the_goldenpath: made by <lj user="torakaka"> (Yu-Gi-Oh! - Puzzleshipping fics)
[personal profile] the_goldenpath
Title: Matarab leena ahbaab (Return our loved ones to us)
Fandom: Yu-Gi-Oh!
Pairings: Yuumeishipping ('yami' x 'hikari')
Genre: (AU) supernatural, romance
Warnings: sappy angst and melodrama.
Summary: Bakura Ryou, renowned archaeologist, has followed into the footsteps of his father, working for the government at an excavation site in Egypt. After discovering the palace of a long forgotten Pharaoh, Ryou, together with his good friend Yugi and the local guide Malik, is suddenly pulled into a series of events that will change his life forever.

Key: ----- = scene change




“Yes, excellent, just a moment!” Ryou quickly got up and fumbled around for his cloak and bag. Yuugi wrapped his own cloak his shoulders and made sure to cover his head as well. It was very important to wear it, as they both needed the protection from the burning sun and scorching desert heat. Ryou stuffed his father’s diary and maps in his bag, he didn’t go anywhere without it. Yuugi’s bag held some minor provisions and supplies like bottles of water and a flashlight. He hoisted it over his shoulder as he anxiously waited for Ryou to finish.

Outside the large tent, the sun beat down on them mercilessly. Ryou took his time to cover himself up properly, leaving only his eyes bare. He covered them up with oversized eyeglasses. Ryou didn’t care what he looked like, and he was well aware that the workers made fun of his extreme attire. Unlike them and Malik Ishtar, he wasn’t born and raised in Egypt and his body and skin would never get used to the sun, not without proper protection. The same went for Yuugi, who also had his small stature to deal with. However, because of his kindness and friendliness and general good mood, Ryou suspected that almost no one made fun of him. As the supervisor, Ryou had to take difficult decisions sometimes, which didn’t make him very popular. But he hadn’t come all the way to Egypt to win a popularity contest. He was here to follow into his father’s footsteps and give the Nameless Pharaoh his name and his life back.

Jounouchi handed him the reins of a camel. The funding hadn’t been sufficient enough to buy a 4 x 4 truck to ride back and forth from the camp to the excavation site. The local mode of transportation had its charms, or so Ryou thought. Riding a camel was still one of his weaknesses; he always got some kind of motion sickness and had difficulties keeping his balance. He braced himself and climbed on top of the animal; it protested due to the shift in weight and it went up on its large legs as Ryou still was trying to settle in.

“You always get the impatient ones,” Jounouchi grinned at him, as Ryou was holding on for dear life, arms wrapped around the animal’s neck. He looked over at Yuugi, who was all but pleading for his camel to pretty please allow him to ride him. They all were laughed at by Malik, who didn’t even need a saddle, and who was in such a perfect balance that it looked like he was born to ride the majestic ships of the desert… and considering his background, he probably was.

“Amateurs,” he called them in passing, and Jounouchi was about to shake his hand at him and holler after him, but Ryou diverted his attention.

“Please help me, Jounouchi,” he said, “I think I’m going to fall off!”

After some pushing and shoving, everyone managed to get up and the camels sauntered through the rough sand, settling into a relaxing pace. The excavation site was about five kilometers away, which meant Ryou and his company were going to be in the saddle for about an hour. A herder took the lead, and the camels were followed by another dozen of workers. A few donkeys, carrying tools and provisions, closed the line. The mood was high-spirited and Ryou enjoyed it. Today was going to be a good day, he was sure of it. An excavation in itself was boring: shoveling tons of sand, digging here or there in the hope of finding something, anything… it was tedious, back-breaking and boring work, and that was why Ryou paid his workers well, more than the funding had provided for. The last thing he wanted, was dissatisfied workers who abandoned the site or worse, decided to keep any artifacts for themselves.

The camels followed a deep track, left by the row of trucks pertaining to the Crawford expedition. Ryou wished he’d have as much money as the flamboyant American, who criss-crossed the entire desert in search for artifacts. The man was a powerhouse, both financially and personally; he knew many influential people in the archaeological world, which Ryou figured to be the result of throwing around lots of cold, hard cash. It was a bitter thought, but he had decided a long time ago to focus on his father’s work, instead of getting worked up about billionaires who had no respect for antiquities but to ‘collect’ them and sell them to the highest bidder. He had nothing to do with Pegasus J. Crawford; he was here to reconstruct history. His permit was valid and legal, and no amount of money in the world could make him give up this particular site. Ryou straightened himself and strained his eyes when he saw the first markers of the patch of land that he had claimed for the excavation.

