By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The story is mine, the characters (except for Kasumi) are not, and all that jazz XD . . . Oh yeah. And this may be a bit disturbing, but nothing is very graphic of course. This pretty much exists to be angsty and hurt/comforty. I'm sorry about the removal of the song, but with the newly stated policy I had to remove it. Try listening to Whisper by Evanescence as you read. It was the inspiration for the fic.

The whip connects with my flesh, rousing me from the state of unconsciousness I have been in for I don't know how long. The harsh cord rakes across my sore back time and again, catching on my arm as it does so.

"Foolish brat! Up! Get up!"

I groan in reply, just wanting to sink back into my oblivion. I have heard this person's foul voice far too much by now. Is it too much to wish to be home? Too much to desire to be back with those I love instead of being here with this person, enduring more of his torture?

"I said get up!" A sharp kick is delivered to my ribs and I can't help but cry out. "OBEY ME AND RISE!"

Weakly I open an eye and look at my assailant defiantly. "What if I refuse?" I say calmly. In spite of all the pain I know this remark will bring, I will not allow myself to sink so far into my despair that I actually do as he wishes.

"In that case," my captor replies in a dangerous tone, "I will have to . . . remind you of what your disobedience causes!" He drives a knife into my shoulder. "Ahh . . . the scent of power," he grins maniacally. "The feeling that I am far stronger and greater than you! It is worth every bit of this!" His eyes are wild as he moves to push the weapon deeper.

I tense up, screaming in agony and trying to pull away, but he has too great a hold on the weapon. If I try to move. . . . I trail off, gritting my teeth and forcing myself to endure the pain.

Slowly the knife is withdrawn, my blood dripping from it. "Now obey me and pull your pathetic body upright!" The diabolical fiend continues to grin, obviously certain that I will have been struck with fear and will do his every whim.

I narrow my eyes, not intending to give him that satisfaction. "No."

His face turns purple with rage. "What did you say!" He clutches the knife tightly in midair, my blood trailing down the blade and over his hand.

"I said no." I clench my fists, refusing to get up. "I don't obey anyone, least of all you. You're really the pathetic one, you know." The blood trickles from my wound and down my bare back, but I ignore it.


I have to smirk. He's behaving exactly as I knew he would. "You are pathetic," I tell him. "You know that you are weak and cowardly, so you use brute force as a cover. It makes you feel better, as if you have control over everyone. But you can't control a person's will, especially not mine. Anyone who is strong and true will never give in to the likes of one such as you."

Now he grabs me up and begins choking the very breath from my lungs. "SHUT UP! YOU INSOLENT WORM!" His eyes burn with a crazed madness. "DIE!"

Undaunted, I kick him harshly in his stomach, forcing him to loosen his grip. "You're only proving my point," I say coldly. "The truth is hard on you and you can't stand to face it."

He throws me into the corner. "I'll show you pathetic!" he growls. "You and I both know that you've been weakened considerably by my treatment of you in the past few days. If you try to defend yourself against me now, you'll only overexert yourself and die!" He walks over, towering above me, and then leans down with a diabolical smirk as he reaches for me. It's obvious what he wants to do now, and I curl up protectively, my eyes narrowed in anger.

Many thoughts course through my mind as I struggle to protect myself from this madman. Why hasn't my brother come for me? Where is he? Was he taken prisoner too? I remember the harsh blow to my head from a crowbar. Then I had woke up in this dark warehouse, the captive of this lost, cowardly soul. I don't remember what I was doing before I was struck down. Things blur together in my mind, making it difficult to think straight.

"You're already defeated," the foul person grins, trying to pull me up.

"Leave me alone," I hiss, struggling to move further away. It is not easy for me, as I have sustained many wounds during my stay here and now I am quite weak. Blood from the cuts on my sides drip down to the stone floor, coloring the tiles red.

"I don't think so," comes the reply.

I kick out defensively, refusing to give in. He growls and pulls his hand back, fire in his eyes. "You're gonna pay," he vows, raising a crowbar and striking me across my bare back. "I don't tolerate this! I don't!"

Blood trickles from my mouth as he hits me again and again. I know there is no escape from this. The words echo through my mind . . . no escape . . . no escape. . . .

