Yu-Gi-Oh!

Family Secrets

By LuckyLadybug

Notes: The story is mine, the characters are not, and this is going to have sibling cuteness But it will also be dark. And it's the sequel to Family Ties. Get reacquainted with that one if it's unfamilair to you

And . . . on a very serious note, this story does deal with the abomination that is child abuse and molestation. It's a very real evil that exists, and though I've tried to portray things tastefully and don't do anything graphic, it still may offend some people. Please, if anyone knows of a child in a situation where they really are or might be being treated wickedly, don't hesitate to tell someone in authority about it.


Prologue

The lone figure sat at the darkened bar, guzzling another glass of the strong liquor he had ordered. Anger flamed in his ice blue eyes as he slammed the drinking utensil back down on the counter. Things were no better than they had been before. Once he had thought he had been close to accomplishing what he so desperately desired, but those hopes had all been in vain. He hadn't gotten the revenge he so desperately longed for. Still he lived in his humiliation, his defeat. He was known only to the public as the ex-national dueling champion, the one Pegasus had publicly humiliated.

But there was someone else he wanted revenge on now. He clenched his fists tightly at the remembrances that came to him. He couldn't forget how he had been treated. Never would he forget. And no matter how long it took, now he vowed to himself that he would have his revenge this time. Nothing would stand in his way.

The television in the corner above the bar lighted up suddenly with a report. But it wasn't the report that caught this man's interest. No, he had seen plenty of news pieces just like it and just as boring. It was the images that he found intriguing, one in particular. There were three tan-skinned people being pictured on the screen. He knew two of them, but was only concerned with one.

"Ishizu Ishtar, seen in company with her two brothers, now unveils the latest exhibit in the Domino Museum," the anchorwoman was intoning. "The strong man to the right is Rishid Ishtar, the elder brother. And the boy on the left, the teenager, is Marik Ishtar. They seem to be enjoying themselves. They're a very close-knit family, I'm told. Marik has some dark secrets in his past, but he seems to be doing his best to make up for whatever wrong it was that he committed." And how did this woman know anything about Marik's past? That remained to be seen.

The man perked up, staring intently at the images that flashed across the screen. Marik Ishtar . . . a teenager . . . only a teenager about sixteen. And yet he was the one hated with every fiber of this tortured soul's being.

A slow smirk began to form. An evil, deadly smirk. A smirk filled with the foretelling of every treacherous thing its owner wanted to do. "Marik Ishtar. . . . It looks like you've got a family. I wonder what you'd think if they were both taken from you." He stood up, determination flashing as he placed the dark sunglasses over his eyes. "I don't care if you're 'good' now. That makes no difference to me, punk. I'm not gonna be shown up by just a pathetic kid. No one mind-controls me without gettin' their just desserts." And with that Bandit Keith slowly walked out of the bar to plot his revenge.

Marik

Screams. . . . Piercing. Bone-chilling. Screams that echoed through every corridor of this Heaven-forsaken Hades on earth. They sent chills all up and down my spine. I was an observer in this scene and yet . . . no . . . I wasn't. . . . I was living it.

The screams stopped. A small body tensed, braced for whatever punishment might come next. It was a boy. . . . Somehow I knew it was a boy. . . . His entire frame shook with sobs and with the pain as he clutched the edges of the stone he was tied to. Blood spilled down over his back. He had been tortured.

Then a tall, shadowed figure stepped into view. With a dampened cloth he wiped the blood away and began bandaging the child's back, but I could see this boy feared him. Every time his hands touched the flesh, the small body jerked, trying desperately to get away. But he could not.

I wanted to run forward, to enter this scene and rescue the boy, but I was powerless. I could feel what he was feeling. Even then, invisible hands were upon my back, despite the fact that I was not truly wounded. I jerked myself, but it was no use. The feel of the touch remained.

I forced myself to gaze ahead. Surely, I thought, this child's misery is over now. Someone he loves will come for him and all will be well. But I couldn't know how wrong I was. His misery would only get worse.

