This is an entire flashback.

It would've been in two parts; but it explains all of Malik and Mariku's pasts; which I'm sure that, if you read the other scenes, seems pretty damn obvious ehehe. This is totally chronological and completed.

This is about all I have


"Malik."

The 7-year-old boy looked up at the sound of his name, smiling as his twin entered the room. He was about to chirp a hello when he saw the grim expression on the other boy's face. "What's … wrong?"

He looked hesitant. Hand on the door-frame, Mariku opened his mouth a few times to respond before closing it soon after. Finally, he spoke, barely choking the words out: "We have to go to the hospital. Mother passed out." He took a long pause, the hand by his side clenched into a fist as it shook a bit. "They… uh, they aren't sure she'll make it."

Violet eyes widened as Malik stood up so suddenly the chair went clattering to the ground noisily. Nothing more was said. Brothers shot out the door, not even grabbing keys to get back in. Their siblings were already there and luckily the hospital wasn't far. They could go outside. Just this once.

They ran until they felt stitches gnaw on their sides, as if threatening to tear it open but nothing happened. Breaths were laboured and their eyes were stinging with panicked tears.

They managed to get up and into the room just as the heart rate fell flat.

Shocks did nothing. She didn't move. She didn't breathe.

Her eyes didn't open.

Falling to his knees where he had stood, Malik broke down sobbing.

(-)

He hadn't come out of his room for days after her funeral.

It eventually angered his sister who said she was grieving as much as he was— but when he shouted "I'm scared, okay? You just don't understand!" at her as she nagged him again for being antisocial despite it all, she was confused. Mariku got defensive almost right away. He was immediately defending his brother, screaming at their sister to just 'leave them the hell alone' because he 'knew what happened behind closed doors.' Ishizu was blissfully ignorant, whether by choice or by coincidence. More than likely, it was the latter. Their older brother Rishid only knew because the twins would come to him, bruised and messed up, begging for him to protect them. He'd done what he could until it was turned against him.

Malik had his fair share of scars. They adorned his entire back in some intricate and painful pattern. Even his neck had slashes of lighter skin across it and his arms were laced with designs of abuse. His legs were no different. Mariku bore the same marks, give or take the number and placement. The design on his back was identical as well. He had a small scar on his jaw and one on his temple— but the cut on his neck never became a permanent reminder. It hadn't been as deep as Malik's. Mariku wasn't sure if he was thankful for it, or angered.

Now that their mother was gone, the twins were left helpless— mainly, Malik although Mariku was still in that ring. Even as a child, Mariku always had been the little spitfire and protective sibling. He constantly defended his little brother. He didn't let anyone touch him— well, barring one person who held such a power over them all that would cause even Mariku to break sometimes.

He (can monsters be boys?) was never an idol nor a role model— that man, the wretched and horribly vile creature, was no one other than their father.

The abuse was always there, ever since even Rishid was a child. He had been adopted, technically, into the family because the doctors were sure their mother could never have one of their own. Their mother had found him abandoned on their doorstep and, maternal instinct in over-drive, refused to let him die. She took him in, named him, loved him, and made sure he was welcome. She protected Rishid as if he truly were her own— and as far as she was concerned, he was. Their father, however, wasn't so easy to agree.

He hated Rishid. Nothing the child did was ever right and despite their mother's protests, the eldest Ishtar man would never accept the 'adopted blood' as anything more than some common houseboy. Even still, their father had never even thought of abuse— if he had, regardless, he never acted on it at least as far as Rishid could remember. Ishizu was born 3 years after Rishid was adopted.

Then, 6 years later, the twins were born.

The son their father wanted, one of his own blood, came in a pair. However, while Malik was studious and diligent, Mariku was rebellious but he was stronger. Malik was weak-hearted. He had to be protected from everything, according to their father. Malik cried easily. He laughed too much and played as if he had his entire life ahead of him. Mariku was much more antisocial and quiet and not as easily amused, but everywhere his brother went the other boy was only a few feet off. The twins were a pair. They made mischief together— really, they did everything together.

That's why he felt so horrible as he watched his father hit the younger twin for the first time.

(-)

They had been 5.

Malik had been playing with a basketball in their garage (they weren't allowed outside unless they were under strict supervision) when it had happened. Mariku was sitting on the boxes nearby, laughing as his brother miserably attempted to make a basket. He missed for what seemed like the fiftieth time, though this time the ball hit the shelves near Mariku's head. The child had easily avoided the few falling objects, laughing even harder, as his twin pouted. That was when it happened— Malik had barely the time to blink. A black and yellow snake shot out from its hiding place between the boxes and attached directly to his ankle.

