Episode One: Anniversary

"Where are you going to run, Yugi?" Malik asked with a grin, his voice dark and menacing. "Do you really think that you can stop me?"

"Of course I can!" Yugi's face betrayed his thoughts: he was cornered, no matter how he looked at it.

A smirk crossed Malik's lips. "What's wrong? Surely you don't always need your friends for support. That is a sign of weakness, when your only strength comes in numbers."

Yugi grimaced. "I will defeat you, Malik. And I will bring back my friends. No magic of yours can ever keep us apart!"

"You forget: I have someone on my side as well. With Bakura's and my combined power, nothing can stop me!"

"Nothing but the power of friendship!"

"Love is stronger."

Jonouchi yawned loudly. "Can you guys hurry up and roll the dice? The suspense is killin' me."

"Please don't interrupt, Jonouchi," Ryou scolded lightly. "They're really getting into the game. And I like seeing Malik this way." He smiled softly and gazed at the pale-haired Egyptian with a wistful expression.

The group of teenagers sat around a table in the room Ryou had set aside for his RPGs. The game had begun with Ryou and Malik together on one side of the board, sharing the position of Game Master as they always did. Malik had nearly lost toward the very beginning of their game, only surviving because Ryou gave up all his piece's strength to protect him, merging the two into a single deadly, unstoppable force. With Ryou's occasional guidance, Malik had managed to wipe out Honda, Jonouchi, and Anzu. Now the only player left was Yugi.

Malik closed his hands around the two d10's. "Are you ready for this?"

Yugi's face lit up. "Ready as I'll ever be!" He watched intently as Malik threw the dice to determine the outcome of their final battle. Whoever won the roll won the game.

Just as they were about to stop, Ryou's elbow slipped and nudged the table, causing the dice to hit each other. "Sorry!" he said earnestly, though the apology lost its effect to the mischievous grin on his face. The first die had stopped on a one. His face turned pink with a blush when Malik took his hand and dropped their elbows onto the table, stopping the other die cold with the number two facing up. "Twelve. Not bad."

Malik was much less impressed. "We could've done better, though," he whined.

"Whaddya mean, you coulda done better?" demanded Jonouchi.

The two Game Masters shared sideward glances and smirks.

"Wait…have you guys been cheatin' this whole time?" A look of utter bewilderment not unfamiliar to him covered Jonouchi's features.

"I wouldn't necessarily call it cheating," Ryou began.

"How about let's call it…creatively tipping the odds in our favor," Malik finished, lips curling back far enough to expose his canines.

Anzu raised an eyebrow. "I thought we established that you guys cheat the last time we played Monster World."

"But Jounouchi wasn't here the last time, was he?" Ryou asked, leaning across the table.

Jonouchi reeled backward, falling out of his chair with a heavy thud. "You scare me sometimes, you know that?"

The only response he was afforded was an innocent bat of Ryou's eyes.

Yugi threw his own dice, sending them spinning across the board.

Just as they were coming to a stop, Jonouchi decided to get back into his seat. In the process, he hit his head on the underside of the table, renewing the dance of the dice across the miniature kingdom. "Ow…" he moaned.

"If he were any smarter," Malik murmured loudly to Ryou, "I would suspect him of cheating on Yugi's behalf."

"What was that?" Jonouchi jumped to his feet and glared around the room at his friends. "For your information, I did that on purpose!" The comment only made everyone erupt into uproarious laughter. "I'm serious!"

Ryou clutched his stomach and folded his body forward until his forehead was resting on the edge of the table. As everyone's giggles died down, he pushed himself back up with his arms, scooting the table just enough to drop the dice dead in the center. A dark shadow came over his eyes and he grinned. "Oh Malik, look at Yugi's roll."

"Lucky number thirteen."

They looked at each other for a moment before Ryou spoke the final narration of the game in a low voice. "You attack the Zorc-infused Yalik and fight valiantly, but in the end it isn't enough. With the last of your strength, you swing your sword at Yalik's neck…but he dodges and proceeds to dismember you with his battle axe. Your quest comes to an abrupt end when he severs your head." Ryou smiled brightly around the room. "It looks like Malik and I win today!"

