OhmyrathisisthelastchappieandI'mgonnascreamI'mjustsoexcited...(breathes) ah. So, you all ready, neh? (readers: nod nod nod) (laughs) I can't believe it. I'm considering this my first multi-chapter story ever completed (Sure I finished SOS first but that one still has a sequel so technically the story's not done yet) And to answer the many pleas/questioning/begging: No. There is no sequel to this story. It ends right where I want it to. (amazing)

So I was in Grand Rapids, MI today and there's a temporary Ancient Egyptian exhibit that's usually placed in Cairo. Soooooo incredibly awesome! (shivers) I was like: "Oooh Ra! Anubis! Baset! Apophis! Amun! Hathor! Cool necklaces! Horis!" and about that time I decided to give up and just read the material because my brain was going on overload. (smiles) Gave me good inspiration and some other ideas for BTBT as well as Son of Apophis! Woot!

We had this guy over to fix some appliance or other and he kept staring strangely at the stove. We realized after he'd left that he was staring at the crucifix my sister had baked out of dough for a religion project. (Crucifix: Jesus nailed to the cross) Needless to say he was a bit disturbed. (cackles) I find it all amusing...yeah, I'm twisted like that.

I use a quote of Anne Frank's in this chapter.

Ry-Chan and Yugi-boy: (huggles) Yay! A new reviewer! (shifty eyes) I know what you mean by the other reviewers. They scare me too. (reviewers attack) Eeep! (runs away) Review for the last chappie, honey!

Roku: (evil smirk) Me too. Many ideas...(Malik: -.-; great, what will I die by next? Eye jelly?) Ferris: hehe.

blackalbino: (rolls eyes) Yes I was wondering where the hell you were. Thought Kaiba'd die the gruesome death. (shakes head) Not in this story. Maybe some other time. (Kaiba: Now look what you've done! meh) (sigh) I knew at least one of you people be putting in some rod joke thing. I just didn't think it'd be you. geez...anyhoo, enjoy the final chappie!

Satra: (laughs) Quite a few people have been begging to see the presents. I find it amusing for some odd reason. (I'll never understand myself) I'm glad Malik's end surprised you. That's what I was aiming to do. (cause I'm so clever! Bakura: >. )

Clingy: What's that quote from? me likes it. Don't want Kaiba to die? Don't fret honey. No one else is gonna die. (pats head)

DayDreamer23182: Hell ya you should review! (glomps) So happy you have! I wanna hear from you again for this last chappie, k?

xKokurox: Meh. No, sarcasm is NOT foreign to me. My reply was also sarcasm, you silly little goose person. (pat head) Yeesh. I get accused of not knowing what sarcasm is when all the while I'm trying to be sarcastic. Yeesh.

Joey-lover: (smirk) I'm glad you enjoyed the great and powerful Malik's downfall. Sucks to be him, neh? Hope Kura will see again? Hmm...(mysterious smirk)

TheGodFish: I've had loads of teeth problems too. I had braces on my top four teeth. Then they took them off after two years and decided then that they wanted to put braces on ALL my teeth. I said: "Hell no." My jaw's crooked and cracks on occasion. Hurts when it does that but I'm not going through that again. Evil. Evil, I say! (laughs) Yes, the story's almost complete! But fear not! Son of Apophis onward! Booya!

miyabi-aoi: Yes it's damn awesome and almost finished. I'm sorry about your computer. They are pains in the...(trails off when computer flashes dangerously) Erm...lovely machines. (pats monitor) meh.

Mazo-dono: (tackles) Thanks! Very pleased to hear you're enjoying it. So sad it's ending but hell it has to end sometime, right? (readers: NO!) -.-;

Tabby: Ja, it sucks to be Malik, neh? (malik: -.o) hehe. I'm glad you mentioned how Yami always wins. I was sick of it. But it didn't seem believable to have Kura win...or Kaiba...or Marik...and I sure as hell didn't want Malik to win...(Malik: > )

Skittles the Sugar Fairy: (laughs) Yes well...it would have been difficult to give Malik a slow, painful death. The only reason he died was because of the bodyguards' element of surprise. If Malik had noticed them they'd have been fried to a crisp too. (sighs)

Mackerel: (laughs) You all are begging for Kura to get his sight back. Will he, though? (smirks) You'll just have to read on and find out. Mwahahaha! "purshoot"? (laughs) You mean "pursuit", honey? Silly goose. (pats head) Okay, Kura. That's enough. (Grabs axe) Kura: meh!