With a cry, the boy fell backwards, desperately trying to get the snake off. Mariku was at immediate attention, rushing over to his twin and tugging the snake away (he'd later remember being scared to death it was a notorious cobra) and attended to the bleeding. While using the bottom of his robe to soak up the blood, he multi-tasked by trying to sooth his sobbing brother.

He got no further when the door was flung open and their father stormed in, furious.

Their father grabbed Malik first by the collar of his shirt and then the hand moved to grab his hair, screaming at him.

Why was he crying? Why was there blood on the floor and on Mariku? What was all the noise?

Question after question, shaking the child's head as he yelled louder and louder.

Speak up. Respond. Disrespectful brat. Stop that blubbering.

Mariku was desperately tugging and pulling on his father's robe, crying for him to stop. He was hurting him. They had just been playing. Please. There was a snake. He got bit. He might die. Stop hurting him.

Their father either didn't listen or didn't care. (Was it both? Mariku no longer remembered.) In one quick motion, he hit Malik as hard as he could. Mariku was frozen.

He hit him again. Another time. Once more.

Eventually their father let go of the boy's head as he tossed the child to the side like a rag, Malik skidding until he stopped— limp on the ground, coughing and spluttering. The younger twin was still crying, choking on sobs of both pure terror and pain. He clutched his head with both arms— even breathing hurt, as he lay on his side, unable to move.

The beating wasn't done. Next his father was at his side, kicking him and continuing to shout.

Mariku wasn't sure when he himself started crying, or when their mother finally came in horrified. She had scooped Malik into her arms as she blocked the blows, soothing him before such obscenities shot from her mouth that it made even their father look shocked. She hugged her youngest so tightly to her chest Mariku remembered being worried she'd suffocate him— but Malik's shoulders were still violently shaking, his entire body racked with sobs.

(-)

Weeks passed.

The cuts were still healing over. He had broken a rib too, he was sure. The physical scars remained, just like the emotional ones, although those were still fresh and bleeding unlike the ones on his skin. Mariku couldn't get closer than two feet without his brother screaming silently, having a panic attack, and whispering pleas to spare him. He'd calm down when, finally, he'd realize it was his brother—but Mariku couldn't touch him. Should his twin have let him hold him or touch his shoulder in the first place anyway, it would've been painful. His tanned skin was adorned tactlessly with bruises.

(Mariku still hated himself for doing nothing.)

The beatings didn't stop. Mariku got his fair share of hits protecting his twin, and eventually they became routine to him. He never cried in front of the man, only after he left would the tears fall because, again, he knew he failed as a big brother. He'd hug Malik as tight as could, without hurting him, and hold him. They'd cry together, promise to run away.

"But we can't leave our siblings and mother— he'll kill them."

Mariku knew he was right.

"If he found you and me, he'd kill us."

And Malik knew he was right.

They did the next best thing: they'd run to Rishid, crying (sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally) for help. The teenage boy would frown, looking incredibly upset, before tending to their wounds in a gentle manner that Mariku often thought a father should actually have. He told Rishid that, once, when their adoptive brother treated a wound on his cheek.

"I wish you were our father."

The tanned male had been so surprised, he stopped immediately what he was doing. He withdrew the rag, staring at Mariku as if the boy would then burst out laughing saying it was a joke. He never did. The elder twin just stood there, silent and serious, staring at his older brother with an unreadable expression. Malik, sitting beside him, nodded a few times with a murmured "uh-huh" in between.

"Why?" Rishid had asked. He frowned. He didn't understand. "I know your father is not the best—" 'What an understatement.' "—but he did take me in like his own." 'Except not really.' "He treats mother well." 'Most of the time.'

Mariku pouted, arms crossed, as his brother placed a bandage on his cheek. "No. He's mean. You'd be better. You are better." He nodded a few times, just like his brother had done. Rishid sighed, but couldn't help the soft smile that came onto his face.

"Little brother," he began gently, "I appreciate the sentiment, but…" He chuckled a bit, trailing off at the two boys' confused faces. "Sentiment means a thought or feeling, like an opinion." He paused before continuing. "I appreciate it, but all I am is your brother… if even that."

