AN: Second in the BFF-verse, following One Moment More. As usual, don't own either 'verse – but the idea of Buffy and Yami ending up best friends was simply too cute not to play with.
This was supposed to be a slice-of-life crackfic. It still is. It just decided to get thoughtful along the way.
Guilty confession? This fic was written well over two years ago. It just took me this long to get around to actually editing and posting it...
Owwwness. Described her life, pretty much.
Buffy dragged herself into her room and shut the door with a feeling of immense dissatisfaction. She wanted to get this over with – not go to bed while the bad guys were out there gearing up for Round Two.
Couldn't be helped, though. No chasing Big Bads on less sleep than she'd devoted to tests in high school.
She turned to shut her computer down and blinked. There was a chat window open.
DarkGame: Need backup?
Smiling ruefully, she leaned over the desk to type back.
SummerSlayage: You felt it all the way over in Japan?
When she got back from her shower, still toweling her hair dry, there was a response waiting on the screen. In the middle of Yugi's trig class.
She winced. Time zones. Right.
SummerSlayage: Ooooops. =(
Immediately a message popped up saying DarkGame is typing. Buffy grinned and sat down. She could afford a few minutes before she did her level best to imitate a meteorite.
DarkGame: Sadly, world-ending crises rarely keep banker's hours – as we both well know.
DarkGame: The Shadow Realm is still reacting, so I assume it's not over yet?
SummerSlayage: Yeah. Too bad. It's one of those 'three strikes' deals. We already pitched a strike one their way, now we just need to keep a lid on things for two more nights.
SummerSlayage: Mostly, I want to sleeeeeeeeep. Without worrying about the end of the world knocking on my door. Apartment security isn't. DX
DarkGame: Would Shield Gardna and Kuriboh help?
Buffy blinked. Lips curving into a grin, she unlocked a desk drawer – not a good idea to leave these out, mystically and socially speaking, especially when she couldn't use them herself – and fished out a card case. Pulling the deck out, she fanned the cards until she found the two she wanted and set them down on the desk before returning to the keyboard.
SummerSlayage: You know, boyfriends are supposed to send flowers and chocolates, not giant guardian Monsters and fluffy purring explosive Fiends.
DarkGame: As we conveniently aren't dating, I see no reason to worry about that.
SummerSlayage: Twist my arm and bring on the puffball!
Shadows condensed on the desk beside her. Then something massive moved to block her door. And the aforementioned ball of fluffy purring protective explosiveness bounced into her lap. "Kuriii!" it squeaked happily. Buffy grinned and buried her fingers in thick brown fur, scratching vigorously as it purred its blissful approval.
SummerSlayage: Warm fuzzy pillow-cum-emergency hand grenade, check. Extremely intimidating doorstop, check. Aaaaah… sweet sweet sleep is mine.
SummerSlayage: Thanks, Yami. I'll drop you a note later, let you know how things go. Though if things slide downhill – well, you'll probably know as fast as I do.
DarkGame: That reminds me. The Duel Monsters world finals are being held in LA this year.
Buffy blinked. Um. Meep?
SummerSlayage: Want me to stop by? Just in case you need a little extra Attack Power?
DarkGame: …That would probably be a very good idea…
Dumping the last shards of plastic and glass into the bin, Buffy pulled out her cell phone and dialed.
It rang three times, then – click. "Moshi-moshi?"
The speaker sounded exhausted, but cheerful, and she relaxed a bit. "Mosh-mosh yourself, Yugi. I take it you won? Is Yami up to talking, or does he need to go Mind Crush a few world-destroying idiots first?"
"Buffy-san!" Yugi laughed. "We took care of the problem. They didn't make it into the final round, for once."
"Careful – it's never a good sign when the universe starts breaking its own rules."
"True." There was a bit of rue in his voice. "Just a minute…"
Buffy had to grin. She could almost hear the two switching off in that half-breath of silence.
"So tell me," she teased. "Is it even possible for you to go an entire tournament without some variety of world endiness getting mixed up?"
"Apparently not." Yami growled eloquently.
"I take it things got sorted out? I was watching. Well, until the tube blew." She shook her head, glad she'd remembered that little side effect in time to find a cheaper TV to watch with. "You know, one of these days Kaiba's going to come up with a TV screen that doesn't blow out when the magic starts flying fast and furious. And then where will you be?"