Consciousness begins to return. A strange sensation has come over me. I don't understand what it is, but I still feel dizzy. It feels like blood is rushing to my head. When I open my eyes, the floor is inches from my head. My hair is hanging out, the bangs, for once, not covering my face. And then I realize. I am hanging upsidedown from the ceiling.

Try as I might, I can't seem to pull myself up to undo the rope around my legs. Each time I attempt it I am pulled back down, as if by an invisible force around my throat. I think my choker is caught on something. And it must have been done purposefully. If I struggle too long with the rope, I know I could strangle myself. And this only makes me all the more furious.

"What's going on! Someone get me down!" I swing back and forth, trying desperately to make the rope holding me up tear free. My voice rises in volume as I remain stranded in this way.

And then I feel a sharp pain in my back. It feels like the point of a blade. My captor is here again.

"It's so fun to see how far I can push you," he sneers. "You'll never be free of me, not until you pass into the eternal sleep!" Slowly he steps into my blurred vision, grinning and looking like he wants to kick me in the head.

"I am free of you as long as I refuse to give in to any of your demands," I shoot back. "String me upsidedown and beat me all you wish. The truth will not change." I don't fear him. I never have. And that is what makes him most angry.

Abruptly he cuts me free and I drop harshly to the floor in a heap. "You're not any fun unless I can break you," he growls, producing his whip and again cracking it over my bare, bleeding back.

I wince and jerk away, not wanting to go through this again.

"One of these days I'd like to find out what those freaky tattoos mean," he grins now, gazing at the unwanted hieroglyphics and pictures that will remain branded in my flesh for the rest of my life.

I have already been reminded of my diabolical father through this person's actions—the way he smiled so wickedly just before plunging the knife into my flesh and carving the wretched Pharaoh's Memory there. It's too much like deja vu with this monster. Tears start to fall, but I refuse to let him see.

"Father, stop it! Stop it, please! You're hurting me!" I remember screaming. I was agonized. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't stop. Why he wouldn't even show me a bit of kindness and pity. Me, his own son! My innocence had been lost on that day. Never again have I been the same happy, playful child. I realized later and perhaps actually did realize at the time that Father cared nothing for me. He only wanted an heir, someone to carry on the family tradition, but he never loved me. Being so young, of course I had still idolized my father anyway. Surely, I had thought, somewhere within him he cares about me. But I was fooling myself. I had known he truly didn't. He had lost his mind over the years. And after he had tortured me, something within me had begun to hate him.

"Reaching your breaking point yet?" Father finds a mace and dangles it over me threateningly. No . . . not my father. Now I am returned to the present and again face my current, nameless enemy. My father is dead. But this abomination is very much alive.

Somehow I manage to kick out and strike him hard, sending him reeling backward. I try to get up then, but it's too much for my weakened body. I fall again, slipping on some of my own blood.

"Pathetic," he laughs, dropping the mace in favor of using his own fists to pound into me. He's been torturing me for so many days now . . . so very many. . . . I fight back as best as I can, but I am so weak. . . . "No one will come for you, ever! I swear it!" His bones slam against me as he continues to punch and kick. A foot slams into my gut and I gasp in pain. "You're doomed to remain here at my mercy!"

"What do you mean?" I scream at his words, afraid that he's done something to those I love.

He only laughs, refusing to answer me. "You know," he says now, "I used to be quite feared in my time. Everyone would run in terror when they heard me coming. I don't understand why you do not have the same fear, especially after what I've proved I can do to you." He slams me against the wall.

Now I refuse to answer. It doesn't do any good anyway, and I might as well save my strength. But why should I fear him? The worst he can do is kill me. I don't fear death. I do fear being without my siblings. But I won't let that fate come to me. Words of wisdom Rishid spoke to me long ago return now, when I need them most. I had been despairing over our lost sister Ishizu when Rishid had taken me in his firm arms and held me close.

"I don't know why it happened," he had said sadly. "And I don't know where she is now. But she is staying strong, wherever she is. It is a quality that she and you both possess. I know things look bleak now. To you, my poor brother, the world has always been a place of darkness, of hatred and cruelty. But . . . the sky has to become very dark before the stars become visible."

