This one-shot was inspired by Lizeth's "Whadda ya mean it isn't here?" post to her DA journal sometimes ages away… The 'it' in question was Atemu/Set friendship fics, which are conspicuous by their absence. And so a little plot bunny was born… It fought for long for its life and had to receive intensive care at times, but finally, after a couple of mutations, this was finished (actually long ago… I just was too lazy to proofread etc. before now…) The greatest problem with this plot bunny was that it wasn't really a plot bunny. Just a random idea bunny. With no plot.
Age notes: Since Lizeth was responsible of the birth of this plot bunny, I asked her if she knows about Atemu's and Set's ages… As she said, in the manga there is this scene where Akunadin is leaving for Kuru Eruna to make the Items and small Set sees him off. He looks about 5 years old there, but Atemu, on the other hand, is still being carried by his mother, and looks like he's about 1 or 2. Bakura looks about 8-11 years old while he is watching the slaughter of his village.
So, Atemu is about 9 years old in this, Set is 13 (and since he is who he is, he sometimes acts a little older), and Bakura is… let's say 16. Atemu may feel a bit OOC at times, but keep in mind that this is Atemu, not Yami no Yuugi, i.e. a 9-year-old kid, not 3000-year-old spirit. There has to be some difference, right?
And... did they have -censored- windows in the -censored- ancient Egypt? I've been googling around like mad and finding thousands (okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little) descriptions about Egyptian buildings, but nowhere is there any mention about windows.
Oh well. Let's just assume, for the sake of the story, that they did have. Most likely not glass windows, anyway, but at least some kind of holes in the walls…
One more thing: Disclaimer: I don't own YGO. Which you all, of course, knew already, but what the heck.
Let's Play Thieves!
"Could you tell me about our namesakes?"
An exasperated sigh escaped the boy who had just been about to leave the room.
A tri-colored head peeked from underneath the blanket and nodded fiercely. "Please?"
With another sigh the elder boy sat down by the bedside.
"Very well. Although I'm afraid that you will soon know these stories better than I…" He cleared his throat and started talking.
"Atemu, the Self-Created, was the first of all Gods. In the beginning there was Nun, the deep and chaotic waters of potentiality. Atemu created first himself out this nothingness, and then he created Shu and Tefnut from his spittle."
The boy in the bed giggled quietly, which yearned him a sharp glance. "I do not believe that it is appropriate for you to laugh at the creation of the Gods, my prince."
"Come on, Set! Don't be such a sourpuss. It is funny, isn't it? At least a little funny?"
Set sighed once more. "As you say, my prince…" He thought for a moment and continued then.
"Shu and Tefnut, air and water, in turn created Geb, the earth, and Nut, the sky, who then had five children: Wesir, Her-wer, Set, Aset and Nebt-het … but that doesn't interest you, I see."
An enormous yawn escaped the smaller boy. "No it doesn't," he muttered once he finally managed to close his mouth. "Tell me about Atemu."
"You should be interested about other Gods as well, not just of your patron, my prince," Set said a little reproachfully, and the young Atemu – not to be mixed with the god – grimaced.
"You're the one who's becoming a priest, right?" he retorted sullenly, and Set ruffled his hair with a smile.
"And you're the one becoming the Pharaoh… in other words the chief priest for every cult in Egypt, right?"
The royal tongue shot out in a gesture that was everything but royal, and Set sat back on the bed, refusing to sigh anymore.
"Where was I… oh yes. Atemu created the first Gods, and then all creation as well from his tears. He is the one who receives the Boat of Ra as it descends to the western horizon. He has no physical image; he is represented as a solar disk projecting many downward rays that end as human hands. Sometimes he also holds ankhs, the symbols of eternal life… are you listening?"
"Yeah…" Atemu was staring upwards, as if he were trying to see through the palace's roof up into the stars and maybe right to the Gods' abodes. "I was just thinking… What about Set then?" he asked suddenly turning to look at his companion.
Set gave him a smug smile and straightened a little. "Oh, he is 'He Before Whom the Sky Shakes', lightning and thunder are his heralds. He is the God of wind and the desert storms, and his followers pray him to grant the strength of the storms to them. He is the one who protects Ra on the nightly voyage through the underworld, and even Ra acknowledges his greatness and…"
He was cut off as a pillow hit his face.
