Stern blue eyes glared up at the cloudy sky as Ishizu Ishtar crossed her arms and waited for her little brother to return home. She bet his skin was blistering by now. Oh yes, she'd seen the parchment envelope appear in it's designated place on the sacred alter upstairs, Marik's name written in the customary ancient Egyptian symbols. But that had been nearly two hours ago. It didn't take long for Marik to get home from the bike shop, especially on that screaming metal death trap of his. And it took even less time for Ishizu to realize he was intentionally ignoring his summons and therefore, seriously breaking the rules. Oh-ho-ho, would he be getting an earful when he got home or what?

She couldn't help but wonder if he'd spontaneously combusted, or something equally messy. The thought both made her smile and brought fear to her heart.

The front door opened behind her as her other two brothers stepped out onto the porch of their three-story country mansion. One who was uninformed would have guessed the house would cost close to a million dollars, but in reality the family had only paid about three hundred thousand for it. It had been in a pretty poor state when Ishizu first set her eyes on it, and had obviously seen so many better days. If the peeled paint and water spots didn't put buyers off, the rumors about the old place most definitely would have. It was Domino's local haunted house, and no one had lived in it for over sixty years. Until the Ishtars moved in.

Of course, the family had been more than happy to purge their new home of all the past owners, their pets, and the stray ghosts all stuck in the middle. After that they rolled up their sleeves and got to work repairing everything and cleaning up. It had been hard, not to mention expensive, but somehow they were able to bring the mansion back to something that resembled it's original luster, despite all the chaos the tweenage Marik and Mariku tried to cause.

"Is he still not here?" Odion asked, coming up beside her to stare past their white iron gate in the fading light. Ishizu shook her head, not taking her eyes off the muddy stretch of road that lay beyond.

"Wherever he is, I hope he got laid," Mariku mumbled, reclining in the porch swing.

"Mariku!" Ishizu exclaimed, whipping her head around to give her youngest brother an appalled look.

The younger twin just leered back. "What? Have you not noticed how pissy he's been these last few days?"

"He probably knew he was going to get an assignment."

"Whatever you say, dear sister, but that was obviously sexual repression."

"You don't know that." Ishizu turned away, signaling the end of their conversation. Mariku snorted, but she was already back to staring down the road.

(For the record, it was a little of both.)

"You're worried, aren't you?" Odion questioned from beside her.

"Of course I'm worried!" She snapped back. "His summons has been here for two hours, and you know how clumsy he is with that bike when he's in a hurry! He's going to be so distracted, and on top of that it's raining... Oh, Ra, he's going to die if he isn't careful."

Odion put a hand on her shoulder. "He'll be fine. He always is," he said gently, smiling at his sister. He turned to his brother. "Mariku, have you tried calling him at all?"

"Yeah, about three times already. He's got no connection in this weather."

Ishizu covered her mouth with a hand and Odion shot Mariku a look, to which he just shrugged.

Odion rolled his eyes. Mariku seemed to be aloof and uncaring towards his twin right now, but Odion knew they were all equally worried about Marik, and they all had different ways of dealing with that anxiety. Ishizu fretted and paced, Mariku bottled it all up and Odion would busy himself trying to ease his sibling's worries.

"He'll be fine," he said again, his tone stronger. "Probably pissed off beyond belief and soaking wet, but physically unharmed." Just like an angry tom cat after a bath.

Ishizu put her hand on his and smiled gently, nodding her head a fraction. Her eyes returned to the road ahead of them, but where she had hoped to see a motorcycle headlight piercing the night, there was only darkness. The rain was still falling heavily, but as the wind picked up it started to fall in heavy, slanted sheets, pounding mercilessly at the roof and windows, beating the lawn. Thunder boomed in the distance, and she felt Odion tense.

"Relax" she said, gently elbowing him. "I heard it too."

"Same here," Mariku confirmed.

Odion relaxed and offered a weak smile. "And what about you two?" he asked, looking from one sibling to the other. "Any strange visions or weird smells I should know about?"

Ishizu nodded, grateful for the distraction. "Yes, actually. It could just be a coincidence, but I've had the same dream twice in a row."

Odion gave her a look that asked her to elaborate. "Oh?"

