Sorry this one took so long. I was burned out after finals, then busy looking for a job. It was all a hot mess. But here's the net chapter. Finally.

Trigger Warnings: injections, stabbing, gore, and molesting

Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters belong to Kazuki Takahashi

"Your memory is a monster; you forget—it doesn't. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you—and summons them to your recall with will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!"

― John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany

Chapter 6: Tangled Web

The door to his room shut behind him, followed by the quiet clicking of a key in the lock. Marik sighed and rubbed his tired eyes, running through ideas to keep himself awake. There wasn't a whole lot that he could do; nothing to read, nothing to look at except for the bland walls and sorry excuse for a bed. He paced from one wall to the next, desperate to not let his mind succumb to sleep. He sat down in the middle of the floor, tracing the inconsistencies with his eyes and finding patterns among them. Faces, animals, objects, people he knew and places he'd been. But after a time, that too began to cause his weary mind to tire and he stopped.

A nurse stopped by at some point and slipped a tray of food for him through the slot in the door and told him to just push it back through when he was done. He nodded and took the food without a word, sitting down with the tray on the floor. He nibbled at the meal quietly, not feeling very hungry, and wondered how long he'd be stuck in here. When he had finished, he returned to the door and handed the tray back. The nurse asked him a few questions on how he was feeling, and even came in to check him to make sure he hadn't scratched himself anymore or tried something worse. When she had deemed him alright, the nurse left, leaving Marik alone in his cold, lonely cell once more.

Another hour or two passed, and the boy felt his eyes begging to be shut. Once or twice he would for a few seconds before promptly snapping them back open. A brief pain prickled through the scratches on his face, making him wince a bit before the tingle subsided. Marik touched the gauze still covering the wounds with a sigh, wanting to take them off. One was covering his eye partially, and he wanted it gone from his line of sight. But he knew as soon as he took it off, he wouldn't hear the end of it from Hassan. And the doctor's reprimands were the last thing he wanted right now. Growling, he sat up from where he was laying on the floor and went to the door. The boy pressed his face close to the glass, attempting to figure out what time of day it was. But there were no outside windows in the small hallway of the seclusion ward, and no nurses around to ask the time. Marik turned from the window and slid down to the floor.

I don't know if I can do this…

"I've got to…I'll go insane if I fall asleep again…"

Then again…I might already be…

Swallowing what felt like a bit of bile swimming back up his throat, he stood up and headed to his bed. While sleep was not an option at the moment, he would rather lay some place comfortable than the floor while he waited for Doctor Bakura to return.

Marik didn't realize just how long he'd been starring at the wall, back turned to the door, until the click of the lock told him Hassan was back. He didn't move in response to the noise until he felt a hand on his shoulder. He jumped a bit before turning to look up at the man.

"Wanted to see how you were doing before I head home for the day."

"Head home?"

Hassan nodded, "My shift ends at eight. Do you need anything before I leave?"

"I'm fine," the boy grunted, turning away.

"Did you rest at all?"

"Yeah, sure," Marik lied.


The boy didn't respond, and Hassan sighed at him, "I'll be back to check on you in the morning. Doctor Mutou will be in to check on you every now and then for the rest of the evening. Don't give him a hard time, alright? Or we'll be having another talk about it tomorrow."

"I'll think about it…"

Hassan rubbed his temples before turning for the door. He heard the man call out a goodnight to him before the door shut with a clunk. Marik rolled over onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He frowned as a thought occurred to him. He had forgotten to ask Hassan if he could go to the Day Room to do something. Anything would have been better than endlessly staring at the light fixture or the floor tiles. But now he was stuck here until Doctor Mutou came back. And he doubted asking him would yield in a yes, so that option was out. So until Hassan came back the next morning then. Who knew how long that would be?

Much to Marik's great displeasure, Doctor Mutou did show up to check on him, with Nurse Mazaki in toe, about an hour or so later . When he approached the bed, Marik's body became taught with fear and anger. The doctor sighed before he spoke up, "Look, I know we got off on the wrong foot the other night, but I was hoping we could change that."

Marik glared at him from where he sat on the bed and said nothing. He and Doctor Mutou stared at each other in silence for a few minutes before Marik finally decided to speak, "There is nothing you can say that will make me want to talk to you. I'm fine, so just leave me alone…"

"Please try to work with me here…I'm not out to hurt you, Marik, I just want to help you get better."

