My Immortal

Summary: The Ghouls take revenge on Malik – with the lives of Rishid and Isis at stake, of course. The Ishtars will have to face the past that won't leave them alone. Fluffy.

Disclaimer: Nope, don't own.

Notes: I'm having Ryou's dad be the curator of the Domino Museum, and I'm having Domino City be in Tokyo. I read those somewhere – whether it was a fansite or a fanfic I can't tell you. But that's what Ima gonna do for this ficcie. And yes, the museum really does have grocery-store-style-sliding-front-doors. :P

Oh, thanks to Sarah for massaging my ego every time she'd read some of my angst, and thanks to LuckyLadybug66 for helping with random stuff, and for writing the threatening note, 'cause I couldn't think of anything for it to say, and for not minding that I stuck in a reference to her story There You'll Be. n.n

Any time you see some really specific bit of info, such as height or whatever, I got it from theria (dot) net.

You get a cookie if you can guess what A Perfect Circle song inspired Malik's creepy dream sequence. n.n I think I've got enough things in it related to the song for you to figure it out... The Yami/Yuugi thing towards the beginning is just a cute little hurt/comfort Yami/Yuugi not-actually shounen-ai-but-it-depends-on-your-interpretation-thing....n.n It was inspired by the chapter of Daricio's fanfic 'Where's Yugi?' with the Yami B/Yami duel.

&&&&

"Have you talked to him today?"

"No, not me."

"Nope."

"No."

"Nuh-uh."

"I don't think he's talked to anyone since....since it happened."

"He hasn't even spoken with Mokuba-kun."

"Wait, Yuugi, Mokuba knows?"

"Yeah. Kaiba-kun told him."

"How did he take it?"

"I don't know. But I can imagine...."

The others nodded.

"Hey, Jounouchi, didn't you call Shizuka? And Mai?"

"Yeah."

"What'd they have to say?"

"They're both taking it pretty rough...."

The others nodded. Shizuka...well, he'd saved her life. And Mai had taken quite a liking to the three of them.

"Mai's trying to get time to come down here, and Shizuka's persuading Mom to bring her here. They want to talk to him."

"I can't believe he came to school today..."

"Me neither."

"Well, it's probably pretty lonely back at his house, right? I mean....they're both gone...."

"Bakura-kun's right...."

"Hey, I've got to get going......"

"Yeah, me too. Jiichan will be wondering where I am."

"See you, Yuugi."

"Bye."

"See ya tomorrow."

"G'bye."

&&&&

Yuugi Mutou was walking slowly home, letting his mind wander straight into his soul room. It didn't matter that he wasn't paying attention; he knew the route to the Kame Game Shop very well.

In his soul room, he sighed, and kicked a rubber ball, watching it bounce off the wall.

"Aibou?" came Yami's voice from the doorway. "Are you alright?"

"Malik-kun isn't talking to anyone, mou hitori no boku," Yuugi mumbled, chewing his lip.

"Aibou...." Yami walked into the room and placed his hands on Yuugi's shoulders.

"It's not fair!!" Yuugi burst out, burying his head in his other's shirt. "It's...." He gave up, and Yami let him sob into his shirt. "H-he doesn't deserve to suffer anymore," Yuugi choked. "Did you see...last night...did you see the look on his face?"

Yami looked at him. Yuugi's heart was too big for his own good – but, Yami realized, that was one of the things about his light that he loved, one of the reasons he felt lucky to share a body with this boy.

&&&&

It was going to rain. He craned his head and looked up at the saturated gray clouds.

He was the antecedent of every 'he' spoken in Domino, it seemed.

He was Malik Ishtar, and he was alone.

Malik had ridden his motorcycle to Domino's cemetery. He wasn't sure why he'd come up here. It just seemed to make sense.

After all, they weren't buried here yet.

He didn't even want them to be buried here. He was afraid of that – he was afraid of burying them, because it would be as though he was admitting they were truly gone.

However, he knew, deep down, they were gone, and he would have to accept it if he were to ever move on.

But how could he move on, anyway? They were dead because of him.

He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair, turning yesterday's events over in his mind.

Flashback

Lately, Malik Ishtar had been walking with a bit of a bounce in his step.

