Epilogue


1:44 p.m.

Room 1203, Luxor Hotel

Las Vegas, Nevada

Although he could have called them, something had made him decide to visit them personally to deliver the news. He rapped his knuckles on the door and waited patiently for a response. Within moments, he got one – in the form of Yugi Motou.

Yugi smiled up at the visitor. "Good afternoon, Mr. Grissom."

"Good afternoon, Yugi. I'd like to talk with you and your friends, if it's not too much trouble."

"Oh, no, not at all." Yugi swung the door open wide. "Please come in, and I'll go get them. Ji-chan, Mr. Grissom is here and he wants to talk with us."

"Ah, the enterprising investigator." The elder occupant of the room pushed himself off his bed and came to the door to properly greet Grissom with a handshake, while Yugi scurried out of the room to fetch the others. Solomon Motou smiled. "Once again, I want to thank you for all you've done."

Grissom offered a small shrug. "It's my life's work, Mr. Motou. And it's why I'm here to talk to your party today."

"I trust you've made considerable progress since last night?"

"The case was broken wide open... actually, thanks in no small part to your grandson." Grissom glanced at the door. "I had no idea Duel Monsters was such an emotionally charged game, but apparently Henstridge's loss was enough to drive him temporarily insane."

"Could have fooled me," Solomon snorted. "I thought he was chronic."

"By that, I mean insane enough to admit he'd killed his father."

Solomon shook his head. "A terrible, terrible thing. But I'll stop barraging you with questions – please, come in, have a seat."

"Thank you." Grissom sat down in one of the chairs at the corner table, intent on facing everyone in the room at once as he spoke.

Yugi returned a few moments later with Joey, Tristan, and Téa in tow. They all looked rather tired; Grissom gathered they hadn't gotten much sleep in the past few days, and after recent events, he couldn't say he blamed them. They all gave him positive looks, though, which he found to be gratifying. Although most of the time he couldn't care less about the opinions of those he investigated, he did like to see a smile every once in a while from the people he was trying to help.

"Thanks for taking the time to come visit, Mr. Grissom," said Yugi.

"No trouble at all." Grissom took a breath, then launched into his favorite topic – the truth. "I came here because I wanted to update you on the case. Simon Henstridge has written a signed confession to the murder of his father, and in that confession, he admits to attempting to frame Joey for the crime."

"I knew it!" Joey burst out. "Dat rotten snake! He wanted to get back at me for kickin' his butt in a duel!"

"Yes, that was a large part of it," Grissom replied. "He was humiliated in front of a crowd, something he hasn't taken to lightly his entire life – turns out he's had a history of problems, getting into fights over personal insults, that kind of thing. He's a man who likes to take revenge, even when he was originally the wrongdoer. This time around, his revenge plot was against his father, who he blamed for his loss of hair."

"Isn't male pattern baldness passed down through the mother?" Téa asked.

"Very good. It is, but Henstridge's condition wasn't due to male pattern baldness. It was caused by a condition called alopecia universalis, a disease which made his immune system attack his hair in his early childhood. It's highly unpredictable, but it's not hereditary."

"And that's why you didn't find any hairs from the killer – because there was no hair to be found," Tristan reasoned.

"Exactly. And finding fibers from their clothing was equally as difficult, if not impossible, because the suits they wore that night are designed to keep all their material and allow no cling – certainly worth the price they paid to look dapper." Grissom looked at Joey. "After you defeated him, he spent a lot of time thinking about how exactly he would do it. He forged a complaint from you about the condition of your room, demanding that upper management look into it. Of course, he and his father were upper management, so it fell to them. Even better, the 'flaws' in your room were orchestrated; he unplugged the bedside lamp and turned on the jacuzzi full-blast.

"Then he thought about how, exactly, he was going to cover his tracks. He examined security tapes from the previous days you'd been on film, determined the size and type of your shoes, and bought a pair to match. He figured that someone with such renown would surely have new shoes."

Solomon snickered. "What do you know, Joey? Your thriftiness has paid off."

"Whaddaya talkin' about?" Joey grumbled. "All dat money I won from Duelist Kingdom went to my sister's operation, and I didn't get a single yen from Battle City."

"So he bought himself a pair of the same shoes and put them on as soon as he realized his father was taking the bait – which was at the perfect time, when you were in line and out of sight of the cameras and your friends. He followed into the room, then attacked his father from behind with the unplugged lamp and drowned him in the jacuzzi."

"That's awful," Téa said, her face twisting in disgust.

"It couldn't have been just the loss of his hair that drove him to do it," said Tristan. "What else set him off?"