I had raised my heart-broken gaze to meet his loving and kind one. And I had realized something. "And you, Rishid, are that first star," I had found myself saying. "My north star. My guide." For it was truly he who had been my light during the darkest hours of my life. And he is my light now. He is giving me the strength to handle this, though he is not physically here.

My tormentor grabs me by the neck again and drags me up, pushing his other hand against my chest. Revolted, I struggle all the more, but his grip doesn't loosen. Finally I deliver a harsh kick below his belt and he gasps, dropping me again.

While he recovers I try to get up and crawl to partial safety across the room. Even though I seem to be able to kick him, my legs are not strong otherwise and I cannot stand on them. Crawling across the room is a slow, tedious task and I can't seem to get very far before his foot is pinning me down.

"Little worm! What will it take for you to realize that there is no escape?" He presses his foot harder, crushing me against the floor and causing a wound in my chest to act up.

I can't help but scream at the pain, trying to throw him back. "LET ME UP!" I yell, banging on the floor with my fists. "LET ME UP!" From somewhere in the past, I remember a situation so similar. . . . Struggling to run and not being able to. Suddenly being held in place. It happened before.

"Slowly but surely we're getting somewhere," he laughs, his features twisted into an evil smile. "You're weakening! Soon you will bow down before me, once you realize that I have the power to take your life . . . or give it back to you."

"You're wrong!" I hiss. "You're getting nowhere! And I will never stoop so low as to bow before treacherous filth such as you. I would rather suffer the pain and keep my dignity!"

He kicks me right over one of my wounds and I scream again, feeling the blood ooze out. "One way or another, I will break you!" He gives me a horrendous, maniacal look and I know nothing will stop him. "You'll have no dignity left when I'm done with you! You'll be a sniveling, cowering, shaking animal, begging for mercy!"

This only angers me more. In spite of the pain I'm receiving for it, I couldn't have done anything differently. I could never do what he wished and allow him to think he has control over me. Never! Only a despicable coward would do that. And I am not a coward, though I have been called that by some.

So I lay here, having to endure the pain he's putting me through. I don't know how long he stays here, kicking, pounding, and otherwise abusing my already-battered body—I only know that it seems like a horrible eternity, one that I can't get away from. I've tried, and I keep trying, but now I am so weak I can barely move at all. Every part of my form is screaming for justice to be done and for me to be released, but I feel so dead. I feel like I'm passing into shadow. I'm fading. . . .

Suddenly I am picked up and thrown again, this time into a stack of crates. "Worthless creature," my captor growls suddenly. "I have had enough of you! DIE! JUST DIE!" His eyes are wild once more. Something has snapped within him. He realizes it is no use to try to break me this way. And it has pushed him the rest of the way over the edge.

"Coward," I hiss. "Even if you kill me, you will still lose." I am struggling to get up, but I soon fail and collapse weakly back to the floor as several more crates fall on top of me. My captor's evil cackle echoes around me as I drift away.

The heavy weight on top of me is the first thing I sense, followed by the weakness I feel due to the loss of my blood and the beating. Slowly I open my eyes, but all is dark around me. I remember the crates. I must still be trapped under them!

Tears of despair well up in my eyes. "Rishid," I choke out, "I'm sorry . . . I'm so sorry. . . . I wasn't strong enough, my brother. I wasn't . . ." I can't even move enough to lift the crates off of me. "I'm weak. I'm not like you, Rishid. You were always the strong, courageous one. But I . . . I am nothing—only a confused child who went mad from the cruelty of the world . . . and my father. It took so long before I was able to take hold of my mind again. . . . You never faltered, Rishid. But I have. I have. . . ." The tears spill over from my frustration. I have kept my sanity this time, but memories of my father's actions and words remain fresh in my mind. Will they ever fade?

I can feel the piercing of the knife, red hot as it drove into my flesh those years before. I see myself screaming and weeping, begging my father to stop. I hear the maniacal laughter, heedless and uncaring of my pain. My father didn't love me. And somewhere in the back of my mind, lost deep in the dark recesses, I seem to be recalling something else. Foul hands upon me . . . touching me in a way they shouldn't. . . . My crying again being ignored. Wicked desires being fulfilled. But these memories remain just out of my reach. I do not know their meaning.

