Epilogue O' Fluff

Welcome to the Epilogue O' Fluff! F.Y.I. – twas first drafted on the Erie Canal. (grin)

Enjoy the fluffy epilogue! Guaranteed to make you all warm and fuzzy inside! Well, actually, no, I can't guarantee that... (blink) ('Specially 'cause it's not as fluffy as I wanted it to be...vv)

Oh, and I had to take review responses out because apparently FanFiction counts that as 'interaction' and grounds for removal...

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9 a.m. the morning after the rescue found Isis sitting on the porch looking around the backyard, her chin resting in her hand, wrapped in a blanket, safe from the November chill. She was thinking. On the train back to Domino, she'd asked where the Sennen Rod had come from and, seeing as Malik was still asleep, Yuugi spoke up. He told Isis that he wasn't sure, but he could've sworn he'd glimpsed Shadi at the warehouse...

Shadi. Had Shadi been there? He didn't make quite as many 'appearances' as he used to. Every time he'd been seen, it had been because something to do with the pharaoh's revival or the Sennen Items was out of whack, and Shadi had to correct it.

Had Shadi really appeared to Malik for no apparent reason other than trying to help reunite the three Ishtars?

Of course, Isis decided, it was much more likely that had the Ghouls succeeded in their plan to terminate the Ishtars, it would've spelled trouble. Big trouble.

But still. She liked to think of Shadi as a friend, even if he didn't feel the same way.

During the five years between their father's death and Battle City, Shadi's sporadic visits helped ease the guilt and the loneliness, whether he realized it or not.

Isis often found herself wondering what kind of feelings the enigma kept locked inside. Her whole life she'd been good at reading people's personalities and feelings, except when they apparently didn't have any feelings to read. Which is why she'd been rather captivated by Seto Kaiba when they first met. He just didn't show any feelings, other than his special brand of irritated aloofness.

But she couldn't forget the second time that Shadi had ever appeared to her. It was very shortly after their father had been killed... Malik had collapsed, exhausted, after Shadi appeared to him and only him, his elder siblings having not seen the Egyptian rising from their father's body.

Flashback

Rishid lay on Malik's bed, cheek pressed against the pillows, his back bandaged, dozing.

Isis, having just finished her task of bandaging her older brother, scooped up her younger brother who was lying in a chair, slumping down in the chair herself, holding Malik in her lap. She realized she was shaking. Her ears were ringing with shrieks – Rishid's cries of pain, Malik's panic at the sight of their father's dead body, and her father's dying screams. And above it all, the psychotic laughter... She looked down at her little brother, sleeping rather fitfully. She stroked his hair, and at her touch he relaxed. Now he looked peaceful... How...How could that have been him back there, holding the dagger over his brother and father?

She just...didn't get it.

Her eyes had nearly closed, when she heard the footsteps. Her eyes flew open, and she held Malik protectively.

"Don't be afraid."

"Y-you!" she gasped.

It was the man from the marketplace.

His expression didn't change.

"Isis-sama, w-what is it?" Rishid asked, propping himself up, grunting in pain. He noticed Shadi, and his eyes widened. "What do you want?" he growled, not exactly posing as much of a threat in his current state.

Shadi looked him over. "Lie still," he said, his voice monotone, but softening ever so slightly. He turned back to Isis. "He must leave." He nodded toward the child in her arms.

"W-what do you want with Malik?" she demanded.

"Rishid shall leave as well."

"I...I will not leave Isis-sama," Rishid said stubbornly, succeeding in getting to his feet, leaning on the bed for support.

"But you will not leave Malik, either," Shadi said, a statement rather than question. Rishid was silent.

"I don't understand," Isis said, trying to maintain her cool façade. "Who are you? Why must they leave?"

"I am, as I said before, a tomb keeper as well. I am the guardian of the Sennen Items, and I am known as Shadi," Shadi explained. "They must leave because the pharaoh is reviving."

Isis closed her eyes. "Haven't we done enough for the pharaoh?" she whispered.

Shadi studied her. "The darkness inside your brother's heart will continue to grow," he said gravely. "If Malik can complete his role as an Ishtar, possibly this darkness will cease to exist. But to complete the role -"

"He must find the pharaoh," Isis interrupted. "So...You mean, that the being that killed our father... Was the darkness inside my brother?"

