So, another fic in need of a header. Three colons is a time jump. One colon is jumping between reality and dreams. Without further ado, here is my fic for round one of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Fanfiction Contest!


Conquer

The sun beat down on Malik as he trekked across the desert. He hadn't given any thought to afternoon being the hottest time of day when he had decided to make the journey to the ruins of the tomb of the previously nameless Pharaoh. He shielded his eyes and looked up at the cloudless blue sky. A groan escaped his lips. He felt much less clever than usual as he wiped the sweat from his brow. After an endless walk, he topped a dune and found that he was looking out over the Valley of the Kings. From his distance, he could not make out the collapsed entrance of Atem's tomb. Malik slid down and finally felt his feet hit the solid rock out of which each tomb had been carved. While he shook the sand out of his shoes, Malik silently thanked the sun god Ra for allowing his aching feet recourse from the desert that had been slowly rising above his ankles, not unlike an ocean wave lapping against the shore. He slipped his sandals back on before continuing toward the far end of the Valley.

At long last, Malik came before the tomb in which his king's spirit had slept for three thousand years, awaiting the boy who would awaken him. The thought of three thousand years of waiting gave Malik a twinge of regret when he considered the amount of bitterness he had harbored over having spent a comparatively short time underground. "I'm sorry," he murmured for the thousandth time in his never ending endeavor for forgiveness for the atrocious acts he had committed while on his quest to vanquish the Pharaoh and free his people. He knelt before the tomb, for the first time wondering what had caused him to make the journey all the way out to the Valley from the house in Karnak, where he now lived with Ishizu and Rishid. He had not even given them a clue as to where he might be heading, only a reassurance that he would be home by dinnertime. He supposed that perhaps he simply needed to be alone, quite alone, as he hadn't been since his insane other self had been repressed in Battle City. Until today, Rishid had stayed by his side, despite Malik's protests and insistences that his dark side had been vanquished for good. He wondered if perhaps his dark side had lulled him into a false sense of security so he would leave Rishid. But, sitting there on the warm rock beside the Pharaoh's tomb, Malik felt no fury or resentment stirring in his heart.

When he could think of no reason to have come to this place, Malik stood. As he rose to his feet, a glint of gold among the rocks caught his eye. He approached, and saw that there was a gleaming golden point protruding from beneath one of the large slabs of stone that had broken off in the collapse. "Impossible." It looked like the tip of the Rod. Or perhaps one of the five spikes that dangled off the edge of the Ring. A vague fear awakened inside of him; he wanted nothing to do with either of these Items anymore. "But they should have been destroyed in the ceremony!" As he took a step backward, Malik tripped over a rock and fell. He pushed himself up and rubbed his head. His mind raced for an explanation. "They were destroyed in the ceremony. This is probably nothing more than one of the Pharaoh's trinkets left behind. I bet that Ishizu would like to have it for the exhibit." His fear quelled, Malik rocked forward into a crawl and reached out for the object. A sharp pain stung the back of his head as his fingers brushed the gold, making Malik dizzy. He rested for a moment, realizing that he must have hit his head harder than he thought. He reached again, clasped his hand around the object, and pulled. Before he could examine his find, Malik blacked out.

He awoke sprawled across the ruins with a gold necklace, decorated with lapis lazuli inlays, clutched to his chest. The sun was not beating down so hard and the air was beginning to cool off. Malik jumped to his feet and swayed unsteadily for a moment while he caught his balance before dashing back toward Karnak, praying desperately that he would not be late for dinner and cause his brother and sister to worry over his well-being.

:::

After dinner, Malik sat before his mirror, feeling his head for the bump he must have gotten from his fall that afternoon. He didn't dare tell Ishizu or Rishid, for fear they would then deny him any future solo expeditions. But, try though he might, Malik could not find where he had hit his head. He reasoned that it must not have been too bad and that the swelling must have gone down on his trip back home. Why, then, had he passed out, if he had sustained no serious injury? He was fairly certain that passing out was very serious. "Guess I'm just lucky," he said before flashing himself a grin and a wink and slipping into his bed.

As he lay there, Malik thought back to not so long ago, when he had been at the head of a powerful underground organization. Despite knowing that everything about the Ghouls had been morally wrong, he couldn't deny the fun he'd had at times, especially when apprehending new members. There had always been something a little bit sensual about leaving a piece of himself within a foreign mind and bending it to his will, especially when that mind resisted. Malik savored the power struggle, especially because he always won.

