Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!, nor do I make any money off of this piece of fanfiction.

Challenge Number: 075, Searching
Drabble Title: Gratitude
Word Count: 590
Warnings/Pairings: Liberties with Ryou's background, one-sided Tendershipping-ish
Summary: He wasn't done repaying him yet, not by a long-shot.
Author's Note: Something of an attempt to explain just why Ryou never really resists Yami Bakura again later in the series, despite having done so during the initial Monster World Arc in the manga/Season 0.

He searches, day in and day out for the answer. For a way to bring back someone who has long since been lost to the sands of time; lost, to the Games of Shadows; lost, to the jaws of Ammit.

He has to bring him back.

Yes, his early months with him were filled with fear and periodic blackouts. Yes, the other had harmed innocent people, but he was sure, none of his so-called friends would understand.

How could they, when they had never lost another to a senseless tragedy?

He had been six years old at the time. Six, when his father came to pick him up from kindergarten, instead of his mother. Six, when he was suddenly no longer an older brother. Six, when the world around him suddenly grew cold as his father drowned himself in work to escape dealing with his own grief.

And the man responsible for it got a few measly years in jail and a heavy fines that were easily paid off.

So when it suddenly entered his life at fifteen, and he started hearingThe Voice, he was happy – happy that, for the first time in nearly a decade, someone was willing to listen to him and his past, and give him more than superficial sympathy and platitudes. It even offered to find the man responsible for ruining his life, and doling out proper justice to the man.

Shortly thereafter classmates, friends and bullies alike, started falling into comas, and he was no fool – he had no doubts as to who was responsible. And when Yuugi's other swept in like the grand knights in shining armor in the fairy tales his mother used to tell him, he had thought that taking the high road would be better – he threw his lot in against The Voice.

But that was before he got a letter in the mail from the man, not so much apologizing as much as blaming the alcohol for his actions – after nearly a decade, the letter had said, the man was going into rehabilitation for alcoholism, and part of the healing process was to apologize to all those he had hurt while he had been under its sway.

And right after, he sought it again, realizing how much of a fool he had been. Oh, he had been punished for his earlier betrayal, of that The Voice made sure of, but the original offer still stood – proper justice, in exchange for his complete cooperation. After all, the spirit said, it too was seeking revenge for the deaths of those it knew, and wouldn't it be nice if Ryou could help it out?

They weren't so different after all, and he willingly and knowingly accepted the deal.

The very next day, a small-town newspaper reported on the horrifically bloody murder of a local man, and the police had no suspects. In gratitude, Ryou gave the spirit free reign to do as he wished.

He had paid his rent, after all.

But then, just like before, Yuugi's other came in, and banished what was now his one source of comfort. And this time, it was more permanent than before. But that was alright. He had time. He had contacts. He would dig through every last inch of Egypt's deserts if he had to, if it meant he could bring him back.

And so he continues, searching one forgotten tomb at a time, listening for whispers in the shadows to guide him.

A good landlord always takes good care of his renters.