A Waltz with Yami
I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh!
Cold. That was the first thing Anzu was aware of. It was as if a shawl made of nothing but Winter's winds had wrapped itself around her, seeped through her skin and settled over her very soul. Another she perceived, nearly right away was the interminable darkness assaulting her sight.
Wh-where am I?
Though she could feel the cold, Anzu had very little awareness of her own bearings. She felt so disconnected, so numb, she wasn't quite even sure if she was breathing.
Well, I'm thinking and I feel the cold so, I guess that constitutes as being alive. Or does it…?
Her fear of the unknown acted as thin chains wrapped around her body, keeping her immobile. She was alone, the heavy silence of whatever sort of plane she was on shrieked tauntingly in her ears. It reminded her of karaoke, an empty orchestra.
I-if I'm dead, wouldn't I be seeing a lot of white? A-and how did I die anyway? I was just watching Jounochi duel. If I had a heart attack, wouldn't I have noticed the pain? I'm too young to have a heart attack, right? I'm just a few months shy of seventeen.
So many questions filled the young aspiring dancer's mind. Yet there was no one around to have them answered.
C'mon Anzu, think! You were watching Jounochi duel and now you're here. What happened in between?
She knew her efforts were in vain. She had no answer.
As Anzu dwelled in the darkness, stubbornly trying to grasp at the truth's frayed edges, she realized that loneliness was quite painful, practically overwhelming her. There wasn't even a pinprick of light that would suffice as hope for her. Anzu reflected on her earliest memories of Yugi. How timid and frail he seemed to her. And so alone, even when she was in his company.
Anzu's thoughts then drifted to Yugi's alter ego, the Pharaoh. He too, spent a lot of time in darkness. Over three thousand years worth. And even after befriending all of Yugi's companions, that ache of being alone he felt hadn't quite eradicated itself from his heart, had it?
Now I'm the one who's in need of your support. Can any of you even hear me?
She felt a brushing against her cheek. It tickled slightly, almost feather light, yet at the same time it was like being caressed by smoke. Sound penetrated her thoughts, so quiet she could barely make out the words.
Is someone calling my name?
The voice became urgent and slightly clearer.
"Anzu! Anzu!" Wait…I think I know this voice.
"Come on Anzu! Wake up! Open your eyes!"
Open my eyes? Aren't I already awake? Apparently not if this voice is telling me to wake up. Wait…thoughts and perception. I am alive. But where am I? And why does it feel like opening my eyes has become such a daunting task?
After much effort, Anzu managed to open her eyes, only to be greeted by more darkness. Yet this darkness was slightly different. For starters, it wasn't entirely black but there were hues of violet and maroon that bled into the black. Then there was the sound. It wasn't a heart pounding silence, but something ethereal. Were those pained moans?
"Wha…?" Anzu murmured weakly.
Realizing that she was lying on her side on a ground of some sort, Anzu forced her body into a sitting position. Lifting her head, her sapphire eyes met a pair of lavender orbs.
Anzu flinched as if though she had been slapped. Those eyes didn't belong to Yugi.
It was Namu. No, not Namu. Marik. The one who had dragged nearly all of her friends into his twisted scheme for vengeance. Each and every one of the Battle City finalists and observers had become his toys, Battle City itself, his playground.
Her eyes narrowed dangerously as her voice ground out. "Marik! Where the hell are we and what do you want with me!"
The Egyptian youth in front of her dropped his gaze and shifted uncomfortably, like a little boy who was caught trying to put gum in his sister's doll's hair. He raked a hand through his already disheveled blond locks, letting out a weary sigh.
"I underestimated him," Marik muttered.
Her curiosity piqued. "Underestimated who?"
When he raised his lavender gaze, Anzu noticed that they weren't filled with malice and murderous intent, yet they were haunted and filled with such a painful sadness it was almost tangible. This wasn't the crazed psychopath awaiting to duel the pharaoh, this was the true Marik Ishtar before her.
A shiver shot down Anzu's spine. She remembered seeing the transformation between hikari and yami and in her opinion, it was a rather hostile takeover in comparison to when Yugi and the pharaoh switched places. No way things returned to normal so quickly. However the question still remained, why was Marik with her and where were they?
Marik licked his dry lips, wanting to delay his answer for as long as he could. He could see impatience and annoyance creeping into Anzu's eyes though, forcing him to swallow his fear and give her a response.