"Well, there's this Labrador puppy lying sick in an alley, and a man with no face takes it home, only to ignore it once it gets better."

"Any idea of that it could mean?"

"Yeah, are we getting a puppy? If so, it has to be a Rottweiler or something else badass like that." Mariku grinned and rocked back and forth in the creaky old porch swing.

Ishizu laughed. "It could be any number of things, but I do pray it's not a dog." Animal spirits, or pet ghosts, as the Ishtars liked to call them, were extremely rare. That didn't mean one wouldn't pop up every now and then, having gotten lost on their way to whatever afterlife there was for animals, or they stayed behind with their master. They'd seen some before, and they were the worst clients imaginable. If Ishizu was getting a ghost soon, she could only hope it was not a dog.

Both now turned to their younger brother, not having to ask the question, nor having to wait for an answer as Mariku's usual twisted smile fell, and his face turned sour.

"Blood." he said. "Blood and jasmine."

They needed no more elaboration than that. Another murder victim, it looked like, if not the murderer themselves. They found it strange, how Mariku always seemed to attract those kinds of spirits. Begrudging and vengeful, violent and atrocious. And if it wasn't any of the above, it was those who's life had been snuffed out by the aforementioned type. And fuck if he liked it, always getting the most pissy and whiny ghosts to deal with. Neither of the twins enjoyed their job, and with good reason. But as Ishizu had lectured them time and time again, it was their job, their sacred duty, to do everything and anything in their power to help troubled spirits cross. Their first, foremost, and only priority.

Which brought her back to the matter at hand...

"He is so grounded when he finally gets home," she grumbled to herself, crossing her arms again.

"You can't ground him; he's twenty one," Odion chuckled.

She sighed. "I suppose I can't... But I can always slash his tires."

"If you do that, he'll never forgive you."

"It would be worth it if meant he wouldn't be so far away all the time."

"But do you really want him home 24/7?"

"...Point taken."

Odion smiled, turning back to the house. "I'm going to get something cold ready for him." He said, half way through the door. "Do you too want anything?"

"Hmm, lemonade sounds good." Ishizu requested.

Instead of answering, Mariku just stood up and jumped from the porch, running off towards the gate at the front of their mansion.

"Mariku!" Ishizu called after him.

"He's here!" Mariku yelled back.

Ishizu looked towards the road, seeing the singular headlight from Marik's bike for the first time. Relief rushed through her so fast she completely forgot her well rehearsed lecture about responsibility and sacred duties and all her usual parental/big sister nonsense.

"Told you," Odion said before disappearing inside.

Ishizu smirked. Of course Odion had been right. And of course it was Mariku who noticed Marik's arrival first, even when he had been paying such close attention...

Oh well. He was home now.

~.~.~

Marik glared at the iron gate in front of him, getting closer each second, willing it to open by itself so he wouldn't have to stop and waste even more time opening it. He needed to get inside now, now, NOW. Augh, he was in so much pain he could hardly see straight! Damn it, that gate was not opening by itself. He would just have to crash through it when, wouldn't he?

No, wait, someone was opening it from the inside. His twin's face came into view as his bike's headlights washed over him. He began to slow- No. He couldn't stop, not right now, not even for his twin. He sped through the gate, past this brother, onto the concrete driveway, towards the garage, away from the house. No, damn it, that's where he needed to be!

"Go on! I'll put your bike up!" someone yelled after him. He screeched to a stop, sliding in a semi-circle on the wet pavement. Ah, that sounded good... Wait, someone was coming towards him.

He looked up and found himself staring at a mirror. No, wait, it was just Mariku. His twin was almost as soaked as he was, his usually spiked hair falling wet in a style similar to his own. He opened his mouth to say something, but his tongue felt like sandpaper.

"Just go," Mariku said, cutting him off before he could even make any noise. He nodded, letting Mariku take the handle bars of his precious motorcycle. It was unsaid that Marik would totally kick his ass (or try to, anyway) if he so much as scratched the paint. But he couldn't worry about that now! Not sparing his bike or his twin a second glance, he turned and ran full speed towards the house, his boots slapping at the wet pavement, then squishing the grass into the mud, and then he was on the bottom step of the porch, staring up into the cold blue eyes of his sister.