Malik stared outside the window of the bus, his head bobbing slightly in time with the music he was listening to on his personal CD player. He loved that thing like it was a third sibling. Neither of his older siblings shared his tastes in music. ("Those sound like some very angry young men," was Isis' reaction to Linkin Park.) So a personal CD player meant Malik could listen as loud as he pleased and not bother anyone.

The only problem was that, on more than one occasion, his CD player had completely shut out the outside world, and many times Malik had nearly missed his stop.

This time he didn't, however, and, with a backward wave at the bus driver, the teen, shouldering his backpack and clutching his CD player, jumped off the bus.

It was already past seven in the evening, Malik guessed. He'd already told his siblings, though, that he planned to head to Yugi's that afternoon (the group gathered there regularly to do homework, but all the games in Yugi's shop posed a bit of a distraction). He'd also head over to Mokuba's house, because the black-haired boy had recently bought a new video game he'd wanted to show Malik.

Walking down the sidewalk and skirting past a puddle of rainwater, Malik had to smile at the memory of Mokuba crying triumphantly, "I beat you!! I won!"

Mokuba had confessed, though, that he was worried at the lack of sleep his brother was getting. Malik was sure that Kaiba knew just how much his younger brother idolized him, but sometimes Malik did find himself getting aggravated with the CEO for always pushing himself the way he did. Seeing as today had been the last day of school before a week-long break, Malik had encouraged Mokuba to talk to his brother, maybe try and get him away from his work, just for a little while.

After all that Malik had seen and been through, he was determined to make sure nothing of the sort ever happened to Mokuba. He knew how much Kaiba meant to Mokuba, and he hoped that nothing would ever happen to the bond the brothers shared.

But as he neared the house he lived in with his siblings, Malik felt a growing dread in his stomach. He felt like something was terribly wrong with his own siblings.

Malik walked up to the door, reached into his pocket and fumbled with the key for a moment. "Rishid?" he called, as soon as he was inside. "Neesan?"

No one answered. A quick check of the house confirmed that it was indeed empty. He was rapidly growing more and more nervous. Perhaps they were at the museum? It closed early on Mondays, but maybe Isis had some other business to take care of, and Rishid stayed with her.

Yes, that was highly likely. It just seemed odd that they hadn't left a note...

&&&&

It was raining by the time Malik reached the museum. It was dark and still, his footsteps echoing on the polished marble floors. "Hello?" he called as he walked inside. "Neesan? Rishid?"

Still no one. The nervous feeling was worse than ever. He swallowed, his mouth feeling dry. He was being stupid. He had to shake it off. Malik dug out his keys, having reached the door that led into the employees-only basement. They had to be down here. They had to be.

But it was dark in the basement as well. "Anyone here?" Malik called desperately.

He walked down the basement hallway to Isis' office. The light was on, and the door slightly ajar. Taking a shaky breath and steadying his shaking hands, Malik grabbed the doorknob and thrust the door open.

He reeled backwards.

The chair was overturned, papers were everywhere, books lay on the floor, a knife lay on the floor as well, and there were bloodstains on the green carpet.

&&&&

"Finished," Ryou said, throwing down his pencil triumphantly, having conquered his math homework.

But then his father got the call. He could tell immediately something was wrong by the urgency in his father's voice.

"Yes, I see," his father said soberly. There was a pause. "K-kidnapped? An employee? Who was it?"

Ryou froze, listening as best as he could. 'Someone working at the museum has been kidnapped?' he thought.

"Sure sounds like it," Bakura answered through their mind link.

"Isis Ishtar!?" his father gasped incredulously from downstairs.

Ryou nearly fell out of his chair.

"Her brother was kidnapped as well? Which brother?"

Ryou listened, utterly silent, Bakura appearing next to him in transparent form.

"I see," Ryou's father said heavily. "So it was Malik who found they were missing?"

Ryou and Bakura stared at each other, eyes wide. The rest of the conversation was irrelevant to them.

They heard Ryou's father sigh wearily and hang up the phone. "Ryou?" he called upstairs. "That was the police."

&&&&

They reached the museum shortly thereafter. Ryou refused to stay at home – Malik was his friend – the only one of his friends, in fact, to which he'd shared some of his secrets. Back during Battle City, while everyone had been at Alcatraz, a few lost souls found themselves wandering aimlessly throughout the island. Ryou and Malik had been two of those souls, and their paths often crossed.

