Hello everyone! I am sad to say that this is the LAST CHAPTER of A Pinch of Dark Magic! It's such a bittersweet feeling for me to be posting this. On one hand, I feel accomplished to have had such a successful story. On the other hand, I'm saddened that it has come to an end. Thanks to everyone who reviewed/favorited for making this story worth writing. You guys are awesome!

Thanks to LUCARIO HMV ADVANCED, yugiohFan441, FiringShootingStar, 19InterroBang94, GamexReaper, ptd163, jtdarkman, xSapphirexRosesxFanx, Seeker Heart, herbert89, Mayasha-chan, shinn Tsukishiro, ProChampionDuelistA.K. , and my two anons for reviewing!

As always, special thanks to my lovely beta ObsessiveCompulsiveValkyrie. Thanks for helping me make this story possible!

Disclaimer: I do not own Yugioh 5D's or any other aspects of the Yugioh franchise. All rights belong to Kazuki Takahashi.

Chapter 26

Their foe defeated, Yusei, Akiza and the Dark Magician Girl wanted nothing more than to return home. After stumbling outside the warehouse, and almost as if on cue, the cavalry finally arrived in the form of Jack and Crow on their runners and Carly in her car. They had rushed in, duel disks at the ready before being calmed down and told by Yusei that Akiza had already defeated the threat by herself. Akiza abashedly denied that claim and said it was the combined strength of the Signers that prevailed, but everyone knew the truth that it was her own heart and skill that won the day.

Surprisingly, Jack and Crow still couldn't see or hear the Dark Magician Girl. Once Yusei and Akiza realized this, they inquired as to how much Jack and Crow knew about the threat they had faced. Jack huffed and began complaining that all Carly would tell them is that, in his words, the two lovers were squaring off with an evil duel spirit who wanted to destroy the city. Crow finished by saying that on the way over, they all felt their marks burn and knew that Akiza was facing something big. When pressed, Yusei simply gave the explanation that a dangerous duel spirit named Yubel had attacked them in order to gain power using Akiza's psychic energy, but that she was now defeated and all was well.

Somewhere amidst the conversation and jumbled explanations, the reporter shot Yusei and Akiza a glance that clearly indicated she had kept the details to a minimum, probably to give the Dark Magician Girl the opportunity to maintain her secrecy if she wished to do so. The spellcaster made no attempt to speak during the exchange between the Signers and Carly, and the three that were aware of her presence did not divulge it.

After holding and kissing each other like there was no tomorrow, Yusei and Akiza joined Carly in her car since neither of them had their runners. Jack and Crow followed them until they took the exit leading back to Poppo Time. Upon request, Carly drove Akiza and Yusei in the direction of Izinski manor, as the couple wanted to be with each other after going through such a traumatic ordeal.

Free from uninformed ears in the car, the three conversed about the true nature of the evening, the Dark Magician Girl materializing in the front passenger's seat to join them.

"So, Yubel is gone forever?" Carly asked.

The Dark Magician Girl nodded. "She lost a Shadow Duel to Akiza, which deprived the demon of all the power she had gained. On top of that, I Mind Crushed her before she was sealed away in the Shadow Realm once more. I doubt she'll be bothering anyone again."

"But... Yubel is still alive?" Akiza inquired.

"If you can call it that. Even if she is alive, her mind and body are so damaged that she won't be able to maintain her existence for long. My guess is, she'll rot in the Shadow Realm for a little while until the meager energy she has left is consumed. Then she'll fade away into whatever afterlife awaits such a wicked soul." She turned to her three companions with a sigh. "I'm so sorry I got all of you involved in this. To think I was the one she sought revenge upon this entire time..."

"Don't worry about it," Yusei replied, his arm wrapped around Akiza's waist while she leaned into him lovingly. "You've done more than enough for us, Dark. You helped Akiza and me confess our love for one another, and you protected us from Yubel."

"And don't forget that you saved my life," Carly added. "If it wasn't for you, I'd be lying dead in an alleyway."

The spellcaster shook her head. "Still... I can't help but feel guilty that my past sins put my friends in danger."

"But that's what friends are for," Yusei reaffirmed. "They help carry each other's burdens and baggage, whether it's psychic dueling powers..." He pulled Akiza closer and intertwined their fingers. "Almost two decades in the Satellite..." Akiza planted a kiss on Yusei's criminal marker, making him blush back. "...Or a crazy, maniacal sex demon out for bloodthirsty revenge."

