A/N: Apocalyp(se)shipping (Yami no Malik x Seto Kaiba x Ishizu Ishtar) for Season 10 Tier 11 of YGO Fanfiction Contest. Set (vaguely) during BC finals.
Disclaimer: Kazuki Takahashi and all associated companies are the rightful owners of the Yuugiou! franchise and I claim no association with any of them. No copyright infringement intended with this and no money is being made from this. Please support the creator by purchasing the official releases.
Warnings: violence and triggers, and squicks, and incest.
No Requiem For The Damned
When nightmares converge with reality, when past blends with future, and reality lies bleeding at your feet, there's no more safe haven left for you to run to. But Ishizu feels like running. She feels like there's a safety line behind which everything slips back into the old comfortable route and the nightmares fade – if only she could reach it. But if such a line exists, it's possibly far beyond the horizon. Unattainable. Each step she makes is within a familiar circle; a retrace of a previous route, a path already taken, a mockery to all her desperate attempts at breaking out of the frame. And even the frame is only in her mind.
"You're not my brother," she whispers while backing away, terror gripping at her throat with cold, invisible fingers and straining her voice.
Malik steps in closer. The hallways of the Kaiba Corp. blimp are narrow and there's not much room for her to run. "Oh, but I am. I am everything he is. Everything he didn't dare to be because you and that slave were holding him back. This is the true me. You can't stop me."
"I'll get my brother back!" she claims and threatens and swears all in one, but when she looks at him – this changed Malik – a flicker of doubt plays at the back of her mind. A what-if of a frightening possibility. The truth which is so hard to swallow that it has to be buried at the furthest recesses of all thought, sub- and conscious.
He laughs; head thrown back, wild spikes of hair perking up even more and already narrowed eyes closing in amusement as the sound rumbles up from the depths of his chest. He looks back down at her, head turned oddly to one side, regarding her only out of the corners of his eyes. A frown settles on his forehead. "You, Rishid. None of you seem to understand. I am your brother."
"You're not Malik!" Ishizu proclaims fervently, her fists clenching. There's a stranger living inside the body of her brother. A stranger which she doesn't remember growing up with. A stranger which needs to be expelled from the mind of her younger sibling. She wants her family back. She wants it whole again, otherwise they will be scattered and lost in the current absence of balance and stability.
Malik makes a sound. It's something between an annoyed snort and a derisive laugh. His fingers itch for the Rod and the surge of power it gives, but his sister has the Necklace on and he couldn't achieve more than a clash of two equal powers. Still, it's very tempting just to let loose on her, to break her out of that passive-aggressive stance.
"How long will you deny the obvious? How long will you cling to the illusion you've cast for yourself? You've never been able to foresee my future, so you've lived in the past, holding on to memories of me. To the image of a naive child," he mocks. He doesn't care if he's right or wrong this moment, if his words hold any truth to them. He only relays the things he sees in her actions: her attempts to contain him, to put him back in a frame of duty and obedience. To turn him back into the being he loathes so much, to become enslaved to their heritage all over again. "The child you'd prefer me to be. But I'm not! I'm not the child you want me to be." He rounds in on her. Closer and closer, until her back is pressed against the wall of the hallway and she has nowhere left to run. "Remember the flower wreaths I made for you, sister? Remember how you held my hand at night when I was scared? Remember when I was bitten by a snake? Remember how I pushed you away after the initiation? Remember how…"
"Stop!" She impulsively reaches up to cover her ears, not wanting to hear the fragments of stolen memories, too shaken by his words to bother with keeping up her usual stoic façade, but he catches her wrists and pulls her in close. Against her own best judgement, she ducks her head just so she wouldn't have to look into those familiar eyes, just so she wouldn't have to see that foreign, twisted expression on the face which used to be so full of innocence and childlike trust.
"Look at me!" he snarls into her face, grip tightening painfully till she flinches and tries to pull back. "Look at me, sister! It's me. Your beloved little brother. Don't deny me now."
"You're not…" she begins, but it's such a tired phrase by now that she's no longer sure if she still believes it herself. Malik hasn't believed her for a second. But she has to believe that there's someone else, somebody else ruling over her brother's body right now. She has to. Her duel with Kaiba has taught her that there's still a way. Failure isn't set in stone.
Malik doesn't remember that flicker of the moment when he reached for his Rod and pulled it out. It happens so swiftly, so smoothly – as if it's the natural order of things – that he feels the Item as a part of his own body. A logical and irreplaceable extension where his physical abilities would otherwise be limited. He uses one wing-tip to tilt Ishizu's chin up.
"If I'm not," he taunts her, a manic grin slowly spreading on his face, "why don't you stop me?"
She tries, but she only has one arm free and, before long, the shadows rise up around them, casting everything in a murky light. Their items are the only ones emitting a dim golden glow. While she isn't afraid of his item and its power, her own item offers no significant possibilities of countering the shadows he summons. She tries to dispel them, but he is much stronger and they only listen to his command. Until he releases them, she is trapped here, with the monster taking residence in her brother's body and mind.
