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The shower has been running for a while. Half an hour or so. Sean didn't mind, sticks to his phone and listens to random music popping up on YouTube after the playlist ran out. He finally got around to text Arthur who was worried sick about him, asked what took him so long to reply, if he's gotten drunk again, and of course Sean said no to that. Tomorrow, hopefully, not a trace of alcohol would be left that could give his little lie away. Arthur doesn't need more unnecessary stress and Sean didn't want to face his disappointment.

He also thanked Seto. For being honest, telling him about Marik and his call. Sean sent a simple 'thank you' and left it at that, so far Seto hasn't responded. A part of him hoped the man went to sleep at a reasonable time for once.

There is not much left to do for him right now, he has to wait for Bakura to turn the water off so he could heat the pizza up for him, pineapple pieces already picked off. Sean can't say he is angry at Bakura for acting like this, unaware of the reasons behind his behavior. He would be okay in no time, Sean figures, though if he means to stay over night one of them has to crash on the couch. He's giddy to let Bakura know about Marik, how the boy finally called him, that they're talking and texting, how freaking happy he was about the whole thing!

Marik didn't write him anything yet. It's almost pathetic how Sean restarts discord over and over, thinking the app may have messed up and doesn't send his texts... he knows Marik said he was busy, though, and in fact had nothing in particular he could send him. Cat pictures, possibly. A heart emoji. Ahah... probably not.

And when the water stopped, Sean hears the curtain being yanked open and rushes into the kitchen as quick as his sore muscles allowed him to. Some slices in the microwave and there it goes.

Bakura really took his time.

It's kind of annoying now.

Ten more minutes and his freaking pizza is almost cold again.

Sean has a hell lot of patience. Just not today. He knocks at the bathroom door, aware it ain't locked so he could step in if he wanted to, not like there's anything he hasn't seen already. Bakura doesn't respond at first. Half a minute Sean waits, worry continues to grow with each passing second.

"Get in already." Bakura snarls, pissed off and angry. Albeit hesitant Sean sneaks inside the bathroom filled with thick steam, the air hot and heavy, mirrors obscured. He stood naked and wet, hair dripping on the ground to his feet along with a good amount of blood seeping through the cracks between the tiles. It reeked of cold iron and fear.

"What the fuck are you doin'!?" He snatches towels from the cupboard, god speed, spins the man around to look at him, stands in the puddle of blood with Bakura trying not to freak out completely. The wound on his arm must have opened up again, that's where the blood came from, but Bakura as the one bleeding like mad wasn't bothered by it. Sees it as a minor inconvenience. The towels are applied, both at once to stop the bleeding while Sean glares daggers at him and felt like spitting curses.

He doesn't.

"It opened up again, that's all," Bakura says, "Happened before, got some bandages in my bag over there. Help me put them on and don't give me that fucking look."

"You're bleedin', asshole, drippin' all over me floor! Fuck you for freakin' me out like that..." Okay, maybe he cursed a little bit. But Bakura certainly deserved it.

"Awh, I didn't know you're squeamish. Soft princess."

Bakura deserved a slap across the face, too. But that's something Sean wouldn't do. Glaring will do, adding more pressure until Sean took the towels off, skin smudged red but the spot wasn't bleeding as bad. The original damage might've been deep, but this was superficial, nothing major... Still so much blood...

"Seen worse," Sean shrugs, "You ain't special." God, how bad he wanted to shout at him for scaring him like that, calling him an idiot while treating to his wound.

He's gonna do that. Watch me, Bakura.

Sean fetches the bandages and gauze swabs, glad to see that Bakura was at least well prepared for a situation like this. It must've happened before at some point.

Thanks to Sebastian and him insisting that Sean learned how one applies a proper dressing, the first aid courses for his driver's license and stuff too, he cleaned the wound and watched Bakura flinch with a triumphant smile, swabs and bandages wrapped tight around his upper arm. "You idiot," Sean mutters, "Hot showers ain't the best choice, y'know?"

"Yeah, but I was feeling pretty cold so I said to myself, fuck it. YOLO and all that crap."

Sean raised an eyebrow at him, puzzled and agitated at once. "How did that even happen? The fuck did you do?"

"Oh... you know. The usual... let's say it was some kinda accident this time so you can stop playing the worried wife."

