WSJ: Yeah, short, but what the hey, it's the last chapter. *shrug*

Ryou & Bakura: Whoo hoo!

WSJ: *rolls her eyes* And yes, I'm posting this early, because Ebony would not stop bugging me. And after all, today is her birthday... So happy B-day Ebony! Chapter 1 of Sophomore will be up on Thursday.

Alright, as to last chapter's cameos, a few of you got them! ^^ Good job! Fiddler Girl/The Skull Hill Ghost is from the Free Bards series by Mercedes Lackey, the first book being The Lark and the Wren. Eric Banyon, Beth Kentraine, and Kory are from the Bedlam's Bard series, also by Mercedes Lacky, the first book being Knight of Ghosts and Shadows. And Gwen didn't request Sheebeg Sheemore from Banyon because Kory's an elf. :p Song about an elf-war would not go over well.

Heh heh heh. As for Seto's stuffed animals, you'll just have to wait and see. But no, the rabbit disappearing had nothing to do with Funny Bunny. It was still there even after the Pegasus stuff (he didn't even have a soulroom until after the Pegasus stuff, remember?). Plus, working with Pegasus in the Shadow Realm during VotH probably cured him of any bunny phobia he had. ^_~ The rabbit just now disappeared, when Mokuba got Obelisk. I will give you a hint, though: each of the stuffed animals represents someone, not something, and Nachez-chan was close when she guessed the cat was from Egypt-times. :p Keep thinking ya'll, and stay tuned!

As for just what, exactly, Hiro bought for Gwen.... keep reading! ^^

Disclaimer: Ugh... Do I have to? Go reread the previous 17 chapters, okay minna?

()()()()()

Home Sweet Home

Chapter 18 - Home Sweet Home

Quote of the chapter:

"I love my posters, but do you have any idea how unnerving it is having Seto Kaiba and Yami Yugi staring at you with those determined scowls of theirs while you change clothes?"
~(Me :p)

When Gwen walked into the house, she was immediately confronted by her entire family and a good deal of her friends jumping out from behind various pieces of furniture and shouting "Happy birthday!!!" at the top of their lungs. Gwen blinked, blinked again, and then broke out into a wide grin. Behind her Malik and Hiro were dragging Ishtar into the house. Malik groaned upon seeing the party, and promptly hustled Ishtar downstairs and locked him into the basement bathroom, and took his sword upstairs to their room. No need for him to ruin Gwen's party, especially if there was more alcohol around.

The livingroom was decorated with streamers and balloons, and it seemed that every single chair in the house had been drug in to provide seating. Gwen was led to the place of honor in her father's big old recliner, and people began dumping presents in her lap. Hiro just stood back and watched, suddenly wondering if his measly little present was nearly good enough for her. She didn't seem to notice his gaze as she laughed and hugged one of her old high school friends, who'd apparently gotten her several fiery Duel Monsters cards of considerable rarity. Hiro felt a flash of jealousy, but quickly beat it down. It wasn't as if they'd ever officially dated, or anything...

Music started up suddenly from the back of the room, and Hiro blinked. He turned to see where it was coming from and nearly groaned. Leave it to Gwen's family to rent a kareoke set-up. Or maybe the owned it, who knew? Currently Gwen's sister Kris was singing some American pop song. An idea began to form in Hiro's mind, and he quickly snatched one of the books and began to flip through it.

"I called you up without any advance notice 'coz the weather was nice
And you stood me up. Who do you think you are?!
I know you chased after me --- I deserve more than that!"

Gwen's head snapped up to stare at Hiro. The Japanese man was standing on stage, leaning into the microphone and singing his heart out, his eyes locked on hers. The song he sang was in Japanese, so there were only a handful of people who could understand it. Malik choked on his drink, Josh's jaw dropped, and Gwen's father just smiled knowingly. The song was originally written to be sung by a girl, but Gwen understood.