"You want to save me?" Malik whispers in her ear, his lips brushing gently against it and his breath tickling her skin. He lets go of the wrist he's still holding, tendrils of shadows taking the place of his fingers, and with his fingertips draws a line down the other side of her neck and along her collarbone. "How amusing. Well, here is the big break you've been looking for all this time. Show me how much you want to save me. But you only get one chance. One try, sister. Now."
Her eyes narrow in an irate glare. Save him? If only she knew how. If only she could, but while Kaiba showed her that future could be changed even after it has already been set, she still doesn't know how to help her brother. The only knowledge she gained back then was just that it is possible. No other solution has come to her yet. She would do anything to save Malik, anything but…
Ishizu has been motionless for too long. Or perhaps the shadows have moved far too swiftly. Tendrils of jet black have wound around her tightly, completely ignoring the fact that she is an item holder and therefore untouchable by the darkness. They keep her in place, ghosting over her skin in mimicry of the teasingly light touch of her brother's fingers. They shift and move around while giving her only the slightest room for movement.
"Say it," Malik whispers. He has found the opening in the skirt of her dress and toys with the edges of the fabric, twining and rubbing it between his fingers. Slowly, gently he pulls it up higher, brushing her thigh. "Say my name, Ishizu." Make it real, he completes the sentence in his thoughts. So far, she hasn't addressed him by his name. She hasn't given him power. She hasn't admitted his existence.
"You're not," she grounds out through clenched teeth, but a painful jab from the pointy wing turns the rest of her sentence into a low hiss. The shadows thicken around them, clouds of midnight blue and deep green shifting and swirling around each other.
"Say my name, Ishizu," Malik demands more fiercely now. "Save me." A manic grin is pulling at the corners of his lips and he's certain she can feel it against her skin, but he doesn't care. They need to learn. All of them need to realise one key thing – he has finally discarded his weakness. He has finally become what he always strove to be – powerful. A leader. In control of his own life.
"You long for your brother," he says, withheld laughter in his voice. "I am your brother. Accept me as I am. Love me as I am."
She pulls away from him, though shadows restrict her movements. Repulsed by the things he does, she can't help but think how different this usurper of her brother's body is from the actual Malik. At the back of her mind there's a thought of understanding, of pending acceptance of the damage done to him, but it's slow to make its way to the surface. Disgust and despair are far too prevalent. And the tomb keeper pride shines brightly over it all.
Malik sneers in her face and lets go of the rim of her dress only to wrap his fingers around her neck and push her head back and up as far as it would go. He chokes her until the defiant look is gone from her eyes and she is desperately gasping for breath and straining against the tendrils of shadows circling the rest of her body.
"You can't get him back," he snarls in her ear, fingers tightening with each spoken word. "There's nothing to get back, sister. I am finally complete. Whole."
Malik only releases his hold when she's about to faint, and even then shadows slither around her neck, copying his exact actions, keeping her suspended in that position. While she catches her breath, he takes a step aside and lets someone else take the stage.
"Let me show you how futile your struggle is," he informs her and his voice is emotionless. He appears quite disinterested in the following part, though he is anything but. He wonders how much it would take to break her. To destroy everything that drives her onwards on this futile quest of saving an imaginary virtuous brother. He grins to himself, recalling all of the hateful and angry thoughts he has harboured over the years. All of the wrongs he's been itching to right with the proper amount of bloodshed and revenge long-overdue.
The shadows shift and slither, permitting another person to enter their little corner of damnation, all on Malik's cue. Cold and haughty and in such a discord with their surroundings that Ishizu takes a moment to convince herself that the person she sees is not an illusion.
Malik thrives in his glee. His laughter rings out loud and mocking. "Did you think I wouldn't try to control him? Did you think I'd wait until an honest opportunity to duel him for his God card? Did you think he could resist the power of the Rod because once-upon-a-time his past incarnation might have been its holder? What kind of fool do you take me for, sister?"
As Kaiba approaches her, his trademark smirk on his face, Ishizu shakes her head. Whether it's regret or disbelief, or something else, she can't even tell.
"What are you trying to prove?" she asks. She has to know. What is he trying to achieve? Another ally against the Pharaoh?
"He gave you hope, didn't he? He reinforced the laughable idea that I could be saved from myself. That the future could be changed." Even if he couldn't possess Ishizu's mind because of her item, other people were fair game. He could get all of the information from those surrounding her and the Pharaoh. He could target anyone he deemed useful for his cause. "Let me crush that hope."
It's uncharacteristic, watching Kaiba perform to Malik's intents, bending to the will of the Rod and its current wielder.
"Kaiba," she starts, but isn't sure whether talking to him will change anything. She knows the power of the Items, but she has also seen him defy those very powers and forge a path of his own. Create a future of his own.
"You are pathetic," Kaiba says, stepping close to her. His gaze is cold and scornful. "Did you think you could win this? Did you think you had a chance? Thanks for the God card, by the way. Don't expect to get it back."