Malik piped up this time, swinging his legs as he leaned forward, looking upset. "But Rishid! I still think father is lying!"

"Lying?" Rishid repeatedly carefully. "About what, and what makes you think that?"

"You must be our brother." Malik frowned. "You look so much like mother and sister. Father is lying. You must be our big brother," he repeated with defiance.

Rishid was, once again, rendered speechless. He looked like their mother? 'Father' (more so it seemed like he should just call him Master as it felt like all he was to the man was a simple slave) always spat how ugly he was, that he was ashamed to have even an adopted son of such looks. Their mother was a lovely lady, despite often hiding her face in traditional garbs and scarves. Their sister? A spitting image.

The young man couldn't even begin to articulate a response to show his gratitude at the statement. Instead, without warning, he wrapped his arms around both twins, murmuring "thank you, little brothers" as he did. The twins didn't know exactly what was going on, but smiled and hugged him back, laughing.

Rishid protected the twins as much as he could, even more than before because of that. Often times he got the brunt of the force, having once even gotten whipped in the face just to shield one or the other from one more hit. It made their father so furious, but their mother always came in at the right moment. He'd stop. She'd scream and yell. He'd yell back. Sometimes she'd get hit too, but she didn't care. Until he left the room, she didn't move from in front of her children.

It went on that way for 2 long years, until something went wrong.

(-)

They noticed slowly that she had been quieter. She bruised easier. She was tired often. Eventually, she was bed-ridden. Rishid and Ishizu often forced the twins from her side, claiming their mother needed rest. Eventually, even their father realized something was wrong— but he couldn't do anything about it until the bruises healed. A week later, they did. And a week and a day later, it was too late. No one knew where she had been going, but she passed out on the floor. She got taken to the hospital but it was no use— their mother, their only true protector, died.

Somewhere in between all that, 3 more years passed. Mariku wasn't sure exactly where the timeline fell, but he knew what happened next. The twins were 10 now.

(-)

Mariku remembered his fight with Ishizu— it was over Malik hiding in their room once more. He did that a lot nowadays, but Ishizu didn't seem to comprehend it. "You don't understand," Mariku seethed. "You don't and you never will, you always turned a blind eye!"

"You're speaking nonsense," the teenager frowned. She was only 16 but it was no secret she acted mature and wise beyond her years. "I understand he's grieving, she was my mother as well—"

"That's not the only reason he's upset!" Mariku screamed. A moment after he did, he immediately regret it as he slapped a hand over his mouth. If he was too loud…

He suddenly felt sick.

Without another word, he flew into his room and shut the door (quietly) behind him. Ishizu continued to stand there, stunned. She murmured something to herself, shaking her head. Had she said something wrong? Even if not, she was worried. Rapping her knuckles against the door, she called: "Little brother, I'm sorry. I don't precisely know what I said, but—"

She stopped, hearing yelling from down the hall. She turned slowly, concentrating with confused curiosity (if there was such a thing) on the noise, leaning her hand on the door.

Snap. Snap. Thump. Another shout. A murmur. One more scream. Snap. Snap. Snap.

Ishizu was about to investigate when she felt her weight give way, the door opening. She quickly recovered and was about to chide her brother for being so reckless, but the chance wasn't given. Like a bullet, Mariku, with Malik in tow, was racing down the hallway as fast as he could and towards the basement. Ishizu gasped, surprised.

"W-wait! What are you…?" She followed after, worried. "Don't run, father will—!"

"RISHID!" Sounds of feet racing down the stairs followed.

"R-Rishid … wake up… Big brother?"

Everything else happened so fast it was hard for even Ishizu to recall it clearly. She remembered carefully running down the stairs with skirt hiked up, worried her brother had fallen down them, only to be met with a sight she had never seen.

(-)

Her father stood over a collapsed Rishid, the whip in his hand and blood on his face, robe— and, well, everywhere else. Her elder brother's back was ripped with scars and blood; he was on the floor, splayed halfway on his stomach and halfway sideways, but either way unmoving.

The twins had rushed to his side, Malik desperately shaking his brother who wasn't giving any sign of response. Mariku was tugging his robe, pleading for him to wake up. The attacker (no, he was a monster— a big monster, like an ogre) himself just stood there, glaring furiously down at Rishid as if the blonde twins weren't even there.

"F-father…" Ishizu whispered, frozen on the stairs. "What happened? Father! What happened to Rishid? Did… Did you do this to him?"