"So does Doctor Bakura, and look how good of a job he's been doing 'helping' me…"

"The path to healing is a two way street. He told me you've been giving him a hard time."

"Yeah, so what?"

"If you give him and me a chance to do our jobs, there's a good chance you'll get out of here sooner."

"I doubt that…"

"Why do you say that, Marik?" Doctor Mutou asked with a frown.

"No one can help me…" he muttered, self-consciously rubbing at one of the bandage on his cheek.

"That's only true if you believe it," he frowned, rubbing his head, "Do you need anything right now?"

"I need for you to leave me alone…"

"There's no need for the attitude-"

"It's alright Anzu," Yugi said with a sigh, "One of us will be back to check on you in an hour."

Marik nodded without another word as the pair left him to his own thoughts once more. He flopped over onto his side, clamping his eyes shut. He busied his weary mind with thoughts of his siblings to try and stay awake. He had to get back to them; had to see them again. One way or another, he would get out of this hospital.

The next several hours began to blur together, and before Marik had scarcely realized, it was morning. He knew this because after having Nurse Mazaki check up on him several times, it was Hassan who opened the door this time.

"I see you've managed to behave yourself while I was gone. Are you feeling any better today, today?"

"I guess…not as tired anymore," he muttered.

Hassan nodded, and sat down on the edge of the bed with him. He set down the medical kit he had tucked under his arm and went about removing the old gauze from Marik's face. He lifted the boy's chin a bit, turning it from side to side looking at the scratches, "I think we'll leave these covered for one more day then let them get some air."

Marik said nothing, letting him bandage his face in silence. When he was finished and packing up the kit, he asked the boy if he was hungry. Marik merely shrugged, not really feeling like he wanted to eat despite the mild ache in his stomach. Hassan sighed and regarded him a moment before he spoke again, "After yesterday's fuss, I think I'll hold off on talking to you until tomorrow. You can have the rest of the day for yourself. Sound good?"

"Yeah, I suppose so."

The doctor nodded and stood up, "Well, you know where the cafeteria and the day room is, right? I have some other business I have to attend to today, but I trust you can handle getting yourself food?"

Marik gave him a look and headed for the open door without another word. As he was walking away he heard the Doctor say he'd check back with him before he left for the night and make sure he was back in his room for the night. The boy gave a curt nod and continued on his way. He supposed he should try to at least scarf something down while he was up.

Marik entered the day room and immediately scoured it for the familiar, white puff of hair that belonged to Ryou. Sure enough, he was there, tucked into a corner by himself. He seemed to be writing something in a notebook. What it was, Marik couldn't be sure, but he was curious to find out. As he approached the table the teen was sitting at, Marik called out to him with a hello. Ryou looked up and quietly shut his notebook, regarding Marik with a slight glare.

"What do you want?" He asked coldly.

Marik's face fell a bit when Ryou addressed him so bitterly, "I…just thought we could hang out or whatever. Something wrong?"

"Nothing you need be concerned about…" He snorted, getting up from his seat.

Ryou pushed past Marik, heading for the door, when he heard the other's footfalls following beside him, "Wait a second! You don't have to tell me, but don't just leave…"

"Fuck off, kid, I was busy doing something before you interrupted me. And I don't like having an audience for it. So go do something else!"

Ryou didn't give him a second glance as he left the room, and Marik felt his heart ache with loneliness. He sniffed a bit, trying to stop himself from crying in front of everyone when he felt a tap on his shoulder. Marik turned around and saw a girl standing behind him. She couldn't have been much older than him. Same hair color too, only a shade or two darker, hanging freely down to her waist. There was a stuffed bear in overalls tucked under her right arm. She gazed at him a moment, adjusted the glasses that were resting on the bridge of her nose.

"You're the new kid around here, right?"

"Well, I…guess?"

"Someone should have probably told you before. Ryou doesn't like being disturbed when he's writing in his journal."

"I gathered that much, but why?"

"Well…you didn't hear it from me, but I think he writes to his little sister in it."

"His sister? Why? Does she not get to come visit him?"

The girl shook her head, "She can't."

Marik frowned, "Why not?"

"I think she's dead…"

Mairk's eyes widened a bit. Ryou's sister was dead? Is that why he's here in the hospital?

