Coming Forth by Sundown
Pairing(s): YamixYugi, JouxMai, brief mentioning of YamixAnzu and YugixAnzu
Spoilers: Post-series, thus, many spoilers, including Yami's real name
On a calm, sunny morning, village fisherman Shakir decided to travel further upriver than usual. No premonition guided him; he chose his fishing place for the day simply on the observation that he'd been catching fewer fish than usual lately, and headed upriver in hopes of a bigger catch. The last thing he expected to do was find a naked man standing on the banks of the Nile, waving his arms and shouting (for what he assumed was help) in a language he'd never heard before.
Taking the man back to his village, Shakir tried to ask him in Arabic why he was out there by himself, but the stranger just shook his head, not understanding, replying in his strange language. Only one word in his frantic dialogue made sense. Luxor.
Back at his village, he brought the man some clothes and pointed in the direction of the nearby city, in the hope that the stranger would understand. The man nodded and bowed low, and although his words were incomprehensible, Shakir understood that he was thankful.
He watched him walk away, and then returned to his boat. He didn't go back to his original destination upriver; not even the prospect of a bigger profit could make him, and this time it was a supernatural reason that guided him. The stranger with eyes the colour of blood and violet didn't act as if he was out to cause harm…but he was still an unsettling sign.
And Shakir didn't have room in his life for the consequences of disobeying bad omens.
- - -
At the same moment that the stranger was walking down the highway toward the city, the crew of the archaeology site was just beginning work.
"Looks like a long day," one of the workers remarked morosely, looking out over the rubble that was scattered around after many other long days of digging away at the cliff.
"Well at least we've finally found the entrance…" The chief archaeologist set down his shovel and wiped sweat off his face. It was only sunrise and already hot, but he felt a rush of energy. After months of hard work and governmental blocks, they had finally broken in to the ancient Egyptian crypt and could begin excavation. He beckoned to a tall, light-haired young man nearby. "Hand me the flashlight, will you, Marik?"
Marik handed it to him without much enthusiasm. Though being the protégé to an archaeologist was easy, given his past experience with ancient Egypt and the "in" that his sister already had with the government, it was sort of boring, and this was one tomb he really had no desire to explore. In fact, he'd been spending a lot of time trying to direct the explorers away from it.
"Marik, why do you look so upset?" Rishid walked up behind him, carrying a pick-axe over his shoulder.
"I guess I'm feeling a bit useless." He sighed. "Ishizu wanted me on-site for a reason. So I've been trying for the last three months to keep them away from this tomb, but here we are."
"Isn't Ishizu trying to find a reason to shut the work down permanently?"
"She is, but it could take months. By then…it'd be too late."
"Yes…true. The sponsors of the exploration are eager to get inside."
"And I don't think Atemu will appreciate even more people traipsing around in his tomb," Marik continued. "Sure, his tomb isn't the lavish resting place most Pharaohs got, but it's still his and if anyone deserves peace and quiet, it's him."
"Well, I'm sure that Atemu appreciates the fact that you wanted to keep his grave sealed off from outsiders, but the workers would have found it either way." Rishid replied sensibly. "It had already been discovered years ago, even before Sugoroku Mutou made it inside. The entire desert is being dug up, it was only a matter of time."
"I suppose." Marik frowned. "But there's nothing down there, that's what gets me. Just dangerous traps. The Puzzle was the only thing left in there, and the tomb existed to protect that and that alone. And as we all know, the Puzzle is long gone." He sat down on a stray piece of the ancient wall. "I wish they'd leave his tomb alone. But they're going to dig it all up and tear it apart and find out it's just a big empty labyrinth with nothing in it. And that's if they're lucky enough to get past the traps, which is questionable. And of course I can't say anything because that would mean giving away information I'm not supposed to have."
Rishid nodded. "I understand. But maybe it won't come to that. They may get bored, or be disrupted by the traps, and will choose a new project."
Marik tilted his head. "I hope so."
"Marik, I need your help!" a voice echoed from inside the tomb. Marik got to his feet and sighed.
"Here we go again. The guy can't handle a pair of scissors without me helping him, why the hell is he an archaeologist?" He clomped down inside the crypt and peered around. "What is it now?"
"I need the small axe, there's something here." His mentor replied, prodding at the wall.