That snapped him out of it.

Darkened and furious eyes turned to glare at her. "He deserved it, the impudent disgrace!" He shouted, "I never wanted him in this house, but your mother insisted against my will because she was positive she could not have children! My dream was thoroughly destroyed; I wanted someone I could entrust the family secrets to. A boy of my own blood." He spat on the ground, missing Rishid but barely. "What did I get when your mother finally got pregnant by a miracle of the Gods? You."

That was pure hatred in his voice. Hate? He hated her? She had never imagined the intensity of hidden fury her father bore towards her.

"You," he continued, seething, "who were exactly like your mother." He paused, taking his glare now to the twins who were just clinging now to their more than likely dead brother. "I finally got my heir at least," he hissed. "Granted it was in the form of two insolent boys… one can't even stand a harmless snake bite, and another who has too much rebellion in him."

Ishizu was suddenly furious.

It all made sense— why they always seemed to be out of bandages and rubbing alcohol; the reasons the twins always looked so beat up when they claimed they had "just rough-housed too much" and got hurt; why their mother was always going in and out of the rooms, keeping a steady eye on their father and the twins.

Everything made sense.

"You've been hurting my little brothers," she fumed, taking a dangerous step forward. "You hurt Rishid now. Had you been abusing mother, as well?"

"Silence!" Their father shouted back, turning angrily towards her. The whip was slowly being raised, but the teenager paid no mind. "How dare you speak to me in such a manner!"

"How dare you hurt my siblings!" Ishizu retorted without missing a beat, her anger quickly rising. She took a stance, fists clenching. She wasn't sure what exactly she planned on doing, her mind was too livid to form much of a plan if one at all. "You have no right to do such a th—"

The whip cracked.

Ishizu didn't even realize it was coming towards her until she felt it slash across her cheek. It felt like the sting of a knife and it split the skin right open. She let out a cry, grasping her cheek and stumbling back. Eventually, she collapsed to her knees, dizzy. She was slightly uneasy around blood, something she had never really told any of her family except for their mother. After all, it never really came up.

Staring at her shaking hand, coated in that thick red liquid, she silently wished the cut wouldn't leave a scar. Her other hand was still covering her cheek, more so in pain rather than trying to stop the blood flow. Terrified blue eyes looked up at her father, who was beginning to approach her again. She squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for the next hit that never came… but sounded.

(-)

Ishizu opened her eyes tentatively before gasping. Mariku had shot in front of her, taking the hit against his raised forearm. "Leave Ishizu alone!" the elder twin snapped, ignoring the searing pain emitting from his arm. "Don't hurt her!"

Ishizu looked even more scared now, her blue eyes widenening. "N-no! Mariku!" She crawled forward and weakly attempted to push him out of the way. Instead, she only managed to grab at the robe he wore (Mariku remembered hating that thing everyone was forced to wear, and was very grateful when he got to change out of it) and clutch it. "Get out of the way, please!"

"I won't move, sister! Let go!" He shouted before he whipped his head back around to glare at their father. "Don't touch her!"

Mariku remembered every little detail of the events that followed. He would be the only one to recall everything so precisely— for his siblings, it was an incredibly lacking memory.

(-)

His father was hitting him. He managed to block most of the blows with his arms but a few got past and hit his chest or his side. Only one hit his face, cutting open his lower jaw. Mariku had picked something up (admittedly, he couldn't remember what, only that it was slender, long, and seemed like a good weapon) and was fighting back viciously. Ishizu was screaming for them to stop. She couldn't move, though— all the blood, from both her own cheek and the wounds of the rest of her family, had paralyzed her in fear.

Rishid woke up, groggy but vaguely aware. He didn't move. He laid there, eyes attempting to focus. Malik, who was still behind him, hadn't noticed because his attention was focused solely on his twin and his father fighting.

His father elbowed and hit Mariku so hard he went flying, slamming against the wall that he felt the world daze and go unfocused. He didn't pass out, but he whimpered, head throbbing— it had hit solid concrete, and he was positive it was bleeding (later he'd be thankful that somehow he had nothing more than a concussion). Violet eyes attempted to stay transfixed on his father, but the double-image was making it hard. He heard Ishizu screaming his name, crying out for him.

Look out. Oh gods, Mariku. Move. Watch out. Please.

That was when it happened. Something inside Malik was boiling the entire time and now the water was over the pot's rim— he snapped.

