Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh! or any of the songs that have inspired my writing. I do own a few OCs. The corporations mentioned in this story are all fictional (I hope). "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" is the title of a song written by David Rovics. He believes in the creative commons, so I'm sure he does not mind me using his song as inspiration.

Author's Note: This is the prequel to my other stories, so if this is the first story of mine that you have ever read, please do not peek at my other stories because there will be major spoilers! For those of you who are already familiar with my stories, I hope that you also find this one enjoyable, and please do not put any spoilers in the reviews. Thank You!

Music Lover's Alert: If you like to listen to music while you read, I recommend "Typical" by Mutemath as background music for this chapter.

Chapter 1 Breaking Up

Joey, Yugi, Tristan, and Serenity were all sitting around a table waiting for their order at Burger World. They were all dressed casually in jeans and T-shirts, which they had been stocking up on for the days when they would no longer need to wear their school uniforms. Serenity sat next to Tristan, holding hands with him under the table. Ever since the conclusion of the Battle City Tournament, Serenity and Tristan had slowly formed a relationship under the watchful eye of Joey, who wanted to make sure that nobody took advantage of his sister. Although Joey occasionally allowed his sister to go out with Tristan unsupervised, most of their dates, like this one, were chaperoned.

"So, graduation is coming up soon. Are you guys excited?" Serenity asked. Her soft green eyes glowed with happiness as she gave Tristan's hand a little squeeze.

"You bet!" Yugi replied enthusiastically, "I got a full scholarship to Cairo University. They really liked my entrance essay on Atem, and they want me to study Ancient Egyptian history! Maybe they'll even let me dig up the millennium items again." His spiky blond bangs bounced around his face as he spoke.

"That's wonderful, Yugi! Of course, you'll have to write to us every day while you're over there," Joey said.

"I'm not sure I'll have the time, Joey. It's a very rigorous program. How about once a week?" Yugi suggested.

"Twice a week, and no less," Joey insisted.

"OK! You've got a deal." Joey and Yugi shook hands. "What about you, Joey? What are you doing after you graduate?" Yugi asked.

"My grades weren't quite good enough for Tokyo University, so I'm going to stick around here and work. Perhaps I'll enter a few Duel Monsters tournaments and travel a bit on weekends to win some extra cash. After all, I've gotta watch out for my sister!" Joey replied.

Tea brought their order to the table. Her Burger World uniform clung tight around her bulging chest, but she had decided not to buy a new one because she would be quitting in just a few months. "Hey Tea! Is there any chance you could join us?" Serenity asked.

"Not right now. I'll meet up with you guys after, OK?"

"OK!" Serenity chirped. Serenity loved talking with Tea because she was always so wise and full of insight. Serenity watched her with admiration as she set down a burger and milkshake in front of each one of her friends, then twirled around gracefully to attend to her other customers. Her short brown hair whipped around her face as she turned.

Joey and Tristan immediately stuffed their mouths full of food while Yugi and Serenity ate more delicately. "Hey, did you guys hear about Bakura?" Yugi asked.

"No, what about Bakura?" Serenity asked.

"His uncle gave him fifty one shares of International Enterprises for his eighteenth birthday. He's now the CEO!"

Tristan choked on his burger, and Serenity quickly moved to aid him. She yanked him out of the booth and into a standing position. Then, she got behind him and executed a Heimlich maneuver. A giant piece of half-chewed beef flew out of Tristan's mouth and landed in Yugi's milkshake.

Joey stared at his sister with his brown eyes wide open. "When did you learn to do that?"

"Remember when I went to visit our father in the hospital without you last month? They happened to have a free CPR class taking place while I was there, so I decided to try it. I never through I'd have the chance to use what I learned so soon!"

Tristan kept his head low while he recovered. He stood with his hands on his knees, heaving for air. His tall spike of dark brown hair pointed at the edge of the table.

"Tristan, are you OK?" Serenity asked.

Tristan's breaths came closer together, and he shuddered while he looked at the ground. When he finally raised his head, his face was streaked with tears.

"Tristan! What's wrong?" Serenity gasped. She took him by the arm and led him back to his seat.

Yugi and Joey exchanged worried glances. Just a moment ago, they were happily discussing their future plans. Now, Tristan was crying uncontrollably. Serenity put an arm around Tristan in an attempt to comfort him, but it only made him cry harder.

