Notes: The story is mine, the characters (except for Kasumi) are not! Enjoy! Oh . . . and this is a Kleenex warning. Definitely. I apologize for removal of the song, but the site's newly stated policy means that I have to.
Ishizu stood at the window of the Ishtar home, feeling uneasy and concerned. She had heard nothing from her younger brother Marik since he had ridden off on his motorcycle three days before. Since he had no reason to be staying away from home and he hadn't mentioned that he would be, she was afraid that something may have happened to him.
"Dear brother," she whispered softly, remembering the time ages before when Marik had ridden off and prepared to organize the Rare Hunters. That was so long ago now . . . Marik had changed so much since then. . . . Ishizu didn't like to remember when her brother had acted cruelly and wickedly. Now it seemed like just a nightmare that was finally over. Marik was good again now—once more the sweet, loving boy Ishizu remembered from many years before.
"Where are you, Marik?" Ishizu looked up at the clouded sky, her expression sad and dejected. "Why have you not come home?"
The doorbell rang, jarring her from her train of thought. Apprehensively she walked over and opened the door slowly.
"Hello?" she said quietly.
She tensed at the unfamiliar, uniformed person standing there. "Yes," she confirmed.
"This is Officer Stanton from the police station. Do you have a brother named Marik?"
"I do," Ishizu replied nervously. "What has happened to him!" She knew Marik wouldn't have done anything to break the law . . . not after everything he'd been through in the past—but that only left a couple of other reasons as to why the policeman was calling on her . . . neither of which were very reassuring. "Where is my brother?" she demanded when the officer was still silent.
Officer Stanton looked down, reluctant to speak. "Ma'am, your brother . . ." He swallowed hard and started over, deciding that he would never get used to bringing this kind of news. "A canoeist found Marik's body washed up on the bank of the river in the canyon. He's dead."
"What!" Rishid came up behind Ishizu, looking pale. "That is not true! Master Marik is not dead!" He clenched his fists, glaring daggers at the policeman.
Sadly Officer Stanton pulled out a small bag containing a wallet and several other personal items, including some of the gold jewelry Marik was known for wearing. "The body is your brother's," he said quietly.
Ishizu took the bag shakily, her blue eyes filling with tears. "No," she whispered. "No, I . . . I cannot believe he is dead. Not unless I see his body for myself." There must be a mistake! she said over and over in her mind as she examined the contents of the bag. There was a mistake! Marik is not dead!
Rishid turned away, his expression a mixture of shock, disbelief, and something else unreadable.
Officer Stanton looked at them both. "Of course you will need to identify the body positively, but . . ." He let the rest of his sentence hang in the air.
Ishizu fingered a gold earring in the bag, her heart sick. Slowly she nodded, knowing that the task must be done. But surely they would discover that . . . that it wasn't Marik. . . . It couldn't be Marik. That was impossible! Ishizu screamed in her mind.
The ride to the police station was mostly silent. Ishizu gripped the bag, her knuckles turning white. Rishid kept turning one of the boy's earrings over and over in his hand, narrowing his eyes as a tear escaped and splashed over the jewelry's gold surface.
"It is not Marik," Ishizu spoke at last, her voice barely above a whisper.
Rishid stared at the earring blankly. "But if it is not, then how did his belongings wind up in the possession of someone else?" he said quietly.
Ishizu knew she was only postponing the inevitable, trying to pretend it wasn't reality . . . but what else could she do? She couldn't accept the news that her brother—her precious, sweet, kind, younger brother—was dead.
The car pulled up at the station and Officer Stanton slowly got out. Ishizu and Rishid followed, both anxious to prove that the body was not Marik's but also dreading any sort of revelation that it truly was.
Ishizu took out the wallet and stared at Marik's ID card inside. She loved her brother so much . . . so very much. . . . He was the light of her life. What would she do if he was . . .
The long hallway stretched out before her and she started down it slowly, part of her wishing it would never come to an end. Memories swirled through her mind.
Ishizu looked up from where she was finishing the dishes. Six-year-old Marik was standing there, looking up at her with his bright, innocent lavender eyes.
"What is it, my brother?" she asked him gently. "Was it another bad dream?"
