A/N: Beta'd by Ali (sessiles on tumblr).
The Solution for Spirits
"What, were you rejected even from Hell, so now you're making your own realm of eternal suffering right here in my home?" Malik shook his head in disgust at the empty room. Empty in the sense that he was the only person around, that is- there was plenty of broken furniture and trash filling the space. This had been happening ever since he moved to his own apartment in the city, looking for a fresh start and instead finding a volatile hoarder of a spirit.
That was what Ryou called it, at least. At first, Malik had been skeptical about the existence of ghosts but logically speaking, there was no logical explanation for what had been happening lately. He'd seen with his own eyes his possessions flung about and random objects crashing through the windows until the entire floor was obscured. He supposed he could have moved out, but the rent was so cheap and he didn't want to bother his siblings for any of their hard-earned money. Well, now he knew why the rent wasn't much, and honestly, the supposed ghost was the most interesting thing about this city so far. If it could learn to behave, it might even be welcome.
Light knocking on the door alerted Malik to Ryou's appearance. Malik let his friend of six months in with quick smile; his only friend, as a matter of fact. His easygoing personality and nonjudgmental mindset had allowed him to become friends with Malik even after an embarrassingly rocky start. The fact that Ryou lived in this city had been no small factor in Malik's choice of where to move.
"Hi, Malik. I see your friend has already been here."
"The spirit is not my friend." Malik scoffed at Ryou's obvious excitement. He wasn't even looking at Malik, instead scurrying around the room and examining the evidence of the supernatural being's activities. He'd left a bag in the doorway and Malik brought it inside, peering into it to find various occult paraphernalia squeezed in with lots of snacks.
When Malik looked up, Ryou had left the tiny living room to prepare tea in the kitchen. He seemed to naturally know where the kettle and tea bags were, despite this being his first time in Malik's apartment. Malik heard him gathering what he needed as he placed Ryou's belongings in a cabinet with a lock. It was a futile effort to keep it away from the spirit, since whatever was haunting the apartment broke through every lock Malik could buy or design, but that just made Malik want to stump it even more. His latest contraption locked in place and Malik went into the kitchen to sit across the table from Ryou as the tea brewed.
Comfortable silence stretched over the small kitchen for a minute or two, accented rather than ruined by the gently bubbling water. Finally, Malik asked,"Have you decided how to contact the spirit?"
"Hmm… I've thought of a few different ways. But you know, it's really interesting to see the pattern of what the spirit is doing. I've only seen a couple of rooms, but it looks like the spirit hasn't touched anything expensive or nice, like the paintings in the living room. Everything else is getting smashed up, though, isn't it?"
Malik contemplated his observation. "Everything it's bringing here is becoming predictable as well. It's all worthless, but antique, like it may have been worth something ages ago."
Movement from the corner of his eye caused Malik to turn his head sharply. The kettle was flying towards them, wisps of steam curling around its edges. "Ryou, look out!" Malik leapt up and grabbed Ryou's arm, pulling him away from where the kettle was beginning to pour scalding water. When it was empty, it dropped harmlessly to the ground with a clang, and Ryou began shuffling his feet.
His sudden restlessness was at least partially due to the fact that they'd just witnessed a ghost firsthand, but Malik suspected their physical contact was another cause. Malik was still holding his arm tightly, and he could feel how cold Ryou's skin was against his own.
Could you be any more obvious?
Malik released Ryou, his eyes darting around the room, searching for the source of the voice. "Ryou, did you hear that?"
Malik frowned at his innocent answer as the rough voice spoke again.
Well, don't let me interrupt your moment. After all, I was merely trying to help you out. Even a spirit can tell how much you want to touchhhhhh himmmm-
"Agh, shut up!" Malik snapped in what seemed the general direction of the voice. Ryou looked at him with concern and Malik had to admit, "I can hear the ghost."
