Heedless of the sun-baked air and blistering sand, a lone traveler limped across the desert. No breeze ruffled his pale, blood-matted hair; no bruised-eyed, gold haired specter shambled along beside him. Even Touzouko's horse was gone.
But here he was: the King of Thieves who had only once found something he could not steal. Though Abydos was two days' walk behind him, Touzouko could still smell the remnants of its battle—flesh and smoke and broken sandstone—on the air.
Two days in the Sahara, and not a drop of water.
This alone would kill most men, but Touzouko was not most men. Like Marik, he had the ability to go on living when to do so was neither conceivable nor prudent. However, also like Marik, such luck—if so it should be called—could not endure forever. Eventually, the King of Thieves would die.
Once again, like Marik.
After parting ways with the blonde, Touzouko had, himself, slipped back into the battle. He didn't fight, didn't stop to help Malik or Ryou or any of the other unimportant, little people that Mariku's angry light had so outshone. Instead, he tracked down Akunadin to Anubis' tent…
…and dropped him dead in the sand like flea-bit dog.
The man didn't even struggle. Too horrified, I guess.
Touzouko was admittedly disappointed in the lack of euphoria induced by his revenge…and to a certain extent he blamed Mariku. The blonde had played up vengeance as some sort of spectacular rapture, like rich wine mixed with physical pain and violent sex. However—as with many things in life—the thief found killing the man who killed his village something of an anticlimax.
But then, not much excited Touzouko. He got off on stealing, on fighting, and—of course—on having sex, yet he knew such pleasures were temporary. Not once had the Thief King experienced the wholesome, long-term happiness people were supposed to want.
Maybe that was it. Maybe he just didn't want it.
Whatever it was Touzouko did want, it was not to be wandering alone in the desert. He had been stupid to leave Abydos. However, facing Mariku's death would have been infinitely more horrible. The thief had seen many humans die, had killed many himself…yet even the vaguest thought of looking into the eyes of the blonde's corpse unmanned him, made his stomach cramp and his testicles shrivel in upon themselves. No. In Touzouko's mind Marik would go on living, absent from the thief's life perhaps…but still out there, spitefully alive.
In another life…in a world less cruel than this one…we could made things work.
The fact that this was true, that in a world without Bakura and with a much less broken Marik Touzouko and the blonde might have had something, hurt far more than wishful thinking ever could. What the thief felt for Marik indeed was love and what Marik felt for him—though not love—had maybe been close enough to it to one day bridge the difference. They could have made it work. They could have…
But if Marik had been anything other than the bitter, broken, revenge-crazed man that he was, if he had not lusted so tragically for his beloved's death…would Touzouko have fallen in love with him? Without his obsession for Bakura and the torment of his past, the blonde would not have been what he was.
And I would not have felt this way.
Finally overwhelmed by thirst, Touzouko stumbled in exhaustion to his knees. He laughed soundlessly at his fate's sick irony. If I believed in gods—he realized that, thanks to Marik, he no longer did—this is the point at which I would surely curse them.
His scars. He never did explain them to me.
Touzuoko collapsed face first onto the earth, heedless of the white-hot sand that burned his cheek. There was so much he did and did not know about Marik. The thief was a fool, really—not as strong, not as logical as he should have been. He deserved to die here…though not to die alone.
Let's pretend for a moment that the gods exist, that when I die I will enter the afterlife and see him again. What will Marik say?
You're a damn fool, Touzouko.
"You too. Wasting your life like that."
Laughter. I won't argue there.
"So are you disappointed?"
By my revenge? Of course not. It was brilliant.
"Not because of that. Because you were wrong…about the gods, I mean. See, we still exist."
Silence for a moment.
Then more laughter.
Touzouko woke suddenly. It was night—starless and moonless and, thus, too dark to see a blasted thing. The thief brushed his fingers against his cheek. They came off wet, and for one weird, twisted second he thought that he'd been crying. Then the world reasserted itself, and he saw that it was raining.
Like a gift—or curse—sent by the gods.
I guess I'm not going to die just yet. And for a hopeless moment the Thief King felt abandoned.
Still, instinct won out over emotion in the end. Cupping his hands, Touzouko waited for the raindrops to accumulate before drinking deeply. The water trickled down his sun-parched throat, burning so that he coughed a little.
Then coughed harder.
And then he could taste it, Mariku's parting gift.
Touzouko smiled a little. Somehow, he no longer felt quite so alone.
A/N: There it is—the long put off epilogue. Thank you to those who have so graciously reviewed and put up with my sporadic updates. I am tentative making promises (because I always seem to break them) but I also plan to finish By Definition Evil as well as my Death Note fic. Thank you for your patience and support and—though I don't deserve it, having been away so long—I will greatly appreciate any reviews.
I hope you like the ending. I purposely didn't dwell on Touzouko's revenge and, by having vengeance disappoint him, tried to show how different the thief king's personality is from Marik's. Of all the characters in this story, I sympathize with Touzouko the most…unrequited love sure is a bitch. Anyway, please let me know if this turned out well.