The dexterity of Marik's long, elegant fingers was, as ever, a matter of fascination to Bakura. He moved with the nimbleness of a jungle cat, the sandy-colored demigod of the desert, and gazed upon his prey with narrowed, luminous eyes, just as he was now staring at Bakura.
"Will you cut off a lock of your hair for me?" he asked, smiling, while he handed Bakura the dagger.
Bakura grabbed the knife. He slipped it through the stained, white strands and snipped off a handful. When Marik approached to take the hair, Bakura suddenly grasped the boy by his waist and brought him close.
"Marik," he said so quietly and sweetly that Marik shivered. "What's the purpose of this? You've still told me nothing. It's almost dawn and I can think of a few other things we could be doing."
Marik slipped out of his hands as easily as if he were made of wet clay. He turned back to the shrine, where he placed the locks of hair.
"Patience. I have plans for that too, but this takes precedence."
With a wave of the sekhem scepter, Marik intoned an incantation at the statue. It was Horus that peered down at them reproachfully. The falcon's metallic eyes glistened at them, questioning their trespass into the temple's sanctuary.
Again, Bakura watched Marik's lithe body with admiration. The boy's magical skill toppled even Bakura's craft in combat, and that was a difficult fact to admit. For ten years Marik had been breathing charms and uttering invocations, creating amulets and spelling palace walls. He was adept. He had no flaw.
But if Bakura merely needed a magician, he could have looked anywhere. What he needed was the laughter, the slyness, and the slight curve of the lip, whether in joy or in pain. He needed the humanity that came with a broken voice and a broken past. He needed the scars that matched his own and the eyes that had seen too much. He needed himself, in the most selfish way, and Marik was the closest thing he had to that.
Suddenly, he felt fingers slide through his hair. He closed his eyes. He was never surprised when Marik caught him unawares. Quiet as a cat, slender and light and brisk. It was no wonder that, as with all cats, Bakura worshipped him.
"You'll have the eye of Horus on you now," Marik said.
His voice was muffled by Bakura's neck. And then by his collarbone, and then by his chest. Bakura lowered himself to the ground, sighing deeply. Whether he was pushed down by Marik or moved of his own accord, he didn't care.
"A ritual for protection?" Bakura guessed.
"You'll feel it in battle" Marik caught Bakura's lips with his mouth, and between short kisses, whispered, "he will give you strength
and agility. And I'll paint his eye on you to focus his power."
"Where?" Bakura asked, his eyes flickering.
Marik mounted him slowly, pressing against him so hard that Bakura's lips parted in surprise, as he breathed, "Anywhere."
Their clothes were only half gone before Bakura felt the oily fingers in him, and then something deeper that made his skin shiver and his head slam back into the ground. He loved the grace and the rigor. Marik made it both elegant and rough. His body slid fluidly as he shoved Bakura's arms into the dirt and ripped the flesh of his lips, snapping with his teeth and lapping with his tongue. Bakura didn't mind the pain. Afterward, Marik would just seal his wounds with magic.
At times like these, when Marik moved and glided and Bakura was reduced to shreds, he thought back.
They had met on a bloodstained night. He'd found Marik huddled between palace columns with a ghostly look in his eyes, mouthing to him, "I just saw a dead body." That's all it had taken for the words to spill from Bakura's lips. His own story mingling with Marik's and creating a horrific nightmare. One that, at the very least, they shared.
After Marik pulled out, he lowered his head down and made an even bigger mess of Bakura's quivering body. The only thing he could cling to was Marik's desert-colored hair as the wet, slippery sounds filled the air, coalescing with Bakura's groans.
"You'll miss me for a few days," Marik said when he was finished. "Unless you can convince someone else to do that for you."
Bakura scoffed, lying with his arms behind his head. He couldn't think of a single thing to say right now. If only the entire world could consist of that moment, then he would need nothing else.
"I won't be gone long," he finally said. "This is my last attack on the palace. After that, there won't be a need for amulets and protection spells."
Marik started drawing the eye of Horus on Bakura's thigh with a jar of kohl. Bakura watched with amusement as he swept a strand of hair out of his own face and left a streak of kohl on his cheek.
"Not with the amount of danger you get yourself into," Marik said. "I wager I'll always have to be around to protect you."
Bakura smiled. After all, he had enough weapons to topple the palace. He had the Ring, and the warriors of his fallen village, and Diabound. But they were all offensive forces. Whereas Marik
he was something else entirely.
"You are my shield, Marik," he said quietly, thinking aloud.
You're that part of me that will rip apart the attack, stand me upright, and keep me going.
Marik locked gazes with him. Sometimes, Bakura had the feeling that Marik could hear each and every thought running through his head. That after surviving together for so long, he had become part of his blood and his skin. That he was well and truly a part of him.
The stroke of kohl on his skin halted as Marik simply smiled at him.