Almost always, reminded a small voice in the back of his mind.

Malik's face pulled into a smirk. Almost always. Of course, there had been one mind he had only occupied, never conquered. His favorite mind, even now, after he had resolved his childhood resentment. The wicked spirit who called himself "Bakura", as hell-bent on destroying the Pharaoh as Malik had been, if not more. The only person strong enough to resist Malik's very persuasive hand. Without meaning to, Malik missed his dark presence…

:

His pale lips spread into a knowing smirk as Malik watched him from across the alley. "Did I surprise you?" he asked, taking a step forward.

Malik retreated until his back was pressed up against a shabby grey wall. "Perhaps a little," he admitted, his chin held high. He resisted the urge to raise a hand to his lips. The pressure of the man's kiss still lingered. There had hardly been reason for it. Malik could only assume that this man—Bakura, he'd called himself—was attempting to manipulate him. Well, it wasn't going to work, not that easily. He avoided making eye contact with Bakura; he couldn't risk giving off an air of weakness when it was so important that he appeared to be in control. "You said you have a plan."

Instead of answering, Bakura stepped right into Malik, pressed up against him, slid one knee between the boy's legs. His smirk widened as he bent his head down and gave Malik's neck a rough nip. He looked back up, searching for a satisfactory reaction.

Malik refused to give it. He held Bakura's eyes and glared. "I believe it will be more beneficial to us both if you just get to the part where you explain your plan." Malik fought down the growing urge to pull Bakura in for another kiss. He didn't bother to avoid staring at the man's lips as he told Malik that he could impersonate his host well enough to earn the trust of the Pharaoh's friends.

"Are you actually listening, or are you just waiting for me to kiss you again?"

Malik frowned. He hadn't realized that he'd stopped frowning in the first place. "Of course I'm listening. How would this…talent of yours be of any use in kissing the Pharaoh?" The word had escaped into the open before Malik could force it back. "Destroying!" he tried to amend before further conversation was rendered pointless by another kiss, to the passion of which he this time surrendered himself fully.

:::

The next morning, Malik found himself in his sister's personal library of scriptures. Painful memories of years spent underground with nothing but those ancient tomes, passed down for three millennia through the Ishtar clan, surfaced upon seeing them. Much like the day before, Malik wasn't really certain what had prompted him to visit such an upsetting place. He ran his fingers along the spines of bound volumes and the handles of scrolls. There was no conscious choice in the volume he removed from the shelf. He told himself that he really needed to find something productive to do with his life if he was reading ancient scriptures in his spare time. He recognized the book as he opened it. It was about the entities that made up every human being: the ba, the ka, the ren, the sheut, and the akh. Malik thumbed through the pages, recalling moments when he had been reading exact pages. There were countless beatings, sometimes because he fell asleep while reading, other times because he flat out refused. As he got closer to the end, there were fewer and fewer unhappy recollections, until he finally came upon a chapter he was almost certain he had never read before. This part detailed the reanimation of the akh. It was complicated. Among the requirements were a proper burial, a united ba and ka, and constant offerings thereafter. Malik slammed the book shut. "Why am I even reading this?" he wondered aloud.

Because you need to know, answered that small voice hiding within the deepest recesses of his mind.

Malik jumped, despite knowing for certain that the voice had been internal. He glanced around wildly, searching for the source of the words he was sure hadn't been created by him, consciously or otherwise. "What's going on?" he asked. There was no answer. Panic overtook him. "No. He can't be back." Only one voice not entirely his own had ever spoken to him from inside. Malik dug his fingers into his scalp. "Stay away from me," he warned. "You aren't welcome here anymore."

:::

Malik sat on his bed with his knees clutched to his chin. He refused to admit that he would not sleep for fear that his other self would use the hours of vulnerability to carry out another of his wicked, wholly insane plots. Instead he busied his mind trying to figure out what had triggered his return. Nothing came to mind except that the Pharaoh's passing on to the next life may have weakened or even undone the magic he'd used to repress Malik's dark side. But why now? Nearly two years had passed since that day. Maybe he needed time to recuperate, Malik thought. It was reasonable enough: after being nearly obliterated by the Pharaoh, it would no doubt take time. After all, it had taken six years for him to gain enough strength take full control of Malik's body. But in that perspective, how could he have revived so quickly this time without all the resentment and fury that fed him the first time around? Malik hit his head against his knees in frustration. He tried to blink, but his eyes would not reopen. He sank into a fitful slumber…

:

He had used the kiss to secure a tiny place for himself in the man's—Bakura's, he reminded himself—mind. It wasn't as easy as he had hoped. Bakura's mind was surrounded by many walls built to keep others from getting close. To be truthful, the struggle had been…invigorating. Exhilarating. Malik couldn't remember the last time he'd had so much fun securing a new mind. He decided that he liked being around Bakura, for the challenge, if nothing else. Although the kisses weren't too bad either.

