By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The usual! The characters aren't mine, the story is, and sibling cuteness abounds! Much angst abounds in this one as well . Kleenex! I'm sorry about the removal of the song, but with the newly stated policy I had to remove it.

The room was nearly completely dark, the only light coming from the moon—which was concealed mostly by the heavy clouds of snow—out the window and from the hallway through the door. The wind howled in a mournful way, pelting the flying ice crystals against everything they came in contact with. Off in the distance wailed an ambulance siren, headed toward someone else in trouble. It all added to the gloominess and somberness of the night.

A pale form lay in the room's only bed, his breathing raspy and slow and his body limp and cold. His condition had worsened since the previous night and he was expected to pass away before morning came.

A tired, worn-out woman stood over him, her heart shattering into pieces with every painful breath her brother took. This had gone on for so long now. . . . She could hardly bear for it to continue. But . . . she knew her brother didn't want to die. He frantically clung to life with every passing day because he couldn't bear the thought of leaving those he treasured. It wasn't that he feared death; it was that he didn't feel at all ready to leave.

At times she longed to tell him to just let go, to just leave the pain behind and go on to Heaven . . . but how could she, when that wasn't what he wanted? Every time he regained consciousness, he told her happily that he was still here, that he planned to keep staying until he was better, and not to give up on him. If she told him that it was alright to go . . . wouldn't he feel as thought she had given up? He wouldn't understand that she simply couldn't bear to see the brother she loved always laying so still, unable to do any of the things he loved or to really be with anyone he loved. Most of his life now was spent in a comatose state. But he struggled to stay alive . . . he struggled so hard.

But was it all for her? she wondered then. Perhaps he really didn't want to keep living . . . but he did for her. She knew he missed their brother so . . . and she was certain he wanted to return to him. . . . But still he stayed.

Perhaps he feels so torn, she thought quietly to herself, immensely pained. He feels that part of his life is here and part of it is on the other side. And he doesn't know which to pick.

It was true if he left, she would be all alone in life. She wasn't married; she had no special someone she could cling to. And she honestly didn't know how she would survive without her brother. Her precious younger brother.

It had already been hard enough on them both to lose Rishid. When the war had come, Rishid had been drafted almost immediately and sent off to battle. They had never heard from him again. Not until he was reported Missing in Action.

Marik had cried for days, withdrawing from everyone and staring out the window for hours. Rishid wasn't dead, he would always say defiantly. Rishid would come home, and he would wait patiently until that day came! Nothing could ever change his mind. He was determined that the brother he and Ishizu loved so much would someday walk through the door, proud and strong and fearless as ever.

"And it will be just like it used to be!"

Ishizu could hear the stubborn teenager's voice in her mind and she blinked the tears away.

Marik could be so innocent . . . so like a child, even though he was sixteen. Ishizu and Rishid had both always loved that about him. When Marik made up his mind, that was that and there was no changing it.

Ishizu knew that Marik's mind was made up about staying.

What if . . . what if he still thinks our brother is alive? she worried. Of course Marik would try to stay alive for his sister, but . . . what if he still believed that Rishid would come home as well?


Ishizu was startled back to the present by Marik's soft voice. He looked up at her so sweetly from where he was laying on the pillow, his blonde bangs falling into his lavender eyes and partially concealing them from view.

"Marik . . . I . . . didn't realize you were awake." Ishizu tried to smile for her brother. She never wanted him to see her crying.

But he had. "It's going to be alright, sister," Marik assured her. "Please . . . don't cry. I'll fight the poison yet! And then Rishid will come back to us."

Ishizu bit her lip in alarm and closed her eyes tightly, trying to ward off more tears. Marik . . . oh Marik. . . . How could she explain?

"Sister, he's not dead!" Marik cried earnestly. "And I'm not either. It will all be well." He reached out his hand shakily to brush her tears away before startling Ishizu even more with his next comments.