Mariku, despite being unfocused, could still remember exactly what then unfolded.

(-)

Malik saw a knife. It had been on the ground, dropped during Mariku and their father's struggle. It had been the one he hurt the elder twin and Rishid with just moments ago. Without further thought, Malik grabbed it and launched himself at the enemy, only seeing red. Eventually, that was all everyone else saw too… although it was in a much different sense.

Stab. Stab. Scream. Shout. Tear. Rip. Slam.

Malik was on the ground, their father's foot on his neck. He was pressing down and the boy was slowly reddening in his face, before he weakly thrust the knife back. It hit the man's leg and, with a cry, he stumbled back.

Malik got up.

Shouting. Stab. Cry. Scream. Wail. Hit. Smack. Stab.

A pause.

Slump.

Pant. Pant. Pant.

Clatter.

The knife fell to the floor once more.

(-)

Mariku remembered finally gaining clarity back, only to see a site he never wanted to again though it'd be sure to haunt his nightmares. Malik, splattered with blood like an explosion of paint, stood over their unmoving (mutilated) father's body. Not all of the blood was their father's that was drenching the floor, but it was mostly his. The panting child just stood there, the cuts on his arms, face, chest, and legs dribbling the same liquid that stained the room. His hair was over his eyes and Mariku could see the other twin's entire body shaking. After a moment, he realized why as Malik lifted his head.

He was crying.

He looked terrified, quietly stammering out: "What… Oh Ra… w-what… d-d-d…" He choked on tears, stumbling back before clumsily falling over right onto his backside. He scooted backwards, trembling and continuing absent murmurs. Rishid, who was now fully aware and beginning to get up, almost fell over when Malik backed into him. The blonde screamed and flung around, shielding his face. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Over and over again he screamed, sobbing, as if he was positive Rishid was going to hurt him next.

The man frowned, taking in slowly everything around him—he knew he'd get nowhere attempting to calm Malik down now.

Ishizu had her hand over her mouth. She looked ill. Mariku was against a wall, panting, with his head back absently. He had closed his eyes, but they were open now and looking over to Rishid. He somehow managed a thin smile. Rishid didn't return it. He looked back to Malik, who was slowly getting quieter. He realized why as the blonde's eyes slipped closed and he fell over, limp on the ground.

He had passed out.

Mariku's memory became fuzzy after that.

He remembered closing his eyes one more time, listening as Rishid started to shout his siblings' names, and the next thing he knew he was hearing loud sirens. Some other voices made their way to his ears and the world spun a bit as his eyes attempted to open slightly. Was he being lifted?

He was suddenly tired. He closed his eyes.


Now there were bright lights, and lots of white when he opened them again.

"Ishtar Mariku. You're awake."

Mariku had looked over after staring at the ceiling for a moment longer, confused to see a man he had never seen before standing by his bed— scruffy grey hair, wearing white and black and glasses and a clipboard in his hand. He looked extremely weird to Mariku, who rarely saw anyone outside of his family and the occasional passerby. The stranger smiled and it was then Mariku made the snap judgment the man must've worked here. Now that he thought of it, he was dressed similar to the person who had been by his mother's side in the hospital.

Oh.

So that was a doctor or a nurse. He was in the hospital, then?

"I'm glad you've finally opened your eyes," the stranger continued. "Your siblings are all fine. Ishtar Ishizu and Rishid, correct?"

He expected Mariku to look happy. Instead, he looked absolutely and utterly mortified and ready to jump out of the bed as he clenched the sheets. "N-no, no, just them? Why just them? Why didn't you say his name too, wh-why, is he—"

"Mariku!"

The blonde trailed off pathetically, whimpering, and looked to the door where Ishizu had burst through. She looked relieved. Rishid followed in after her, smiling softly— he didn't look just relieved, he looked completely exhausted but unspeakably happy. "S-sister," Mariku whispered, trembling and extending his arms weakly to her.

She took the hint and rushed over, embracing him tightly as she could while minding his wounds. She herself hadn't been hurt too badly— she only had a band-aid on her face that would probably not scar. Rishid was worse for the wear than she. He had a bandage around his head, right forearm and left bicep, and band-aids on his cheeks and jaw. He had bandages around his chest and back too, but his loose hanging tan t-shirt currently hid it (it was also then Mariku noticed that his brother was, indeed, wearing pants instead of their "traditional garb").