A nod. "Rishid and Malik must leave immediately."

"Rishid is in no condition to travel!" Isis cried in protest.

"They will not travel far today. I will be watching over them."

Rishid sighed. "I suppose we have no choice," he said wearily.

"Shadi..." Isis stared down at her little brother. "What if... What if the darkness in his heart grows unchecked? What will happen?"

"It will be tragedy for the entire world," Shadi said gravely. "And the Malik you know will cease to exist forever."

Isis silently laid Malik in the chair and crossed the room to Rishid, throwing her arms around him, careful not to touch the wounds on his back. She clung to him like a frightened child. "I don't want to lose Malik," she said softly.

"It won't come to that," Rishid assured, returning the embrace.

A while later, the four of them stood at the stairs leading up to the outside world. Or rather – three of them stood; Malik was asleep in Rishid's arms. Isis stroked his hair, and the sleeping child stirred, opening his eyes slightly and looking around blearily. "Nee...san...?"

Isis smiled at him. "You and Rishid are going to go on a little trip," she said, trying to keep her voice as bright as possible.

"Won't Father be mad?"

"No, Malik, it's alright."

He looked up at her pleadingly. "Neesan... Aren't you coming?"

"No," Isis said softly, shaking her head and blinking back tears. "B-but we will not be apart for long."

"Oh." Satisfied, Malik snuggled close to Rishid, his eyes closing. "See you, Neesan."

With that, the two brothers ascended the stairs, and were gone. Isis stared after them, holding back tears. "How long will it be until I see them again-?" she asked quietly, turning to Shadi, standing behind her.

But Shadi was gone.

End Flashback

The next day she had seen the events to come in Battle City through the Sennen Tauk. Fear gripped her heart then, because she didn't know if she would ever see her brothers again. She'd seen the way Rishid had fallen; she had seen Malik lose control to the darkness.

But they had all survived it. And they had survived this recent ordeal as well, because as long as they had each other, they could overcome anything.

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Upstairs, Malik still lay in his bed, sleeping the morning away. He felt a hand on his cheek. He stirred slightly. "Nee...san?" he mumbled.

"Hello, Malik."

Malik had hard that voice yesterday. His eyes snapped open.

The woman standing over him smiled. He smiled back.

"Hello, Mother."

Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, she was gone. Malik looked around his room, the events of the previous few days coming back to him. He looked over at the digital clock by his bed – a quarter past nine. He got out bed, finding he was still dressed – Rishid must've put him in his bed last night. Malik shuffled down the hall, finding Rishid still asleep. He tiptoed down the stairs and out the back door, where he found Isis sitting on the porch.

"You haven't been up for long either, Neesan?" Malik guessed, noting his sister's rather tousled hair.

She smiled. "You could use a comb yourself," she teased lightly, fluffing his hair with her fingers.

For a while, they said nothing, simply enjoying each other's company.

"I'm hungry," Malik said, out-of-the-blue.

"I bet you are," Isis said, smiling. "Were you eating while we were gone?" she asked rather sternly, as though she and Rishid had merely been away on a trip. Malik nodded.

"B-but when did you last eat?" he asked suddenly.

"Last night, after we arrived at home."

"Oh, I see."

"Does koshari sound good?" Isis wanted to know, smiling.

Malik smiled back. "Of course it does." She began to get up, but Malik grabbed her hand. "Don't trouble yourself," he insisted, and she sat back down.

"Was I really asleep since the duel ended?" Malik wondered aloud.

"For the most part, yes."

Malik looked a tad embarrassed. "So, what all did I miss?"

"Not much, really... Mokuba persuaded Seto to get a Kaiba Corp. doctor to look over us all. He stitched up Rishid's arm, and he told us that it was already healing nicely. You were severely exhausted, he said, both physically and mentally, and needed your sleep."

Malik nodded slowly. "And... I needed you and Rishid." His hand slowly found its way to Isis', and he squeezed it.

"We all must've been quite a sight on the train," Malik grinned dryly after a moment.

