Notes: Another angsty, fluffy idea I had to write down. The characters aren't mine and the story is! Sibling cuteness rules the world! Oh! And a little part of this story was taken from a role-play with Adelianna One more thing: I'm going to say that this story takes place shortly after Stolen Memories. I apologize for removal of the song, but the site's newly stated policy means that I have to.
Marik tossed and turned about in his bed, unable to relax and sleep peacefully. The nightmares had been coming every night, with more intensity every time. He clutched at his pillow in despair and screamed in anguish, tears streaming down his cheeks.
"Rishid! Rishid, no! Please . . . no!"
The poor boy fell out of bed with a loud thump, but still he did not awaken from his agony. "RISHID!" He shook the pillow frantically and then collapsed across it, sobs wracking his body.
All the commotion roused Rishid, who was sleeping in the next room over. Blinking, the man slowly climbed out of bed and tried to register what was going on. As Marik's agonized screams pierced through the wall—and through Rishid's heart—he immediately opened the door and ran into his younger brother's room.
"Marik! Brother, it's alright!" Rishid cried, kneeling down next to him and gently touching the boy's bare shoulder. This had been going on for so many days now. . . . Rishid wondered in concern if Marik would ever be released from the chains of whatever was bothering him.
Marik jerked away, his breath coming raggedly. "Rishid . . ." he whispered. "I'm so sorry, my brother . . . so very sorry . . ." His next words were muffled as he buried himself against the pillow, but Rishid could still understand them. The tormented teen was having nightmares of the past.
Tenderly Rishid put his hand on Marik's shoulder, trying to speak calming words. "Marik . . . I am here, brother. The past is over and done with, as Ishizu has said! You do not need to continue feeling guilty for what happened then. Everything is alright now. You have returned to the side of good." He felt his brother's breathing start to slow down to what was normal.
Marik relaxed finally, stretching out on the floor and allowing Rishid to offer his comforting touch and words. Then, with another sob, he clutched the pillow tighter. "Rishid! . . . . Rishid . . . he's . . . he's dead!"
Rishid narrowed his eyes in concern. "Marik? Wake up, brother! Wake up!" he pleaded, noticing that his brother's flesh felt warm to the touch. He hoped desperately that the boy wasn't coming down with something. Perhaps Marik was suffering a high fever and delirium?
Marik tensed up again. "Rishid is dead! He never knew how . . . how much I love him!" the poor boy wailed, lost deep in these induced hallucinations. "He . . . he died thinking I hated him! No . . . no . . ."
Rishid tenderly gathered the struggling teen into his arms. "No . . . Marik . . . this is not true. . . . You are having a nightmare. I am alive. And I know that you do not hate me, dear brother."
Marik cried for several more minutes before his sobs finally lessened and he began to relax again. Every time he went to sleep the memories would return to him, ten times worse than they truly were. He was forced to experience every detail, every word, every action in these memories until he felt he could bear it no longer. Unbeknownst to him, that was exactly what the demon feeding these things to him wanted to have happen.
"It's alright, Marik," Rishid's voice said softly, penetrating through the cloud of despair. "Wake up, brother . . . please . . ."
At last Marik's eyes fluttered and then opened, and he gazed up at his older brother sleepily, trying to piece together what had happened.
Rishid smiled softly. "Hello."
Marik blinked at him in apparent confusion for a moment and then flung himself into Rishid's arms, embracing him tightly to make certain he was truly there. "Rishid. . . ." He shuddered. "Oh Rishid . . . I'm so sick of these blasted dreams!"
Rishid held him firmly. "Do you want to talk about it?" he asked quietly. He had never known exactly what it was that Marik had been dreaming about these past few nights. It was only now, on this night, that he had caught a glimpse of what it must have been.
Marik paused, collecting himself and becoming more and more upset and angry as the remembrances of his nightmare came back to him. "It was . . . it was when you had been struck by lightning on Battle Ship," he said at last, "after I had said and did such terrible things to you from my rage and pain." He clenched his fists. "It was such a horrible shock. . . . When . . . when you were hurt, it . . . it started to jar me back to reality." Tears escaped his lavender eyes. "Rishid, how could I have ever treated you that way!" he sobbed. "I never meant to hurt you! I never wanted anything to happen to you!"