"What? You asked me to tell you about him and I did!" Set grasped the pillow and pushed the other boy back to down with it. "It's time for you to sleep, my prince," he said more quietly.
"I'm not tired…"
"You will be tired tomorrow if you don't sleep now. Besides, I still have to study – Akunadin will skin me alive if I don't know those religious manuals he gave me by heart tomorrow."
"You probably know them by heart already now," Atemu muttered tugging his blankets. "You could stay here still for a moment. Actually, I'd like to…" he fell silent with a thoughtful look on his face, and Set looked at him expectantly.
"What?" he finally asked as the silence was prolonged.
"Oh… nothing. You're right, I guess, I should sleep now." Atemu tugged his blanket so that he was completely covered. "Good night," came a muffled voice from somewhere beneath it.
Set stared suspiciously towards the bed for a while, but left then the room with a shrug and a 'good night' of his own.
Next morning when the bright sun rose to greet all citizens of Egypt with its rays, it didn't get any warm welcome from one of them. Staring out of the window, Set rattled off every single curse he knew at the clear sky. Once he had let off some steam he turned on his heels and marched out of the room without giving the empty bed a second glance.
Half an hour later, his mood had not improved at all. The servants and soldiers were running around the city, searching for their prince, the palace was swarming more feverishly than a poked anthill, but somehow he had a feeling that all these people would never find him.
They don't know him, he thought as he watched all the bustling. They won't know where to search. Hopefully we will find him before the Pharaoh returns from his journeys…
He turned suddenly on his heels and headed towards the gardens. As he came to stand underneath Atemu's window he took a long look of the wall and noted grumpily how easy it would be to climb it down – or up, as his mind automatically registered this potential security risk.
Now… he glanced around. Atemu would hardly have aimed at the main gate, most likely he had used some servants' entrance. Unless he had an entrance of his own somewhere… that wouldn't have been any big surprise. Since it would have been impossible to find that, Set headed towards the closest entrance he knew about. It was guarded, naturally, but the stream of servants in and out was more or less continuous, and the guards were more interested about those trying to enter the palace than those leaving it.
Deciding that he obviously wouldn't get any information from the poor guards who were already starting sweat under his interrogation (and cursing themselves for it – anyway, this was a mere boy just asking some questions of them) he walked determinedly out of the gate. On the streets he stopped for a while to consider where to go first.
As Set stood there wondering what way to take, another boy was standing in another street corner wondering the same thing – and cursing himself quite vividly for his stupidity.
You idiot… you had him in your hands and you let him get away. And now… how difficult can finding one boy be?
Truth to be told, very difficult.
He had been walking aimlessly on the streets, deep in his thoughts as he plotted his revenge, when a small boy had stopped him.
His eyes snapped angrily to the boy. "What?" he barked out cutting him off, irritated at the interruption.
The boy looked a little taken aback – although it was difficult to be sure since he was covered from head to toe with a big brown robe. "Well, sorry, but I'm lost and I was wondering if you…"
"Then keep wondering," he grumbled and continued his way.
"You're grumpy today," the boy's voice came from behind him, annoyingly cheerful. "Are you always that ill-tempered?"
He snorted. "Yes – and be careful. I haven't got dinner today – I might eat small boys."
The boy laughed. "You're almost worse than a friend of mine, and that's something," he stated, not at all disturbed. "He's quite grumpy sometimes as well."
They walked in silence for a while until he shot an angry glare at the boy.
"Why are you following me?"
The boy shrugged. "I'm not following you – we're just going in the same direction."
"I thought you were lost. How do you know where you're going?"
"I don't. But I decided I'm going this way for now."
He stopped walking with a sigh and turned to look at the boy. "Look… shouldn't you be sleeping in your bed by now? The sun's set long ago…"
A small pout flashed quickly on the boy's face. "I know. I was going to go to the highest hill to receive the boat of Ra, but then I got lost… and I think I was late to begin with. I hope that me neglecting my duties didn't cause any trouble for Him…"
He blinked slowly and stared at the boy. Is this kid a dimwit or something?
"Anyway," the boy continued, totally ignorant of the other's bewilderment, "did you say that you haven't got dinner? I'm a little hungry too, do you know any place where we could eat something?"
