I can see when you stay low nothing happens. Does it feel right? Late at night, things I thought I put behind me haunt my mind. I just know there's no escape now once it sets its eyes on you, but I won't run; have to stare it in the eye.
Stand my ground, I won't give in. No more denying; I got to face it. Won't close my eyes and hide the truth inside. If I don't make it, someone else will stand my ground


Saturday, May 01, 2010

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Updated 5:22 PM

Thursday, February 09, 2006

n i n e


It was odd, the way Malik hadn't protested when he demanded that they talk. The Egyptian had blinked at him absently for a moment before nodding and indicating for him to lead the way. Now Ryou found himself giving the younger boy a sidelong glare, wondering what was going through Malik Ishtar's head.


The word dragged him abruptly from his thoughts and he turned to fix a glare firmly on his acquaintance. "Excuse me?"

Malik's eyes were firmly locked on the ground, his refusal to meet Ryou's gaze not surprising. "Is Jyonouchi okay?" he repeated, voice barely above a whisper.

Ryou wanted to snap that that was none of his business. Instead he replied, "Jyonouchi-kun's safe enough." His frown deepened at Malik's slight nod; the blond had been a bit of a mystery to him even before he found out about Battle City, but this reaction wasn't what he'd expected at all.

"That's good," Malik said softly, his eyes somewhat distant. "Kaiba's with her, yes? Yes," he continued without waiting for an answer, "he can keep her safe, keep me away, keep it away...."

Ryou turned to stare incredulously at the other boy. He wasn't sure where that had come from, but it sounded... off. Looking around and spying a café, he grabbed Malik's arm and dragged him in that direction. Ryou scowled when he realized the Egyptian wasn't even arguing. He shoved his companion into one chair and circled the table to sit in the other. Waving off a waitress, he crossed his arms and leaned over the table.

"Alright, Ishtar," he fairly snarled, "talk. What the hell is going on in your tiny little brain?"

Malik refused to look up or acknowledge Ryou; instead he stared silently at the table for a full five minutes--enough time for the waitress to return and take a drink order from Ryou--before finally taking a deep breath and looking up. His expression was carefully blank as he spoke haltingly:

"At Battle City... nothing went right... nothing at all after the death duel...."

Malik screamed in frustration, struggling to regain control of his own body. Ever since his darker persona had taken over, the Egyptian had been watching all his carefully-laid plans unfold before his eyes. Absolutely none of what he'd been striving for--namely getting rid of the Nameless Pharaoh and taking everything away--was being accomplished, and he'd just discovered that his Other was more interested in domination and destruction than in actually helping him further.

"Let me out!" he snarled, clawing at the walls of his mind. His dark half merely laughed at him before answering.

And why should I? it asked almost reasonably. You owe me for getting you as far as you did. I think the world is a small price to pay.

"Bastard!" came the quick reply. "You promised that I would have the Pharaoh's name and title!"

I lied, came the purred reply. In fact, once I kill all those who stand in my way--your lovely sister included--I plan to cut you from me.

Malik growled. "You mean you plan to keep control of my body and leave me locked in here forever!"

No. I mean I plan to kill your mind and then keep your body for my own vessel.

"I won't allow it," Malik snarled in reply, struggling vainly for control and causing the darker part of his persona to laugh. "Shut up! Once I have my body back you're the one who's going to pay!"

You're wrong. I'm never giving it back to you. By the way, it added with a hint of amusement to its tone, did you know that the woman is awake? She's much stronger than I'd expected.

The Egyptian stopped fighting for a moment, a single name drifting through his mind:
Jyonouchi. He'd only been able to watch her duel against his dark side for a brief moment, and his Other had delighted in sharing that the blonde had collapsed during the duel; in fact, it had bragged that she would likely die and then her secret would be moot.

"Don't you touch her," he found himself growling. "Don't even think of touching one hair on her head or I'll--"

You'll what? Sit back and watch helplessly like you did last time? The darker part of his mind laughed. You want her. Don't deny it, vessel; you held yourself back from taking her while she was under the Rod's control, but you still thought about it.

"Leave her alone," he said again. He couldn't deny it and he wasn't even going to try. Jyonouchi... was a complete mystery, enough of one to fascinate him. Had he not used the Sennen Rod to control her he would be like the rest of those aboard the Ship, completely unaware that the former gang member was actually a young woman. His own plans had shifted slightly to include the blonde enigma... and unfortunately gave his Other a means of keeping him under lock and key.