Rishid gently brushed the long hair away from his brother's face. "I know," he said softly.
Marik wasn't consoled. "In . . . in the dream I . . . I ran to you . . . screaming . . . pleading . . . begging for some response. . . . But . . ." He clung to Rishid desperately. "You were dead."
"But I'm not dead," Rishid replied kindly.
Marik smiled slightly but still looked stricken. "You could have been," he whispered.
Rishid knew this was true. He held his brother in silence for a long time as he pondered. At last he spoke again.
"I have never blamed you, Marik," he told the boy firmly. "I have never blamed you for anything. The one who did those things to me . . . he wasn't you in my eyes. I always prayed that someday the brother I loved would surface again . . . the brother who has such a kind heart and is full of such innocence and laughter. . . . And you have returned to me, as I always knew you would."
Marik looked up at his beloved brother in happiness. "I could never find dearer siblings than you and Ishizu," he said fervently. "Even after everything I did when I was so foolish and cruel, you both still accepted me back with open arms. You both still loved me . . ." He trailed off, feeling a dark presence in the room.
Rishid looked up, feeling it as well. "Who is here?" he demanded.
A cold laugh echoed throughout the room. "I am the one who has been tormenting your dear brother for the past few nights," an unfamiliar voice sneered.
Marik raised himself up, his eyes flashing with anger. "Who are you? Reveal your face, you coward!"
"As you wish." A monstrosity began to materialize in the room, hovering in the air above them. It chuckled, enjoying the looks of disbelief and shock it was getting from the two Ishtars.
"Why have you been doing this to my brother?" Rishid growled in a dangerous tone. "He has done nothing to you!"
"True, he hasn't," the creature replied in agreement. "I just find it amusing to torment people, especially those trying to make up for things they did in their pasts."
Marik hissed in rage. "I won't allow you to do this to me any longer!" he vowed.
"Oh?" The demonic beast twisted its ugly face into a sneer. "And precisely what can you do to stop me?" Without warning it released a terrible sphere of dark energy, aiming it right towards him.
"Brother!" Rishid yelled, shoving Marik aside and allowing it to strike himself instead. The man let out a cry of agony as he crumpled to the floor and lay very still.
"RISHID!" Marik screamed, going pale as he watched the man willingly sacrifice his own safety and welfare to save him. Rage and hatred for their assailant boiled in his heart as he collapsed to his knees and tried so desperately to get a response from his dear brother.
The creature sneered at them both. "I knew that would happen," it purred. "I knew that foolish Rishid wouldn't allow you to be harmed."
Marik's head snapped up and he looked at the fiend in pure fury. "Then . . . you did this purposely in order to strike him down!" he realized.
"Of course I did," the wraith cackled. "Poor, noble, loyal Rishid. Always willing to do anything to save the one he cares for more than any other. Though I really don't know what he saw in you that was so special he would give his own life to . . ."
"BE SILENT!" Marik roared, standing up to his full height as his eyes blazed. "I know who you are!"
The demon blinked. "Oh? You do?"
"You are a servant of the very devil himself!" Marik whispered with conviction. "The devil wants everyone to be as miserable as he is. But I will not allow this! I know that what I did in the past was wrong and treacherous, but I am doing the best I can to repair it all. I have been forgiven for what I did by those who truly matter. You have no power over me!" He looked down at Rishid's lifeless body on the floor at his feet, feeling the hatred burn within him again. "You have hurt countless innocent people with your wickedness, including my precious brother, but I will not allow this to go on any further! I have had enough!" The boy raised his right arm up halfway, his hair whipping about as he forcefully uttered, "I command you now to depart this place and never return!"
An unearthly scream tore from the creature as it dissolved into nothing. The dark feelings that came with it fled as well, much to Marik's relief.
Now he collapsed next to Rishid once more, tears splashing onto the man's pale flesh. "Rishid!" Marik wailed sadly. "Rishid . . . please . . . please get up . . ."
