I'm horribly nervous about this fic, but this chapter just came out in a rush, and... There's always room for some more BakuMari, right? Even if it's not very good?
A Noble a Thief
When the thief slides into his bed in the middle of the night, Malik is not wholly surprised. "How did you get here?" he asks anyway, turning over to pierce the thief with his eyes. Some in the clan have said that his eyes glow like a cat's. A predator's. To enter this room, the thief must have passed through the rest of the suite, including his daughter's room.
The thief is cocky and uncaring as ever, shrugging his shoulders and leering at Malik. "The same way any thief gets in, sahu." The rank is mocking- his way of saying that they are no longer criminals together in their war against the Pharaoh. An insurgent and a thief, now a noble and a thief.
Malik rises, and is relieved to hear the tinny sound of the television, never quiet enough for his daughter to hide it from him. She says something to the screen, an odd habit he chooses to ignore. "If you pose any threat to Meritaten, I will kill you," Malik says calmly.
"Of course, of course."
For all that the thief is dismissive, the threat is delivered, and Malik feels better able to focus on other matters. He looks the thief over, eyes noting sharp planes, lean muscles and scars on dark skin. A red robe rests on the chair by his desk, and Malik can imagine the thief in it, loud and brazen and powerful.
Their eyes meet, the thief's brimming with dark intent.
"What is your intent here, Bakura?" he asks, leaning against the head of the bed as if it were a throne. His nakedness is of no concern- his gold affords him rank enough.
Bakura, for of course it is Bakura, this brazen thief who steals in and out and ruins lives, no matter that it is a different entity of the thief. The original, for whatever reason. A three thousand year king among thieves who wreaked havoc in Kemet and felled a Pharaoh. Malik seldom gravitates towards allies, but their alliance was inevitable.
"You escaped Ammut's fangs and sought refuge here, is it?" Malik asks.
"Refuge?" Bakura laughs. "Ore-sama has no refuge."
Kemet has changed. This world is foreign to both of them, and Malik at least has had years to adjust. To ancient men, a clan that has waited for three thousand years unchanging is indeed a refuge (refuge as well as torture), a refuge from a changed world which has no use for them. Bakura is bluffing.
His mind is clouded by lack of sleep, thoughts spinning on themselves. Snorting, Malik rises and heads over to the cabinet in which he stores his wine. Pouring a glass for himself, he looks back at Bakura, who lounges in the bed as if he owns it. "Is beer fine?" he asks, smirking.
Bakura snorts. "Beer. Not good enough for proper hospitality, am I, sahu?"
"You aren't an invited guest," Malik points out, and brings a glass to Bakura, who sniffs it, looking at it suspiciously. "Proper Japanese beer," he offers. "I would serve you poor drinks if only I'd had the foresight to slight my enemies in such a manner."
Bakura takes an experimental sip of his drink, and then a larger one, emptying the glass in moments. "We're enemies, are we?"
"It depends on your intent, of course." Malik's eyes run over Bakura's easy position in his bed. "I doubt you came here to do battle, after all?"
Bakura smirks, and in it Malik sees the shade of a man who has committed countless crimes and cares not a whit for any of them. Malik was once that man, and now…apparently he is still a man who would find that trait alluring in another.
It is a form of narcissism, perhaps, but Malik has always wanted the thief for the traits he sees of himself in him. Those that are not his, he attacks and battles over, and that too leaves wanting. He is used to sex as a tool, but he desires this thief, has done so since their first confrontation, and that is far more foreign to him.
But Malik has never been one to fear grasping what he desires in his hands.
He returns to the bed and leans over Bakura, amused when his seal dangles between them, highlighting the difference in rank. It is only natural that he should be above him. Malik takes his mouth in what is more bite than kiss, alcohol and then blood mingling between them.
Malik moves on top of Bakura, and the thief is surprisingly obliging. The next few minutes are a war of a sort, with teeth used more than mouths, bruises and scratches and bites inflicted, and when he thrusts against Bakura and meets the coarse fabric of his kilt he removes it, taking Bakura in hand in a hard, exacting grip.