Too late, it purred. Look.

He found himself peering out into one of the corridors on Kaiba's blimp, something inside him freezing as he realized that while he'd been fighting for control his Other had been systematically stalking Jyonouchi. The girl wasn't moving very fast, and she kept one hand resting lightly on the wall to keep her balance as she walked.

"No..." Malik whispered, trying to wrench control of the body as he felt its pace quicken. Before he realized how fast they were moving he saw his arm reach out and grab the girl. He spotted a camera and desperately prayed that
someone was keeping an eye on it, that someone would come to Jyonouchi's aide.

hemet," he heard his voice purr out as his Other pinned the girl to the ground. "It's not safe for little girls to wander about alone."

"Get off me," the blonde snarled, shoving at him with both hands; Malik winced in the prison of his own body as his Other caught her wrists and pressed them to the ground above her head. "Bastard! Haven't you fucked things up enough for everyone yet?"

hemet has a point, his Other whispered to him, its intent clear in its voice. She needs to learn her place, wouldn't you say?

"No!" Malik cried, his voice unheard by the girl struggling to throw him off her. "Let her go!" His Other only chuckled darkly in his mind as it shoved Jyonouchi's shirt up, using it to bind her wrists before pressing one hand to her throat. She stopped struggling, dark eyes widening in fear.

"Are you ashamed of this body,
hemet?" it asked with his voice. "You bind yourself and wear such unflattering clothing. One would think you were frightened of men noticing you." It chuckled again as the girl paled considerably. "Ah, that's the truth of the matter. My host desires to have you. As for me, I choose to break you."

"Stop it!" Malik screamed, clawing angrily at the walls surrounding him. "Let her go now!"

"Ishtar." The voice was one he hadn't expected to hear: Kaiba Seto. Malik tried again the wrench control from his dark persona in vain as the 'distraction' barely phased him. The Egyptian listened to the conversation and felt some sense of relief in Kaiba's presence; his Other relented shortly and stalked off to the arena... after threatening Jyonouchi again.

I will not let you hurt her, he thought to himself, safely locked from his Other's probing thoughts. Even if I have to kill myself to keep you from doing her harm.

Nodding decisively in his own mind, Malik began to plot how to sabotage his dark persona's chances of defeating the Pharaoh.

"It lost," Malik concluded in that same dead, blank tone, giving a slight shrug. "Then Sister, Rishid and I went back to Egypt. I didn't worry any further because I knew that even if it wasn't truly gone there was no way it could get to Jyonouchi again.

"Then all of you came to Egypt."

Ryou frowned, playing the Egyptian's story in his mind along with the version Kaiba had shared. They coincided almost perfectly, with only the viewpoints differing. Neither boy had wanted Jyonouchi to come to harm, although only one was able to do anything about it. And in some way, he felt that Malik had been harmed far more than the blonde....

Still, there was one part that disturbed him: that Malik admitted to wanting Jyonouchi. That made something in Ryou growl darkly and he made a note not to mention that last little bit to Bakura.

"Thank you," he finally said after a heavy silence fell over them. "For being honest. At least this explains your twitchiness while we were all there."

Malik merely nodded, standing up to leave. He walked no more than a few feet before glancing back over his shoulder. "Tell her I'm sorry?" he asked. Without waiting for a reply he walked off, leaving a slightly confused Ryou behind.

((Note: Sorry this took forever. I may go back and edit the hell out of this, but for now I'm pleased with it.))

Updated 11:50 PM

Friday, December 23, 2005

r e f e r e n c e s


This post is merely a spot for any and all terms used in Stand My Ground that are in the original Japanese. I have certain phrases I use that aren't directly translatable, or just sound odd when translated. Also, if something is said in a language other than Japanese, it'll appear here with its translation as well.

mou hitori no - the other. I mainly use this whenever Katsuya is referring to Bakura as "the other Bakura." I think that phrasing looks odd, so I continue to use mou hitori no.

yadonushi - this is one with several different translations, only one of which being "landlord." I think yadonushi flows better.

yami - dark. Ryou uses it as a pet name for Bakura here and in Jillian, which is written by Eternal SailorM (whom I call yamimine).