"My dark half," he finally spoke. "He boasted that he was better, far better than I could ever be, most especially in taking down the pharaoh." Pointedly ignoring her hardened stare, he continued. "I dismissed his declarations as completely farce. Yet he proved to be a far more challenging rival than I dared to imagine. And now…we pay the price."
Looking Anzu fully in the eyes, Marik went on, noticing the question in her eyes and the parting of her lips. "Where you come into this is simple. I borrowed your body."
Anzu's eyebrows nearly disappeared beneath her sienna bangs as she asked incredulously, "Excuse me?"
Here, Marik became slightly sheepish. "As I had done at the pier, I placed a bit of my essence, my soul if you will, into your mind."
He was surprised at her flat tone that carried traces of malevolence. "Wh-what?"
She spoke slowly, enunciating each word. "Why me? Why my body? Especially when I'm not a duelist, and I'm a girl."
Marik blushed, "Yes, both facts are true. However, you are treasured by both Yugi and the pharaoh. A key, to their weakness."
"Jounochi is just as treasured," She pointed out mildly. "So, what price have we paid for your stupidity? Where are we?"
He raised his eyebrows, "I'm surprised you haven't figured it out yet Anzu. You've seen this place several times before in your life and yet you don't recognize it?"
Anzu looked around, staring at the dark colors as they morphed and shifted, not quite blending more like layering. She listened to the ghostly moans of despair, the wails and screams of someone being tortured. A shiver shot down her spine as that small kernel of realization she felt deep down began to flower into truth.
Licking her suddenly dry lips, Anzu looked at Marik and said, "We're in the Shadow Realm, aren't we?"
He flicked his eyes away from her. "Yes we are."
She blinked uncomprehendingly. "I don't understand, there wasn't a duel."
A sigh escaped him. "When you're under my telepathic control you don't have any knowledge or recollection of the current situation. I took over your body and chased after my darker half trying to regain possession of the Millennium Rod. Needless to say my overconfidence and weakened state from being away from my own body is what drove me to defeat."
Taking a shaky breath he continued. "That monster inhabiting my body said that he'd throw you into the Shadow Realm for being my host. I had believed he was bluffing."
"He wasn't," Anzu said bluntly.
"Y-yeah, I know." Marik's hands clenched and flexed several times before managing to speak again. "One would think I'd have learned my lesson after the first face-off against my darker side."
"I-I-I faced off against my dark half once before," Marik's eyes were unfocused as he spoke, staring into the oblivion without acknowledging its existence.
"When I was in league with the evil half of Ryou Bakura. We dueled on the sky deck, I coaching Bakura. There were secrets of Winged Dragon of Ra's power I never even dreamed that existed. He destroyed us, and as a result, both halves of Bakura's ba were banished into the Shadow Realm."
Anzu looked thoughtful as she tried to summon a memory to the forefront of her mind. "I think I remember coming across that duel. I was with the Pharaoh, we were looking for Ryou, the battlefield the last place for us to search. Upon noticing that the duel had been sent to the Shadow Realm, the Pharaoh asked me to go downstairs for the sake of my own well being." She shot Marik a wry smirk. "That probably wouldn't have protected me from you entering my mind, huh?"
Marik struggled to keep his expression smooth as replied, "Probably not."
Anzu remained silent as she absorbed all that she had learned in…well honestly she had no idea how much time had passed while she dwelled in the Shadow Realm. She was honestly surprised that he was showing so much fear and openly telling her what he had done. But what took her off guard the most was the tinge of shame, regret and the hint of sadness lacing his voice. He sounded almost human.
Before she could muse further on Marik's words, a violet door shimmered in front of the pair. Raising an eyebrow, Anzu was pulled toward it, her overwhelming curiosity beating out her common sense. Grasping the door handle, Anzu felt a shiver creep down her spine like a clawed finger sliding down her back screaming promises of pain and torture. Forcing her fears to subside, Anzu pushed open the door, hardly taking note of the young Egyptian man following her.
Both sets of eyes, violet and sapphire widened at the sight of the Domino streets they were standing on, one set surprised, the other wary.
The aspiring dancer tilted her head. "Um, how the heck did we end up in Domino?"
"We're not in Domino," Marik replied, his voice tense.
Confusion causes a wrinkle to appear in Anzu's forehead. "But-"
"We're still in the Shadow Realm," He explained. "This is some sort of orchestration done by dark magic's. A memory summoned by the ancient spirits doomed to forever wander this plane."
