the_goldenpath: made by <lj user="eroero-tomatoes"> (Yu-Gi-Oh! Ancient Egypt fics 2)
[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



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



His dreamless sleep didn’t bring him much rest; when Yuugi woke up, his entire body felt stiff and sore. He’d fallen asleep on top of his backpack in the most uncomfortable position possible. Groaning, he stretched his legs, only to wince from the loud popping sounds of the vertebrae in his back. Yuugi straightened himself, albeit with difficulty, and yawned. What time was it? How long had he been asleep? He checked his watch, but it had stopped running ever since he had entered the tomb.

“Yuugi-kun? Are you awake?”

“Yeah, I’m awake,” he answered, recognizing his friend’s voice coming from outside the tent.

“Fatima has arrived,” Ryou said. “She wants to see you.” Yuugi knew the nurse from the base camp, an elderly woman whose services he hadn’t needed before, until now. He suppressed a groan of annoyance. He wanted to stay in the tent and study the golden box and its content.

“I’m all right,” he said.

“No, you’re not.” Ryou’s voice was timid, yet determined. He was too polite to open up the tent and drag Yuugi out of it, but that didn’t mean he was a doormat who slinked off immediately if things didn’t go his way. “Come see the nurse, Yuugi-kun.”

Yuugi sighed. He didn’t want to lose the backpack out of his sight, so he slung it over his shoulder and stepped out of the tent. Ryou obviously winced as soon as he saw Yuugi.

“How long have I been asleep?” he asked.

“Yesterday afternoon and a full night,” Ryou answered. “The guys didn’t return from base camp until this morning. I let you sleep because you needed the rest. Now, let’s get you checked out first.” He didn’t say anything about the backpack and how Yuugi held a tight grip on it. Yuugi’s stomach growled. “After that, I’ll get you something to eat.”

“Ryou-kun, it’s all right.” Yuugi knew his friend felt horrible, taking the blame for everything that had happened upon himself. After all, Ryou had activated the traps in a rare lapse of judgment, as he touched the wall instead of carefully studying it first. Ryou grimaced, but didn’t comment. They walked over to another, smaller tent at the edge of the excavation site. Yuugi was glad to see Mahmoud and the brothers Fatih and Youssef standing at the entrance of the tomb, muscular arms crossed in front of their chest.

“Here we are,” Ryou said and opened the tent flap. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

Yuugi nodded and entered the tent. Fatima, dressed in the traditional garb of her tribe, turned around and widened her eyes in shock.

“Sahib! You look horrible!” Her English, commonly spoken between the archaeologists and the workers wasn’t as fluent, but good enough to be understood. She hurried over to him and put her hands on his face, gently turning his head from left to right.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. Ryou had mentioned yesterday that he looked awful and haggard, caused by the fall through the floor, and judging from his and Fatima’s reactions, it had to be pretty bad. The nurse handed him a mirror. Yuugi barely suppressed a gasp. His skin had been chafed raw and his face was a mess of bruises ranging in colors like someone had dipped a brush in several buckets of dark paint and wildly smeared it all over his canvas. No wonder everyone gawked at him like that! Fatima continued her medical examination and he obeyed her: stretching his arms, walking around a little, taking off his shirt, breathing in and out…

“Nothing’s broken, sahib,” she finally said. “Your bruises will heal in time. I can give you this,” she rummaged around her stash of medicinal products and took out a small jar, “it’s an ointment. It’s my family’s own recipe, and I can guarantee you that it’s great for your skin. No scars left, just healthy skin. Good for you!”

Yuugi wasn’t in any kind of pain, though his skin was tender and stinging. He’d welcome anything that would soothe the stinging or his sore muscles, so he accepted the small jar. He thanked her. He was very glad he hadn’t broken any bones. He felt quite good actually, aside from the muscle pain and his tender flesh. Yuugi left the tent and soaked up the sun, already pretty strong in the early morning.

“Over here, Yuugi!” Jounouchi waved at him. “Breakfast’s ready!”

Hungrily, Yuugi went over to the large table. Disappointment crossed his face when he noticed the sober meal: a few slices of bread, ful medames and omelets.

“We’re expecting new provisions soon,” Jounouchi said apologetically. He was known for his big appetite, but he wasn’t that ill-mannered to hog all the food to himself. His colleague Honda, also a glutton, made sure that everything was evenly distributed. Yuugi was glad that the KaibaCorp. employees accompanied them on this expedition; without them, he wouldn’t have made it out of his predicament alive. Ryou put jars of water on the table. Fortunately, there was no shortage of drinking water; no one would venture this deep into the Egyptian desert without a solid stock of water.

“Let’s eat,” Ryou said invitingly. “What did Fatima say, Yuugi-kun?”

“Nothing broken,” Yuugi answered as he cut into his omelet. “She gave me an ointment for the bruises. They’ll go away in time.”

“It’s a miracle you survived that fall without breaking a limb,” Jounouchi said.

“Yes, it is…” he shuddered at the memory and changed the topic quickly. “Where’s Malik-kun?”

