Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!

Summary: He almost didn't have the strength to come back, and wouldn't have, if he didn't know that someone was holding a vigil for his safe return. Written in celebration of the rescue of the thirty three Chilean miners and six rescue workers.

Words in italics refer to Ryou, words in bold refer to Bakura.

He didn't know who he was. He was so young when the grief caused by the massacre allowed the darkness to take his soul and imbue it with a relentless lust for vengeance that he had never had a chance to become anyone. A child like any other, a victim of circumstance and a malevolent apparition whispering in his willing ear.

He had let himself be led, for he was lost. And was persuaded to take the wrong path.

He sought retribution from the son for the sins of the father, only to find that neither were to blame for his sorrows, and he had failed to appease the tormented souls of his village and bring their trapped spirits to rest at last. The one responsible for the destruction of their lives, of the lives that he had taken to avenge them, and of his own life was another, but the master of shadows had a death grip on his heart, and so his crusade for vengeance continued until he was sealed into the ring that because his most coveted, and most loathed treasure.

Five millennia later, when his hatred was absolute and the shadow of evil had attained full control of his emotions, he caused the past to repeat itself.

He ensured that events played out as they had originally, with a few fundamental advantages on his side this time around. He did desire a more favourable outcome, and going for third time lucky wasn't even a consideration. He would not spend another purgatorial spell in the ring, with the accusing screams of the damned that had forged it echoing through its empty chambers.

He failed once more, but this time something was different, something had deviated from the scenario, and that was the defeat of Zorc and the subsequent relinquishment of the control it had held over his body and soul.

He was free at last, or would have been, had the evil he committed in the name of the dark one not blackened his spirit to the point of being nearly irredeemable. His puppeteer was no more, and his strings had been cut, leaving him to float aimlessly in the shadows, without a purpose or a prayer for release.

Nobody cared, or so he thought. Then he heard him.

He had always had a melodic voice, sweet and lilting as a wind chime, soothing and placatory, polite and inoffensive. He had despised it so, because it was the voice of a child who hadn't grown up, or perhaps refused to, lest he be forced to see the world in all its unvarnished ugliness.

His world was an ugly one, and he hated beautiful things.

He had hated him, for being the child he couldn't have been, for retaining the innocence he had been forced to abandon, for keeping the faith that had died so long ago for him.

He called to him, and expecting taunting and rebuke, he tried to close his ears to the voice. But he was insistent, warm and comforting, telling him that he didn't belong here, that he could come back if he truly wanted to.

But who would want him back?

He would, the voice whispered. He was the one who had suffered the most, who had been used as nothing more than a tool, without value, and easily replaced by the next unwitting fool to pick up the cursed trinket. And still he wanted him back.

'You were there.'

He had been his only constant, when his mother and sister were gone, and his father had left, he had been there. He had harmed him, but had never let anyone else do so. He had protected him, in his own twisted way, leaving him with nothing to fear but the shadow of fear itself.

'It wasn't your fault.'

He knew it wasn't, it was the fault of Zorc and the treacherous priest that his family had perished. But what came after was.

'I want you to come back.'

He was under the misguided notion that he was capable of change, of becoming something more than a bitter husk of a man who should have died and stayed dead thousands of years before the others birth.

'You don't know who you are.'

That was true, and all the crueller sounding for being voiced in such gentle tones.

'I want to help you find out.'


'Because I know you better than you know yourself.'

I suppose you do. Now teach me.

Time stilled, and began to move forward once more. He fell, careening through the darkness that reached out desperately with grasping claws to prevent his descent.

He smiled, for he wasn't afraid of falling, nor of what met him below.

He slipped through their grasp and with that first desperate breath of air, and a quiet, unassuming beat in his chest that began to pulsate and warm the blood that flowed through this new body, he lived once more.

'I won't waste this second chance.'

Fingers whispered hesitantly over his own, leaving a trail of searing warmth where they touched and a lingering chill in their wake. Hands that had been used to hurt, but not by them, but by him, now reached out to give comfort. He was now the brave one of us two, and him the fearful child.

'I'm glad you came back.'

His fingers twitched, and then closed around the others a little too hard, but he only responded by tightening his own to match.

'So am I.'

'You waited for me.'

'You came back to me.'

A soft kiss against his lips by the light, and there was no more need for words.