DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fanfiction produced for entertainment purposes only. Yu-Gi-Oh! and all related characters are the creations of Kazuki Takahashi.
Isis Ishtar opened the door before the sound of the doorbell had completely faded away. She had obviously been waiting anxiously for their arrival. Somehow, she managed a small smile at the two boys standing somewhat apprehensively on her doorstep. She knew how hard it must have been for them to come, and she was very grateful to them. "Thank you for coming so quickly," she whispered before her voice failed her completely and her vision blurred with tears.
She turned away, hurriedly wiping her eyes with the handkerchief that she had taken to keeping in her pocket. It was hardly the first time that she'd been caught off-guard by her tears. The past few days especially had been one outburst after another. But that didn't make her any less embarrassed about them. She had been raised to believe that tears were an unforgivable sign of weakness. Even though she no longer believed that, old lessons were hard to forget.
When she was under control once more, she turned back to the boys. Guiltily, she noticed how Ryou was now nervously biting his lip while Yugi was looking very worried. She tried to smile reassuringly, but she knew she hadn't succeeded.
"We came as soon as we could. Are you okay?"
Isis nodded in response to Yugi's softly voiced question, still not trusting her voice enough to reply. Her tears threatened again at Ryou's even softer question.
"Is Malik all right?"
One look at Ryou's gentle brown eyes convinced Isis of his sincerity. He was truly concerned about her younger brother. She knew then that she had done the right thing by calling them. Somehow, that knowledge gave her the strength that she needed to speak.
"I'm sorry to worry you, boys. I'm fine. As for Malik…" Instinctively, Isis glanced over her shoulder towards her brother's room. She sighed and looked back at her two visitors. "I'm afraid that my brother… I'm… very worried about him."
Yugi nodded, a serious look on his face although his wide violet eyes remained sympathetic. "You said on the phone that he'd been ill… There's more to it than that though, isn't there?"
Isis sighed softly and nodded. She gestured the boys inside to the living room. "Please, come in and sit down while I explain." As they sat, she perched on the arm of a nearby chair, but immediately got up again. Too tense to stay still for long, she began to pace.
"After… everything that happened… I thought that Malik would welcome the chance for a… normal life. For a few weeks, he seemed fine. I thought he was… adjusting. But then, about two weeks ago, the nightmares began."
Yugi and Ryou traded glances. "Marik?" Yugi asked quietly.
Isis nodded. "I noticed that Malik was spending more time sleeping, but he always looked so tired whenever he was awake. When I asked him what was going on, he admitted that he kept having the same dream, over and over again, whenever he closed his eyes. He wasn't tired because it kept waking him up though; it was the dream itself. It seemed to be… draining him emotionally and physically. He wouldn't tell me what he was seeing, but one night I was passing by his door when I heard him cry out. I thought… He sounded as though he was in pain, so I went to check on him. He was calling Marik's name."
Her pacing had paused just before she spoke the name of her brother's dark alter ego. Now she resumed her pacing, her steps slightly faster than before as if she wanted to be anywhere else but where she was just then.
"Even when he learned what I had heard, he didn't want to tell me what he had been dreaming. But when he realised how worried I was…" Isis stopped moving and looked sadly over at Yugi and Ryou.
"The dream was always the same. He'd see Marik floating in a void of complete darkness, unmoving and with his eyes closed. Malik said that he always looked so peaceful, but then he'd start shivering, as though he was very cold. After that, he'd begin whimpering and crying like a child. Wordless cries at first, but then… tears would start falling down his cheeks. He'd lick them off his lips and then he'd frown and grow restless. He'd grow more and more distressed… then he'd scream as though his soul were being torn apart."
Isis closed her eyes and shuddered. Tears trickled from her eyes unheeded as she continued to speak, her voice now so soft that Yugi and Ryou had to lean forward to hear her.
"After that dreadful cry, Malik said that Marik would cry for some time, then he'd sob something, always the same thing. Once that happened, he'd grow quiet again. Malik said it was as though he'd used up all of his strength and had no more tears left. But then it would start all over again. An endless cycle of tears, pain and fear. For both of them."
Ryou stirred as Isis's voice wavered and she fell silent. "What… You said that Marik always said the same thing. What did he say?" he asked hesitantly.
Isis closed her eyes again, unable to look at either of the boys. "'I want my light.'"
