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There Will Be Blood

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Lying across the dorm room's small couch and bathed in the blue light from the television, Michelle slept soundly with a snoring Rufus curled upon her shoulder.

After warning Kim about the Lowardian device prominently displayed on the mail-order catalog's cover, Michelle had reluctantly agreed to a few more rounds of Dance Dance Revolution with Rufus. The "few" turned into "many" and the game had swallowed up the remainder of the evening. Although Kim's roommate had proven a formidable challenger for Rufus, the hairless rodent had finally outlasted her. After losing the final challenge in a best of seven tournament, Michelle had thrown in the towel, collapsed on the couch, and within five minutes drifted off.

Energized from his earlier nap and fueled by the cheese sticks Michelle had continued to toss his way (in her futile hope that a full stomach might slow him down), Rufus was not ready to call it a night. He began searching for online opponents. The pickings that time of night were slim and the first two challengers were no match for his skills. He was considering shutting the console off and looking for more snacks when a third opponent came online.

Before he knew it, he was scurrying from one side of the dance mat to the other like a pink ping-bong ball, trying desperately to keep up with the new challenger. He lost the first contest, but managed to win the second with a couple of trick combinations. Then, as he geared himself for the tie-breaking third bout, his opponent suddenly dropped offline. It was a quarter past eleven, but Rufus stayed awake for almost another hour, hoping that the person would return. He finally fell asleep on Michelle's shoulder with the game still running.

Just after two o'clock, chimes from the console woke him up. After a groggy moment or two, Rufus recognized the sound as the game's signal that someone online was challenging him. He blinked his tiny eyes against the television screen's glare until his vision cleared. The instant he recognized the blinking name of the third opponent-DOLL_MISTRESS, he was wide awake. He leaped from Michelle to the dance mat, accepted the challenge, and began the decisive third match.

It was fierce. The little guy pulled out all the stops, using both moves he had learned from his human and even a few techniques from Yamanouchi that weren't exclusively meant for dancing. Even still, he literally squeaked out the victory at the last moment. As Rufus collapsed on the mat trying to catch his breath, DOLL_MISTRESS went offline.

"Whew!"

The girl bowed to the screen, logged off, and then proceeded to switch off her older sister's game console and television. Her older sister had the only tv in the mansion, but did not mind if her little sister used it on nights she had to work late. And Karin was definitely working late this night.

"THAT GUY SURE CAN DANCE!" remarked the doll that was slumped against a pillow on the nearby bed.

"Yes, Boogie-kun," Anju replied, "TUNNEL_LORD is certainly a worthy opponent." She then added with the slightest of smiles, "A most bon-diggidy dancer."


A/N: This was a scene I wanted to tack on to the end of chapter 15 (the so-called final chapter). However, that chapter was already far too long by half (at least according to my editor). Nevertheless, I wanted to add it, and the epilogue (or "closing kicker") format seemed a good fit. Besides, as my editor also advised me, this story definitely needed a little more Rufus.