Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh. However, I kind of wish I did, because whoever does is getting filthy rich off of this franchise. *hurries to Wikipedia*

A/N: I don't know how long I've been working on this… years, really, off and on. I cannot tell you how many times I changed this chapter alone… I think that the only thing that is the same from the first draft in 2006 (yes, 2006!) is the character's name, and I think I changed her last name, anyway. Alas, here is the first chapter – I cannot say if there will be more, but I have an overwhelmingly large amount of diskspace taken up by random excerpts of this thing, so hopefully something will come out of it. Positive feedback will also help the process along… if nobody likes it, I will not continue. Anyway, please enjoy.

Dedicated to: Danielle, because we first came up with this at some ungodly hour during Christmas in Colorado, all those years ago. It's finally ready! *cue tears of joy*


Footsteps in the Sand

Chapter One

The Welcoming Party

The footsteps in the hallway echoed, almost deafening in volume to the sole occupant of the corridor. Moments before, hundreds of feet scuffled quickly to their destinations, and the sounds of slamming lockers had been barely identifiable over the between-class chattering. Now, the students sat at their desks, continuing their conversations from the hall, and the teachers shuffled their papers into order.

The footsteps stopped. The girl looked up at the class number and checked it against the slip of paper she had been given. She checked it again, and took a deep breath before raising a hand to the door and giving it a quick rap. The hubbub in the room died down instantly, and the door slid open, the teacher beckoning the new student inside.

As she glanced around the room, she noticed the looks directed her way – some inquisitive, some scrutinizing, and still others scathing – but soon returned her attention to the instructor, who had already begun in his introduction to the class.

"…As it is difficult to transfer in the middle of the school year, I hope that you will be able to assist Mikomi in any way possible. Please," he now turned to the new student, "give us a short introduction, if you may."

"Of course." She faced the class, feeling their weighty stares. "My name is Mikomi Hibana, and I have just recently moved to Domino from Tokyo. My favorite classes are art and lunch," two guys in the back, a blonde and brunette, both laughed and shared a look, "and I guess I plan on joining several athletic clubs." She gave an apologetic look to the teacher. "I really don't know what else to say."

"That's fine. Now, if you could take that seat in the back, between Wheeler and Gardener, we can get started on our first lesson." Mikomi just looked around until she saw a girl give a slight wave, and she rushed to the empty seat beside.

The girl turned in her seat, a kind smile on her lips. "Hi, I'm Téa. I guess we'll be neighbors from now on."

Mikomi returned the grin. "I guess so." She stuck out her hand. "Can I count on you to be my tour guide?"

Téa laughed and grasped the offered hand tightly. "Of course." Mikomi grinned, sweeping her brown locks over her shoulder; at least she had one companion in the chaos she had been thrown into.

"And what am I, chopped liver?"

The brunette turned her attention to her left, where a friendly looking blonde grinned widely at her. She recognized him as one of the two who had laughed during her introduction. He also stretched forth a hand, which she took firmly. His grin widened, if such a thing was possible. "The name's Joey Wheeler. This bum on the other side of me's Tristan, and the dwarf in front is Yugi. I guess you've been thrown right into our little family, Komi!"

The girl let out a small laugh, happy that she'd already been accepted into such a group and thinking about her new nickname. "So I have!"

"Hibana, I don't even have you in my class for ten minutes, and you're already ignoring my lectures!"

"Sorry, Sensei!"

The teacher grumbled and continued his speech. Tristan and Joey completely ignored him, instead choosing to flick paper footballs at random students. Téa, before concentrating on her notes, gave Mikomi a wink.

"We'll talk later, then!"

It was the first time that Mikomi had to change classes, so it took some time getting to her science course. Having been an advanced placement student in her previous school, she had been stuck in the senior physics class, and the lab allotted to the course was on the other side of the building. When she arrived, however, she had to be introduced again, and she suffered the analytical stares of the third-years, as well.

The chemistry teacher seemed like a nice enough woman, and she seemed to know the awkwardness of the "first day." The introduction was short and to the point, and the teacher handed Mikomi the book provided for the course before waving her off to the only empty seat – the table at the back of the room.

As Mikomi lowered herself onto the stool, she glanced over to whom she assumed to be her lab partner. He was tall – over six-foot, she could tell – and had neatly cropped brown hair. His sapphire eyes cast a disinterested look over his materials, and he soon pulled out some unknown papers and began reading over them, clearly bored.

Mikomi put out her hand. "I guess I will be your new lab partner, then."

The boy glanced at her gesture and returned his attention to the files in front of him. "Evidently." She frowned, retracting her hand.

"My name's Mikomi Hibana."

"So I heard," he returned in another flat tone.

Mikomi was getting frustrated. Where all the seniors this arrogant? "And who might I have the pleasure of addressing?" she inquired snidely. The boy shot her a glare and sneered.

"Seto Kaiba."