He blinked again. "We? Who says that we are going to do anything? Run to your home, kid."
He turned his back to the boy and resumed walking, trying to remember what he had been thinking about when he had been interrupted.
"I can't." The boy was again walking beside him. "I'm lost."
"That's not my problem," he muttered, and the boy shrugged.
"Maybe, but I think I'd rather walk with someone than alone." He glanced around, for the first time looking a little nervous. "It is getting a little late…"
"And you think that you're safe walking with me? Just to let you know, I'm probably the most dangerous thing you can come across here. Actually," he added after a while, "scratch the 'probably'."
The boy just nodded. "Good."
He blinked once more. "Good?"
"Yep." The boy nodded again firmly. "If you're the most dangerous thing here, no one is going to attack us – and if someone does, you can fight him off. And now that we're walking together I can see you all the time, so I know if you're going to do something. If we were separate I'd have to be looking over my shoulder all the time because I wouldn't know where you are."
He was silent for a while, thinking through the boy's reasoning. I guess that makes sense on some level. He glanced again at the boy, feeling vaguely amused.
"You said you're hungry? I guess I can get us something to eat."
"Great!" The boy's face was one big smile. "That's really nice of you, mister… uh… what should I call you?"
"I'm Bakura," he grunted, suddenly wondering exactly why he was going to start feeding this annoying kid.
The boy nodded. "Nice to meet you. My name is…" he paused for a while. "Guess! I'll give you a clue: I'm named after the greatest of Gods."
Bakura snorted. "Who cares about gods."
"Don't you think that that woman will be angry when she notices that her breads are gone?" Atemu was staring seriously up at his companion from underneath his cape, munching his bread at the same time.
Bakura shrugged. "Probably. But didn't you notice how fat she is? Some fasting will only do good for her."
"Hey, if you're not hungry anymore, go give it back to her," the older boy snapped a little angrily.
Atemu shrugged and took another bite of the bread. "What are we going to do next?" he asked throwing the woman out of his mind.
"We?" Bakura shot a glare at his young companion. Should know better than to feed them… that way you'll never get rid off them. "Try to forget the concept of we, will you? I have things to do. I don't care what you do… run to your home and go to sleep."
"But I'm still lost…"
Bakura finished eating his bread and wiped the crumbs away from his clothes. "Don't you know this city at all?" he muttered irritably. "Where do you live, anyway?"
"In the palace," Atemu answered finishing his bread as well.
Bakura snorted. "Then ask someone directions. Surely everyone knows where..." He paused. "You live in the palace…?"
Atemu nodded. "That's what I said."
"I see." Bakura fell silent, deep in thought. Maybe finding this boy wasn't such a bad thing, after all. He could prove very useful… "You know," he said, "I've been here just for a couple of days, and I haven't yet seen the palace. Why don't we go to search for it together?"
Atemu's face brightened several degrees. "That's great!" he jumped up and gave the elder boy a big hug. "Would you really come with me?"
"Oh, let go off me." Bakura stood up wiping the boy away together with the last crumbs. "I mean… sure I will. I've always wanted to see the palace." He gave the boy a smile that was a little crooked despite his best attempts.
"Let's go then!"
In the end, finding the palace wasn't hard at all – actually he was beginning to doubt whether the boy's 'I'm so totally lost' act was only that – an act. Be that how it may, now he was finally facing the palace, and holding the key that could take him into it. If only he could make that key to shut up…
"So where are you from?"
He shrugged, eyeing the palace walls. "One small town that you've never heard about."
The walls were high, and altogether the place was quite carefully guarded. Getting in on his own would have been hard – not impossible, mind you, but hard.
"Oh. Is it fun to live there?"
He snorted. "It used to be, when I was of your age. It's quite… gloomy place these days."
"Gloomy?" Atemu was looking up at him with interest. "Is that why you left?"
A rope would have been a good thing to have now. He cursed himself quietly for not taking one with him. Then again, he hadn't known he'd be breaking into the palace this night.
"What?" he barked at the boy, annoyed at the constant interruptions.
"Is that why you left?"
"Is what… oh, the gloominess. Not really." He smirked a little. "That place has no future. I'm hoping to make a career here."
Thankfully, the boy fell silent for a moment, giving him a chance to think in peace. That moment didn't last too long, though.