I am stranded here now, bleeding to death. And even though I firmly believe what I said to my abductor and would never take it back, I do not believe that I have won either. I am alone. I am going to die here.

Again I try to move and only succeed in knocking another crate smack dab on my head. A moan of pain escapes my lips as stars circle around in my vision. It's no use. Either I will die from loss of blood or from being crushed and suffocated underneath these crates.

"Someone help me," I whisper, tears slipping from my eyes. "Please . . . someone! I'm buried under these crates and I . . . I can't get out. . . . Rishid . . . Ishizu . . . Mokuba . . . is anyone there! Help me! PLEASE HELP ME!" I didn't want to die. . . . Not here . . . not alone. . . .

My pleas are met by only silence, and I feel the darkness coming over me once again. I clutch the floor desperately, struggling to remain conscious, but it is no use. The pain is too much.

I come to once more, still feeling the agony of being buried under these blasted boxes. It must have been hours by now. Won't anyone come for me? What if my tormenter was telling the truth? What if he's already harmed them and they're . . .

No! I can't think like that.

Cheerful thoughts. I must think cheerful thoughts. Soon Ishizu or Rishid will get me out and I will go home, never to see that horrible person again. My wounds will heal and the recollections of my father's despicable acts will again fade and trouble me no more.

But . . . realistically thinking . . . how can I possibly continue to survive like this? I have been mistreated for endless days and nights, with no food or drink to help sustain me. I have lost so much blood. Soon my air supply will have dwindled to nothing and I will perish. Perhaps I should just accept the death. I am so tired, so weak, so . . . so . . .


I look up, my eyes only opening halfway. I see Kasumi, the little angel, hovering above me. She gazes at me compassionately, sorrow in her eyes that I have been abused in such horrible ways. Angels . . . I'm seeing angels now. . . . Doesn't that mean that I am going to . . .

"Rest now, Marik," Kasumi instructs me gently. "Just rest." She blows me a kiss and shimmers. "You have been through so much. Your heart is brave and strong to endure all that you have. But now you need not suffer more."

"I'm dying, aren't I?" I whisper morosely. "I didn't want to die . . ." Under normal circumstances I might have snapped at her, as I have before. But now I have no strength to do so. I want the pain to be over. But not this way.

Kasumi doesn't answer and instead simply continues to look at me.

"I don't want to die!" I cry again, speaking as loud as I possibly can—which isn't very loud. "I want to live! Lord help me . . . I just want to live!" Desperation comes over me and I struggle in vain to get up. The crates pin me harshly, digging into old wounds and creating a few new ones. But I have to get out!

Kasumi begins to vanish. "He will help you, Marik," she says firmly. "Just never give up! Never!" She smiles gently. "And do not panic. Help will come."

My eyes start to close, the dark lashes brushing against my flesh. Again I plead for help, for Rishid or Ishizu to come get me out, and I feel quite defenseless and small, as a child. I don't feel any more like the strong, defiant teenager I usually am.

"Sister . . . brother . . . where are you?" I call, my voice fading. "I want to go home! I've had enough of all this nonsense! Please come and get me out. . . . Please . . ." A tear slips down my cheek as I drop into unconsciousness for the final time.

Deep in the mists of my oblivion I feel the heavy weight on my back lessening. I can actually breathe again! Are the crates being lifted? Am I being freed from my prison? Or am I dying, my spirit body not feeling the pain anymore?

Gentle hands touch my flesh and I hear a gasp of horror. "Brother!" It is Rishid's voice. He has come for me! He's alright! "No, brother, no! Do not be dead . . . please . . . speak to me, Marik!"

Dead? No . . . I'm not dead . . . I couldn't be. . . . I can still hear him. . . . . I can feel his touch. . . . I'm still alive.

Rishid places his fingers to my throat, checking for a pulse. He starts to sob, holding my body close. Obviously I appear dead to him . . . but I am alive!

"Who did this?" he roars. "Who beat his body so atrociously and left him here to perish! I won't forgive them. I WON'T!" He cradles my body, taking one of my limp hands in his. "Marik . . ." I can feel his form shaking as he cries for me. "My precious brother . . . I have failed you. I have failed inexcusably. . . ."