"Poor Ryou…"

"Yeah so, just remember that next time. I'm sure he'll cool off soon. He always does."

"Okay…thanks, I guess."

She nodded, holding the bear up from under her arm. She grinned at it, her voice taking on a much more childish air when she spoke to the toy, "Come on Teddy, let's go get some markers from the nursing station and draw Ryou a picture to cheer him up!"

Marik blinked, watching her skip away, hoping she was right. He sighed and plopped himself on a chair. Now what was he going to do the rest of the day? Maybe I should go find Ryou and apologize? No, I should leave him alone. I don't want to make him even madder. I should at least explain to him I didn't mean any harm though. Marik glanced back over at the girl with the bear, now happily scribbling something onto a sheet of paper. Maybe she would know where Ryou had gone?

He got up and sent over to her, "Hey, uhm…girl."

She looked up at him, frowning a bit, "I have a name, you know!"

"Well you never told me your name…"

"You never told me yours, either. It's Rebecca, for your information…" She huffed.

"Marik. Look, Rebecca…do you know where Ryou would have gone to? I want to tell him I'm sorry…"

"That's probably not a good idea," she said in a sing-song voice.

"I know…but. Do you know where he might go to be alone?"

"Well…" She thought for a moment, "He did mention once he's been in the basement before…"

Marik swallowed hard, "…Basement?"

"Yeah…we're not supposed to go down there, but he somehow manages to not get noticed. If some of the other kids or doctors are bothering him, that's where he goes."

"Are you sure?"

"That's what Teddy told me. He's seen him go down there a few times. Right Teddy?"

Marik and Rebecca stared at the doll. Marik felt a little uncomfortable when it didn't respond, but its owner did, "You're so funny, Teddy!" She laughed.

"Right…well, I guess I'll go see if I can find him then," he turned to leave, but Rebecca tugged on his arm.

"Take this with you and give it to him if you see him down there," She said, holding up the drawing she had done. It was a picture of her, Ryou, and the bear all holding hands. Ryou was on the right, Rebecca on the left, and the bear in the middle.

"Okay, I'll do that…oh! Uhm, how exactly do I get to the basement from here?"

"Take Teddy with you, he knows the way!" She said, holding the bear out for him to take.

"Uh…can't you draw me a map, or something?"

She made a pouting face before scribbling something on another piece of paper. She handed him the crudely drawn map and snorted, "Don't blame me if you get lost. Teddy knows the way better than I do!"

"Yeah okay…thanks."

Marik quietly pocketed the map and left the room as calmly as he could. He didn't want to attract any attention to himself, lest he be caught and Hassan found out. That was the last thing he wanted to happen.

Marik squinted in the dim light, his heart racing. The lights in the tunnel were making things on Rebecca's map very hard to see, and he wondered if he was even in the right place anymore. He looked down at the paper again, more carefully this time, before looking down the hallway. There was a room at the end of the hall. A sign above the frame said 'Boiler Room', and Marik began to regret coming down here. Something about this seemed really familiar, and not in a good way.

It's okay. That was just a bad dream. Nothing more than that…

Hands shaking, he tucked the map back in his pocket, and slowly made his way to the boiler room door. He noticed it had been propped open with a wooden door stop, and wondered if Ryou was in there. Carefully, Marik pried the door open a bit more and poked his head inside and looked around. No monsters, no Atem, and no sign of Ryou. He quietly called out the other boy's name, but received no response. Biting his lip, and fighting every instinct telling him not to, he slowly entered the room.

"Ryou? You down here?" He whispered.

Still no response and now he was having trouble breathing from the heat of the room. The walls started to feel like they were closing in on him. Like he was being shut in.Just like before…I have to get out of here. But which way was out. It was fairly dark in the room, and Marik realized he couldn't really see the way out through the maze of boilers. He swallowed hard, feeling like his head was spinning. He leaned on one of the boilers for support, trying to even out his breathing when he thought he heard footsteps coming towards him. He knew it wasn't logical, but his mind decided it could be only one person. And his unease turned to panic.


Marik sprinted, a short distance before he started to feel even more claustrophobic. His lungs seemed to be caving in on themselves and he had to stop. He fell to his knees, just trying his hardest to breath. He forgot about the footsteps until they were right behind him. A hand came to rest on his shoulder, and he screamed, pulling away. When he did so, he turned to face the owner of the hand, and felt relief wash over him when he saw it was Ryou.