A minute passed and nothing more was said. Ryou cleaned up the mess as Malik drummed his fingers on the table in annoyance. How had a dead soul seen right through him? Malik was a master of hiding his most precious emotions, including how he felt about Ryou. He did like him, and of course he wanted to touch him, but Ryou didn't know that and he planned on keeping it that way. He really had no friends outside his siblings, and hell if he knew anything about romance. Confident as he was in his looks, he didn't think he could properly date anyone, and he would never want to destroy his friendship with Ryou. He was too fortunate for it to even have come about.
The Malik of six months ago was angry. But then, that had been nothing new. People pissed him off, school pissed him off, and being so dependent on his siblings who worked too hard anyway really pissed him off. He soared through the jammed city streets on his motorcycle, weaved recklessly through the flowing net of vehicles, let the frosty wind sting his skin until it burned like his temper. Even with the roar of his engine and the curses of the drivers he cut off, he couldn't block out his own mental self-criticism.
He'd slammed on the brakes when a store's sign caught his eye and veered out of traffic and onto the curb to park his bike. He'd pushed the door open with one hand and scanned its interior. It was a bakery staffed by one person, a boy around his age with bright green eyes and unnaturally light hair.
"Hello and welcome to Domino's finest bakery! May I help you?" he'd chirped as Malik half-stomped up to the counter, his fit of rage not yet over.
Malik had gestured vaguely over his shoulder and said, "The sign said you were hiring. I want to apply."
"Sure! You just need to fill out an application and then the owner will give you an interview," the boy had told him, reaching under the counter and retrieving a stack of papers he handed to Malik.
Malik had clumsily folded them and stuffed them in his pocket before turning to leave. "Wait a minute!" the boy shouted after him.
"What?" Malik scowled, eager to get home and figure out the application process so he could finally have a job.
"I-" The boy had seemed a bit taken aback at being yelled at by a stranger, but he kept smiling anyway. "I'm Ryou. If you do end up working here, I hope we can be friends…" The slight pause and tilt of his head at the end of his question made it clear he was pondering Malik's name.
Malik had blinked at him, spat out, "Malik," and left the store before any more friendly introductions were forced out of him.
Looking back now, Malik smiled wryly at the memory. He'd gotten the job after all and had been able to take some of the financial burden off his sister and brother; eventually, he'd even gotten his own apartment in the city he worked in, since that day he'd just ended up here after driving about twenty minutes from where his old house was. Ryou claimed he wasn't surprised Malik had gotten the job, but Malik knew better. The boss was strict and demanding, and most people who'd seen Malik as Ryou had would never have guessed he could excel in an interview with him. Malik had passed with flying colors, of course. If the circumstances made it necessary, Malik could adopt any persona to achieve what he wanted.
Except the persona of an appealing boyfriend, Malik reminded himself bitterly.
Somehow, Ryou had been polite to him from day one, teaching Malik how to bake and sell every type of pastry conceivable, impossibly patient as Malik's first attempts at cooking ended in inedible failure. Malik found himself warming up more and more to Ryou and when he was sure it wouldn't be snatched away like a sick joke, he'd grasped the friendship Ryou extended to him.
"So, shall we try to contact the spirit?" Ryou's cheerful voice broke into Malik's memories. Malik nodded and they moved to the living room. Malik sighed as he saw that the cabinet had been broken into and Ryou's snacks, books, and various devices Malik couldn't identify with certainty littered the carpet.
"I think I'll pour some boiling water on the ghost if I get the chance," Malik stated sourly. Ryou just laughed and gathered up what was his, piling it on the coffee table. He knelt down in front of it and after a moment's hesitation, Malik sat next to him rather than across from him.
Ryou first reached for something Malik thought he recognized: a Ouija board. "I don't know if this will work, but we might be able to get the spirit to speak to us this way. It obviously wants to be heard, so we could get lucky and not have to try anything else."
"Whatever you say." Malik followed Ryou's instructions to place his fingertips on the plastic piece that rested on the board's surface. Ryou did the same.
"Spirit, if you would, please tell us your name."