shi no duel - the duel between Jyonouchi and Yuugi during Battle City... or rather Malik-through-Jyonouchi and Yuugi. Any other time I'd be citing this duel as my basis for thinking that Takahashi-sama is a closet yaoi-fanboy, but I digress. This duel and a few others will be mentioned, but I thought I'd make a note of it here.

bonkotsu - mediocre. Kaiba uses this term a lot when talking to and about Jyonouchi. It's also translated as 'loser' occasionally, but mediocre is the more correct translation.

netjret - Egyptian for goddess. This will come up, trust me.

khenmes and khenemset - Egyptian for friend (masc. and fem. forms respectively).

hemet - Egyptian for woman, although the way Malik uses it in chapter eight means 'female slave.'

As more terms appear, this post will be updated and modified.

Updated 4:49 PM

Thursday, December 22, 2005

e i g h t


"Because he tried to rape her at Battle City."

Ryou found himself wondering how the hell Seto could say that so calmly despite the ice in his voice. The paler teen turned his head to look over at Bakura; she was standing so stiffly that one could almost mistake her for a statue. He turned back towards Seto and Katsuya before finding his voice.

"W-we're talking about the same Malik Ishtar, right?" he asked uncertainly. "The kind of spacy Egyptian kid?"

"Try the psychotic bastard bent on world domination and humiliating Atem," the brunet replied, one hand absently combing through Katsuya's hair as he spoke. The girl was much calmer than she'd been earlier in the day, but he could still feel her trembling slightly as he spoke.

Bakura crossed her arms, her eyes flashing in anger. "He's male, yadonushi," she fairly snarled, as if that were the only answer to why or how. "So what happened? And how the hell did you get involved, Seto?"

The brunet shot the woman a glare that didn't have any effect on her other than her eyes narrowing to slits as she waited for him to answer her question. Seto turned from the Bakuras to glance back at Katsuya; she buried her face against his shoulder and merely nodded slightly, indicating that he could tell what he knew. He sighed so quietly that only the blonde could hear it and dropped a kiss to her hair before turning back to the others.

"I don't know the whole story, and I may never know what really happened. So far as I know...."

"Kaiba-san," came Isono's voice over the two-way communicator in Seto's lapel pin.

Seto groaned mentally before answering. "Yes?"

"You asked to be informed when Jyonouchi left the infirmary. He left for the arena not ten minutes ago, down the east corridor."

The brunet couldn't help but nod slightly; that route was the quickest and easiest way to get to the dueling arena from the infirmary, and considering that the doctors still weren't sure why the other's heart had stopped it was best for Jyonouchi not to overexert himself.

"There's a slight problem, however," Isono continued, causing Seto to stop in his tracks.

"What problem?" he snapped. "All finalists are to report to the arena for the duel between Ishtar and Mutou."

"Malik Ishtar was spotted a few moments ago heading down the east corridor as well. The location of his rooms would suggest that the west corridor would be the quickest route for him to take to the arena."

"Damn it," Seto growled, turning quickly towards the wall and punching up the cameras for the east corridor. There were only three cameras on that particular section of the ship: one at the entrance, one at the exit into the arena and one about halfway through. It would take one about fifteen minutes to briskly walk through that corridor, and seven minutes would take one past the central camera. If Ishtar was stalking Jyonouchi, who would be moving at a slower pace, he would be able to catch the other blond just outside the camera's range.

He punched up the screen just in time to see Ishtar catch up with Jyonouchi and drag the weaker boy out of view of the camera. What made Seto's blood run cold was the way the Egyptian glanced up at the camera and sneered at it before dragging his captive out of sight.

"Fuck!" the brunet swore, slamming his hand against the wall. He wasn't one to use that sort of language, especially with an impressionable younger brother following him around most of the time, but right now he wasn't thinking about that. What he was thinking was that, since this was his competition, he was responsible for the safety of everyone on board the ship. And right now, one of his acquaintances was in danger.

"Isono, get everyone to the arena now," he snapped as he turned towards the east corridor and broke into a run. "I'll deal with Ishtar."

"Kaiba-san, I can have security there in--"

"Do it now!" With that he clicked off the communicator and picked up his pace. Within minutes he was heading down the corridor, eyes searching for any sign of the two duelists.