"What are you doing down here?"

"I…was looking for you. I wanted to apologize for earlier…and, some girl named Rebecca wanted me to give you this."

Marik took the drawing out and handed it to the older boy. Ryou took it, squinted at it in the dim light before tucking it away into his pocket. Marik watched him and fidgeted a bit when Ryou looked back at him, "Don't know why you thought I was in here…its stifling hot. That's why they keep the door propped open."

"If you weren't in here, then where were you?"

"There's an old store room right before this place. I took the key from my Uncle's office when he wasn't looking. I saw you walk by through the crack in the door, and figured I'd better not let you do something dumb."

"Oh…I thought that…never mind…"

Ryou coughed a bit, the dry air starting to get to him too, "Come on, let's get out of this place."

Marik nodded in agreement and the two boys left the room, heading back upstairs to cooler air. Before Marik and him parted ways, Ryou pulled the younger boy aside, "No telling my Uncle about this, we clear?"

"Yeah…I won't say a word."

"Good…" Ryou nodded before letting him go. As he started to walk away he stopped and turned back to Marik, "Sorry about earlier…"

"It's okay. I'm not mad."

"Thanks…" he paused for a moment, "Did you want to try Go Fish again?"

A smile beamed across Marik's face and he nodded. Ryou gave a small smile back, and the pair headed back to the Day Room to continue their game from the other day.

"Marik? Are you listening to me?"

The child blinked a few times before focusing back on Hassan. Had he completely zoned out? He couldn't recall what they had been talking about anymore. Was it something to do with sleep? He hadn't slept maybe more than an hour or two, if that, the last two days, and by the gods did he just want to close his eyes.
No. No sleeping. I can't…I can't go back there. Gotta stay awake; gotta stay focused.

"Marik?" Hassan asked again, looking at him with more concern.

"Yeah, what?" he asked back, his reply coming out more annoyed then he had intended.

Hassan frowned, "I asked you if you've been having anymore nightmares."

"Huh? Oh, no…no more bad dreams…haven't really been dreaming all that much…"

Doctor Bakura stopped his note taking and looked more closely at the boy sitting across from him. Marik's gaze was unfocused; his eyes shifting to the space behind his doctor's head. They seemed to widen a bit, following something that Hassan couldn't see from his angle. Curious as to what his patient was looking at, he turned and glanced at the space behind him but there was nothing out of the ordinary.

"Have you been sleeping at all?"

"Yeah…of course I have…"

Hassan frowned, looking unconvinced, "Then tell me Marik, what were we talking about before I asked you about your nightmares again?"

The boy stared at him blankly, attempting and failing to recollect what they had discussed. But he could hardly remember anything from even an hour ago, let alone what they had been talking about. He chewed at the skin peeling on his lips and looked over at the wall. When he didn't respond to the question Doctor Bakura had asked him, the doctor did it for him.

"I asked you if you were starting to remember at all why you attacked your father. But it seems you can't even remember five minutes ago…"

"Yeah, so what?"

"'So what' is not an acceptable answer, Marik. You need sleep."

"I need to not dream more…"

Hassan held his head, "You can't just stop sleeping, Marik. It's unhealthy! How long have you been going without sleep?"

Marik didn't respond with anything more than a slight glare, before he stared off at the wall once more. He heard Doctor Bakura growl slightly through slightly clenched teeth, "I will not ask again."

"Maybe two days? I don't know. Does it matter?"

"Does it matter? Only if you'd like to keep living, Marik. Is not dreaming worth sleep deprivation which, if gone unchecked, could kill you?"

The boy was silent a moment before he replied, "Yes…"

"Have you ever even considered these nightmares are trying to tell you something Marik? And instead of running from them, maybe you should try to deal with your demons instead of fleeing from them?"

Marik's eyes narrowed and the boy stood up from his seat, "And have you thought that maybe you need to shut up! Even if I am asleep, it never feels that way anymore. So what's the difference if I do sleep or don't? You don't know how horrible they've been! What I've gone through," he paused a moment before speaking again, "So instead of sitting there like you know, why don't you go take those stupid notes you keep writing about me and my problems and shove them up your ass!" the boy screeched, smacking the clip board out of his doctor's hands.

