Title: Matarab leena ahbaab (Return our loved ones to us)
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh!
Pairings: to be established yami x hikari

Genre: (AU) supernatural, romance
Warnings: sappy angst and melodrama.
Summary: Bakura Ryou, renowned archaeologist, has followed into the footsteps of his father, working for the government at an excavation site in Egypt. After discovering the palace of a long forgotten Pharaoh, Ryou, together with his good friend Yugi and the local guide Malik, is suddenly pulled into a series of events that will change his life forever.

Disclaimer: I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh, don't make any money out of this, blah blah nobody cares.

Author's note: unbeta-ed.

He got used to the hot, scorching sun a long time ago. He got used to the freezing nights a long time ago. He got used to this nomad life, primitively camping at an excavation site, a long time ago. What he still hadn't got used to, however, was his pale skin- despite his life in the desert, living under the sun, Bakura Ryou never got a tan. The same applied to his good friend and assistant, Mutou Yuugi- due to return from Luxor any moment now-, who always wore a light-colored cloak to cover his conspicuous hairstyle, just as Ryou did. Yuugi sported an unique spiky multi-colored hairdo, in magenta, black and gold, while Ryou had long, white hair with silvery strands reaching his mid-back. He smiled at the thought of his friend, who shared his interest for history and archeology, and Ancient Egypt in particular. They've known each other for –how many years now?- so long and they'd always been convinced that one day, they would be digging around in the desert sand themselves, not in search of gold and legendary treasures, but in search of history itself.

Ryou wrapped the cloak around him, carefully hiding his hair as to not set the diggers of. They were simple farmers, hard working but very superstitious people- both his and Yuugi's hair had been quite the topic of discussion, and not always in a positive meaning. The cool cloak protected him from the beating sun as well- Ryou sometimes got a bit upset that his skin still reacted so sensitive to the rays. I should've been resembling a coffee bean by now, he thought to himself. Only geeks like me and Yuugi can live in a hot desert and not get one itty little bit of a tan.

He was on his way to the large tent in the middle of the camp, housing the workers and a small staff of other archeologists and experts, working together- Ryou was the supervisor and the one in charge of this dig. It was a pretty exciting dig; many people thought that the Valley of the Kings had been pilfered, looted, robbed of its every treasure it hold and that only combing with a fine tooth comb would result into a speck of gold, maybe- but Ryou had a great lead.. a lead his father left him.

Every time when he stepped into that large tent, when his colleagues and coworkers would look up to him, he wanted his father to be there. He wanted to see his father, with his calm and gray eyes, and his reassuring, confident composure.. and an approving look on his face. Having lost his mother and his sister at a very young age, Ryou focused on his father, who was often away for archeological research and leading excavation works himself.. until one day, it became clear that he would never return. He could clearly recall the day that the letter of an Egyptian Ministry arrived; after not showing up for at least 40 days at work, it was 'safe to assume' that his father was missing, presumed dead in the desert and with much condolences, unfortunately there was nothing someone could do about it. Ryou grew up on his own from his 14th year, living alone in an apartment, financially taken care of, but emotionally left alone and uncared for. After he had transferred schools, he met Yuugi, who had lost his father due to a traffic accident- they became friends immediately.

"Good morning, sahib," one of the servants –Ryou hated using that word, but no one else seemed to mind- greeted him, offering him a large mug with fresh water.

"Good morning," Ryou answered him, accepting the water before he went over to the large table in the middle of the tent. The rest of his colleagues and coworkers greeted him as well and he returned the favor.

"Ryou, man, I think today is the day!" Jounouchi Katsuya was also a friend of Ryou, though not at the same level as Yuugi- he was a loud mouthed, bragging and often bratty guy; but that was only his exterior. Ryou knew that Jounouchi had his heart at the right place.. he only had some difficulties showing it. Hiroto Honda, sitting next to him, acted the same- not surprisingly, as they had known each other for even a longer period of time than Ryou and Yuugi. Both were here on the account of Kaiba Corporation, the co-sponsor of the excavation works, together with the national government of Egypt.