They stayed like that for several seconds, regarding each other silently until Marik licked the rain from his lips and forced his voice box to turn on. "I'm sorry," he whispered, not surprised when his words came out strained. Damn, he needed some water right now...

Ishizu stared at him for a few more seconds before stepping aside.

He raced past her then, ripping the front door open and flying inside. Odion was in the kitchen, waiting with some ice karkady* and a towel, which he gratefully accepted before pounding up the stairs two at a time. He paused for only a moment on the second floor to catch his breath, taking a few gulps of his drink. Then he was back to racing up the stairs until he was in the attic, staring at the sacred alter, his summons lying mockingly on top. He set his karkady on the coffee table in front of him, all but leaping over it to grab up the accursed envelope.

Sweet relief washed over him, the fire under his skin being extinguished the second his fingers touched the parchment. He let out a huge sigh, falling onto the couch across from the alter. Oh man, when had seeing a summons ever felt so good? He had almost lost the feeling in his limbs, it had gotten so bad. He toweled his hair, putting his feet up on the coffee table as he studied the ancient text on the envelope. They'd tried to arrange the furniture in the attic so it resembled a living room, their quote-unquote scared alter being the center of attention, like a fire place. In reality it was nothing more than a huge stone slab with a bunch of ancient carvings and slots for all their sacred items, which were their connection to the Pharaoh in his afterlife. Marik sort of liked to think as the golden trinkets as a paranormal fax machine that sent ghosts instead of faxes.

He continued to stare at the envelope, sipping at his karkady, both relieved to see it in his hands and pissed that it had caused him so much pain.

Lightning bolted across the sky, the following thunder shaking the windows. He rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, rule two freaking million, don't question the works of the almighty pharaoh, or something like that..." he said spitefully.

Thunder crashed again, but he was too busy wondering what kind of ghost he'd gotten. It hadn't shown up yet (not that he really wanted it to...) but right now he just wanted to get this all over with and get off with his life.

He slipped his finger under the wax sealing, hearing the crack as the paper separated from itself. He brushed the wax crumbs from his lap, then turned back to study the letter inside. His name was printed again in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. He read the rules that followed. He could repeat each one of them backwards while being tied upside down and possibly underwater, but it was one of the many unwritten rules that you had to read each one before you could accept the spirit. You'd just go back to your previous state if you skipped over them, as he'd learned the hard way.

For some reason, the pen strokes always seemed broader on his summons after that.

Designated Rules of Mediumship

All rules are set forth by the Humble and Endearing Pharaoh Atem. Rules are not subject to change and should be followed without objection or animosity.

Except Marik had a lot of objection and animosity. Oops.

1: All Mediums must heed the call whenever they are summoned. Failure to do so in a timely manner will result in inconvenient and/or painful reprocussions.

2: The moment the Medium has accepted the Spirit, an emotional as well as mental bond is formed that remains until all the requirements for the Spirit passing have been met. This bond must never be abused by either party, and should never be taken for granted.

3: A Medium must never lie to a Spirit. Additionally, a Spirit is incapable of lying to a Medium.

4: Should the Medium call on the Spirit, the Spirit must go to them immediately regardless of what they are doing at the present time. Likewise, should a Spirit need the Medium, they must tend to them promtly.

5: A Medium may never touch a Spirit.

He cleared his throat, finishing up the rules. Then he closed his eyes. "I, Marik Ishtar, sacred guardian of the deceased, accept this spirit," he said. A sudden wind filled the room, ruffling his hair. He couldn't help but get a little excited at this point. When he opened his eyes, he'd find his spirit. He would learn everything about them; their name, age, the details of their life they were willing to share, how they died. Everything was a mystery to him now. While he didn't enjoy knowing too much about his spirits, he couldn't help but wonder all of these things as he sat there on the sofa, breathing in the fresh air that surrounded him. As soon as he opened his eyes...

He'd be disappointed to find the same old room he'd left.

Damn, this ghost sure was taking its sweet ass time to get here, wasn't it? Oh well...Might as well read its stats while he could.

Name: Bakura Touzoku

Ah, so he'd be getting a guy ghost.