A few police cars were parked outside, and a few officers stood outside the door, keeping out passerby. When Ryou and his father approached the door, the police officers nodded and let them pass. As soon as they were inside, Ryou broke into a run through the hall and down the basement steps, his father running after him.

Downstairs, they found more policemen, and were greeted by a very businesslike policewoman, who introduced herself as Mikage Yukimura.

"Where's Ma-" Ryou began, but stopping short when he noticed the Egyptian sitting in a small plastic chair off to the side, silent and looking rather shell-shocked.

"He's not talking to anyone," Yukimura said softly. "We'll have to question him eventually...but he doesn't have to say anything yet if he doesn't want to."

Ryou walked slowly over to Malik, who didn't look up. "Hey, Bakura," he said quietly.

"Hi," Ryou said, just as inaudible.

"The police think they have a clue," Malik told him.

"T-that's good."

Silence. Ryou remembered clearly the agonizing silence and tense hours of waiting for news of a loved one. It had happened to him more than once.

Deciding that Malik would probably rather be left alone, Ryou turned and began walking away. But a hand reached out, grabbing Ryou's wrist.

Ryou turned back to see Malik looking up at him, his eyes imploring. "Don't leave me," he whispered. "I'm kind of scared."

"Okay," Ryou whispered back, dragging over another chair and placing it next to Malik's. "I won't."

Only a few minutes had passed when they heard indignant shouting coming from upstairs.

"That sounds like Jounouchi..." Malik noted, turning to Ryou.

"I, um, called the others and told them before O-tousan and I came here...." Ryou answered, rather uncomfortably. "Do you mind?"

"No, that's okay," Malik said, a small smile coming across his face. He honestly couldn't be sure if he minded or not, but he didn't want Ryou to feel bad.

The two of them headed up and out of the basement and to the front of the museum, where they saw Jounouchi, Anzu, Yuugi, and Honda standing outside, being turned away by the police. Jounouchi, of course, wasn't going to be turned away easily. Honda joined in his protests, and even Yuugi and Anzu continued to implore with the police officers.

Malik and Ryou stepped up to the doors and they slid to admit the two boys, startling those outside.

"Hi, guys..." Ryou blinked. "Um, what's the trouble, Officer?" he asked timidly.

"W-we cannot allow them inside," the officer stuttered. "This is a crime scene; we cannot allow the public to just walk in."

"We're not the public, and we're not 'just walking in'!" Honda interjected.

"Umm...." Malik spoke up, thinking fast, everyone turning to look at him. He rubbed his arms, embarrassed at being the center of attention. "I was hoping they could wait with me. F-for news and stuff. I-is that a problem?"

"Uh..." the police officer shook his head. "No, I suppose it's not a problem. Just don't mess anything up."

"Thanks for that," Anzu said quietly to Malik, as the group headed back into the museum.

"Um, how are you feeling?" Yuugi asked Malik. It was a rather half-brained question, but he didn't know how else to break the uncomfortable silence.

"Kinda nervous," Malik said softly. "I-"

But by then they had reached the basement, and Yukimura came up to the group.

"Hey, Malik, can we talk to you for a bit?" she asked, her voice businesslike but not unfriendly.

She led them over to the plastic chairs that had been set up. She gestured for Malik to sit in one, and sat in one across from him.

"We've got some good news and some bad news. Which would you rather hear first?"

Malik chewed his lip. "T....the bad news."

"Alright. The blood we found at the scene – we did some DNA testing, and the blood is your brother's. A bit of it came up as unknown – we don't know whose blood it was."

"The kidnappers'?" Honda offered.

"It's highly likely," Yukimura answered.

"I guess he was trying to fight them off," Malik said, swallowing. "H-he didn't want them to hurt Neesan, so..." He felt someone grip his shoulder.

"Okay, now it's time for the good news," Yukimura, smiling slightly. "The knife we found – covered in fingerprints, and we identified the knife as being from a store in Nagasaki. The police down there have been alerted, and an investigation going on there as well, so we should have some news soon."

"Think it will be good news?" Ryou asked hopefully.