"Just Love! God, I hate him!
I'm mean to you --- only because I have a crush on you…
Just Love! 'Coz I'm very attracted to you
I always say impossible things to you --- I guess… I'm sorry…
…Just Love…"

Gwen could only stare, wondering if Hiro had completely lost his mind. Mechanically, she set aside the presents that were piled on her lap and stood up, walking toward where Hiro was standing on stage.

"Today, I ran from your arms as you were taking me to dinner
Starving, I went home to wait for a souvenir
How could I, being so naïve, defy you? Now it hurts to meet your gaze!

"Just Love! Because only a little of
the brightness in my eyes remains, I'll never forgive you!
Just Love! Because what I keep in my heart
Shouldn't taste so bitter, should it…?"

Gwen was only a few feet from the stage now, Hiro standing just above her on the temporary platform. Vaguely, Gwen wondered if she should hit him. They didn't fight nearly as much as the song implied! Well, okay, maybe a little bit.

" …Just Love…
Just Love! God, I hate him!
I'm mean to you --- only because I have a crush on you…
Just Love! 'Coz I'm very attracted to you
I always say impossible things to you --- I guess… I'm sorry…

"…Just Love…"

The last of the music faded away, and Hiro let the microphone drop from his hand. He kneeled down on the stage so he and Gwen were face to face, his eyes silently begging Gwen for her answer.

Smirking a little, Gwen grabbed him roughly by the shirt and pulled him forward, catching his mouth with hers.

The rest of the party guests politely averted their eyes.

(The song is Just Love from Gundam Wing. I found the English translation somewhere online, I forget exactly where.)

-()-

"G'morning sissy!"

Amoura smiled as her little brother toddled into the room, holding out his arms to her. Since last night her cousins had mostly left her alone, on pain of death from Grandmama and Tea.

Grinning, Amoura picked up Julien and set him in her lap, giving him a hug. "Happy birthday Julien."

Julien giggled, wrapping his arms around her neck. "I'm fwee now, 'Moura!" he said happily, holding up four fingers.

Amoura smiled. "Yes you are, you little rascal. Guess what?"

"What?" he asked, his eyes getting big.

"I have a present for you." Amoura answered, reaching over to pick up the little wrapped present that was sitting beside the couch. "Remember the game that Grandmama and Yami and Yugi and Bakura and I play?"

Julien nodded excitedly. "Duel Monstwas! It's tho cool!!"

Amoura grinned and handed him the package. "Happy birthday."

Julien tore into the wrapping paper in a way only three-year-olds can, and squealed happily. Inside was a Dark Magician plushie and a small card binder. "Awesome!!"

"There's already two cards inside." Amoura told him, smiling. "One from me, and one from Bakura. Tea, Yugi, and Yami got you presents too, but you'll get to open them later, at your regular party."

Julien opened the binder, staring in wonder at the two shiny foil cards inside the protective plastic pages. One of them, Brain Control, was in French. The other one, a smiling Change of Heart, was in Japanese. He hugged his sister again, burying his face in her shirt. "I wove you, 'Moura."

Amoura smiled softly, hugging him in return. "I love you too, Julien."

-()-

It had been a week since Ryou and Bakura had left, and Yami was really beginning to get worried. Whenever he asked Fate if she could see them, if she knew they were all right, the goddess only chuckled and told him to be patient.

As this day dawned, Yami found himself wide awake and sitting outside Ryou's tent, which he was temporarily using as his own. The sunrise was beautiful, but suddenly his eyes were drawn away from it as he blinked in surprise. About ten yards away, the sand was beginning to shimmer. It looked almost like a heat mirage, or Shaadi using one of his transportation spells.

An instant later, Fate was standing in the midst of the shimmer, one hand each on the shoulders of Ryou and Bakura. Yami jumped to his feet as Bakura yawned, and Ryou sagged against his brother, looking tired. "Why the hell have you been gone so long?!"

Fate grinned and backed away from the boys, giving them privacy to talk as she wandered off to find Shen.