Slap incoming in 3...2...

Alright, no, for everything he knows Bakura might request more and harder.

"Dry up and piss off. Gotta clean your shit somehow..."

Bakura wraps his hair up first, squeezes it in a fresh towel before he rubbed himself dry. There was no more blood on him, only the coppery smell of it clinging to his skin despite a thorough shower; Sean tells him to use lotion or deodorant, literally anything to get rid of the stench while he gets to clean the floor; Sean's stomach wasn't all too kind on him at this hour and no matter how much he's scrubbing he keeps spreading the liquid everywhere. Bakura threw on the clothes Sean laid out for him, almost completely disappeared into the hoodie too long and wide for him; Sean doesn't even recall who it belonged to once.

"Can I help you?"

"...heat up your damn pizza again and pick a movie."

Bakura huffs, steps indicated that he left the bathroom. Sean opens up the window after cleaning this whole mess, washes the blood from the towels and lets them sit for a bit in hot water. He got no clue if this was the right thing to do, though putting on the washing machine an hour after midnight was probably a bad idea.

Sean finds Bakura bundled in blankets on the couch looking as grouchy as ever, face paler than usual, the plate with pizza in his lap but there was no movie playing yet. He's munching in silence, looks up at Sean when he comes back into the living room.

"Will you tell me what the hell happened to your arm? You been gettin' into fights again?" He almost scolds, worried shitless. There's several gangs in this city, rivalries between them of course as usual for those circles, but Sean expected Bakura to be smarter about this issue.

"When you tell me how you got those fancy scars on your stomach. Maybe."

Sean plops into the cushions, drags a blanket over himself like a cape. Now it's his turn to be grouchy. "That ain't a thing I wanna talk about."

"Great. Keep your secrets and I'll keep mine." He bends down to put the empty plate away, one or two pieces of pineapple tumbling on it that Sean must've forgotten to pick off.

"I just cleaned your fucken blood off the floor! Christ..."

Bakura took the remote control to search for a movie instead of replying. Sean noticed he shudders under that mass of blankets, his thumb on the control was trembling slightly. "You're not going to believe it, anyway," Bakura starts, "So why the fuck should I bother."

"Uh, I dunno? Maybe 'cause I care." Back at it again with the accusations. Sean waits for Bakura to continue, felt a gnawing at his stomach caused by the obvious distrust from his side.

After everything they've done together.

"Happened during Battle City. A while after you left, you know? Marik popped up, that-- fucking asshole, I bet you got no clue what he's done. Wanted to get the squad's trust. Stabbed me first, then went around and acted like he's helped me. Bitch..."

"You're kiddin'." Sure... Sean heard from various sources what Marik has done, or the things everything thought he did, however way it played out in the end this wasn't the Marik he knows today, not the one he met in that bar more than a month ago. He wouldn't want to call Bakura a liar. Only... that he doesn't know the whole story. "That ain't been him, y'know? Same with Yugi and this, uh, spirit kinda deal, I guess."

"Nah, he was pretty much himself," his voice had a mocking tone, "After all the shit that happened in the tournament, with him and Yugi, those artifacts, he acted like nothing happened. Just because he is no longer a host doesn't mean he's completely innocent. You're just horny."

How many times did he want to slap Bakura today already? He regrets every single time he doesn't get on with it. "I ain't his groupie, okay? If he did things wrong, sure we gonna talk 'bout it! Ain't like I'm a saint. You neither." Bakura finally found a movie. Horror, of course, seems to have a shit ton of blood and gore. He turns the volume down a bit, leans against the backrest and stretches his legs, looks over at Sean with a gaze that lets him know he was sorry about something.

"You met him once, princess. You really think he's got what you want? I wouldn't want to go through all this stress to get a taste of that dick."

"Ain't there any stress for me," Sean says, words a bit sour in his mouth and he lays down, head in Bakura's lap again, "I'm sorry for what he's done to you. Honestly. The time I ran into his folk ain't been a bright one either, they stole me card they did even tho I won fair 'n square. Seto called me a fucken liar when I told him."

Bakura laughs quietly, soon begins to pet Sean's hair the same as last night around this time, long nails gently massaging his skin. "He never ceases to surprise me. And I never understood why you're all over his nonexistent ass. Looks to me like you've got a type. The Bad Boy type."

