Disclaimer: The creator of Yu-Gi-Oh! is Kazuki Takahashi.
Warning 1: Thou shall not steal. Plagiarism is a dastardly deed. Thank you.
Warning 2: No beta reader. Apologies for everything wrong in this short story. Spoilers include Season 2 of the series. This short story occurs 4-5 years after episode 78, "Friends 'till the End – Part 4." (Er, is that considered AU?) Marik in this piece refers to Dark Marik. (Apologies to Marik Ishtar fans for any confusion.)
Italics and 'words' are Serenity's thoughts.
By Jan J. (or P.J.P.), Little Sister's Keepress
Serenity Wheeler sighed as she stared out of the car window. Today was the day. The day of her organic chemistry final exam. Looking down at her notes, formulas, hexagons, epoxides, and pentagons decorated the lined paper.
"Nice works of art you got there," Joey Wheeler grinned as he brought the vehicle to a halt in front of the university's navy blue chemistry building.
"I suppose," she feebly replied.
"Now go knock 'em dead, sis!" he exclaimed, reaching over to hug her rigid form.
"I'll try," Serenity smiled. A blush engulfed her facial features from the overwhelming pride and enthusiasm in Joey's voice.
"You'll be done by noon, right?" he asked.
"Yes, big brother," she answered. The auburn-haired girl leaned over to kiss him good-bye on the cheek and hurriedly jammed the backpack onto her shoulders. The notes were clenched tightly in her hands.
"Catch you later!" Joey called out. He honked the horn and zoomed off.
Serenity slowly turned around and inwardly cringed at the looming edifice before her. Taking a deep breath, she set off at a determined pace. The wind whistled around her. Wisps of her hair floated in the air as if charmed by a concealed mortal conjurer, but she was too worried to notice.
Serenity had immediately cheered up. She had finished the first two pages of the exam without encountering any awfully arduous problems. Perhaps she wouldn't feel like silently crying at the end of the day—not that she ever wept after completing a test. It was just that Joey could always tell when she truly wasn't happy. He studied her anxiously even when the harbingers over her head vanished—even when she graced him with a genuine smile. She never wanted to bother her brother.
'Only seven more problems to go,' Serenity comforted herself.
Tragically, it was the last page that proved to be the ultimate crucible. Particularly the fifth to last problem.
24. (7 points) Predict the major product of 1-methylcyclohexene with the following sequence of reagents:
(1) N-Bromosuccinimide (NBS)
(2) Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), H2O
'Come on, Serenity! I know this,' she thought. 'The double bond disappears and a bromine group plus hydroxyl group attach.'
Relieved at her swift thinking, she giddily began to draw out the molecule—only to halt in her endeavors.
Oh, no. Is the bromine Markovnikov (1) or anti-Markovnikov?
Wait. How do I even spell and pronounce that Russian's name?
Focus, Serenity. You can do it. I practiced so much!
Bromine with methyl or without?
Markovnikov or anti-Markovnikov?
Anti-Markovnikov or Markovnikov?
Her musings soon jumbled into one question.
Marik or anti-Marik?
Serenity froze in her thought process. Marik . . . She shivered slightly as imaginary tentacles of moisture glided over her. In the distance, the university's clock chimed the hour.
No! I must not fail. I will not fail.
Yet she still could not shake off the dread. She still could not figure out which carbon the blasted bromine belonged to.
The formula H2O echoed in Serenity's brain. Water. As if on cue, water plummeted over her chest. Streaks slipped down her cheeks. She couldn't breathe. Water was life, but water could also be death.
'This is not real!' Serenity furiously thought. 'Focus, Serenity. It's all in my mind! Marik can't be here.'
Pressing her pencil against the exam paper, she forced her eyes on problem 24. Unfortunately, images of Joey sinking into darkness—sinking into the sea—plagued her. Joey speaking in that cruel, robotic voice. Joey cackling maniacally—Marikally.
'Joey's safe. I unchained him. I'm safe. Now do this problem!' Serenity commanded herself.
But her mind failed to obey the order. It kept straying to Marik and his mind-controlling ways.
'I refuse to dwell on Marik!' the student desperately thought.
Joey . . .Think about Joey.
And Serenity did. She visualized her brother's confident grin. His consoling hugs during times of terror. His antics that made her laugh.
She especially visualized that evening by the pier. Joey gallantly swinging to reach Yugi. His screams to sever Marik from his mind. And, finally, the blond's gentle smile, a smile salvaged from Marik's sharpness—his harshness—that greeted her as Joey pulled his sister into an embrace.
It was then that Serenity had a revelation. It was then that the answer trickled over her.
The sun was still in the sky. She was alive. Serenity sat on the bench in front of the chemistry building and buried her head in her arms. Chestnut-colored hair weakly waved in the wind. In her meditative state, she barely felt the fingers that were smoothing over her tendrils.
She jolted upward at the sound of her name.
"Oh, big brother!" she cried out as he helped her up from her position.
"So how did it go?" questioned Joey eagerly.
"Well, I don't think I failed," Serenity admitted.
"Aw, sis, you never do," he declared.
"That's because I have you, Joey," she stated seriously. He quickly stole a glance at her. Now it was the blond's turn for a blush to develop over his face.
"Nah," Joey disagreed. He encircled an arm around her waist. "It's because we have each other."
Serenity decided that this was the most anti-Marik of all.
I wrote Problem 24, so, if anything is incorrect, please do tell me. (If any readers, particularly chemistry majors and biology majors, found this story to be pathetic or one of humor instead of the marked genre/category, please drop a note.)
(1) In organic chemistry, Markovnikov's Rule says that a proton is added to the less substituted carbon in an alkene, a hydrocarbon with a double bond, for synthesis situations.
Thank you for reading.