Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh! DM
Reasoning: Tradefic for Ria–Pia.
Handicap/Requirement: Fic needs to start with the line: 'He had to say goodbye'. And an extra requirement, because this one was just way too good to pass up – after the initial sentence, the paragraphs get shorter and shorter, until there's just one word left.
Ships: None. Thiefshipping and Angstshipping may be implied, but only if you're into those ships; romance is not mentioned anywhere.
Length: 1250 words. Another thing – the number before each paragraph is actually a measurement of how many words are in that paragraph.
Warnings: None, aside from maybe the line breaks...
He had to say goodbye–
–and that desire wasn't just a want, it was a need; and slowly destroying Marik Ishtar from the inside out. He had to say goodbye, cry a bit, then say goodbye again; he'd been practicing his misty-eyed looks alone in front of the mirror, and had them almost nailed. Indeed, the Egyptian had been mulling over that final goodbye, for some time now; he had decided that it was going to be his best, as befitted his best friend. Oh, Marik could see it all now, as he sauntered down from the bell tower, looking for his best friend; he would give Bakura a mournful stare when he sat in class, then holler "Bakura, we need to talk" in the corridor, and then – ah, yes, this would be the finest moment – he would say goodbye, and renounce Bakura as a best friend. Then he could go and save the world–
–and it was so sad that Bakura was already gone, so Marik couldn't talk to him. He wasn't really buried (because he'd already been buried), but he was still the spiritual equivalent of six feet under; and this was, in short, making saying goodbye awfully hard. Marik had tried and tried to say goodbye, he really had, but it was as though he was never heard - of course, he wasn't being heard, but it wasn't like Marik knew that. Bakura was dead, Marik knew that much, because everyone else said he was dead; but the Egyptian assumed that the ancient spirit wasn't dead. If you followed the tangled logic, it was possible to see that Bakura, simply put, could not be dead, not even when everyone else said that he was dead; and so to Marik, he wasn't dead–
–and Marik wanted to say goodbye, because it was to be his last goodbye; he had already dismissed those who once called the Egyptian 'friend'. They couldn't see him now, couldn't hear him; because he was invisible, that was it. Of course, he was simply nothing to the other students, perhaps even less than nothing, and so they ignored the Egyptian's pleas for attention – and so Marik's pride took the fact that he was often ignored, and twisted it into an absolute legend. He was special, even powerful, because he was invisible – a mighty superpower indeed. He could walk down a crowded corridor unseen and unnoticed; he could sit alone at a desk and no–one blinked twice. It was Bakura's blessing, the silent spirit had transferred his ka's power–
–and he knew it was all a lie, but the Egyptian didn't care; because it was a cool origin story. Marik had never actually seen the ka who had blessed him, but the invisibility power of Bakura's Diabound was surely a power used to do evil, back then, back now, though no longer – because Marik Ishtar, bled of hate and refilled with only the sweetest intentions, was going to be a superhero; he was going to be a regular Superman. Yes, once he'd sent away all his friends, and in doing so had become truly invisible, he was going to leave Domino, and instead set up invisible headquarters, and drive an invisible car about, and save the world from something–
–and just as all superheros have a nemesis, so Marik invented his; forcing the one person who still spoke to Marik into that role, in his efforts to push Ryou Bakura away. You see, being a loner himself, the pale teen would sometimes stop and talk to the Egyptian, often when no–one else did; he would gaze into Marik's eyes and tell him he wasn't alone, that they had something in common. Marik disliked it, because Ryou knew; seeing right through the invisibility, making himself dangerous. The pale teen wasn't on the Egyptian's side; because he taunted Marik, gently telling him that Bakura was dead, that Marik wasn't invisible–
–and then Marik couldn't take it, because he had to say goodbye to Bakura, he had to be invisible. He was taken away by men in coats, whom Ryou had sent, because they saw and heard him, avoiding his slow punches easily. Ryou was there – not in the melee in the school corridor, but standing behind his hired thugs with a look that would have been regretful, if only the Egyptian hadn't known. Marik soon decided that Ryou had given the men invisible goggles, which were equipped with amazing technologies; these were what could see him, see through his illusion–
–and Marik woke up with a pounding headache, shackled to the bed with a terrible numbness and a plaster cast on his arm; though this was absolutely nothing compared to the torture Ryou Bakura managed to inflict. The pale teen sat by his bedside, telling him that Marik wasn't invisible and that Marik never would be invisible, because Ryou cared (enough to know all Marik's secrets). He couldn't hide from Ryou, because Ryou could see him; couldn't kill Ryou, because he had pledged to goodness, until he snapped and lunged–
–and now Ryou was lying prone, Marik standing over him, screaming that he was invisible, so no–one could possibly have seen Marik thump him (it was true, he was attacked from behind). There was blood on the floor, Ryou hardly fought back – Bakura was alive, Marik screamed, he was invisible because of Bakura, and speaking of dead things – Ryou had killed Marik's parents, all superheroes have dead parents. Marik's were dead already, but then Ryou had murdered them again–
–and the dart thudded into his leg, he was gone like Bakura was gone – only Marik was then reborn in numbing shackles, whereas Bakura was – no, alive!, he howled, searching for some escape from his nemesis; wanting only to say goodbye to Bakura, save the day (or night), defeat evil. He pointedly ignored the looks of worry Ryou gave him, because they were fake, like crocodile tears; not worth noticing–
–and Marik was a superhero, gifted and cursed, invisible, unable to show anyone his powers, isolated and all alone, doing good without people knowing (unless they had his nemesis's goggles). But he had another talent now; Marik could see Ryou's thoughts and machinations, which were evil despite his honeyed words. The pale teen lied; Bakura was not dead, Marik invisible–
–and Ryou could preach and yell all he liked, Marik wasn't listening; he didn't care for bad guys. Ryou was like Marik, he'd had the Ring – but now Marik had it, it had come to him. It glittered in his hands, yet it didn't – 'cos like Bakura, the Ring was–
–and he had to say goodbye to Bakura, but he still couldn't quite do it. Bakura was good company, better than the evil overlord holding him prisoner, the hospital walls killing him of boredom, everything was trying to kill him–
–and Marik lashed out again, and when subdued, he gazed into Ryou's eyes, and told his nemesis everything he knew about the pale teen, everything Bakura told him and more–
–and Ryou left, the day was saved. Marik was left to drift in peaceful insanity, until Ryou came back, comforting–
–and Marik wished Ryou would die, uppercut making wishes reality–
–and Ryou pleaded, Marik didn't care – wouldn't. He lunged–
–"Marik, I have to say something to you."
–and righteous superheroes let their nemeses speak–
–"I... I have to say goodbye"–
–and Marik charged, glass shards–
–and heroic suicide, they–
fell, screaming goodbyes