A/N: Hey, guys! Thought I'd add an epilogue of sorts. Thank you so much to everyone who has read this - and particular thanks to those who have reviewed and favourited! You are awesome. Thank you for sticking with this for so long. :)
In other news, there won't be a sequel for Doors, per se, but I do intend to write more in this 'verse. Possibly something Marik-centric; who knows? Enjoy!
There are some experiences from which you cannot fully recover. There are also some paths which, once chosen, cannot be abandoned. Bad metaphor. That implies you can turn round, which you can't. Think of it as speeding down a motorway: a long, one-track road, completely irreversible, winding towards some unknown destination.
I'm not sure what else to tell you. It's been a year since that trip to Egypt, when Atem departed for the afterlife. I wasn't surprised to see no trace of Bakura behind those doors. He may as well have been forgotten; it was far safer that way.
I'm sorry I haven't been writing so frequently. I haven't been avoiding you, I swear. I just didn't want you to worry. You'll hate me for this, but you were always much too innocent to trouble with deadly things like defying God. Don't laugh! I can tell you're laughing. Silly. It's so very, very important, though.
(I hope God's not reading over your shoulder right now, in heaven. That would be awkward! It would be like getting you into trouble with your boss, or your landl -
Living again was a difficult task for all of us. Yugi tried to project an aura of cheer, trying to persuade us that it was all for the best, and it was the Pharaoh's time to move on, whilst failing to convince himself. He got better, though. Anzu was an inspiration. Bakura had been completely wrong; gently, and with regretful resolve, she let go of Atem, lovingly allowing him to sink into memory. Lending Yugi all the consolation he needed. She may not have been in love with him as she was in love with his shadow self, but she gave him all the support of a best friend. In those first few weeks, she and Jonouchi scarcely left his side, taking it in turns to hold a constant vigil over him, day and night. Eventually it worked; he eased back into himself again. Shizuka, to the surprise of everyone, took it up with Mai of all people – much to the dismay of Otogi and Honda, who promptly turned their spurned affections to Ishizu. The point is, we all found solace in each other. Even Kaiba didn't shut himself off: Jonouchi wouldn't let him, and Mokuba encouraged any contact with the outside world. I think he suffered for want of a rival, though he would never admit to that kind of feeble dependency. Luckily, he found a replacement challenger in the former.
As for Marik, I'm not entirely sure how he got by during those first few drab, dreadful months. He could have been at university. He could have been in Egypt, or even Japan, with his siblings – hell, he could have been a cat burglar or a terrorist for all I knew. I kept thinking I ought to track him down. He, at least, knew the dark splendour of Bakura – and, who knows, may even have been yearning for some reminder, some living trace of him, almost as badly as me.
There are times when I wondered if all he needed was some sympathy and compassion. He'd been disconnected for long enough to drive anyone mad – and he'd experienced truths that possess one, turn one insane with their sublime horror. Why should he have had to face it alone...?
And me? And me. Huh. I'm not sure where to begin. I've become quieter, more introverted – mostly due to the pressure of keeping so much concealed below the surface. It doesn't show much; my friends all assume it's residual tranquillity after all the trauma I had to endure. They think it's stoicism. It is, in a sense – but it's due to suppressing the disillusion within me: I've become a living representation of the world; veiled and distorted by light. I lurk in the darkness like a vampire.
But I've realised where Bakura went wrong and it's all thanks to observing my friends, whom I love like a sailor loves the stars: distant, and blazing with untouchable radiance. I've realised just how much people matter. That was Bakura's stumbling block – he comprehended the abhorrence of the structure, but he overlooked the beauty of people. I'm looking to change the world without hurting anyone. I'll throw stones at the tyrants, but I'll take heed of the crowd. People matter. Collective social bonds are more important than one individual. The egotist never prevails.
I wish I could tell him all of this. Lean close and I'll let you in on a secret: I think that, someday, I will.
It started quite recently. Immediately following his defeat, I felt nothing in my mind. It was an empty vessel; I was numb to even my own presence. I was a hollow vase. A glove puppet, left abandoned on the counter.