The sound he startles out of Bakura is more growl than moan, and preludes the thief surging upwards, throwing Malik against the headset and looming over him. "Self-important, aren't you?" Bakura says, chuckling as he leans in to bite Malik's ear. It is more painful than anything else, but Malik's arousal heightens, and he grabs Bakura shoulder in a grip meant to bruise.
Bakura thrusts against him, and Malik allows it, returns it, and when they find release they lie there, breath coming hard, blood painting their bodies and marring the sheets. They fall asleep like that- at war, but not enemies after all.
"Baba… Ya Baba!"
For a moment Malik feels inexplicable panic at his daughter's voice, and then, as he opens his eyes, the pieces fall into place. Bakura is still here, dressed and lounging idly on the edge of the bed, leaving little enough room for Malik even so.
"Baba, is your friend supposed to be here?"
"No," Malik replies, glaring at Bakura. "But it's fine," he relents, knowing that he will not cast the thief out.
Meritaten nods thoughtfully. "I didn't know Baba had friends- usually you just work with Uncle Rishid." Her pout makes it clear what she thinks of their work.
"When you're old enough I'll foist some of it off onto you," he promises. "I'm sure the clan will be grateful when it's you handling their petty complaints rather than myself."
Bakura snorts. "So you scare even your own people away. You can playact half decently, sahu- why not try it again?"
"Baba's an actor? Then why don't you ever do anything at the festival plays?"
Bakura laughs, and Malik feels treacherous heat rising in his face. "I only waste my time playing an actor if there's something to gain."
"This is about Baba not having fun again," Meritaten summarizes.
"Oh, he had plenty of fun last night," Bakura says, leering, not moving an inch when Malik kicks him.
"Oh, so Baba likes playing with you?" Meritaten asks, smiling and having no notion of what she speaks. Her mother is going to cross the ocean and castrate him, and his brother and sister just might join her.
"Aa, but he's bad at it. Always bending the rules and thinking himself above everyone else."
Malik snorts inelegantly. "And you?"
"Why, this Ore-sama knows that he's beneath all you nobles and priests. It just doesn't matter to a thief- your laws mean nothing unless I'm captured."
"You're a thief?" Meritaten asks, her eyes lighting up with interest.
Malik groans. He knew allowing her to watch that ridiculous American movie had been a mistake. "He's a selfish bastard," Malik warns her.
Bakura grins. "Just so. Not that much worse than your father, though."
Now Meritaten is looking up at Malik, confused. "Baba, you can't be a thief. You're too b…" Meritaten covers her mouth.
Boring, she always says.
Bakura smirks at him, and Malik scowls. "Running a clan requires a great amount of accounting and sorting out petty squabbles," he says by way of explanation. "Regardless. Meritaten, go to your room and dress properly- Fatima will be bringing breakfast soon."
Malik dresses in silence, Bakura leering at him all the while. He should kick him straight out into the desert, but as always he enjoys the bastard's presence too much to do such a thing. They will have to have a serious conversation about what he says around Meritaten, though. And the clan, and…
Yes, it would definitely be easier to throw Bakura out on his ear.
When they go into the sitting room for breakfast Meritaten runs over to Bakura, taking his hand and asking her to watch 'Aladdin' with him. He is surprisingly quiet after that, apparently in shock over having a child anywhere near him. Malik knows the feeling, fearing that he is still little better after these years as a father.
As she sets the table, Fatima's eyes continue to dart to Bakura, taking account of the scratches and bruises on his chest, not hidden by his open robe. Malik sighs inwardly, knowing that the whole clan will know of this by midday. Fatima may be loyal in serious situations, but she fails to understand that gossip is also a matter to bite her tongue on.
Watching Bakura more carefully than he had last night, Malik takes count of the differences between this man and the parasitic spirit he had fought alongside in Battle City. There are the physical, of course, and they extend further. This one uses his weight, clearly capable of relying on physical strength. His movements are certain, those of a man who believes he owns the whole world, regardless of what the world has to say in return.
So. Different than the shadow spirit, then, limber and hiding in corners, waiting to strike.