Spryte: (blink) You...didn't think Malik would die? What the hell could I have done with him?...besides banish him (which is sooo overdone) Kaiba's BEWD jet? (shrugs) Sure. I guess so. I didn't really think about it. So many of you want to know what Kura got Yami-kins for X-mas. Wait no longer, honey!

Under Finger and Thumb: (laughs) Me loves Gerald too. I've actually got another of my own characters with a MAJOR part in Son of Apophis. I've actually drawn out some sketches of him. He's frikin' HOT! (drools over drawing) Ermm...anyway...

Freedom of Darkness: Yes, well the tea party was the other option...Yami: "Oh, let's all have tea!" Kura: Xx...Malik: "Brilliant idea!" Kaiba: "No sugar for me, thank you." Gerald and bodyguards rush in. Gerald: "Are we late?" Malik:"Just pouring the tea." Gerald: "Oh good. I like mine green, if you please." (cackles) Oh yes.

KeraJeir: Yes, I wouldn't go grabbing the ring. Not safe. (Kura: NOW she tells me...) Kaiba's grateful, yes. He's just...himself. (smiles)

Blackangeltwin1: Ah yes, homework. (shudders) I have to do mine in the next two days...spring break's almost over! (sobs) KOOKIE!

dragonlady222: (smirk) So you only like Kura when he's really not being himself?...interesting. I like him as himself more...He gets to be more in-character in Son of Apophis. Whoot!

red phoniex: Glad you liked it, honey. Onward!

wolfjessica5: (laughs) Yes, Malik's gone. Liked the descriptions? Excellent.

Silver Mirror: I love it when people tell me that there are too many good parts in a chapter to name them all. Makes me feel like I've really accomplished something. Whoot!

Kakkumachu: (Glomps) Who're you? I luffs you! (glomps again just for the heck of it)

StormySkys: (chuckles) I'm glad you liked being the winner. (huggles) Of course Gerald kicks ass. He's Gerald! Well, he's not friend-friends with Kaiba...but he's there for him...which is good.

Bluegrass Elf: Gerald's awesome. That's all there is to it, neh? (smirks) All right, so maybe there's a bit more...(shrugs all carefree-like)

sarcasm480: You can see emotions in blind peoples' eyes. Just cause they can't see doesn't rid their eyes of feelings. (smiles) Oooh! I'm the Author now, am I? (grabs cookie jar)

moonlit-leaf: Glad you liked the gore. Forgot about Gerald, eh? (huggles Gerald) In my original plan he wasn't even there. Ah but it works out sooo much better this way!

Chi-chan Lurks: Um...I hope that was a good review. I'm...not really sure though. (huggles tightly) Here, have a cookie!

Kit-Cat Caitlin: Mushrooms?...oookay then. My sister makes happy beans...got inspired by some Japanese candy wrappers. -.o...Leave it to the Japanese...

I got to use one of my favorite words in Malik's death scene. Spewing. eeehehee! Speeeeeeewing! (everyone: O.o...) (sobs) You've all been awesome. Onwards!

NOTE: For the sake of the story (plus dramatic climax) I've put the poem at the end of this chappie. It just…felt right. It fits. You'll see. Closure for the story. I actually got my inspiration to write the poem from the LOTR's song "Into the West". (sooooooo awesome)

Chapter 32: A Promise Kept

(Yami's POV)

It's been two months since that horrible day when we faced Malik for the final time. Kaiba, Bakura, and I were all in terrible shape, both the CEO and thief nearly died on the jet ride back to Kaiba Corp. Thank goodness for Gerald and the other bodyguards. I can only hope the CEO will come to appreciate them more now. Who knows with him though…?