"We just have to be optimistic," Yuugi answered. "Right?"

"Oh, the next thing," she said, rising to her feet. She grabbed a male officer walking by, and they spoke in hushed voices. The two officers returned, and Yukimura, wearing gloves, held out a few tattered pieces of paper.

Malik's mouth dropped open.

"I'm guessing this is the first you've seen of these?" the officer asked.

"You can't protect him forever. Ease up or you'll all go to Hell," the note said, dated a week ago. There were a few others, the same general threatening message, all dated within the past week.

The others gaped as well. "T....they never told me anything about this," Malik said dazedly. "I guess they didn't want to worry me..."

"Can any of you ID the handwriting?" the officer asked.

They all studied the untidy scrawl, but shook their heads.

"Any idea who it was that could've done this?" Yukimura urged. "Anyone with a grudge against you, or anyone who feel they'd be justified in harming you...?

Suddenly, Malik's eyes got huge, as an idea hit him full in the face.

"The....the Ghouls," he said softly. "It was them."

"The Ghouls?!" the officers repeated incredulously.

"What would the Ghouls want with you and your siblings?" Yukimura asked.

Malik opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He stared down at his lap, bangs falling in front of his face.

The others looked uneasily at each other.

"Y-you've dealt with the Ghouls before?" Yuugi asked the officers.

"So far, they haven't been involved in any really major crimes, but yes, we've dealt with the Ghouls," Yukimura replied, a look of disgusted annoyance on her face.

"Well, you see...in Kaiba's Battle City tournament...." Ryou scratched his cheek.

"It was me," Malik whispered suddenly. "I was the one...I formed them. I led them."

The other officer looked appalled. "Do you have any idea how many problems the Ghouls have caused us!?" he asked.

In a flash, Jounouchi had grabbed the man by the collar, their faces inches apart. "Yeah? Well, we're not here to talk about your problems, are we?" he growled.

"Jounouchi!" a chorus of voices admonished at once.

"Sit down," Yukimura said harshly, giving him an exasperated look that said, 'Look, I understand you're angry, but you're pushing it...'

Jounouchi stepped back, glowering, and Yukimura turned back to Malik. "There's nothing else we can do now, really, except wait," she said quietly, placing her hand on his shoulder. "I'll let you know if there's any other news." She turned and left the group alone.

It appeared strange, the way that Jounouchi had come to be a bit protective of Malik, the way he was with the others. But if one knew the story behind it, it would make perfect sense.

Flashback...within a flashback. XD

Shizuka had been visiting Domino at the time. Their father had called their mother in order to let her know that Shizuka had arrived safely, and the siblings had come up with the excuse of going to the grocery store for a few things in order to leave the house. There was too big of a chance that somehow the simple phone call would escalate into an argument.

The parking lot had been crowded, so Jounouchi had had to park the car far from the store, and Shizuka went inside by herself.

And then, as she was coming back to the car, groceries in hand, a car came down the hill. Somehow, the driver had lost control, and the vehicle was barreling toward Shizuka very fast. She stood there, frozen, Jounouchi leaping out of their parked car.

"SHIZUKA!" he screamed, beginning to dart forward, when a blur dressed in a light-colored t-shirt dashed across the road, grabbing Shizuka and sending them both to safety.

The blur was Malik Ishtar. He'd landed beneath Shizuka, breaking the fall onto the hard pavement.

Jounouchi stood in shock for a moment. Had Malik just...saved his sister's life?

People began to gather around them, and Jounouchi slowly walked toward the growing throng, confused. Malik Ishtar – one of his bitterest rivals – had just saved someone's life. Not just any life – he'd saved the life of the sister of the person who hated him the most. It was bizarre.

When he reached the scene, Shizuka pushed through the people and threw her arms around Jounouchi's waist. "I think he's hurt!" she cried.

A man knelt down beside Malik, feeling his pulse. "He's breathing," the man noted, "but he doesn't look so good."

Malik's breathing was shallow, his eyes hollow.

"Malik, can you hear me!?" Shizuka exclaimed, crouching by his side and grabbing his hand. His hand twitched, and he groaned, beginning to come back to his senses.

The man by his side gently helped him into a sitting position. "What happened?" he mumbled.