The tall man sneered, gazing down at the trembling form. And never have I seen such a look of pure evil on anyone, before or since. Something flickered there that never should have existed. But his hands reached out, touching, carressing, in a way that no one should ever touch a child.

The boy screamed again. His voice was already almost hoarse, but still he screamed and struggled. His weak body was helpless against the strong ropes binding him down. Frantically he tried to curl in a ball. "NO!! No, Father, stop!!"

Everything froze in that one moment. Father. . . . No. . . . No, it couldn't be. . . . That man couldn't be his father. It wasn't possible! My fists clenched.

And suddenly the scene became clear to me. I knew the boy because he was me. The man was my father.

My eyes fly open. Gasping, I sit up straight in bed, clutching the edges of the quilt. My hair is damp with perspiration, sticking limply to my face and neck. What was that?! Why in Heaven's name would I dream something like that?!

Slowly I climb out of bed and wander into the bathroom adjoining my bedroom. The images replay in my mind as I splash cold water on my face and then gaze at my reflection in the mirror. The scars under my eyes seem to stand out, more so now than ever. I remember the day I received them. I remember it all too well. It was the same day my back was branded with the images and hieroglyphics I will carry for the rest of my life.

The water falls from my hands as I fall forward, gazing deeply into the mirror. That was the scene my dream had been depicting, I realize. I had just been scarred for life . . . but according to the dream, it was in more ways than one.

"No," I whisper, shaking my head vehemently. "That isn't true! That didn't happen!" In spite of everything my father had done, he hadn't molested me. In a fit of rage, I suddenly send the contents of a shelf crashing to the floor. Why am I plagued with these thoughts lately? This wasn't the first time I have had that dream. It has come to me for five nights straight now. Is it because of what happened to me in the museum last month? Is it because I had been at the mercy of a fierce, zombie-like creature who had nearly been about to have her way with me before I destroyed it?

I survey the scene before me, taking in the calamity I've just created. Then I drop to my knees, gathering up the fallen items. For sometime after that had happened, I had still suffered the lasting effects from the agony I'd felt then. It had been traumatic for me, but even now I wonder why it had had to send me over the edge, teetering on the brink of my sanity. I'm supposed to be strong. I'm not supposed to let anything disturb me in that way. For if my sanity starts to slip . . . I don't know what will happen to me then. I'm afraid of myself sometimes, though Ishizu and Rishid always encourage and comfort me.

Rishid. . . . Dear, kind, loyal Rishid. . . . This has all been hard on him as well. I frown as I shakily set the toothpaste, shampoo, and other products back on the shelf. Rishid found out that his birth parents are still living. His mother claims she left him by the well at the instruction of a mysterious man who knew she needed to keep Rishid away from his crazed father. Rishid doesn't know whether to believe her or not, though he's tried to be civil. But his father is a wicked man. My fists clench. Rishid has so much to worry about already. I can't add to that with my nonsensical dreams.

"Marik?"

I freeze at the sound of my elder brother's voice. I don't turn, I can't turn, but I feel him come up to me. When I look up, I can see his concerned expression in the mirror. Gently he reaches for my arm and lifts it slightly, his eyes narrowed.

"What is it?" I ask, genuinely baffled.

"You're bleeding," he replies softly.

I follow his gaze. He's right. There's a trail of blood all the way down to my elbow. But the actual wound itself doesn't seem too serious. I hadn't even noticed at all until now. I sigh in resignation and irritation. "Some things fell off the shelf," I say, telling only a half-truth. "The razor must have cut me."

Rishid shakes his head and opens the medicine cabinet behind the mirror, removing the first aid kit. "Something is worrying you, brother," he says quietly, dabbing an antiseptic pad along my arm. "I can sense it."

I smile a bit. It's useless trying to keep anything from Rishid. He has been around me longer than anyone else has, since he even endured the horrors of Battle City at my side. Sometimes I feel he knows my feelings even better than I do.