Isis smiled amusedly. "Actually... About as soon as we set foot on the train, Seto stalked to the front and reserved us our own compartment."

Malik chuckled out loud. "That's Kaiba, alright."

He paused. "Neesan... I had this dream," he said, the words coming out in a rush. "I don't know... Maybe it was more like a vision. ... Mother was in it."

Isis sucked in her breath.

"I... I never knew that you look so much like her," Malik continued slowly. "It's your eyes that are most alike – different colors, I know, but when she looked at me... I saw the same warmth that lights up your eyes when you look at me. Her smile is just like yours... I love it when you smile, Neesan. When you smile...I know you've forgiven me, and I can come closer to forgiving myself."

Smiling and blinking back sudden tears, she leaned forward and embraced him, Malik eagerly returning the hug.

The two sat like that in silence for a moment. When they drew away, Isis was staring at him. "What is it?" he asked, cocking his head and looking at her.

She shook her head and turned away, smiling. "You see... Yuugi told Rishid and I what happened when you found that Ghoul... The one that claimed t-that he had ..."

Malik stared down at his hands, still remorseful from his moment of weakness.

"Don't be ashamed," Isis whispered then, squeezing his hand, knowing what he was thinking. "Rishid and I... We are both very proud of you."

"It is the truth," came a voice from behind them. The two younger Ishtar turned to face the eldest, who sat on Malik's other side, laying a hand on his little brother's shoulder.

Malik turned to Rishid. "Oniisan..." he said urgently. "Who am I?"

Rishid looked perplexed. "You are Malik Ishtar..." Rishid answered, wondering what Malik meant.

"And... ?" Malik encouraged. Rishid suddenly realized what it was Malik wanted to hear. A warm smile spread across his face.

"And you are my brother."

Malik nodded. He turned back and looked at Isis. He looked back at Rishid. "And she is...?"

"Isis, our sister," Rishid complied.

Malik smiled, satisfied. He turned back to face the front and leaned against Rishid's shoulder. Isis followed suit, leaning against Malik's shoulder.

"Your birthday is next month, you know," she remarked to her younger brother. "What do you wish for?"

Malik thought for a moment. "Nothing I don't already have." He closed his eyes. "I live in the light with my siblings and my new friends, all of whom have accepted that I've changed from the person I used to be. ...What more could I possibly want?"

They were together again. The three sat in silence, finding no needs for words.

"Malik... Do you remember that stormy night a few months back?" Rishid said suddenly.

Malik nodded. "I asked you if you ever regretted being adopted as an Ishtar," he recalled.

"And I still could never regret it," Rishid confirmed. "If... If I'd never been adopted, then I wouldn't have you both – my siblings."

A smile spread across Malik's face.

"It's... It's silly, really..." he said embarrassedly.

His older siblings looked at him curiously.

"I feel as if right now, I tried to fly, I could do it."

Because he knew where he belonged now. He belonged on this planet, in this country, in this city, on this porch...in these arms.

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Ending notes!

Whoo, it's come to a close. I first created the document containing the first chapter on June 12th, and 'MI' was a work-in-progress all that time. I can now say that I am quite sick of writing Yuugiou angst. XD

So, now then, onto my next projects. Not that ya'll really care.

I'm gonna be writing in the InuYasha fandom now – I've got two one-shots planned out that tie together and will serve as prequels for a rewritten version of Don't Let Me Let You Go, because 'Go', is old and a piece of crap, 'cause I wrote it back when I was one of those hyper authoresses who's like, "OOH! INU-BABY! I LOVE YOU!" and stuff. XP

I will not be completely chucking the idea of a sequel to 'MI' out the window. (grin-sweatdrop) It will most likely involve the mafia.

I wanna write a YGO Christmas fic! So I might work on that at random times. And you could see Wild Drive rise from the ashes sometime.

Kami-chan: (pops up) Sorry for the delay in getting this updated, folks. We were busy and didn't exactly have a lot of time.

Mojobubbles: ... 'time'? What is this 'time' you speak of?

Kami-chan: XD Anyway, big thankies to all of ya who reviewed, and a really BIG thankies to all our loyal reviewers. n.n Ja ne!