!" Bakura cut his brother off, turning his head quickly to glare at the chalkboard. "I doubt that." Cold eyes returned to the tan boy's form, narrowing. "What was your rank, brat?"

Malik, still, looked unaffected. Actually, Ryou noted, he was acting like Bakura hadn't said anything besides the fact he clearly heard him. He was responding. "Ah, I was home-schooled. No rank. I did study very hard to perfect my Japanese, however. I was expected to do nothing less." He smiled in that same, nonchalant way. The warning bell finally rung and other students were starting to file in slowly. A few murmured as they walked in.

'Who's the new kid?'

'He looks so dreamy…'

'Is he a friend of Ryou-kun?'

'He looks ready to get into a fight with Bakura-san…'

'Look at his smile! Wow, he's gorgeous!'

Bakura tossed an absent glare over his shoulder, startling a few of the teens that had walked by. He scowled, looking forward, but the object of his current anger wasn't there. He raised a brow, and then suddenly a tan hand was waving in front of his face, the owner's face bearing a huge grin.

"Forgot, I lost my math book! I have to run to the office. I guess this means you win this petty spat today!" Malik laughed, being sure to announce the 'fight' as loudly as he could (inadvertently, of course). "Gosh, my first day and already I'm getting bullied." He winked, smirking deviously, before walking out after a brief "back in a bit, Ryou-san!"

Bakura just leaned there, confused, before he shook his head and took back his seat. What a weird kid. Was he bi-polar? The way he swung from one emotion to the next seemed to hint it. Dismissing the thought, the white-haired teen suddenly smirked in a feeling of pride. He ignored the few glares sent his way as he laced his fingers behind his head, leaning back comfortably. At least he got his desk back.

The bell to signal the start of the day rung a few minutes afterwards. The teacher forced everyone to cut the chatter and calm down, but as she took attendance she frowned, touching her pen to her lips.

"We're missing two people," she stated, glancing around the room. Her normal students were here, she saw no missing faces. Wait, hadn't there been a transfer? "Mm, perhaps that was it," she murmured to herself. Ryou's hand shyly rose. "Ah, yes Ryou-san?"

"Kumiko-sensei, we, uh, we have a new student," Ryou said quietly, blushing. He didn't like being called on but no one else would raise their hand, he was sure. "He, er, had to … uh … go get a new book from the office… His got s-stolen."

"Ah, I see. Thank you, Ryou-san."

She scribbled some things down, although the woman was still perplexed as to who else in the class could be missing. The sudden rap on the door struck her from her thoughts. She glanced over and waved in a "come here" motion, calling "come in!" as she did. The door opened and in stepped none other than the transfer student himself. Sort of.

Malik walked in without a word, scratching the back of his head as his face was in a dark expression. 'Seat, seat, seat… One's free in the back. That'd work.' He ambled towards it without a word, and gave Ryou a strange look when the boy chirped a "welcome back" at him. Something was different, Ryou had to note with a frown.

Bakura glared at the Egyptian boy. The hair was spiky, rough, and stuck up in odd angles, which was vastly different than what his hair looked like before. Had he really gone to the office to get his book or was he styling his hair? Bakura frowned. It didn't make much sense, if any at all— although there was a math book on his desk.

"Ah, you must be Ishtar-san?" Ms. Kumiko began with a smile. The boy in question just crossed his arms, still scowling bitterly, and gave a curt nod. "Well, I would very much like to welcome you to—"

The door flew open again and in walked a very pissed off … Malik? The bottoms of his pants were soaked, as was the top of his jacket somehow, and in his hand he held a sopping wet bag. Under his arm: a book.

"Yo-you jerk!" He spat, pointing a finger shakily at the boy in the back— the one that looked so much like him. "Why did you t-throw my b-bag into the f-f-fountain outside!" Malik spluttered, red from both embarrassment and coldness. It was September; the air was incredibly crisp especially for someone from a warm place like Egypt. "I-if I've t-t-told you once, I've told you a m-m-million t-times! Stop t-taking my st-stuff! And d-damaging it too, c-c-come on! Ne-nee-san is going to ki-kill you! You're—" A sneeze. "You're paying f-for this!"

The Malik-look-a-like only threw his head back and laughed, leaning back in his chair casually. "You get pissed so easily, sheesh! Take a bottle, Princess," he replied easily, a malicious grin on his face.