Rishid stirred, looking up at Marik as he spoke painfully. " Brother . . . you . . . you didn't listen to it," he rasped, trying to smile.
"Of course I couldn't have," Marik replied with a shaky smile of his own as he grabbed Rishid's limp hand. "Not when I knew it was lying, and especially not after it deliberately struck you down . . ." He trailed off, coldness coming over him again as he saw how tortured his brother was. "Rishid!" he screamed.
Rishid grasped at Marik's hand as if it was a lifeline. "Always . . . always stay true to . . . to yourself, brother," he said softly. "And to your values. . . ." Trembling, he tried to reach up and brush Marik's tears away. "Do not be saddened. . . . I gladly give my life for you, and I would do it again in an instant."
Marik choked back a sob. "I love you so much, Rishid," he whispered tearfully. "My dear brother . . ."
Rishid smiled weakly. "You . . . you have always been my life," he replied, suddenly going rigid.
Marik's eyes widened. "RISHID!" he wailed. "Rishid, no! Don't leave me! Don't leave me . . ." He embraced his brother tightly, the crystalline drops falling uncontrollably from his eyes.
Ishizu, who had been out late at the museum, came in shortly afterward and found her brothers there that way—Rishid laying prone on the floor and Marik clinging to him for dear life, still mourning him.
"Marik?" she said in horror. "Marik, what happened?"
Marik looked up at her, his body shaking. "It murdered him," he whispered. "It murdered our brother!" He tried to blink back the tears. "He gave his life for me!"
Ishizu clapped a hand to her mouth in shock and then knelt down, carefully checking Rishid for any lifesigns.
"I've already checked," Marik said quietly. "He's . . . he's gone." Tears slipped from his eyes as he sobbed, his heart broken. His vision started to swim in front of his eyes and he fell forward, his world darkening.
The boy stirred, starting to emerge from the heavy blanket of oblivion he had been in.
"Marik . . . brother . . . wake up! Please . . ."
"We are so worried about you . . ."
Marik's eyes fluttered open and he found himself looking up at Ishizu and Rishid. He gazed up at them in disbelief, unable to believe what he saw.
Rishid smiled down at him when he saw his brother's eyes open. "Hello, Marik," he said in relief.
Marik bolted upright. "Rishid!" His heart pounded. Was this a dream? How . . . how was this possible?
"I am here, brother," Rishid said softly.
Marik brightened and embraced him tightly, gazing up at him for an explanation, but he received none.
Ishizu hugged her brother as well, smiling softly. "Marik, you have been so delirious," she whispered. "We . . . we were afraid you . . . you were not going to make it. . . ."
"Delirious?" Marik repeated weakly in confusion.
"Yes," Rishid confirmed. "Some unknown thing has been forcing those nightmares on you for the last several nights."
Marik shuddered, trying to understand. "Are you saying, Rishid, that . . . that it was all simply one of my nightmares, and not reality? . . . What happened tonight . . . didn't really happen?"
Rishid looked down at the brother he loved so dearly, the one he had been willing to sacrifice his life for. The one he nearly had died for. "Yes," he said quietly. "It was reality. You defeated the demon and I was allowed to live." He squeezed Marik's hand gently.
Marik, still confused but not wanting to question it, settled into his siblings' embraces, prayers of gratitude in his heart. Everything was alright now. The demon that had been torturing him was gone. Rishid was alive. And the memories that had tormented him so badly were starting to fade back into the recesses of his mind. He wouldn't ever, couldn't ever forget the past, but he knew that he would be able to successfully move ahead into the future without shame. What he had told that wraith was true—he had been forgiven, and he was doing his very best to repent for the wrongs he had committed.
Ishizu's voice interrupted his reverie. "We are so thankful for you, dear brother," she told him, stroking his hair.
Marik smiled joyously in reply, pulling his siblings close to him. "You both have always believed in me," he said softly. "That means more to me than anything else. I have truly been blessed by having you in my life."
The words to the song that had been haunting Marik all night came back to him again, but this time he brushed them away. I know what is real, he said silently as Rishid and Ishizu embraced him. Without a doubt, I know.