Current status: Access denied

That much was obvious.

Cause of death: Not specified

It never was. He'd all but demanded that they leave that part blank after one too many horrific deaths explained in equally horrific detail. Besides, he'd rather the spirit have the choice of telling him how they met their end.

Requirements for passing: Learning to love

...What.

Marik stared at the hieroglyphics for a few seconds before face palming. How cliche! Honestly. Who was held back for not falling in love? Staying behind to pass on a message of love to a spouse or child, maybe, but actually learning to love? What, was he in a cheesy romance movie?

More thunder. He barely reacted as he continued to read on.

Case #19-006-70: Bakura Touzoku; Denied entry to selected afterlife due to his inability to achieve love throughout his twenty-six years of existence. While client has experienced his fair share of physical bonding, the aforementioned refused to open and/or give his heart to anyone and/or feel love for anyone. Requirements to rectify this is learning to love, but is not limited to the following: Comprehending the emotion, forming a strong, deep and/or emotional bond to someone or something living or otherwise, or falling in love.

Marik scowled. So...What? This guy needed to learn how to love, but he didn't have to understand the concept, or feel it? Or it could just be one of the above? Then just what the hell was he supposed to do? And what about this part? "Experienced more than his fair share of physical bonding." Fuck, this dead guy had more of a sex life than he did! He was liking this Bakura less and less as he read on, and he hadn't even met the man yet!

Allotted time: Nine days

WHAT. He was stuck with this uncaring hardass for nine freaking days? And in those nine days he was supposed to teach him that there was more to life than just sex? Well...Okay...

That was fucking impossible! What was the pharaoh thinking, sending this ghost to him!

The following thunder was so loud he jumped and dropped the paper. He could only imagine what poor Odion's reaction to that had been.

He put his hand over his heart as if to calm it."Yeah yeah, I didn't say I wouldn't do it. Already freaking accepted him..." he mumbled. He bent and picked up the paper, rereading the paragraph, scowl deepening when he got to the last part. These things always hit home... He always got the ghosts with the relationship issues. "I'm just wondering how I, Marik Ishtar, the man who hasn't been blessed with an honest-to-gods, rock-my-world, curl-my-toes orgasm in more than a month from anything other than my own hand is going to teach this relationship-challenged apparition to love!"

"Funny, I was about to say the same thing," a raspy and extremely British voice said from behind him.

Marik visibly winced, slowly turning around to face his spirit. So. Not. Good.

And there his spirit stood behind the couch, arms folded as he leaned against the wall, a devilish smirk on his angled face. He was pale, oh so pale, but it suited him so well. His hair was even whiter than his skin, styled so wildly it looked as if he'd never brushed it, but it looked to silky that couldn't possibly be right. And his eyes...Oh gods, his eyes...They were slanted gracefully like a cat's and black like every other's ghost's eyes, but somehow these two were so much more intense, almost as if they were staring right into his soul. They were both hot and cold at the same time, shining with amusement even as they regarded him dully.

Marik swallowed around the lump in his throat.

"Well," the spirit laughed, his deep choice sending chills down Marik's spine. "I have to admit, that was one hell of an impression, Marik."

*Karkady is an Egyptian tea made from boiled hibiscus petals and sugar.

Again, not much change in this chapter, since I also liked the original version. Just tried to fill in a few holes, and hopefully answered some of your guys' questions. if not...

Yes, Mariku always gets murder victims/the actual murderers themselves. Marik usually gets the relationship challenged ghosts. You'll have to wait and see what sort of ghosts Ishizu and Odion get. c;

None of the siblings have any powers other than mediumship; Ishizu's visions/dreams and Mariku's super smell are their little signals/consequences for ghosts coming (like Marik's neck tingling). Odion hears thunder when his ghosts are coming. And yes, all of them handle ghosts. Mariku and Ishizu have their own ghost coming on the way, can you guess who they are?

Sorry if it was still confusing! I'll try and answer all your questions, whether in PM or in the story! If you're confused at something, just ask! Don't be afraid, I don't bite. Also, if you see any mistakes, please don't hesitate to inform me. Anyway, thank you for reading and please stay tuned!