Notes: The characters aren't mine and the story is! This is a mini-sequel to Angel's Tears, so you may wanna read that first if you haven't checked it out already. Oh! And this isn't yaoi XD Marik and Rishid are adopted brothers, for Heaven's sake! This is full of fluffy sibling cuteness! I apologize for removal of the song, but the site's newly stated policy means that I have to.
Marik rolled over in his bed and then moaned softly as he landed on his injured shoulder. Blasted Rare Hunters. . . . This wasn't the first time they had done something treacherous to their former master, but they had definitely done the most abominable thing possible. Oh, not torturing him—he could deal with that. But they had gone and found a dead body that strikingly resembled Marik himself and then had set things up to make certain that it would be found by the police and identified as Marik—simply so that they could torment the boy's beloved siblings.
Slowly Marik raised himself up, glancing around the darkened room and shivering slightly as he pulled the quilt up over his bare chest. Hardly ever did he wear a shirt to bed. He could hear light breathing and knew that both Rishid and Ishizu were still there. Marik had been dead to them for days, and now that they finally knew he was still alive, they didn't want to be apart from him on the first night he was back. The boy had been injured seriously by his old mind slaves and then left for dead. It had only been through a miracle that Ishizu and then Shadi and Rishid had found him.
Ishizu . . .
Marik turned to look at his sister as she stirred slightly in the chair and mumbled something low in Egyptian. He couldn't imagine anyone wanting to purposely cause pain and agony for Ishizu. She was the sweetest, dearest person he knew.
Ishizu stirred again and then opened her eyes, smiling as she focused her vision on her precious brother. "Hello, Marik," she said in her soft, almost musical voice.
Marik smiled as well, looking into her bright blue eyes. It was so good to see her again, and Rishid too, after everything he'd been through. . . .
He shuddered as ghastly memories returned to haunt him again, as they had moments earlier in his dreams.
"Oh Master," the Rare Hunter's cruel voice had said, "not to worry about your brother and sister. They'll find out what happened to you." He had sneered wickedly, throwing a dead body into Marik's line of vision. "Or at least, what we want them to think happened!"
The injured boy had gasped, straining hard against the chains binding him to the wall. The corpse looked almost identical to himself!
"Good likeness, isn't he?" The Rare Hunter had hauled the body up again, letting Marik have a better look. "Found him frozen to death in the bad part of town. Once we make a few simple . . . adjustments, no one will know the difference between the two of you!"
"What!" Marik had again struggled to free himself, his eyes pooling with rage. "I can't believe this! My sister and brother will be devastated!" In spite of the pain from the open wounds all over his body, the boy refused to lay dormant and submissive. "But then . . . that's what you want, isn't it? To torment innocent people simply because they are associated with me!"
"You're thinking too small, Master," the Rare Hunter had replied, spitting out the word as if it tasted bad. "I know that the knowledge that your beloved siblings think you're among the deceased will make you quite devastated yourself!" He had grinned vilely. "What better way to get at you than to get at your loved ones?" Slowly he had turned, revealing a sharp weapon in his hand. "But if you think that's all we're going to do, you've got another thing coming."
Marik winced now, remembering the pain of the blows . . . the stabbings. . . . But even all that had been no match for the emotional torment they had put him through.
"Remember Battle City, Master?" The man had given him a maniacal look. "Your brother and sister do. They've never forgiven you for what you did. They both despise you with every fiber of their beings!"
"No!" Marik had screamed. "That's not true! It's not!"
"Isn't it? You know you broke your sister's heart when you left home to seek your revenge on the Pharaoh. And oh, your poor brother . . . you didn't treat him well, now, did you? Remember how you viciously slapped him when he told you that one of your plans had failed? Do you remember that, Master? Do you remember how he looked at you? His wounded eyes? Do you remember!" The weapons had slammed into his body violently, but Marik had barely paid them any heed, weeping then as he had remembered. Rishid, Ishizu . . . he had hurt them both so much! How could they ever forgive what he had done to them both!
Ishizu's welcome voice brought him back to the present.
"Sister?" Marik looked up at her sadly.
Ishizu gently brushed his long bangs aside, guessing what was on his mind. Her heart caught in her throat as she remembered the state Marik had been in when she had found him earlier that day. He had been laying under a tarp in an abandoned cabin, half-dead—mostly because of the emotional trauma he'd undergone. The Rare Hunters had shown him no mercy.
"The past is past, dear brother," she whispered. "The Marik of Battle City is no more. You are the Marik I have loved always, even then. I always knew you would return to me."
Marik gazed at his older sister in wonder. He knew she held no ill feelings for him at all, and neither did Rishid. They both loved him unconditionally.
Ishizu moved over to sit on the edge of the bed and Marik scrambled into her arms, feeling calm and at peace. Smiling, his sister gently rubbed his uninjured shoulder, accidentally brushing her hand against the carvings in his back in the process.
Marik barely noticed. He laid his head on Ishizu's shoulder and snuggled close as more painful flashes of memory came to mind.
The days had melted into one long, endless session of pain and torment. Marik had no longer been aware of what time it was or whether he even still existed in time. Was he dead? he had thought to himself. Perhaps. At least, to Ishizu and Rishid he was dead, thanks to the Rare Hunters.
