Me thinks an explanation is in order for the wait. It's at the end of the chapter ^^ .

Again thank you to every one who reviews and favourites.


The heart monitor beeped quietly. The solitary blip that broke the vast deadly silence lying between the two males like a gaping chasm. One stood calm, with an almost amused arrogance in his stance. The other was rigid, his body frozen and bound in place by invisible strings of shadow magic.

"You know I was expecting you to be taller"

Marik's eyes narrowed, glaring through the darkness of the room. The single beam of silver moonlight shinning through the window was the only light source available and seemed to make the figure's pale skin glow eerily, giving him an almost spiritual appearance. If not for the glint of gold hanging loosely over his chest, Marik may have thought he was just that. A spirit come to defend Rashid in his final moments. A guardian angel of sorts. But angels don't smile like that. Nothing holy could look so demonic. He knew the body, one of the pharaoh's entourage Malik had met and forged a partnership with when he first arrived in Dommino. But it wasn't the body's owner in control and it was indeed a spirit before him.

The spirit of the Millennium Ring

Marik scowled. This fool was supposed to be comatose from his duel with the pharaoh. He shouldn't be here. And he certainly shouldn't be interfering with his plans.

"And I was expecting you to be very slowly dying. Seems were both disappointed" his scowl twisted to a dark smirk as he added "Though I think we could reach a compromise"

"Oh?"

"I'm certain I'll look taller when you're lying on the floor in a pool of your own blood. I'll cut off your limbs and let you slowly bleed to death. Kill two birds with one stone so to speak"

Bakura merely grinned in reply. So this was Malik's so called dark side? He certainly looked intimidating, the very air around him rippling with dark power and if their first few words exchanged were anything to go on, his mind was most definitely a twisted little puzzle box. His grin stretched wider. This could be interesting. He crossed his arms, regarding the other male with an amused but cautious gaze.

"Now now" he mockingly scolded "there's no reason to be so touchy. I was only teasing"

"I could care less" Marik spat back, whatever good humour he had conjured up from the idea of mutilation was lost. His hand was still hanging in mid air, some kind of force preventing him from lowering it and the rod's blade into his intended victim's eye. It was annoying. He was so close to his revenge. So very close. And the only thing standing in his way was someone who wasn't even involved with his affairs. His eyes narrowed in a confused suspicion. "What are you even doing here?"

"Speaking with you obviously" Bakura replied, hiding a chuckle under his breath at the flash of rage that rippled over Marik's face. It would seem both Malik and his dark side were equally easy to rile up. Maybe they weren't as different as Malik claimed them to be. 'Getting the rod will be easier than I thought' He gave a lazy smile as he added "Oh, and stopping you from moving your hand of course"

Marik growled in annoyance, his clenched fist suspended in the air almost shaking as it fought the invisible magic holding it in place.

"Why" he hissed "are you interfering?"

Bakura chuckled.

"Because I can" he answered smugly. Marik's eyes widened a barest fraction of surprise before narrowing to furious slits. Bakura smiled back at him evenly, taking a cautious step forward to assess his current adversary and determine how difficult it would be to remove the rod from the fool's hold. Before he could however the smile slipped from his lips as the room grew drastically colder and darker. The air was almost solid with the thick power confined within the walls around them, the shadows trembling at its force. He could nearly taste the raw dark power radiating from the creature before him as a twisted smile slithered over its tanned lips. Bakura frowned. He may have underestimated the extent of the powers this new foe possessed.

"Because you can hmm?" the quiet musing slithering from the others sneering lips in a hiss so sinister Bakura was certain the other had a forked tongue "Why don't I show you exactly what I can do?"

It was a split second before he hit the wall behind him that Bakura realised he most definitely had underestimated Marik's control of shadow magic. The rod was no longer frozen in place above the sleeping Rashid's comatose body but instead the rounded horned head was pointing directly at his self. In the brief moment he had let his guard down, Marik had managed to break his magic and literally throw it back at him, the rod's own power reinforcing the pressure keeping him pinned to the wall. Bakura clenched his jaw and cursed himself for his foolishness. Malik had only ever used the rod to control minds and so Bakura had taken it as the extent of its power, safe in the knowledge it couldn't defeat his own. Now it seemed that was a mistake. A mistake that could prove to be fatal. Marik's smile twisted into an almost snarl, his grip on the rod tightening. The eye of the rod glowed faintly and immediately the pressure grew stronger. Bakura gasped as the force tore the wind out of him, practically crushing his body against the wall.

"This is a family occasion" Marik sneered, the sides of his mouth quirking up in a cruel grin "You're not invited I'm afraid" The force grew even stronger, making Bakura entirely too uncomfortable with his current situation. He hissed a breath in through clenched teeth and concentrated on the ring.