"We were so worried," Ishizu murmured into his ear, sighing in another burst of relief. She was trying not to break down crying again. "I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I never noticed before, little brother."

Mariku just shook his head. He didn't care at the moment.

"I-Ishizu … Is … is fa—" He cut himself off with a whimper, hiding his face in his sister's shoulder. He couldn't even say the word. At Ishizu's silence, and Rishid's head turning, Mariku had to assume that their father was, indeed, never coming back. Was he particularly sad about this? Not in the least, if he was going to be brutally honest. After all, what had that man ever done well for them? He only regretted that—

Wait. Mariku gasped, shoving Ishizu back to look at her wondering eyes. "M-Malik!" He exclaimed. For that brief moment, he had forgotten about the reason for his earlier panic attack. "Malik! What about… Is he… d-… d…" His lip quivered and he bit it to repress the sob that might have forced its way through.

Rishid intercepted this time. "He's fine, little brother. He simply passed out from a blood loss," He explained and smiled, as Mariku's face seemed to melt into relief.

"… I'm glad," Mariku whispered, feeling tears prick his eyes though this time in comfort and contentedness. "But…" He paused, glancing awkwardly at the man he assumed to be either his nurse or his doctor. "Er, s-sir, may I speak with my siblings in privacy please?"

"Of course. I just wanted to check on you, seeing as you were awake." The doctor (Mariku was positive of that now) smiled again and left, closing the door quietly behind him. Mariku waited, as if to see if he'd come back in, before looking at Ishizu worriedly.

"Malik … he really did …" Mariku paused. He had to force the word out; it was a self-challenge. "He really did kill father, then? It wasn't a dream?" The strength in his voice surprised even himself. Rishid only nodded solemnly. "… I see. Brother, Sister… Will Malik be taken away?"

"I'm not sure, little brother," Ishizu whispered, finally finding her voice. "We're going to tell the authorities exactly what happened—"

"It was self-defense!" Mariku suddenly screamed, tears threatening to pour out from his eyes as he gripped the bed sheet tightly. "It was self-defense, he had to! F-father was going to… he would've… all of us… and h-h-he would've…" He trailed off, the choked sob finally escaping his lips. Ishizu rushed over and took him back into her arms.

"Brother, I promise," she whispered. "We will do everything we can to protect Malik."

The police questioned them all later, once individually and once all together. Ishizu kept true to her word. She recapped the murder (Mariku soon grew to hate that word in the association with self-defense), while Rishid provided every inch of back-story— from the first time he saw his father hit his mother to every single time the twins came running to him for help. Mariku would pipe in every so often while showing a scar or adding in a few details of the actual beatings. The police would just nod and one would write things down, although the man just listening looked terribly upset.

He voiced his opinion. "Boy, how old are you?"

"Ten, sir."

"How long ago did this start?" The man asked. He seemed to be a bit older than the one taking notes.

Mariku didn't even need to think. "Five years ago." His face was stone blank. "He hit Malik first." The twin sounded unemotional, but his siblings could see the eyes were raging with anger like a storm. "He broke his rib. I don't think it healed right." He paused, as if thinking. "After that, he hit us both."

The man frowned. LANIC read his nametag on his label. That was a weird name. "Did he do it for no reason? The first time, I mean."

Mariku shrugged, glancing off into the distance. "Malik was throwing the basketball around in the garage. It made a lot of noise, I guess. Father didn't like that. He never did." The violet eyes returned to the to officer. "Malik was crying. He gotten bit by a snake… Father slammed the door open and grabbed Malik's hair…" His voice wavered for just a moment. "I just stood there. He shook him… screaming… he got even angrier when Malik kept crying. He saw the blood… I got some blood on me when I was helping Malik with his wound…" Again, the small voice faltered.

Rishid nodded solemnly, absently, and looked off to the side. The officers waited patiently for the child to continue. Finally, Mariku cleared his throat and began again.

"He smacked him and hit him and then he threw him. Then he ran and kicked him, oh god, I tried to stop him he wouldn't listen!" Mariku's voice was steadily rising as he spoke faster. "I tugged on his robe but he didn't stop, I screamed but he didn't oh Ra… then mother came in… she shouted at him. Cradled Malik. Father yelled, mother yelled back… but he stopped hurting us, just for that day, but oh gods Malik was so badly hurt… oh Ra…" He finally calmed down, digging his hands into his hair before covering his face. "That man…" He muttered something than sounded like 'thank the Gods' and 'no sorrow here.' The officer couldn't tell.