Gradually, I began to fill out the corners of my brain; life crept into the dull contours of my vacated body. It was an arduous task, relearning how to be the sole inhabitant of myself. Eventually, by soaking up the bittersweet content of my friends, I began to feel again. The blankness of the void ceased to touch me.
And then began the crying jags. With feeling came floods of pain. Every night, I would soak my pillow with torrents of tears, muffling my shameful sobs. But that was OK because it was something that had to happen before I could ever heal. When it hit its peak, I started crying during the day, too. On trips out with Yugi and the rest, I would frequently disappear to the bathroom whenever I felt that miserable wave rush over me; I bought endless packets of moisturiser to mask the redness around my lashes and applied a continuous layer of concealer to the shadows underneath my eyes (like the inner darkness peering through.) The deception succeeded; I doubt anyone ever suspected. They trusted my honesty, took no heed of my duplicity.
After it peaked, it improved. The tears eventually dried. It was like recovering from a tortuous, prolonged bout of 'flu; exhaustion followed, but it did not linger for long.
I'm better now, I promise. I'm sorry for the last few letters; they were selfish...
Soon after what I now think of as the beginning of the partial return to myself, I did get back in touch with Marik. A chance meeting with Ishizu at an art exhibition led to the discovery of his address. He and I struck up what I suppose you could call a relationship. The first real one I have ever experienced. We were plagued by a dull, pervasive blur of discontent together – but it wasn't because of each other. No, we both knew that we would have been far more miserable on our own. Like recovering alcoholics, we clung to one another, and the pangs lessened with every feverish embrace.
Marik mesmerised me. Knocking on his dorm room that first day (as it turns out, he had been studying Philosophy at a university not overly far from Domino) I had been expecting a sleek, manipulative demon. Instead, I found – a teenager. A temperamental, mercurial, insanely intelligent teenager, all bound up in bitterness – but, nonetheless, this was just a kid my age, struggling to cope with the clinging fingers of the ghostlike past that curled around his limbs as tightly and insinuatingly as they did mine. Albeit a phenomenally beautiful kid.
I think I've found deliverance. He moves like happiness and he tastes like hope. And yet he's been wounded, so very badly...
Eventually, he broke free – escaped the greedy clutches of his legacy. I watched it happen, with deepening joy; watched the clouds disperse from his face until it was swept clean, earnest and buoyant. I... did not escape; not exactly. Outwardly, I was much better. Inwardly I was something of a wreck. At any rate, we eventually left each other through mutual, friendly agreement. It was only when he cleared out the remainder of his belongings from my flat (I was studying Art at university, but my father paid for private lodgings) that I realised how profoundly happy I had actually been. I was not resentful of the loss. In fact, I was pleased that I still had the capacity for that kind of feeling.
And it was then that something other than myself bushed the corners of my mind once more, laughing as the bewildered synapses seemed to tremble at the notion.
Perhaps he had been building up his strength until now. Perhaps he had simply been waiting for me to do the same. Either way – I think he still lives within me, and I also think I know why.
It began with the ever-present feeling of being watched when I was alone – watched from within. The sense of a faithful listener to my thoughts and emotions. The comforting presence of another entity.
His face would flash briefly before me every time I closed my eyes, fast enough to have been an illusion. In those hazy moments between waking and sleep, I felt the vaguest touch of ghostly arms about my waist. And the dreams – oh, he would visit my dreams every night, wordlessly pressing hot, lingering kisses to my mouth, eyes striving for some sense of communication.
So you see, I think a fragment of him lives on, outside the Millennium Ring. I think he implanted a shard of his soul within me. And I think he is growing stronger with every passing day.
Soon, I expect to talk to him. I wait, and hope, and search for any hint of him within my mind, my soul room – my sleep. I chase through the maze, marking every path. Sometimes when I'm alone in a room, I will call out to him aloud – Bakura! – in hope of some distant response.
It hasn't happened yet. But then, he always did have to be summoned from within.
When it comes down to it, I wanted him so badly he was forced to exist. I'm not letting him rest because I know he doesn't want that. He wants to return; I can feel it. And, inevitably as the tide, the phases of the moon, death, taxes, Monday morning – he will.
For now, I eagerly await your judgement.