She isn't sure if those words belong to him, or the possessed Malik.
Shadows slither over her skin and creep under her clothes, and all she feels is coldness inside. Kaiba laughs and it's the manic sound she has heard in the visions concerning him and the God card she presented him with. He is a man who understands only absolute power. And so is the Malik she is supposed to accept as her brother. They are a good match, she realises with a horrifying clarity. The Rod has a type, she notes, confirming the pattern she'd uncovered during her initial research into the items and the events leading up to this general moment. The most controlling item chooses wielders who strive for great power… no. Who possess great power and never stop yearning for more. She suppresses a shudder.
"Let's show you how pointless your struggle is, dear sister," Malik mocks, moving to stand beside Kaiba. There's a vein below his eye that pulses when he gets excited and it's showing now.
They run their hands over her, shadows shifting slightly and thinning out to leave more skin uncovered, and Malik moves in to nuzzle Ishizu's neck affectionately.
"Tell me to stop, sister. Say my name," he taunts and unsheathes the golden dagger. He leans back to watch the expression on her face, which she struggles to keep controlled and indifferent, while putting away the top part of the Rod. Kaiba's hands have pulled up her skirt and shadows keep it suspended around her thighs with a seeming mind of their own. Malik basks in the absolute control he has over the situation. There's nothing either of them could do to stop him. There is no way to break his hold. Shadows dance around them, setting a grim backdrop, but he likes it that way.
He runs the tip of the dagger along her neck, right above the pulsing vein as a taunt – look, what I could do if you make the wrong move, the wrong choice. It passes right through the shadows as if they wouldn't even be there and it makes Ishizu flinch. She recovers fast enough, though she has trouble deciding what to focus her gaze on. Closing her eyes to everything that's happening would be an unforgivable weakness; it would give the monster inside her brother's body an upper hand which she isn't willing to gift him with. She isn't so weak to turn away in a moment like this. She's a tomb keeper of a long line. She has her pride.
"I'll get him back," she says defiantly over Kaiba's shoulder, trying to not think about what his hands are doing. She just needs to tune it out, to block everything that's happening because her brother would never do this to her, would never…
The tip of the dagger comes to rest just below her eye. Malik's expression turns annoyed. "You go on and on about your brother, but do you know him? Tell me – do you think you know him better than I do? I, who has spent years sharing a mind with him?"
Ishizu would like to say yes, but something doesn't let the words pass her lips.
Malik narrows his eyes. "You can look into the future, but you are so blind to the things happening around you."
A low laugh rumbles at the back of Kaiba's throat at those words. He can only agree with that statement. "You were a fool to part with that God card," he says gloatingly and looks her straight in the eye. "I never thanked you for that. Bend over and I'll show you my gratitude."
Malik laughs and invisible hands force Ishizu forward, tangles of darkness curling around her and exhibiting a force that is too real for something that's a mere illusion. She chokes in humiliation and grits her teeth when hands slip between her legs, pushing them apart.
There is a pause when Kaiba finds nothing but hardened skin there. "What the…"
Malik sneers, stepping forth and flicking the dagger. "Ah, yes. Another one of the rituals of the tomb keeper family. No woman can become a true matron if she isn't circumcised. Our family had a liking for always doing the proper things, hadn't it, dear sister?"
Ishizu cannot help herself. She flinches at the cold touch of the blade at the small opening between her legs. She draws in a hasty breath and holds it, swearing to herself that she will not scream. But the pain is so sudden and sharp that the shrill sound rips itself from her lips and rings dully in her own ears because the shadow world doesn't echo. It swallows up the sound and the tears and feeds on pain and despair. A part of her is glad for the shadows keeping her immobile, otherwise she would have collapsed onto the ground. Malik has cut too deep, too wide, too sudden. She can feel the blood seeping from the wound. And she can still feel the tip of the knife circling the wound. There's an echoing laughter ringing in her ears.
She isn't aware of the moment her eyes closed, but when she opens them, the darkness of the shadows is gone. She's staring up at the ceiling of her room in the Kaiba Corp. blimp. The pain she has felt fades instantly and she takes a moment to get her bearings. Vision, nightmare, or illusion? She isn't sure until she attempts to get up and finds that she cannot. Something invisible is restraining her.
"It was a hasty decision…"
Ishizu whips her head to the side, searching for the source of that all-too-familiar voice. There's Malik, leaning against the opposite wall, arms crossed over his chest and the Rod glowing in one hand. His expression is one of victorious glee.
"…giving your Necklace to the Pharaoh," he finishes his sentence. "Your mind is wide open to me now. And the Pharaoh is gone on a little adventure, leaving this place to me."
He moves away from the wall and walks over to the bed, unsheathing the dagger with a slow, pointed motion. He comes to a stop by her bedside and hovers there for a moment, grinning down at her.
"I think we should repeat that last part of your vision."
Once again, Ishizu swears to herself that she will not scream. Once again, she breaks her own oath.