Evidence of Shadows
Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the property of Kazuki Takahashi. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is the property of CBS Broadcasting. If I owned either one, I'd be rich, but every time I send letters asking for the copyrights, they come back covered with laugh-spittle.
Author's Notes: This is the first time I've attempted a crossover this extreme. I have a very special someone to thank for that, because she introduced me to CSI in the first place... and I've been hooked ever since. We're also both avid Yu-Gi-Oh! fans; it was only fair to conclude that one of us would eventually at least consider merging the two universes, however farfetched it might seem. In spite of the difficulties of bringing the two together – or perhaps because of those difficulties – I am very proud of this story, and I hope you'll indulge me as I present to you my first murder mystery.
Dedicated To: This story was originally dedicated to Ankhutenshi. Despite the unfortunate end to our relationship quite some time ago, I thank her for everything she's given me and wish her all the best, come whatever may. I continue to thank her for the effect she's had on my life and on my tastes in television shows. My rededication of this story is to you, the reader, whomever you may be. I write because I want to entertain you. I hope that this does just that.
The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds,
and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth
flowed sombre under an overcast sky – seemed to lead
into the heart of an immense darkness.
- Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
Ground Level Food Court, Luxor Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada
Joey Wheeler, runner-up of the Duelist Kingdom Duel Monsters tournament and 4th place winner of the Battle City Duel Monsters tournament... who, against all odds, had given a young woman back the gift of her sight... who had faced Exodia and The Winged Dragon of Ra... who had faced off against two madmen and Armageddon alongside his best friend...
... was hungry.
"Hey, it's $5.68," the vendor repeated.
"What!" Joey exclaimed. "Dat's robbery!"
"That's Las Vegas, sir," the vendor answered. "$5.68."
Joey grumbled and dug into his pocket, pulled out a $10 bill, and shoved it toward the vendor. Unbelievable, he groused. That's completely outrageous. I could buy Duel Monsters cards for less than that.
...Maybe I should. My deck needs an overhaul.
The vendor returned Joey's change, handed him a carton containing the chili dog he'd ordered, and yelled out, "Next!" Joey frowned at the vendor, then turned and looked at the line behind him – it was even longer than it had been when he'd first joined it. And a lot of the would-be customers standing in it were not looking any happier than he was.
Boy, are they gonna be disappointed, he thought. Either that, or resigned to the fact that they were going to pay an astronomical amount of money just to buy a hot dog. I don't even need to go into the casino to waste money... all I have to do is buy food!
He sighed, then made his way toward the arcade, trying to keep the chili from spilling off the dog. At least they put enough of it on there. They probably should've given me a spoon instead of a fork. And let's not even get into chopsticks...
It didn't take him long to find the person he was looking for. Tristan Taylor was a man of almost frightening predictability in the games he enjoyed – anything dealing with guns. The gravitational pull such games had on him caused Joey both annoyance and amusement. Occasionally he would argue with Tristan about playing another kind of game, any other kind of game.
But Tristan would inevitably come back at him with, "Not all of us can be Duel Monsters pros."
Joey had yet to come up with a witty reply to that remark... and he had tried.
The repartee notwithstanding, Joey discovered Tristan standing – surprise surprise – in front of the Time Crisis game, red gun in hand, blowing away one bad guy after another with deftness and precision. The blond approached and watched for several moments in silence... he'd always been fascinated by Tristan's laser-like focus on games such as these.
Without even looking behind him, Tristan asked, "How is it?"
"Your chili dog. That's what you got, right?"
Joey scoffed. "Yeah... paid a fortune for it, though, so it better be good." He dug his fork into the hot dog, tore a chunk of it off – chili and all – and heaped the serving into his mouth. After chewing thoughtfully, he allowed, "Okay, maybe it's worth at least half as much as I paid... but I shouldn'a had to wait so long for it!"
"You're gonna find lines in Vegas, no matter where you go. Especially to find food. It's pretty valuable, I think." Tristan blasted a pair of grenade-tossing baddies, then released the game's pedal, forcing his character to duck and reload. "Hey, you wanna join in after you're finished?"
"Ehh, maybe." Joey grumbled under his breath.
"Dude, stop grousing about the chili dog. You got it, didn't you?"