The lighting in this section is horrible, he mused to himself as he approached the central section of the corridor. Ishtar should be right about--

His thoughts came to an abrupt halt as he caught sight of his quarry. In the time it had taken Seto to get from his rooms, the Egyptian had shoved Jyonouchi to the ground and had used his--no, her shirt to bind her wrists above her head. One hand was pressed tight to the girl's throat and, as Seto started moving forward again, the other casually undid the snap on her jeans.

He couldn't hear what the other boy was saying, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. "Ishtar," he snapped, voice completely void of emotion, "report to the arena immediately." He kept himself from lunging forward as the wild-haired blond glanced up, eyes seeming to look through him.

"Have you ever taken a moment to reflect on the psychological aspects of these games of yours?" he asked, voice almost seeming to echo in the quiet of the corridor; Jyonouchi attempted to wrench herself away from Ishtar only to gasp harshly as he tightened his grip on her throat. "How well do you think the Pharaoh would play if one of his friends was dragged, bleeding and completely broken, onto the playing field just before the duel?"

"You have one minute to get to the arena," Seto replied as if the other had never spoken. In all honesty, the other boy's words had chilled him to the core; this version of Malik Ishtar was more than capable of doing what he was alluding to, and he didn't doubt that, had the cameras not been present, he would have done just that with no one the wiser... until he arrived at the arena. "If not, you forfeit the duel to Mutou."

That got the Egyptian's attention, and he snarled at the brunet before turning his attention back to the blonde for a moment. "We will finish this later,
hemet," he hissed just loud enough for Seto to hear before shoving the girl away from him as he stood. Ishtar quickly vanished down the corridor, but Seto watched until he was out of sight to make sure he wasn't coming back anytime soon.

Letting out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding, the teen turned to find that Jyonouchi had managed to free her wrists and was yanking her shirt back down into place. She was slightly turned away from him, and Seto wasn't sure if the slight hitch of her shoulders was a trick of the ill light or if she was fighting back tears. He took a step towards her, only to stop short when she finally looked up, brown eyes blazing with rage and unshed tears.

"Stay the fuck away from me," she growled, and Seto noted that her voice was a few octaves higher than he usually heard it. He shifted back a half-step, giving her time to compose herself as he wondered how much effort she generally put into deepening her voice. The blonde kept her eyes locked on him even as she adjusted her shirt to cover her properly once more, only glancing away when she pressed her hands to the ground before struggling to her feet.

She lost her footing for a moment, and before he could think about what he was doing Seto caught her arm. The girl's body tensed, as if she were preparing for a fight; he fully expected her to wrench away from his grasp and throw a punch. Which was why it came as a surprise when Jyonouchi instead turned and leaned heavily against him; with her height her head fell just against his shoulder, and he felt rather than heard her breathe a ragged sigh.

"Give me a minute, huh?" she asked, voice cracking slightly. Seto wasn't sure why, but he reacted to the question the same way he would have if it had been Mokuba asking; he drew in a breath, let it out then wrapped his arms around her almost protectively.

"Alright," he said quietly.

"After that, she asked me to keep it quiet; something about her father forbidding her from dueling if he knew what had happened. This is the first time I've mentioned anything about that aspect of Battle City to anyone who wasn't involved," Seto concluded, still lightly petting Katsuya's hair. The girl hadn't said anything while the brunet had talked, merely nodding in spots and curling closer when he got to the attack.

"I knew I should have gutted the little bastard when I had the chance," Bakura snarled, slamming her hand against the wall. As she turned back, she realized that Ryou had grabbed his coat and was pulling it on. "Yadonushi...?"

The white-haired boy glanced at his other half, eyes blazing. "School should be over in a half hour," he said evenly. "I'm going to go find him."

The woman frowned. "And you're going without a weapon?" Before the boy could answer, she pulled a switchblade from her pocket and tossed it to him. "Take that; might come in handy."

Ryou caught the knife easily and looked it over. "This is new."

"Yeah. I went shopping yesterday."

"Most people would call that stealing," Seto deadpanned. Katsuya lifted her head and lightly smacked her companion.

"She had a five-finger discount," she said with a tiny shrug. "It's not like I've never done it. Not lately, of course," she added quickly, "but I have in the past."

"We'll discuss this later, yami," Ryou said, shaking his head slightly. "Right now, I need to go have a long talk with Malik." Everyone noticed that lack of an honorific this time, a sure sign that he was not happy with what he'd learned this afternoon.