:::

Malik's bed was much harder than he remembered when he woke up the next day. He was cold too. He reached for the sheets that he decided he must have kicked off; his hand met nothing but stone. His eyes flew open and he saw that he was lying sprawled across the floor, just in front of the door. He scrambled to his feet and glanced around, the fog of early morning clouding his mind. How had he ended up so far from his bed? He groped until he found the handle on the door and backed out of his room, right into a strong, warm body. Malik whipped around to face Rishid. Upon registering his brother's presence, he relaxed. "Good morning, Rishid."

"Ishizu just finished making breakfast. Come eat with us."

"Okay." Malik resisted breathing a sight of relief. No one had been harmed last night. Maybe, he thought, this is all in my head. After all, what had made his assume that he was on the floor because his dark side had returned while he slept? He knew that he tossed and turned in his sleep, and he was sure that with all the worrying he had done just before, he couldn't have had a peaceful night. I just rolled out of bed. He allowed himself to smile. If he were back, Rishid would have noticed. With that in mind, he sad down to a peaceful breakfast with his family.

:::

So jubilant was Malik about his revelation that he volunteered to go to the market for Ishizu so she could stay home and relax. He looked at the neatly-written shopping list in his hand as he roamed the crowded stall-lined streets. "Bananas," he said as he dropped the fruit into his basket and crossed them off the list. "Done!" As he made his way toward the market exit, Malik found himself approaching a stall advertising freshly-slaughtered meat. He instinctively wrinkled his nose; he'd never been fond of the idea of consuming something that had once lived and thought just as he did. But as he got nearer, an impulse went through him—so physical a shiver went down his spine—to buy some. He still had money left over from buying Ishizu's groceries, and she would never know. Malik passed the stall, wondering what was wrong with himself.

:::

Malik slid the package under his bed, the whole time glancing over his shoulder to make sure no one was watching. He couldn't pinpoint what exactly had possessed him back at the market, but he hadn't been able to control the desire. What do I plan on doing with it? he wondered, incredulous at his own actions. I don't know how to cook meat, and I certainly can't keep it here for very long or it will spoil. He shook his head and lounged on his bed, where he drifted in and out of a light slumber…

:

Long white fingers ghosted across Malik's skin, a sharp contrast. The sensuous touch of the man—"Bakura," he murmured—sent chills through his body. He twisted his hands in the long white hair that lifted away from Bakura's head, defying logic. Malik liked that about Bakura, more than the kisses and the touches: Bakura was different, indescribable by terms of the common man. Impossible to define. Every moment Malik spent with him yielded a new word for him, completely unrelated to the last. The last had been vulgar, because of the language he had used to describe…questionable acts. Now it was sensuous, in the execution of said questionable acts. It made Malik wonder just how much experience Bakura had. Malik almost asked.

:

…until Ishizu called him for dinner.

:::

A strong stench woke Malik in the middle of the night. It took a moment to place it, but the moment he did, he was out of bed and on his hands and knees, searching beneath his bed for the package of raw meat. He couldn't find it. Panic set in. "Rishid or Ishizu must have found it," he whispered to himself. Why, then, hadn't they woken him to ask about it? And from the strength of its stench, it was still somewhere in his room. Malik dropped to his stomach and slid himself under his bed, thinking that maybe he had just pushed the meat further back than he'd thought. But he noticed that when he got under his bed, the stench wasn't nearly as strong. He abandoned the search beneath his bed and got back to his feet. "It's definitely stronger," he said, lifting his nose and taking in a deep breath. Now thinking about it, Malik realized that the smell was coming from his left. He approached the open door of his bathroom—he was left with no doubt that the smell was coming from in here. He flipped on the lights and froze at his form in the mirror.

