A/N: Interesting word count that I didn't particularly strive for: 1111. Written for a Livejournal community 78 tarot using the prompt 13: Death.

Warnings: none. Worksafe.

Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the intellectual property of Kazuki Takahashi and all associated companies. No profit is being made from this story and all the creative rights to the characters depicted herein belong to their original creator.


Changing

He had been ready to forfeit himself. He had been ready to cast away his life and disappear, but he had been granted a second chance he had not expected. Now, back in his home country, Malik was trying to find a new reason to live and that proved to be harder than he had thought. Back then, his existence had been filled with hatred and thirst for vengeance. His entire life had revolved around righting the wrongs that had been done to the Ishtar family. He had sought to avenge the curse of loyalty that had been bestowed upon their entire lineage as the tombkeepers of the Pharaoh. Malik had not been willing to accept the fact that his entire life would be sacrificed in the most unjust way possible – by awaiting the reawakening of a Pharaoh that might not even come during his, Malik's lifetime.

Now when it was clear that the Pharaoh had, indeed, been reborn and that the Ishtar family was no longer obliged to guard his tomb, finding a new purpose in life was not proving to be quite so easy. Malik still had a lot of things to learn, to discover and get acquainted with. It was a slow progress and he could not find anything that would interest him much. He just didn't know what to look for, what to do with his life.

One of the very few things that he truly enjoyed and that had not changed with the sudden gain of freedom was riding his motorcycle. He enjoyed the speed, the feeling when the world sped by, disappearing in a blur, and the wind whipping at him. He treasured the feeling of freedom it gave him. It had been the first thing he had truly enjoyed even during his quest for revenge and it stayed with him now.

The rides Malik went on became longer and longer. He stayed away from his new home near Cairo for longer and longer periods of time, returning home to his sister and older brother for just a few days before the roads called him again. He enjoyed the simple fun of riding his motorcycle throughout the land, taking in the scenery and observing how people lived elsewhere. It fascinated him – the way other people went about their lives, the way they didn't seem to be too concerned with gods coming back to life and all of the other things that Malik had seen firsthand. None of them seemed all too concerned with a certain Pharaoh, with the significance of him return and the changes it had brought about.

Malik realised that the world had forgotten. It had forgotten everything that it had once been. The times when gods walked the earth; the times when Pharaohs still ruled this land, and even the times when the rumour of Medjay was no rumour at all. The world had forgotten its secrets and Malik did not know what to name the feeling that overtook him upon realising this.

Ishizu worried about him in the beginning, but with her duties piling up and the constant travels abroad that she had to make, the feeling lost its intensity. He no longer possessed the necklace that could allow her to see the future and she had to live with the fact that she couldn't, at all times, know where her little brother was. Slowly, over time she learned to rely on Rishid and his constant reassurance that Malik was old enough to take care of himself; that somebody like him wouldn't just up and disappear. She realised this, but she was also troubled by the change she saw in his brother. He had lost the light that had guided him in his childhood. He had lost the smiles he had been eager to give to anyone. He had even lost the intensity that drove him to accomplishment as the leader of the Rare Hunters – a twisted parody of Medjay whose descendants the family of Ishtar was believed to be. She still loved him, she still cared for him, but her new duties didn't allow her to be present in every aspect of his life.

Malik did not mind. In fact, he eagerly sought to get away from his family. He just didn't feel like he belonged in their new normal life. He had tried to help Ishizu with her work, leading around tourists, compiling annals and minor chronicles, helping her decipher ancient texts and deliver valuable artefacts. He lost interest in all of that after a while. He tried his hand in other jobs around the city, but found none to his liking. All of them seemed too bland, too boring, too pointless.

The only time he had felt anything in a long while was during an unexpected motorcycle chase down the dusty roads of Africa. He had wandered deep into the continent, exploring the world outside of his familiar surroundings. Out in the savannah he had happened upon another motorcycle rider and they had chased each other for a while out of sheer fun. They had not spoken a word, just passed each other in the road, but the stranger had sped up in a way that could only be interpreted as a challenge, and Malik had risen to it. It had been hours of dust, wind, heat, sweat, and roar of engines. At that time Malik had felt like he could follow the other rider to infinity and beyond, just revelling in the feeling of motion, speed, and adrenaline. However, that chase had come to an end when the other man had dropped the speed and pulled into a village. Malik had moved onwards, disappointed to have it end so soon, but knowing better than to follow his newfound rival.

Ever since that day he had been out on the roads, looking for another encounter like that, hoping to find another challenger. He had come up empty-handed and he didn't even realise that the roads had taken over his mind; that being out there, chasing the dust was where he wanted to be the most. That nothing else in this world mattered but the speed, the heat, the endless roads, and the clouds of dust that he had left behind. The roads led to nowhere in particular, and Malik was okay with that. The dust covered the road behind him, and that was okay, too, because he didn't plan on going back. The future promised everything and nothing, and that was okay, because there was the next turn in the road and a chance that someone with a motorcycle would be there to take his challenge again.