Mr. Mutou and Marik both are healed now, barely showing any signs that they'd been stabbed. Thank Ra for that too. Bakura and I stayed at Kaiba Corp. for two weeks under the watchful care of the doctors there. We were visited every day by Yugi and the others, much to the staff's annoyance. Oh well…

We're finally back at the game shop, Yugi, Anzu, Jou, and Honda having been working on the reconstruction of the rooms that were ruined during our confrontations with Malik…and myself and Kaiba's fight as well. I'm still ashamed of that. I only hope Bakura will be able to forgive me for it.

I sigh heavily, walking down the street to Kaiba's mansion. The air is warmer now, surprisingly so for this early in the new year. I'm wearing the leather jacket, my hands clenching and unclenching in the pockets. I've been tense ever since the face-off against Malik. I approach the gates to find them open, a guard bidding me enter. I make my way up the front steps and into the mansion to find a maid awaiting me.

"Mr. Kaiba is in the back lounge. If you'll follow me," she says stern-faced, leading me to the room with the large fireplace and green couches.

I spot the CEO standing by the fire, staring absentmindedly into the flames. He's wearing that long cape of his, blue outfit. He turns when the maid knocks on the doorframe, announcing our presence. She bows without a word, closing the door behind her as she leaves. Kaiba's face is worn like mine has been since the encounter. We both get physically drained a lot faster than we used to.

"Well, here you are."

I nod, stepping forward. "You…said you had some of our belongings that were left at Kaiba Corp.?" I ask somewhat haltingly.

He nods, motioning to a pile of clothing and my duel belt—deck and all. I grin, hurrying forward and snatching it up, opening the holder and letting my beloved cards spill into my hands. Kaiba watches this silently, no doubt understanding what it's like to be parted from his deck. I frown when I come upon a small leather wallet in the midst of the cards. It's brand new, dark black and glossy.

"Kaiba," I say holding it up. "I think you put this in here by mistake."

He shakes his head. "It's yours."

I lift an eyebrow. "I can assure you it is not."

He smirks. "It was meant to be your Christmas present, I do believe."

"WHAT!"

"Not from me, you dimwit, so don't even think it," he scowls. His face hardens and he turns back, staring into the fire. "They found it in one of the pockets of Ryou's clothing…"

I feel my throat go dry. "But…"

"The clothing he was in when I had Bakura separate from the body. The clothing he was wearing Christmas Eve," Kaiba adds helpfully.

I frown. "So it's Bakura's, not mine."

He doesn't turn, eyes icy as he stares into the flames. "Open it, Yami."

I look down at the wallet nervously, using shaky hands to undo the snap. At first I think it's empty before I spot the sheet of tissue paper in it. I tentatively pull it out to find it's wrapped around something. Yami is scratched out hastily on the paper in blue pen. Taking a shaky breath I unwrap the paper to find a single card only to feel my entire body tremble. The Change of Heart.

"It seems Bakura was going to try to tell you, in his own way," Kaiba whispers, still not looking at me.

I can't reply, tears forming in my eyes. He wanted to tell me so badly, yet knew what the consequences would be if he did so. And that's when we found out what eachother were.

"Don't you dare start bawling now," Kaiba growls, finally turning and glaring at me. "You're going to have to be a lot stronger now after all that shit we went through."

He walks briskly for the door. I come out of my daze, turning.

"Kaiba…"

"Don't come back here again. You have a life, as do I. Go back to it," the CEO snaps.

I clamp my mouth shut, nodding unintentionally. He has the way of doing that to people. He pauses as he opens the door, turning and scowling at me.

"And get that damn puzzle off your neck already." Then he's gone, leaving me standing in silence with nothing to say.

(Bakura's POV)

I grin idly as Yugi and I sit back on the couch watching—well, he's watching, I'm listening—one of the latest dueling tournaments on television. Jou's on the floor drinking in every word the announcer states. (I swear these people are overly obsessed with the game) Anzu, Honda, Otogi, and Mr. Mutou are in the kitchen making snacks. Yami…I'm not sure where he is.

"Well I'm off!" I hear Marik's voice announce cheerily, his footsteps telling me he's standing in front of the couch.