A woman standing nearby smiled and placed her hand on Shizuka's shoulder. "You just saved this young lady's life."

Another woman and her young son stood nearby, quite distraught. "I...I'm so sorry," the woman was saying. "He was talking, and the car...I just wasn't looking, so..."

"We're sorry, Mister," the boy said tearfully, looking earnestly at Malik.

Malik had to smile. "It's okay."

"C'mon, we can get you ice back at home," Shizuka said, as she and the man helped Malik to his feet. Jounouchi was standing to the side, hands in his pockets, staring at the ground.

"Thanks," he mumbled, still staring at the ground. But then he looked Malik straight in the eye, and he grinned.

End flashback

It had not been much longer, perhaps maybe half an hour, when Yukimura emerged from the back room, marching resolutely to the group. Malik was leaning against the counters, idly poking at some of the artifacts there. Yuugi was looking around at the relics, mainly for Yami's benefit, who was torn between fascination and disgust at the public display of these precious items.

"We have news," Yukimura said, striving to keep her voice steady.

Malik looked at her face, and the nervousness began in his stomach again. "W...what...?"

"Malik," Yukimura began, taking his hand in hers. "We just got a call from the police down in Nagasaki. Rishid and Isis are dead."

The words pierced his heart like a knife. Everything was silent, like the calm before a storm.

Malik's legs gave way, and he collapsed to his knees, staring forward, his expression blank.

Dead. Gone. Forever.

He felt someone by his side, their arms tight around his shoulders – he thought maybe it was Anzu, but he didn't know.

He heard them talking, but the words blurred together into an incomprehensible mass of sound.

Dead...dead...dead...

"Snap out of it!" Jounouchi was demanding, sounding as though he were about to cry. "Wake up!"

"What do we do?" Ryou cried, distraught, looking at Yukimura.

In response, she crouched down in front of Malik, held tight in Anzu's grasp. "Malik, can you hear me? Malik?" Yukimura shook the boy's shoulders, but no response. He'd gone completely catatonic.

End Flashback

He wasn't sure how he'd gotten home....someone must've taken him; nor was he sure when his unresponsive state had ended. He wished he hadn't been so numb – he knew it had scared the others. Malik sighed.

All throughout the day at school, the others had been rather quiet, watching him carefully, jumping to his defense if anyone tried to bother him about the details of the previous night. Malik was honestly both thankful and exasperated at their behavior. He wasn't quite sure how to justify either reaction.

He wasn't even sure why he'd gone to school that day. After all, Malik doubted he'd gotten more than three hours of sleep the previous night.

But, deep down, he knew why he had gone – he couldn't stand the silence.

He suddenly realized it had been raining on him, the rain growing steadier and heavier, and he chose to head home.

He decided when he got home he'd make himself eat something (he knew the others would worry if he didn't) and then he would read, watch something on television, just do anything distracting – until he fell asleep.

Malik had found the night before that if he simply lay there and tried to sleep, the memories and thoughts and what-ifs filled his head until the pain cut through him like a thousand white-hot knives. He had realized with a cold slap in the face that he was alone. And now, he would always be alone.

Then he'd cried.

He hadn't cried since the previous night, since he learned that the Ghouls were behind everything, because he'd felt so frustrated and scared and helpless and guilty.

But when he was told they were dead, there was nothing but a numb disbelief.

Finally he reached his house and parked his motorcycle in the driveway, shielding his head from the rain and running up to the porch.

His plans for the evening were changed suddenly, because Malik had noticed a damp, forlorn Mokuba Kaiba sitting on the porch.

Everyone knew Mokuba and Malik were best friends – it had been that way ever since Malik had somehow managed to save both the Kaiba brothers from a car accident. (Malik seemed to be good at that sort of thing.)

"Er.....hi," Mokuba mumbled, staring at the ground.

"Hello," Malik blinked. "Um, should we go inside?"

Malik pulled his keys from his pocket and, fumbling with them, unlocked the front door. Mokuba pretended not to notice his friend's shaking hands.

"You can sit down," Malik offered as they walked inside. "I need to get a sweatshirt," he added, shaking the water from his hair.

He headed up the stairs and down the hall to his room, quickening his pace as he came by their rooms. He didn't want to go in to either, yet.