The little boy nodded shakily, tears filling his eyes. "Sister, it was another of those dreams about darkness and fire and . . . and . . ." He trailed off, sniffling. "You . . . you were hurt badly, Ishizu, and . . . and . . ." He rushed forward and wrapped his arms around her waist. "Rishid went crazy. . . ."
Tenderly Ishizu took her little brother into her arms and held him close. "Do you wish to tell me more about it?" she asked gently.
Marik snuggled close. "There . . . there was a body. . . . Someone had died . . ." He blinked rapidly, trying to remember, and then gasped.
"What is it, Marik?" Ishizu asked, brushing the bangs out of his eyes.
"I . . . I think it was me," Marik whispered.
Ishizu stopped dead in her tracks. Her brother's dream had always haunted her, but she had brushed it away whenever it came to mind. Marik wouldn't die. . . . And yet, he nearly had—more than once.
When she glanced over at Rishid she could see that many of the same thoughts were in his own mind. They both loved Marik more than life itself. What would they do if Marik . . .
No, she couldn't think like that. She wouldn't. Rishid, she could tell, was already nearly at the breaking point. But she refused to believe Marik had passed on.
Officer Stanton stopped in front of the morgue. "Please go in," he said quietly, opening the door.
The pathologist opened one of the freezer trays, revealing a cold, dead body with a sheet pulled over it. Nodding silently, she brought the cloth down to the young man's chest, revealing his face.
Ishizu let out an ear-piercing scream, her hands flying to her mouth. "No! No, it cannot be!" she cried in despair.
The color drained from Rishid's face as he collapsed to his knees next to the slab and gathered the body into his arms. "Master Marik? . . . Wake up . . . please . . . wake up. . . . Please . . ."
Ishizu sank backwards into a chair, a stricken expression adorning her features. "Marik," she whispered shakily. "Dear brother . . ."
Rishid continued to cradle the deceased form, the tears spilling over from his eyes. "He's going to wake up," he said to Ishizu, who could only look away and sob uncontrollably. Her brother was dead. Now she knew it was true. There had been no mistake, no mix-up as she had prayed for. Marik's precious life had been taken away much too soon. He had been far too young to die.
"Master?" she could hear Rishid beg. "Master? . . . Open your eyes. . . . We are here, brother. . . . Please do not leave us. . . . You haven't left us, have you, Master?" Silence followed, and when Ishizu dared to look up, she found that Rishid had laid his head against Marik's and was crying softly.
Ishizu moved forward as if in a trance. She had to hold him one last time . . . had to feel her brother's sweet body in her arms again.
"Marik?" she whispered, even though she knew he couldn't answer. Gently she touched the boy's bare shoulder but then immediately withdrew her hand when she found how cold his flesh was.
She couldn't kid herself any longer. Marik was gone from this world. The proof was right in front of her eyes.
Rishid lifted the body off the slab and turned to carry it out the door. "He's not dead," the Egyptian man insisted. "He will wake up!"
Ishizu shook her head sadly. "No, Rishid," she said quietly as the pathologist came over to take the body back from him. "Marik is gone." Saying the words out loud only brought a new flow of tears and the woman turned away, weeping loudly.
Rishid growled as the pathologist tried to pry the deceased form out of his arms. "Do not take him!" he hissed viciously. "Leave him be!"
"Sir, I can't allow you to remove any bodies from here," the pathologist replied gently.
"He is my brother!" Rishid roared. "He is not another nameless body in your morgue!" His eyes narrowed as the tears fell. "And he is not dead."
"Actually, I'm afraid he is," the pathologist told him softly. "He isn't here. All that's left is his corpse." Frustrated, she tried to pry Rishid's hands away from the body.
Ishizu was barely aware of any of this. "I am so sorry, my brother," she whispered. "So very sorry . . ."
Now the pathologist managed to wrench the corpse away from Rishid and lay it back on the freezer slab. Rishid let out a haunting cry of anguish and sank to his knees, sobbing uncontrollably.
Heartsick as well, Ishizu covered her eyes with her hand and wept as her shoulders shook violently.
Ishizu stared out the window glumly. Marik was truly dead. The police said his body had been brutalized and then thrown into the river, where it had finally washed up on shore hours later.