The spellcaster chuckled. "Thank you... It's been so long since I've had friends like the three of you. And even though we've gone through struggles to get here, I'm happy we did because of the bonds it has formed between us."

"And we are, too," Akiza agreed. "We owe you a great debt for all you've done for us, Dark."

The spellcaster gave a nostalgic smile, looking out the window pensively as if conflicted. "You know... my name isn't really the Dark Magician Girl," she confessed, earning inquiring stares from Yusei, Akiza, and Carly. She elaborated, explaining what she was getting at. "It's the title the world knows me by, but it's not the name that was given to me at birth. My true name is only known by a handful of people, my most trusted friends and allies. I have never revealed it to a human, except for Yugi Moto." She turned back to her friends, giving them a shy grin. "I would... like to share my true name with the three of you, if you would hear it."

They all stared back at the spellcaster amazedly. "Dark... are you sure?" Akiza asked.

She nodded slowly, drawing in a breath. "My true name... is Mana."

The three teens took in the extraordinary level of trust the duel spirit had in them by revealing her true name. They all felt an unparalleled gratitude towards the Dark Magician Girl for changing their lives for the better, and they all placed a hand over hers.

"Thank you, Mana," they all said in unison.

She nodded. "Yusei, Akiza, Carly... I'm proud to call you my friends."

They arrived at Izinski manor, where Carly said goodbye to the two lovers and the duel spirit before driving off in a fit of joyful tears at the happy ending folding out before her. They entered the house, exhausted and relieved that they could safely relax. As the Dark Magician Girl retired to her card for some much-deserved rest, Yusei and Akiza held each other on the couch before slowly drifting off to sleep in each others' arms.

The next day found Yusei and Akiza talking in the living room after sleeping well into the afternoon. "What day is it?" Yusei asked. "I haven't been keeping track with everything that's been going on."

"I think it's Saturday," Akiza replied, sitting at the table with him while having a cereal bar for breakfast. "Funny how time flies when you're with the person you love the most."

Yusei returned her loving smile. "Yeah," he replied. He gave a half-grin. "You know, there is one positive side to the whole Yubel thing."

"What's that?"

"Jack and Crow would probably have strung me up by now for ditching our engine work if it weren't for the fight against Yubel," he joked.

Akiza laughed. "I guess we knew we couldn't have a completely carefree..." She suddenly gave a groan and let her head fall on the table. "I just remembered... I have school again on Monday! I got so caught up with our relationship and fighting Yubel that I forgot the break is almost over!"

Yusei shrugged. "Well, we can't dodge the rest of our lives forever. We'll just have to enjoy the time we spend together that much more."

She nodded. "Definitely." After a few more moments of eating in comfortable silence, a thought occurred to her, something that had been in the back of her mind since the night before. "...Yusei?"

"Yeah, Akiza?" he replied.

She bit her lip, wondering if she should press him. In the end, she decided she had to know. "What you said last night, when we were both under Yubel's curse... Did you mean it?"

He smiled and took her hands in his, savoring the feel of her warm skin. The look in his eyes was one of infinite affection and devotion. "I did." He placed a gentle kiss on her lips. "I love you, Akiza."

"And I love you, Yusei Fudo," she replied, resting her forehead against his. They stayed connected for a beautiful moment, completed by the genuine love they now shared.

"Umm... I hate to break up this adorable moment, but I have some news," the Dark Magician Girl said as she materialized in the room.

The two lovers pulled apart for the moment. "What is it?" Akiza asked.

"I just received word from the Order of the Dark Magicians. They heard about Yubel's downfall, and they saw fit to grant me a new title for my efforts!"

"Is that like a promotion?" Yusei asked.

She nodded, twirling her staff in an almost cocky manner. "You're looking at the newest High Magician of the Order. To put it into context, the only member of the Order with a higher standing than mine is the Dark Magician himself."

"That's great!" Akiza cried. "You definitely deserve it, Dark."

She huffed. "Yeah, and it only took them half a century to promote me..."

Yusei and Akiza both laughed at her mock grumbling. "So, Akiza, how does it feel to have an elite member of the Order of the Dark Magicians by your side?" Yusei teased, causing Akiza to nervously laugh and rub the back of her head.

"Actually..." The teens looked back up at the Dark Magician Girl, who wore a sad smile. "That's... what I need to talk to you two about."

Akiza gasped and stood when she realized what her friend was about to say. "Mana... no..."

She nodded slowly. "With my new title comes new duties. The Order needs me to come back to the Spirit World to deal with all the fallout this Yubel incident is going to cause. As much as I want to stay here with you... I'm needed elsewhere."