Rishid chuckles softly as he places a bandage over the cut. "You know . . . if you are hoping to keep me from worrying, Marik, I'm afraid it's too late for that. I do worry, and if you don't tell me what troubles you now, I will only continue to do so."

"You're impossible, Rishid," I retort, but I'm smiling. I cross my arms, leaning against the bathroom wall. "But it's nothing to worry about. Only a dream." My heart seems to race again at the memory. I cannot stand my father after what he did to me and to my siblings. The thought that he even ever possibly did something else on top of the already endless torture is too much to bear. Wouldn't I remember if he had tried to do that to me?! I remember everything else. I remember him tying me down to the slab and stabbing the hot knife into my flesh. And I remember him beating Rishid endlessly, hatred visible in his eyes. Ishizu he had usually ignored completely through the years, though when he had acknowledged her, he was never kind.

"Only a dream? Marik, you're trembling!" Rishid frowns, coming to stand in front of me. I gaze up at him, almost as if I'm really noticing his presence here for the first time. His face is etched with concern for me, his younger brother. It's strange. . . . To anyone who doesn't know him, Rishid would look fierce and forebidding—someone to be avoided at all costs. And yet he's actually such a gentle person by heart. He has been my shelter, my peace of mind, for so many years. The tattoos on the left side of his face, which to most would seem to indicate a very dangerous man and one who can take pain easily, are in reality one of the most sacred symbols between the two of us, something that shows Rishid's true nature of selflessness and unconditional love.

"Marik?"

His voice comes to me again. And I shake my head firmly, the earrings jangling as I do so.

"I'm fine, Rishid," I say quietly, though inside I couldn't feel less fine. I want to scream, I want to fling myself into my brother's arms and demand for him to tell me what I saw isn't true. I want him to tell me that No, I have never been harmed in such a treacherous way. But I'm afraid of the answer. If Rishid does know, he might have been keeping it from me so as not to make my burdens heavier.

Rishid knows my words are empty and untrue. He can hear the emptiness in them, as I can hear it. But he doesn't press the matter. Instead he simply hugs me close, allowing me the comfort of being wrapped safely in my brother's arms. He wishes I would speak, but he won't force me. He would never force me. Rishid also knows that I will tell him if I ever feel ready.

Unspoken words seem to pass between us then. We have a mental bond, but it doesn't always work. It seems, though, that it works when we most need it.

Were you thinking about . . . her? Rishid asks, meaning the zombie.

No, I reply. There is a long pause. Our father.

Rishid draws his breath in sharply. Then he hugs me close again and I am safe and secure. Nothing will happen to me while he is here. Nothing at all.

I embrace him in return, hearing the comforting sound of his heart beating. In my mind, I feel as though I'm a child again, in need of the love and protection I know my brother will give me. Of course . . . I'm still in need of it. I'm always in need of it. In the back of my mind something is pressing, telling me that once I feared my siblings wouldn't love me anymore. But I shove it away. Whatever it is, I don't want to remember it. I want to stay in the present.

"Come, Marik," Rishid says then. "You need your sleep."

I didn't even realize how tired I am until Rishid's words bring me to the knowledge that I am falling asleep standing up. Mechanically I allow him to guide me back to the bed and the soft sheets and pillows. I am dozing before I even completely lay down. There is so much I wanted to tell my brother and to ask him . . . but it will have to wait. My body refuses there to be any other options.

Rishid

I sit beside him long after he has fallen asleep. What plagues his poor mind so? I know there is something. He dreamt of Father . . . the first one I knew to call "Father" but who couldn't have treated either of us or Ishizu any less like his children than he did. Marik has suffered so much. It burdens my heart that this is so, but it is. I do not know of anyone else who has singlehandedly come through all that he has.

Marik seems to be dreaming peacefully now. He is still, his chest rising and falling slowly and normally as he clutches at the pillow. I cover him more fully with the quilt as it slips down his bare shoulders. He never sleeps with a shirt on.