The girl frowned again and turned away, deciding to concentrate on the instructor, rather than her rude partner. She made a mental note to ask about him at lunch, as she was sure that Téa could answer all of her questions.

Joey nearly choked on his milk. "Kaiba's your lab partner?!" Tristan began to laugh hysterically at the news.

"Good luck with that one, Komi."

"Oh, stop it, you two," Téa scolded them. "Sorry, Mikomi, but Seto Kaiba has a bit of, um, history with our group."

"He isn't bad or anything," Yugi jumped in. "He just isn't socially… adept."

"Moneybags is the CEO of that big gaming company, Kaiba Corp." Mikomi turned her attention again to Joey. "He cares about two things: his business and his little brother. Not much else piques his Highness' interests. He's cutthroat ruthless, too."

Yugi sighed. "Don't you think you're exaggerating a bit, Joey?"

"Remember your Grandpa, Yug?" Yugi's mouth twisted into an indecisive frown. "Anyway, you've got your work cut out for you, Mikomi."

The brunette began to feel a little unsettled. "Er, thanks. I'll keep that in mind."

"Hey, hey, hey! Who do we have here?"

Joey's face lit up. "Yo, Duke! This here's the new girl to our class." The newly introduced boy slid a chair in between Mikomi and Téa, despite her objections. Mikomi just raised an eyebrow.

"Well, aren't you a pretty one!" Duke examined her features, and Mikomi turned away from him when she felt his gaze linger a bit too long on her chest. He just smirked and flipped his bangs out of his eyes. "Would you like me to show you around, later? I can take you to someplace nice for dinner, afterwards."

Mikomi gave him a tight-lipped grin. "Well, that's certainly kind of you, Duke, but I like my guys a little less effeminate." Joey and Tristan looked from each other to Duke's astonished face, and the two were hollering with laughter. Mikomi smirked, pleased with herself.

"Suit yourself." Obviously wounded by the brunette's comment, the green eyed man turned to Joey. "How's your sister doin'?"

"You stay away from her, slime ball. Her innocence will not be poisoned by you," Joey warned his friend with a serious look.

Téa suddenly caught Mikomi's attention with a astonished gasp. "Are you serious going to eat all of that?!"

The newcomer confusedly looked down at her lunch tray. "I'd have to throw it away if I didn't."

"How can you eat all of that?!"

"I have a fast metabolism, and I exercise," Mikomi shrugged. Their conversation grabbed the attention of the boys. "I love food. I have to cook for myself, anyway."

Tristan frowned. "Why is that?"

"I live alone."

"What?!" She jumped at her friends' collective exclamations, and briefly took notice of a few glares from other tables that were being sent to hers.

"It's not that big of a deal. My parents live in America, but I wanted to stay here. I've been living alone for the past few years," she shrugged. Téa leaned towards her.

"Don't you feel lonely?" she asked concernedly.

Again, Mikomi shrugged. "I have a cat. I always make friends when I move again, so I hang out with them most of the time."

Joey leaned back in his chair. He raised an eyebrow inquisitively. "You make it sound like you move a lot."

"Five schools in just as many years." Before the others could say anything, she continued. "My uncle is my benefactor, so when he moves, I have to move." The bell in the hallway rang, and Mikomi looked down at her tray. "Crap. I didn't finish."

Tristan laughed and clapped her on the back as his blonde friend grinned. "It's alright. It all tastes like boiled rubber, anyway!"

Clearly used to the boys' antics, Téa rolled her eyes and pulled Mikomi with her when she stood. "Come on. It's time for P.E."

Mikomi let the door close heavily behind her, and she flopped on the couch, tired but happy. A black kitten jumped onto her chest, rubbing her hands to get her to pet him. The brunette smiled. "Don't worry, I'll pet you plenty. You act like I've neglected you for days." She relaxed for a while with her pet, but she soon moved him to grab the newspaper. "Jobs, jobs, jobs… here we are. Hm… hey, Bya-chan, do you think a can be a waitress?"

Blue-green eyes stared back. He mewed.

"You're right. I'll give them a call tonight. But for now," she stood and stretched, sighing when she felt her bones pop, "it's dinner time, Byakuya."

She poured the cat food in the bowl and laughed a little when the kitten dove in whole-heartedly. Pulling some ingredients from the refrigerator, Mikomi began to make her own dinner, boiling some water on the stove.

"Well, Byakuya, I made friends pretty quickly this time. Pretty good for the first day, hm?" The cat looked at her briefly before returning to his meal. "They're all nice," her thoughts turned to Devlin and her unwelcoming lab partner, "for the most part, if not a little quirky. But, I guess that means I'll fit right in, won't I?"

She crouched down, scratching Byakuya under his chin. She frowned. "I wonder how they'll react when they find out that I talk to my cat."

Bya-chan meowed, and she laughed, setting him on her shoulder as she tended to her meal.