"Be careful," Bakura said, her concern absent from her expression but crystal clear in her voice and most likely the link she shared with her other. Ryou nodded and offered her a faint smile before heading out the door. Bakura shook her head slightly and turned back to her guests. "What about you two. Sticking around for a while? Because if you're expecting me to feed you I have to inform you that I'm still not quite clear on how the stove works."

Katsuya actually managed a soft laugh. "I'll take care of dinner, Bakura."

((And there's another chapter over and done with. Next chapter we'll go back to where I left off in seven, with the confrontation between Malik and Ryou; after that it'll be back to Katsuya again. And possibly, maybe, her view of what happened in Battle City.

Happy Holidays to everyone who's been reading. Thank you for visiting, and I hope you continue to read.))

Updated 10:25 AM

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

s e v e n


It was all he could do not to follow when the two had left the classroom that morning.

He wasn't blind, and he wasn't stupid; he had seen her freeze, seen the fear and helplessness in her eyes, and hated himself all the more for it. He was actually glad when Ryou said the girl was ill and led her from the room. If they were still on the school grounds he would be surprised.

He wasn't blind to the glares that Kaiba Seto kept turning on him; hell, he welcomed them. It was almost comforting to know someone hated him almost as much as he did. Still, he acted as if he did not notice, instead making nice with the others that he knew in the room. He could not call them his friends, even if that was how they thought of themselves. Someone like him did not deserve friendship, especially not that of those a part of him had once tried to harm, to hurt, to kill.

It was a mixed blessing when Kaiba left; the glares ceased but that left him all the more aware that he did not belong, that the happiness in his face and voice were faked to keep people from knowing the truth.

Malik Ishtar hated himself. He wondered if he'd ever been real at all.

"...if Bakura-kun is still with Jyonouchi-kun?"

The words finally dragged him out of his thoughts, and Malik glanced up to find that the conversation had once again moved on without him. Not that it really mattered to him; he was on the outside, where he belonged.

"Probably," Atem replied to Yuugi's question, picking at his food. "Otherwise he would have been back in class hours ago. Actually, I think I might leave and--"

"No way, Atemu-kun," came the swift interruption. "Bakura-san would eat you alive if you just show up like we did just after you came back. She doesn't need any excuse to do so either."

"What about Kaiba?" Malik found himself asking. "He left before midday. Does that happen often?" In all honesty, he wanted to know that the people who might be best at keeping him away were surrounding the person who needed the most protection from him....

Anzu shrugged before answering: "He leaves class a lot because of Kaiba Corp. I didn't think that he'd leave today, since there's a test this afternoon; he usually stays until he finished his exams then heads out for the day. I guess an emergency must have come up."

The others quickly agreed, and Malik found himself outside the conversation once more as talk turned to the aforementioned exam. It was okay, though, because he had other things on his mind.

An emergency did come up, he thought as he sank back into himself again. I'm back in town.

The day didn't pass nearly fast enough for Malik. From midday on, all he wanted to do was leave and go... just go. He neither knew nor cared where he wanted to go, he just wanted to be away.

Away from the people who claimed him as a friend yet knew nothing about him.

Away from the pharaoh, whom he really couldn't blame for the situation he found himself in now.

Away from anything and everything that might make him think about her, the one who needed to be protected from him, just in case....

Just in case what? In case the darkness returned, in case he lost control of his life again, in case he was infected by the thing that had possessed him for so long?

Yes. No. He didn't know. He just needed to be away.

Malik politely declined Yuugi's invitation to join the group at Burger World after school, opting instead to start walking home alone. Only when he was out of sight of the group did he let his shoulders slump and his head drop forward slightly.

What was Isis thinking, he wondered silently, coming back to Domino? The museum job was just an excuse, I know it. Why does she want me to be here? I should have just stayed back home, said that I'd stay behind with Rishid even if we don't have to guard the tomb anymore.

A hand on his arm drew him abruptly back to the present, and he bit back a gasp as he whirled around to see who stopped him.

Bakura Ryou's eyes were hard. "We need to talk."

((Note: after the way last chapter ended, I needed to show what's going on from the other perspective. Chapter eight will pick up where six left off, somewhat, and lead into the ending of this chapter. Hopefully by chapter nine I'll be alternating between Katsuya and Malik regularly.))

