Marik wandered throughout the streets of Domino City, roaming the alleys and frequently shivering from the increasingly cool night air. He wrapped his arms around himself, bracing against the sudden rush of frigid air wafting from the docks nearby. He quietly cursed between clenched teeth.
His homeland, Egypt, had scorching days and frigid nights. Now that he was in Japan, the climate surprised him. The days were mild and the nights stayed relatively the same temperature, if a little cooler. Tonight seemed to be freezing, and Marik's cropped, sleeveless hoodie was of no assistance.
"Sorry," he mumbled as he brushed by someone. He did not bother waiting for a response of any kind or to even glance up at the person's face, instead keeping his own head down and face shielded behind his bangs. He considered his hood but changed his mind as he realized that it may only attract more unwanted attention. The Egyptian's tanned skin, blond hair, and violet eyes already made him an outcast to the majority of the foreign society.
Keeping his footsteps light, he padded down an alleyway until he blended in to the obscuring shadows. The tomb keeper sighed in relief, glad for the silence. Japan was a lively, thriving, and above all, noisy city. Voices were constantly heard over the rushing traffic of both pedestrians and vehicles, most of which Marik could not decipher. Their tongue was foreign to the boy, causing him to feel even lonelier in the sea of voices.
Marik stumbled before arms reached out and grabbed him, preventing his fall.
"Are you..." The voice broke off.
Disoriented, Marik strained his eyes in the darkness to try and glimpse upon the face of the disembodied voice. The boy was cloaked in darkness and not even the luminescent moonlight could penetrate the shadows. Then a glowing light caught his eye and he gazed down to see an odd, golden object emanating a warm aura. The metallic object shone with a haunting brilliance in the dense alley.
Marik knew he had felt something jab into his ribs the moment he had collided with the other boy. His skin tingled as he remembered the five sharp points digging into his skin for the briefest second.
"Ah, sorry," Marik said as he attempted to escape the locked grasp of the boy's hands around his arms.
He did not relent, only remained silent.
Marik wracked his brain for any other Japanese words he knew. He gave up almost instantly and, in his own language, said, "You can let go of me now."
This seemed to alert the other boy as he shifted before dropping his arms to his sides. He then grasped the golden metallic object that hung around his neck and stared at it. The light had grown vibrant as the object radiated a menacing chill. Five long needles were crafted halfway around the ring-shaped object, and they chimed violently as they pointed directly toward the tomb keeper.
Something about the arcane object sent a familiar jolt through Marik's mind. Could that be...? He mentally shook his head. How could a random passerby like this person have a sacred artifact?
Marik shifted, casually trying to weave his way around the boy. He stepped in the tomb keeper's way, and Marik could feel him staring down at him though he approximated they were of equal height.
"Come with me," he said.
Marik almost jumped in surprise as he understood the words; not everyone in Japan could speak Arabic.
Marik hesitated, reluctant to follow the stranger. What does he want? Marik wondered. Seeing as how he had been pointlessly wandering before, with nothing or nobody to go back to, Marik decided to take the risk and followed the boy through several alleys.
Every odd gap between the narrow passageways earned another brief glimpse of moonlight as it flashed onto the cold pavement. Marik caught several quick glimpses of the other boy as he passed between the shadows, entering the light for a fraction of a second. All Marik could see from behind was that the boy had white hair and pale skin that seemed translucent in the radiance of the moon overhead. He also had a slim figure that earned him the movement of a feline as he slipped silently between the alleyways; the only audible sound the quiet scuff of his sneakers against pavement.
Minutes later, Marik could smell the faint salty, fishy scent of the pier. Soon afterward, the two boys arrived at the docks.
The pale boy stopped abruptly as he neared the end of the dock. Without facing him, he inquired, "What is your name?"
Marik halted several paces away before hesitantly answering, "Marik."
Instead of introducing himself, or allowing Marik to ask him, the white-haired boy continued, "What do you know of the Millennium Items?"
The tomb keeper's heart skipped a beat as he realized what the boy was asking, informing Marik of what he knew. The Millennium Items were sacred artifacts of the Pharaoh, created three millennia ago.