Yusei stood up, pained to see her go as well. "But what about Akiza? Isn't she your master?"

"Akiza will be my master for the rest of her life," the spellcaster affirmed. "If ever I am needed by her or by you, I will always be there to help. I'm sorry I can't be by your side right now, my friends, but there are others who depend on me as well."

Akiza nodded, the tears already welling up. She threw her arms around the Dark Magician Girl, hugging her as tightly as possible. "Do you really have to leave, Mana?"

"I'm afraid so, Akiza," she replied sadly.

"I... I understand, but I'll miss you a lot. Before you came into my life, there were so many things I would change about myself. But now, you made my dreams come true, you helped me become a better person. And because of you, my life is changed forever." She looked at the duel spirit with tears streaming down her face. "You're one of the best friends I've ever had."

The Dark Magician Girl returned the embrace, tears leaking out of her eyes as well. "I will miss you, too, Akiza. You helped me come to terms with my past, and you taught me how to accept my flaws and move on past the hurt. You will always be my trusted sister."

The two girls parted, the spellcaster glancing over at Yusei. She walked over to him and gave a small grin. "I won't tell you to take care of my master, Yusei, because I already know you will. I can see you love her more than any man on the face of this earth ever could, and I know she will be completely safe and eternally happy so long as she is with you."

He nodded, knowing that this was the Dark Magician Girl's way of giving him her approval to court her master. "The same can be said of me for her." He extended his hand to the woman. "Thank you, Mana, for bringing us together. She's the brightest point in my life, and you helped me realize that."

Before Yusei could protest, the spellcaster enveloped him in a tight hug, which he awkwardly returned. "It was my pleasure. After all, it was too much fun making you faint in that department store," she teased, pulling back and giving him a wink.

His eyes grew wide. "Wait, you mean that string bikini Akiza put on was your idea?" he cried.

All Yusei could do was blush as Akiza and the Dark Magician Girl laughed at his expense.

After a heart-wrenching goodbye, the Dark Magician Girl departed for the Spirit World, leaving Yusei and Akiza alone in Izinski manor. The day flew by, the hours passing much too fast for both Signers as they lost themselves in each others' presence. The loneliness left in the wake of the spellcaster's departure was harder to deal with than Akiza imagined it would be, and Yusei noticed the pain his girlfriend was feeling. Even though the two women had only known each other for just over a week, the bond of friendship they had formed was strong. But whenever he saw that lonely look on Akiza's face, he would wrap his arms around her and whisper soft words of love and comfort in her ear.

The two laid in bed together, her resting her head on his chest while he pulled his hands through her silky hair. The silence they rested in was golden, but Akiza knew there was one more thing she needed to ask the man she loved. "Yusei?"

"Yes, my love?" he whispered.

She lifted her body to straddle him, not in a sensual way but in a loving one that brought them face to face. "There's... something that's been bothering me."

"What is it?" he asked, gently stroking her side.

She blushed, anxious of how he might react to her words. "Does it... feel like we're moving too fast?" Upon seeing his blank stare, she elaborated. "I mean, we haven't been dating for two weeks and we're already having sex like rabbits. Don't get me wrong, sharing myself with you is the greatest thing I've ever experienced. But... Maybe Dark was right about taking it slow."

"I didn't even know she thought we were moving too fast," Yusei commented.

She nodded. "She didn't think us making love so early in our relationship was a good idea. She said we wouldn't get the chance to know and enjoy each others' hearts and minds because we would be so caught up in each others' bodies. Maybe that hasn't happened so far, but I don't want to take that risk, Yusei. I want to love you for the person you are, not just for how good you are in bed. And I want you to love me for the same reason."

Yusei regarded her with a loving smile. "Akiza... I understand exactly how you feel. And I'm glad for everything you said, because it shows me how much you truly love and care about me. And... I want to show you that I love and care about you just as much."

Akiza kissed him. "So... we're in agreement that we've been moving too fast?"

"I hate to admit it, but... yes," Yusei conceded. "I don't regret a second of it, but slowing down would be a good thing."

"So... what do we do?" she asked.

Yusei sighed. "I... do have one idea."

"Do tell," she encouraged.

"You're not going to like it."

"I figured as much."

He sighed again and spoke. "No sex for two months."

Akiza raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Damn... And I thought you were going to be the difficult one to convince."

Yusei chuckled. "I know it sounds crazy, but if it will help our relationship, then I'm willing to do it."