"If you say so…" Marik fetched the axe, somewhat amused that the chief explorer really thought he'd found something already. Atemu's tomb was built to protect the Puzzle, a chamber right in the entryway was pointless.
To his shock, the wall crumbled away into a square doorway as the archaeologist knocked at it. "Ah…look Marik, a compartment!"
Marik had no smart remark for this, he was frozen in place. Compartment? What compartment was this? The man stepped forward inside it. It was just tall enough to admit someone to stand inside of, and was no bigger than six or seven feet on both sides. It was completely empty, except for a few lines of text on the wall directly before them. The man squinted at them in confusion. "What…? This looks like…Heliopolitan text?"
Marik shoved the man aside to take a look. The Heliopolitan texts had been before the Tombkeeper's time, he had never bothered to study up on them, and the words before him were unreadable.
But that makes no sense, Atemu's dynasty didn't use this text.
Something was wrong…the air felt strange and heavy, and as he stared at the text he felt himself shivering.
What is this…?
Turning, he ran out, pulling his cell phone from his pocket.
"Marik? Where are you going?" Rishid called, confused as Marik opened the door of his jeep, cursing at the phone.
"Goddamn…out of service…"
"Marik!" Rishid grabbed his arm as he stabbed at the buttons. "What's going on, what did you see?"
"I don't know yet, but I need to call Ishizu and then Yugi Mutou…piece of shit phone!" He slammed the phone closed and threw it into the jeep. "I give up, I'll call them from the house."
"Marik, you can't just leave-"
"Rishid…go have a look at that chamber. There's something strange about the text, and there's a strange feeling in it."
"So you think it means something bad is about to happen?" Rishid pressed, holding onto the edge of the door now so that Marik couldn't close it.
"I don't know what it means. But this is Atemu's tomb, and if something strange is happening here, it might affect Yugi and the others. I need to get back to Luxor and contact them, and I need to tell Ishizu to shut down work on this site immediately until I get a chance to translate that text. So let go of my car and let me head home. I'll fill you in later."
Rishid released the door. "You'd better."
- - -
"Yugi, check it out. I bought a new yukata to wear this year for the festival." Anzu twirled around in it. "I love summer. No more hot and heavy clothes for awhile."
Yugi barely glanced up from where he was constructing a paper lantern and basket with immense concentration. "Yeah, it's really nice, Anzu."
"You hardly even looked at it."
"Well, I know you, you wouldn't buy an ugly one." He looked up properly. "See, I was right, you look great."
"Well, thank you, but I'm not sure the compliment is a sincere one."
"I'm sorry Anzu, I'm sort of busy and you know that fashion sense isn't something I'm good with. But you look good in pink. And it's a nice shade." He returned his attention to his lantern.
Anzu sat down next to him. "Well, you got that right about your fashion sense, you're still wearing your school clothes, and we're on holiday." She observed his crafting for a few moments and then asked, "So, what's so important about this lantern and basket? We make these for the Bon festival every year and you've never put this much effort into it."
"These ones are special." He said, concentrating as he twisted paper flowers along the side. "I'm making these for Atemu."
Anzu was suddenly very quiet. Of course, she should have known. Hadn't she also put some extra thought into her own decorations for the festival this year for that very same reason?
"Anzu, are you okay?" Yugi asked. She jumped and nodded.
"I'm fine, just thinking is all. It's nice of you to make these especially for him."
"Well, Atemu was more than a friend, he was like a part of my family. And since I'm sort of his reincarnation, I think that makes him one of my ancestors too. I know it's not quite the same, but it probably still counts. I feel a little bad about putting more effort in for him than for my other family members, but…Atemu was special." His voice was far-off, as if his mind was elsewhere. Anzu wondered where exactly it was. Yugi had recovered extremely quickly after Atemu had left, and she couldn't help but think it had been too quickly. Four months wasn't nearly long enough to finish grieving after losing someone that close, yet Yugi had hardly ever seemed openly upset afterward. She considered that after all this time, maybe he was finally starting to come to grips with it, and maybe that was why he'd been so distracted lately.
"Yes, he was." She was silent again and then stood up. "I bet he really appreciates what you're doing for him."
"He'd better!" Yugi said with a smile.
She was glad to see him looking more cheerful, and replied, "Well, I'm going to head home. Remember, we're going to meet Jounouchi and everyone to help decorate the park later for the Bon-Odori, right?"
Yugi nodded. "Right, three o'clock."