Slowly he had felt the chains around his wrists and ankles being loosened and he had then crumpled to the floor, weakened.
"You're no good to anyone, especially not anymore," the Rare Hunter had hissed. "You're worthless." Roughly he had given the boy a kick in the ribs, but again, Marik had barely noticed. The emotional turmoil he had been going through occupied all his thoughts, all his dreams. . . . Would he ever be found? Would it matter if he was?
After spreading a tarp partially over his half-dead body, the Rare Hunters had turned to leave.
"He only has a few hours left, if that. And no one will find him."
The last Rare Hunter out the door had turned back with a sneer. "Farewell, Master," he had purred.
Marik still didn't know how long he had been laying there. It could have been minutes, hours, even days . . . he only knew that his beloved sister had came to rescue him, to bring him out from his agony.
Her voice . . . her soft touch . . . it had been like the sweetest angel from Heaven had come to offer him comfort. That's what Ishizu was to him—an angel. His angel. He loved his sister so much. . . .
She had consoled him, reassured him that she could never hate him, that she loved him more than life itself. Under her gentle care, the evil words of the Rare Hunters slowly had begun to fade away into nothingness, leaving Marik free again.
And then Rishid had came as well. Then Marik had completely relaxed, knowing that his family was whole once more. He had his brother and sister with him again. Those he loved didn't hate him, didn't hold anything against him. They had always been there for him and he knew they always would be.
Back in the present, Marik again looked up at his sister. "Ishizu?"
"Yes?" she said softly.
Marik paused, wondering how exactly to phrase what he wanted to say. "How . . . how long was I considered dead?" he asked.
Ishizu caught her breath sharply. "Several days," she whispered. "It was terrible." She shook her head, remembering how Rishid had gone practically insane with grief and how she had struggled to stay strong amid the immense despair she had felt.
Marik looked down. "I am so sorry," he said, feeling responsible.
Ishizu held him close. "You could not have prevented it, dear brother," she told him firmly. "I am just relieved that it truly was not you."
"I wonder who it really was," Marik mused sadly. "I hope it wasn't someone who had a family that will miss him . . ."
Ishizu had wondered that herself, but she had a quiet, peaceful feeling that everything was alright and that whoever it had been was happy now.
Marik leaned back into the pillows, feeling sleepy again. "Sister? . . . How did you know to come find me?" he wanted to know. "I . . . I was dead to you. . . . I . . . I never thought anyone would find me there before . . ." He trailed off.
Ishizu smiled softly. "Our bond transcends anything in this world, Marik, just as you have told little Mokuba in the past." She paused. "I had a vision and saw you alive. You told me that there was still time to rescue you. And then I knew it was true."
"Where was Rishid?" Marik asked softly.
Ishizu shook her head and gently stroked the boy's long blonde hair. "I don't know," she admitted. "Shadi went to look for him. I do know that he had a vision as well. When he knew you were yet alive, he was overjoyed, as was I."
Rishid stirred a bit now and Marik glanced over at him wonderingly. Where would I be without Rishid and Ishizu? the boy said to himself. They have been there for me through everything.
The man suddenly started awake and abruptly pitched forward from the chair nearly onto the floor. "Rishid!" Marik exclaimed then, and Rishid managed to catch himself in time.
Now he turned to gaze at the adopted brother he loved so much. "You are alive!" he whispered in awe. "You are truly alive!"
Marik smiled and cocked his head to the side, a bit confused.
Rishid looked down. "I was having a dream . . . a nightmare," the man said solemnly. "I was . . . remembering when the police officer came . . . when I . . . when I saw . . . the body . . ."
Marik gasped. "Rishid . . . my brother . . . I am so sorry!" he cried. "So sorry . . ." Quickly he gave Rishid a tight embrace and his brother clung to him, not wanting to let go.
"I couldn't believe you were actually gone," Rishid whispered.
Ishizu watched them and slowly smiled to herself. Rishid had always been so devoted to his adopted brother. She was certain that if Marik truly had been dead, Rishid never would have recovered from the shock. It was true, what he had said several days before—Marik was his life.
And he was hers, as well. Marik was the light of her existence. She loved her younger brother so very dearly. . . .
Marik smiled sleepily and again leaned back into the pillows, the disturbing memories no longer plaguing his heart and soul.
Gently Ishizu pulled the quilt up around his shoulders. "Rest now, Marik," she said softly. "You are weary from your experience."
Marik would have protested, but he felt his eyes closing all by themselves. Slowly he reached out and took Ishizu's and Rishid's hands. "I love you both," he declared quietly with a smile.
Ishizu leaned down and kissed his cheek. "We know," she whispered. "And we love you as well, dear brother."
Before long Marik had slipped peacefully into a deep slumber. The other two Ishtar siblings watched him for a long while, then turned to exchange looks.
"It is amazing how much he has improved since we found him," Rishid remarked, remembering how Marik had looked half-dead only hours earlier. "Now he is very alert and even able to carry on a conversation."
Ishizu smiled. "Marik has a strong spirit. That is what the ex-Rare Hunters do not understand. They will never quench that spirit, no matter how hard they try."
Yes, Marik said silently, but I am strong because of you and Rishid. You are my guardian angels.