“Salaam Aleikum,” Ryou said to Mahmoud, the man in charge of the present team, who walked towards him. Mahmoud returned the greeting, then took Ryou to the side as soon as he climbed off his camel.

“Sahib Bakura,” he said, voice an excited, yet hushed tone, “we found something in the northern corner! It looks like a set of stairs to me. We waited for you to arrive, so we didn’t dig any further.”

“That’s wonderful news!” Ryou said. “Show me the way, please.”

The workers greeted each other, exchanging food and drink as there was a change in shift. Ryou saw from the corner of his eyes that they all seemed to know Malik and talked amiably to him, which surprised him. When he got back to the base camp later today, he’d ask Yuugi to find some more information on the guide. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust him, the Ishtar name certainly held reverence and importance, but there was something about Malik that didn’t sit well with him. Mahmoud all but pulled him at his sleeve, leading Ryou to the northern corner. Two burly workers, Fatih and Youssef, stood nonchalantly next to each other, leaning on their shovels, keeping an eye on what was at their feet: two slabs of stone, descending.

“Sahib,” they greeted Ryou calmly, moving their shovels aside. Ryou stared at the steps and knelt down, using his hand to move the sand away. It was too much to hope for that he could find any clues right away, yet excitement washed all over him. So far, the excavation had yielded nothing but worthless cheap pottery (not even from any significant Dynasty), which had lead him almost to believe that his father might’ve written down the wrong coordinates, or that he interpreted his diary wrong… still, Ryou had faith in his father, and refuse to be really convinced that something could be wrong with the man’s notes.

“Have you any idea how far this will go?”

“We waited for you, sahib,” Mahmoud repeated. Ryou nodded and straightened himself again. Without clues, he had no means to identify or verify the age or authenticity of the stone. Besides, he wasn’t even sure if it was really a set of stairs, or just a false entrance…

“Please, continue,” he said, keeping his voice neutral. Fatih and Youssef took up their shovels again. Mahmoud whistled and waved to two men from the group of newly arrived workers, which got Yuugi’s attention as well, and he walked over to Ryou, followed by Malik, Jounouchi and Honda.

“Ahmed, Tarik, set up a tent around here!” Mahmoud gave his orders to the men. “Fatih, Youssef - careful! Don’t rush!”

Soon enough, the workers were all over the place, carrying out the orders. Using the materials the donkeys had carried to the site, a tent was set up along with some fold-out furniture to provide a place where Ryou could work, a temporary office, so to speak. Yuugi handed him a bottle of water.

“You always forget to drink enough,” he reminded him gently. Ryou showed his friend a grateful smile and opened the bottle to take a firm swig. Delicious! Yuugi took a seat next to him, carefully lowering his body down on the fold-out chair. A few workers visited the tent to show what they had found; more pottery shards, impossible to identify, and a wooden carving of a scarab. Interested, Ryou studied the object while the others kept digging. Mahmoud walked back and forth, overseeing the work as well as keeping Ryou up to date.

“What do you make of this?” Ryou gave the scarab to Yuugi. He weighed the item carefully and turned it around in his hands.

“This is hard to determine,” he said. “I’ll photograph and document it.” Yuugi didn’t hold a degree in archaeology, but Ryou valued his opinion more than his peers. It wasn’t his friend’s fault that he couldn’t go to college; his grandfather owned a very modest game shop, and the hefty tuition wasn’t affordable. Self-taught, Yuugi wasn’t overly confident displaying his knowledge, but Ryou thought he was as good as anyone else with a certified degree.

“Déjà vu,” Malik said out of nowhere. Ryou gave the Egyptian a dirty look. He didn’t need to be reminded that the tomb of Tutankhamen was discovered exactly the same way. “We’re close to the temple of Hatshepshut. Who knows, you might discover a long forgotten side entrance.”

“I told you already that my father wrote about a long forgotten Pharaoh,” Ryou said. “I’m sure that this is the entrance to his tomb.”

“Do you think that everything has already been discovered, Malik-kun?” Yuugi asked. The Egyptian tilted his head, not used to the Japanese honorifics that Yuugi kept using while speaking his heavily accented Arabic.

“No,” he answered honestly. “I think that a lot is still to be discovered… but sometimes, history should just be that, history. Leave it alone. I sometimes don’t understand the obsession with digging everything up.”