For a long moment there was silence. Isis couldn't bring herself to open her eyes, so she didn't see the pain in Yugi and Ryou's eyes as they looked at each other. She also didn't see the sudden distant look on their faces as they each held a silent conversation with their yami. Yugi was the first to blink and return his attention to the outer world. A few moments later, Ryou also blinked. Looking at each other, they nodded before turning their attention to Isis again.
"Isis," Yugi began hesitantly, causing Isis to slowly open her eyes and look at him. "You said the dreams began about two weeks ago, right?" Isis nodded. "When did you find out what was going on?"
Isis sighed softly. "Only a few days ago. When I realised that Marik was somehow calling Malik to him, I was afraid that he might be trying to return. I wanted to call you then. I thought you and your yamis needed to know what was happening. Malik… insisted that it wasn't like that, though. He assured me that Marik had no knowledge of his presence there. Marik… didn't even know where he was." She sighed again.
"Malik begged me not to call you. He said that he wanted to handle it himself. He swore that the dreams were becoming vaguer, that Marik was losing his strength. I… I should have suspected then… I should have known that Malik would not be able to bear watching his yami weaken like that. Not when there was a way to…" A sob caught Isis by surprise and she collapsed onto the sofa, her hands coming up to cover her face as she cried.
A warm weight pressed against her on each side and she felt two hands begin to lightly rub her back. Easing her hands down, she turned her tear-stained face to both sides. She was surprised to see Yugi and Ryou sitting beside her, their eyes shining with unshed tears.
"It will be all right, Isis. Whatever's happened, we'll find a way to make it all right." Ryou's voice was soft but confident. Yugi nodded in agreement with his friend, but Isis was far more doubtful. After all, they did not yet know what had happened. She took a deep breath, knowing that she had to tell them. Knowing that she had to didn't make the telling any easier though.
"That night, Malik… He knew Marik couldn't return here, so… he tried to go there instead. He left me a note…" Her hand shook as she pulled it out of her pocket and handed it to Yugi.
"'Sister, Marik needs me as much as I need him, maybe more. I have to go to him. Don't worry. I won't bring him back. We'll be okay. Love you, Malik.'" Yugi was frowning slightly as he folded the note up again. He looked up at Isis. "You said he tried to go there. Did something… happen?"
Isis nodded and glanced towards Malik's room. "He left the note on my pillow. When I read it, I ran to his room. At first, I thought he hadn't been able to do it after all, but then he saw me and…" Isis closed her eyes, a shudder passing through her slender form. "I know I should have called you both then, but… He was so upset; it was all I could do to keep him calm! Since then… well… this is the first chance I've had. He finally fell asleep. He's been exhausted the whole time, but he just refused to give up… The most I could do was persuade him to rest for a few minutes, every now and then."
Taking a deep breath, Isis forced herself to calm down. She could feel herself beginning to panic and she knew that she needed to have her wits about her now, more than ever. Her little brother needed help and Yugi, Ryou and their yamis were the only ones she could turn to. Somehow, she had to persuade them!
Looking down at the floor, Isis took a deep breath. "Malik tried to go to Marik. He succeeded. I believe Malik intended for them both to remain in the Shadow Realm, in the part of it where the monsters exist, not in the eternal darkness where Marik was imprisoned. But when Malik tried to free Marik, something went wrong. Marik was freed, but…" Isis closed her eyes, "he didn't go to the other part of the Shadow Realm. Now, Malik is missing and Marik… is here."
Yugi and Ryou froze in shock, their wide eyes darting to each other as they tried to take in the fact that the dark side of Malik was once again free in their world.
In their soul rooms, where they had been listening in to the conversation with growing unease, the two yamis reacted immediately. Bakura barked out at Ryou that he was to leave, at once! At the same time, Yami tried to persuade Yugi to give him control so he could send Marik back to the Shadow Realm before he caused any more trouble.
Ryou suddenly turned to Isis. It wasn't easy for him to ignore Bakura, especially since he was afraid that the angry spirit was going to take control of his body at any moment, but he had a question that he desperately needed an answer to.
"Isis, the one you were talking about before, the one you needed to calm and who drove himself to exhaustion… Were you talking about Marik?" Isis nodded, still unable to look at either of the boys, and Ryou leaned forward slightly, his voice becoming more urgent although it remained soft. "You said that he refused to give up. What was he trying to do?"
