I'm not crazy…

His breath came in short pants, closely linked to the erratic thudding of his heartbeat. Through the numb terror that enveloped him, he felt himself shaking violently, a merciless side effect of the cold sweat that had taken over… when had it started? When had he awoken in the dead of the night, terrified enough by some unknown nightmare that he felt the need to take refuge in the bathroom and lock the door behind him? How long had he been sitting against the wall, his knees drawn to his chest as a futile attempt at comfort? Did it even matter, in the grand scheme of things?

No, it couldn't possibly matter. Not when he could clearly hear that all-too-familiar cackle echoing somewhere from inside his mind.

Malik… It was little more than a soft whisper, but it was what kept his fears alive. Not just that night, either- Malik had lost count of all the times that his mind had turned on him, forcing him to relive all the things he wanted to leave behind. He had banished his darker half, hadn't he? He was even getting… help to make sure he didn't return, per his family's request. But no matter how many psychiatrists he visited, or how many pills he was prescribed, that nagging voice in the back of his head never fully went away.

Still, it was strange. Malik couldn't remember a time in his life where he had actually heard his darker half before he had supposedly disappeared forever. He clearly remembered six years of ignorance, blissfully unaware of the darker being he himself had created. Every last step he took in the name of revenge had been misguided because of his naiveté; because his siblings had neglected to tell him that it was he who had killed his father. So why was it that now, when he was finally attempting to get his life on track for the first time ever, he was being weighed down by constant reminders of his past?

"Go away," Malik whispered, his voice shaking despite his attempts at keeping himself calm. "How many times do I need to say it…? I don't need you anymore."

The whispers from the back of his mind amplified abruptly as the voice switched to a loud, grating cackle that sent shivers down Malik's spine and a shooting pain through his head. His hands grasped desperately at his hair, and his eyes widened. Despite conscious efforts to calm himself, despite his knowledge that this being would never disappear as long as it could feed off of the despair it created, Malik found himself rapidly losing control of any common sense he could have possibly had left, his mind instead giving into itself yet again.

With each moment that the laughter continued to echo through Malik's mind, the pressure in the back of his head intensified. It was a horrifyingly familiar feeling, and even though Malik was doing everything in his power to suppress it even the slightest bit, he wasn't sure how much longer he could hold out before giving in…

That was, if he managed to hold out at all.

He thought his head was going to implode from all the pressure building up, regardless of how much effort he put into staying even just a little bit sane for just a little bit longer.

"I'm not crazy," Malik found himself mouthing soundlessly, over and over again. "I'm not, I'm not, I'm not-"

Stop playing these stupid mind games with yourself, "Mr. Main Personality." The tension in Malik's head disappeared all at once, causing him to let out a sharp gasp as he jerked his head up. He wasn't hearing this voice again; there was no way. He was getting better, right? He was happy now, right?

He didn't hate anymore, right?

"I'm not," Malik muttered. "It's the truth, I know it is, I-I said you were gone, I got rid of you, I moved on with my life. I-I'm not… I'm not fucking crazy anymore."

Liar. The voice was drawn out, savoring the opportunity to mock Malik while he was… weak? Was that what this was? Was this… weakness? Was he, Malik Ishtar, really sinking so low? You think you can get rid of me so easily? You absolutely believe that by sealing me away in the shadows and talking about your true feelings, you can keep me locked up forever? I'm a part of you, Malik. Just because you want to pretend like I don't exist, that doesn't mean that I'm going to leave you alone. A chill ran down Malik's spine again, and he moved his hands from his hair to wrap his arms around his body, still shivering uncontrollably. Admit it, Malik. You've always been fucked up and crazy. And whether you like it or not, that's not a trait that will just disappear.

"No…" Malik was doing everything he could to keep himself from sobbing. He was a man, wasn't he? He had already been to hell, stayed a while, and come back. So what was the point in crying over some illusion?

After all, wasn't it only an illusion?

Does it hurt right now? The voice sounded amused, in a way. Despite Malik's attempts against breaking down, he knew that he wouldn't last much longer in his current state. His head, though freed from the pressure that had been building up only moments ago, still pounded with each and every word spoken by the voice. He shook so violently that his teeth chattered along with the rest of his body, and his nails dug hard enough into the skin of his sides that he could feel small trails of blood begin to form. It did hurt, and it took every last ounce of his strength not to admit it.

You don't need to deal with this pain, you know.