Updated 2:20 PM

Friday, December 02, 2005

s i x


There were times when being the president and CEO of his own corporation came in handy. The moment he looked up to see the new student walk in the room, Seto knew that he'd have to take advantage of his unique situation at some point in the day. That became especially clear when he heard Katsuya damn near hyperventilate in the seat across from his; if Ryou hadn't almost immediately called the girl's 'illness' to the teacher's attention, Seto himself would have noted that she didn't look too good and suggest she go see the nurse.

His concern hadn't faded any, and Ryou's continued absence from the classroom made it increase tenfold. Bakura Ryou was one of the most responsible people Seto had ever met, and if he wasn't here that probably meant that Katsuya was no longer in the building. If there was more than five minutes between classes he'd be tempted to call his office and send Isono over to the Jyonouchis to check up on her; then again, Ryou may well have taken the blonde to his apartment.

He shot another glare at the clock before turning the look to the cause of today's drama.

Damn you, Ishtar, he growled mentally. Why did you have to come back to Domino?

"...and that's when I decided to get Jyonouchi-kun out of there," Ryou concluded, shooting a glance to where the blonde had curled up on one sofa cushion. She'd been unnaturally silent the entire trip to the apartment, and hadn't even spared a 'hello' to Bakura before settling into her current position. "It... it scared me a little, yami. The last time Jyonouchi-kun acted even remotely like this was when we were in Egypt."

Bakura had been frowning slightly and nodding her head as her other half spoke, but on the last part she tore her gaze from the silent girl and turned it to Ryou. "She was like that in Egypt?" she demanded.

Ryou nodded, expression still one of heavy concern. "Yeah," he confirmed. "It was pretty strange. When I woke up after Atem-san defeated Zork, she acted like she usually does. Even on the trip out of the desert she seemed okay, but after we boarded the ship to get to the temple she started acting like... well...." He trailed off as he nodded his head towards Katsuya.

"Yadonushi-dear," the woman said smoothly after a moment, "who was there when you woke up?"

"Well, Atem-san was there in Yuugi-kun, and there was Honda-kun, Kaiba-kun, Jyonouchi-kun and Anzu-chan in the tomb."

"And on the ship?"

Ryou frowned for a moment. "When we first got there we saw Yuugi-kun's grandfather, Mokuba-kun and Otogi-kun," he said, "but she was still okay. Hell, she's the first person who talked to Otogi-kun when we got there."

"Who else?" Bakura was getting a sinking feeling in her stomach, and she didn't like where her thoughts were going.

"Isis-san, Rishid-san and Malik-kun." Ryou's eyes widening slightly. "Yami-mine, you don't think...?" he asked, trailing off without really asking the question on his mind: how much of Battle City is still haunting Jyonouchi-kun?

"Yuki-san?" The Bakuras both turned at the voice to find that while they'd been trying to puzzle out her odd behaviour, Katsuya had picked up the phone and dialed her psychiatrist. She was half-turned away from them, so they couldn't see her face while she spoke: "I'm... I need a favour, Yuki-san. Ca-can you call Kaiba's phone and tell him I need him?" She paused for a moment, and Ryou could just make out the motion of her twirling the phone cord nervously around her index finger. "Yeah, Bakura's place. You can? Thank you. Hm? Yes, I'll be there on time tomorrow. Bye."

"Blondie?" Bakura asked after the girl replaced the phone in the cradle. "You okay?"

Katsuya curled up into herself again, shaking her head slightly. "Ask Kaiba," she murmured quietly.

"Thank whomever the hell is listening today," Bakura said as she opened the door. "If you hadn't gotten here in another ten minutes, I was coming over to drag your scrawny ass out of that school."

"I got away as soon as I could," Seto countered, not bothering to take off his coat as he stalked past the woman. "I have a work dispensation but the principal still gives me grief when I leave school early for emergencies."

"Well, tell him to kiss your ass," Bakura retorted. "You can buy and sell him a few hundred times over, right?" She frowned slightly as Seto ignored her, but she had a feeling his mind was elsewhere and didn't take it too personally.