Isis finally looked up at Ryou. Her eyes were sad and tears gleamed in them as she replied. "Not 'was', 'is'. He is trying to find Malik. He lies on Malik's bed for hours, trying to get the Millennium Rod to take him back to where he was. He's certain that's where Malik is. He… he's used up so much of his strength and power that he's made himself ill. The whole time, he keeps saying that 'his light' found him, so now he has to find his light."
Isis bit her lip, trying to keep herself from bursting into tears again. There was something important that she had to tell them. "I don't know what happened to him while he was in the Shadow Realm, but… he's not like he was. He was born from Malik's rage, pain and grief, but now, it's as though he's been… released from that burden. All he cares about now is finding Malik and being with him. He's… like a child. Scared. Lonely. Needy… Lost."
Her voice broke on the last word and she dropped her head into her hands. She'd told them everything. Now it was up to them what they would do.
Yugi and Ryou looked at each other helplessly. In their minds, their yamis were shouting at them. It was getting very difficult to ignore them. Yugi opened his mouth, although he wasn't sure what he was going to say. He was saved from saying anything though when a soft whimper came from somewhere behind them. He and Ryou looked around as Isis jumped to her feet and hurried across the room.
Marik leaned against the doorway, his pose revealing that he did so out of a need for the support rather than any attempt at his usual arrogant posturing. His body was slumped with tiredness and his head rested against the door as though he could barely hold it up.
Yugi and Ryou were shocked at his appearance. They'd never seen him so pale before, and the black smudges around his eyes were proof of the exhaustion that Isis had mentioned. Marik looked weak and ill, two things that were not normally associated with him. His clothes were badly rumpled and his hair was even more unruly than usual, as though he'd been running his hands through it a lot. But it was his eyes, filled with pain and misery as he stared at them, that told them everything they needed to know.
Isis reached Marik's side and touched his arm lightly, her concern obvious. "Marik… you shouldn't be up. You're not well. You really need to sleep."
Marik turned his head slightly, as though it hurt to move it too much. "Can't. Not without my light. He's lost. I have to find him." His voice was barely more than a whisper and he winced as he finished speaking.
Isis lightly brushed her hand against Marik's forehead. "Is your head still hurting?"
"Not as much."
Marik's attention shifted from Isis as Yugi and Ryou hesitantly approached. He blinked at them and then his eyes opened wide. "Please… don't send me back… I'll be good… I just want to find my light… I need my light…" He shivered as he spoke and leaned into the doorway as though for security. His eyes never wavered from Yugi and Ryou's. He was clearly terrified of them.
Yugi cautiously moved closer and looked up into Marik's frightened eyes. "If you do as Isis says, and get some sleep, Ryou and I will ask our yamis to find Malik." His soft voice was as gentle as ever, but it didn't seem to calm Marik any.
Swallowing nervously, Marik looked down at the Pharaoh's little light and shivered. When he'd first returned, he hadn't remembered anything, but his memories had gradually returned and were now complete again. He remembered everything he'd done, and how he'd been punished for it, but most of all, he remembered the pain he'd caused his light. Him. Not the Pharaoh. Not the Pharaoh's light. Not the white haired boy or his yami. Him.
He wasn't sure when he'd realised it, but he knew it now and all he wanted to do was to make it up to his light. He wasn't sure how, but he knew that he had to try. But first, he had to find his light. The Pharaoh's light could help, he knew that. So could the Pharaoh. But he was scared. What if the Pharaoh sent him back to the darkness instead?
Marik's eyes darted to Isis for comfort, but then he found himself turning to look at the other boy. There was something in the boy's wide brown eyes that calmed his fear. He remembered this boy. Some of the memories were dark but… not all of them.
Ryou looked back at Marik and tried not to quiver in fear. The more he looked into Marik's eyes though, the less afraid he felt. He was beginning to see what Isis had meant. Whatever had happened to Marik in the Shadow Realm, it had obviously changed him. Whether that change would last… For the moment though, there was a more pressing matter.
"Yugi's right. If you sleep, he and I will have our yamis search the Shadow Realm."
Marik hesitated before nodding slowly. Everything he knew about the Pharaoh's light and this boy… Ryou, his name was Ryou… told him that he could trust them. Besides, if anyone could find his light, it was their yamis. Marik was willing to risk anything if it meant that he would be with Malik again.
