Shinimegami: (comes into the studio dragging half a dozen suitcases and bags)

Bakura: (blinks) Um... vacation...?

Shinimegami: (drops the baggage, causing the entire room to shake) Yep.

Bakura: Thought so.

Shinimegami: Yeah, I just got back from a 5-day vacation in Redding. And it was reeeaaally hot down there... (tugs at her collar, causing steam to rise from it)

Joey: Whoa... that hot?

Shinimegami: Yep. (pause) Story time! (bounds over to the computer and gets the chapter ready)

Seto: (bored) Yep... Another chapter, another chunk of my life wasted...

Yami: (yawns) Shut up, Seto.

Seto: ...

Shinimegami: (finishes) Well, you guys, this is it: the last chapter.

Everyone: (snaps their heads towards Shinimegami)

Yugi: You're kidding.

Shinimegami: Uh, no, I'm not.

Yugi: But... what's gonna happen to Kurai...?

Shinimegami: Duh! That's what the chapter's for! (turns to readers) Yes, I know, I don't want it to end either... BUT! If you all read the chapter, I'll reveal something to you at the end... and you won't hate me as much... mwahaha...

Everyone: ...

Shinimegami: ...uh... yeah. Okay, chapter time! Enjoy the finale!

............................................................................ .......................

"Kurai?!"

Joey and Tristan's eyes snapped open, their peaceful rest disrupted by the sudden outburst from Yugi. Téa and Bakura sat up quickly from their seat on the floor. Yugi threw the woolen blanket off of him and leapt off the couch, his violet eyes filled with panic.

"Yugi...?" Joey said, struggling with an oncoming yawn. "What's wrong?"

"It's Kurai!" Yugi cried again, searching the area around the couch desperately. "He was here! He was right here, in my arms, and then he just vanished!" Tristan rubbed his eyes.

"Yugi, what do you mean 'vanished'?" he asked, sitting up. "Vanished as in 'missing', or vanished as in—"

"Into thin air!" Yugi shouted, running from his position to look behind the couch. "I don't know what happened... he was here... and then he was gone..."

"I'm going to get Yami," Bakura said, rising from the floor. "He might know what's going on." Yugi nodded nervously as Bakura ran upstairs to find the spirit. Yugi found nothing behind the couch, only raising his fear. He seated himself back on the couch, silently biting his finger in nervousness. Joey frowned and placed an arm around his friend's shoulder.

"'Ey, don't worry, Yuge," he said comfortingly. "We'll find Kurai, man, don't you worry. You'll get 'im back soon." Yugi, on the verge of tears, carefully nodded. He hoped Joey was right...

Soon, Bakura returned down the stairs, a worried Yami right behind him.

"Yugi!" Yami called out as he stopped in front of the boy. "What's wrong? What happened?"

"Kurai's gone!" Yugi cried, standing up to face Yami. "He was right here, with me, and then he just vanished!"

"Into thin air," Joey added, as not to confuse Yami with the meaning of "vanished".

"Do you have any idea what's going on, Yami?" Yugi asked, pleadingly. Yami narrowed his eyes in thought. "Do you sense anything, Ya—"

Before Yugi could complete his sentence, a sound like rushing wind echoed throughout everyone's ears. A sudden flash turned their attention to the corner of the room... where a frightened-looking Kurai lay.

"Kurai!!!" Yugi shouted, rushing over to embrace the child, who desperately clung to the boy in return.

"Yugi!" Kurai cried into the boy's shirt. "Wha happen?" He turned his tearful gaze up to Yugi. Yugi continued to soothe the crying child as he turned to look at Yami.

"Yami," he began, "could you sense anything? Anything that might have caused this?" Yami looked thoughtful.

"I could, but only for a mere second," Yami admitted. "Right before Kurai reappeared, I could sense a familiar power... I swear I've felt it before, but it was so brief, I couldn't identify it..." Yugi didn't know what to say, so he merely nodded.

"Do you think it will happen again?" Yugi finally said.

"I don't know..." Yami said quietly. He shook his head thoughtfully. "I just don't get it... that force felt so familiar... Almost like—"

"Yugi!"

Yugi's attention snapped back to Kurai, who was now rigid in his arms.