She looked him in the eyes with a wondrous smile. "It's going to be difficult."

"I know."

"Much more difficult than either of us think."

"Most likely."

Akiza sighed. "Last chance to back out, lover-boy."

"Not a chance," he teased back, placing a kiss on her lips. "I love you too much to back out."

She shook her head in defeat. "Two months it is, then," she declared, resting her head on Yusei's chest. He nodded and resumed running his fingers through her hair. "Yusei... All kidding aside, I feel so blessed that I'm in love with a man that would give up sex that long for me."

"And I'm blessed that I have a woman worth giving up that and so much more," he replied, earning him a deep kiss from her. He sighed contentedly, thinking back to the day's earlier events, of the Dark Magician Girl's departure right after she entrusted her card to Akiza. "We have a lot to thank Dark for, don't we?"

"She did bring us together," Akiza replied. "And if it took a pinch of her dark magic to help us realize our love sooner rather than later, then no one is happier than me."

"Or me," Yusei said, kissing her on the lips again. The two didn't end the kiss this time, instead moving back in for a deeper, heavier kiss. Their hands began to roam each other, the night taking a familiar spin. Before things could go any farther, she felt Yusei pushing her away ever so slightly, still holding her but also letting her know that he would keep his promise.

Akiza was about to genuinely agree, about to temporarily set aside her desires for the benefit of her and Yusei's relationship by upholding the two-month abstinence rule. But then, an impulse she would later blame on residue from Yubel's dirty mind made her decide that sometimes it was okay to break the rules.

"Yusei?" She ground her hips against his.

"Yeah?" He grunted from the friction as his hands traveled instinctively to her bottom.

"Can we start our abstinence... tomorrow?"

He gave her a sly grin. "I think we can arrange that."

She stepped into the room at the tallest point of the tower, the familiar furnishing of the hallways bringing back memories as she passed them. The door closed behind her, leaving her in the large space lit by light that poured in from many stained-glass windows. The glass bore figures from the Order's past, heroes and wise magicians that built the tower and the Order that occupied it. She stepped farther forward into the room, observing the white marble floors and walls, the high ceilings with the golden chandelier hanging, and the grand wooden desk at the back of the room, which now sat unoccupied. She glanced behind the desk, finding the person she was looking for staring out of his usual window, his 'thinking spot' as she called it.

She approached him with a sly smile. "If you keep promoting me at this rate, then one day that desk will have my name on it," she teased in greeting.

The Dark Magician turned around to face her, the spellcaster wearing his iconic purple garb. He smiled upon seeing her. "Really now? I'd say you have several centuries more of work until you replace me."

The Dark Magician Girl chuckled. "It is good to see you again, master," she said with a bow.

"It is good to see you as well, Mana. And how many times do I have to tell you not to call me master?" he said in jest, motioning her over to join him. "You graduated from my apprenticeship long ago."

"Perhaps," she replied, walking to stand next to him at the window, both spellcasters looking out at the courtyards below pensively. "But I still like to give respect where it's due."

"Or, perhaps you just do it to irk me?" She gave no reply to this except for a small, knowing smile. He shook his head in playful indignance, knowing the Dark Magician Girl would never openly admit to her teasing. "No matter. I'm just glad to have you back. I'm having enough trouble running this place without you as it is. And what's more, I hear you have a new master now. A Signer by the name of Akiza Izinski?"

"That's correct," she replied. "And I'm sure you're doing just fine running the Order as always."

"I suppose," he replied. "Although things will be much easier to manage now that you're back."

"Yes, what would you ever do without me?" she chirped with a wink. He simply huffed in reply. The Dark Magician Girl observed the man for a moment before her expression suddenly turned serious. "Master, there is something I meant to ask you as soon as I returned to the Order."

"What is it?"

She bit her lip and crossed her arms in thought. "It's about how Akiza came to be my master."

"Oh?" he inquired.

"It's strange, really. Akiza is the first duelist since Yugi Moto worthy of becoming my master, and neither of us have any idea of how she came to possess my card. I was unaware she even had the ability to summon me until after the fact, and she has no idea who sent the card to her. I thought you might be able to provide some insight."

"Perhaps it was the Lord Crimson Dragon?" the Dark Magician speculated.

"No, I have a feeling if it was Him, then we would know by now."

The leader of the Order shrugged. "I don't think it really matters who sent you to Akiza. The important thing is the bond of friendship you two formed and the strength you share that defeated a great evil."