The clip board went flying across the room, and the papers that had been resting on it went flying into the air. They cascaded down around them like autumn leaves. Doctor Bakura quickly stood from his chair, looming angrily over the boy, his eyes narrowed. Marik realized all too late he had messed up again and he felt himself shrinking under the harsh gaze of the older man in front of him.

"I've heard all I need to hear from you right now. It is clear to me what needs to be done. I'm going to have you get some sleep, whether you want to or not! Because you cannot continue this behavior any longer, Marik," Doctor Bakura seethed, grabbing hold oh his arm, "And maybe this time, you'll find an answer as to why you keep having your nightmares."

"No! No I won't do it!" the boy screeched, tugging hard in the doctor's hold.

Doctor Bakura didn't say another word as he led him back to his room. He kicked and fought the whole way there, but there was no relent form Hassan's grip. He unlocked the door when they had reached the room and practically shoved Marik through the threshold. Marik turned back toward the door in time to see it shut behind him. He ran to the window and peered out. Hassan glared at him for a moment before he walked away. Marik felt his heart leap, and he frantically looked around the room for a place to hide. Only to remember that there really were no places to hide. He tried slipping his fingers between the door and the threshold, but the gap was barely big enough to fit his fingernails through. He pounded on the glass, expecting it would shatter; but deep down he knew he was wasting his time. And soon enough, he saw a guardsmen walking towards his room with Hassan in toe.

The boy backpedaled from the door and scurried over to his bed. Marik wedged himself as far under the bed as he possibly could; covering his head with his hands when he heard the door open once more. He heard Hassan call his name, asking him to come out from under the bed. When he refused to budge, he felt a set of large hands reach under the bed and grab hold of him. Marik kicked out with his legs, but it did not deter the guardsman from hauling him out.

"Careful, he's bitten people before," Marik heard Hassan say as the guard pinned his arms behind him.

Marik felt tears falling from his eyes as he turned to look at Hassan. The doctor was extracting the sedative from a bottle into a syringe. He glanced over at Marik when he noticed the boy looking at him.

"Please…don't make me go back there…I can't take it anymore…" he begged, choked out.

Hassan's face softened as he moved closer, "Marik…" he sighed, pausing for a moment, "I want to make all the bad dreams go away. But I can't help you if you won't help yourself. And you can't help yourself without rest. It's just the way this has to be. I'm sorry."

"I can't face him alone again…he's going to kill me this time…"

Hassan regarded the boy a moment longer, before he reached into his pocket. He pulled from it a small, gold, rubber ball, which he held out for the child to see, "Do you see this, Marik?"

He nodded, not understanding what the big deal about it was. It was an ordinary bouncy ball, gold in color, with some sort of pattern on it. He sniffed his nose and gave Hassan an odd look.

"I'm going to give you this ball. And if you're in trouble while you're asleep, I want you to use it to stop whatever it is that's after you. Can you do that?"

"But it's just a gold, rubber ball…how is that supposed to help me?"

"It can be anything you want it to be, Marik," Hassan said, prepping Marik's hip for the shot, "Or, whatever you need it to be."

Marik howled through gritted teeth when Hassan administered the sedative. When the syringe was empty, he nodded at the guard to let go of the boy. Marik sunk to the floor, feeling defeated. Hassan looked at him for a moment before setting the ball on the bed next to him. As he turned to leave, Marik called out to him.

"Doctor Bakura can…can you stay with me until I fall asleep?" he whimpered.

The doctor looked back, a small, sad smile on his face, "Of course…"

The sedative was starting to take effect. He could feel control being lost in his arms and legs as he tried to climb onto the bed. He felt the doctor helping him lie down and pull the blanket over himself. His vision began to swim as he tried to focus on the doctor's face. Hassan picked up the ball once more and placed it in Marik's hand, closing his fingers around it. Marik pulled the ball close to his chest, his eyes feeling unbelievably heavy. With his last remaining will power, he tried to keep them open. But they continued closing on him. As he opened them one last time, he felt his heart leap when he saw Atem standing there by the door to his room; his mouth split wide with a grin.

"He's here for me…" Marik muttered quietly.

"Who is?"


"Atem? Who is that? Marik?"

Marik would have answered the question, but the world soon went dark as his eyes slipped closed.