"What would you like to do?"
"Oh…" He considered a moment and looked then at the boy with what he hoped was a friendly smile. "I don't know. Do you think there are any vacant jobs at the palace?"
"I'm not sure…" The boy's forehead wrinkled a little as he thought carefully. "Probably. There are never enough servants… I should know that. Would you like to get a job there?"
"Why not. It looks like an impressive place, at least from the outside. Say, do you think it'd be possible for you to show me around there? I'm sure they don't want to have strangers walking around, but couldn't we somehow slip in and then out again so that no one notices anything?"
"Uh…" The boy looked a bit hesitant, but slowly his face broke into a smile. "Actually, that'd be fun. I've always wanted to fool around those stupid guards."
This was going easier than he could have even dreamed. "So, could we do it now?"
"Yeah!" The boy grinned at him. "Let's play thieves!"
Bakura grinned widely back at him. "Let's."
"All right." Atemu took a peek from the bushes where they were hiding. "See that entrance? It's the easiest place to get in. Keep an eye on it – I'll take care of the guards."
He rose up from the ground and was about to run away when Bakura grasped his hand. "Where are you going?"
"I can sneak in the way I came out. It's easy… but you're too big to use that way."
Bakura let go off his arm and looked suspiciously after the boy who immediately ran away.
Let's see if he can be trusted…
Atemu ran quietly along the walls, trying to stay in their shadows. A small smile danced on his lips - this night was turning out to be really exciting. He reached a certain part of the wall, hidden by thick bushes, and dived immediately into their cover. There he rolled away the big stone he had placed in the front of an opening in the wall, and crawled inside. He didn't know why there was such a whole in the wall, or how no one had noticed it before him, but he was very glad of its existence. From inside, he covered the hole again the best he could, and started to sneak towards the entrance where Bakura was waiting.
The two guards of the entrance were sitting on the ground, gambling boredly with stones. Atemu followed their game with mild interest from the shadows, and lunged then forward.
"Hey!" the startled guards jumped to their feet as he snatched their few coins from the ground and started to run away.
"Thanks a lot, blockheads!"
"You give those back, brat!" The guards surged after him.
Glancing over his shoulder Atemu ran on for some time, until he was sure that Bakura had had enough time to slip in. Then he threw the coins to the ground and jumped into an ornamental vase that was big enough to hide him completely.
"Where did he go?"
He could hear the guards coming to a stop, panting heavily. He shook his head a little – father really should hire guards that were in better form.
"Dunno. But here's the money." There was quiet sound of clinging as the men collected the coins from the ground and counted them.
"Yeah. So, three of them were yours and six mine…"
"Three? What do you mean three? I was just winning when the brat appeared!"
"You were winning, but you didn't win. So give one more to me."
The steps were getting farther away. "The hell I will! It's mine!"
As the men's quarreling grew fainter, Atemu took a careful peek out of the vase.
"Good job, kid."
The sudden voice made him jump a little, but to his relief he realized that it was just Bakura who was watching him from the shadows. He grinned.
"Small size has its advantages."
"Yeah." Bakura took a look around. "So, where will we head now?"
"Umm…" Atemu glanced around as well, though a little hesitantly. "I don't know. What would you want to see?"
Bakura shrugged. "Well, if we're thieves now, we should try to steal something expensive, right? Some big treasure…"
Atemu thought about it for a while, and looked then up at his companion with a mischievous smile. "Like Fa… Pharaoh's Puzzle?"
Bakura grinned inwardly. "You know where it's kept?"
Atemu nodded. "I know everything about this place." He started to lead the way, and Bakura followed him trying to absorb all the little details of the palace as they sneaked deeper into the yards.
"Here." Atemu came to a sudden stop beneath a window. "We can climb in through that. Don't worry, I know there's no one there," he added as he saw Bakura's suspicious expression.
The window led to a bedroom that clearly belonged to one of the nobility – luckily it was empty just as the boy had said. Bakura eyed longingly the golden plate on the table, but kept his fingers in check. He was after a far greater quarry this time.
They slipped into the corridor from the room. "This way," Atemu whispered and began leading the way again.
After they had passed many intriguing doors, climbed few stairs up and down and in general crisscrossed around the palace so that Bakura was starting to get quite lost, he finally got impatient.