Everyone else stood and stretched, voicing their congratulations, while Malik leaned over and planted a short kiss on Ryou's lips, turning the boy's face a deep crimson. Ryou was still getting used to Malik's spontaneous shows of affection, whose frequency seemed to increase when they were around their friends. He enjoyed knowing that Malik was jealous enough to be possessive, but there were times it embarrassed him to no end. Now, for example.

Jonouchi and Honda gaped at the Game Masters while Yugi and Anzu pointedly averted their gazes so as to give them relative privacy.

"So Malik," said Ryou, perhaps a bit too loudly, "I just realized that we forgot the penalty game! What do you think it should be?"

Malik's eyes gave a dangerous flash as he smirked up at his friends.

"Damn I was hoping they'd forget…" Jonouchi muttered under his breath.

"Let's give ourselves some time to consider it. After all, the last Monster World penalty game doesn't quite work with four. Unless we paired them off…"

"No way!" Jounouchi and Honda exclaimed simultaneously. "There's only one girl!"

Malik's smirk widened. "That didn't stop Anzu from choosing the penalty game she did."

"But that's different!" protested Honda. "I mean, you guys are obviously—" He cut off with a cry of pain when Anzu hit him in the head. "What was that for?" he asked, gingerly rubbing the place he had been struck.

She cast Honda an annoyed glare before turning to Malik and Ryou with a cheery smile. "What Honda's trying to say is that I did you guys a favor, so you should go easy on us!"

Malik waved her—obvious—plea away. "We'll think about it."


After eating steaming bowls of ramen together around his table, Ryou waved as his friends filed out the door. "Good-bye everyone!"

"Bye Bakura!" they called over their shoulders before disappearing behind the door guarding the stairs.

A pair of arms wrapped around Ryou's neck. "May I stop being so formal now, Ryou? Pretty please?"

Ryou leaned his head back against Malik's chest and looked up into his eyes. "Since you asked so nicely." After locking his apartment door, Ryou and Malik settled on the overstuffed couch in the living room. "So what do you think we should do about their penalty game?"

"I think," he began, "that we should be as cruel and unusual as Anzu was the last time we played Monster World."

"You jumped at our penalty game like it was a plate of fresh ohagi. Let's at least be nice to Anzu." Ryou leaned his chin on Malik's shoulder and looked up at him through his eyelashes. "Okay?"

The wheels in Malik's mind were clearly spinning behind his eyes. "Then how about we lock her and Yugi in a closet together for an hour or so?"


"Or better yet," he continued with no heed to the warning in Ryou's voice, "we could handcuff them together for a day."

"And where do you suggest we find handcuffs?"

Malik slid off the couch and dropped down to run his hand under it. He came back up and rested his elbows on the arm, a shiny pair of silver handcuffs in his right hand.

Ryou's brow furrowed. "Those aren't mine." A moment later the implication struck him. "No."

"Why not? It would be—"

"No no no no no. We haven't been together that long."

Malik slid the cuffs back under the couch. "Well then I guess they'll be here when we're ready for them." He climbed back up beside Ryou and kissed him.

"I'm not keeping handcuffs under my couch, Malik. What if my father found them?"

"Why would your father be looking under your couch?"

"If he…dropped his glasses. Or the remote. Or something."

"Then tell him you have no idea how they got there."

"…Malik why do you have handcuffs?"

He tossed a lecherous grin at Ryou as he stood and entered the kitchen. "No reason." He moved quickly, determined to get everything set up before Ryou thought to follow him. Malik opened the cupboard and pulled out the tiny round cake he'd gotten at the supermarket—vanilla like Ryou liked—that he had painstakingly iced with "Happy 1 Month". He set it on the table and was just popping off the lid when Ryou walked in.

"What are you—"

"Happy anniversary, Ryou," Malik said with a grin.

For those who may not be able to tell, it's a Yu-Gi-Oh! fic with very strong influences from the When They Cry series. It can still be enjoyed without having seen either, but I am certain that enjoyment would be greatly enhanced if you were familiar with either or both. As it were, it is not technically a crossover, so!

Also, "Batsugēmu-hen" means "Penalty Game Chapter", and is stylistically based upon the chapter names in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni.

As always, reviews are much appreciated!