After a few minutes, Tristan's sobs abated and he gained enough courage to speak. "I have to go to America for college. My dad pulled a few strings at Dartmouth University, and he'll kill me if I don't go. Every Taylor since my grandfather has gone there, and even though my marks aren't exactly up to their standards, they let me in because I'm a Taylor. I'm sorry, Serenity. I didn't want to tell you like this. It's just that when Yugi mentioned International Enterprises I… You see, my father works for International Insurance, and they are the ones funding my tuition. It's all set up, and there's no backing out."

Serenity looked at her brother for help, but he too was at a loss for words. The four friends sat in silence for a while. Then, Yugi came up with an idea. "Hey! Bakura now owns International Enterprises, right? That means he also owns International Airlines! Maybe he'll give us special deals on flights so we can visit each other more often."

Tristan shook his head slowly. "I've already spoken with Bakura about that. He just laughed at me and said that I should focus on my studies instead of my love life. Unfortunately, I think he has a point."

"What are you saying, Tristan?" Serenity asked.

"Serenity, I just want you to be happy, and I… I think we should see other people," Tristan said with a gulp.

Now, it was Serenity's turn to cry. She clung to her boyfriend's chest, sobbing while he stroked her hair.

"Tristan, you jerk!" Joey yelled, "My sister just saved your life, and this is how you thank her!" Joey stood abruptly and grabbed Serenity by the hand, hauling her away from Tristan. On his way out, he passed Tea and threw some bills on her serving tray. "If that doesn't cover it, I'll pay you back later."

Yugi and Tristan sat dumbfounded while Tea came over to their table. "What was that about?" she asked.

"Tristan just broke up with Serenity," Yugi explained.

"What! Tristan, how could you? You two made the perfect couple!" Tea gushed.

"Ms. Gardner, stop socializing and get back to work!" a male voice behind her ordered.

"Eep! Sorry guys! Catch you later!"

"Wait, Tea! Can you get me another milkshake?" Yugi asked.

"Sure, Yugi." Tea left the table and went to process his order.

Tristan put his head in his hands. "I'm such a fool!"

"Don't be so hard on yourself, Tristan! Breakups are never easy," Yugi consoled.

"I just hoped she would understand and not see me as a total scum bag. I thought that maybe we could stay friends or something."

Yugi nodded. "I know what you mean. I'm afraid to tell Tea about my scholarship in Cairo."

Just then, Tea set Yugi's milkshake down on the table. "Congratulations, Yugi! You're going to call me every day, right?"

Yugi looked up at his girlfriend with a blush, "We'll talk later, OK?"

Tea frowned at him and walked away to serve the other customers. Yugi sighed and took a sip of his milkshake. Tristan looked down at the rest of the food on his plate and pushed it away. For once in his life, he simply was not hungry.

Closing Notes

I put these at the end instead of the beginning just because they looked too cumbersome at the beginning. These are just a few reference notes for you all to use when reading the rest of the story.

Character Ages: Character ages are more important in this story than they were in the other stories I wrote. Therefore, I referenced the Absolute Anime website for all character ages. According to Absolute Anime, Mokuba and Serenity are both 13. Bakura, Marik, Yugi, Tea, Joey, Tristan, and Duke are all 16. Seto is 18. Ishizu is 20. Mai and Pegasus are 24. This will be a silentshipping story even though Seto is five years older than Serenity. Honestly, I don't have any age qualms about shipping any of these characters together because there is an even larger age gap between my boyfriend and me.

Time Frame: This story starts two years after the regular Yu-Gi-Oh! series ends, so take all the character ages and add two years. Also, there may be spoilers in this story if you have not watched the entire series. Since you can access the series for free on Hulu, and the series was completed several years ago, I am assuming that everyone reading this has already watched the whole series and that spoilers will not be a problem for anyone.

Setting: I have heard some people say that when using the dub names, Domino should be in America. However, in this case Domino is in Japan. Also, this is a slightly altered reality not in terms of the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe, but in terms of the real universe. History in this universe diverged from history in our universe around 1930. In this universe, several countries are at war with each other and struggling desperately to pay off their war debts. Japan is a democracy now, and warring against communist China. Even though Seto stopped supplying weapons of war long ago, some countries still owe debts to Kaiba Corporation along with several other corporations.

Call For Reviews: I strongly encourage people to leave constructive criticism and I accept anonymous reviews. In fact, one the most useful reviews I ever received came from an anonymous source who wrote under the name SammieBarone. So, please don't hesitate to speak your mind!