Groaning, Marik slowly opened his eyes. He blinked a few times as his eyes adjusted to the dim light of the room and he glanced around. It was a fairly large space, the walls made from a gray brick. It was a fairly empty space, however, a pile of something collecting dust in the corner. Marik frowned at it, wondering what exactly he was looking at until another thought crossed his mind. Why weren't his feet on the ground? And then he realized…he was suspended above the floor, stuck to the wall. His heart jumped when he finally noticed the warm, gooey sensation covering most of his body. Marik looked down at himself to see he was wrapped in what looked like a red, sticky tissue-like cocoon; his arms pinned out from his body, and useless.

Marik tried very hard not to scream. Whatever had put him in this web couldn't be too far away, and the last thing he wanted was for it to hear him. Whimpering as softly as he possibly could, Marik tried to dislodge one of his arms, but found it could barely move an inch. Growling slightly, he glanced around the room, trying to think of a plan. There had to be something he could do to get free, right? Then he remembered the ball Hassan had given him. The doctor had placed it in his hand just before he'd fallen asleep. But both of his hands were empty. Panicking, he looked around at the substance he was caught in, but the ball wasn't there either. Then he looked around the room, and at first thought that it was simply gone, until he spotted it near the middle of the floor; far away and out of his reach. He must have let go of it while he was unconscious.

Marik pushed against the wall, hoping he might be able to rip free or jar himself loose. But the web was even stronger then the straight jacket he had been in just days before, and his body went limp a bit; his head hanging in defeat. That was until he saw a pair of feet standing near his ball on the floor. He snapped his attention towards the person by the rubber ball, and saw it was the other Marik. The boy bent down, and reached a hand out to pick up the ball, and Marik felt his heart race.

"Hey! Can you bring that to me? I need it to get out of here!"

The boy's hand paused before he picked it off the ground and stood back up, eyes locking with Marik's, "What? This thing?" He sneered at the ball, "You think this little toy that the crackpot doctor gave you is going to do anything for you?"

Something shifted in the shadows in the corners of the ceiling above him, and Marik felt his panic rising, "Yes…please! Let me have it!"

"Oh Marik…" he chuckled, a sad, cruel smile on his lips, "This can't help you. Not right now, at any rate."

"What do you mean? Yes it will, just give it to me!" He nearly screeched, pulling against the gooey web around him as he stretched out his hand.

"You need more time to figure things out, Marik. I told you that you need to start doing things on your own. But, I'll tell you what. I'll hold onto your precious, rubber ball for you," he held it up, letting the dim light sparkle on the surface of the item, before he placed it into his pocket, "And you can have it back when you're ready."

"No, I need it now! Give it to me! Please!"

The other Marik looked up towards the dark ceiling corner and frowned as he turned to leave. Marik yelled after him to come back, but he just kept walking. However, Marik soon forgot about him when the shifting noise above him suddenly got louder. His body began to quiver with fright as he slowly looked upwards, and the screams he had been holding back poured out. For above him was Atem, staring back at him, that horrendous smile carved into his face. The skin around his cheeks had started to sink in, like a grape left out in the sun too long. It seemed he was also starting to rot even further to the point where Marik could start to see bone in some places. But that wasn't the worst of it. The lower half of Atem's body was no longer human, having mutated into the torso of a large, black spider; eight legs and all.

"Now Marik, there's no need for that…" Atem hissed through his razor-like teeth, "Won't you stick around for a while?"

The cries slowly died in the boy's throat, his sense of dread dissolving his screams into tears into pitiful sobs. Marik tried one last time to pull free of the fleshy tendrils until Atem's laughter stole the rest of his resolve.

"You don't need to fight anymore Marik. Just accept this. Accept it, and everything else will cease to matter..."

Marik felt one of the spider's legs brush against his cheek softly, and it was maddening not being able to slap it away or really move his face away from the appendage.

"W-what are you…" the boy choked out.

"What am I?" Atem replied back, getting so close to Marik's face that he could feel the heat from his breath on his skin, "I am anything, and everything. Your beginning, and your end. I am a god; your god, and you would do well to remember that," he purred, tipping Marik's head upwards to look at him.

