All right, folks, this is it. The epilogue. Finis. The End. Part the last, nothing more to write. I was gonna make you wait for it, because I'm evil, natch, but life and ff.net are uncertain, so here you go! Flowers, flames, and draconian, soul-shredding punishments can be sent to batya_93@yahoo.com, or you can always hit the grey button at the bottom left; do let me know what you thought of the whole shooting match, eh? Now, last stop, everybody off. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here. Read on below for the epilogue to The Games Angels Play.

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Part 8

"This is the last time I let you use a spell you got off the Internet," the vampire with the boy muttered.

"Shut up! It'll work this time." The vampire holding the knife pulled the stopper from a vial and tossed the contents on the white-haired boy. "Bakura! Yami, Hikari. Segregare!" Light flashed, and there were two versions of the child, one trembling and one snarling and attempting to bite.

"All right. Now, most of the spell's been cast already...it's all you," Lilah said, smiling, as the knife descended. But one vampire was now burdened with holding two Bakuras, and Yami Bakura knew his way around a blade. He shook free, ducked and lunged, coming up with the knife and jamming it into his opponent's side. He had rather more luck than Yami Yugi in the same situation; the mystic blade ignited the vampire's flesh. The other vampire jumped back from the conflagration, dropping the other Bakura. Ryou, the light half, ran to Joey.

"Idiots," Lilah snorted, slipping out the back door. The other vampire moved to follow her, but a crossbow bolt through his heart made him dust before he got halfway there.

"Okay," said Cordelia, lowering the weapon. "*Now* can we go home?"

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-----"Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves". -Ralph Waldo Emerson-----

As the sun rose, a tired crowd regrouped in the lobby of the Hyperion hotel. Lorne held Connor, rocking the baby slightly. Yugi had reverted to his own form, and sat half-drowsing on a couch, white-haired Ryou Bakura leaning against him. Joey sat at their feet, occasionally glaring at Kaiba as though daring him to make a dog reference. Gunn, sipping coffee, watched the billionaire and the blonde, reflecting that if one of them were black, they'd be perfect buddy movie material.

Wes sat opposite Ryou, listening with the politely reserved sympathy that the English were good at mustering for one another. "So he's really gone?"

"For a few weeks, yes. The spell will wear off in time." As would Yami Yugi's admonition; upon leaving the vacant church, he'd growled "Get lost!" at the other Darkness, and the albino creature had happily done so, absconding with his new blade and muttering something about good riddance to a weak fool.

"You seem - relieved," Wesley continued. "Yugi had a very different response when he was separated from his yami."

"My yami is different," Ryou replied. He leaned forward, pain and foreboding in his eyes. "Pray you never learn how different." And Wes felt a chill.

Cordelia, meanwhile, had moved to the back of the office to file Kaiba's generous check in Payments Received, where it was relatively lonely. In fact, a yawning Fred had gawked at it before retiring, saying she wanted to see a payment in full so that she'd remember what it looked like. Closing the drawer, Cordelia caught a flash out of the corner of her eye. She turned to find the taller, darkly handsome version of Yugi looking at her curiously.

He opened his mouth, but before he could speak, she broke in, "So, been meaning to ask. What'd you do to Lilah? Because I was really hoping for insane and drooling."

"I wanted to leave her immobile and gasping for breath, under the weight of her selfish desires. But..."

"She lawyered you, right? Hey, happens to the best of us. But you did something. I saw her go splat."

"I managed to get to two percent of her spirit. I'm keeping it, pure and unsold, to remain horrified at her actions no matter how soulless she tries to become. She'll never be free of it, or me." He leaned forward and favored Cordelia with a long look. "Now, my turn for questions. What are you?" he asked. "Yugi remembers you helping the demon find me, but I sense that you have much greater potential than that. There is a great deal of magic in you."

"What am I?" she echoed, holding back the "You sure you want to know" from Spider-Man because she thought it sounded trite, and she was sure he did. "Well, basically, I'm a seer." His eyes widened at that. //Hmm. Curious...// "I get these visions, although I haven't had one lately, and none about you, don't ask," she said, silencing him as his lips parted. "They were killing me, so I let the Powers that Be..."

"The Powers that Be What?"

"Obnoxious, arrogant, and generally high-and-mighty when it comes to us poor Earth-creatures, but that's beside the point. Anyway, I let them make me part demon. Since then, I haven't had much pain, but I picked up more power, which has managed to manifest itself in brief glowy periods and the occasional tendency to float." She shrugged. "That's it. I'm no threat to Yugi, if you're wondering."

"How did you..."

"Protecting him's what you do, right? Isn't that how this whole thing started?"

"This whole thing started because undead beasts had an interest in your founder's son."

"And their best shot at the kid just happened to fly into town yesterday." Hands on her hips, eyebrow raised. "I think there's enough coincidence to go around. Seto knowing Wes is a good thing, without which you'd all be screwed."

"You're very frank."

Cordelia fairly stalked around the desk. "You haven't seen anything yet." She cocked her head. "I've got something to say about your protective impulses, and I think you ought to listen. Granted, I know it's not my place..."

"You're right."

"And if you knew me better, you'd realize that that never even remotely stops me from saying something, so listen. Yugi isn't as innocent as you think he is. He's getting less naïve every day. He's figuring out that things can't always end painlessly and that sometimes people have to get hurt. That's not called corruption."

"What is it called, then?"

There was sympathy in her voice as she met his red eyes unafraid.

"Growing up."

Yami stared at her. He blinked, twice, and shook his head as if to clear it. He stared some more and then turned slowly and crossed the office back to Yugi, who looked up, smiled, and opened his arms welcomingly as they merged again.

"I have never seen anyone do that to him before."

Cordelia turned. Seto lurked in kitchen doorway, near the teapot. She shrugged. "It's a gift."

"You know, I'm going to be in town for two more days."

"Mm-hm."

"And the West Coast leg of the tour will last a while."

"Mm-hm."

"You know," Kaiba said, "I'm not dating Virginia anymore. It took her two weeks to find out that my life was almost as dangerous as her last boyfriend's. I think she's seeing an accountant now."

"Wes and I kinda figured as much, because otherwise, gloating."

"That would be bad manners."

Cordelia just looked at him. He sighed. The direct approach? With her, there was apparently no other way.

"It just seems to me that you wouldn't care about my money and power, which is very rare. That if you were to accompany me to dinner, tonight, it would not be because of my wealth."

"Actually," Cordelia said, "I have to be honest. I swore off billionaires, but if I were going to date you, it would be because you're rich. It's the only thing that can compensate for your glaring personality flaws."

He turned away. Well, that was th-

"Hey, Seto?"

"Yes?"

A thousand-watt grin. "I didn't say no."

Across the room, Joey jerked his head up and opened his eyes wide. The blonde looked at his watch and jumped up from the floor. "Oh, whoa! We gotta go get An - Tea and Tristan at the airport! Their plane's gettin' in any second! Yugi and Ryou forced themselves, yawning, to their feet. "Seto, you comin' or do I get to drive that beaut?"

"You don't know how to drive on the right..." Seto began, crossing the room to join them.

"Do too!"

"And you don't even get to valet park my car!"

"Snob!"

"I resemble that remark," Seto replied. Ryou opened the door and Yugi took one look back at their new American friends. Then he looked ahead into the morning light and glanced up at Kaiba. His expression was unusual. It wasn't his usual half-grin or smirk. It seemed to be an actual, genuine...

"Seto, are you smiling?"

*****

END TMF

-----"God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of his own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time." -Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens-----