The Egyptian woman watched as a leaf fell from a tree branch and floated to the ground. Without turning she knew that Rishid was sitting on the couch behind her and she knew that they needed to address what would happen now, even though neither of them wanted to. "Marik deserves a proper funeral," Ishizu said quietly.
"He is not dead," Rishid retorted.
Ishizu looked at him sadly. He had been like this ever since they had returned from the morgue two days earlier. The poor man simply could not accept the fact that his beloved adopted brother was gone.
"Rishid . . ." Ishizu came over and sat next to him. "I will miss him too, but we cannot delude ourselves with wishful thinking. He would want us to get on with our lives."
Rishid was silent for what seemed like ages. Finally he looked up, tears running down his face. "But . . . Master Marik is my life," he whispered.
Ishizu swallowed hard. "I know." Gently she laid her hand over his. "I know he was."
Rishid stood up. "No, he IS!" he insisted. "He is still alive. I have to get him away from the morgue!"
Ishizu sprang to her feet. "Rishid, please . . ." She trailed off, feeling an uncontrollable urge to cry. Throughout the years she had always been the strong one, but there did come a time when even the strongest person could crack—and for Ishizu, that time was now. Marik was dead, Rishid had gone at least partially insane. . . . Ishizu felt so lost, so alone. . . .
"I cannot do this anymore," she sobbed, collapsing back onto the couch and letting loose with all the pent-up tears she had kept inside.
Rishid stood and watched her for a moment before sitting next to her. "Lady Ishizu . . . I am so sorry. . . . But I will get Master Marik back. I will."
Ishizu looked up shakily. "You can't, Rishid!" she screamed. "You cannot bring him back! No one can!" Nerve-shot, the Egyptian woman fled upstairs, just wanting to be alone for a while.
Rishid stayed downstairs, staring out the window. Ishizu was wrong! Master Marik is still alive! he cried out silently. He wouldn't die. He wouldn't; he couldn't!
The man turned away, clenching his fists. He could never forget the horror of holding Marik's cold body in his arms—feeling the clammy skin . . . seeing the ice-blue lips and closed eyes. . . .
In his heart he knew the boy he loved as his brother was dead, but he couldn't accept that.
"No, Master Marik . . . no," he wailed. "Please . . . come back. . . ."
Ishizu opened a photo album and caressed the pictures of her brother. It was the following night and she was trying to prepare for the funeral the next morning—but she knew she could never prepare to lay her precious brother to rest.
She could completely understand how Rishid had gone crazy. If she had to endure much more of this stress, she felt as if she would crack up as well.
Mokuba had been by earlier, but he had been obviously quite uncomfortable and sad. Ishizu had sensed that and hadn't allowed him to stay very long. Poor Mokuba, Ishizu thought sadly. He has lost his best friend.
"Brother," she whispered now, "I am sorry. . . . I cannot always remain strong." The Egyptian woman set the photo album aside, rubbing her forehead in despair.
Downstairs she heard the phone ring and then Rishid answering it. "No!" he screamed. "There was a mistake! Master Marik is not dead!" He slammed the phone down and then stormed out of the house, shutting the door behind him.
Ishizu slumped back into the pillows. Where was Rishid going? He wouldn't really go to the morgue and. . . . Or would he?
Tiredly she started to close her eyes, letting the crystalline drops fall down her cheeks. "Marik . . . if only you could speak to me," she said sadly. "If only I knew that you were happy . . ."
She was certain her brother would have gone to Heaven. After all, he had repented of his wrong-doings and was truly sorry for what he had done in the past. Ishizu saw no reason why the heavens wouldn't have accepted him.
Slowly Ishizu looked over the program for the funeral and then looked away again. "No," she whispered to herself. "I cannot do this . . . and yet, I must." She laid the program on the nightstand and clicked the light off, slowly starting to fall into an unwanted sleep.
Ishizu began to have a vivid dream. In it she found herself in what looked like a torture chamber, with different slabs, instruments, and blood everywhere.
A haunting scream met her ears as a whip connected with someone's flesh off in the near distance. She heard the victim cry out again and again, but never was she able to open her mouth and respond back to them. When she tried to move, she found herself frozen to the spot.
