Set pre-GX with both manga and anime canon. The one major alteration is that Fujiwara Yusuke is not in this. If you're interested in knowing why, I've included my reasons at the bottom of this chapter.

"Love isn't something you find. Love is something that finds you." - Loretta Young

Ryo was never one to show much excitement if he could help it, but as he walked through the shiny, spotless halls of Duel Academy that still smelled of fresh paint, he found he was smiling in spite of himself. He had the halls- and the school- to himself and loved it that way, though he knew it wouldn't last. Within days he would have competition, duelists who would give him a challenge the novices back home couldn't. For now, though, Samejima had said he had important news, so Ryo tried to keep a serious face as he neared the chancellor's door.

Samejima welcomed him into his office and bade him to stand in front of the desk. "Are you ready for this?" Samejima asked.

He was treated to one of Ryo's rare smiles, the kind that wasn't smug. "Yes sir. I've been waiting all summer for this."

"It's good to see you again." He scratched his head. "How many years would you say it's been?"

"Seven." Ryo thought the man hadn't aged a day, though the same couldn't be said for himself. He was proud of the fact that he now had to look down at his mentor instead of up.

Samejima shook his head. "I can't believe it. And now here you are in your first year and you're already an Obelisk Blue. No, you're one of the elite."


"Oh yes, that's what I wanted to tell you! In Obelisk there are two elite members, or honor students. They represent the best of the best and have the top scores on all the exams, both written and field. You are one of the two. You'll meet the other member next week, when school starts. He'll be your roommate for your first year." First years were the only Obelisks who had roommates.

Ryo smiled again, fixing his eyes on the wall behind Samejima. He liked praise as much as anyone, but wasn't sure how he felt about special treatment. "I'm honored that you think so highly of me, sir."

"You deserve it for all your hard work. My hope is that by placing you at the top of the school, you'll set an example for the other students in teaching them the respect involved in dueling."

"I'll do my best." Ryo said, but jumped suddenly as the door was flung open open and Chronos-sensei barged in.

"Are you quite finished? I have a very important matter I need to discuss with you," he barked at Samejima.

Ryo wasn't sure what to make of Chronos-sensei, and as such he'd avoided him for the past week. A good duelist, yes, and presumably a worthy professor, but his behavior at the entrance exams had been mildly disturbing to say the least. What kind of teacher turned away a potentially good student simply because she'd mistaken him for a woman? Which isn't exactly hard to do, Ryo thought.

Avoiding Chronos-sensei had not been a simple task. He seemed to be everywhere, hawking at the cleaning staff in the dorms, rifling through the card packs in the shop, and these "important matters to discuss" always seemed to come up whenever Ryo and Samejima were talking. Ryo wasn't supposed to be at school until next week when classes began- a fact Chronos-sensei constantly reminded him of- but Samejima had needed an extra hand to help get the campus ready and so he'd made an exception for Ryo. Chronos-sensei had made it more than clear he did not approve of making exceptions.

"Yes, Ryo and I were just discussing his new roommate."

"And who might that be?"

"Why, the other elite duelist. What was his name again? Tenjoin something?"

"You don't mean Tenjoin Fubuki, do you?" Chronos-sensei said. Ryo nearly winced at how shrill his voice was.

Samejima snapped his fingers. "Ah! Tenjoin Fubuki, that was it. Yes, I thought that since they're both such fine duelists, they could give each other a bit of competition."

Chronos-sensei stared at Samejima, mouth agape. "You're pairing up Tenjoin Fubuki with him?" he jerked a thumb toward Ryo, who was beginning to feel uneasy.

"Do you think that will be a problem, sir?" Ryo asked, raising an eyebrow. He'd heard all the horror stories about roommates who stayed up until all hours of the night, trashed the dorm rooms, blasted music, and snuck in girls after curfew. He'd even heard of a case where a boy took pictures of his roommate undressing and posted it on the internet, where it still existed to this day. Surely an elite student can't be that bad.

"Have you lost your mind, sir? They'll hate each other."

"That's enough, Chronos!" Samejima stood. "Ryo, don't listen to him. I have no doubt that the two of you will be just fine. I met Tenjoin at the exams and he's a very nice boy."

"A little too nice, if you ask me," Chronos-sensei muttered.

"What was that?" Samejima said rather than asked.

"Er- nothing, sir."

"Good. If you'll excuse us, Ryo."

Ryo stood on the balcony, thinking. The soft breeze caressed his cheek and ruffled his hair as he looked out at the newly trimmed lawn encompassing the Obelisk dorm. He'd been thankful for the opportunity to come to Duel Academy early; it gave him the advantage of knowing the campus before anyone else. He'd seen almost all of the school over the few days that he'd been there with the exception of the Osiris dorm, which he had no desire to see. It was incredible. When he'd read the course catalog, even he couldn't keep a grin off his face. Deck Construction, Card Design, Dueling Strategies, Monster Attributes, Gym (okay, not a grin-worthy class, but there were worse fates) and his personal favorite, Intro to Machine Monsters. The only class that puzzled him was the last one listed on his schedule. Duel Alchemy taught by Daitokuji-sensei. He'd never heard of that before.

But what puzzled him even more was what Chronos-sensei had said about Tenjoin Fubuki. Did he mean too friendly in an annoying peppy way or in a creepy stalker way? Than again, this was Chronos-sensei. He decided to put more stock in what Samejima had said.

Nevertheless, curiosity took over and Ryo reached for his handheld. He connected to Duel Academy's wifi and did an internet search for Tenjoin Fubuki. All that came up was a report of his entrance exam. He'd scored very well on both tests just like Samejima had said. Ryo noted with interest that he'd also dueled using a dragon deck. His rarest card was Red Eyes Black Dragon.

Well. No wonder Tenjoin was an elite student. To have a card that rare, one used by the likes of Katsuya Jonouchi and Mutou Yuugi, he had to be good. No doubt Tenjoin was a serious, hard-working student who would be devoted to his studies just like Ryo. They would study together, maybe duel occasionally, but there would be respect.

Ryo put the handheld away, feeling relieved. He would not have to worry about Tenjoin Fubuki causing him any problems.

1. I honestly never liked Fujiwara at all, and if I tried to write him I would probably end up bashing him. I figure his fans would have preferred me to just leave him out rather than screw up a beloved character.

2. It doesn't change the canon much. We didn't even know Fujiwara existed until season four, so he's not a particularly hard character to drop.