"Are you sure you know where you're going?" he whispered.
"Hush!" The boy placed a finger on his lips and glanced behind a corner. "There! Do you see?"
Bakura took a peek as well, and saw a big, ornamented door, with a guard standing in the front of it.
"The Pharaoh's rooms," Atemu finished the sentence. "But how will we get past that guard?"
"Just do what I tell you and it'll go fine…"
A little later, Atemu stepped hesitantly into the guard's sight. The moment the man noticed him he started running forward.
"Hey! What…" The guard took a step to follow him, but Bakura sneaked silently behind him. As Atemu turned to look back, he saw the guard lying unconscious in Bakura's feet.
"Don't worry, he'll be fine." Bakura turned to eye the door. "We're going this way, right?"
"Ye… yeah…" Atemu was still staring nervously at the unconscious guard, but Bakura had already opened the door.
"Where now?" he asked as they stepped into the big room behind the door.
"Well… that's the Pharaoh's bedroom," Atemu said pointing at one door. "And that…" he licked nervously his lips and pointed at another door, "I think that the Puzzle is there."
"There we go, then." Bakura headed towards the door. And maybe I'll pay a visit to the Pharaoh as well, once I've got the Puzzle…
The wide grin that was plastered on his face died suddenly away, as dreadful clatter started behind him.
"What the hell?"
He spun around to see the boy standing with a sheepish smile by a fallen small table – he obviously had run into it in the dark.
"…from the Pharaoh's rooms!"
The voices from the corridor made Bakura curse quite fervently. "Come on, idiot!" He grasped the boy's hand, took a step towards the door but realized there was no time to get the Puzzle and ran to the window instead. He took one look out of the window, told the boy to climb on his back, and started to climb up to the roof. Luckily the Pharaoh's rooms were in the highest floor, and he managed to drag both of them to the roof quite easily.
"Wha…" the baffled Atemu started to say, but he didn't stop to listen.
"Can we get on the wall from here?" he shouted at the boy, who pointed to their right.
"I think it's easiest there, but…"
Grasping again the boy's hand he started to run towards the roof's edge.
It required some climbing up and down, but soon they were running on the wall. By now the yards were seething with guards, and again he cursed himself for not taking the rope with himself. The wall was too high to jump down…
"There they are! Two of them!"
Bakura glanced at their left and saw a group of soldiers running towards the wall, spears in their hands.
He threw himself down on the wall, dragging the boy with himself just when the spears flew over their heads. The momentum made them to roll straight over the wall's edge and fall down to the bushes that were waiting down below.
"Huh… that was something." Atemu sat up, trying to make his head clear. He looked down at his companion. "Thanks for catching me."
"Ah… it surely wasn't… intentional," Bakura managed to get out. "Get off of me…"
"Oh damn!" he jumped to his feet and started again to run – or rather, to stagger away. "C'mon kid!"
As fast as they could they ran away from the palace and into the city.
"I…" Atemu panted, "sorry, but I… can't run… anymore…" he collapsed down to the ground.
Bakura stopped as well and looked behind. "I think we're safe for now," he muttered, and sat down too. "How could you be so clumsy!"
Atemu shrugged, looking again quite sheepish. "Sorry… but you shouldn't have panicked like that. I could have told them that we're just playing thieves if they had found us."
Bakura groaned quietly, and rolled his eyes at the night sky above them muttering something about half-witted palace brats. After a while he added aloud, "I didn't panic. There are times when running is the only sensible thing to do."
Atemu shrugged again, and for some time they sat in silence.
"Well. That's it." Bakura stood up suddenly. "Thanks for the tour, but I guess I'll get by without you from now on."
"But…" Atemu looked hesitantly up at him from the ground.
"I'm lost again."
"Lost!" Bakura turned on his heels to glare at the boy. "Be glad you still live! Be very glad I don't skin you alive for ruining my chance to steal the Puzzle! Being lost is the least of your worries!"
Atemu jumped to his feet as well. "Don't shout like that! I couldn't just let you steal dad's Puzzle, could… I…" his voice trailed of.
Bakura stared at him for a while unblinkingly. "Dad's…?"
"Uh…" the sheepish grin appeared again on Atemu's face. "See you!" he shouted suddenly and dashed into the city streets.
