Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! is the creation of Kazuki Takahashi. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.

The Cost of Doing Business

Epilogue 1.5

Several weeks later...

It was a particularly slow day at the Kame Game Shop. Not only was it the first rainy day of the fall season, but the new school year had just started as well.

The elderly game shop owner tried to tell himself that it was all a blessing in disguise. With Yugi and Jounouichi taking classes at the local community college, he was having to work the shop alone three afternoons a week. And the last several weeks had been quite busy, and there hadn't been time to get the store as neatly organized as he liked. So he took advantage of the lack of customers to reorganize the shelves and clean out the stockroom. He made the whole place sparkle from floor to ceiling. But by late afternoon, even his enthusiasm had waned. It was too quiet. He was growing bored.

He was tempted to close early, but that was something he tried to avoid whenever possible. It wasn't professional, for one. It could become a bad habit. And he had learned after so many years in the business that the most interesting people tended to show up at the oddest of times.

The bell strapped to the shop door suddenly jingled. The old man's head popped up. "Welcome to the… oh, Kaiba?"

Seto nodded curtly in greeting as he secured his umbrella, then began looking around. "Pretty dead today."

"The kids are in school. And it's the first rainfall of the season."

"Hn." Seto himself had left work a few minutes early. And Yami would be expecting him home pretty soon. But traffic on the roads had been so light, he'd figured he had time for a little detour…

Sugoroku pushed himself off his stool and leaned against the counter. "So what can I help you with?" he prompted.

The slightest hint of a smile creased Seto's face. He reached inside his coat pocket. "I came to take you up on your offer." He withdrew his deck and placed it on the counter. "Super expert rules. I'll even let you go first."

"I see. Good thing I'm prepared." Sugoroku's own deck landed on the counter beside Seto's. "Duel Disks, or would the tried and true pencil and paper method work for you?"

"There's 41 cards in my deck at the moment, and I'm not inclined to take one out, unless you insist," Seto obliquely responded, which not only ruled out the Duel Disks, but also told Sugoroku exactly what he was in for.

Sugoroku grinned. It was exactly what he expected. "That's fine. How many duels are decided by the last card in a deck anyhow?" the old man asked as he began shuffling his deck.

The brunette followed his lead and did the same. "You're right. I plan on beating you long before then," he said smugly, then he exchanged decks with Sugoroku for the cut.

Sugoroku gave a mock sigh. "Kids… Some things never change," he muttered as he accepted his cards back. He pretended to not see Seto's answering smile to his comment as they each drew their opening hand. "Ready?"

Seto nodded. He was always ready… to win. But this time, he was ready to play, too.

"Let's duel!"


Author's Notes:
- Yes, I'm aware that you can't have four copies of a card in a dueling deck, but since they've both agreed to an exemption to the rules, it's allowed in this case.
- And on a related tangent… So here's the deal. As some of you know, "Cost" was the penultimate arc of my ficverse. But I won't be starting the final arc for a while yet as I have a backlog of shiny little oneshots lined up like tin soldiers. I'm not sure which ones will actually get written and which won't, nor which will get posted to ffnet and which won't, but… for those of you who care, I'll be listing all my potentials on my livejournal (link in ffnet profile). And of course anything that doesn't make it to ffnet will still show up on my LJ and my archive site.