"Good thing you ain't one of 'em," he breathes through, deeply so, one arm draped behind Bakura between him and the couch, "Its been a month since Battle City, right? Longer, even! Why's the wound still as bad?"

"Because I'm horrible at taking care of myself!" He has to laugh, stops the caresses for a little while before the habit continues, softer this time, motions slower. The movie didn't matter so much to them right now. A pleseant background noise, some blood sprinkled between screams and slashing noises.

"Obviously... Try better, you idiot. Don't wanna see you dripping down on me floor again."

"Yes, sir."

Sean would've fallen asleep if that position hadn't gotten uncomfortable after a while, his neck stiff and arm tickling like there's a million ants crawling through it. Bakura didn't stop playing around with his hair for a mere second, the sensation alone quite enough to make Sean all sleepy and content too, but the loud screams from the movie managed well to keep him wide awake. He couldn't stop thinking about Marik; not that this was new; about the things everyone says he did and not a single one of them made sense to Sean, no matter what Marik said about being free, about a certain guilt he mentioned, if people can change, none of it seems to make sense to Sean. It only proved how little he knows about him. And that thought alone tears him down all over again.

"Say," Bakura hums after a while, "You didn't ask about your camera again. Do you remember?"

"Uh... no. Should I?"

"Pity... want it back? There's a little film you should see, maybe some of your memories from last night come back~"

It clicks in his head. "...Oh no, you didn't."

"Yes, I did. It turned out so good! We should do that again. I know someone who can hold the camera."

"No. Noo. No... no, thank you!" He sits up, squints at Bakura, "Where's me camera? C'mon, give it back."

"Are you gonna watch it with me?" Bakura leans closer, hand extends to his shoulder. "Then you can have it back."

"Bakura, I ain't in the mood for that. Jus' give it back." - "You're always in the mood. Liar."

One part of him, yeah, sure. Another is triggered being called a liar, and that's the part taking over to act. He pushes Bakura's hand off and him back, hand on his heaving chest. Its not what Bakura expected, his eyes wide and brows raised.

"Call me a god damn liar again and I'm gonna kick your ugly ass," he had his fair share, done with the accusations and the doubts, "Give it back or get the fuck away from me."

"You're really sweet when you try to be intimidating," Bakura coos, "But okay! It's in the bag, big pocket. Let me get it for you." Hesitant but feeling beyond humiliated and ashamed, Sean let go of Bakura to watch him pace over to his messenger bag laying on the ground next to the door, how he fumbles through it and eventually pulls out Sean's camera.

He turns it on with a devious lil grin, moans and pleas Sean can hear, feels his cheeks burn up with embarrassment. They really did that.

"A shame you don't remember how much fun we've had. Next time less alcohol and more toys, huh?"

"Whatever you say-" Bakura flips the camera showing the screen to Sean and by god it's like seeing a horrible car accident, he just can't tear his eyes away. The screams and moans stir desire and shame in him, the way Bakura moves and digs his hands into Sean's hips made him feel ungodly things. He heard every word Bakura said in the video, hears his own pitiful moans, skin slamming against skin.

"I think I'll go to sleep," Bakura says after a bit, turns the camera off before the clip was over and puts it carefully on the table, "Long day tomorrow. Do you want to join me?~" Sounds as if he doesn't have much of a choice, and there's nasty thoughts twirling around in his head he can't seem to quieten or force out; but he waits for Marik.

"Nah, I gotta take a call. You take the bed, no need to wait for me."

Bakura never looked more disappointed. He tries to brush it off, shrugs like it meant nothing to him; and turns around to Sean after already leaving for the bedroom to return and demand a kiss. "Goodnight then, princess."

"Pf-" Sean hesitated seeing Bakura coming closer, his hands on Sean's cheeks holding him in place. It's a little kiss. Short, not sweet but bitter, tastes like nothing but missed opportunities. "Goodnight."

As if it could erase the kiss Sean touches and smudged his lips as soon as Bakura disappeared into the bedroom, leaving the door open for a gap. The movie wasn't even over, truth be told Sean no longer in the mood for splatter, so he turns it off and switches back to music instead, volume lowered enough for him to hear.