The tall brunet stalked through the small foyer area and into the Bakuras' living room, eyes sweeping around until they fell on the blonde girl still curled up on the sofa. He didn't say anything at first, merely nodding to Ryou as he stepped past the shorter boy to sit down next to Katsuya. It took her nearly a full minute to realize he was there; when she did, she whimpered quietly in the back of her throat and shifted to lean her full weight against him.

"Are you okay, bonkotsu?" Seto asked in a tone that until now the Bakuras had only ever heard him use with Mokuba; the usual insult almost sounded like an endearment. At the tired nod he received, the teenager sighed and wrapped his arms around the girl. "I'll call your father this afternoon and tell him you're babysitting Mokuba this evening. You can stay as long as you want."

"Kaiba-kun," Ryou asked softly after his friend had fallen silent, "do you know what's going on? I mean, you know why Jyonouchi-kun--"

"Yes." The reply was snapped in a tone colder than any he'd ever used towards Atem in the past. "And it isn't anyone's business but ours."

"Kaiba," Katsuya said softly, resting her hand on his arm, "I told them to ask you. I... I can't talk about it yet."

Seto looked a little surprised and very concerned. "Are you sure?" he asked. Katsuya nodded her head and closed her eyes, letting her head drop against the younger boy's shoulder.

"So, what gives?" Bakura demanded, arms crossed over her chest and eyes burning into the CEO. "Why did Blondie flip out in the classroom this morning after the Desert Rat showed up again?" If looks could kill then the glare he turned towards her would have felled her on the spot, but it was his words that left her feeling frozen:

"Because he tried to rape her at Battle City."

Updated 6:18 PM

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

f i v e


Time passed as it was wont to do, and so far as Katsuya was concerned life seemed to be taking a turn for the better. She was still seeing Yuki-san twice a week and making progress on her trauma, as well as finally letting her friends know that she had always been female. Honda was relieved that he didn't have to cover for her in public anymore; Anzu was mildly annoyed that the blonde had kept it secret for so long before deciding that they needed to 'update' Katsuya's wardrobe (thankfully Bakura had nipped that in the bud by going with and thoroughly embarrassing the brunette in public); Atem took it as an invitation to look at her chest at every given opportunity; and Yuugi treated her as he always had. If anything, his main worry was that Katsuya would suddenly become stingy with her porn collection.

Kaiba had found out about her therapy sometime after her third session, because on the fourth day he was waiting outside Yuki-san's office as she was leaving. The only thing he asked was, "Are you seeing Yuki-san because of that?" On the affirmative answer, he'd merely nodded and offered an open invitation to talk anytime she needed someone who could understand.

Katsuya shook her head to clear her thoughts. It had been about two months now that they'd been back from Egypt, and while her English grades were improving she was still a little rusty at history. Seeing that there were still five minutes left before classes would start for the day, she leaned across the aisle and poked Kaiba with her pencil. "Oi, Kaiba!" she hissed. "You better have finished your half of the assignment or else."

Blue eyes turned a half-amused gaze to her. "Or else?"

She grinned. "Or else I'm inviting myself over to your house and claiming the kitchen as my personal domain."

"Jyonouchi-kun, I don't think that's much of a threat," Ryou told her. In all honesty he was surprised and pleased at the friendship that had developed between the pair. He sometimes wondered about the intensity of it, but figured that Katsuya would have told his yami if there was anything more to it than met the eye.

"Bakura-kun's right," Yuugi agreed, nodding his head. "I'd be tempted not to do my homework if you were threatening to come over and cook. Atemu-kun, eyes up," he added on the end with a hard look at his own yami. Katsuya glanced over her shoulder just in time to catch Atem guiltily turning his gaze towards the wall.

"Well, I suppose that's true," the blonde relented after a moment, pulling her book out and setting it on her desk. "But maybe it can be incentive to study?"

"Only if you want food poisoning," Honda interjected, barely dodging the punch Katsuya threw his way. If she'd been trying he would have had a nice-size bruise on his arm; as it was the girl was more focused on getting the last little bit of her assignment done before the teacher arrived. "Come on, Jyonouchi, you know I'm just messing with you."

"And you wonder why my dad doesn't like you?" she replied with a roll of her eyes. "Anyway, Dad's got the late shift today so I'm by myself for dinner. I can have a few people over, but only if it's a small group. He doesn't want any 'wild parties' while he's out."