Marik worked up some of the snot in the back of his throat and spat it at the king's face. It hit the man's cheek with a splat, "That's what I think of your so-called godliness…"

Atem's face quickly devolved into sheer rage as he wiped the spittle off his face. He jumped down from the wall to the floor, quickly turning to face the boy caught in the web once more, "I see you still don't understand the position you're in here, child…" Atem snapped, bringing himself as close to the boy as he could get, the ends of his front legs pressing painfully into both of Marik shoulders. He flinched back, eyes shut tight, wanting to just melt into the wall and disappear as he waited for the monster before him to attack. But when he felt Atem's hand wiping the tears from his cheeks, he forced himself to look at the other.

Atem's features seemed almost sad in that moment, like he had in times past. Marik wasn't sure if that was more unnerving or not. To see him displaying something akin to sympathy just didn't seem right, and it made him even more leery of what the king wanted from him. Atem moved even closer, their bodies touching through the membrane of the web. He rested his head on Marik's shoulder and sighed.

"It doesn't have to be this way Marik…I'm not the monster you keep making me out to be. I can be kind, and loyal. I would be your world; your everything. If you would only just let me…" he whispered, lightly kissing Marik's neck.

The sensation sent a wave of nausea through Marik's stomach, and it took everything he had not to audibly gag. Atem lightly ran his fingers through the boy's hair, his nails catching a bit on the strands as he did so. Marik tried to move his head away, only for Atem to cup his hand around the side of the child's face and brought it back to look at him. Marik locked eyes with him. His own were wide with terror, Atem's were laced with what looked like regret. The king lifted his head away from Marik's shoulder, drawing closer to him.

"Please Marik…" he whispered, voice trembling, lips brushing against his, "Just let me have this…have you…"

Their mouths met in a kiss, and Marik whined in repulsion, unable to pull away, and unable to fight him away with his hands or his feet. The moment he felt Atem's tongue brush against his, he felt his mind snap with anger. He bit down, as hard as he could, and refused to let go. Even as Atem howled in pain and tried to pull away. Even as blood began to seep into his mouth, Marik did not relent. It wasn't until the king's fist and punched him right in the stomach, knocking the wind from his lungs, did he let go.

Atem backed away, covering his mouth as he coughed up the blood welling from the bite. Marik choked, struggling to regain the air that had left him. His whole body felt so weak now. There was no way he could fight back a second time. And Atem seemed to realize that and he moved towards him again.

"You ungrateful little brat…I offer you everything! And what do you do?" He hissed getting very close to Marik's face, "You attack me once more. Have I not been good to you, child?!"

Marik whimpered, flinching away from him, not wanting to respond.

"If that's how you're going to act, Marik…" he tilted the boy's head roughly to the side, exposing his neck, "Then I shall take from you to replace what I've lost."

Atem's mouth opened even wider then Marik imagined; his teeth growing into impossibly large fangs. And Marik screamed when those fangs buried themselves deep into the skin of his neck. He could feel the life fluid gushing out, an endless river draining from his veins. And he started to feel himself slipping into a dark abyss. His eyes slipped closed, and everything became quiet around him as he felt himself fall.


Marik cried out, feeling his back hit the floor and he sat up. His room. He was back in his hospital room. And Atem was gone. His blanket was tangled around him, as though he'd been thrashing about. His hand went to his neck to check for the bites, but they were gone. And he breathed out a shaky sigh. He was okay. Suddenly the door lock clicked and it began to open. Marik stood up, expecting to be Hassan coming to check on him. But when the door opened, it wasn't Hassn standing there, or even Yugi.

"Having a bad dream, Marik?" Atem smirked, stepping into the room. He was dressed like one of the doctors of Kane Hill, wearing one of their lab coats over a polo shirt and a pair of black slacks.

No, no he couldn't still be asleep. Marik backpedaled, tripping over the blanket still wrapped around him. The backs of his knees hit the bed frame, forcing him to sit. He frantically looked around the floor for the gold ball again. But he realized all too quickly that it was still gone. Atem put a hand on his shoulder and shoved him back against the wall. Marik grunted from the impact and tried to sit back up until he saw the scalpel blade clutched in the man's hand. The light glinted off the stainless steel as Atem brought it closer to his neck. He pressed the blade to the fabric of Marik's shirt, and made a cut all the way down the front.

"Stop it!" Marik wailed, trying to hold him back. But his body still felt so tired, he couldn't muster up more than a pitiful shove.