It's around 8pm in Egypt when his phone buzzed, the discord icon popping up in the top bar.

God, he's giddy again. Feels all fuzzy.

Despite... what Bakura said.

They need to talk. Even if it means hurting Marik.

Marik - Today at 02:02am
It's super late! Are you still up?

Cowboy - Today at 02:02am
sure am. told you id be waiting. so i guess we need to talk about a couple things

Marik - Today at 02:03am
I'm afraid we have to. Kaiba told you everything, right? You know what happened during Battle City?

Cowboy - Today at 02:05am
some things? yeah but i didnt wanna believe any of it

Marik - Today at 02:08am
Could you call?

His heart sank more and more with each message and every minute that passed between his and Marik's last one. He tapped that button anyway, fears Marik will hear the quiver in his voice but that might be his least pressuring problem. He hopes Bakura was asleep.

"Its so difficult to figure out how this stuff works but I think I'm getting there..." The first thing Marik says sounds nervous as hell. Sean couldn't blame him.

"Yeah, its uh... it's a lot I guess. Marik," god, this man gets him more nervous than anybody else ever did, or perhaps it's the topic, the secrets and not Marik himself because all he felt until now was peace and calm in regards to him, "Jus'... I ain't got a clue what to believe 'cause I wanted to think what Seto said was lies. I..."

"...what did he tell you? Did you ask someone else, too?"

"Yugi. I was... I was curious. And impatient-" That shiver returns, the shaking of his chest and heart and lungs, he had no idea how to stop it.

"I should've known," he says and to Sean it sounds like another accusation, "And I should have told you from the start. But I..." No, Marik wasn't accusing him of anything.

"I know," Sean reassures, "You couldn't have known its gonna... be like that. I really wanna hear what happened, tho."

Marik sighs. Sounds like he laid down now. "Okay," a break follows, "Okay. I'm from a family of tomb keepers, you see..? For thousands of years we protected a pharaoh's tomb and his memories along with it. You know him, the spirit Yugi has? They call him Yami because he doesn't remember his real name. He is the pharaoh we waited for all this time, and when Yugi finished the puzzle he returned. In order to protect his memories and to make sure that some day he could get them back, the secret to reveal them is engraved on my back. Those scars you've felt that night-"

"Fuck..." the curse slipped from him, a mutter under his breath. He thinks to hear Marik take a breath, bracing himself again.

"It was part of the ritual when I was a child. I never... never wanted this. All I ever dreamed about was to see the world outside and to... to be free of this, this burden on my shoulders I did not ask for, waiting for the pharaoh to return some far away day while I was forced to spend my life in the darkness! I... It hurt. It hurt so much. My father did it and when... when he was done my sister had to make sure the wounds stay wide open. My brother didn't want to help her, and he didn't. She... she had to sit by my side for weeks and for months because if just one of the wounds closed or scarred the wrong way he would have to do it all over again. It hurt so, so much..." He remembers and the memories force tears into his eyes. Marik curses in a language Sean doesn't understand, keeps breathing, shallow and pained.

"Marik, you can take a break, it's fine, I'm tellin' you-" His skin felt like burning with bright flames and he feels like crying, too. Marik's voice echoes in his head, whispering how much it hurt--

"I might not start again," he explains, focused on breathing and going on, "I... Something happened during that time. I hated everything and everyone and especially my father but most of all I hated the pharaoh. It was his fault that I had to suffer so much and live in the darkness underground in a tomb with no promise if his spirit would ever be free! I didn't want to believe it anymore. At some point I... I think it was when the spirit as born from all the hatred inside of me. Or maybe he was there all the time and took advantage of me. But when it happened, the day I lost control, the spirit... he... killed my father. I couldn't do anything to stop it, and I think I didn't want to. Everything went downhill afterwards. I took one of the ancient artifacts for myself and promised myself to... become the new king, instead of the pharaoh my family was waiting for. The evil within me only grew stronger over the years. I didn't stop it. I was free, I thought...? Or I could be as soon as I had what I wanted. I left a trail of death behind me chasing that selfish dream I thought was my future. And then I came here to meet the pharaoh, I... used a fake name, gained their trust and my brother helped me because he had no other choice. I made sure of that, you know, I... I knew how loyal he is. And I used that knowledge, while Ishizu fought to make it all right. She's my elder sister. You met her when you and Kaiba went to get the god card from her she used to lure Kaiba out. Of course it worked..."