"Okay, I'll see you then- Ah!" She'd opened the door to his room and nearly run into Yugi's grandfather, who was coming from the other side. "I'm sorry."
He looked as though he'd gotten a bit of a shock as well, but laughed. "It's okay Anzu. Nice yukata."
"Thanks." She waved and closed the door behind her.
"Yugi, I bought everything you asked me to at the store for your basket." He held up a packet of cheap fake-silver bracelets he'd found at a craft store. "Though, I'm not sure I understand all this. You just put food and sweets and flowers in these baskets, so why did I have to buy jewelry? For decoration?"
Yugi snatched the bracelets and the bag and said quickly, sounding embarrassed, "Maybe."
His grandfather made his way toward the stairs. "Good enough reason for me, Yugi."
Yugi sat back down with a sigh and studied the bracelets. His grandpa was right, usually offering baskets didn't hold objects in them, but Yugi thought that Atemu's spirit, provided that he would be around during the three days, would find it amusing. It had been he, after all, that had tried to convince Yugi to wear bracelets the day he'd decided to put the Millennium Puzzle on a chain. He could recall the conversation clearly:
"Putting the Puzzle on a chain…seems to be showing it off."
"Nah, of course not!" Atemu had countered, and winked. "If I were you'd I'd definitely wear a bracelet to match. Want to try?"
Yugi couldn't help it, he had to laugh. Indeed, if Atemu's spirit happened to visit during the festival, and Yugi was pretty sure that he would if he could, he'd probably think it was funny.
Having finished his lantern, Yugi tossed the bracelets onto his bed and carried the lamp outside to hang it up on the house beside the other lanterns his grandfather had already hung for their family. He stood and stared at it for a long time. Even when the phone rang, he didn't bother to go and answer, he instead stayed out there and watched it wave in the summer breeze.
It had been four months since the Ceremonial Battle and since he and the pharaoh had gone their separate ways. Afterward he'd thrown himself into projects in the belief that he could avoid the sadness if he just stayed busy long enough. Recently though he'd begun to feel like it was taking its toll on him. Whenever someone mentioned Atemu he'd feel his eyes sting. He became more and more disinclined to be around people, and sometimes even in big groups he'd feel pangs of loneliness. And he found himself always feeling for the Puzzle out of habit, only to remember it was gone. One would think he wouldn't miss the heavy thing around his neck, but the truth was that he did.
I hope you're having fun with your friends and family in that other world…I hope you haven't forgotten about me.
Yugi shook his head. That was impossible, Atemu would never forget him. How could he think that?
He surveyed his elaborately-made lantern with satisfaction. The Bon festival was all about celebrating your ancestors, honouring them and welcoming their spirits back into your home for the three-day holiday. It had always been one of Yugi's favorite festivals because of all the excitement and fun, the feasting and crafting and dances and fireworks…but this year it would mean something even more important. This year there was one spirit he wanted to welcome back more than ever. He wanted to do everything he could to make sure that Atemu's spirit felt as special as he ever had during his stay.
I'm going to honour you in every possible way during the festival. Yugi promised. And then during the toro-nagashi, I'll make you the nicest looking boat of all so that your spirit can sail back with pride. I owe it to you…
He was the man who had taught Yugi about strength and pride, the man that granted Yugi's greatest wish for a best friend. Atemu had been the person Yugi strove to become, and instead he had helped Yugi to become his own person. He owed him more than he could ever imagine.
Yet, Yugi had made him leave. He knew what winning that match meant, but throwing it would have been an insult both to Atemu and himself. And trapping Atemu within himself would have been cruel. But in letting him go…what if he had inadvertently told Atemu he didn't want him around?
It was a fear he would never reveal to anybody, yet one that ate at him inside. Because Atemu surely wouldn't know how Yugi really felt…nobody knew, Yugi had been careful to make sure of that…
Before the battle, he had wished that he would have time to talk to Atemu, to make him understand that while Yugi desperately wanted him to stay, that he knew the only way they could both progress was to set him free. Yet he never had, and now he regretted not finding the time. He hoped that during this festival he could show Atemu that he had always been cared for. He sat down and watched the other people in his neighborhood; some were dusting off small family shrines outside their houses, others hanging lanterns as well. The phone was still ringing inside.