But there was one room he was sure he'd never be able to enter again.

The Ishtars had acquired a nice-sized two-story house in a quiet, suburban neighborhood of Domino.

Isis, of course, being with the Egyptian government, had quite a few connections that had helped them out a great deal.

And in the house was a sort-of den.

Isis brought home a lot of artifacts to study further down there, and there was a small desk at which Malik would sometimes sit and do schoolwork. (Malik had learned that while math was not his strong point, Rishid seemed to understand numbers and what you could do with them pretty well.) And at times, when Isis would be a bit frazzled with her work, Malik would come down and offer a helping hand or even just a distraction. They'd spent a lot of time together, something Malik didn't want to be reminded of.

He returned to the kitchen, pulling a dark sweatshirt over his head as he did so, finding Mokuba sitting at the kitchen table.

"Uh....do you want something to drink...or...something...?" Mokuba stumbled. Malik blinked.

"Water would be nice, if you don't mind," Malik shrugged.

Mokuba nodded and jumped to his feet, grabbing two glasses from the cabinet over his head and filling them in the sink. Malik even found himself a bit amused at his friend's sudden motherly attitude.

They'd been sitting for a few moments in silence, when Malik noticed Mokuba was staring at him.

"Are you okay?" Malik asked.

Mokuba stared down at his hands. "W-when I got home from school this afternoon, Niisama told me what happened, and I know it's not really my business, but I came because I wanted to see you, and I wanted to see if maybe I could help; I was thinking maybe I would be able to help, 'cause when I was little my parents died and I sort of remember them, and I remember missing them, and....You've always been there for me, s-so I wanted to try and help you out too..."

He was crying by now, although he was trying to hide it. "I-I miss them too. 'Cause Isis let me hang out in the museum when there was no one around, and Rishid's saved me and Seto more times than I can count, and..."

Malik was grinning, despite the tears running down his face. His best friend. The first person to be honest to him all day. He knew then, probably more than ever, that he would be willing to give anything to keep this boy safe.

He got up and went around the table, his hands resting on Mokuba's shoulders. "Thank you," he said warmly. "I....I forgot...I forgot I have people there for me. So...I guess..." He just ruffled Mokuba's hair, unable to go on.

&&&&

The other two Ishtars had had quite an eventful time the previous day as well, because, they were, in fact, very much still alive.

Flashback

"It's about time you two came around," a voice sneered from overhead.

"Geez, how hard didja hit 'em, anyway?" snickered another voice.

Isis Ishtar blinked, slowly sitting up and looking around. She was lying on the hard metal floor of a room that looked as though it were designed for storage.

"Rishid!" she cried, turning and noticing her brother sitting up as well. But something was wrong with Rishid. His breathing was slow and labored, and he looked pained. She noticed that he clutched his arm, blood dripping from between his fingers. Everything came back to her then – the call that made threats to Malik's life, ordering Isis and Rishid to her office at the museum...then they'd been accosted by the men in robes, and in the struggle, the slash Rishid received on his arm....

She was at his side in an instant, despite the pounding in her head.

"Heheh, how sweet," the first voice sneered again. She looked up to face them, and her eyes widened.

They were Ghouls.

"What," Rishid choked, "have you done with Malik-sama?"

"Not to worry," Ghoul #1 said. "He's very much alive, and will remain so...for a little while, at least."

"We were told to keep your stay nice and comfortable," Ghoul #2 added, his voice derisive. "So if there's anything you need, just let us know."

"How about a more comfortable room, then?" Rishid asked dryly, shifting awkwardly on the hard metal floors.

"Now, now, let's not overstay our welcome," Ghoul #1 replied. "Or we may have to carry out the plan sooner than we intend to." He grinned maliciously, and Isis and Rishid realized their plan didn't involve the Ishtars keeping their lives.

"Or," Ghoul #2, grinning spitefully, "we could just kill the brothers and keep the sister."

"Always the letch, eh, Kano?" Ghoul #1 joked loudly, and the two of them broke into laughter.

They obviously were not aware that they were dealing with the woman who, in less than half an hour, had wrapped Japan's most powerful businessman around her little finger. A very disgusted Isis got to her feet and slapped them both across the face, and they stopped laughing, staring in surprise.