"Dad's!" Bakura's enraged scream echoed after him.
(Back to the next day…)
And he had lost the kid. He still didn't understand how it was possible, how that palace brat could have been able to lose him of all people, but nevertheless, that had happened. He was beginning to doubt that the devious brat hadn't been lost at all – he probably knew this city better than anyone. How else could this be explained?
He had finally started walking towards the palace again, thinking that the kid would most probably be returning to his home – maybe he would be able to find him before that. Maybe. That was quite a big 'maybe', really.
Once more he fired off every curse he could think about.
The streets were beginning to swarm with soldiers. From what he had heard, they were looking for the boy as well. In a way that was a good thing – it proved that the kid hadn't returned home yet. Then again, if all these soldiers didn't find him, what were his chances?
He continued his way down the street, trying to figure out where to find the kid. So… if you were a prince of the realm on the loose, where would you go…? He really couldn't answer himself.
On the other side of the street, a boy dressed in long robes caught suddenly his attention. The boy had stopped few of the soldiers and appeared to be asking them questions. The soldiers seemed to be quite respecting towards the boy… He paused for a while and looked at them with a frown. The boy finished his interrogation, and continued his way alone. Who knows, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to follow him.
Set left the soldiers behind, feeling even more irritated than before, and that was something. Those idiots were absolutely of no use. If he was going to find Atemu some day, he'd better stay away from them…
He stopped with a sigh. The task wasn't easy even on his own. There were dozens of places where a lively, or rather, a hyperactive young boy would want to go to, and he was afraid he wouldn't be able to come up with all of them. Atemu's way of thinking was sometimes a little… should we say peculiar.
With a shrug he continued his way. He certainly wouldn't find the boy if he kept on standing in a street corner. Now, let's see… Maybe the boy had wandered to the river… that wasn't a pleasant thought. Atemu wasn't a fool, but he was sometimes quite foolhardy the way young boys often were, and the river could be quite dangerous.
Then again, the soldiers he had talked to had told him that they were currently searching by the banks. They had scoured the city and had found no trace of the prince, so… keeping that in mind, maybe he'd better stay inside the city.
For example… the bazaars. Surely the boy wouldn't be able to resist such a colorfully tempting place.
The bazaar street was already crowded with people as Set arrived there. Runaway princes were the last thing in the commoners' minds as they were trying to earn their daily living.
Set walked onward the teeming street, carefully observing everything around him. The street sides were filled with stands selling everything from spices to colorful carpets, and the shouts of the merchants echoed in the walls making his head ache. He surely hoped he'd find the boy soon.
He passed some food stands, and all the smells made him suddenly to realize that he hadn't eaten anything since yesterday evening – the mayhem with Atemu had made him forget his breakfast.
I guess I could buy some bread, he thought, a little reluctant to condescend to do business with common people by himself. His stomach was rumbling quite determinedly, though… He stopped and took an estimating look at the breads in the basket of one elderly woman. They did look quite fresh – and the delicious smell made his stomach to rumble even louder.
"Hey, boy!" he shouted to a kid that was helping the woman. "Give me one…" The sentence was left unfinished as the boy froze for a moment and turned then to look at him meekly.
For many long seconds the future pharaoh and the future high priest stared at each other.
"What in Ra's name are you doing here?" Set finally asked, forcing his voice calm.
"Well…" Atemu grinned at him guiltily. "I… I thought that… you know, since we kind of… I mean…" his voice trailed of, and the woman who had been staring the two boys snorted.
"What he's trying to say is that he is here helping me cause he and a friend of his stole some of my breads yesterday night."
Atemu's grin faded first to an apologetic smile and died then completely away under Set's glare.
"Stole… her breads? Is that true?"
"We… were hungry," Atemu mumbled timidly, and Set shook his head in exasperation.
"I don't believe this…" He fixed his glare again at the poor boy. "What were you thinking when you ran away like that! And where have you been all the night? Sleeping on the streets?"
"He came to my home to apologize last night," the woman said. "I took him in cause he promised to help me today, and he seemed to be relatively honest – for a thief, anyway."