"Yes . . . I do keep living for you and Rishid. And Mokuba too. There's a fighting spirit within me that will not allow me to die. The pain . . . I don't mind it, Ishizu. It means I'm still here. It means I'm a survivor." Marik smiled weakly, his normally tan complexion now nearly as pale as the pillowcase. "You know me . . . I always defy expectations."

Ishizu leaned down and hugged him close to her, horrified at how limp he was. "But . . . you do know . . . that you can leave, don't you, brother?" she said shakily. "I don't want to keep you here . . . like this. . . ." She had heard the saying "If you love something, let it go," and she told herself she was willing to let Marik go if the alternative was this . . . but still. . . . She didn't want him to go! A lump rose in her throat.

"I can't leave," Marik replied gently. "I'm not supposed to. And . . . besides . . . as long as I don't want to, I won't." He chuckled, then sobered. "Sister . . . please don't feel as though you are keeping me here when I would rather leave. Don't you see? I don't want to. Everything is alright."

Ishizu pulled back to look at him. He never ceased to amaze her. Always he seemed to know what she was thinking or feeling, almost as if he had a special psychic bond with her.

"I could never simply give up and die," Marik said quietly. "That isn't my way."

"I know," Ishizu said softly, brushing his bangs aside. She sighed when they fell right back into place, but then managed a weak laugh. "I never could get your bangs to cooperate with what I wanted. But then . . . they are part of you, I suppose . . . and I do not wish to change any part of you. I want my dear brother Marik, unruly bangs and all."

"And you shall have me," Marik smiled, hugging her weakly. "I promise you that I will never leave." With that his eyes closed against his will and he slumped against Ishizu.

She held him close, making certain he was still breathing. "Oh my brother," she whispered. "I love you so much . . . so very much. . . ." Carefully she tucked him back into bed, again pulling the quilt over his bare chest.

Idly she did wonder sometimes if Rishid still lived. The report was that he was only Missing, not Killed. But where would he be? Wounded somewhere? Taken prisoner? Wandering aimlessly through the wilderness! She had accepted that their dear elder brother was not coming home, but . . . could Marik be right? He had a bond with Rishid as well. Or . . . or was it just his wishful thinking, as Ishizu had assumed before?

She remembered when they were children . . . how Rishid was always so gentle with her and Marik. . . . How he had held them both on his lap, reading to them in his strong voice. . . . How kind he always tried to be. . . . The way he had endured so much hatred from their father. . . .

Ishizu turned to look out the window, feeling tears appear in her eyes again. Life could never be normal for them. Not again. And even though Ishizu knew Marik would fight tooth and nail to stay here, she also knew that the poison was fighting to kill him. She still didn't know who would win.

Now she knelt down by her brother's bedside, clasping her hands as she offered a heartfelt prayer. She never knew exactly what to pray for. She longed so badly for Marik to be healed. . . . But if he couldn't get well, she didn't want him to have to remain here for ages in suffering. So she usually always prayed simply that what was best for her brother would happen, and deep in her heart hoped that what was best was for him to stay.

As she finished her prayer, a feeling of peace came over her. Somehow she knew that, whatever happened, it would be alright.

"At least . . . I am not nauseous."

Marik's voice again broke into her thoughts. She looked up at him as she got to her feet, slowly smiling. For her brother, nausea was about the worst feeling possible. Marik was now trying to make light of his predicament and say it wasn't as bad as all that. Ishizu had to chuckle as she leaned down and embraced him again.

"Rishid is here, sister," Marik then said quietly, returning her hug.

Ishizu immediately paled. No one was visible in the room. If Marik was seeing Rishid, then . . .

"Where is he, Marik?" she asked, sitting on the edge of the bed and holding the precious boy close to her heart.

"Right here," Marik smiled, reaching out for a hand Ishizu could not see.

Ishizu could not control the tears that came then. She knew Marik was going to die.

The woman sprang out of bed, her complexion paling. "Oh!" she cried, trying to get her breathing under control again. "Oh . . . what a horrible, horrible dream!" She rubbed her forehead, not realizing at first that she had been crying in her sleep. "It . . . it was just a dream, wasn't it?"