“We have to learn our history to learn from our mistakes,” Ryou said. “We just want to know what happened. I guess that’s mankind’s desire.”

“Still, history keeps repeating itself,” Malik objected.

“That’s because people don’t want to learn,” Yuugi said. “That’s not history’s fault. But for me and Bakura-kun here, it’s about the beauty of history, of what has been.”

Malik shrugged and was about to leave when Jounouchi and Honda joined him in the tent, seeking some shade.

“So… stairs, huh?” Jounouchi said. “But no entrance.”

“We don’t know how deep the stairs run,” Ryou explained. “It’s going to take a while. We have to determine the size and the scope of…”

“Walls!” Someone yelled. “Walls, sahib!”

“What?” Ryou got up so fast that his chair turned over. Even Malik’s eyes went wide, and everyone left the tent. Ryou felt his heart beating against his ribs, no, it was pounding like a jackhammer. The uncovered stairs ran at least fifteen steps deep, and a part of a wall was visible.

“Cartouche!” Yuugi cried out. Ryou almost tripped over his own feet in his hurry to descend the stairs and reach the cartouche.

“My tool kit!”

“Here!” Jounouchi tossed him the tool kit, having grabbed it just before leaving the tent. Ryou would’ve kissed him if he wasn’t totally over the moon about this discovery. He unlatched the handles of his kit and took out a wide brush. His hand trembling from the excitement, he gave the cartouche a few good strokes, wiping away the sand. He didn’t dare blowing on it. With another, smaller brush, he removed the sand between the ridges.

“What’s this..?” he said. Yuugi stood next to him, squinting.

“Have you seen this ever before..?”

“I.. I don’t recognize this cartouche at all,” Ryou stuttered. “I have to check my father’s notes… I can’t recall if he ever described one like this!”

Jounouchi had the benefit of his height to look past Yuugi at the wall. “What does that mean?”

“It’s the name of the forgotten Pharaoh, I’m sure…”

“We have a guide with us,” Jounouchi reminded him. “Malik!”

“Yes oh Lord and Master,” Malik answered as he sauntered down the steps. It was getting crowded in the small trench. Ryou wanted to yell at everyone to get out, but he was willing to accept everything, even the whims of the bored guide, if he was able to translate the cartouche.

“What do you make of this?”

Malik heaved a sigh before looking at the cartouche. Frowning slightly, he said after a nerve-wrecking minute: “It seems like you’ve found a side entrance at all. That’s a cartouche belonging to Hatshepsut.”

“No.” Ryou wasn’t angered quickly, but this was… wrong on many levels. “That can’t be! That’s not Hatshepsut’s cartouche.”

“Look at it more carefully,” Malik said, almost friendly. “I know you want to find something amazing, discover something that’s been long forgotten, but you have to be realistic. Just look closer.”

Disappointed, Ryou took a step forward, to observe the cartouche even closes. Could it really be that he was so blinded by his self-imposed quest that he lost all perspective? Yuugi was oddly silent. Had he recognized the hieroglyphs before he, Ryou, had? He forced himself to look at the hieroglyphs and studied them carefully. His body was still trembling, but not from excitement anymore. The huge wave of disappointment was almost too much to bear.

“Hatshepsut,” he confirmed. He felt like a loser, a novice making a critical error. A silence fell.

“Sahib?” Mahmoud tilted his head. “We continue?”

Continue? Why? If this was a simple side entrance, used by workers and slaves to go in and out the temple unnoticed, it had probably collapsed in time, and there was nothing to be gained from clearing out a minor hallway, only a lot of moving debris, sand and rock around. Downtrodden, Ryou opened his mouth to say ‘no’, when Jounouchi suddenly spoke up.

“This is also a KaibaCorp. investment,” he said. “We’re not going to cry and give up just because we found someone else’s cartouche. The entire stairs hasn’t been uncovered. Why not see where it leads to?”

“Fine.” Ryou wasn’t going to get himself involved in a discussion about ‘KaibaCorp’s investment’. Jounouchi was right of course, he had a voice in all of this as he was a representative of KaibaCorp., which in its turn had provided a large part of the funding. There was nothing he could do right now, except processing the disappointment. Annoyed with himself, Ryou climbed out of the trench while Jounouchi told the workers to continue.

I’m still going to follow in your footsteps, father. One setback will not keep me from going on.

----------------------------




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