"She... yeah, I remember. The lady from the exhibition." So far Sean wasn't sure what to focus on first. The confession that Marik hurt and killed or the fact that Sean knows for sure he wasn't to blame--- Marik continues.

"That's Ishizu. She tried to stop me for a long time before, used Battle City to lure me and the rare hunters out. That worked, too. Ra, I did everything I could to get my hands on the cards and Yugi's puzzle, used the rod to manipulate and-- I did all those things without thinking twice, never hesitated. I never stopped to think if... if its evil. For me it never was, I suffered enough I thought, I deserve to be selfish and how can that be evil..? That side of me grew stronger the closer I got to my goal and in the end it hurt so many people... Odion too, my brother, who always tried to help me in whatever way, no matter what I wanted. I was... I... at some point I lost control. Over myself, over my body, and the spirit took over. When Odion wasn't there to protect me from it because he got injured, i snapped and everything went... black. During the duel against the pharaoh the spirit wanted to get rid of me. He failed eventually. While I was trapped like this, I... I realized. All the things I did. The people I hurt and killed. Everything. I thought my time was over, no way the pharaoh could win against my evil side, no chance... Yet he did. He did, and he freed me, and he forgave me. I think he is the only one who did and I cannot blame anybody else. I gave up the artifacts to him, the cards too and he knows the secret to reveal his memories now. My duty was done. I was... I was free. And I had nowhere to go."

"Can you jus' gimme a second? That's a lot to take in and it's been a fucken long day-"

" you still want to talk?" God, no, don't sound like this, don't cry. Its breaking my heart, Sean thinks, you tellin' me all those things even tho it hurts you, and now you're thinkin' I'd leave like that?

On second thoughts, he should've said it out loud.

"Always do," Sean confesses, searches for cigarettes and a lighter, "I'm not gonna leave like that."

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck...

"Listen," Sean said immediately after lighting the cigarette, doesn't give himself the time to let it all sink in, "That thing you gave Yugi, it's been stolen from him som' weeks ago. Lil boy got kidnapped too, for that stupid puzzle he got. There's been an organization usin' those things to create some kinda fucked up simulation, big plan to dominate the world or... whatever. Listen, I been there. I been there, with Arthur and Sebastian and Seto, too, 'cause KaibaCorp was involved-" He talked so fast he doesn't stop to think of Marik could follow.

"Wait-- wait... what?"

"Those people took them artifacts. Usin' them spirits trapped inside as a host for their weird simulation. The original plan was to, like, link different people to a big main core so they could share everythin' with each other. Feelings, memories. All that stuff."

" worked?"

"It fucken did. I been there and I- fuck. I thought it's been you I saw there at first. He looked like you, jus' a lil different, y'know..? And-"

"I thought he is gone! He should be gone! Did!? Did he hurt y-" He's almost yelling, his voice changed slightly, there's a strange dark tone to it.

"He did. He did, tho I guess its been me fault for thinkin' it's you. I was, uh, reckless and thought we're gonna make it outta there together. From what I know he's been taken care of, dead and gone now for sure! Yugi's safe too, keepin' them items locked away."

"Sean, what did he do?" Dangerously concerned. Sean felt bad for thinking about his voice this way, but god damn its arousing.

"I ain't.... sure. Felt like bein' stabbed. When I woke up I was in the hospital and had stab wounds-"

"I... I didn't want to hurt you, believe me! I didn't want to... I wasn't... It wasn't me... I would never..."

"I know it ain't been you! Ain't ever been! That thing's gone now and won't hurt anyone again. Shite-- believe me, I never thought for one damn second that you could've done that, or would've, like I... didn't believe Seto. Believed nobody. 'cause I met you and I f- ...I know the real you. The Marik who's gotten so damn excited 'bout rain and horses." The night comes back to him, as real and vivid as ever, memories colourful and warm. He hides that big dumb grin behind his hand, doesn't have a reason to but it's a habit. "The one who has such a beautiful smile and didn't know how kissing really works. Now you do."

"Including a few other things, yes," no more tears, "Sean, I... thank you. I've been talking so much, my mouth is... really dry."