She looked around, her eyes adjusting to the darkness. She was there in her room, with everything just as it was before she had gone to sleep. At least, she prayed nothing had changed. She prayed her dream was not reality in any way, shape, or form.

Slowly and carefully she pulled the covers back and stood on the cold floor. "I must make certain," she said to herself. "It was so real . . . so terrible. . . . So depressing. . . ."

Ishizu made her way down the hall, stopping when she reached Marik's room. She turned the doorknob and stepped inside the familiar surroundings. All of her dream had taken place in the teenager's room, and everything looked now exactly as it had then—the concealed moon and the snow out the window, Marik laying in bed so still. . . .

"Marik?" she whispered, moving closer and touching his shoulder.

At first he did nothing and her heart nearly stopped. Could he be dead! He was so quiet. . . . So frighteningly quiet! But then he stirred, gazing up at her with the same childlike innocence as always. "Sister . . ."

Ishizu sat down on the bed, smoothing his bangs back. "Are you well, brother?" She noted with relief that instead of being chalk white, Marik's skin was the healthy, rich tan it had always been.

Marik blinked at her. "Sister . . . I am fine. . . ." His lavender eyes were full of immense sleepiness, and she could see that he was trying not to yawn.

"Thank the Lord," Ishizu said shakily, pulling him close. "Oh Marik. . . . I had the most frightening dream. . . ."

Marik instantly became completely awake, settling down into his sister's embrace. "It was only a dream, dear Ishizu, whatever it was," he said kindly.

Ishizu smiled, stroking Marik's blonde hair gently. "Yes . . . it was only a dream," she agreed, saying many prayers of thanks for that.

"Can you tell me what it was about?" Marik asked softly.

Ishizu took a deep breath. "I will," she replied, "but first . . . let us make certain Rishid is safe as well."

Marik tiredly got down from the bed and followed her. Though he knew Ishizu had just had a dream, it was enough to get him concerned about their elder brother as well.

Rishid was in a very deep sleep when he felt both Ishizu's and Marik's hands come to rest on his shoulder.

"Rishid!" both of their voices exclaimed. "Please wake up!"

The kind Egyptian man opened his eyes and looked up at his siblings in wonder. "What is wrong?" he asked in confusion.

Ishizu smiled in relief while Marik leaned down to embrace Rishid. "Nothing now," she said, hugging him as well.

Rishid sat up, pulling them both close to him and knowing that they wouldn't have come to wake him up in the middle of the night if it wasn't important.

"I suppose it is all quite ridiculous," Ishizu sighed, "but after the dream I was immersed in, I had to make certain that both of my precious brothers were alive and well."

At the urging of Marik and Rishid, she then carefully told of her dream's events, nearly breaking down several different times. "By the dream's end, I knew I was going to lose you both," the poor woman whispered. "And . . . I didn't know how I was going to handle it!"

They had gone into the living room and were sitting on the couch by the fireplace. Marik and Rishid both hugged their sister tenderly as the flames crackled.

"But you haven't lost us, sister," Marik whispered. "We're both right here."

Ishizu smiled, reaching up to lay her hands on their arms. "Yes . . . both of you are." She paused. "I suppose . . . if I learned anything from the dream, it is how fragile life is. That . . . we never know when it will be taken away."

Rishid nodded, wholeheartedly agreeing with Ishizu's comments. He and his siblings had come through so very much. . . . They could have died so many times, but for some reason they had all continually been spared. He couldn't help hoping that that was because none of them could live without the others. He never wanted to lose Ishizu or Marik and have to find out whether he could manage it.

"Tonight I believe that we should be giving thanks that we are all still together," Marik spoke up quietly.

"Yes," Rishid declared, "we should. Perhaps, Ishizu, you had the dream to remind us all of how much we have to be thankful for."

"Perhaps I did," Ishizu mused as she clasped hands with her dear brothers to offer the prayer.