If I Died Tomorrow

By Lucky_Ladybug

Notes: XD. The usual ones—the characters ain't mine, the story is, and this isn't yaoi. **hands out Kleenex.**

The winter wind whips against me as I struggle onward over the mountain, fighting through the icy blizzard to find the one I love—my precious brother, the one I treasure above all others. He is here, somewhere in the cold, and I must bring him home.

I round a corner, screaming his name. Red snow greets me and I freeze in horror at the sight. Blood. Someone was wounded nearby. Instinctively I know it was he.

"MARIK!!!" I scream, running forward past pines and evergreens. "MARIK!!!! WHERE ARE YOU??!!" I have forgotten to call him "master." Always I call him that. It is a lasting effect from what happened to us back in Egypt, when Marik's father treated me wickedly. I grew to feel unworthy to call Marik and Ishizu my siblings. And yet Marik has told me there is no need for any fancy title. We do love each other like brothers, though we are not biologically related. But still it is hard to break the habit of calling him "master."

Now I stop once I've rounded the bend. I have found him. But not in the way I had longed for. His lifeless body is laying in the snow, his blood turning the icy whiteness surrounding him to a crimson red. He is still, remaining on his side, and his cold form is covered with a dusting of snow. The dark lashes are closed, the snowflakes sticking to them. His poor hands are spread out limply, as if he had tried to grab onto the snow from agony but couldn't. He is a heartbreaking sight.

"Marik!" I scream, kneeling next to him and touching his shoulder. The boy doesn't move at all, and I doubt that he has even heard me.

"Oh Marik . . . what have they done to you?" I cry, gently taking his mangled, tortured, cold form into my arms. His head falls back limply, sending his long, blonde hair brushing against my hand. His chest does not rise and fall as it should, but instead is deathly still as blood pours from one of many vicious wounds inflicted in his flesh. He is not breathing, nor is his heart still beating. I have come too late. My brother is dead.

But this can't be real! I protest, unwilling to believe what my eyes are telling me. Master Marik cannot be dead! I was supposed to protect him, to keep him safe! I have always vowed to! Always in the past I have tried, though often I have failed. But it has always been my deepest, sincerest promise. Marik deserves happiness. He deserves it so much and yet he has had so little of it! I tried to give him what happiness I could. I love him with every part of my heart and soul. I would do anything for him. Oh, if only I could take his place now and let him live!

"Marik, wake up!" I plead, but it is no use. I feel his blood trickle over my fingers and know that he is gone. He has left this world and passed on, hopefully to someplace where he will be happy. Someplace where there is no pain or anguish. Someplace more fitting for one as dear as he.

"Please forgive me, Master," I say softly, and I know that wherever he is now, he has. "I could not get here in time. I tried my best, but it . . . it wasn't good enough."

The words echo around me loudly. It wasn't good enough. It wasn't good enough. You've never been good enough. You couldn't protect Marik. And it's true. I know it's true. I couldn't save him. I could never save him from anything.

Marik had called me earlier to say that he was certain someone was after him when our telephone connection had been abruptly broken off. I had known then that something had to be wrong. But who would want to kill my brother?! He repented of his wrong-doings many ages ago; he surely couldn't have any new enemies now!

As soon as our conversation had been brought to a halt, I had immediately gone out to look for Marik, but instead I had encountered a group of the treacherous snakes who wanted him dead. By the time I had managed to defeat them and get to where my brother had said he was, I had found him like this—broken, tormented, beaten . . .


I shield his lifeless body from the newly falling snow, pressing him gently against my chest. Marik never had liked the snow, I remember. He had always found it too cold after having spent most of his young life in the sweltering heat of Egypt.

I chuckle as I remember the first time he encountered snow. He had looked so startled when the snowflakes fell on his nose. Of course he had heard of snow by that time, but actually encountering it had been such a shock. He hadn't imagined it was anything like what it was. If only he would look up now with shock and awe. . . . But he won't.

I have known him literally since the day he was born, and I have always strived to protect him from any dangers that would befall him. But I could not stop his evil Yami from taking control and wreaking havoc in the past, and now I could not save my brother from this horrible death. Perhaps, I decide, Marik would have been better without me. If someone else had been here . . . they could have saved him. I believe this with all my heart.

I hold him closer to me, seeing the pained expression on his face. If only I could take the pain away. . . . If only I could heal his poor body and give him his life back. . . . So many "if onlys" . . .

Gently I brush the snowflakes off Marik's eyelashes. Behind the closed lids his lavender eyes are full of sadness, I am certain. Most of his life he has been so sad. But that was a side to my brother that most people never knew existed. He has often felt lonely and sad—even during the time when he had formed the Rare Hunters—but he had always made attempts to hide his feelings—and at that, he usually succeeded. Sometimes, however, I would find him staring out the window, a lost look in his lavender eyes, and I would always ask him what was wrong. He would usually reply that nothing was, that he was only contemplating—but other times he would reveal to me his deepest concerns and fears.

"Rishid," he said recently in answer to one of my queries, "if I were to die tomorrow, would anyone cry for me?" That had been shortly after we had moved into our home in Domino City. While Marik had been forgiven for Battle City, no one actually trusted him, save for Ishizu and I. The boy didn't expect anyone to accept him after what had happened, but still he felt pained. He longed so badly to have a normal life.