I struggle to open my eyes slightly, fighting for consciousness. "Rishid . . . you came for me," I smile weakly. "You haven't failed. . . . Not at all. . . ." Still I might fear it was only a dream, were I not able to feel so acutely my brother's arms about me, warming me physically and mentally. He is here. It is not a dream. This could never be just a dream. My prayers are answered.

Rishid looks down at me, his expression changing to one of astonishment and happiness. "Marik! You are alive! Oh Marik . . ." He hugs me as I slip away once more. "Do not fear, brother. You are going to be alright. You will be!" My precious brother continues to reassure me as I sink into the familiar oblivion. I cling to the sound of his voice as long as I can. He gives me hope.

Voices . . . there are many voices all around me. . . . they're discussing someone. . . . Me, perhaps. I feel as though I have been dead or nearly dead for several days. But always there have been two lifelines I have clung to. I have felt Rishid and Ishizu with me. They have never left my side while I've been slowly healing.

"He's a very blessed boy, Ms. Ishtar. In spite of all he went through, he sustained no broken bones, and though he was bruised very badly and lost a lot of blood, he still managed to stay alive. Someone with a weaker spirit would have succumbed to the pain and died long before his torture was ended."

"Marik's spirit is very strong. I know none stronger." Ishizu is still here.

"He is very strong and brave." A third voice has joined in. This one is Rishid's. "And . . . I believe he's trying to come back to us! Marik?"


"Buddy, are you okay?"

Somehow I manage to wrestle my eyes open at last. I smile weakly as I begin to focus and see Ishizu, Rishid, and Mokuba all around me. I longed so much to see them all again. And here they are. They have all been worried about me.

"Oh Marik!" Ishizu cries happily.

Slowly I raise my hand off the bed just slightly in a hello wave, letting her and the others know I am aware of things. I do not know if I dare try to speak yet. My throat feels so dry. . . .

Instantly I am embraced gently by my siblings and by Mokuba as well. They whisper to me, telling me how much they've missed me and how wonderful it is to see that I am finally conscious again. I return their hugs as best as I can, feeling the soreness in my arms. But at least I can move them.

The doctor, whom I have just noticed now, smiles at the reunion and turns to the door. "Don't worry about paying me," he says when it seems Ishizu may be about to say something of the sort. "This was all free. I insist, and Mr. Kaiba does as well. Consider it his way of saying thank you for saving his brother's life in the past."

Ishizu blinks in surprise, but then she thanks him before smiling and looking down at me again. "How do you feel, Marik?" she asks. She tries to brush the bangs out of my eyes, but as always, in vain.

I look up at her and smile back. I am fine, my eyes tell her. Very much so.

"Brother . . ." Rishid takes my hand and holds it close. "Oh my dear brother . . . it has been so long since I have seen this brightness in your eyes." I fancy that I see the glistenings of tears in his own. "You have been so still and so very cold for days. More than once I feared you would depart from us." His grip on my hand tightens. I don't mind at all. More than anything else during my torture I had longed to have his strong presence with me. I have wanted to be believed in and loved. Being with those who truly care about me makes me happier than I've been in days.

I squeeze his hand, gazing up into his golden eyes and smiling. Yes . . . Rishid is my guide. My teacher. My closest friend.

I realize suddenly that I haven't heard the sound of any beeping machines. That's when I actually notice for the first time that I am in my own bed and not one at the hospital—another pleasant surprise. Oh, how I loathe hospitals. . . .

Mokuba climbs up on my bed and grins at me. "You can talk, right, Marik?" he asks.

I nod slowly, supposing that I can. I manage to whisper something in Egyptian to Ishizu and Rishid and then translate it to English for Mokuba.

"Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for never abandoning me and for always staying with me. Even if you weren't always physically beside me, I knew your hearts were with me. I could sense your concern and your love for me, and without it . . . I doubt I would have pulled through."

I embrace my loved ones again, saying so many prayers of thanks that I am alive and that I have so very much to live for. The bad things that happened to me are in the past. I will forget about them for now and concentrate on the good. For there is much good here.