"It's not just the food. I thought we were gonna get VIP treatment for dis trip. And what do we get instead? The shaft! Everywhere we turn, we gotta wait in line after line. My legs are killin' me!"
Tristan rolled his eyes. "You gripe too much. Look at the perks we got – rooms with jacuzzis, for one. How can you not like those? Not to mention the round-trip tickets... paid in full. Personally, I'd've thought you'd be happy to have won the tournament in the first place, never mind the trip. We've been having fun here, right? I especially liked the roller coasters..."
Joey groaned. "Speak for yourself."
"Yeah, yeah, I remember. So tell me, how can you be eating a chili dog?"
"Because I'm starvin' after dat last ride!"
"I don't doubt it."
"And anyway, I need something to keep my energy up. 'Specially after dat duel yesterday." Joey's brandy gaze darkened. "Who did dat jerk think he was, anyway?"
"Dunno. It's pretty clear he's a spoiled brat. Casinos are full of 'em." Tristan picked off a ninja, but couldn't duck in time to avoid a throwing star – his character lost his last health point and the "Continue" countdown began. Tristan fed the machine another pair of coins. "Tch. What did you expect? That guy's the type that's used to always getting his way."
With that statement, he finished off the level, then inserted two coins into the blue gun's coin slot and took up both weapons and screens simultaneously. Every shot he fired landed on an enemy, and every shot fired by enemies was deftly avoided by Tristan's expert manipulation of the "reload" pedals.
Joey grunted, annoyed. "Show-off."
"You won't be finished with that chili dog for a while, anyway, the way you're grumbling."
The blond opened his mouth to argue – but then the realization of what Tristan had just said caught up with him.
He ate the chili dog.
Room 1205, Luxor Hotel
"...I hate those elevators."
"You've said that a dozen times. I think I get the point." Tristan frowned at his friend. "Why don't you just go get a good night's rest? You'll feel better tomorrow morning. Mr. Motou agreed to take us to Excalibur. That's something to look forward to, right?"
"Yeah, I guess." Joey leaned against the door. "Hey. You think they have Duel Monsters tournaments in Vegas?"
Tristan rolled his eyes as he sat on the bed and kicked his shoes off. "Joey, they have prostitution tournaments in Vegas. Surely Duel Monsters is around here somewhere. Just don't go looking for it in the Luxor and you'll keep out of trouble, all right?"
"Yeah, yeah," Joey muttered. "I still don't like the guy."
"None of us does. But at least he didn't kick us out, and Mr. Motou got the money. What more do you want?"
"An apology, maybe."
Tristan grabbed the TV remote and switched to a news channel. "Too much to hope for. Get over it and move on. Go have a duel with Yugi or something, it'll make you feel better. And then go get some sleep."
Joey shook his head. "Nah, I don't feel like dueling right now. But sleeping sounds good. I'll at least drop by, see how they're doing."
"Sounds like a plan. Now scram; we've got a big day tomorrow and I plan to go to sleep soon."
"Right. Seeya tomorrow."
Joey exited the room, then knocked on the next door down. He was greeted by a short boy with hair of at least three contrasting colors and innocent violet eyes. Yugi Motou, the two-time Duel Monsters world champion, grinned up at his visitor. "Hi, Joey. What brings you by?"
"Oh, nothin' serious, just wanted to check and see how you two're doin'," Joey responded. "Was gonna go off to sleep soon, wanted to make sure things were cool."
"Things are fine. We're about to go to bed, too. Grandpa's already in bed." Yugi grinned. "It doesn't take much to put him to sleep. The evening news will probably do it."
Joey nodded. "Hey, how was the IMAX presentation?"
Yugi blushed slightly. "It was fine. Téa had a good time, too."
The taller boy smirked. "You know, you don't have to be embarrassed about it. It's obvious you like her. Why not just tell her so?"
"Because Yugi prefers to show her so." A stout man wearing green overalls and a smile under his gray beard approached the door behind Yugi. "And taking her to that movie was a good way to do it. Sometimes words are overrated."
Yugi smiled. "Sage advice... you might actually get somewhere with your own crush if you didn't talk as much."
At that, Joey winced. He didn't like people poking fun at him for having a secret – well, not anymore, since he made the foolish mistake of telling Tristan – crush on Mai Valentine. True, the woman was incorrigible...