"Envy. His father owned the Luxor, and as long as he was alive, he would continue to own it. Henstridge wanted to put the modifier 'my' next to 'Luxor hotel' when he spoke of it, but he was only co-manager and had no claim to the place. Only his father's death let him inherit the hotel." Grissom nodded to Yugi. "You were right about his ambitions... they were his downfall."

Yugi showed no pride in having made that statement the night before. "What else?"

"Henstridge nearly lost his sanity... again... when he made a phone call. He wanted to contact his broker about some sort of business or other, and then discovered that for no apparent reason, all the money he was holding in a private account had vanished. Some sort of computer glitch, I guess. Then he told us he wanted to write a confession, so..." Grissom shrugged. "Here we are. Any other questions?"

"How come you didn't get any prints off the lamp or the jacuzzi?" Joey asked.

"I could have told you the answer to that," Solomon replied. "He wears gloves all the time."

Grissom nodded. "It was actually the gloves that helped tip us off to the true suspect. Mr. Henstridge is a hypochondriac, meaning he's got an overwhelming fear of germs. He says it's a reactionary result of his alopecia. But while his clothing has fibers that don't fall out easily, it turns out his gloves aren't made of the same."

"You found a fiber from his gloves?" Téa asked incredulously. "How can you prove that's where it came from?"

"Mr. Henstridge was so intensely afraid of the transmission of germs through handshakes and the like, even through his gloves, that he constantly washed them in antibacterial soap. After several washes, the fibers of his gloves carry that signature. It's somewhat like fingerprinting or DNA testing, in that regard."

"So... even if Yugi hadn't dueled Henstridge, he was on his way to bein' found out, wasn't he?" Joey inquired.

Grissom nodded. "He was. Sooner or later we'd have linked the evidence to him, but last night's little display helped us put together all the pieces at once. We got a warrant for his mansion and found the shoes he used to dupe you. Evidently they were too comfortable for him to get rid of." He turned to Yugi. "I think I should mention that he said he was planning to run as soon as he was finished with the duel last night, whether or not he won."

Yugi frowned. "Not very honorable even in dueling, after all."

"Evidently he wasn't counting on going berserk," Grissom noted. "He said his one regret about last night's game was the absence of... what was it... Egyptian god cards?"

Joey rolled his eyes. "Aw, man, where will it end? He wanted to get beaten by the most powerful cards in all of Duel Monsters? Can someone say 'masochist'?"

"Actually, I think he believes he could have taken them on, given the chance," Grissom replied. "But he's not going to get that chance now."

"He would never have gotten to face the Egyptian god cards anyway," Yugi calmly informed them. "They weren't in my deck."

"Say what?" Joey scratched his head. "Where'd you put them?"

"I kept them in the deck case on my belt. They've been there ever since we got off the plane; they haven't left my side once since then."

"What! You mean I was freakin' out about you playin' your god cards against me all that morning and you don't even have 'em in your deck!" Joey nearly exploded. "Hey, look, bud, I don't need any of your pity! I'll take 'em all on! Just watch me!"

"Careful, Joey," Solomon advised. "You're challenging the Duel Monsters world champion to a duel of no mercy."

"And ambition has been the downfall of many men," Grissom added.

The others shared a moment of awkward laughter. Solomon offered Grissom a smile. "Mr. Grissom, we're planning on going to the Sacred Sea Room for supper this evening. Would you care to join us?"

"I'd love to, but I'm afraid I have a job that needs looking after," Grissom politely replied, standing up. Then he cocked his head. "You're going to eat in the Luxor, after all that's happened here?"

Yugi shrugged. "People come through here every day, good and bad. That doesn't mean the hotel itself is overall a bad place to be. I like the theme."

"Yes, I remember, you're 'really into Egypt'." Grissom smirked. "But I'll admit, I envy you your optimism. People should aspire to it."

"And people should aspire to your attention to detail," Yugi returned.

"Well, thank you. And now I have to get back to work, where that attention is sorely needed."

Everyone also got to their feet and each in turn offered a handshake to Grissom. He accepted each one and nodded politely to each of them as he moved down the line. Yugi was last, and Grissom found his handshake to be surprisingly firm.

As he stepped through the door, he glanced back into the room one last time to look at the five people watching him leave – three on the right, two on the left, and a person-sized gap in the middle.

Wait a minute... something's...

He squinted for a moment... he thought he'd seen the faintest trace of...

No. Just your mind playing tricks on you, he thought.

The door closed.