The woman sprang awake, gasping, her blue eyes wide. It was so real . . . so graphic and distinct. . . . "Was it only a dream?" she wondered quietly, glancing about the room and switching the light on. Nothing was out of place, but still Ishizu could not shake the feeling that something was very wrong right at this moment.
"Rishid?" she called uneasily, walking out into the hall. Had he returned from wherever he had gone? She soon found that he hadn't and idly remembered her dream. Did it have any significance? Rishid wasn't perhaps in some sort of danger . . . was he?
No, the voice in her dream hadn't resembled Rishid's at all. In fact, Ishizu realized in horror, it actually had sounded like . . .
She drew her breath in sharply. The police had said that Marik's body had been brutalized. Could . . . could that have been how it had been done—in a torture chamber? Oh! Ishizu couldn't bear to think of it!
Slowly she collapsed into a chair, tears streaming down her face. Why? Why had Marik died such a young, painful death? And who would have been evil enough to . . . to actually . . .
She longed to once again hold her precious brother in her arms, to hear his sweet voice and look into his sparkling lavender eyes—but she knew it wasn't to be. Marik, as the pathologist had said, had passed on. All that was left on earth was the empty shell that had been his body. As much as she couldn't stand to, Ishizu knew that she would have to adjust to life without Marik.
Ishizu fell asleep in the chair that night and endured a fitful slumber, the same dream forcing itself upon her again and again until she awoke with an anguished cry and nearly pitched herself onto the floor.
Gradually her heart regained its normal pace and she looked around, realizing it was morning. Somehow she knew that Rishid had not returned and she began to worry about him, wondering if he was alright.
She gazed up at the owner of the voice as he knelt down in front of her. "Shadi," she acknowledged softly in surprise.
He nodded solemnly, looking at her with concern. "Are you alright?" he asked, laying his hand on her shoulder.
Ishizu thought about trying to pretend she was but then thought better of it. She found herself immensely grateful for her dear friend's presence and allowed the tears to fall from her eyes. "I miss him so terribly," she managed to say, certain that Shadi already knew of what had happened.
Gently Shadi gathered the grieving woman into his arms and let her cry on his shoulder. "I know," he said quietly.
They sat there in silence for some time until at last Ishizu looked up sadly. "I suppose I need to prepare myself for the funeral," she remarked, her eyes showing how much she dreaded it.
"I will come with you," Shadi offered.
Ishizu smiled gratefully just as the phone rang. With a sigh she picked up the receiver and wearily said hello.
Shadi stood beside her as she listened, and then watched as the poor woman went chalk white, clutching the telephone fiercely in her hand.
"I will be there immediately," Ishizu said firmly, dropping the receiver back into its cradle and looking up at Shadi.
"Rishid has spent the night in the morgue," she told him sadly. "He took Marik's body and stayed awake holding him. . . ." She trailed off, putting a hand over her eyes.
Shadi put his arm around her comfortingly. "It must be so hard for the both of you."
Ishizu nodded as she headed for the door, wishing that she would awaken from this nightmare.
When they arrived, Rishid was kneeling on the floor, still holding the corpse and rocking back and forth.
"Rishid?" Ishizu said softly, slowly advancing.
The tortured man never looked up. "I must stay with him," he declared heart-breakingly.
Ishizu knelt down next to him, feeling as if she couldn't deal with this now. "Rishid, he is dead," she said gently.
"No," Rishid retorted. "He is sleeping. He will wake up."
Ishizu looked up in despair.
Shadi stepped forward and stood over Rishid, his face expressionless. "Rishid, you must let go," he said somberly.
Rishid didn't answer, instead continuing to cradle the dead body. At last he loosened his grip and allowed Shadi to take the corpse from him, the tears flowing over his cheeks.
The entire day was one nightmarish blur to Ishizu. The wake before the funeral seemed endless and Rishid kept insisting that Marik was going to revive. When the funeral director closed the lid on the casket, poor Rishid gave an agonized scream and ran out of the room—it only just beginning to sink in that his beloved brother was truly dead.
Shadi stayed close to Ishizu throughout everything, keeping his arm around her and speaking comfortingly when he sensed that she was about to break down. Once everything was over and Ishizu was at last back home, she was immeasurably thankful for her friend's presence during the trying day.