She sighed, unsatisfied. "I suppose. But... don't you think it's just a little weird that I was summoned to the human realm and paired with a powerful psychic duelist just before Yubel appeared? You're not usually one to believe in coincidence, much less to ignore it."

"Some things are meant to be," he replied simply. "Like the love you helped Yusei and Akiza to find in each other."

She smiled. "They truly are made for each other, huh?"

"Indeed," he agreed, letting out a small huff. "Defeating one of the Order's most powerful enemies while still playing matchmaker for two lovesick teens. Who else but you could have managed such a thing?" He turned to find his former apprentice staring at him suspiciously. "What?" he questioned. She continued examining him with narrowed eyes. He felt his eye twitch under her steady gaze. "What's so interesting?"

Her eyes widened. "It was you!" she cried, pointing at him accusingly.

"What was me-"

"It all makes sense now!" she exclaimed. "You knew Yubel was about to return, so you're the one who sent me to Akiza! You knew that I could defeat Yubel if the Signers stood with me, that's why you made her my master!"

The Dark Magician sweatdropped, knowing he had been discovered. "W-Well, I wouldn't say I made her your master. She alone earned that right."

"But you knew she was worthy to wield my card," the Dark Magician Girl shot back. She huffed and turned away from her former master. "Why didn't you tell me beforehand?"

The Dark Magician sighed. He did owe her an explanation after putting her through so much. "I figured it would be easier if you believed it was fate alone that brought you and Akiza together. That way, your friendship with her would bloom without you having to know it was based on a mission I gave you."

"But that's not the only reason, is it?" she questioned. "I know you, master, and I especially know when you're not telling the whole truth."

He smiled gently and shook his head. It was true, she knew him better than anyone, and most of the time, she was responsible for keeping him in line. "If I told you the other reason, then you wouldn't have gone in the first place."

She turned back to him, now curious. "That bad? I've never refused a mission before."

He nodded, staring back out the window. "I thought... that helping Yusei and Akiza find love might give you some closure and help you move on."

The Dark Magician Girl swallowed hard, knowing he was referring to her lost love for Yugi Moto. "I-I see," she replied. "You're right, I probably wouldn't have accepted knowing that."

"And?" he inquired. "Did you come by the closure I have prayed you would find for the last century?"

She nodded with a bittersweet smile. "I did. Akiza and Yusei taught me a lot during my time with them. I'm done wallowing in my regrets, and I'm not going to grieve anymore for what could have been. Instead, I'm going to focus on forming new bonds and living life for today."

"I am glad," he said, feeling the weight of all worlds lift off his shoulders. For too long he had watched her suffer from a broken heart. He knew it would take even more time for her wound to heal completely, but he took solace in the fact that the process had begun. There passed a moment of silence between them, neither one knowing what to say from there.

"...Mahad?" the Dark Magician Girl said softly, using the Dark Magician's true name.

"Yes, Mana?" he replied.

"Thank you," she replied, bowing. "For everything you've given to me."

He smiled, placing a hand on her shoulder. "If anyone is deserving, it is you." The two stared into each others' eyes for a moment, remembering the centuries of memories they had created together. It was over as quickly as it began as he cleared his throat and picked up his magician's staff from his desk. "The, ah, council would like to meet with you to discuss the details of Yubel's return and demise. We should make haste to them."

She nodded, sad that her time alone with the Dark Magician was cut short. "Yes, we should." She turned to follow him, and if she didn't know better, she would say she caught him staring at her with a small blush on his face.

As the two set out to perform their duties, the Dark Magician Girl cast one last fleeting glance to the window, thinking of the two humans to which she owed so much. She smiled with her good friends in mind. "Yusei, Akiza... Thank you for the friendship we now share. My life has entered a new chapter because of the lessons you have taught me. And should you ever need me, I will be there as your loyal duel spirit and faithful friend." She placed her hand over her heart, solidifying her promise.

"Mana, are you coming?" the Dark Magician called from the hallway.

She snapped out of her reverie. "O-Of course," she replied, walking to join him. But before she left the room, she muttered one more farewell to the two Signers whose names would be forever held in her heart.

"Until we meet again, my friends. And who knows," she said, smiling at her former master, who waited for her as he always did. "Perhaps one day, I will find true love, as well."

They strode off together, at peace with themselves and with the world. And for the first time since either one could remember, all was well.


To all my awesome readers who have stuck with me, thank you guys so much. It means the world that so many people care to read my work, and you guys make all the effort worth it a thousand times over.