"Go and drink somethin' then," Sean says, "I'll wait."

There's a moment of clarity. Around the time Marik went to get himself a drink Sean sits on his couch watching the cigarette smoke itself, blue smoke circling through the air from its tip. Marik endured so much, unbelievably cruel and horrific things he was sure would've broken anybody else, and they seemed to have broken parts of Marik which he now tries to delicately place together again. If he let him or not, Sean wants to help. So after everything Marik told him that night and today, he doesn't have doubts this man intends to stick around. Everything Sean wants in this exact moment of time is for Marik to smile again like he did that night, with a light in his eyes Sean has never seen before.

"Sean," Marik's voice tears him right out of his thoughts, he jumps a bit and almost drops the cigarette, "I should tell you something else, too."

"Mhm? Yeah, I'm listenin'." Curious as ever. He squeezes the cigarette's bum in the ashtray and drops with his back in the soft cushions.

"Did you notice my sister's necklace when you met her at the museum?"

Oof... "She's had one, that I remember. Why's it important?"

"It was another artifact, you see...? By now it belongs to the pharaoh again, so she cannot use it anymore. It told her the future! Depending on people's choices, so... many things are bound to change in the course of time. But she... she's seen you. In the future. In mine, you know...? And told me there is someone waiting for me. I was... I was not in that bar to get drunk, Sean. Instead I hoped what she saw would come true."

The future is bright. He feels like a young teenager again, though, crushing for the first time, experiencing that flutter of butterflies. "So, my decision to get black out drunk got us to meet, huh..? Well, uh, wait, I ain't even decided-- I mean, hadn't thought I'd be doin' that, y'know..? Been there 'cause of...him."

"I... yes. I know. I remember. Maybe that means it was bound to happen in any way."

"Your sister's a great matchmaker. That's like... absolutely romantic." - "Oh, I'll tell her that!" - "No! I ain't said a thing! Fuck, she's only known me as that guy hangin' around Seto Kaiba..."

Then silence. Rather uncomfortable; why did he have to mention Seto. Again. It feels weird. Feels like he hurt Marik, too. By now he should've found out what they've had.

"What is it, with you and Kaiba? He called you that night, didn't he?"

"Told you I broke up with me boyfriend. That's him- was him. We had a couple o' issues."

"From the little time I had to spend with him at the tournament, I'd say he is full of unresolved issues." Oh, slay... Marik knows what's up.

"He ain't like that. Not all the time, anyway, and I guess he's been pretty riled up during that whole Battle City thing. That's the time I broke up with Seto 'cause I was fed up with the bullshit." He should... maybe tell the truth. Maybe...

"I'm hardly in any position to judge... And I'm not judging you, ever, anyway! But... Seto Kaiba? And you?"

"Guess I'm bringin' out the best in people. Or worst, depends how you're lookin' at things," it felt like twilight zone or some shit to talk about this with Marik, "But its over, it's done, for good now. We're friends I guess, 'cause... he's still part of the family. Arthur and Sebastian really love 'em two brothers."

"...I see," he sighs, had to chuckle then, "I apologise for bringing it up again, you certainly don't sound so amused-"

"He told me to call you," Sean interrupts him, "'cause when he first told you I ain't available I've been in the hospital and he was stupid jealous. Now he's told me it's been you and I would've waited for fucken months if it hadn't been for him tellin' me you tried callin'."

"Oh, I... how did he know about us in the first place..?"

"Ahah... funny story... uh, when that shit with Mobius happened he was involved and tagged along--" No, maybe Sean wouldn't tell him they tried getting back together, "And Lily asked for you. Sebastian's daughter, the lil one..? Seto ain't been amused."

Marik seriously had to laugh. In retrospect it was... funny. Kicked so much into action Sean would've just dragged on endlessly and needlessly. "I love her! How are they all doing?"

Sean yawns. Terrifyingly in awe of his laugh, excited and happy voice. All of him. Every little thing. "Mhm, they're... holdin' up." He closes his eyes and focuses on the sound of Marik's voice.

"Tell me everything. I'm getting sleepy and maybe... let's see if what you mentioned before works." He may be tired as hell but there's a huge smile spreading on his face now. Sean gets comfortable, sinks further into the cushions and warmth of the blankets.