I'm so sorry that my updates have been slow. My computer was fucked up, and my inspiration was gone for the longest time. Please forgive me :

This was one of those moments where Marik really, really wished that he still had his Millennium Rod. He felt helpless in this situation, just a normal person faced with something he really, really would rather not be involved with.

Bakura had pulled himself together, and lapsed into a sullen silence. Ryou tried to say reassuring things, but he was brushed off every time. He was growing visibly more frustrated with every passing moment; apparently even HE had limits to his patience.

Marik cast a glance to his sister for help, but she had nothing to offer him; she looked just as helpless as he was. He wished Odion were there with some helpful piece of advice as well, and not all the way back in Alexandria. Between his two older siblings, they just might find a decent answer to the questions hanging in the air.

(He'd call him later.)

"Um...do you want me to get you guys home? I can drive you."

Ryou looked relieved that someone besides him had spoken.

Bakura shot Ryou an ugly look that obviously meant he was supposed to say no. But Ryou didn't seem to get the message.

"Oh? That would be nice, thank you."

Bakura slapped his forehead.


Bakura hated, hated, HATED awkward silences. Most of allthe awkward silence currently passing between he and Marik as he sat in the front seat of his maroon sports car. He hated that his Landlord kept his mouth shut, doing nothing to relieve the awkwardness. (He hated that the word awkward now sounded funny to him.) He hated that Marik looked so innocently flustered-why the bloody HELL was he not getting angry? Hell, Bakura would feel better if Marik was being smug. Anything but this... calm confusion. His stomach was turning somersaults inside him, filling him with anxiety and nausea.

(He hasn't felt this nervous in- quite literally- thousands of years.)

Bakura leaned back against the leather headrest, huffing angrily. He shook his head violently and growled.

"...Are you alright, Bakura?"

Ryou frowned at him, concern written on his knitted brow.

"No, Landlord. I'm not alright."

Bakura clenched his fists, his hands trembling. He fought the familiar, terrifying burning sensation in his eyes. (Like hell he's gonna cry...)

"Landlord...I...I wish I knew what to do. I hate this. I hate not knowing."

Marik's grip tightened on the steering wheel, his purple eyes narrowing.

"If you're scared, Bakura, just admit it. Nobody's going to think any differently of you for it, you know," he said through gritted teeth.

Bakura huffed.

"I'm not bloody scared. I'm just angry, is all."

"You know, I can tell when people are lying. I'm not stupid."

"Shut up, Marik! What I'm up to or what I'm thinking stopped being your business years ago!"

Marik cringed, then fixed his eyes still more firmly on the road.

"Is this your building?" He asked, pointedly addressing the question to Ryou.

"Yes," Ryou replied. "Thanks for driving us."

Marik fumbled for a scrap of paper and a pen. He scribbled a few numbers on it and handed it to him.

"My cell phone number. If you need help, call me. I'll always answer for you."

Ryou smiled at him sheepishly, accepting the shred of paper and putting it into his pocket.

"Thank you." he said gratefully.

"No problem." Marik answered nonchalantly, casting a glance at the apartment building that Ryou resided in. He wondered, briefly, why he lived in such a bad part of town.

Bakura unbuckled his seatbelt, looking antsy.

Ryou sighed, looking at him in disapproval before wilting, "Fine, go ahead in. I'll be up soon."

Bakura, grateful to escape the awkward atmosphere, exited the car as quickly as he could, eager to be back into the sanctuary of the apartment

Ryou cleared his throat.

"Well...thanks again, Marik."

Marik gave him a serious look.

"Listen, you should be very careful with him. I don't know what exactly is going on, but I don't like it."

"I don't either," Ryou admitted, wrapping his arms around to hold himself. "I'm kind of scared, to be honest."


"...I'm worried about Bakura. What if something really bad happens? What happens if he dies before he finds out what he's supposed to do? what

happens to him then?"

Marik threw his hands in the air in frustration.

"I don't know anything anymore," he grumbled, drumming his fingers against the steering wheel.

"Ishizu and Odion are being too protective. It's been years, but they still treat me like I'm made of glass."

He sighed.

"I wish they'd talk to me more. I'm not the same as I was."

"I know that feeling," Ryou admitted. "Yugi and the others have been the same way. Actually, they haven't been talking to me at all." He shook his head. "They just can't trust me anymore, I suppose."

"That doesn't seem very fair, when you weren't the one doing anything wrong."

Ryou shrugged his thin shoulders and shook his head again.

"I can't say I blame them though. After all, I kept Bakura in my head for so long. I even defended him, sometimes. They really shouldn't trust me."

Marik glared at him.

"Don't say that. Don't fucking say that. Everyone deserves a second chance."

His voice trembled slightly, his knuckles going white on the steering wheel.



Ryou touched his shoulder gently, and smiles at him.

"It's alright, really."

Marik smiled back at him, touching his hand briefly, his dark skin contrasted harshly with Ryou's almost sickly pallor.