After a second, the plastic piece began moving beneath their fingers. Malik looked back and forth from it to Ryou, wondering if his friend was moving it, even inadvertently. He didn't voice his doubts when he saw how thrilled Ryou looked at the action.
The piece landed on N and then O before halting. Malik half-smiled. "So I'm being haunted by a sassy ghost. Wonderful."
Ryou continued, "That's okay. Would you tell us why you're here?" This time, the word MINE was spelled out.
EVERYTHING WITHIN. EVERYTHING THAT ENTERS.
Suspiciously, and now convinced that Ryou wasn't spelling things out, Malik asked, "You wouldn't be including people, would you?"
The answer again was: EVERYTHING.
The room dimmed and the table shook slightly. In the corner, a figure slowly appeared. He seemed translucent, but well-defined enough to inspect. His clothes were casual but old-fashioned and his hair remarkably resembled Ryou's silver locks. On his face was a vicious smirk Malik imagined had no rival- and he'd seen his own in the mirror before.
Pleased to meet you, said the same rough, dangerous voice from before in a tone far from genuine. Ryou's gasp signaled to Malik that he could hear him now too. If you really must know, my name is Bakura. What you have dubbed "trash" are my earned treasures, and if you continue to throw them out I will continue to break your furniture.
"Pleased to meet you, Bakura-san!" Ryou stood and bowed slightly to the ghost, who raised his eyebrows in a manner both haughty and curious at the polite gesture. "My name is Ryou, and I guess you know Malik by now. I'm glad to meet you!"
You're peculiar. Bakura drifted towards them and glanced from Ryou's green eyes to Malik's violet, incredulous ones (he thought he'd accepted his roommate was a ghost, but to actually be seeing and speaking with him was absurdly surreal). It's bad enough one person has intruded on my rightful home. I was planning on removing any guests from the premises, but I had to reconsider when I saw what a lovely set you two were. Real treasures. He leered at them suggestively.
"'Rightful home?' I don't think they allow the dead to hold property titles." Malik was determined that even the undead would not best him in an argument, and he refused to move out just because a spirit couldn't move on.
Bakura hissed. Abruptly, several books flew off the shelves at Malik's head. He ducked in time to avoid a concussion.
"Ah, please don't be upset, Bakura-san! I think-"
Sama. I prefer Bakura-sama.
"No way." Again, Malik provoked Bakura's anger, but rather than retaliate Bakura waited to see what else Malik had to say. "Instead of playing games, just tell us what you're doing here, and why you're determined to use my apartment as a toy chest."
Ah, but playing games is so very fun. And I know so many…
Bakura's figure came closer and closer and suddenly his fingers were brushing through Ryou's hair. Ryou stood, mesmerized, as the hand caressed his cheek, nearing his lips- until Malik slapped it away. Bakura was fully visible now, and though his form seemed blurred in some indescribable way and his skin was frigid, he was tangible. Malik, was it? Are you jealous?
Ryou stepped between the pair glaring at one another. "Don't tease him, Bakura-san." Though he was still using the honorific, his noticeable refusal to change it to -sama was noted by both the spirit and Malik.
If you aren't jealous, dear roommate, then I suppose I'll just claim this one for myself.
With a fleeting grin, Bakura picked up Ryou and dashed off. Malik shouted after them and rushed down the hallway as Ryou protested (admittedly not very vehemently; being kidnapped by a ghost was probably Ryou's idea of a dream vacation).
When Malik reached them, Bakura had pinned Ryou against a wall in his bedroom. He looked over his shoulder at Malik. I'm willing to share, but not for free. Perhaps you should bargain with your own body?
"Bakura-san," Ryou explained with sincerity, completely at ease despite his compromising position, "Malik likes me and I like him, so he doesn't need to bargain with you. Maybe if you asked nicely, he would share me with you." A mischievous smile crept onto his face and he was able to gently pry his wrists from Bakura's hands, having caught the spirit completely off-guard.
"Ryou, you- are you listening to yourself?" He had just confessed to liking Malik out of nowhere, and Malik didn't trust that somehow it wasn't a trick of the ghost's.