“He said he’d be here soon,” Ryou answered, munching on a slice of bread. “Ah, there he is.”

“Huh? Where?” Yuugi looked around and saw the guide approach, but only after he twisted around in his chair. Ryou sat next to him; how had he been able to hear Malik? It wasn’t like the guide left heavy footsteps in the sand.

“Good morning, Malik-kun,” he said.

“Good morning.” Malik’s voice was uncharacteristically soft. Now Yuugi was the one to wince; Malik’s arms were bandaged from shoulder to wrist and he moved carefully, as if everything was hurting him.

“Come, sit down. Would you like an omelet?”

Malik looked hesitant. Yuugi was sure he was going to decline, but after a moment of silence he said: “Yes, thank you.”

Ryou plated an omelet and handed him the food. Jounouchi once again apologized for the meager provisions.

“I’m leaving for Cairo soon,” he added. “Kaiba’s coming over and I have to pick him up from the airport.”

“Kaiba?” Ryou parroted. “The CEO himself?”

“Yeah, no one less.” Jounouchi didn’t sound too happy. “I told him about the tomb and what happened, and he immediately said that he would take the first flight to Egypt. It’s a big discovery, so…”

“It’s the discovery of the century,” Ryou said. “Surpassing Tutankhamen! The things we’ve seen are only the beginning!”

Yuugi listened to him talking enthusiastically, but the more Ryou said, the more downtrodden he became. It felt… wrong to unearth this tomb, even though he couldn’t tell why. He had entered dozens of tombs before, why was he having trouble with this one? It felt like they were desecrating the nameless Pharaoh’s sacred rest and he couldn’t help himself, he wasn’t hungry anymore. In fact, he was starting to get nauseous and he searched for a distraction. Malik was sitting opposite of him, poking at the omelet and eating very, very slowly.

“Malik-kun, I’m so sorry,” Yuugi said. “What happened to you?”

“I cut myself,” the guide said. “When Ryou disappeared… when you fell through the floor, I… I tried to get out of there.” His voice hitched.

“I’m sorry,” Yuugi said again. Jounouchi had said that Malik had tried to claw his way out. “I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories. That was really inconsiderate of me.”

Malik showed a small smile. “It’s all right. You know, all I want right now is a shower. A real shower, not one of those camping showers who are depleted all too soon.”

“Oh yes, that sure sounds lovely,” Yuugi agreed.

“You want to hitch a ride with me to Cairo?” Jounouchi asked. “I’m leaving later this afternoon, and I need someone who can steer me the right way.”

Malik knew he was the best guide around, but he seemed hesitant again. “I’m not sure…”

“Your sister is in Cairo, isn’t she?” Ryou’s voice came from the right. “Don’t you want to see her again?” His voice held an oddly sharp tone to it.

“Yes, I do want to see her again,” Malik said. “I want to ask her… something.”

“All right then, you’re coming with me.” Jounouchi was pleased. It was difficult to navigate in the desert and the road to Cairo was hazardous. Yuugi stole a glance at Ryou. He hadn’t lost his appetite at all and ate to his heart’s content. Breakfast was finished and everyone got up, ready to continue their activities. For the first time, Yuugi didn’t join Ryou for work. He would always be around the other, helping him out with whatever he needed. Right now, he wanted to take another look at the golden box in his backpack, which he held against his chest. Yuugi waited for a moment to see if Ryou would call for him, but he was already walking along with Jounouchi and Honda, gesturing wildly. Malik was the only one who stayed behind and he gathered the dirty dishes together, his movements slow and stiff.

“Let me help you, Malik-kun,” Yuugi said.

“I’m all right,” Malik answered. His eyes weren’t focused on Yuugi. “I’m all right.”

“You have to pack your stuff if you’re going to Cairo with Jounouchi-kun.” Yuugi put his backpack on the ground. As long as he was close to it, very close… he stacked the empty pots and pans together.

“I don’t have much to pack.”

“What’s the matter, Malik-kun? You sound so… defeatist,” Yuugi said, unable to think of a fitting word. The guide shrugged.

“I guess I’m still a bit frazzled from what happened,” he said. Yuugi didn’t know him like this. Malik had been pretty abrasive, rude and self-confident, and now he was meek, timid and hesitant. “Yuugi,” he suddenly called out his name.

“Yes?”

“Have you… when you were down in the tomb, did you…”

He knew what he was going to ask. What he was trying to ask. For whatever reason, Malik couldn’t get the words across his lips.

“Malik-kun, in the tomb…” He checked quickly if there was no one around who could overhear him, “…something strange happened to me as well.”

Malik looked relieved. “When I get back from Cairo, we’ll talk about it,” he said. “I need to ask my sister some questions first.”