While Isis got Marik settled in Malik's room, Yugi and Ryou started to discuss the situation with their yamis. They expected to have a fight on their hands, so they were astonished to learn that both yamis were willing to search the Shadow Realm for Malik. Yami wasn't quite as sure about leaving Marik there while they searched, but he agreed in the end. Bakura had simply agreed, very quietly. His expression was inscrutable; there was no telling what his thoughts were.
With that decision made, the two yamis wasted no time in getting started. Separating from their lights, they opened the Shadow Realm then and there. Moments later, the gateway closed as they began their search.
While they waited for their yamis' return, Yugi and Ryou talked through the situation with Isis, gathering as much information as they could about the way Marik had behaved since his return from the Shadow Realm. By the time the gateway opened again, they had all agreed that, as long as Marik behaved himself, he should be allowed to remain with his light.
As the room began to grow dark, Yugi and Ryou traded glances and prepared themselves for an argument. They had no doubt that Yami would be unwilling to risk Marik's staying. Bakura was more unpredictable. On the one hand, he had not forgiven Marik for what had happened to Ryou at Battle City. On the other hand though, he, better than anyone else there, knew the value of a second chance.
The gateway opened. For a moment, nothing happened, but then Yami carefully backed out through the portal. He looked at Isis, his expression even more serious than usual. "We found him. He was right where Marik thought he'd be. In the Void."
Isis gasped and moved closer to Yami. "Is… is he… all right?" She gasped again; her hands over her mouth in shocked horror as Yami fully emerged from the portal, carefully carrying an unconscious Malik. He was supporting Malik's upper body while Bakura, who emerged a few moments later, was supporting Malik's legs. Between the two of them, they soon had Malik out of the portal and on the sofa.
Yami sighed heavily as he gazed down at the boy. "He'll be fine," he said in response to Isis's earlier question. "He just needs to rest. I had forgotten how frightening that part of the Shadow Realm is," he added softly, a thoughtful look on his face. Bakura nodded slightly, his eyes shadowed so his expression was hard to make out.
Isis looked at her brother, tears trickling unnoticed down her cheeks. "I… I should have called you sooner! If I had, he wouldn't have had to go through…"
Yami shook his head, looking thoughtful. "If you had, we might not have found him at all. He was shielding himself from discovery. He must have shielded when he went to get Marik, so Bakura and I wouldn't sense anything. It was only because his shield had weakened that we were able to locate him now."
Yugi moved to stand beside Yami as he too looked down at Malik. "We should move him to his room, so he and Marik will be together when they wake up." He looked up at his yami. "That is… if Marik can stay…?"
Before Yami could respond, Bakura spoke up, his voice harsher than usual. "Of course he's staying. There's no way we're having this happen again and it's obvious that it would, no matter what we did. Malik just can't stand to be without Marik, and Marik doesn't do any better without Malik." He scowled down at the unconscious boy. "Let's face it, we're stuck with them." He turned his scowl onto Isis. "Think you can handle them both?"
Isis smiled, for the first time in almost two weeks. "I believe so, yes."
Yugi grinned at her, his usual cheerful mood resurfacing now that the drama was over. "If anything does happen, all of us are only phone calls away!"
Isis nodded and followed them as Yami and Bakura picked Malik up again, to carry him into his room. They placed him gently beside Marik, who stirred slightly but then slipped back into a deep sleep. At his side, Malik sighed softly, starting to go from unconsciousness to deep sleep. Silently, Yami, Bakura and Isis headed for the door.
Pausing in the doorway, Isis looked back at her little brother and his yami as they slept peacefully. She was still smiling as she returned to the living room.
"Thank you all so much! I don't know what I would have done without your help!"
Yugi smiled slightly and replied for all of them. "You're welcome, Isis. We're just glad that Malik and Marik are both okay. It's good that they're together again. Light and darkness really aren't happy without each other." He smiled up at his darkness. Yami smiled back at his light.
Bakura pulled a face and snorted at the sentiment, but he sent a swift glance to his own light. Ryou responded with a gentle smile and Bakura snorted again and looked away.
In the bedroom, Marik stirred. His eyes drifted open and then widened in delight as he spotted Malik sleeping peacefully beside him. "My light!" he whispered happily. Yawning, he closed his eyes again and instantly went back to sleep, content now that his light had been found.