Bakura shot Yami a harsh look, taking Ryou by the shoulders and gently propelling him toward the tent. "In a minute pharaoh, Unmei needs to sit down before he falls over."

Yami blinked as Ryou giggled weakly. "'S not Unmei now, niisan."

Bakura sweatdropped. "Right. Must remember that. Drat! I just got used to calling you Unmei and now we have to switch back to Ryou." He made a face as Ryou sank down on his cot, and Bakura flopped down next to him. Still blinking, Yami took a seat on a nearby camp chair.

"You guys have a lot of explaining to do..."

Bakura made a face. "I know. Yeesh, where to begin..."

"How about with 'Unmei'?" Yami asked, raising an eyebrow.

Bakura shrugged. "As good a place as any. You know about alternate realms, right pharaoh?" Yami's eye roll was all the answer he needed, and he continued. "Well, Fate dumped us off in True Realm Ryou's front yard. True Realm is a realm that shares our past, but is still different."

"You mean..."

Bakura nodded, letting Ryou lean against his shoulder. "Duelist Kingdom, Battle City, bastard Bakura, meek little Ryou."

Ryou giggled a little. "Ryou's not that bad..."

Bakura just rolled his eyes. "Anyway, we found out that another realm, the Negative Realm, was already involved too. The NR Yami, Ryou, and Bakura were already around, as well as True Realm Ryou and Bakura, Yami and Yugi, Malik and Joey. So since there were three versions of some of us around, we took nicknames to tell each other apart. The Negative Yami is Nozomi, and that Ryou and Bakura go by Kawari and Kaeru. Ryou and I went by Unmei and Chiot."

Yami snickered. "You're Amoura's petit chien!" Bakura growled, and Ryou burst out laughing.

"So what happened?" Yami asked, once the telepath had settled down a little. "You're as red as the sunset, Ryou!"

Ryou sighed and made a face. "Hai. Egyptian sun will do that to you. Let's see..." He began ticking things off on his fingers. "Showed up in TR Ryou's front yard, went inside and had intros, got pissed off at TR Bakura and started throwing flower pots at him, had supper, went to sleep, woke up with nightmares, went back to sleep again, got up at the ungodly hour of six a.m., had breakfast, flew to Egypt, stood around and got sunburned while TR Bakura got his butt kicked by Kawari, drove out to a dig, met Pegasus, found out that at least two other me's are adopted, got more sunburned, went into a Ra-damned tomb, met a telepath who also happens to be half the TR Mahaado, tried not to kill off the other half of the TR Mahaado, went into a Ra-damned temple, fought the Hand of Shadow, attempted to Mind Crush Ishtar, helped kill off said Ishtar and an evil sorceress, saved several worlds, resurrected Mokuba from the dead, came home. I think that about covers it, ne?"

Bakura grinned at the stunned expression on Yami's face. "It's a looong story, palace brat."

"I think so..." Yami said faintly, blinking. "Hold on, you were only there two days?" Both the Bakuras nodded, and Yami blinked again. "But... but here you've been gone a week!"

Ryou looked thoughtful. "If time somehow moves faster here... Maybe that's why Ryou and Kawari are so much younger than me, Bakura." he said. "Maybe time moves faster in Fates Realm than it does in the True or Negative Realms."

Bakura shrugged. "That explanation is as good as any other." He caught Yami's expression and chuckled. "Don't worry Yami, we'll fill you in eventually. On the plane home, perhaps."

"Home..." Ryou grinned. "When I get home, my aloe plant is losing all its leaves."

Yami and Bakura attempted without much success to muffle their laughter, and Bakura patted Ryou gingerly on the back of the head, possibly the only place he wasn't burned. "Help us pack first, aibou. There will be plenty of time to sleep on the plane."

-()-

"Amoura,"

Amoura looked up from her book. "Yes Grandmama?"