But there were times she was just so cute.
He shook his head, and with it the image, bringing his thoughts back under control. "Okay, okay, we've had our share of fun with dat. You guys are okay, so everything's cool. Let's all get some shuteye, huh?"
"That sounds like an excellent idea, Joey," the older man agreed, and then he yawned and sauntered back into the room.
"G'night, Joey," Yugi called after him.
Joey removed the keycard from his jacket's inner pocket – he'd remembered Mr. Motou's warnings about pickpockets in Vegas – and slipped it through the electronic lock on Room 1207's door.
When the door swung open, immediately he could feel the dense, hot moisture hanging in the room. He wrinkled his nose and waved his hand in front of his face. "Whew... who made this place a sauna?"
He turned the lights on, then kicked off his shoes and hung up his jacket. He thought he could hear bubbling off to the left. He frowned. Did someone leave the jacuzzi running? I didn't turn it on this morning... He grimaced. Maid service better not have been doing anything fishy in here...
He turned the corner, sought out the jacuzzi...
12th Floor, Luxor Hotel
"You don't like the beard?"
"It's not that I don't like it, it just seems to give you a more chubby look."
"Never mind. Keep it, don't keep it, doesn't really make any difference."
"If it doesn't make any difference, why bring it up?"
"Random topic of conversation. Would you rather discuss dead bodies all day long?"
Nick Stokes groaned at his companion's deadpan expression. "C'mon, Grissom, you're a coroner. You're into death 24/7. Let's talk about the mundane for once."
Gil Grissom looked Nick over, as if sizing him up... and without so much as a hint of irony, he said, "I think you should get a haircut."
The elevator door slid open. Grissom was the first one out, leaving Nick to decide whether to follow without another word, or keep after the topic. After a moment, he chose the former, as the elevator doors were about to close. As an afterthought, he put on his cap.
The scene was already crawling with police and curious onlookers. Grissom grimaced inwardly – he absolutely hated it when well-meaning people contaminated his crime scenes. He touched the shoulder of the nearest officer and flashed his ID. "Gil Grissom, crime lab. I want these people moved out of here, and I need tape to block off this area two doors in each direction. Nick, help him out."
Both Nick and the officer nodded and began routing people as appropriate. As the bodies cleared away, a brunette head stuck out the door and smiled at Grissom. "Good, backup. I'm running low on film."
"What have you got?"
"Come on in, the water's fine. Except for the dead guy in it, of course." Sara Sidle gestured Grissom into the room, then towards the right side. "Hotel security called it in after they heard the resident screaming his head off. They say he woke up half the floor."
Nick entered and frowned. "Half the floor? It's not even midnight yet."
"Well, half the people who were sleeping on it at the time, anyway. Take a look at our vic."
Grissom and Nick moved further into the room. The body in question was lying face-down in the jacuzzi; the water was no longer boiling, but steam still hovered on the surface. Lying in it was a well-dressed gentleman who was wet from his suit-covered shoulders to his hairless head. Sara handed a bulky wallet to Nick.
Nick opened it up and winced. "Ouch. Gordon Henstridge, manager and owner of the Luxor."
Grissom frowned. "How did he end up in guest quarters?"
"Nobody knows," Sara replied. "They don't keep records of who goes in and out of simple guest rooms and there aren't any security cameras in the hallway."
"Perfect place for a murder," Grissom mused. "And casino managers can make juicy targets, especially for revenge."
"But why?" Sara asked. "The kid who has this room isn't even gambling age."
"Has be been ID'ed?"
"Yeah. Joseph Wheeler, age 17."
Grissom blinked. "Joey Wheeler? As in Duel Monsters?"
Sara shrugged. "I guess. What's Duel Monsters?"
"It's a trading card game," Nick answered. He chuckled. "Actually it's one of the most popular card games in the world."
"Joey Wheeler is considered a world-class Duel Monsters duelist," Grissom added. "I've heard he has extraordinary luck when it comes to games, especially that one."
"So how does that apply to our case?" Sara inquired.
"Maybe Mr. Wheeler... was in a game of life and death." Grissom glanced from one companion to the other. "And Mr. Henstridge here paid the price."
Nick groaned. "I hate Tuesdays."