The eye of the ring gleamed and the pressure was released just as suddenly as it had appeared. Bakura fell to his feet, wobbling a moment as he took deep breaths before regaining his balance. A scowl tugged at the sides of his mouth for but a moment before it was replaced with his usual casual smirk. He gave a mock laugh at what he had assumed was Marik's idea of a joke.

"A family reunion eh?" he chuckled "I wasn't aware imaginary friends had family members, but if you really want to get so technical then I suppose I'm here as a plus one"

"Meaning what exactly?" Marik asked, his eyes narrowing to slits. Bakura smirked, the eye of the ring glowing softly

"Meaning I didn't come alone"

Marik frowned at Bakura, not understanding his words until the air beside the pale spirit began to simmer and a nearly transparent form stood before them.

Malik.

"You are a tenacious little thing aren't you?" Marik sneered, eyeing his near doppelganger with utter irritation.

"I could say the same for you" Malik replied evenly "I always believed you had simply disappeared, a figment of my imagination I had grown out of. To think you were hiding inside me like a parasite all this time. It makes my skin crawl"

"Your skin?" Marik grinned "You mean my skin don't you? I'm the one with the body now Malik." He snickered "You're the parasite hiding in that poor excuse for a shell"

Bakura raised an eyebrow, feeling somewhat insulted.

"I am standing right here you know"

"So you are" Marik frowned, turning his attention back to the other "And yet I still can't see why"

"Because you have something of mine" Bakura eyed the rod possessively "I held up my end of the bargain, it's time I receive what I'm owed"

"I've made no such deal"

"No, but he" Bakura hooked his thumb and indicated Malik "did" Marik raised an eyebrow, his gaze shifting to his ghost like light side in mild interest. Slowly his features twisted to a sneer.

"Making promises you can't keep Mr. Main personality? How very like you" Malik frowned in confusion.

"What are you talking about?"

Marik's face became blank, his gaze even as he searched the other's identical face. Nothing. Not even a glimmer of recognition. Of course he wouldn't remember. All the almost promises Marik had put aside his humiliation to ask for that Malik had never given definite answers to. The tanned yami glanced back at Rashid's unconscious form. 'If it hadn't been for you, he might not have been so quick to forget it'.

Bakura cleared his throat, quite fed up with this situation already.

" I'm sure this is all very touching for the two of you" both males glared at him, one more malicious than the other but both equally disgusted " but we haven't got all night to stand around so what say we settle this?"

"The Millennium Rod holds powers-"

"Equal to that of my Ring. We'll get nowhere battling with them so let's just keep it simple. A duel..." Marik gaze flickered to the Rod's blade in consideration so Bakura specified "...with cards. This is a tournament after all."

There was a pause, the room falling into quiet with the lone mechanical beep breaking the silence.

" So be it" Marik agreed, gaze travelling over his opponent and ghostly counterpart in amusement "Though you don't seem to be quite as prepared as I" Bakura blinked than cursed as he realized he had left his duel disk and deck back in the infirmary. Marik snickered and gestured to the door but the other didn't budge

"Do you think I'm an idiot? What fool would turn their back on an enemy wielding a weapon?" Marik glanced down at the rod and rolled his eyes, returning the blade to its sheath. Bakura glared at him, his voice dripping with sarcasm "Oh, I feel so much safer"

"And I suppose I should be less worried about the weapon hanging around your neck?"

"My item doesn't have a sharpened blade attached to the end of it"

"No" Marik retorted "It has five sharpened spear heads dangling from it"

"Oh please" Bakura scoffed dismissing the retort with a wave of his hand "Do you really want to stand around arguing who's most likely to stab the other in the back or do you want to duel?" Marik's eyes met Malik's for a brief moment, the lather sneering before advancing to the door with a flick of his cape.

"You're right" the door slid open before him, light streaming in around his shadow as he snickered "After all why wound your body with my blade when I can mutilate you with the shadows so much more creatively?"

The pale thief scoffed in response but followed the other out of the room, arching an eyebrow as he stepped over the crumpled shell that had once been a guard. The lights in the hall dimmed and flickered as they passed beneath them, the shadows dancing between them in excitement for the battle that was going to take place.

"I have to retrieve my deck, go ahead to the arena before me"

"Oh?" Marik chuckled "Running before the battle's even begun are we?" The white haired male snorted

"Hardly. Just giving you a few more moments of life before I feed you to the shadows" he sneered, letting himself fall a few steps further behind in case the psychopath in front of him got any ideas.

"Then you won't mind if I accompany you" the tanned yami twirled the rod between his fingers, smiling calmly as he drawled on " Don't want you running off to beg the Pharaoh to save you at the last minute now do I?" Bakura growled, hands balling to fists at the obviously goading insult. The Egyptian in front of him snickered "Ah, so you don't mind. Wonderful."

