Yu-Gi-Oh! and all its characters, are the legal and intellectual property of Kazuki Takahashi and any entities he has granted legal rights to. I claim no rights at all with my story. I greatly admire and feel gratitude to Mr. Takahashi for the amazing story and characters of Yu-Gi-Oh!

I humbly beg the pardon of Yu-Gi-Oh! purists, as I am basing this story on the Americanized version as aired by the KidsWB.


It's nerve-wracking, waiting here in the wings. Other girls are stretching, or tossing off half-power jumps to keep limber. Everyone has a far-away look in her eyes, too. Since I'm doing the same thing, I know each girl is going through her routine in her head, mentally dancing to the music only she can hear in the studio that exists only in her mind.

We've been working so hard, for so many months, for this competition. We've been dreading, yet anticipating, the day, this day, when the mental studio each one of us dances in all the time merges, for just four minutes, with the stage where every movement of the wrist, every turn of the ankle, every jump, leap, pirouette, slide and step is judged, and one of us -- only one -- is deemed the best.

Of course there is an audience, aside from the judges. We can hear the low murmur of indistinct conversation through the curtains. A few of the girls, brave souls with nerves of steel, dare to peek through the opening where the edge of the curtain just skims along the wall, no doubt to see if they can spot their parents, siblings, or friends in the audience.

I don't have to do that. I know the only one here to witness my performance in this competition is my dance instructor. My family couldn't make it. I know that Yugi, Joey, and Tristan are still beat, mentally and emotionally, from our strange trip to one of Kaiba's dueling finals.

I'd even had to duel, when we wound up in that freaky cyber-world of Noa's along the way. I admit I like dueling, but it's sort of intimidating when your best friends are the number one and number two duelists in the world. For me to duel with them is sort of like challenging a six-foot-something-ridiculous-inches tall professional basketball player to a pick-up game. There are only two outcomes to such a challenge. One -- losing, badly, because the pro is simply that much better. Two -- losing, not so badly, because the pro tried to ramp it down for you. Uhm, no. Thank goodness I only had to knock sense into the guys' heads twice before they got the idea that behaving in a condescending manner to me is a bad idea. A very bad idea.

Though I like to duel, I just don't, very often. It's kind of hard to be impressed with the way any one else plays after being around Yugi and Joey for so long. Besides, if I concede that endeavor to them, it gives me more time to devote to dance. I might like to duel, but I live to dance.

That doesn't mean dueling doesn't mean anything to me. I'm very proud of my friends and all they've accomplished. I'm always amazed not only at their skill, but also how they, as people, somehow always manage to shine through, too.

Yugi is just so sweet, but there's a core of steel in him. The duelist, and really, any person, in or out of a duel, who doesn't notice that is in for a rude shock. When it comes to dueling -- he is rather ruthless. And Joey... He might act like a goof half the time, but there is really a brain in the old Wheeler noggin. And sometimes, with some of the crazy things he pulls, and somehow or another makes work, I wonder if he might actually be a more daring duelist than Yugi.

Tristan? He's such a lovable lug. I'm not a brilliant duelist and I can pretty much always win against Tristan. Still, he's got a big, soft, squishy heart. He might want everyone to think he's some sort of tough guy, but under it all... He's loyal. And he cares. Weird things always happen to him, but somehow, he still finds the strength to hang in there and be there. Sometimes, I wonder if he does it so that the weird things happen to him, instead of Yugi, or Joey, or me. He might have picked Cyber Commander as his favorite card, but he always reminds me of Big Shield Gardna, taking the hits meant for others.

Damn. I hadn't said a thing to the guys about this competition. I mean, I know they don't care for dance. Dueling is really their thing, but still... After all the cheerleading and support I've given to them, I'm sure they would have come, if I had asked, to support me, in return. They are my friends, after all. But, I didn't want to ask. It's nice to think they'd care enough to come and cheer me on, just because they're my friends. I'm sure they would have, if only I'd asked. But, I know they are still recovering from the latest card-crazed fiasco. And, watching a bunch of girls in a dance competition really isn't their thing.

Okay, the music just started, and the curtain is going up. Thank heavens I'm not the first one to dance! Wow, nice form on that leap, and timed so nicely to her music, too. I'm going to have to be on the top of my form if this is what my competitors are bringing. I can't help it -- my eyes slide away from analyzing the girl's routine to scan the audience. Why am I doing this to myself? I hadn't even told the guys, so why am I looking? I'll just feel a bit let down, even though it's not fair to them to expect them to be here...

They'd be in the back, or along the edges. It's a girls' dance competition after all, not the sort of thing they'd be comfortable with. The cool thing about Yugi is, even though he's so short, that hair of his is hard to miss. But, I don't see him in the crowd. Joey and Tristan aren't there either. Big jerks! With all I've done for them, they couldn't even be here to cheer me on?

Focus! I need to focus! The next girl is up. Oh, what a dreadful music choice. I'm not going to need to worry about her. No one could dance well to this music unless she was a pro, and, with just a glance at this girl's technique I can see she's not. Ah well. Watching her will only throw me off, so it's back to scanning the crowd. Maybe I can spot my instructor before it's my turn. He's always on the left side, so he can analyze my form for any flaws we can work on in the next practice. Wait, that's not right. He said he'd be here! Where is he?

There's no one... There's no one here to watch me dance. My mom couldn't be here, and my coach didn't make it. I didn't want to trouble the boys with it... And so, here I am, dancing all by myself. Well, in front of a lot of people, and I know, I should just connect with my audience, but still... I want someone here who will cheer just for me. Is that really too much to ask?


What the hell. I've been around them enough, especially lately, that they can serve as my cheerleaders in the audience. Let's see -- that lady over there? I can imagine my Deck Master, Dark Magician Girl, floating over the woman's head and smiling as kindly at me now as she did in Noa's virtual world. And, over there, on the left? Petit Angel. My favorite (hmm, though maybe Dark Magician Girl is really my favorite, now) Magician of Faith? She should be -- right there, over that guy's head.

Oh, I suppose if I'm going to populate the audience with Duel Monsters, I better use some of the guy and monster ones, too. Joey's Red Eyes -- maybe if I imagine him, it'll be like Joey's here cheering me on, too. Hmmm, let's put him the big middle aisle, with his front paws crossed so he's not too much in the way... And, I suppose Yugi's Dark Magician would have to be here, too... Where to put him? Front and center, I guess, in the very first row. Right over that spiky-haired kid's head.

Wait! Spiky-haired kid? Yugi? Yugi! He's smiling and waving at me! And Joey! There's a thumbs-up from him. And Tristan! You smirking "tough" guy, I'm so going to hug all of you afterward! They really are here! They made it! How, how did they know? I don't care! They made it! They're going to cheer me on, for once! I have the best friends in all the world! I'm so going to dance my absolute best for them!

- end -

Reviews, comments and constructive criticisms are always welcome! Please feel free to send a message to me also if you see something awkward that needs to be clarified or fixed. I need all the help I can get.