"Go home," Ryou urged him. "Get some sleep. I'll text you before I go to work tomorrow."

His gentle, brown eyes warmed something deep in Marik's soul. they were completely unlike Bakura's cold, sharp ones. Ryou had a kind look to him, and he just seemed...sweet. He couldn't understand how anyone couldn't trust those eyes.

Ryou left the car with a final parting smile. Marik waved from the window before driving off, hoping Ryou didn't notice how fiercely he was blushing.


Bakura is about twelve years old when he realizes that there's something wrong with him.

He notices the other kids avoid him. They call him names and throw things at him. The adults look at him like he's a rat, rather than a scruffy, starving peasant boy in rags- of course, boys in rags were pretty much the same as rats to them.

But that's not too bad-it's nothing he can't handle. But still, he wonders.

(No one from Kul Elna ever treated him this badly...)

He starts seeing things- just flickering shadows in the corners of his eyes, but they're still there.

Sometimes he can make out faces- that one's his father, that one's the old merchant, that one's the widower who lived next door. People who had known and been kind to him.

Sometimes he hears them- voices in his head that aren't really voices, words that aren't really words. He's not sure whether this should frighten him. But he's dealt with worse, so he tries his best to ignore it.

Some time after this, his dreams change. They aren't nightmares anymore. But they're still not pleasant, either. They're full of shadows and darkness and glowing red eyes. They frighten him enough to wake him. But, like always, he learns to live with it.

Between ignoring the taunts, the dreams, and the visions all at once, his grasp on reality has become very flimsy indeed.

Shortly before he turned thirteen, he realised there was something very, VERY wrong with him.

The buzzing, incoherent voices become louder and more distinct. He can hear each hateful word they say, every wish for revenge.

"They killed us. They killed us and then erased our names. You have to become strong so you can avenge us."

"I don't...I don't want..."

"Why are you still so weak? Did you forget about us? Didn't you love us, Bakura?"

"I-I do...I still do!"

"Why are you weak?!"

"Please...just leave me alone..."

"We know how to make you stronger."

Bakura clutches his head and screams.

"I don't care! I don't care anymore! Just leave me alone!"

"You need the dark one. The dark one will make you strong."

Bakura paused.

"The dark one?"

"A part of him was buried inside all of us. Our souls kept him bound in chains. Now that the village is destroyed, he is sleeping within you."

"...In me?"

"The pieces of the Dark One's soul have been reunited. You are the vessel that would bring him back into the mortal world. He will make you strong in exchange. He will give you the power to destroy our enemies, and all he desires in return is your body."

A part of Bakura knew that this 'dark one' he heard about was the one really speaking to him, but he didn't want to believe it. He wanted to believe he was hearing his father, his sister, his friends, or his mother. He didn't want to believe he had a monster in his heart.

He stays up until the early hours of the morning, staring at the lonely moon and begging the gods for an answer, sobbing until his entire body trembled.

"Please, help me...I don't know what's happening to me."

The pink sunrise peaking over the sleepy little town only brought more confusion.

"...I'm scared..."

Bakura was suffering from an acute case of deja vu as he remembered those times, when he was only a frightened child.

He wasn't a child anymore. He wasn't defenseless, nor was he innocent or anything else that he had been back then...

...So why did it still bother him so much?

He'd been used and then discarded like trash. He'd been manipulated like a puppet. Dressed up and played with like a doll.

Like I used my landlord.

What do I do...?

The soft fabric of a warm blanket slipped around his skinny shoulders, Ryou's thin arms wrapping around his waist. He wonders how long he's been standing here, staring into space.

Ryou's hands were soft and pretty, even marred by a smattering of tiny, half-healed cuts.

"I'm sorry we couldn't find a better answer for you," He said softly. "I promise I'll help you find what you need to know, no matter what."

Ryou's chest was pressed against him, the Millennium Ring digging into his back.



"The Ring. Why did you take it back? You didn't have to."

"Huh?" Ryou thought about this for a second. "I'm not sure, really. I just...I heard it calling for me. Screaming, actually. Begging. I couldn't leave it behind."

He leaned his head against Bakura's shoulder, sighing deeply.

"I was disappointed when I found out it was just a lifeless piece of gold."

Bakura reached up to touch Ryou's hand.

"It has never been a lifeless piece of metal, Landlord. It has my village within it."

"...I suppose."

Bakura clenched his hands into white knuckled fists to stop their trembling.

"They begged for revenge...and I failed them. I made them a promise, and I failed...I'm a horrible excuse for a son."

Ryou tightened his grip and nuzzled his neck.

"You did everything you could do. You gave everything you had."

"It wasn't enough."


Ryou squeezed him tightly, his voice cracking the tiniest bit.

"Bakura...you gave your all. That's all anyone can ask of you. And if I were the people of your village, I would be proud of you."

Bakura leaned into the fierce embrace. It felt good to be held.

Special thanks to my beta reader, TheAmberRaven. Thank you as well, to all my reviewers who stuck with me :)