Officer Lanic just frowned again. 'Awful— just completely, utterly, and atrociously awful. How could anyone treat their own children so badly?' "I see," he finally murmured.

The officer ("JAHNN" read his nametag— another weird name, were they foreign? They sort of looked it) writing things down looked over at Lanic, as if mentally asking 'do you believe this?' because, it was true: kids lied and in a "supposed abuse" story it wasn't unusual… but Lanic knew this kid couldn't, from the very moment he walked into that room.

He had been in the business for years, he'd seen many real abuse cases. The eyes didn't betray, the scars backed it up, and quick crime-scene sweep was proving it. Blood had been found in all the places Rishid said they would. Mariku detailed the items he and Malik had been hit with. The pain as Mariku choked out that story was real, true, and deeply cut just like their scars. They had questioned each of them individually before coming into the room and the stories were consistent down to the very last detail.

It was all ungodly true. Honestly, it made them both sick to their stomach. How did they live with such a monster for all those years? Better yet, how did they survive?

Lanic questioned Mariku more, tentatively gathering information. A lot of it was for "police reports" he had said. Mariku didn't know what that meant, but went along with it anyway. After every grueling detail had been revealed (and a nurse took pictures of all their wounds, also for the "report"), Mariku asked if they would take Malik away. His voice was quiet, far off, and terrified.

"I don't want to be separated from him. Please, sir. Please… If he has to be taken away, please can I go too?"

Jahnn wasn't sure. Lanic only smiled and tapped a finger to his head with a wink. "I can see how it would be self-defense and that is how I will write it down in my report— we'll have to hope the evidence backs it up, but I don't have a doubt that it won't." 'Maybe it went too far, but how can we really tell?' "It was self-defense. I'm sure the court will see it that way, as well. I promise I will do everything I can to make sure he doesn't go anywhere but home with you."

Ishizu started crying. Rishid did his best to soothe her, but he was smiling slightly. There was hope. Mariku was laughing— he was laughing and crying. He had never felt so relieved in his life.

Eventually, the policemen left. Rishid was of a legal age (just barely— he was thanking the Gods silently for that one), so he said he'd claim guardianship. I'll start the paperwork after this settles down, he decided. Ishizu agreed. Mariku was just happy because they wouldn't be separated, there would be no foster home, and Malik wouldn't be taken away to jail (did kids go to jail? Their dad said so, but was it true? Who knew). That was good. That was really good. Actually, it was great. Grand. Amazing. Awesome. Other good words to express happiness. He couldn't think of any more.

They had been able to visit Malik, although the nurse had placed Mariku in a wheelchair despite protests. They didn't want him walking. They said he wasn't steady. The boy, of course, tried to prove them wrong by taking giant and striding steps (dragging the IV with him)— the plan failed as he soon realized he was extremely dizzy and couldn't walk without the throbbing pain in his legs and neck. He accepted the wheel chair grudgingly. He refused to be pushed, and rolled himself along. That was an adventure in itself.

Malik wasn't awake yet when they got there.

Mariku would've crawled into the bed with his twin had the nurse not reprimanded him, telling him that he'd knock the IV cords of not only himself but of his twin, as well. The young Egyptian was angry, but situated himself directly next to his twin's bed and plopped his upper body onto it using his arms as a pillow. He smiled at the serene face of his brother and just stared, willing him to wake up.

The doctor came in a few times to check in on the family. Ishizu and Rishid took turns sleeping and watching the two boys, but eventually they both ended up knocked out cold in the chair, slumbering peacefully for the first time in months. Mariku rarely left his side— only when he had to. 'You need a test done.' 'Your IV's empty. Let's go swap it out.' 'How about food from the cafeteria?' 'I think we should switch out those bandages.' Other things like that. Pointless things, in his opinion (except food, he was okay with that).

Eventually, the nurses figured out it would be easier to just move the twins into a double room. Mariku was happy. He still didn't leave his brother's side.

Days passed.

When Malik started to stir, the cry of excitement from Mariku almost gave Ishizu a heart attack. "He's waking up! Sister! Brother! He's opening his eyes, look! Look!"

