Inside the (Millennium) Ring

Round One

After our failed Battle City partnership, I never imagined that I would see Marik Ishtar again. And yet there he is, walking the streets of Domino with terror in his eyes. I simply follow him for a while, trying to figure out what in Ra's name he's up to. When we pass the same clock for the third time, I realize he's lost. That's when I finally approach him. "You seem a bit turned around, Marik."

The boy whips around; his expression can't make up its mind. "What do you want Bakura?"

"You look a little lost. Would you like some help?"

He shoots me a glare before turning around and walking away.

I know I should take the hint and leave him to his terrified wandering, but because I am so contrary, I pursue him. When I get within reach, I grab his arm and force him to face me. "You're lost."

Marik tries to pull away from me. "I don't want your help, Bakura."

"But you need it."

"No I don't! I just need a map is all."

"Where are you going?" I ask. "I'm sure that I could at least point you in the right direction, if you're going to forbid me from accompanying you to your destination." I have a feeling that I'm going to end up getting my way, no matter what he tries to do.

I'm right. Marik stops struggling and sighs. "I don't know where I'm going. Isis let me go out to see the city with Rishid because she wanted the house to be ready when we got back, except then we got separated and I've been looking for him, but he probably went to the house because he knows where it is, and I'm so lost because I have no idea where to go, and I don't have any way of contacting Isis because I gave her the cell phone so she could charge it, and I'm scared, and now you're here, and this day is just getting worse by the minute."

This is just too much. I start cracking up at Marik's face, at his situation, at the utter desolation he must feel. I only laugh harder when angry tears form in the corners of his eyes. Sadism is probably not one of my better qualities. I tighten my grip when he makes an angry tug to escape. "Not so fast, Marik," I manage to gasp between my diminishing chuckles. "You need help, and I can give it. Now come with me and you can call your sister."

A defiant frown crosses his face. "I already said no." He is trying even harder to get away from me.

"You don't have much of a choice. Who are you going to turn to if I leave? Do you think that Isis has some sort of divining power without her Necklace? Face it, Marik, you—"

He cuts me off with a furious shriek. "I DO NOT NEED YOUR HELP!" Marik slips out of my grip. He doesn't get very far, though: five seconds later, he's tripping over his feet. After the shock wears off, he pulls his knees up and begins to cry. This isn't from fury.

I groan. I despise crying; it's nothing but a childish show of weakness. Perhaps if Marik and I were familiar with each other under different circumstances, I could just walk away. But I can't, because that show of weakness somehow doesn't fit on his face. I know him as a devious teenager who is surprisingly intelligent despite all the years he spent underground. So I offer him a hand. "Stop your sniveling, Marik. People are going to start staring. Ryou has a telephone in his apartment that I'm sure he won't mind your using."

The resolve is gone from his face. He takes my hand and allows me to pull him back to his feet. After several minutes of walking in silence, he speaks. "Thank you for this."

"I don't even know why I'm bothering. I don't think that you've ever done me any favors to return, and I'm not a hypocritical do-gooder. I'm so doubtful right now that you should probably start coming up with some reasons before I regain myself and leave you to the scum of the streets."

His eyes get big. "I…I have helped you! I woke you from your coma during Battle City."

"And then you ended up getting me physically banished to the Shadow Realm. Try again."

"Because…I…because I…" Just when I think he's drawn a blank, he finishes. "Because I didn't want you to. And I still don't, but I have to let you, because I have nowhere else to turn."

A smirk spreads across my face. "Yes, I suppose that would be it. We're crossing the street here, so don't lose me."

Marik catches my wrist just before I step out. He must really be afraid of getting lost again if he's going to that kind of an extreme. He lets me go only when we have reached the other side. By the time we reach Ryou's apartment, he has repeated the incident five times.

I pull out my keys and open the door. "Come on." Once inside, I show him to the telephone. "Just don't spend too long." I watch with little interest as he dials whoever the hell he's after.

"Hello? Isis? Um…yes, I got lost… Rishid? I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to… I don't know how to get there, though… I'm using a friend's phone… Yes, that friend, Rishid… No, I do not think I'm in any kind of danger. If that were the case, I think he would have pushed me in front of a car before now… He may know. Hold on." Marik turns to me. "How well do you know Domino?"

I reply with a raised eyebrow. "Fairly, I would say. Why?"

"Would you—"

Oh, Ra, I can see where this is going.

"—please help me find my house?"

"Why, pray tell, would I do that?"

"You enjoy humiliating me."

Another smirk creeps onto my face. "True. Though I ought to make some sort of condition…"

Once again, Marik's eyes grow wide. "What's the address of this building?"

I rip the phone from his hands. "He'll be there before dark," I say before pressing the red button.

"It's only one o'clock," Marik murmurs, obviously still trying to process why I'm giving myself so long to get him home.

"Good observation. It gives me plenty of time to harass you before taking you home. Now you should probably write down the address before you forget."

The slip of paper is accompanied by a glare.

I don't even look, just pocket it and grab him by the arm and start dragging him back toward the door. "Let's have some fun, shall we?"

"Fun is a relative term."

Indeed. I drag him through the first several dark and possibly inhabited alleys I see. A devious trick crosses my mind. "Marik," I say slowly, feigning deep thought and minimal concern, "I believe we're lost."

At first, he scowls. "That's not funny!" But as my silence grows, he becomes visibly frightened. I'm certain that "retracing our steps" on my hand is helping immensely.

"We'll have to find someone to help us around here," I say before walking off without him.

"Wait!" he cries before running up and slipping his hand into mine.

"GAH!" I shout, mostly in surprise as I rip my hand away. "What in Ra's name do you think you're doing?"

"Don't you dare walk off without me!"

I roll my eyes. "Ra, Marik, I was only toying with you. Now come on." Not too long after, we come to a stop in front of a one-story home that looks to have something of a backyard. Well aren't they just ever-so-fancy? The blasted tombkeepers must have been saving up money for the generation that found the Pharaoh to be able to move far, far away. I hit the bell and wait at Marik's side, trying my best to look excessively smug about having been the one to find him. I look over to see that he seems adequately irritated and smirk.

Eventually, Isis comes to the door. "Marik! Thank the gods you're all right!" She turns to me, and says with something of a pained expression, "Thank you for finding my brother. Rishid and I were worried."

Ra, she's making me sound like a blasted policeman or something. "It kept me entertained for the day," I reply. "And now if he ever decides to taunt me, I know where he lives."

"I know where you live too!" he yells irritably.

"Then I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of each other." Without so much as a "good day" I take my leave, smirking wider than I have in a while. I believe I have found a new playmate.

Round One Tally

Bakura-1 Marik-0

Welcome to my fic, in which I sorta compare Marik and Bakura's relationship to a boxing match! I hope you enjoyed the first chapter that took me nearly a year to finish! (Fail sauce.)

Also, my birthday is coming up, and more wonderful of a present than a kiss from Bakura would be reviews! Mostly 'cause there's no effing way I'll ever get a kiss from Bakura...