"Shut up…"

You can just let go, if you'd like. I'll save you, Malik. Your siblings, the doctors… they're all wasting their time on you. I know exactly what hurts. I know exactly how to make it all disappear. The voice paused. At the same time…

It felt to Malik as though electricity was shooting through his entire body. It happened so suddenly that he couldn't even form a response- it didn't paralyze him completely, but there was something about it that felt… what was it…? Off? It was like pain, and it made Malik extremely uncomfortable. But at the same time, it almost provided a temporary reprieve from the pain that he was experiencing. It wasn't entirely bad… but, on the other hand, it was so sudden and unexpected that he couldn't help but feel a bit disconcerted.

At the same time, the voice continued, I know how to hit every last one of your weak points. The feeling appeared again, except that this time, it was focused exclusively on his back. The more he thought about it (despite the fact that he really, really didn't want to think about it), the more he realized something- the electric shocks that were shooting through his body every few seconds felt almost disturbingly close to fingers of some sort…

I can make you scream, the voice continued, the feeling against his skin not letting up even a little bit. Rather, it exchanged its exclusive focus on his back (his scars, Malik thought with a shudder) for an equally intense fascination with his chest and torso. I can make you beg me to stop hurting you, and make you feel like the coward you know that you are.

Malik shifted his body in a desperate attempt to get away from the feeling that was taking over every single one of his senses, but panicked when he found that no matter where he went or how he positioned himself, it wouldn't go away. If his mind had been in even a slightly calmer state, he might have realized sooner that there was nothing he could do to stop what was happening to him. But in the heat of the moment, Malik was numb to such logical thoughts. All that he could bring himself to focus on was the heat rising in his own body as the sensation's starting point was moving lower every single second.

Lower.

And lower.

Until-

"No," Malik said shakily. It was the loudest he had allowed himself to raise his voice all night- up until now, he had been trying his hardest not to wake Rishid or Ishizu. "Y-you wouldn't fucking dare… this is you, isn't it? This is another trick, isn't it? M-my mind is just trying to punish me for everything again, isn't it?"

Malik… the voice held the same tone that one would use while scolding a small child, and Malik knew that if his assailant had a physical presence, he would have been unable to hold in his emotions anymore. He would have lashed out; kicking, screaming, hitting, anything that would have warded off this inhuman invader for even half a second more. He would have regained control.

And if there was one thing Malik needed- not only at that moment, but at every moment- it was some semblance of control. He had wielded the Millennium Rod with ease for that reason- Malik was not a toy for others to give direction. He had left the tombs to prove that point, and formed the Ghouls to maintain it. If Malik was to finally have freedom after so many years, then there was no way that he would simply give it up. He had worked far too long and hard to get here.

He had let go of his past, of each and every one of the demons that had haunted him through the years. Even this voice… even this being he had created… It was all over. This was an illusion and nothing more. Unless…

What was the true illusion? Was it this recurring ghost from his past? Or was it the idea that everything had truly passed?

Either way, it was all in his head. As long as he was alive, there was nothing Malik could do to stop his current situation from getting any worse. There was nothing in front of him to push away. There was only the feather-soft sensation of fingers brushing against his lower back, tracing each and every detail in the hieroglyphs carved into his flesh.

Malik, are you afraid? Malik was silent. I know everything, Malik. I know that even after all these years, you still can't stand it when someone touches you- especially these scars. The voice laughed again, mocking Malik and his lack of a response.

Does it hurt? Does it make you remember what your father did to you that day? Does it bring back all the anger, pain, and suffering that you thought you could get rid of by making amends with the pharaoh and taking a few pills?

"Stop." Malik's breath was coming in quick, panicked gasps, and he could barely think, let alone get out the words he needed. "Please, just get out of my head." He hated to resort to begging. It was a menial action, for people who lacked control over their own problems. But he couldn't think of anything else anymore. He had been reduced to the insipid, pathetic child that he so despised, the same one that had cried and screamed at his father, begging the man not to initiate him, even after he had been tied down to the stone slab. Even within the confines of his own mind, he was vulnerable, and was quickly reaching his breaking point.

And with the small amount of reason Malik was still capable of using, he knew that if he didn't do everything he could to push himself further away from the edge, it would all be over. Everything he had been working for since the end of Battle City would disappear completely. All of his hatred, pain, and anger would ultimately resurface, and manifest itself exactly as it had before. And… what, exactly? Would he take over again? Most likely. Even in his fear-induced haze, Malik didn't have to think very long or hard to know exactly what sort of hell he would be put through if he let his guard down. He had been through it before, after all.

Yet even that, he realized, had been a best-case scenario, where his luck had played out in his favor for once in his life. Rishid woke up, Ishizu didn't hate him, and the pharaoh hadn't made the decision to let him die. It was the closest thing Malik had ever received to a second chance, and for the longest time, he had been determined not to let it go to waste. But with every night like this that he awoke screaming, and every moment where his temper got the best of him and gave him that oh-so-familiar ache in the back of his skull, he couldn't help but wonder- would it really be a waste at all? What, in reality, had he truly gained since he reclaimed his body? A dormant personality whose whispers were driving him further over the brink of insanity? A family who watched what they said and did around him because they were still afraid of their own brother's temper?