Madame came over and sat on the edge of her couch. "I just got a call from your doctor. He doesn't think it's wise for you to travel with your leg. It looks like you'll be staying in France for the first quarter, at least, if not the first semester of school."

Amoura looked shocked, then frowned. "No. I won't. I'm going back to Japan with Tea, just like we planned."

Madame sighed. "Amoura-"

"No!" Amoura repeated firmly, frowning at her grandmother. "I promised Bakura-kun I'd see him when school started up. If you make me stay here, chances are he'll be here too, within the week."

Madame sighed again, but a mischievous glint lit her eyes. "I suppose you're right. I thought the doctors were over-exagerating the nature of your injury."

Amoura grinned and threw her arms around Madame. "Grandmama, you're the best!"

Madame smiled smugly, chuckling. "I know."

-()-

Duke was up early the next morning, packing his bags and saying good-bye to his grandfather. Rei walked down the shrine steps to wait with him at the bus stop. His bus was just pulling in and the cousins were saying their good-byes when someone shouted Duke's name. Turning, he was just in time to catch Minako as she practically threw herself into his arms.

"Sorry, sorry," she panted. "I was afraid you were going to leave before I got a chance to say good-bye."

Duke chuckled and gave her a hug. "I'll be back soon. Maybe I'll come down for winter break, or something."

Minako nodded and grinned, then stood on her tip-toes to kiss him. He hugged her against him instinctively, but broke the kiss a moment sooner than Mina would have liked. Duke must have seen the pout on her face, because he smiled and kissed her nose. "We're kinda far apart to be more than friends, Mina-chan."

Minako sighed, looking down. "I know..."

Duke tilted her chin up and smiled at her. "'Sides, I wouldn't want to be called a cradle robber, or anything." Minako giggled. "There! That's what I like to see. I'll see you in a few weeks, Minako." he said, hugging her again and then turning to get on the bus, waving one last time at Rei.

As the bus pulled away, Minako sighed and Rei gave her a pitying look. "You know Makoto's going to kill you if she ever found out you did that, right?"

Mina giggled. "Yeah, I know."

-()-

The party wrapped up around midnight, and the guests began to go home. Ishtar was still locked in the bathroom, because Gwen didn't feel like having to clean the rest of the house if they let him out. Gwen was tired, but happy. Not only had she officially gotten herself a boyfriend (finally!), but within the week they were going to be flying back to Tokyo. It was great getting to see her family and surf again, but Gwen missed Tea and Amoura.

"Gwen-chan?"

Gwen looked up to see Hiro standing in front of her, looking nervous. She blinked and patted the couch next to her. He sat down, still not meeting her eyes. "This is for you." He held out a long, thin bundle wrapped in tawny felt. "I'm sorry it's not wrapped very well, but I only got it today."

Gwen smiled. "So that's where you three went. I was wondering where Malik had been able to find that ring I wanted." She took the bundle from him, her eyes widening a little as she felt how heavy it was. She gave him a questioning look, but Hiro just shook his head and gestured for her to unwrap it.

Pulling aside the folds of felt, Gwen bit back a gasp of delight. Laying against the tawny material was a beautiful knife, dark red scabbard and silver hilt. Laying it across her knees, Gwen drew the blade, marveling at the delicate scrollwork across the steel. "Hiro, it's beautiful. It must have cost a fortune!"

Hiro's face relaxed into a smile and he leaned over to kiss her cheek. "Anything for you, koibito."

Quickly Gwen resheathed the knife so they wouldn't accidentally impale themselves as they became very busy indeed.

-()-

It's the same room again, but the torches are already lit. The girl seems to have recovered from whatever illness ailed her, and is packing a suitcase that lays across the bed. Her blond hair is pulled back from her face, and she seems cheerful. She looks up as one of her older brothers, the white-haired Sekil, enters the room.

"Are you ready to leave, Arca?" he asks.

The girl, Arca, nods and closes her suitcase. "Sure. I still can't believe you got Lark to agree to this."