Marik knew better than to reveal any information to a suspicious stranger. "Excuse me?"
"Don't bother lying. The Millennium Ring directed me to you," the boy said. Turning to face Marik, he stared at the Egyptian with intensity in his dark auburn eyes so potent that the tomb keeper struggled to remain still.
From his ancient texts and scriptures, Marik knew the Millennium Ring possessed the ability to detect other Millennium Items as well as transfer fragments of the user's soul to various objects through touch.
He answered the pale youth's question by grabbing the scepter from his rear belt loop and holding it in front of him. The Millennium Rod gleamed in the hazy light, its engraved eye of Wdjat staring lifelessly into the distance.
The boy smirked, though not before Marik saw his look of sheer amazement.
The tomb keeper blinked, bemused.
"My name is Bakura," he repeated.
Marik stared at the boy known as Bakura, searching his expression for any sign of his intentions. "Who are you?"
Bakura knew just as well as the tomb keeper that he meant more than just his name. "I am in possession of this body." he paused, clearly deciding how he should say his next words. "If you're wondering about age, my host, Ryou, is sixteen. I'm... about three thousand years old."
Marik's eyes widened at Bakura's answer. In truth, he had been curious of his age. Now that he knew, his curiosity only increased.
"I come from Egypt, as do you, I assume."
"Yes." Now Marik understood his fluency in Arabic.
"Well, now that we're acquainted, I have no choice but to kill you. Unless, of course, you're willing to give up the Millennium Rod."
Marik said impassively, "Go ahead."
Bakura's smirk withered to an astonished frown. "You wish to die...?"
"I would not be losing much. After all, I have nothing and nobody to go back to."
Marik gripped the Millennium Rod in his hand, resisting the urge to use its power to escape the pale boy's scrutinizing stare.
After considering for a moment, Bakura suggested, "Fine. Hand over the Millennium Rod and I'll let you live."
Marik shook his head, firmly standing his ground. The refusal lit up a flare of vex in the other boy's eyes, though it quickly vanished to reveal only a testing gaze.
The tomb keeper heard the quiet rasp of the blade as Bakura drew it from his back pocket. As Bakura attempted to strike out at the scepter in Marik's hand—or perhaps he was really aiming for the Egyptian himself—Marik allowed a rush of energy flow through him in to the Millennium Rod. The scepter glowed as the energy forced Bakura to freeze, his knife still clutched in his fingers.
Bakura scowled as he realized his immobility. Marik felt slightly drained as the scepter drew away what little he had left. If he did not relent, he feared he would collapse.
Bakura stumbled as he gained back possession of his body. His mouth twitched into a crooked smile as he asked, "Are you challenging me to a Shadow Game?"
The tomb keeper shook his head, keeping his eyes on the other boy. "Why should I give you my Millennium Rod?"
Bakura huffed, turning away as he stifled a bitter laugh. "That's none of your business. But if you must know, it's not without good reason."
Marik accepted the answer, figuring he would be unable to earn further information. He shifted and stared up at the sky, gazing at the millions of shimmering stars. Without thinking, he murmured, "I plan to avenge someone, too."
Bakura seemed surprised, his eyes flashing to the tomb keeper. Marik had sensed the same anger within the boy that he felt himself. He also acknowledged the void of sorrow buried deep within his heart.
"Because of a Pharaoh... Because his soul awakened, his revival has intertwined the death of my own father into my fate. Now I have no one except a brother who is better off without me." Marik stopped as he realized he was revealing too much. Why am I telling this to a stranger, who, moments ago wanted to kill me?
A silence hung between them like a fog as they waited for someone to speak. After what seemed like a few minutes, Bakura admitted, "The same Pharaoh's father ordered to burn down and slaughter my entire village in my past life. Their corpses were boiled down to create the Millennium Items."
Marik stilled before slowly staring down at the scepter in his hand. If what Bakura had said was true, Marik had his fingers grasped around the ancient flesh and blood of Bakura's people. He felt the urge to release the Millennium Rod, though managed to keep his grip tight in case the pale boy was leading him into a trap.