Yugi looked up at the Pharaoh's translucent outline, separating him from his grandfather. For the moment, the spirit existed only on the metaphysical plane, and could be seen and touched only by those who knew he was there. The teen's expression was one of disappointment. "For a moment there, I thought he could see you."

"So did I," said Joey. He scratched his head. "Was almost sure of it. But he didn't say anything."

"Mr. Grissom and his companions can see only what they know to be real," Yami replied. "In point of fact, I have no basis in reality as they would define it."

"That doesn't mean you don't exist," Téa commented.

"True, it doesn't. It simply means I don't exist to them. But I exist to you... and that is enough, for now."

"Yeah, but still... it would have been nice for him to know Yugi wasn't alone in facing Henstridge," said Tristan.

"Yugi's never alone, even without the Pharaoh's spirit," Solomon pointed out. "Mr. Grissom knows that. He's seen it in the loyalty we've shown to each other. Just as we're all true to Joey, we're also loyal to Yugi."

"It takes faith in something beyond what's real to see me," said Yami. "Mr. Grissom is a realist. And he is a scientist. Out of habit, and for the sake of his career, he does not place his faith in anything."

Yugi shook his head. "That's not true, Yami."

"No?"

The hikari smiled. "He places his faith in the evidence."

And in spite of himself, Yami smiled back. "So he does, aibou." He looked back to the door. "But if he is ever to see me... he must not search for evidence of shadows."


6:27 p.m.

Ground Level Arcade, Luxor Hotel

"Stand in awe of my mad skills!" Tristan exulted, blasting one enemy after another with such precision as to shame any challengers that had approached so far. Yugi, Téa, and Joey watched as their friend dispatched endless ranks of terrorists and anarchists, chuckling as he consistently bested any companion shooters. So far, four people had taken up the second gun, and had given up on it upon the "Continue?" screen.

Tristan had yet to arrive at that screen.

As he cleared yet another level, he looked around and frowned. "Aww, nobody wants to join in?" He shrugged. "Oh, well. Guess I'll have to take both of 'em up myself, then." With that, he inserted coins into the opposite gun's receptacle and took both weapons up at once.

Joey rolled his eyes, then approached Tristan. "Okay, okay, I'll join in."

"Well, that's no attitude to take if you want to beat the bad guys," Tristan grinned. "Besides, those are my coins in the machine, not yours – hey!"

Joey wrenched the blue gun from Tristan's grasp. "Gimme dat!" He shoved his brown-haired friend to one side and pressed down on the blue pedal. "Let's get this show on the road, huh?"

Tristan scoffed. "You got it, my friend!"

Téa giggled at the bickering between the two gamers, then looked down to Yugi. He had a thoughtful look on his face, and he seemed to be staring at nothing – indications that he was bored and/or talking with Yami.

Looks like he needs a change of pace to me, she thought. She smiled down at him. "Yugi?" she asked. "I saw a ride on the other side of the atrium that looks like it might be fun... 'The Search for the Obelisk'. Would you like to go on it with me?"

Yugi looked up at her, blushed, and smiled. "Uh, um, sure!" he said. "I'd love to!"

Her smile widened. "So would I."


7:08 p.m.

Las Vegas Crime Lab

"I sacrifice my Penguin Soldier, Slate Warrior, and Witch of the Black Forest in order to summon – bam! Moisture Creature! Eat that, you loser!" Greg crowed, and he made cheering noises, spinning around in his chair as he did so... until he came to the abrupt and embarrassing realization that he was being watched.

"Greg... I assume you have better things to do than play a card game with an imaginary friend at work. Because if you don't, I may need to get you evaluated by the psych ward."

Greg winced. "Aw, not again! Gimme a break, boss. There's nothing to work on around here, the results for the new case are on their way..."

Grissom stepped into the lab. "What have you got?"

"Hm? Uh, dead body found on 4th Avenue. Somebody thought he got hit and killed by a car, but it looks like he was already lying down on the road. And tire tracks–"

"No, I mean your cards. What have you got?"

Greg blinked. Blinked again. "You're... joking, right?"

"I could be, but if you want to score some points with your boss, you're better off answering his questions than interpreting them."

"...Good point." He held up the cards he'd just discarded. "Penguin Soldier, Slate Warrior, and Witch of the Black Forest. On my field is Moisture Creature. He can get rid of all magic and trap cards on the opponent's field."

Grissom's expression didn't change. Greg put the cards back in his discard pile, then merged all of his cards back into his deck and shuffled, chuckling nervously. "It's... kind of a complicated game. Awesome to play, but sort of hard to learn."

Grissom watched Greg shuffle for a moment. Then he pulled out a chair and sat down.

"I like a challenge."

fin