"Kurai! What is it?!" Kurai looked up fearfully and, with a final gasp, disappeared.

"KURAI!" Yugi looked at Yami, panicked. "Yami, it's happening again!"

Yami closed his eyes and focused hard. After a few seconds, his third eye began to glow on his forehead.

"I knew it..." the spirit whispered. He opened his eyes. "Yugi..." his eyes locked with Yugi's. "This power... it's coming from the Shadow Realm." Yugi's eyes widened.

"No..." Yugi whispered painfully. "Kurai's... in the Shadow Realm...?" Inside, Yugi's heart was pleading for Kurai's return. He wanted him back... he wanted him back...

The familiar rushing sound filled the room, and Kurai once again reappeared, this time next to the couch. Yugi let his unshed tears fall as he crossed the room again to comfort the sobbing child.

"Yami...!" Yugi managed to choke out. "What's happening?!" Yami frowned and fell into deep thought again. The only sounds that could be heard were Kurai's muffled sobs and the sound of cracking thunder outside.

"I wonder..." Yami said, finally. He turned and ran upstairs. The others got up to follow him, finding him standing in Yugi's bedroom, scanning through the Duel Monsters deck. He pulled out a particular card and looked at it.

"It's as I thought..." he said quietly. Uneasiness fell throughout the room.

"What is it, Yami...?" Yugi asked, fearing the worst. Yami turned around to look at Yugi sadly.

"It's your cards, Yugi," Yami said, holding out the card in his hand. It was the blank Dark Magician card, and it was glowing.

"What... what does it mean...?" Yugi asked hesitantly. Yami closed his eyes.

"Yugi, I think... your cards... I think they're trying to get Kurai back..."

.................................................

Thunder continued to roll through the clouds over Domino City. And, if nobody knew better, it seemed to be occurring over a particular shop... which seemed to be radiating sadness...

Yugi placed the small, purple helmet over Kurai's head, securing it gently. He picked up the miniature staff, trying desperately to hold back his tears as he handed it to the little mage.

The others stood around the two, their faces filled with sadness. Since Kurai first appeared, Yugi could be considered happier, more cheerful, more confident. And now that he'd been told he had to give up one of the most prized gifts he had ever been given, his friends saw his happiness, his confidence, everything... simply disappear from his eyes. Once Kurai was gone... what would become of their beloved friend...?

"Yugi...?" The small voice broke everyone out of their current thoughts. Kurai, now dressed in his regular attire, looked up worriedly at his protector. "Wha happening?" Yugi managed a painful smile.

"Kurai..." he said softly, stroking the child's cheek. "I... I know that you want to stay with me... but..." Yugi broke off. Yami came over, kneeling down next to his light, squeezing his shoulder gently. Yugi gripped Yami's hand in his.

"Kurai, it's really hard to say this..." Yugi continued, "but... it's... it's time for you to go back home..." Kurai's small, childish smile slowly fell.

"No stay wit Yugi...?" he asked slowly, as if trying to take Yugi's words in. Yugi shook his head sadly.

"No, you can't... you can't stay with Yugi..." Yugi's eyes grew in fear as Kurai's eyes filled with tears. "Kurai..." he reached out and hugged the child. "Yugi wants you to stay... but he can't... he can't do anything about this... I'm really sorry, Kurai..."

On the verge of tears themselves, the others did their best to stay calm, for Kurai's sake. As Kurai looked over to them, they each did their best to manage reassuring smiles.

No sooner had they done so, Kurai went rigid again. Everyone blanched; they knew what it meant.

It was time to let Kurai go.

Instinctively, Yugi tightened his grip on Kurai's body. Yami gripped his shoulder firmly, yet gently.

"Yugi, you have to let him go," he soothed. "Let him go..."

"Okaa-san!" Kurai cried out, seeming to flicker in Yugi's arms. Yugi's tears began to fall; Yami tightened his grip on his light's shoulder.

"Yugi, please," he pleaded gently. "Your will to keep him here is the only thing blocking the spell. If you keep blocking, Kurai will end up being in pain. Please, Yugi, let him go..."

Yugi squeezed his violet eyes shut, his grip on Kurai slowly loosening.