Before Anzu could further question him, two figures trudged from out of the shadow of a skyscraper. A badly injured, barely conscious Ryou was being supported by a concerned Marik. Anzu's heart lurched as she listened to the faint, pained breathing escaping Ryou.
The scene quickly shifted to a hallway on Kaiba's battle blimp. Marik and Bakura were standing a few feet from Anzu, leaving her completely within earshot of their conversation.
"Excellent job on handling your weakling host," Marik praised, a sadistic grin twisting his otherwise handsome face.
Bakura smirked, slouching against the wall. "It was too easy."
"Now our plan to destroy the Pharaoh and take what's mine shall be able to move forward without a hitch."
The ancient thief raised a silvery white eyebrow. "What's yours? Are we forgetting something Marik? My payment? I believe we agreed that I would receive the Millennium Puzzle and that Millennium Rod of yours once this tournament was over."
A flicker of annoyance passed over the malevolent teen's face. "Yes," He lazily drawled. "Yes, I shall keep up my part of the bargain once this is done. Quit acting like some terrier trotting after his master waiting for its treat. Go prepare for your duel with the Pharaoh."
"I am not some kind of creature that could double as a woman's purse," Bakura snarled as he swept past his co-conspirator.
Abruptly the hallway melted back into the swirling colors of the Shadow Realm. Anzu's eyes were hardened chips of sapphire as they narrowed dangerously. She whirled around to face Marik, a roil of satisfaction curling around her heart as she noted the fear beginning to show in his eyes.
"You're the reason why Ryou who is completely innocent in all of this is suffering?" She hissed. "As if he doesn't go through hell day after day at the hands of Bakura!"
Anzu smirked as she parted her lips to let loose a tirade that had been building up inside her ever since learning about Marik's existence. "I heard that story your sister was telling everyone earlier about how your father pretty much kept you on a collar and leash your whole childhood and how as a result you came to despise your destiny as tomb keeper."
"I know, I know, Anzu," Marik replied hastily. "And it was my fault my father was killed because it was done by my own hands."
"So why didn't you dam the river of misery there?" She challenged. "Why persist in letting it flow and drag all of my friends into this? Because Yugi bears a frighteningly striking resemblance to the Pharaoh? And another thing," She was beginning to bite off her words.
"I know that your precious hunk of Millennium metal gives you the ability to control other people's minds, but do you yourself even have one? The Pharaoh's been dead for thousands of years! There is no way in any way, shape or form what has happened to you his fault. Especially if his soul was locked in the Puzzle!"
As she ranted, she moved closer to the chagrined boy, her finger poised to jab him sharply in the chest. Neither prisoner noticed the dancing shadows that began to gather around Anzu's ankles.
"Tell me something Marik," Anzu continued scathingly. "Why me? Just because I'm some weak little girl, or because I'm the pathetic cheerleader, the annoying 'Miss Friendship." Perhaps under different circumstances she would've been sobbing as she spoke. "Yes, I've heard the comments, particularly from my peers at school." Yet this time each word was caressed with relish.
Marik took several steps back, his arm starting to come up in an attempt to shield himself from Anzu's wrath. "A-A-A-Anzu…" He stammered.
"I am not weak, despite what people enjoy saying. Just because I'm not a duelist like Yugi or Jonouchi doesn't mean that I have the right to be taken advantage of by a thing like you! I would call you 'monster' or 'creature', but just like the Pharaoh has said before, that would only be an insult to Duel Monsters."
The shadows were beginning to creep up her lithe form, licking at her skin. Yet she hardly paid attention to this as a cold smirk curled itself over her lips. "I know what I'm going to do solve this little matter," She whispered. "I am going to destroy you!"
As her declaration ripped itself from her throat, Anzu lunged at Marik, fingers curved like claws that itched to clamp themselves around his throat, wanting to sink into his tender skin.
Marik's eyes widened in shock and fear at Anzu's change. Her hair flared out wildly around her head, her teeth gripped in an animalistic snarl. Her posture mirrored that of a huntress's. Yet the one thing that scared him the most was watching the last of the blue in her eyes fade to black. Her soul was slipping, tethering itself to the shadows. Who knew how long it would be before she was gone forever.
Not gonna lie, I'm pretty proud of this one-shot despite the ooc behavior Anzu develops later on. But hey, that's what I intended to do so no pouting about it. She can be strong, not the bash worthy type plenty of writers like to fashion her personality as.
Also, yes I know there's Yami in the title, but it has nothing to do with the Pharaoh himself, but the meaning of the word. You guys can figure it out right?