"Don't you have any manners at all?" Isis asked, dismayed.

"Why, you little-" Kano gaped, reaching at her.

"Didn't anyone ever teach you to keep your dirty hands to yourself?" she asked, slapping his hand away.

The two Ghouls stared at her in a mix of hatred and apprehension, and backed off, grumbling.

Rishid smiled to himself.

"If our stay is to be comfortable," Isis continued, "then I need you to bring me medicinal supplies - antiseptics, bandages, things like that. My brother's been hurt."

The Ghouls stared blankly at her. She sighed exasperatedly.

"Do you understand this any better?" she asked, switching to the mix of Egyptian and Arabic the three Ishtars had first learned to speak as children.

Rishid let out a laugh despite himself.

Finally, the Ghouls, having had their intelligence insulted enough, scooted out of the room, slamming the door behind them.

A while later, the door opened slightly, and a bottle of antiseptic along with a gauze bandage thrown in.

"Alright," Isis said, her tone almost businesslike. "Let me see your arm."

Rishid shrugged off his cloak and gingerly pulled up his sleeve, revealing the wound. Isis tried not to let it faze her, having doctored many a scrape when Malik was a child and liked to see just how fast he could run down the stone corridors of their old home. She tore off a corner of the hem of her dress, sort of as a makeshift cotton ball, soaking it in the antiseptic.

"This will sting a little," she warned, gently dabbing at the wound. Rishid flinched but said nothing. She took the bandage and wrapped it around the gash, sitting back on her heels when she was finished. "It probably needs stitches," she said, eying her brother's arm critically. "But this is the best we can do for now. At least the bleeding has almost stopped."

She looked up and noticed Rishid watching her, smiling one of the rare smiles only an Ishtar ever saw.

Isis' serious face melted into a smile as well. "What is it?"

Just then, the door opened, and Kano, the Ghoul, stepped in. Isis and Rishid looked darkly at him.

"Only wanted to let you know what's been going on with your precious Malik," he said, smirking in a sinister way.

The other two Ishtars looked at him, shocked. "What have you done?!" Rishid growled, slowly getting to his feet.

"Don't get so hasty," Kano grinned. "With that injury, you should probably rest."

Isis leapt to her feet, stepping up so that she and the Ghoul stood only inches apart. Kano stood at 5'10", towering over Isis' 5'4" frame.

But he found her scary anyway.

"What did you do to Malik?" she demanded coldly.

Kano grinned rather nervously. "We just gone and killed him, that's all..." Not wanting to invite her wrath, he scooted quickly out the door.

Isis and Rishid stared after him in disbelief.

Dead...?

"No," Isis whispered, sinking to her knees. "They...wouldn't...they didn't...NO! I won't believe them, I won't!" she sobbed.

Rishid knelt by her side, drawing his sister into his arms. 'Malik-sama...'

'Malik-sama...no...Malik-sama...'

End Flashback

&&&&

Mokuba had left some hours later, leaving Malik alone. And then the thunderstorm began, along with the chuckling.

At first it had been barely audible, but began picking up volume. It was quiet, but the only thing Malik could hear.

Malik, still wrapped in his sweatshirt, sat curled up on the couch, his eyes squeezed shut, wanting badly for the storm to end.

The eerie chuckling was growing louder.

"I must be losing my mind," he whispered to no one. "W....who is in my head....?"

'Please, let me sleep,' he thought desperately. 'I want to sleep....'

He wasn't sure when he dropped off, exactly, but finally the exhaustion got to him, and he slept.

Suddenly, psychotic laughter exploded in his ears, and his eyes flew open.

Malik was standing immobile, unable to move.

He was on the Battle Ship, and Rishid was on the ground.

"N...no..."

But why...why couldn't he move?

"Hello, Malik."

He felt someone behind him running their fingers through his hair. He tensed up, the feeling sending shivers up and down his spine.

That voice....

The person behind him walked in front of him, and Malik found himself facing...himself.

Yami Malik smiled amiably.

"W....who are you?" Malik asked hoarsely.

"Don't be afraid, I'm here," Yami Malik answered, the smile on his face beginning to frighten Malik. "Don't look anymore." He pulled Malik's arm, and suddenly he could no longer see Rishid.