Sekil chuckles. "It wasn't a matter of me doing the convincing."

The purple-haired Lark enters, then, dragging three suitcases along with him. Sekil takes one and smiles at him, to which Lark only snorts. The three siblings turn to face what seems to be a blank wall, and Sekil speaks a silent word. A moment later the wall seems to draw back until a shimmering portal appears in its place. A woman with blond hair and angel-devil wings steps out. All three bow to her, and she smiles.

"I thank you," Fate says. "Balance is a very tricky thing, and I thank you for helping us get the time to fix it."

"It is no problem, Lady Fate," Sekil says formally. "This should be a very... enjoyable experience for us. Or a very eventful one, at any rate."

Fate smiles. "Everything is ready for your arrival. False histories and school records, birth certificates, and anything else you may need. This portal will put you through behind the registration building. A green 2001 Mitsubishi is waiting in the parking lot for you." The goddess tosses Sekil a ring of keys. "Though you'll have to find an apartment on your own. A bank account is set up for you, with a small amount of money, at least enough to get you started." She hands him a wallet with several cards, including a Japanese driver's license, in it.

Sekil smiles and bows deeply again. "I do not deserve any of this."

"Of course not," Fate says. "But my son wishes to see you again, and this way the balance will be even for awhile while I try to fix it. Good luck."

Sekil smiles and nods, and he and his siblings pick up their luggage and disappear into the portal. Fate looks around the lonely room for a moment, before she follows them. Just as she reaches the portal, she waves her hand and the torches go out, leaving the room empty and dark.

-()-

"Yugi!"

Yugi turned in his seat, and his face lit up. Yami was waving at him from across the terminal, Ryou and Bakura behind him. All three were dragging their carry-on luggage, and seemed tired. They were all tan, though in poor Ryou's case patches of sunburn could still be seen. Yugi jumped to his feet and vaulted over the bank of chairs in his way.

"Yami!" Yugi raced toward the trio, vaguely aware of Serenity at his heels. The two of them had come to meet the trio from Egypt at the airport and were going to play escort back to Domino. Ryou, Bakura, and Yami were the last ones coming home, and school started in less then a week.

Serenity and Yugi practically flew across the airport terminal. Serenity launched herself into Ryou's arms, and Yugi just about knocked his brother over with a tackle hug.

"I missed you, otouto," Yami murmured into Yugi's hair, hugging the boy against him. Though Yugi was almost taller than his Yami, his hug had knocked the pharaoh over so he was half-sitting on Bakura's suitcase, with Yugi pressed up against his chest. "I have so much to tell you."

Yugi could say nothing in return, but his eyes were flooded with sudden tears of joy. His cheek was pressed up against Yami's chest as he hugged his big brother tightly, and he could feel the pharaoh's heartbeat.

Home Sweet Home Owari

()()()()()

WSJ: OI!!! It is finished!!! *keels over*

Bakura: *snickers* About time, too. Stay tuned minna, chapter 1 of YoTU:S goes up on Thursday.

Ryou: Until then, we may as well give you a bit of a sneak peek, eh?

The Yamis of Tokyo U: Sophomore

Ryou: So much can happen in just one school year.

Bakura: New friends,

Ryou: You won't believe who my roommate is.

Bakura: New enemies,

Ryou: What is up with the minions of the True Pharaoh appearing as Duel Monsters, anyway?

Bakura: New romance,

Ryou: And old romance getting better. *grin*

Bakura: New pain.

Ryou: Ugh... Falling off a building hurts...

Bakura: Death and rebirth,

Ryou: Someone dies, minna. Someone dies and stays dead.

Bakura: Hope and faith,

Ryou: And reincarnation. Mustn't forget reincarnation.

Bakura: Repentance and sorrow.

Ryou: You'll never imagine what happens to Seto-kun.

Bakura & Ryou: All this and more, in Yamis of Tokyo U: Sophomore!!

God bless minna-san!