"You should rest," Shadi said kindly. "I will go look for Rishid."
Ishizu could only nod tiredly as she laid down on the couch. Soon she had fallen asleep, and Shadi gently pulled a nearby afghan around her shoulders before vanishing through one of his portals.
Again Ishizu began to have the disturbing dream, only this time it continued further on and revealed that Marik was, indeed, the one being tortured.
"Poor 'Master'," one of his attackers sneered. "No one will come to save you. Your sister and brother both hate you after what you did. They hate you!"
Marik clenched his teeth and winced as he was struck across the back with a blunt object. "You are wrong," he choked out.
"Are we?" A second one raked into Marik's shoulder with a sharp weapon.
Ishizu let out a scream, but whether it was simply in her dream or in the real world as well she did not know. She seethed with rage as she watched, helpless to do anything to rescue Marik from the fiends who were beating him. This was what had been done to her brother before he . . . he . . .
"I have repented of my wrong-doings," Marik said now. "Your actions here are far worse than my own were." He stopped and cried out as a knife cut into his side. "You are all setting yourselves up for life sentences in prison."
"Shut up," another tormentor growled, hitting him over the head with what looked like a crowbar. Marik groaned and went limp, sagging against the chains.
Ishizu cried out again and woke up, breathing heavily. "Marik," she wailed. "Dear brother . . . I am so sorry! . . . So sorry. . . . If only I had known. . . . We could have rescued you. . . ." Her shoulders shook as she sobbed uncontrollably. "Marik," she whispered, slumping back against the couch. Before long she had drifted into slumber once more.
This time she heard her brother call her name.
"Sister? . . . Ishizu?"
Ishizu looked around, trying to see through the thick fog. "Marik?" she called hopefully. "Marik? Where are you?"
The fog lifted slowly, revealing Marik's tortured form chained to the wall. He looked up, smiling weakly. "Sister? . . . It's not too late."
Ishizu stared, not understanding.
"I am not dead, Ishizu," Marik revealed softly. "The body you found is not mine." He heaved a raspy breath. "The Rare Hunters only wanted you and Rishid to think it was. You still have a chance to rescue me." His eyes rolled back into his head and he fell unconscious.
Again Ishizu awoke, her heart pounding. Marik was . . . alive? Was it . . . at all possible! Or . . . or was it only . . . only a dream? It had seemed so real . . .
The Egyptian woman rose up off the couch, hastening to the door. She always had believed in dreams, especially if they were vivid and real such as the ones she had been experiencing lately. Could Marik have been abducted by the ex-Rare Hunters, as he had indicated? What if . . . what if he was being tortured to death but was still alive? Ishizu had to know. She had to!
"Where are you, Marik?" she asked, stepping out onto the porch and looking up at the heavens, praying for guidance. "Dear brother. . . . I must find you!"
A bright light glowed and a mint-haired girl appeared, smiling gently. "I am Kasumi," she announced.
Ishizu looked at her. "Do you know where my brother is?" she pleaded. "Is he still on this earth?"
Kasumi nodded slowly. "He yet lives, Ishizu Ishtar. The dreams you had were more than just dreams." She paused, turning slightly. "I cannot tell you exactly where he is, but know that he is nearby. You will be inspired to know where to go to find him." With that she shimmered and disappeared, leaving a joyous, teary-eyed Ishizu standing on the porch.
"Stay strong, dear brother," she said as she climbed into her car and started the engine. "I am coming to find you."
Ishizu drove throughout the city for hours, her resolve never wavering. If Marik was nearby, he might still be in Domino somewhere—or perhaps he was somewhere in the canyons, which was where Ishizu felt inspired to go.
She also wondered where Rishid was and if Shadi had been able to find him. Poor Rishid. . . . Ishizu prayed that he would be able to find out that Marik was still alive.
Alive. . . . Ishizu could barely believe it. Marik had been dead to them for days now—but suddenly he was alive again! He was alive! She only prayed that she could get to him before he was tortured even worse.