"Where's...what happened to my brother?" Malik panicked.

"Go to sleep," Yami Malik answered, his voice still calm. "I'm going to keep you safe."

"Who are you?"

"Do you remember all the times you've been angry? Do you remember what happens when you get angry?"

"I...I blackout...." Malik looked confused. "It's like my soul leaves my body. The angrier I am, the longer it lasts...especially if Rishid isn't around..." He looked at Yami Malik.

"That's me," Yami Malik whispered, in the insane, excited tone he would become famous (or infamous) for using. "Those blackouts – are because of me. I take over your body for you, protecting you from all the pain, and the truth, and the choices..."

Malik found himself unable to move again. Yami Malik stepped closer to him. "Because I am the only one that cares about you," he whispered in Malik's ear.

"I will protect you, and keep you safe...just go to sleep."

Malik felt his eyes slowly closing, the darkness swirling around him. "I don't like the dark," he whispered.

"That's alright," Yami Malik answered. "I...I love the dark very, very much."

Malik's eyes suddenly snapped open. "N-no....I don't want to sleep. I don't want you to control my body. I don't like you."

Yami Malik put his hands across Malik's shoulders, the other boy shuddering. "Now, you don't really mean that, do you?"

"G...get off."

Malik abruptly remembered how this had all played out. The last time...the last time, he'd succumbed to the darkness, where it controlled him for a long time.

...last time? There had been a last time?

Yes, a last time...during Battle City...But then...if he'd overcome his other...if the scene in front of him was a thing of the past, what was going on?

Malik glared at his dark half, suddenly recalling everything. "Everyone called you my dark character," he said, his tone furious, "but you...you are simply the darkness. You took over my head and my heart. But I beat you...you aren't a part of me anymore. You....get...out...GET OUT!"

Yami Malik was startled.

"I overcame you because I have Neesan and Rishid!" Malik burst out, but then he froze.

Yami Malik smirked widely at him. "But you don't have them anymore."

Malik's eyes widened, and he fell to his knees.

"They're gone," Yami Malik taunted, circling Malik. "They're dead. And you know whose fault it is?"

"It....it's mine," Malik said numbly.

"That's right," Yami Malik grinned, continuing to circle. "And you know what, Malik? I'll let you in on a little secret." He crouched and whispered in Malik's ear. "Rishid and Isis – they never forgave you for Battle City. And they weren't planning to."

Malik, in a flash, had whirled around and punched Yami Malik in the jaw. "LIAR!" he screamed, tears streaming down his face, his other flying back and hitting the ground.

"Ooh, I've touched a nerve, have I? Can't accept the truth, can you?" Yami Malik choked, struggling to his feet, wiping blood from his lip, but knowing he had the advantage.

"That's enough," two voices rang out from in the distance. From out of nowhere came a light, a light that slowly swept across the darkness. When the light touched Yami Malik, he screamed as though it were fire, drawing back from the light, but it continued to come closer.

The light engulfed everything, and when it faded, Yami Malik was gone.

"Malik..."

"Malik-sama..."

Malik turned, doubting, but wanting to believe. "N-neesan?" he called tentatively. "Rishid?"

And suddenly they were there, standing, arms outstretched. Isis was smiling, tears welling in her eyes. Malik ran toward them, smiling, but suddenly, the scene began to fade. "WAIT!" he screamed. "DON'T LEAVE ME!"

"Stay strong," he heard his sister whisper.

"Things are not what they seem," he heard Rishid say, before Malik's eyes snapped open and he found himself tumbling off the sofa onto the floor.

"Things are not what they seem," Malik repeated, holding his head, looking around the room, as though expecting to see Rishid and Isis standing in front of him.

'That...wasn't an ordinary dream,' Malik thought. 'Could it be...they're not dead?'

&&&&

Mojobubbles: (grin) Now, here's Anzu with the next 'episode' preview!

Anzu: Eh? What's that, Malik? You think Isis and Rishid are alive? A search for clues leads us all the way to Osaka, Japan, where things aren't really as they seem! Next time on My Immortal! Duel standby!

Mojobubbles: Anyone who's seen the original eppies know what I'm trying to do...n.n Review, onegai?