“I understand.” Yuugi stepped aside from the table as a couple of workers took the dirty dishes from him and Malik. The guide went along with them, leaving Yuugi behind; he picked up his backpack again and withdrew into his compartment of the large tent he shared with Ryou. His hands trembled as he took out the golden box and removed the lid. Holding his breath, he retrieved a couple of the strangely shaped pieces. From this discovery alone, he could become a very wealthy man and live out his life in a comfortable fashion. But Yuugi had already been mesmerized by the puzzle and he didn’t even entertain the thought of selling it. He tried to put the pieces together and frowned. Nothing seemed to fit. This was going to be a very challenging puzzle. He actually had to twist and turn the pieces into different angles before he could make a connection. There were so many possibilities, it boggled his mind. When night fell, Yuugi had only managed to get two pieces together, much to his own frustration. He had skipped lunch and dinner and he hadn’t even heard Jounouchi and Malik leave. No one had called him, either.

Frantically, feverishly, Yuugi continued with the pieces, clacking his tongue in annoyance when they didn’t fit and he had to adjust the angle again. To add to his frustration, he had no idea what kind of shape the puzzle was supposed to have; he was completely in the dark here!

“I’m going mad,” he said out loud and dropped one of the pieces. How many times had he tried this particular one? It was so difficult! He rubbed his eyes. It was silent and dark all around him; he couldn’t remember when he had turned on his oil lamp, but the modest light caused him to strain his eyes. His head was pounding. Even though it was hard to tear himself away from the puzzle, he decided to go to bed. His focus and concentration were shot anyway. Yuugi put everything into his backpack and wrapped his arm around it before lying down on his side. He quickly fell asleep, exhausted.

He was in a large room, decorated in the style of Ancient Egypt. Tall pillars supported a high ceiling, carved with the unique and unmistakable decorations of the Gods: Hathor, Bastet, Osiris… the rich culture of the land of the Pharaohs. The sandy, beige and deep red colors breathed a kind and comfortable atmosphere. Confused, Yuugi looked around. In this utter silence, he could only hear his own breathing. The room was empty, safe for a chair at the opposite end. Someone was sitting on it; Yuugi couldn’t see who, but a strange feeling overwhelmed him. A sense of familiarity, of warmth, but also one of trepidation. What was going on? Was this just a dream?

He took a step forward. The hollow sound of his shoe on the floor echoed in the room. Another step. If anything, he could try to find out who was sitting over there. Was it a throne? He gained a little confidence and picked up his pace, but the distance between him and the throne didn’t change, not for an inch. He couldn’t reach it. He wanted to laugh. Of course he’d dream like this! He’d been in Egypt for so long and with the recent discovery of the Pharaoh’s tomb… it was just his mind, playing a silly trick on him! The scenery shifted abruptly.

“This way,” a voice called out. Yuugi was shocked to hear it. The voice was compelling, but held an urge to it. “This way, my light. I need to speak with you.”

“What? Light?” He wasn’t in the large room anymore. It was dark in here, wherever ‘here’ was, and he wondered briefly if his dream was turning into a nightmare. Aside from the darkness, it looked twisted and desperate, and a gust of wind howled around his body. He could hear a breathy whisper, and it wasn’t his. “Where are you? Are you the one who’s been waiting for me?”

“Yes, I have been waiting for you.” Yuugi turned around so fast that it made his head spin. His jaw went slack. He was looking at himself. What kind of trick was this? What kind of dream was plaguing his mind? His look-alike differed from him, if only for the abundance of jewelry he was wearing and his facial features, sharper than Yuugi’s, but his physique and his hair was almost identical to him. Yuugi wanted to reach for him and lifted up his arm - but of course he couldn’t touch him. His hand went through the air, and his spitting image faded a little.

“I’m dreaming,” Yuugi said.

“I am not strong enough,” the other Yuugi said. “You must hurry, my light. Time is running out.”

“Running out?” Yuugi blinked. The other was barely visible.

“Solve the puzzle,” he said. “I cannot stay longer. Let me carry your pain. You have to-” and everything was dark again. Yuugi shot straight up in his bed, gasping out loud. It was so dark around him that he flailed his arms as if fighting off invisible attackers. Gasping, it took him a while to gather his bearings and he threw off his blankets. Nights in the desert were very cold, but now the sweat was rolling off his back. Who had he spoken to? Why did he look so much like him? Had he imagined himself as a Pharaoh? What kind of weird dream was this? Yuugi wanted to talk to Ryou and rolled out of his bed. To his surprise, he found his compartment empty. Where could he be? It was the middle of the night; Ryou was supposed to be in bed, just like him.

Yuugi shivered. He felt scared all of the sudden. Someone who looked like him had spoken to him in his dream. Solve the puzzle. How did he know? How could anyone know? Yuugi went back to his bed and pulled the blankets over him, tucking the backpack in. Calm down. Nothing to be afraid of. He had dreamt like this because he’d been working on the puzzle all day. It was the fatigue talking, and nothing else. Yuugi closed his eyes again. A silly dream. Nothing else. Nothing else. As long as he kept repeating that to himself, he was safe, right? He hadn’t felt threatened, though. A little scared yes, but not like he was in any kind of danger. His look-alike had spoken urgently, but his voice had been friendly. Nothing to worry about. Hopefully he could catch a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. Yuugi heaved a sigh. Then, a thought suddenly hit him.

I didn’t even ask his name.



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




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