I miss you, Atemu. I really hope you're happy in the other world. I wish I could talk to you, even just for a moment. I want to tell you what's going on in my life, I want to let you know that none of us here have forgotten you. I want to show you that I'm doing okay, that your Aibou has grown up a bit and become someone…that I hope you're proud of. Or at least…I'm trying. His eyes were stinging again. He dragged his hand across them. It's because of you, you helped me become a strong person. But even so…I would give a lot for just one moment…just to hear your voice-
His head shot up. "Yes Mom?"
She leaned out the door. "A boy named Marik's on the phone for you."
"Marik?!" Yugi got up. "Why would Marik be calling?"
"I don't know, go answer the phone and find out. I'm busy cooking." She vanished.
Puzzled, he walked upstairs and picked up the phone. "Marik?"
"Yugi…there's…I don't know how to say this…"
"Marik, are you okay?" Yugi asked, alarmed at the strange tone of Marik's voice.
"I…" He paused. "Atemu's here."
Yugi laughed. "What are you talking about?"
"Atemu. He's here. He's…real, alive, however you want to say it."
His laugher died away, a strange tightness in his chest. "You're serious…?"
"Yugi, would I joke about this?!"
"Would you believe me if you talked to him?"
Yugi swallowed, nodding, then realized Marik couldn't see him nod. "Yes."
A few scuffles broke through, and then the words: "Aibou? Is it…really you?"
The room spun, and the stinging in his eyes instantly became wet tears. That voice…that beautiful voice he hadn't heard in so long… "Atemu…how…?"
His former other self's voice was soft and hard to read. "I…don't know how, Aibou. This is just as much a mystery to me."
"Wow…I…" Yugi stopped and then found himself asking stupidly, "How are you?"
"Fine. And you, Aibou?" Atemu sounded a little happier, and Yugi found himself smiling, his cheeks flushing slightly as he replied,
"I'm good, Ate-"
Marik's voice rose in the background: "You two can catch up later!"
"I have to give the phone back to Marik," Atemu said, interrupting him.
"We'll talk soon."
"Of course, definitely, very soon," Yugi agreed eagerly.
Yugi didn't have a chance to say good-bye before Marik took the phone back and said rapidly, "A strange chamber was just discovered in Atemu's tomb. I came home to call you and Ishizu, and Atemu was here."
"But how…? How did he even find your house?"
"He said he just re-appeared without warning in Kul Elna, he doesn't know why. A fisherman gave him directions to Luxor, apparently he overheard me giving you my home address before the Ceremonial Battle. That's all I know so far. Something weird is going on, I need you to come over here as soon as you can."
"Marik, it's a holiday, the flights-"
"I don't care, you must get over here!"
"Okay…I'll find a way."
"Thank you." Marik hung up before Yugi could ask if he could speak to Atemu again.
Author's Notes: I haven't posted a chapter story in years. I'm beyond nervous. Don't be too harsh please, (but if you do spot a grammar/spelling mistake let me know.)
The discrepencies explained:
- I know "Ishizu" is supposed to be "Isis," but I went by the VIZ translated manga, which calls her Ishizu. And I actually had another reason to use Ishizu too, so...she's Ishizu. On that note, people can't seem to agree if "Marik" or "Malik" is correct, so I'm going with Marik.
- Yugi is supposed to use honourifics. Yes, I know, I bloody know...just his usage of them is spotty, sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't, I don't know what sort of honourifics the minour characters would use...so I'm calling creative license and leaving them out altogether. I'm basing this on the manga, not the anime, and again, the only translated manga I have is from VIZ, which leaves out the honourifics.
- Marik lives in Luxor becase I needed him in Luxor. I do have an explanation as to how I could place his house in Luxor at the end of the series, in case anybody needs it. xD
Lemme think, other notes, other notes...the title is obviously a reference to the title of the Book of the Dead, AKA Coming Forth by Day. None of the other chapters are this long, I apologize for all the words this time around, but it was the set-up and all. Other chapters are more around 3-4 pages, not 6.
I apologize to any past readers reading this who have sent me PMs, especially to Pharaohess, I'm sorry I never answered. I haven't been on FFN in ages, I know some stuff has changed around here, (like I can't use greater-than or less-than signs anymore...) I'll try to reply to any comments that have questions, or that are particularly long or helpful, but even if I don't, know I really do appreciate them and take them to heart. :)
I promise the author's notes won't always be this long, either.