Tanned eyelids slowly drew up, revealing hazy violet orbs beneath them. A few times they blinked, adjusting, before carefully Malik moved his head over to the side— where he met the joyous eyes of his twin. He opened his mouth to say his name, but nothing but a cracked sigh came out. His throat hurt too much to speak. He settled on smiling and groping for his brother's hand, which was quickly grabbed and squeezed. Malik couldn't squeeze back.

The doctor came in. He asked how Malik was doing. The Egyptian paused, frowning, and looked at his brother. He mouthed something, something that Mariku clearly understood, before the elder twin turned to the doctor. "He's thirsty," the twin announced with a nod (looking back on it, Mariku was sure a lot of that was because of their father almost crushing his trachea). "He can't talk."

They got him some water. Eventually, Malik managed to croak out two words: "What happened?"

The doctor fell silent. Ishizu quickly turned away, choking back a sob as she slapped a hand to her mouth. Rishid went stone-faced. Mariku looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

"Brother," Malik continued hoarsely. He sounded desperate, and his eyes reflected the upsetting feeling. "Where is father? What happened? I don't remember anything…"

'He doesn't remember? He doesn't remember…' Mariku re-played the words over and over again in his head. "You don't remember?" A frown.

"No…" the younger Egyptian admitted quietly. "Should I? Brother, where is father?"

Before anyone else could speak, Mariku jumped in after quickly making his decision. "Malik… He's… Father, he's dead."

Malik looked shocked. "He's… what? Oh Gods…" He covered his mouth weakly with the hand Mariku wasn't grasping tightly. He muttered something the other boy couldn't understand before, uneasily, looking at his twin. "How…?"

Ishizu almost spoke up, but Mariku beat her to it. "He killed himself." The lie slid easily off— almost too easily— but they couldn't let him know; they just couldn't. If they told him the truth, it would devastate him. He'd constantly think of himself a killer, and one that killed his own father at that. How would he ever overcome that guilt? Malik probably wouldn't. He was fragile. Mariku would not let that happen. He would not let his twin suffer.

'Spin a fairytale, spin a lie, won't explain and won't try…'

Malik was silent.

His twin wasn't done. "He… attacked us. Just as Rishid was recovering, and I was getting my vision back, I saw him do it. You did, too. He stabbed himself." Mariku shook his head slowly. Rishid stared at the back of the boy's skull, mouth a thin line— he wasn't sure whether he felt relieved that Malik seemed to be believing the other twin, or angered that they were going to let their brother live a lie. "I think you blocked it out. I'm sorry," he finally whispered after a moment.

"… I'm not," Malik replied. He threw his head back and laughed— it was coarse and sounded raspy, but it was a laugh. Silently, Mariku had to wonder just how long it had been since he'd heard that. Malik only smiled, still laughing before, after a moment, he whispered: "We're free. Do you get that? We're free."

They really weren't, though. They may have been freed of one monster, but another had been created: the lie of their father's death would haunt them for years.

(-)

Mariku would often have nightmares. He'd scream and later berate himself for it. He had to lie and tell Malik he didn't remember what they were about. Malik would have them too. He honestly and truly never remembered them— but all he knew was that they involved their father. After a year or so, the nightmares became so normal and routine that they didn't bother Mariku any longer. He would sleep right through them and simply awaken in a bad mood. Malik, if he had them still as well, never spoke about them. Eventually, they assumed the nightmares for the other twin had vanished.

The scars never went away. They were bitter reminders everyday of what hell they had been through. The Ishtar siblings stayed in that home, though they never so much as touched the basement door. They sold everything that reminded them of their father, except for one picture of their entire family. Mariku had broken the glass near their father's face. Ishizu, for once, didn't mind his destructive habit showing through. Usually, the frame was turned over and lying flat and down.

Malik ended up losing most mobility in his left hand from that fateful day. Their father had sliced his forearm open, vertically, and managed to hit one of the muscles badly. He could close it and bend it, although his grip left much to be desired. It was the one that Mariku ended up holding a lot, to calm his brother down when he'd go into a panic attack. Life went on. Slowly, hard, and difficult… but life went on.

Eventually, they decided they had to move. It had been 6 years. The house was like their scars— a bitter reminder of something they refused to want or remember. With what they owned, the siblings packed everything up and decided to begin an entirely new life in an entirely new country.

Ishizu heard that Japan was a nice place.


A-all right! Well! Er, I'm guessing that's that.

Thanks for sticking around with me, guys, and... I'm really sorry OTL

hate-mail me as you will asjhdak o/ ;;;;