Malik's eyes widened in his astral form, using his link with Bakura to ensure his darker half wouldn't hear as he urgently warned him

"Bakura, you can't let him into the infirmary" The thief quirked an eyebrow, eyeing his ghostly partner in question

"Why not?"

"Because the girl's sleeping there!" Bakura blinked before scowling. He had forgotten about Marik's apparent interest in Anzu completely. Personally he didn't care, she meant little to nothing to him and he'd be damned before he played the part of the white knight rescuing the damsel in distress. Well as damned as someone already pretty damned can be. On the other hand if something were to happen to her while her friends believed she was watching over his host, he would be the first in line for the Pharaoh's wrath. Not wanting or intending to relive the image of Slifer the Sky Dragon's ferocious open jaws roaring in his face, the thief quickly increased his pace until his shoes were just barely kicking the ends of the dark purple cape flowing after the maniac in front of him. Marik glanced over his shoulder, suspicious of the sudden closeness.

"Eager to meet your doom are you?" Bakura ignored the sneer, the gears in his mind turning as he recognised the guard standing stiff as a board a few feet down the hall.

"We can't let him harm her further" Malik stated firmly through their link. Bakura raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes

"You know I'm beginning to wonder which of you has the so called interest in Anzu with the way you keep prattling on about her safety" The ghostly form floating beside him glared, transparent lips pulled down in a scowl.

"Don't be ridiculous. I just don't want her blood on my hands because of that thing is controlling them"

"Hmm, and I suppose you weren't tempted to lay a hand on her when they and she were in your control?" Malik frowned in puzzlement moment before catching the underlining accusation in the other's words, light lavender narrowing to slits in outrage

"No" he hissed in thought "I never touched her" Bakura chuckled deep in his throat

"I never said you did, I was simply stating how a young man, raging with teenage hormones" At this Malik snorted "who had a beautiful girl under his control, ready to bend her will however he pleased may be tempted to act on said hormones"

"That's ridiculous"

"So's the Pharaoh's hair but it's still real"

It wasn't until Marik suddenly stopped that Bakura realized they had reached the infirmary, too caught up in his mental conversation to have even formed a half way decent plan. But quick thinking was no stranger to him and as he watched the tanned yami before him wave the Rod in front of the unresponsive guard's face almost tauntingly, the makings of an excuse were quickly gathering.

"Kaiba places these insects everywhere" Marik glanced back at the thief for his seemingly casual observation "Such annoying pests"

"Indeed" he agreed with all the concern one gives for discussing the weather "I'm surprised you left him standing" chuckling he tapped the point of one sharpened bat wing right beside the guard's empty eyes. The point pierced lightly, a small droplet of blood welling up before running into the groove of the socket to prickle the short bottom eyelashes. The guard didn't so much as blink. Marik pouted "Honestly they're no fun like this"

"But also less likely to cause any problems. However - " smirking lightly, Bakura turned his hand in an over theatrical fashion and indicated the hallway " if you really feel my methods are lacking, why don't you run along and remove any possible obstacles we may meet on our little trip to the duelling arena. Kaiba has his pawns scouting out these hallways and it would be truly irritating to run into any more fools tonight" Marik twirled the rod, humming in thought as he considered the other's suggestion. Bakura kept his easy smirk up. Waiting cautiously for the bait to be taken.

To Malik the world seemed to slow down. Perhaps it was because of his current form or maybe his lacking faith in his current partner, who could feel this and was quick to remind the other that it wasn't his bloody fault they were in this ridiculous situation, but the seconds it was taking his darker half to mull over the idea felt like minutes dragging on end. He wore an expression of impatience, hiding the bubbling anxiety building up inside his spiritual form and wished he could keep up his disinterested fa├žade, but with each slow rotation of the rod's horned head he could feel his mask slipping. Pale see through lavender flicked their gaze briefly to his white haired compatriot for some slight sign of reassurance. But either the thief was ignoring the look of worry so as to keep up his own mask of indifference or it had simply gone unnoticed.

However the quick sign of unease was indeed noticed.

Just not by the its intended target.

The rod stopped its turning. With a click of his tongue Marik gave his foes a brief sneer "I suppose I could use a little warm up before the real bloodbath begins" his cape flicking as he turned and strode down the hallway with long relaxed strides. Tossing a smirk over his shoulder he added in a sing song voice "Don't keep me waiting too long now" before turning the corner and disappearing from view.

