A/N: Gaaaah, NaNo and contest at the same time. Sequel to "The Empty Tomb", because when I get stuck on a pairing, what do I do? I stick it in the same universe as another pairing with the same character.
Mangaverse, plus Malik dies in Battle City.
Disclaimer: No. I much prefer Trustshipping. Or even Obscureshipping!
Malik was dead.
Rishid could not put that thought from his mind. With nowhere to go, he returned to the tombs. Ishizu warned him not to, alluding to her own heartbreak in their depths. The place that once contained so much pain at the hands of Master Ishtar was now a haven of memories with Malik.
His master was dead.
The guilt was constant, unchanging, and overhwelming. He would have rather stayed in his coma. He would have rather died. Ishizu was with him as much as she could, but she would not stay underground. She was at his side when he woke in the hospital, months after Battle City, months even after Ishizu had moved on and stopped mourning. She was the only person in the world that might understand his grief, but so freshly relieved of it, he did not want to burden her with it again. Whenever she ventured to his room underground, he told her to leave.
He sought the other clans, instead. He sought the man that spoke of "the soul of the pharoah". It was that man who begat all of this suffering, so many years ago. But the only one who knew anything about his was his servent who now was with Yugi and his friends, helping the pharoah.
Ishizu heard of his journey to the other tombkeepers, and braved the underground to speak with Rishid.
"Ishizu," Rishid did not look up from the book he was reading. Only one person ever entered the tomb.
"Rishid, please stop this," Ishizu begged.
"That man was the one who sent Master Malik to kill the pharaoh," Rishid met her worried gaze. "I need to find him."
"He's gone," Ishizu stammered.
"Which is why I must find him," Rishid turned his attention back to the book. Ishizu sat down next to Rishid.
"No, he's gone. You can't find him," Ishizu said, putting her hand on Rishid's. "I'm sorry."
"How do you know this?" Rishid asked, disbelieving. "We searched for years for him... you and I, both, behind Malik's back..."
"He came to me," Ishizu said hesitantly. "The thief in the millennium Ring killed him years ago, long before he first came to Malik. But his ghost... spirit... soul... apologized. He blamed himself for Malik's death-"
"He was right," Rishid growled, his anger taking Ishizu aback.
"No, Malik's death was not Shadi's fault, nor yours," she emphasized the last two words. "You need to stop taking the blame, Rishid."
"I should have been there to protect him..." Rishid clenched his fist. The book closed, the fanning pages casting odd shadows in the candlelight. Rishid slammed both hands on the table, standing. "I should have protected him!"
"Rishid!" Ishizu exclaimed, standing with him, but he was faster and whirled out of the room before she could catch him. "Wait!"
Her shout echoed down the narrow tunnel as Rishid ran. Irrational anger, for Ishizu and Shadi both, built up inside him. Shadi killed Malik! Ishizu wasn't mourning! She should... she should never have forgiven that man. She should have died on the tower, like she promised she would! Stupid, senseless, desperate excuses kept forming, and he tried to believe them.
Rishid turned a corner, and stopped, stumbling forward as his legs tried to keep moving. It was the room where Malik had been given the rite of the tomb keepers, the room that once held the Rod and Tauk, and the room where Master Ishtar died. A sword lay forgotten on the floor next to the spot where Ishtar died. The blood never came off the wall. Malik tried to clean it, once, then pretended he wanted to leave it there as a reminder. Rishid put his hand on the stone.
She should... she should have... there must be something she could have done... all these years, blaming the pharaoh, Malik's father, Shadi, the tomb keepers, there had to be someone else to blame. Nothing was ever Master Malik's fault. It was the people he was with, the life he was born into. Rishid should have protected Malik... Ishizu shouldn't have taken him to the surface... Rishid should have stood up to Malik's father... Ishizu should have told Malik that he killed his father... Rishid should have died as a baby... should have... shouldn't have... should...
"Are you alright?"
"We should have protected him," Rishid muttered, feeling the cold wall. "We... it was our duty to keep him safe, he was the head of the family..."
"We did everything we could," Ishizu said, walking towards him. Rishid kept his back to her.
"Then why is he DEAD?" Rishid screamed. "If it weren't for him... your father would have killed me... and I just let him die? I made a promise-!" He whirled around, pointing to the scars on his face. "I burned that promise into me, that I would forever serve your family!"
"Our family," Ishizu corrected. "You are part of us, Rishid. You always have been."
"I am not!" he cried. He knelt and reached for the rusty sword, its curved blade matching the scars on his back. "I am part of nothing! Outcast by my own mother, adopted by your father as a slave. The outside world does not want me, I have no family, and this tomb, the only place I ever might have belonged, is empty. Malik is dead. I know no one else in this world. I cannot live with these strangers. I... I am not strong enough..."
He held the sword up, looking at his reflection, then swung the blade at his face, intending to carve off the mark and kill himself.
"No!" Ishizu grabbed his arm with one hand and the sword with the other. He opened his eyes when her hand hit his face instead of the sword. Blood ran down the blade, and he dropped it, clattering on the floor.
"Ishizu..." he started, horrified that he had hurt her.
"You are strong enough," she said firmly. She ignored her hand and knelt beside him. "You served Malik for your entire life. You fought for him, stood up to our father for him, took punishment for him, carved that mark into your own face-" She raised her bloodied hand to his scars. He flinched at the touch, but let her trace the marks. "You lived in this tomb for your entire life... and you are not strong enough to live in the world, where people are free from burdens of pharoahs and revenge?"
"I know nothing else..." he mumbled. "I wouldn't know... without Malik... alone..."
"You won't be alone." She lowered her hand. "You still have a place in this world, Rishid."
All the thoughts of blame and things they should have done still swirled around in his head. He took her hand. Voices whispered, he should have done more, she could have done more, we don't deserve to live...
"It won't be easy," he said, ignoring the voices as best he could. Part of him still want to protest, tell her the things they could have done... and that part of him would protest for a long time to come. But he now saw, it was pointless. Malik was dead, and nothing would change that.
"Did I ever say it would be? You think I've moved on, but it still hurts. I still think of him. But we must keep living."
"Yes." Rishid looked at her hand and the fresh blood on the floor. Too much blood had been spilled in this room, in this family. He stood up, pulling her with him. "Your hand... we should... go to a hospital."
Ishizu nodded, knowing what it cost him to willingly leave the tomb. They left together. The torches in the room burned dimmer as hours, days passed. Rishid had tended them while he was living underground, keeping the tomb lit. Now, for the first time since he had returned, they went out.