The Egyptian at the front of the room fumed. "Pill! The phrase is 'take a chill pill,' you moronic psychopath!" Malik growled, before getting to the insult. "And stop. Calling. Me. Princess."

"Pill, bottle, whatever." The other boy just scoffed. "I'm rusty on my Japanese. Does it offend you, milady?"

"I will murder you in your sleep."

"I'd love to see you try, my dear brother!"

Ms. Kumiko stared, dumbfounded. She looked in between the two boys before checking her attendance list again. Realization dawned. "Oh! The Ishtar twins, yes, well, that would explain this now, wouldn't it?" She smiled as if completely unaffected by the screeching and squawking that just went on. Malik and— apparently— his twin snapped their gazes to her, both in equal irritation.

"Unfortunately!" They snapped in unison. A pause. Their eyes returned to the opposite twin. "… Stop th— OH RA!" Still in unison. "You— gah!" They gave up.

Malik stared at his twin for a moment, silently seeing who would speak first, before taking the initiative. "… Yes, we're the Ishtar twins," he murmured, rubbing his temple absently. "I'm Malik. He's Mariku… Our names aren't well adjusted to Japanese obviously," he added under his breath, although the teacher looked like she heard him. "They're spelled the same way, but Mariku can't write katakana for s… for the life of him." He absently corrected himself to not be vulgar.

If Mariku was going to argue, he didn't as he only shrugged. "It's true. My writing's crap."

"Well," Ms. Kumiko began with a laugh. "I'm sure I'll learn to distinguish you two apart very easily. Malik-san and Mariku-san, was it? Please feel free to take a seat, Malik-san, and we'll get started on class." The Egyptian murmured something she didn't catch before strolling to the only other open seat— one far away from his brother. He caught Ryou's eye but said nothing. The rest of class progressed without much distraction, until Ms. Kumiko suddenly decided that the two new students needed an introduction since she was done with her lessons for the day.

"So," she began with a smile as she closed her planner. "Why don't you two tell us something about yourselves?"

Mariku frowned, grunting. "Let's not."

His twin looked more put-off than irritated. "There's not much to tell, Kumiko-sensei," he said honestly, trying to be respectful but hint at the same time that he didn't really want to talk about it.

"Oh. Well…" Ms. Kumiko looked a little awkward, shifting her weight. After a moment, that same smile returned to her face as she clapped her hands together once. "How about you tell us where you're from—"

"Egypt," Mariku snapped shortly. "Specifically, Cairo."

"Any siblings?" The teacher continued, trying to keep the conversation going. The students could tell she was stretching a bit to provoke talking.

Mariku snorted. "1 and half." Before anyone could ask, the Egyptian just shook his head signaling he really didn't feel like explaining. "Counting out my dearest twin of course…"

"Mariku!" Malik snapped, glaring at his brother from across the room as he planted his palms on the desk angrily. "Stop saying we only have half a brother, it's rude! He doesn't refer to us as such, it's only honourable to return the respect!"

A fake yawn emitted from the other Egyptian. Mariku leaned back in his seat, lacing his fingers together and clasping his hands behind his head. "Don't care. I've heard this speech more than I've stolen your stuff, brat."

Whatever Malik was about to snap in reply to his brother got cut off by Ms. Kumiko, hoping to avoid a fight. "Okay, perhaps that wasn't the best question to ask," She laughed awkwardly, clapping her hands once again, trying to divert the attention back to the front of the room. "Perhaps we will leave it at that. I hope you enjoy Japan and the school!"

They were left to talk.

Ryou made his way over to Malik, laughing and making absent conversation. Bakura hung irritably back, avoiding his brother and Malik entirely. He didn't notice the pair of violet eyes on him from the back of the room, watching his every move, before shutting in contemplation.

The bell rang. Ms. Kumiko absently bid the students goodbye as they filed out. The shout of his name ("Mariku! Come on, the bell sounded, we have to go!") brought him out of any thoughts he had as he stood up, smiling wanly, and followed his twin out the door.

I hope that was okay. I've been messing with this chapter like crazy, because I just couldn't decide on a good way to make it work. I settled with this, so hopefully you agree it's all right and everybody's remotely in character.

Regardless: Read & Review & Critique please!