Yes, Malik, the voice murmured. You realize it, don't you? You aren't happy. You got a fairy tale ending, but you're selfish. You hate the way your sister won't look you in the eye anymore. You despise it when Rishid stares at you a little too long, like he's making absolutely sure that nothing is wrong with you. You know that, even after everything that happened, you aren't even close to being free- not with them watching you all the time.

Malik tried to deny it- he cared about Ishizu and Rishid, and they cared about him, and they were all happy. But before he could get a single word out, the tingling sensation that had been making its way up and down his back spread even further down than it had been, slowly wrapping its way around to his front. It felt, yet again, like fingers were running lightly across his skin- but this time, instead of tracing his scars, the sensation was based completely in his inner thighs. Malik let out a strangled gasp between rapid breaths. Even if the initial feeling was coming from between his legs, the rest of his body was feeling the effects, too. Everything felt hot, his heart rate had increased even more from its already-quickened state, and his thoughts blurred together.

Just watch, Malik. The feeling was intensifying with each passing moment, and Malik found himself emitting small moans and gasps through clenched teeth. This feeling… isn't this what you were looking for? Doesn't it make you feel better; make you forget about all those painful things in your life? The voice dropped to a whisper. It's okay to admit it, Malik. I know that you're stubborn, but you and I both know how much you're enjoying this.

"Sh-shut up," Malik groaned, unconsciously digging his nails so far into his palms that he drew blood. "And whatever the fuck it is you're doing, just-" Malik paused for a moment as he let out another long moan- "Just stop. G-get the hell away from me, I don't need you anymore. I don't want you here, so let go of me…"

The voice laughed yet again as Malik became unable to continue his weak protests, his breath too preoccupied with his gasps of mixed pleasure and terror to form anything even close to a sentence. Even if the voice couldn't see it himself, he knew that Malik was already extremely hard- but of course he did. He was Malik, after all. Everything his original personality felt, he felt.

I think you do want me here, though, he said smoothly. Look at you. Just from this, you're completely giving up. This "figment of your imagination" is taking control of you again, and you're just sitting there and taking it. Why exactly is that, Malik? Since when are you so weak that you won't stand up for yourself?

"…Not…"

Yes, Malik. You are. And that's why you need me to be here for you. I'll take the pain away.

The heat building up in Malik's lower half was reaching an unbearable level, and despite everything that was happening to him- everything that had happened to him- he couldn't bring himself to think about it. All he felt was his body's need for release as his climax drew nearer with each breath he took.

I'll make things better for you, so you don't have to hurt anymore. I can replace it with pleasure beyond your wildest dreams.

"No-"

Just trust me, main personality.

And that was it. Something in Malik snapped, and everything that had built up in the past several minutes came rushing forth, all at once. His restrained groans turned into screams as he finally reached his orgasm, and his mind was cleared of everything besides the euphoria of his release. He… didn't feel any pain anymore.

At least, for a moment.

Slowly and steadily, as Malik caught his breath, he opened his eyes. His fists unclenched themselves, revealing small rivulets of blood that dripped down his palm. He lifted his hands to study them as carefully as he could through the darkness before giving up and letting them fall into his lap.

And then, all at once, it hit him. This was happening, whether he liked it or not. Whether it was even real or not. He was helpless for the umpteenth time in his life, and this time it wasn't because of a nameless pharaoh or oppressive father. He only had himself to blame, and there was no loyal servant by his side to tell him otherwise. He had created this monster, but he was too weak to get rid of it completely. And he hated it.

He hated the voice.

He hated, hated himself.

You get it, don't you? Malik jumped at the sound of the voice, snapping out of his thoughts. You couldn't get rid of your hatred, Malik. You're human; it wouldn't be natural if you succeeded. That's why you can't get rid of me. The voice's twisted cackle filled his mind yet again. You lost any chances of that happening the exact moment you created me. So go ahead. Hate me. Hate yourself. As long as you continue to hate anything or anyone in this world, I'll be here. I'll gain more power. And someday… He paused for a moment, waiting just long enough to send another throb of pain through Malik's head.

Someday, I'll take control of you again.

Xxx

Everything faded. Malik couldn't hear, see, or think anything anymore. He was numb to the world around him, as well as the conflict inside him. Did he still exist? Was he still in control? He didn't have the energy to consider the answers. And even if he had, Malik wasn't sure if he wanted to think about it in the first place. Or anything at all, really. He was content like this, just floating in nothingness…

Xxx

"…Lik…"

A familiar sound cut through the silence, echoing faintly. Malik paid it no mind. It couldn't be important enough to wake him…

"Malik…"

The noise persisted, despite Malik's wishes.