"And why is that, Jounouchi?" Ryou smiled, while unfolding the large map of the area. The map wasn't that accurate, but it was his father's and the only one he had left notes on. Ryou had to use other maps to pinpoint their position and the location of the dig; with all the maps lying on the table, he felt like some commanding officer.

Jounouchi lifted his steaming mug of coffee to Ryou and grinned. "We've been making good process, and according to your father's charts and notes, we are really close! Imagine how everyone will react when the Valley of the King reveals it's last, ultimate treasure!"

"I think you've been playing on your GameBoy too much," Ryou snickered and Honda grinned. He and Jounouchi were merely coordinating the work, keeping an eye on the progress- and they were bored. Ryou wasn't really sure what their jobs were before they were directed to assist him, but it had to do with a lot less paperwork.

He focused his attention back on the map. After his father had been officially proclaimed dead, the government had returned all his belongings to Ryou, including maps, charts and notes. Ryou knew where his father had been looking for all his time; the palace of a long forgotten Pharaoh from the 18th Dynasty, a discovery that could be equal to the sensational unearthing of Tutankhamen's tomb. Can you imagine, my son? The implications of such a discovery? We would be completing history.. contributing to history.. by finding another Pharaoh from one of the greatest civilizations of the world and giving him back his name. Don't you feel the thrill, my son? The excitement?

"Hey! Ryou!"

"Whu-what?" Ryou looked up, seeing Jounouchi standing in front of him.

"Man! Don't space out on me, you were giving me the creeps!"

"Sorry about that," he mumbled, fidgeting with the map in his hands. I will find this Pharaoh and give him back his name, if only for you, dad. "I was just thinking.."

"Good morning everybody!" The tent flap was pushed open and Ryou was relieved to see his friend- Yuugi entered the tent, smiling exuberantly as always. He was carrying a large basket of bread, reminding Ryou that he didn't have any breakfast yet, and was followed by…

"Sabaah el khayr," the tan, blonde Egyptian greeted, though not very enthusiastic. "Good morning."

"Good morning," the others greeted him, looking a bit curious at him. Yuugi put the basket on the table, avoiding contact with the maps, and beamed at Ryou.

"Ryou, this is Malik Ishtar.. Malik, this is Bakura Ryou, the man in charge of the excavation. Malik is a guide and was raised in old traditions of the Ishtar family, a family that guarded tombs of royals and Pharaohs for centuries!"

"Ah, you are our new expert in the field," Ryou nodded, and extended his hand for a welcome. Malik simply shrugged in answering and ignored the outstretched hand.

"A long forgotten Pharaoh.. it's been a while since we had one of those," he said. "You'd think everything would be discovered by now. Your friend here is pretty insistent- I wouldn't want to waste my time at another excavation site that claims to have "discovered another Pharaoh" yet again."

"Malik works for the National Museum," Yuugi continued, not bothered by the Egyptian's disdainful attitude. "He has been involved with a lot of excavations, appraising artifacts, and his expertise on national history is widely acknowledged-"

"And why exactly is he here, in all his mighty glory?" Jounouchi asked, not really liking the way Malik looked; the combination of his African-Egyptian physical features combined with platinum blonde hair and lavender eyes freaked him out for some reason –not to mention the black kohl used to stress those large eyes, and the two downward pointing lines below those eyes.. as if they were tattooed… Jounouchi pointedly ignored the large gold bracers on the Egyptian's arms and the golden choker around his neck.

"Jounouchi, we have been looking for a local guide, you know that," Ryou quickly said, using all his charm to keep the situation under control. The last thing he needed was irritation or annoyance- they already had to live and work very close, there was no room to allow negative feelings to stew and to escalate. "If mister Ishtar is as.. versatile as Yuugi said, we certainly can use his help."

Yuugi nodded and started munching on a piece of bread. "Is there still some coffee around here?"

One of the coworkers passed him a mug and he gratefully accepted it, looking satisfied. Jounouchi snorted a bit, still eyeing the Egyptian. Honda, as usual, copied the attitude of his best friend, also looking a bit weary at Malik.

If Malik was bothered or irritated, he didn't let it show. "Your friend here mentioned that you were looking for the palace of a long forgotten Pharaoh. What do you have so far?"

Ryou nodded. "Why don't you take a seat.. I will explain to you." He unfolded his father's maps again.