"Thief." Set looked like he was developing a very bad headache. He was quiet for a moment, and shrugged then angrily. "I think this is all I want to hear about this subject – we're going home now." He took a glance around. "Where are those guards when you need them? You can't be walking around the streets without an escort."
Atemu shrugged. "I've been doing that all…" he started to say, but decided that it was a better idea to be quiet as he received one more of Set's death glares.
"We're going now." The older boy grasped his prince's hand and started to drag him away.
Atemu gave a quick wave at the woman. "Sorry, I have to go now!" he shouted at her, stumbling after the fuming Set.
The woman only smiled after him, shaking her head a little. Whoever that boy was, he could look forward to a sound spanking.
Atemu eyed his friend with a little worried expression as he was being dragged through the streets towards the palace. He was starting to get a bit worried – he knew Set well enough to know that the look on his face promised nothing good.
Set shot and a glare at him. "I am not in the mood for your explanations right now. Spare them for your father."
Atemu fell silent and pattered after him, trying to keep to the older boy's pace. It was beginning to look like he was going to get into worse trouble than this little adventure was worth of. He shrugged a little; it wasn't like something like that hadn't happened before, and it had never lasted for long. Father would be angry for some time, Set would give him glares for a few days… and then everything would go back to normal.
As they walked on he watched with fascination the streets crowded with people. It was seldom he got a chance to walk among them like this – all right, truth to tell, this was the first time. The colors, smells, and new sights made excitement stir again inside him, and for a moment all the worries he had about his situation were forgotten.
Set forgot nothing, though. If Atemu had paid any attention to the look on the older boy's face, he might have gotten worried again. Apparently, there were other things that claimed his attention. Just when Set was about give the brat a piece of his mind, Atemu pulled his hand out of his with an excited "Hey, look at that!" and ran away.
Set grimaced and rubbed his throbbing temples. I will not run after him. Some day, I am going to be a high priest – I will not be seen running after the crown prince on the city streets.
"A-te-mu!" he yelled with growing emphasis on every syllable. In vain. In exasperation he saw the boy disappear into a bystreet, running after whatever sight it was that had caught his attention.
Ra take him.
Set ran after him.
As he reached the point where Atemu had disappeared from his sight he stopped to think for a moment. There was no trace of the boy anywhere. Some men walked down the street and passed him giving him a weird look, but he ignored them. Forcing back an annoyed sigh he continued onward, cursing the boy in his mind.
He had barely taken two steps when a very out-of-breath Atemu appeared from behind a corner and all but bumped into him. Faster than a snake he grasped the boy's shoulder.
"If you ever…" he started to yell, but Atemu, anxiously glancing over his shoulder, cut him off.
"…do something like this again, I swear to Ra I will…"
"There's one thing I learned today," Atemu continued ignoring him, "there are times when running is the only sensible thing to do…"
Set paused for a while. "So?"
"I think this is one of those times."
"Too late for that."
A new voice from behind made Set spin quickly around, just in time to see a young, robed man jumping down from the roofs and cutting their way back to the bazaars.
Set frowned. "Who's that?" he hissed to Atemu.
"A friend I met yesterday," Atemu muttered nervously.
The stranger took a step forward. "You," he said, addressing Set, "leave now and I'll let you go unharmed. I just want the brat."
Set straightened his back shooting an icy glare at the other. "First of all, that is not an acceptable way to address the crown prince. Secondly, if you will get lost right now, I will not send the guards after you, and you will keep your life."
The other gave him a weird look. "You're quite an arrogant boy," he muttered. "That might be dangerous. And do me a favor and don't talk about getting lost."
Set frowned, bewildered by his words, but just then the older boy set into motion. His hand made a quick movement, and there was sudden sharp pain in Set's left shoulder that made him stumble backwards. Glancing down he saw the hilt of a small dagger pointing out from his shoulder. He staggered to the wall and leaned against it for support, and as he looked up again he saw the stranger trying to cover the squirming and screaming Atemu's mouth with a cloth.
"Ra take you…" he muttered, pushing his hand against his throbbing shoulder and feeling alarmingly faint. The stranger, cursing as well, glanced at him once.
"Told you to lea… augh! Damned brat, you dare to bite me? I'll break you accursed neck if you…"
Atemu screamed again as Bakura's grip had momentarily been loosened, and Set couldn't help but wonder how it was possible for something so small to make such a big noise. Someone would be sure to hear…
"Guards!" he shouted, uncomfortably aware of how faint his voice sounded. Nevertheless, now Bakura included him into his cursing. "Here, guards!"