Yami chuckled. "Unlikely. He has too much to hide himself. And even technomancy doesn't get along with mass production."
"You know, I'd be more likely to buy that if people didn't keep trying to take over the world using a massively popular, mass produced children's card game. What's up with that?"
The spirit sighed. "Part of it is that the monsters in the game are real, and inherently magical. And the principle of similarity: the image of a thing is that thing." His voice turned wry. "Which is one reason why the televisions keep blowing out when true summoning gets involved."
Buffy thought about that, and hundreds of TVs showing summoned monsters, and that Doctor Who episode with the killer stone angels.
"O…kay. That's majorly of the creepy, and I speak from experience. What's the rest of it?"
"Part of it is simply that there's a great deal of emotional energy in games. Even when one is simply a spectator."
She smirked. "Maybe that's why it always seems to be the sports jocks who get possessed by demons."
"That, and the fact that the demon can get away with it because no one would notice any difference." Yami couldn't pull off butter-wouldn't-melt innocent the way Yugi did, but his tone was so matter-of-fact that Buffy knew he was smirking on the inside. Then he sighed. "Then there's the simple fact that games are rituals. It's part of what makes Shadow Games so powerful. When you participate in a game, you willingly submit yourself to the reality of the game."
Buffy thought about that. "There are rules. Codes to follow. Incantations to invoke." Yep, sounded like a lot of the various rituals she'd crossed paths with.
"And the element of risk. The greater the gamble, the greater the gain. It's one of the reasons why true mages never cheat."
Well, that, and the off chance that you're actually up against a Shadow Mage who will Penalty Game you to kingdom come, Buffy thought with a grin. But the grin faded as she took a mental step back, and thought about rituals, and gaming tournaments that could include thousands of participants.
"Tournaments are basically big giant Greater Rituals, aren't they?" she asked uneasily. "There to be taken over by any mage who knows what's going on and has the balls and the cards to have a shot at winning."
"With the added complication that many participants in the larger events are there for petty or greedy reasons, given the prestige, competitive atmosphere, and the prominence of monetary awards." Yami sighed in disgust, the rush of air over the speaker making the connection crackle momentarily. "Which tends to taint the energies they generate, when there are no safeguards in place to pattern it otherwise. Kaiba, you idiot."
Buffy smiled wryly. "Maybe you could get him to build a benevolent purpose into the next one? Half the proceeds could go to charity, or something."
"What?" Yami asked in mock-horror. "Cut into the profits of Kaiba Corporation for merely magical reasons?"
Buffy shrugged. "Hey, tax deductions. Good PR. Reducing insurance premiums. Not to mention, fans might actually be able to watch the finals without their TVs blowing up in their faces, which would only be good for advertising. Plenty of ways he can spin it as corporate self-interest."
She grinned – she could hear the strategies shuffling through his head right through the phone. "Something to think about before the next Crisis. Speaking of." She checked her watch. "Think you can slip away for a bit? If you've got the time – I know a good place where we can hang out and grouse for a bit…"
AN: "Games are effectively rituals, large-scale tournaments are really big rituals" is my personal headcanon. Throughout history, the idea of a game or contest as a religious ritual to the gods has shown up across the world, from ancient Minoan civilization to the Maya. We still have echoes of this, in traditions like Sumo wrestlers doing a blessing ritual, a la the Nagoya Winter Olympics, to singing the national anthem before the Superbowl. (Song and dance also being very religiously charged traditions.) Given that most magical traditions in the real world have their roots in ancient religious rites, and most fantasy-based magics are in turn based on those…
In addition, games – particularly a game like Duel Monsters in YGO – strongly resemble classic fantasy spell-casting rituals. There's a particular order in which you have to do things, or it doesn't work. There are incantations to be recited in order to get a particular effect. (Heck, consider "Uno!" or "Go fish!") So it's not a big stretch to imagine that games in and of themselves can be seen as ritual spells. And suddenly, viola! We have a logical reason for card game tournaments to be targeted by various magical Big Bads!
And, "the image of a thing is that thing" – sometimes called the Principle of Similarity – is another classic magical law, as seen in voudoun dolls, for example. In the Doctor Who episode mentioned, there are predatory stone angels that reproduce by being reflected or photographed. Creepy.
…and given some of the things Kaiba manages to pull off with his technology? Bunnies are convinced he's a technomancer.