Atem pushed the shirt aside, running his hands along the contours of Marik's chest as the boy squirmed. Marik tried to crawl away to the side only to be pushed against the bed with a firm shove. Atem straddled the boy's hips and grabbed hold of his wrists, holding them above his head to keep him from going anywhere.

"How long must we play this game, Marik? How much longer will you continue to fight me? I grow tired of your constant resistance."

Marik writhed, trying to free his hands. But the more he struggled, the more his strength seemed to fade. He was so mentally drained that he just couldn't seem to muster any more energy. Maybe he should just let the king do whatever it was he wanted. Maybe then he'd finally leave him alone. The boy whimpered quietly in defeat, shutting his eyes, "Just get it over with…"

Atem chuckled and brushed a strand of hair from Marik's face, "Giving up after all of that fuss?" he purred, leaning in closer.

"You heard me…just do whatever you wanted to already. I can't fight anymore…I'm so tired…" he sobbed, starting to cry.

Atem shushed him as he kissed the boy's forehead, "My poor child…I didn't mean to cause you so much stress. If you had submitted in the beginning you wouldn't be so tired now…" he sighed, looking down at him with pity, "Don't worry. Soon, things will feel better, I promise."

Atem nuzzled Marik's cheek, slowly moving to his lips to kiss him. Marik's quiet sobs became muffled under the king's mouth, and he felt his mind begin to wander elsewhere to distance himself from what was really going on. And he thought of time he spent with his brother and sister at home. What he would do when he saw them again. Maybe Rishid would finally take him to get that new bike he'd seen at the store so he wouldn't have to use Ishizu's old, blue one anymore. The one with the red and silver paint, and the big, thick tires; the one he imagined went really fast. And he'd make tea with his sister, and listen to her play songs on the ney that had once belonged to their mother. Even now, he thought he could hear it in the distance. Lulling him into a peaceful state, where he knew he was safe at home.

Home…I have to get home. I promised myself I would. I can't give up now. I can't let him win.

Atem screaming in pain brought him back from his trance-like state. Startled, Marik sat up to see what was going on. There was the other boy, latched onto Atem, a gold knife buried into the man's back. He locked eyes with Marik and shouted at him, "What are you waiting for? Go!"

Marik sat there stunned for a few seconds longer before he nodded and scrambled off the bed and out of the room. Atem's screams echoed after him, but he paid them no mind as he ran down the seemingly endless corridor that stretched out before him. How could he have almost forgotten them, his brother and sister, his whole reason for wanting to leave this place? Silently he prayed for forgiveness, and promised he would try harder to get home. Try harder to be with them again. A light suddenly appeared at the end of the corridor, nearly blinding Marik from its intensity. But he continued towards it, his feet moving faster and faster. He was almost there. Almost. It was so bright now, he had to shut his eyes, or surly he would go blind.

Someone touched his shoulder and he opened his eyes again. It was Hassan. The light from the hall was shining in his eyes from the open door. He stared at the doctor, disbelief in his eyes, his breathing hard, as though he really had been running.

"Am…am I awake?"

Hassan nodded, "I was about to leave, but one of the night staff nurses said you were becoming increasingly distressed in your sleep. So I gave you a reversal agent to bring you off the sedative. You might still feel a little groggy though-"

Marik cut Hassan off when he latched onto him tightly. The boy buried his face into the doctor's shirt, his body shaking with relief.

"Goodness…it's alright…" he sighed, patting the boy's back, "It's over now."

"I know…thank you. For showing me the light…"

They sat there in silence a moment or two longer before Hassan cleared his throat, "Marik, I know this might be a bit soon, but I asked you it before you fell asleep and you didn't answer back. Who is Atem?"

Marik, looked off to the side, not saying a word. Hassan spoke again, "Is he the one who's been attacking you?"


"Who is he, Marik?"

Marik sniffed, rubbing his eyes a bit, "I'm not exactly sure. At first…I thought he was a Pharaoh from Ancient Egypt. But now…now I don't know what he is."

"Can you at least tell me what you do know about this apparition when I meet with you tomorrow?"

"Yeah…" Marik nodded, "I can." For Ishizu, and for Rishid…

The Ney mentioned that Ishizu plays is a very old type of end-blown flute, prominently used in Middle Eastern Music. It is one of the oldest instruments, dating back nearly 5,000 years ago.