Two streams of dried blood ran down his chin from the corners of his mouth. Malik stumbled backward into the doorframe. He took several deep breaths to regain his bearings before rushing forward to the sink and scrubbing his face clean. He sat on his bed for the remainder of the night, rocking back and forth on his bed, which was bathed in the light from his open bathroom door. He stared forward into the light, his gaze never drifting to one side or the other. At least not until sunrise.

Sunlight poured through his window, a little bit at a time, steadily filling the dark wall to the right of his bathroom door like a glass of water. It was about ten minutes before he could read the deep brown word written at the bottom of his wall in what was almost undoubtedly blood. Hello. Malik tensed and waited until another line of text was revealed. If you ate that meat… Another excruciating several minutes went by. ..why can you still smell it? His eyes widened; he'd never even considered that during all the time he had sat awake. By the way…, the next line read. It felt like hours before the sun crept over the top over the final line. …look under your bed.

Malik debated not moving, for fear that whatever lay beneath him was akin to a bogeyman, waiting for him to leave the safety of his bed so it could pull him into the depths of Hell. Another part of him debated going to get Rishid immediately, telling him everything, asking how his other side had revived. If anyone would know, it would be Rishid. In the end, Malik decided it was wisest to follow his dark side's orders. He had never liked defiance, and there was no telling what he might do should Malik choose not to obey. So, he crawled to the end of his bed and lowered himself to the floor, eyes scrunched closed. When he finally worked up the courage to open them, he reeled back, wishing he had never gotten up. Beneath his bed was a broken and bloodied corpse, whose cheeks looked as though they'd been ripped out. It would have been unrecognizable…had it not been for the block of text tattooed down the left side of its face. Malik's stomach churned; he vomited. He saw two large chunks of meat and vomited again. He knelt there, clutching his sides and heaving, long after the contents of his stomach had been emptied onto the floor in front of him. He staggered to his feet and climbed out his window. His only goal was to get as far away from his sister as he could before he had a chance to harm her—if he hadn't already.

As he staggered through the desert, Malik's mind raced. How had his other side killed Rishid? No matter how long he thought about it, it was clearly impossible. Rishid had always been able to repress Malik's dark side, even at the height of its strength. Now? It wouldn't have stood a chance. "Then what…?" he muttered. "It's just not…" More incomplete thoughts escaped Malik's tongue as he stumbled into the Valley of the Kings. Almost without thinking, he made his way to the Pharaoh's tomb. Malik sat on a broken slab, put his head in his hands, and sobbed. He looked at his hands, feeling very much like a small boy again. Only this time, he was aware that it had been his own hands responsible for the murder. "But how…who…?" He felt a familiar fading, as though his senses were being turned down, until he was floating in a dark abyss. It was the same feeling he'd gotten when his dark side had taken over. "I'm wrong. It is him."

"Actually, no. You were right." The voice that responded was not the one Malik had expected. "It's not him." Out of the abyss there appeared a figure that Malik recognized easily. Not only had the owner of that figure been his partner for the duration of Battle City, he had also haunted Malik's dreams for the past several nights. "Did I surprise you?" he asked, his lips curling into that familiar smirk.

"You bastard!" Malik screamed before launching himself at Bakura and landing solid punches on his ethereal form.

"No need for that kind of language," laughed Bakura, who didn't even flinch at the blows he was dealt. "It was really his own fault. I was just going to eat the meat I had you buy a the market, but he walked in and tried to stop me. Besides, the ritual does call for freshly slaughtered meat."

Malik froze. "What ritual?"

"The se-akh, of course. It started when you found the Ring in the ruins of the Pharaoh's tomb. Thank you for that."

"I never…" And then Malik recalled the mysterious blackout he'd experienced despite lack of injury. "No."

Bakura shrugged. "Yes. Anyway, I'm taking control of your body."

"What?" Just like that, as though it were the most natural thing in the world.

"You can stay, of course," Bakura continued. "But from now on, I will be in charge."

"No!" Malik protested. "You won't be! I won't give in without a fight!"

"Well it's too late for that," Bakura stated. "While you're arguing me in here, I'm already out there, scouring the ruins for the other six Millennium Items." He turned his back and began walking off into the distant darkness. "You never were strong enough to conquer my mind."


So...um...yeah...that's what came out. Not my favorite work, but it's certainly better than my first couple of contest fics!

Anyway, for contest purposes, if necessary, reread knowing the ending, and the—albeit horribly fucked up—Thiefshipping will be there. :'D

Reviews are fantastic!