"Hey, could ya move off to the side a bit?" Jou growls, no doubt straining to see around him.

"Whatever. So, this is it," Marik states. I feel his hand rest on my shoulder.

"You're…leaving?" Yugi asks surprised and saddened.

Marik laughs. "I'm afraid so. I've got some people waiting for me back in Egypt."

I quirk an eyebrow. "Who?"

"My sister and Odeon. They called the other day. Say they're sorry and want me to come home."

My heart hardens slightly. "You're sure they're sincere?"

"If not, I'll be back shortly." I can hear the grin in the blonde's voice, smiling slightly despite this news.

"Fine. But you'd better come back soon and visit at least," I snort.

I let out a yelp as his arms are suddenly wrapped around my torso, warm lips pressed against mine. What the heck?

"Marik, don't make me have to do something drastic to you," I hear Yami's voice say.

The blonde pulls away from me, snickering. I roll my eyes, leaning back.

"Saw you coming…couldn't resist," Marik laughs.

"What am I going to do with you?" Yami chuckles, much to my relief.

"Nothing, for now I'm off!" Marik announces, grasping my shoulder one last time. "Take care of yourself, huh?" he says softly, squeezing my shoulder.

I grin. "Same to you. Stay out of trouble."

"No promises," the blonde chuckles. I listen with a smile as he heads for the door. "Behave yourself, pharaoh!" he calls before it closes behind him.

"Oh really!" Yami harrumphs, earning a laugh from the rest of us.

Footsteps in the doorway to the kitchen signal the rest of the gang's presence.

"Did Marik just leave?" Mr. Mutou asks, approaching the couch.

"Yep," Jou mumbles, not really paying attention, rushing towards them, no doubt to snatch the food.

I roll my eyes, moving over as Yami sits down next to me. He wraps his arm around me, lips brushing against my ear.

"Kaiba gave me something today," he whispers.

"Hmm…that's nice," I murmur, nuzzling him, closing my eyes in relaxation.

He chuckles deciding now's not the time for conversations, pulling me tighter against him. I'm about to doze off into blissful sleep when a finger taps my shoulder.

"Huh?" I mumble in slight aggravation. Can't they see I'm comfy? Can't they see I want to snuggle Yami? Sheesh. The nerve of…

"I made you something," Mr. Mutou states in an amused tone, holding a cup in front of my face. I can sense it, the heat radiating off it. Did he honestly pull me out of my dream-world for a cup of…

My nostrils suddenly detect the aroma, reaching my bandaged hands out and snatching the mug happily. HOT CHOCOLATE! .

(Yami's POV)

I sigh contentedly as Bakura and I stroll down the beach slowly. I'm his eyes now, our hands linked as I guide him along the sandy shore. His poor hands are still bandaged; having already had two surgeries on them in an attempt to reform them, the skin and muscles having been wrecked when he'd fought Malik for the ring. I gently rub my thumb over the bandages. His eyes are closed, face worn but content as the wind blows through his hair. I watch him silently, heart heavy yet so glad at the same time.

"What are you thinking?" he asks quietly as we stroll barefoot at the edge of the water, the waves lapping against our legs.

I stare at him; his blind eyes, the scars, the dark circles under his eyes…we've all endured so much. Yet here we are now; safe, happy, at ease.

"Yami?" he asks, concern in his voice at not having received a reply.

I smile, wrapping an arm around his waist. "I'm thinking of that time you made me put those stupid rubber bands over my fingers while we played video games…"

He smirks. "And yet you still managed to beat me."

I chuckle. "Ah, but you won once."

He shakes his head. "I think you let me win that one."

I frown. "No. It was the fifth game and I didn't have any feeling left in my fingers by that point."

He laughs at this when I pretend to pout. "Oh poor thing! Oh it must have been so horrible for you!"

I sigh dramatically. "Oh yes. You always were so hard on me."

He smirks. "Well you got me back. You made that limb snap in the tree."

I scowl as he laughs, knowing he's doing it on purpose. Yeesh. Tomb robbers…

"Uh oh, is the pharaoh pouting now? Is he sad?" Bakura coos, reaching up with a shaky hand and running it over the side of my face.