"Malik, come on, wake up…"

Wake up…?

"Malik."

And just like that, he could feel again. He noticed his body being shaken gently, and he could feel someone's breath on his face.

"Malik, you know how important today is. What are you doing in here?"

Malik's eyes finally opened the slightest bit, and he stirred. He could feel the ice-cold tiles underneath him, and he realized relatively quickly that he was still in the bathroom. But it was much lighter now, with light streaming in from the hallway. Slowly, as he adjusted to being awake, Malik moved his head up to see Ishizu, who was sitting next to him and trying to shake him awake.

Malik yawned and rubbed his eyes. "Sis…?"

Ishizu sighed. "Good, you're finally awake." She glanced around the room, then back at Malik, who was curled up and shivering on the floor. "I checked your room first, but you weren't there. Did something happen? Is that why you ended up sleeping here?"

For a moment, Malik honestly couldn't remember. What was he doing here? Why did his head hurt so much? Why did he feel so sweaty and disgusting?

And then it hit him.

The sobbing, the shaking, the voice, that horrible, disgusting feeling-

Malik felt sick.

His eyes wide, he pushed himself up, looked himself over, and automatically knew.

There really was cum on the floor. There really was dried blood on his palms.

It hadn't been a dream.

Ishizu's expression shifted to one of concern. "Malik, are you alri-"

"Sorry, sister, but could you leave me alone in here for a moment?" Malik's voice was quiet, but Ishizu seemed to sense the urgency in his voice anyways, and left the bathroom, lingering momentarily in the hallway outside the door to make sure that her brother was actually going to be alright.

Malik's stomach flipped, and as much as he hated himself for it, he felt the beginnings of tears in the corners of his eyes. Everything that had happened the previous night was being vividly replayed in his mind, and every last second of the memory made him feel even more anxious. His hand flew to his mouth, and he made his way on his hands and knees to the toilet, completely overwhelmed. He gagged a few times, but nothing ever came up- he didn't eat much as a general rule, and the day before had been no exception.

Malik stayed in that position for several minutes, occasionally sobbing as he did everything he could to calm himself down. He briefly considered asking Ishizu to come back in and help him, but he decided against it almost immediately. Ishizu… didn't need to know about any of it. She really and truly believed that her little brother was getting better, and Malik let her continue to believe it. She had put enough time into worrying about him- often at the cost of her own free time, which was rare to begin with- that Malik needed her to feel that way. He couldn't imagine how his sister would feel if she found out that the pills were meaningless, the doctors were a waste of time, and- most importantly- that all her hard work had been for nothing.

It was a strange thought for Malik. Hadn't it only been a matter of months since he and his sister weren't even on speaking terms? When, exactly, had he started to actually care for her and her feelings? It was completely unlike him.

It took around 10 minutes before Malik decided he was doing well enough to go out and meet with his family. Still shaking, he used the support of the wall to bring himself to a standing position. His legs were sore, which he assumed was from the way he had been sleeping, but he managed to get out of the bathroom and start moving fairly quickly after he found his center of balance.

His brother and sister were sitting in their tiny living room, their eyes focused on him. Both were dressed and ready to leave for the day. They tried to ask what had happened the night before that had shaken him so much, but he smiled softly and shook his head, assuring them that everything was alright- he had just had a nightmare.

And then, right as he turned toward his room to get dressed- he and his siblings were meeting Yugi and everyone else at the airport in a few hours, he remembered- he heard that familiar laugh, echoing faintly in the back of his mind.

I may be a nightmare, Malik, but I assure you- you won't be waking from me anytime soon.

And Malik only nodded to himself, because he knew that his other half was right.

Xxx

Well, this has been in development for a long time. BUT, I have some actual, somewhat-decent excuses for my lack of activity recently. See, first off, my laptop completely died on me a couple weeks into June, the day before I left for a weeklong trip. As in, it wouldn't turn on, and all my data was gone. So I spent the next month with no computer that I was willing to write with. (We have a family computer, but it's right in the middle of the living room. I shouldn't have to explain why that's not exactly a great place to write fanfiction- especially when it's like this.) But fortunately, I got a brand new shiny laptop last week, so I'm officially able to start doing this again.

I would promise updates to my current stories soon, but to be honest, it never seems to actually happen when I do so. I'll get to them, but procrastination can and will be an issue when I want to actually write something. So bear with me, I guess.

Anyways, this is a really long AN, and I think I should end it here. Thanks for reading this fic that I had way too much fun writing, and reviews would be appreciated, if you don't mind- I worked reeeeally hard on this.