"Of all blasted…" Bakura had finally managed to stuff a piece of cloth into Atemu's mouth, and was quickly tying up his hands with a rope. "We're off."
Set gritted his teeth and closed his fingers around the daggers hilt. "You are not," he said quietly, drawing the dagger out of his shoulder, fervently hoping that he would not faint. "Let him go, now."
Bakura glanced at him once and smirked as he saw the young boy taking a staggering step forward and pointing a shaky dagger towards him.
He turned his back to Set and took a step onward, dragging his struggling prisoner with him, when four guards suddenly appeared on the other end of the street. He muttered one more curse, turned quickly on his heel, and stumbled on Atemu's legs. As they fell down, Set rushed forward ignoring the fact that it made his world turn blood-red. Somehow, he managed to get a grip of Bakura's hair and swiped towards him with the dagger, missing wildly. Atemu got quickly back to his feet and in the process aimed a good kick at Bakura's left knee. The thief bit back a howl of pain, shoved Set out of his way and staggered up. He made a move to grasp Atemu again but as he saw how close the soldiers were he turned around with a snarl and started to run away, limping a little. He turned once more to look behind him, eyes blazing.
"We will meet again!" he yelled at Atemu who tried to shout back a somewhat cheeky reply, but found out that he couldn't as he still had the cloth in his mouth.
By now the soldiers had reached them.
"Two of you after him, two stay with us," Set snapped, still lying on the ground after the short struggle with Bakura. Two of the soldiers ran after the escaping thief as the other two bent down to help their prince and the future high priest.
The sun had set. Once again Set was sitting by Atemu's bed, looking a little reproachfully at the young prince who was awkwardly playing with his blanket.
Finally Atemu raised his eyes to meet his friend's. "I… I'm sorry that you got hurt," he said quietly, and Set snorted.
"You'd better be. And you'd better be sorry for running away as well. I hope you've learned your lesson now."
"Yeah…" Atemu's gaze dropped back to his blanket. "Dad's going to be angry," he muttered thoughtfully.
"Certainly. You can look forward to quite a reprimand once he returns from his journey."
Atemu sighed. Well, it'd be bad for some time, but after a while they'd forget all about this. Although, as he was feeling quite guilty about Set's injury, he thought that maybe, just maybe, he this time deserved all the trouble he would get.
Set got up from his chair. "Good night, my prince. I trust I will find you here in the morning."
Atemu nodded. "You will. Umm…"
Set turned to look at him in the doorway and winced at big-eyed innocence that faced him in the bed. "Yes?"
"…could you tell me about our namesakes again?"
Some footnotes about Egyptian mythology/gods:
There seem to be dozens of different versions of… well, everything concerning the Egyptian mythology, so I just chose things that seemed fitting for this fic (i.e. things that didn't force me to rate this fic R just for the creation of the world.) As it was stated on one site: "There was no single Holy Book on which the religious system of Egypt was based. In fact, the various cosmogonies developed at Heliopolis, Memphis and Hermopolis are each different and even contradictory. The various myths and legends surrounding the gods were totally incompatible with the development of one coherent system of belief." (ww w.touregypt.ne t/featurestories/priests.ht m)
There are also dozens of ways to write Atemu's (the god's) name: Atemu, Atem, Aten, Aton, Tem, Temu, Atum, Tum etc. So… the next question is:
Atemu or Atem?
As far as I know, Yami's real name appears to be Atemu instead of Atem. In the beginning, when I was uncertain of which was right, I decided to use the Japanese version Atemu since it too is an acceptable variant of the name, and I saw no reason to change it. Anyway, when I started writing this fic I wanted to be certain about it, and started to examine this question. I posted the results to my LJ, here's the link if you want to take a look (just take the spaces of, again): tuuli-chan.livejournal. co m/33489.ht ml. One thing is sure: there is a 'u' in the end.
And as for Set: He is seen also as the god of evil, but not before the twenty-second dynasty, and since Atemu ruled during the eighteenth dynasty, Set isn't yet as 'bad guy' as he'll be later.
And that's all, folks. : )