"Oh hush you," I smirk, leaning forward and kissing him passionately, him responding quickly. At last we're together again. Finally, we can move on.

(Kaiba's POV)

I stand quietly on the hill overlooking the beach, the wind slinking through my hair. I watch silently as the two of them embrace, holding one another close. I feel a twinge in my chest as I observe the thief playfully push Yami down, the monarch sputtering in the water. I jolt suddenly, noticing for the first time: Yami's not wearing the puzzle.

"Let's see if you can keep it that way," I say softly. "Don't you two forget what he did for you."

There should be another person here, but there's not. I gaze at the two of them wrestling in the water, the sound of both of them laughing drifting up to me on the wind. I glance down at the silver ring that's hanging about a chain around my neck, reaching up and running a finger over it.

"It's done, Ryou," I whisper, watching as Bakura lets out a cackle as he pushes Yami under the water momentarily, the monarch sputtering up and tackling the thief in response. "He's happy now. You can rest."

I turn to the limo that's parked a few feet away, walking over and getting in the passenger seat. Gerald looks over at me, waiting.

"Where to, sir?" he asks.

I tear my eyes away from the beach. My part in their lives is over now. I've kept my promise to Ryou. Sighing, I close my eyes for a moment. The windows are down, the salty air rising to meet us atop the hill. So much tragedy. So much pain. Life goes on though, and all one can do is do their best for the sake of those who've passed on.

"Mr. Kaiba?" Gerald asks gently placing a hand on my shoulder.

I open my eyes, turning to him. I sigh heavily, not looking back at the two of them. There's no point in looking back. I can only hope one day…

There might be an afterlife. Perhaps there's nothing. Even that wouldn't be so bad but…it's comforting to think there's something beyond this. That the loved ones we lose are but waiting for us behind some curtain, beyond some thin line. The future is dark, concealed beyond my sight in the wake of some screen.

Someone once said: "I don't think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains." I'm not sure I could ever think like that. It takes an understanding person. Someone like Ryou. Someone who—although no one notices—continues to watch over and protect those they care about as best they can, never giving up though everything seems to be against them. Perhaps one day I'll be able to understand. But for now I can only watch, keeping an eye on the yamis from the shadows. I made a promise after all. It will not end until my end. It will last as long as I have breath in my lungs, and blood flowing through my veins. Perhaps one day I'll see him again. I'll travel up some lonely road to find someone there waiting, bright eyed and beaming at my long anticipated arrival.

"It's been a while," he smiles, stretching out his hand to me.

Until then, Ryou.

"Sir?"

I turn to find Gerald looking at me with concern. I sigh before nodding forward.

"Home, Gerald," I smile warmly, staring out the window. "It's time to go home."

He nods, a twinkle in his eyes. "Yes sir."

He starts the engine and we head off for home passing under the trees that are beginning to bud early, leaving the two of them in the water with their lives before them…and a future ahead.

Voyage

Sail the salty sea

One last time.

Do not be afraid

Don't cry.

Look beyond the waves

And sky

And remember me.

Feel water's spray

And laugh.

Feel your heartbeat pound

So fast

As sails struggle with

The mast

And remember me.

Balance on the deck

And smile.

Close your eyes, relax

A while.

Suffer no more toils

Or trials

And remember me.

Watch the light fade from

The sky

As pink and purple clouds

Float by.

You are not alone

Don't cry

When you remember me.


(screeches) Holy shnikies! It's DONE! (collapses) Finally! (voice in head: Onto the other stories you've yet to complete!) Oh shut up.

Kura: I'm...blind?

Yami: Yes love.

Kura: And what's this crap about my hands? Well?

Malik: Oh quit complaining. -.-

Ryou: I...didn't come back?

yamis: Mwahahaha!

Kaiba: Ha! I got to end the story! I'm sooo awesome!

everyone: -.o;

Gerald: (surrounded by adoring fans) Please ladies, no pushing!

characters: O.o...

Ferris: (crying happily) REVIEW!