The arrogance is the same, though, and the spirit similar. A certain dark taint is lacking, though. Bakura is no longer a tool of the demon that sought to topple the world and challenge the gods. They sound suited in temperament, but no, Bakura is him- a man lost all morals and ready to make the world tremble in his quest for justice.
"Your host is?" Malik finally thinks to ask.
Bakura shrugs. "In Japan. We haven't met- probably for the best."
Perhaps. Malik had controlled his mind, occupied his body, but he cannot pretend to have any great knowledge of Bakura Ryou.
Malik sits in his office looking over the papers of the young members of the clan currently studying for various schools, while next door Bakura is forced to endure a children's movie with Meritaten. It occurs to him that this may be the most fun he has all day.
"What fool thief gives his food away?" Bakura asks, incredulous. "No real thief who acts like that would survive till his age, amira."
New, too, is the thief's habit of referring to others by rank rather than name. He doesn't speak Arabic, but given the film in question, that one word was easy enough to pick up. Malik suspects a prod at his former goal to become Pharaoh.
In another world, Meritaten might have been a princess in truth. A part of Malik had resented that he couldn't give her that, but now he is just as glad she isn't. Becoming head of the clan one day will be duty enough.
Malik wonders why Bakura is subjecting himself to this. But then, what is there for him to do? A man with a quest lost is inevitably at loose ends, and Bakura has no people to take responsibility for and lead.
He has read the records, knows of Bakura's past- at least what fragments have survived to this day and been told truthfully. A massacred village. A thief who attempted to burn a kingdom to the ground in revenge. A man who Malik understands both implicitly and not at all.
Bakura probably hasn't spent any time with children since he was one. Another thing they have in common.
"He'd be a bad hero if he didn't," Meritaten argues.
"Being a thief isn't about heroics," Bakura scoffs, "It's about surviving. You can't do anything great if you're starving like a dog in the streets, amira."
"Have you done anything great?"
"I toppled a dynasty," Bakura says, pride in his voice.
A difference. Malik no longer feels pride in the destruction he wrought.
Rishid joins them at lunch, and stares at the thief, inscrutable. Wary, yes, but Malik can't put a name to what else he might feel about the thief's presence. He doesn't question, but he wants to, which is a change. And Malik now knows to expect interrogation later on whether Bakura's presence is a risk to Meritaten and himself, which is a greater change.
Bakura returns Rishid's look, but with incomprehension. He doesn't seem to know Rishid at all.
"You don't remember him, do you?" Malik asks quietly, while Meritaten chatters at Rishid, begging off classes after lunch and being denied firmly but kindly.
Bakura shakes his head. "Ore-sama's head has been occupied by too many people- the memories are a tangled mess. You'd sooner find one piece of treasure at the bottom of the river than sort this mess out." The usual arrogance is gone from his voice- he sounds tired.
"You remember me," Malik ventures.
Bakura reaches for his wine, not responding.
"Do you trust him?" Rishid asks.
Malik shifts, feeling like one of the children Rishid teaches. "I have never considered trust to be a factor around Bakura before."
Rishid gestures to the doorway- in the other room, Bakura is regaling Meritaten with tales of his exploits as a tomb robber. "It is now."
Nodding, Malik wonders at this, that for once Rishid is truly making him feel the younger sibling. Normally that is Ishizu's expertise. "The war is over," Malik starts, searching for words which can adequately express these ideas. "We devoted our lives to destroying a king, and now he is passed on. He's tired, Rishid. I am tired as well. Searching for peace is perhaps beyond us."
"You need this reminder of your past." Rishid's eyes hold his knowingly.
"So, a child. Where's her mother?" Bakura asks when Rishid and Meritaten are gone off to lessons for the rest of the afternoon.
"She divorced me."
Bakura appears to be trying to hold back his desire to taunt Malik. "You drove her off that quickly, sahu?"
"The clan and Egypt drove her off. She was interested in studying overseas," Malik replies, a tad defensive.
"I'm sure you helped her along," Bakura says nonchalantly, aggravatingly, and things are back to normal.
That they have a 'normal' to return to within a day is…interesting.