Bakura laughed shortly under his breath, though his face only held a bitter amusement. "It seems we both hold a grudge over the Pharaoh. Perhaps it would be best to team up together and fulfill our rightful revenge."
"I work alone," the tomb keeper lied. For much of his life, he had relied in his brother, Odion. Now that Marik had fled, he did not have anyone to depend on, and the truth was that he felt a little lonely—even a little scared that he did not have any comrades.
"As do I," Bakura retorted. Then he smirked. "In a sense, we would make the perfect team."
Marik considered. If he refused, he would only make an enemy of the potentially dangerous reincarnated Thief King. If he accepted, he might only be dragged deeper into his grave. It did not take long for him to consider. Marik nodded his approval.
"Follow me," Bakura beckoned without hesitation.
The Egyptian complied, trailing behind the pale boy back through the pier, weaving between warehouses and the custodial staff that lingered behind to clean the boats tied to the docks. He did not bother inquiring Bakura of their destination, only followed him in silence.
When they reached the alleyway, Marik felt a hand on his own before the fingers wrapped around his. The action caused the tomb keeper to startle, though he did not particularly mind the contact. After all, his hands were still a little cold from the night's nipping breeze.
He was led down various passageways until Marik was sure they were lost. He trusted Bakura's judgement, however, and only remained mute as he was pulled along through the dark alleys. Only the light scuff of his sneakers and the contact of his hand around Marik's assured that Bakura was still really there.
Eventually they arrived at a dead end. Marik's eyes had begun to get used to the darkness, though at the end of the alley even the dimmest light could not reach through the permanent shadows. The grip on Marik's hand tightened briefly before he was brought around and felt his other hand in the other boy's possession.
While holding both of the tomb keeper's hands, Bakura whispered in the pitch blackness, "Do you trust me?"
Marik responded, "I just met you."
"Will you learn to trust me?"
"I... I'm not sure."
Bakura's grip tightened as he squeezed Marik's hands. "Then at least trust what I am about to say."
Marik stared ahead at what he felt must have been Bakura's eyes. The darkness in the alley was like looking through thick oil, black as tar. He nearly nodded before remembering that the other youth would be unable to see him. "Okay," he obliged, swallowing and wishing that Bakura had not brought him into such a secluded place. It only reminded Marik of the tomb that he had been suffocated and mercilessly tortured in for his full childhood.
The youth's voice interrupted his thoughts. "Someday I will need all of the Millennium Items. Someday I will need the Millennium Rod."
He let his words hover in the air. Marik stiffened as Bakura's words sunk in.
Bakura took note of the tomb keeper's rigidness and added, "But when that day comes, I promise that you will give it up at your own accord."
Marik did not ask him what he had meant, knowing very well the answer was unfathomable for both of them. Instead Marik said, "What about now?"
"Now," Bakura replied, his smile creeping into his voice, "We change our fate."
"I see. Fleeing from our separate destinies...How so?" Marik inquired thoughtfully.
"We met by chance today, didn't we?"
"I suppose so, but what proof do we have that it wasn't another path of predestined fate? How do we know what will happen afterward?"
"We don't." Bakura paused. "And let's not change that."
Marik felt hands release his own followed by light footsteps. He realized Bakura stepping away.
"Are you ready to enter the shadows?"
Marik reached out and touched Bakura's outstretched hand, curling his fingers around the youth's. He had spent his entire life in the shadows, he wanted to say, but he knew Bakura's true meaning. He did not mean the perpetual darkness that comes with the past of living in misery and pain, nor the dim lighting of a Pharaoh's tomb.
He meant the blind future, the knowing of never knowing what could happen next. That if they had a doubt or a foreboding sense of the future, that all they would be able to do was continue furthermore.
"We are the shadows now," Marik acknowledged. Bakura laughed, and Marik could not help but do the same. The two continued their way down the alley, wandering throughout the city of temporary nightfall, and into the hands of the waiting shadows.