A soft rain began to fall as Ishizu drove among the trees and brush, but amid the drops she noticed a cabin mostly hidden from view a short distance ahead. Almost completely silent, she parked the car and stepped out, moving through the bushes until she had arrived at the front of the bungalow. The door was swinging open in the wind and the porch was breaking down with age. Bloodstains covered the steps and door and Ishizu caught her breath sharply. Was that . . . Marik's blood? She didn't wait to ponder on that and instead burst through the door frantically. "Marik!" she screamed, glancing around the apparently empty room.
A low moan from the corner met her ears and she hastened over, her eyes bright and hopeful. A prone body was laying partially under a tarp, shuddering and quaking.
Quickly Ishizu dropped to her knees, touching the bare, bleeding shoulder. "Brother?" she whispered tenderly. The boy didn't answer, but continued to shiver from the cold and the pain.
Ishizu saw the long blonde hair and golden earrings and gently pulled the young man into her arms, tears filling her eyes. "Marik!" she cried. "Oh Marik! Dear brother! It is really you!"
Marik, even though he was only half-conscious and at least somewhat delirious, shakily reached an arm up to hug his older sister. "Ishizu," he whispered. "You . . . you came. . . . You . . . you do not . . . hate me. . . ."
Ishizu gasped, remembering the tormentors' evil words from her dream. What had they done to him! "Marik!" she cried. "I love you, brother! I love you more than life itself!" She sobbed, holding him close to her heart. "When I . . . when I thought you were dead . . . I . . . I didn't know how I would go on! . . ."
Marik shuddered and snuggled closer, burying his face into Ishizu's shoulder. "I . . . I'm sorry. . . . They . . . they took my identification . . . they . . . they found someone who looked like me . . . and . . . and . . ."
Ishizu continued to hold him close, trying desperately to warm his shivering body. Angry wounds criss-crossed over his bare chest, sides, and arms, and a few were also on his back, surrounding the tattoos their father had forced him to have carved into his flesh. "I am the sorry one, Marik," she whispered. "I am so sorry. . . ."
Marik coughed painfully and clung to her for dear life. "They . . . they left me here to . . . to die," he explained. "I was able to . . . to fight them for a while, when they first took me prisoner, but then . . ." He shuddered. "They brought in reinforcements. . . ."
Ishizu's heart caught in her throat. Those barbarians! "You will not die, dear brother," she vowed soothingly. "You have been lost to me for days. I shall not lose you again!"
Marik smiled weakly, looking at her with half-open eyes and seeming to be mostly out of any delirium he had been in. "Where . . . where is Rishid?" he asked now.
Ishizu stroked his hair, unsure of what to say. Where was Rishid?
Without warning a portal opened in the wall and Shadi and Rishid both emerged from it. "Rishid is here," Shadi said, smiling softly. Rishid had had a similar vision to the one Ishizu had had earlier and that was when Shadi had realized that Marik was still among the living.
Rishid stared at the scene before him in wonder and disbelief, his golden eyes lighting up as he ran forward to kneel beside them. "Master!" he cried joyfully, reaching out to take Marik from Ishizu. He looked at the boy worriedly, seeing the many wounds covering his body.
Weakly Marik embraced his adopted brother, allowing himself to go limp in Rishid's arms. "It's alright . . . my brother . . . I will be fine now," he assured the man as his eyes started to wearily close.
Rishid held him firmly, not wanting to let go. Tears of joy fell from his eyes as he whispered over and over, "You are alive! You are truly alive!"
Ishizu moved forward and embraced them both, sending fervent, heart-felt prayers of gratitude up to the heavens. Now they were all reunited once more.
Shadi laid a hand on her shoulder. "Truly, today has been a day of miracles," he said quietly.
Ishizu, Rishid, and Marik couldn't help but agree.
Unseen to them was Kasumi, standing to the side with a tall, gentle boy who resembled Marik strikingly except for his emerald green eyes. He had been a lonely, homeless, orphan boy who had died from the cold, harsh weather several days before. When the Rare Hunters had found his body shortly after that and decided to use it as part of their diabolical scheme, he had stayed on earth to help Kasumi rectify the situation.
Now he smiled, satisfied, and turned to go. "I'm so glad he's been reunited with his family," he said softly.
Kasumi nodded. "And now, you will be reunited with yours," she said kindly, leading him into the light to meet the loving parents he only barely remembered.