My thoughts start to turn to my own pain . . . to what I have been fearing ever since our dastardly experience back in Egypt when I met my birth father. I have been fearing that he will come back and torment us further. I know that he will, but I do not know when. He will not leave us alone until I have opened the door to the riches that only I can unlock. But I will not assist him. Even if he harms my siblings, it would only dishonor them to help with my father's foul plans.

And what of Halima, my birth mother? I suppose if nothing else, I must be grateful to her for bringing me into the world, even though she did leave me at the well. But then, if she had not done so, I would never have met my siblings . . . nor the one whom I consider my true mother. I frown. But also I could have died. I don't know whether the story she told me is truthful, though now that I've seen the treachery of my father I could possibly believe it.

Marik murmurs softly in his sleep, gripping the pillow tighter. I smile in gentle amusement as I watch him. I am glad to see him rest. It is actually quite rare for him to do so completely, unless he is absolutely exhausted.

"He dreams."

I look up at the sound of Ishizu's voice. She smiles, walking into the room delicately and sitting on the edge of the bed as well. But then she looks up at me and I see the flicker of discomfort in her blue eyes.

"I have dreamed as well, Rishid, but my dreams were not pleasant." She speaks softly, not wanting her voice to intrude in on Marik's slumber.

I follow her out into the hall. "What were your dreams about?" I ask. She sounds urgent. I wonder if her dreams were about the same thing Marik dreamed of earlier—our father. Or if they could have been about my father's latest treachery, whatever that may be.

Ishizu takes my large hands into her small, soft ones. "Marik is troubled, Rishid," she tells me. "I have been sensing it the last few nights. Now my dream confirms it." She sighs sadly. "But it does not tell me what torments his heart and soul, though it gave a vague suggestion. In the dream, I saw him wandering through our old home in Egypt. He came upon a younger version of himself and the two gazed at each other as they walked past. Then the younger Marik turned and fled down a corridor, weeping. Our Marik followed him, confused." Ishizu frowns now, as do I. That is an odd dream. What could it be symbolic of? There is more than one possible interpretation.

"Marik never found his younger self. Our father . . . intercepted him." Ishizu looks up into my eyes and I see the immense sadness and worry within hers. "Father reached out and restrained him from moving, pulling him close and crushing our brother against his chest. Marik screamed, fighting him, but . . ." Her usually calm demeanor is gone, replaced by tears at the memory of her dream. "Father told him he would suffer for not continuing on the Tomb Keepers. Then he seemed to knock Marik unconscious. And my dream ended."

I stare at her, dumbfounded. The dream sounds treacherous. Does it mean our father has come back from the dead to torture Marik in his dreams? I don't understand.

"Oh Rishid. . . ." Ishizu bites her lip, the tears still spilling over from her eyes. "We returned home that time and now . . . now it seems what happened there is haunting us again. We cannot escape!" I can see she has sunk into despair. Normally Ishizu is not like this. It breaks my heart to see her so sad. But of course I can understand her sadness. I feel it as well.

Slowly I reach out, gathering her into my arms. "We will escape," I reassure her. "We will find out exactly what is troubling Marik and help him overcome it."

She clings to me, feeling helpless at first. But then she seems to relax slightly, a soft smile gracing her features. Perhaps she believes what I have said. But do I believe it? Do I believe my own words? Can we truly ever escape the horror that was our past? I know that if we had not gone through what we did, we might not even be as close as we are. I am grateful for the past in that respect, but if it keeps coming back to harm us in the present, then I am not grateful for that. I know how upset Marik had seemed earlier. I also have seen his troubled spirit the last few days. But only tonight has any light at all been shed on the mystery of why.

A rumble of thunder claps outside and the both of us are momentarily startled. But then we relax, turning to look back in the room at our younger brother. He is still sleeping, unaware of all around him. What lies in store for us—and especially him—tomorrow?