"Teacher's coming," Anzu called over her shoulder, scribbling down a quick answer to finish her homework before pushing it aside. Katsuya groaned in frustration and polished off the question she was working on before standing with the rest of the class. She'd finished most of the questions, but had needed to skip over several in order to get the essay portion out of the way. With another couple of minutes she might have completed the assignment; as it was, she had three questions left unanswered.

As one the class bowed to the teacher as she entered before returning to their seats. Most of the students took out their books then looked up to see their teacher frowning slightly at a note she'd been handed prior to entering the room. She glanced up to see all eyes on her and flashed a slight smile.

"There is a new student joining your class today," she said, something in her tone stating that she wasn't entirely pleased; Katsuya sighed to herself as this probably meant that the new student was either someone bumped up from another section or gaijin. When the door opened again she glanced over with the rest of her classmates... then froze.

She could feel her heartbeat quicken; she had to force herself to breathe calmly even though all she really wanted to do was jump up and run the other way. Her hands curled into fists on her lap, fingernails scraping across her slacks, and she felt lightheaded. Her entire focus was on the teenager who'd just walked into the room and how much she wanted to get away before he saw her.

The next thing she was fully aware of was Ryou trying to get her attention: "Jyonouchi-kun, come on. I'll walk with you." She glanced over, finally able to drag her eyes from him, and gave a tiny nod. She wondered absently what her friend had told the teacher to get her out of class, but she was grateful for the reprieve. Katsuya stowed her books in her desk and stood, proud that her legs weren't shaking too badly. She kept her eyes firmly locked on the door, only turning slightly to mumble a quiet 'thank you' to Ryou. Once they were in the hall she relaxed only slightly, heartbeat still racing.

"Jyonouchi-kun?" Ryou asked, moving as if to rest one hand on her arm before thinking better of it. He'd seen Bakura like this once, and not terribly long ago, so he knew it was best to be quiet and non-threatening. For the life of him, though, he couldn't figure out what set the girl into this panic attack. He wondered if Kaiba knew; the brunet had looked just as concerned when Ryou came up with the illness excuse to get Katsuya out of the classroom.

Katsuya turned her gaze to him, eyes unfocused and frightened. She looked absolutely terrified, and Ryou knew that there was no way a few class periods away from the others would diffuse this attack. He sighed softly before heading to the nurse's office, staying a few paces ahead of the girl to give her a relative feeling of safety. He could her hear breathing even out slowly as they reached the office.

Ryou knocked lightly on the door to get the school nurse's attention. "Yoshida-san, Jyonouchi-kun's ill, and I know her father isn't home. Do you think it'd be okay for me to take her to my apartment since my cousin is there?" he said. That was the cover story Bakura had come up with to explain them sharing a surname; she still refused to tell him what her given name was, saying that she'd tell him when she "felt like it." Knowing his yami, that could be years.

The nurse frowned. "Bakura-kun, I appreciate your concern for your friend, but school policy dictates that no student leave the grounds while classes are in session," she said. "I don't think--"

"If you say no, ma'am," Ryou stated in a tone of voice that Katsuya vaguely recognized as Bakura trying not to give into the urge to summon Man-eater Bug and be done with the whole mess, "then with all due respect I'll just call my cousin, then she'll call to 'discuss' this with the principal. After which we may need a new school nurse, and Jyonouchi-kun will still go over to my apartment anyway. But if you really want to go through all that hassle...."

"I don't think that it'll be a problem in this case," the nurse said to finish her earlier thought. The school had already had to deal with Bakura once since she'd returned, and apparently no one wanted to draw her attention again. "I'll notify the principal to let him know that you'll be taking Jyonouchi-kun to your apartment."

"Thank you," Ryou said with a faint smile. "I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Take your time."

Katsuya bit back a small laugh as they left the school much to Ryou's relief; he still didn't think that she should be at school until he could figure out what had set off her panic attack but he wasn't sure if she should be alone with Bakura either. He would decide what to do once he was sure his friend was safely at the apartment.

((Note: Sorry this took so long to get out; I thought there was more trying to come but it decided to stop here. I'll try to get chapter six out quicker than this one made it ^^;))

Updated 10:40 AM



Stand My Ground is a story set in Eternal SailorM's Jillian universe; for better clarity it's advised to read both works in conjunction. Yuugiou and all characters appearing herein are © Takahashi Kazuki.


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