"Yugi, please!" Yami cried to him. "If you can block your will long enough, the spell will come through! Yugi, I'm begging you!"

Yugi's eyes slowly opened, his grip suddenly failing. Kurai slowly began to vanish. Yugi looked at Kurai's now transparent form, and before he disappeared completely, he made one last cry:

"Okaa-san, I wuv you!"

Then he was gone.

Yugi shut his eyes again, gripping the carpet in his fingers. His breath came in quick pants as he struggled to block his will to bring Kurai back. Yami stood and closed his eyes, his third eye appearing as he focused his mind on the shadow magic. Joey and the others shared nervous glances as their friend tried to force the want for the one he loved most out of his mind.

"Yami, how much longer?!" Téa cried out. "Yugi's hurting!" Yami gritted his teeth as he waited for the feeling of the Shadow Realm to vanish. Finally, it did. Yami released his focus and looked towards his light.

"Alright, aibou," Yami said quietly, kneeling by the boy once more. "It's over... You can want him back all you want, now..."

With a mournful cry, Yugi launched himself into his darker half's arms, sobbing pitifully into the fabric of his shirt. All the while, Yugi repeatedly wished for Kurai's return, but now matter how many times he pleaded with nothingness, Kurai did not reappear...

Kurai would not come back...

... Kurai was gone.

.................................................

"...Yami...?"

Yami looked down at the boy in his arms. "Yes, Yugi?"

"...Do you think he'll remember this?"

Yami sighed softly. "I don't know, Yugi... He might..."

"...I hope so..." Violet eyes locked onto the familiar plush toy on his bed. Yugi felt his eyes dampen.

"I miss him already..." he whispered.

"So do I, Yugi, so do I..." Yami said. A slight pause. "Shall I notify Grandpa when he returns from the store?"

"...Go ahead. He'll find out anyway..."

"...Alright." Yami rose from the floor and, with one last look at Yugi, left the room.

After a few moments, Yugi also stood, looking over at the plushie again. He crossed the room and collapsed on the bed, grabbing the Dark Magician plushie and holding it to him. Tears assisted him in escorting him into an uneasy sleep. And just before Yugi fell into the depths of an unknown dreamland, he whispered five final words...

"...I love you, too... Kurai..."

.................................................

OWARI

............................................................................ .......................

Shinimegami: Yes, the first story I ever finished... and I had to make it so SAD!!! (sob)

Yugi: (glares daggers at Shinimegami)

Shinimegami: ...Look, I'm SORRY! I had to end it SOME way!

Yugi: ...You're mean.

Shinimegami: (blinks) That's it?

Yugi: (crosses arms and looks away from Shinimegami)

Shinimegami: (sighs and turns to the readers) Okay, you guys, I know how you all hate me now... so here's that surprise I told you about! Ready? Here it is! (leans in and whispers) I'm posting a sequel! (does a celebration dance) And here's a twist! I'll write a one-shot story for the first reviewer to guess what the sequel will be about!

MoonlitMeowth: (pops out of nowhere, looking hopeful)

Shinimegami: NOT you! You already know what it's about!

MoonlitMeowth: (face falls) Poopie. (walks away)

Shinimegami: Anyway, yeah, so think hard! I'll contact the first person who guesses correctly and you can tell me what you want me to write about! Which means you MUST leave me with an e-mail address in your review if you choose to guess! Otherwise, I can't contact you! And remember, it's a ONE- SHOT story! No multiple chapters! I'm already behind on my other stories! Thankies! (grins)

Yugi: You're still mean.

Shinimegami: Meh. (shrugs) Oh, and one last thing! I have an art group dedicated to the Dark Magician/Yugi pairing! It's located on deviantART.com. You can all find the link to it on my profile page here on FF.Net. Those of you who like the pairing like I do can feel free to join! If you're already a member of deviantART.com, I'll put your avatar on the member's list! And if you're not a member, I'll recognize those of you here on my FF.Net profile.

Yugi: Still mean!

Shinimegami: (blinks) Okay, peoples! That's all! Remember to guess the sequel plot, check out my DM/Y art group, and REVIEW! I'll be sure to work on the sequel soon! Until then, thanks for reading my story, and ja ne! (waves)