Seconds passed before Malik allowed himself to visibly relax, shoulders slumping with a heavy exhale. Bakura pondered a moment how exactly the ghostly Egyptian had released the held when in his current form he didn't breathe at all. His musings were quickly broken by the others voice in his head

"That was close"

"No" Bakura corrected in a grumble "That was just the beginning of our little battle" The ring glowed softly and the guard's once immobile body turned and entered the code into the panel. The door slid open and puppet returned to its original position. Malik raised a transparent eyebrow

"The ring's powers don't include mind control, how did you do that?" Stepping into the dark room the thief chuckled in reply

"My dear Malik, the things you don't know about my abilities could fill a book" The lights flicked on automatically, illuminating the room and the slumbering girl within. Bakura scoffed. Modern technology; no sense of stealth what so ever. With a quiet click he flipped the switch, turning them off once again and returning the room to the shadows

"And the point of that was?" The thief rolled his eyes, his ghostly partner's continuous questions being transferred directly into his head like a constant irritating buzz.

"I'm in no mood to deal with any more annoyances tonight" moving through the dark with all the grace and confidence of a prowling cat his eyes scanned the shadows for his deck "And should the girl awaken for any reason I don't want to have to put up my host's dim wittedly cheery smile and excuse my being out of bed"

In the corner on top of the counter top sat a jagged object, its outline barely visible in the darkness but still holding the unique shape of a Kaiba Corp duel disk. As the thief approached it his step was interrupted by the toe of his sneaker making contact with a misplaced first aid kit that had been forgetfully left on the floor. A whispered curse was uttered in disgrace and outrage at the small box but it was barely heard over the loud bang of said small box being accidentally kicked and flying against one of the cabinet doors, falling to the carpeted floor with a muffled thump.

A brief ring echoed in the quiet of the dark room before fading away into nothing. The pale thief stood rigid, his breath held as he listened for any signs of disturbance in the sleeping girl's own breathing.

Nothing.

Breathing out a silent sigh of relief, dark crimson irises glared through the dark at the first aid kit with all the hate of his building frustrations. First he was blasted by the Pharaoh's God card, then slammed into a wall by an entity with body issues and now even his pride as a thief was being hurt by such a rooky mistake. To say he couldn't wait for this day to be over was a grave understatement of just how bloody fed up he was at that moment.

The lights suddenly flickering on again did not help matters.

Nor did the mocking voice that followed them.

"Having fun?" Amused dark lavender eyes stared at the other's tense back, leaning smugly in the doorway with a cool smirk over tanned lips. The white haired male didn't turn or acknowledge him, his shoulders slumping in a forced calmness as he walked forward and grabbed his duel disk from the counter, his pale finger tips turning white as he gripped the metal device a tad tighter than necessary

" Finished scouting?" The question was tossed out casually, not really requiring an answer but simply a means of keeping Marik's attention away from anything else in the room, his words following one another in quick succession to clearly display a tone of impatiens and cover over any hinting of something amiss. "That was fast. I suppose you encountered no obstacles then." Fastening the disc to his arm, Bakura turned, his face a mask of indifference as he quickly approached the other." Let's make this just as quick hmm?"

Unfortunately Malik was not so quick to compose himself, his transparent eyes clearly showing his unease at his dark side's sudden appearance. It was all the reason Marik needed to remain unmoving as Bakura motioned for him to lead the way.

"Why were you searching with the lights off? Keen to play in the shadows are we?" Chuckling at his own joke the tanned yami pushed himself off the door frame. "Or maybe there's something in here you don't want me to see?"

"I couldn't give any less of a damn where your eye's roam, I simply want to end this foolishness and claim what's mine" But even as Bakura feigned indifference, Marik's gaze was already pin pointed on the far corner of the room. Opposite to where Anzu lay slumped against the bed. Malik watched his dark side's eyes slowly travel over the corner towards the other side of the room, a deep dread filling his astral form.

"The lights were off to avoid attracting unwanted attention" the hasty lie fell from Bakura's lips so smooth and effortlessly Malik almost would have believed it had he not known the truth. "The Pharaoh's entorage still believe my host is resting in here"

Marik looked back to the pale thief, quirking an eyebrow curiously. It was a plausible excuse, and it would explain his light's unease with the thought of being discovered. Even if the thief was hiding something in the room there was no reason it couldn't be retrieved after their battle. With him as the victor of course. With a smirk the tanned mad man stepped back and turned, the folds of his cape swiping against the door frame. Malik nearly sighed in relef, Bakura's usual smirk returning to darken his features in triumph.

"Mmmnn.."

The world seemed to pause; time itself coming to stand still as the soft feminine sound reached the ears of the males.

At this moment only one thought summed up Bakura's entire feelings for this unexpected development.

'Balls'


Okay so a while back I lost my memory stick. This had all my story drafts on it and after searching in every place I could think of I still couldn't find it. So basically I had to rewrite this chapter from scratch. I know I promised some Anzu/Marik interaction but I decided I've kept you all waiting long enough for this chapter and ended it a bit shorter than I originally intended. (bows deeply) I am so sorry and I'll understand if anyone's upset about it. Thank you for bearing with me. You guys are awesome.