I was taken aback by the abrupt question and at first wasn't quite able to find the words to reply. I gazed at Marik and saw the lost little boy I had known had never left, no matter how angry Marik had gotten in the past. Instead of sixteen, now he looked ten years younger. All he wanted was to be loved.

"Does my life count for anything?" he went on, turning to stare out the window once more. "It seems that I have done nothing but cause heartache and pain for others. Now that I look back on the events of Battle City, I cannot believe I was ever so cruel and heartless." He looked down. "I hurt all those whom I truly hold dear." I could tell that tears were in his eyes but he didn't want to show them. He was honestly sorry for all he had done. And he wondered if he should never have been born.

I came closer, watching him in the shadows of the falling evening. "But Master, that is all behind you now," I protested. "You have repented and changed since then." I paused. "And even throughout the time when you were doing treacherous things, there were still those who loved you unconditionally.

"Yes, Master," I said then, struggling to keep the tears out of my own eyes, "if you were to die, there would be many who would mourn and weep for you, including I." I moved closer, wanting to pull him close as I had done when he was younger. "You were supposed to have been born, Master. God doesn't make mistakes, though we often do. And you are a precious treasure to both Lady Ishizu and I. We never want to lose you. Never!!"

Marik turned to face me then, his lavender eyes glistening. "Oh Rishid," he said softly, "you are my dearest friend and brother." He smiled sincerely. "I do not think any biological brother could be as close to me as you are. You have always stood by me, no matter what terrible things I may have been doing and no matter how little I showed appreciation for your loyalty. You . . ." Then he was the one to pause, and he heaved a sad sigh. "You are the only one other than Ishizu who truly understands me," he finished at last. "I trust you with my life, Rishid, and I know you will not let me down." And then he had been the one to embrace me, sobbing silently into my chest. I held him close, realizing that my brother had been returned to me. The precious boy who had been buried under confusion and rage had broken free at last.

And now he is dead.

These words, these memories, are coming back to me now, now as I cradle Marik's poor, abused body in my arms. I have failed him. I could not save him from the wrath of his enemies. I have shattered the trust Marik had in me.

"Master Marik . . . I am so sorry," I say quietly as the tears begin to fall, knowing that he will never speak to me again. "So very sorry. . . ." And I say what I haven't said aloud in what seems ages. "My brother . . . my precious brother. . . ."

"Please . . . please don't be sorry, Rishid."

The voice is so soft and hushed that at first I can't believe I am truly hearing it. It is impossible! But slowly I look down at the battered body of my brother. I have to see . . . I have to know . . .

"It . . . it wasn't . . . your fault." Marik's lavender eyes have opened half-way and he tries to smile gently in spite of the immense pain he is going through. I nearly drop him from shock. It is a miracle! He has returned to life! My brother is alive! He is alive!!

At first I am too stunned to do anything but stare speechlessly at him. He had been dead before, but now somehow, miraculously, he has revived!

"Oh Master!" I cry, embracing him warmly.

Marik returns the embrace, though he is understandably quite weak and frail after what he has gone through. "Rishid," he manages to say, "you have not failed me. You have always been there for me. You could not have gotten here any sooner than you did." He draws a painful breath. "I . . . I would never blame you for what has happened to me," he says as his blood drips from his many wounds.

Yes, yes, I know this. But still . . .

"Master, I . . . I thought you had passed away," I whisper hoarsely. "If . . . if I had only found you sooner . . ."

"Then they would have injured you as well," Marik replies, weakly shaking his head. "Rishid, not even you could have stopped them from doing this. Even if . . . if I had died, it would not be your fault. I heard your voice, Rishid . . . and I felt your touch. I was fading . . . I was almost gone . . . but then you came . . . and I remembered you and Ishizu. I knew I couldn't die. You saved me, Rishid!" He looks at me earnestly and I gaze back in shock. I saved my brother? He is alive because I came?

His voice breaks into my thoughts once again. "You have always protected me as best as you were able, and you have always been my friend and brother." Marik leans back weakly, his eyes starting to close once more. "What more could I ask?"

I swallow hard, knowing that he needs to rest now and that I must take him someplace where I can tend to his wounds. And perhaps . . . perhaps he is right, I think to myself. Perhaps I did all I could. Perhaps my presence called him back from the jaws of death. He is still alive . . . that is the main thing. I am giving thanks for his precious life every time I hear him breathe. I still have him with me. "Master, you are gravely injured," I say quietly. "But sleep peacefully now and everything will be alright . . . my brother," I add.

Master Marik smiles. "Yes," he agrees, "yes, brother, it will be."

He pauses for a moment, gathering his thoughts about him as he shivers from the cold. "Rishid . . . please . . . call me your brother more often. After all . . ." His voice cracks a bit. ". . . That's what we are." He smiles shakily, tears still in his eyes. "Brothers."

"Yes," I agree, feeling the crystalline drops come to my eyes again. "We are brothers."

With that Marik slips into unconsciousness, shivering vaguely as a snowflake lands squarely on his forehead. I brush it away gently and then stand up with the boy held firmly in my arms. Master Marik never has liked the snow.