"Yes. I'm sorry I didn't say anything before, Malik, but actually, it was Bakura-san who helped me decide to tell you. He whispered in my ear almost as soon as I walked into the kitchen earlier that you've been practicing telling me that you liked me for the last month in front of your bedroom mirror. Since I knew you liked me, I felt I could tell you I feel the same way."
Malik stared unmoving at Ryou for a few moments. Then he shoved Bakura away and took his place, closing in on Ryou's lips with Ryou matching his eagerness, until Bakura forced himself between them. He growled at Malik, Push me again and I'll add your still heart to my collection.
Malik opened his mouth to snap back when he thought better of it. He replied sweetly, "Suppose I made it up to you?"
And just how do you plan on doing that?
Malik turned to Ryou. "Hey occult-lover, would you like to find out what it's like to kiss a ghost?" Truthfully, he wanted those lips all to himself, but if the bastard ghost had played a part in getting Ryou to confess, a small token of gratitude could be allowed.
Ryou thought it over a moment, but it was clear from the start that he wanted to. He leaned up to reach Bakura's height and forced his lips against the spirit's. Bakura kissed back, messy and violent, and his hands began wandering down Ryou's side until Malik grabbed them to make him stop; there were limits to his generosity. Suddenly, the hands lost their solid form and slipped out of his grasp before reverting back and brushing much too close to the hemline of Malik's pants.
"I don't think so. There's only one person I-" He was cut off when Bakura decided to kiss him too and stood frozen as a slippery tongue found its way into his mouth. Malik tried to bite down on it, but Bakura became intangible once more and stepped back, laughing mirthlessly.
"Enough!" Malik reached for Ryou's hand and intertwined their fingers. "I would appreciate it if you would leave us alone, Spirit-Sama."
Since you asked so nicely… Bakura moved as if to leave, but then settled onto the bed. Actually, I'm quite comfortable. If you two need a break from each other, I'll be here. After all, I don't need to breathe, which makes kissing much, much better.
Ryou could sense Malik's growing agitation. "I suppose we do need to find a way to work out this rooming situation."
There would be no situation if you two would leave. Or if you paid your rent. The latter line was infused with sultry intonation.
"No, thanks. I do pay rent, unlike you, so you should leave and find a nice dumpster for your belongings."
I don't think so. I get quite attached to what is mine, you see.
Ryou offered his most sensible solution. "Every other weekend, you can watch whatever we're doing and maybe participate. Other than that, you leave Malik alone and stop breaking his things. And you have to give him a place for his treasures," Ryou said to Malik.
Malik and Bakura stared each other down, each of them gauging the other's reaction to the suggestion. Malik thought it would be the best deal he was going to get, and he couldn't care less if Bakura watched him kiss Ryou or do even more, if only because Ryou had definitely suggested that there would in fact be more. On Bakura's end, he knew they couldn't stop him from doing as he pleased, but if he agreed and only broke the rules on occasion, he would be guaranteed fun; otherwise, they might find somewhere else to spend time together. Finally, Malik spoke, mind made up.
"Now get out," Malik said. "Your weekend privileges can begin next week."
Sure. Bakura started to disappear when Malik held up his hand.
"Do you really think we're fools?" Ryou caught on and left for a minute, returning with a device that beeped loudly as soon as it was brought into the room. Malik somehow knew he'd have something like that.
Ryou explained, "We'll know if you're breaking the rules."
Looking at them sulkily, Bakura left, as confirmed by Ryou's paranormal detector. For a moment, Ryou and Malik looked at each other, and then they were tightly hugging. Ryou murmured, "I became friends with a ghost and found out how you felt. So, the two best things possible happened to me today."
Malik smiled into his soft, messy hair. "My life has been going uphill since I met you, Ryou. And now I'm going to kiss you, because I'm tired of waiting."
If Ryou's greedy movements were any indication, he felt exactly the same way, and with his body pressed against Malik's and his fingers loosely wrapped in his golden hair, he led the kissing Malik had dreamed of for months.