This story was originally written in June 2018. I'll include the original author's notes below.

So uh, just some notes before we get into this, this is like super pre-canon, yuri's probably about like, seven or something, duel academy has classes for younger children here, this is before leo got super deep in his stuff and found serena and duel academy went 100% hardcore 'child soldier' and all (though that gradual process has already begun), and, uh, that's probably most of the context you need for this.

I've been wanting to write this for like three months now, finally got to it, thank goodness, I need more Arc V in my life, I need more Yuri in my life, thanks for reading! Enjoy!

Twiddling his thumbs, Yuri had to make the decision of whether or not to pay attention in class today.

He hadn't been attending Duel Academy all that long, but he didn't need long to realize the pace was way too slow for him. Most of the time, he was bored out of his mind. The kids here were so...stupid, at times. They needed the same thing explained to them again and again and again, and even then some of them didn't learn. Some of his classmates still thought they could play traps directly out of their hand without setting them first, after talking about how to play traps for three days straight.

Maybe he was just naturally good at dueling. Maybe he just learned faster than his classmates. But it was boring at the best of times and more often it was annoying. By now Yuri rarely paid attention in class and stuck to the back row in the classroom. Others had more need of those front row seats.

Today, however, it had sounded like they were starting a new topic. Where they reviewing something they'd already covered, or it would it actually be something new? It was about a 50:50 chance either way. Yuri probably wasn't going to figure it out until class started.

Classmates shuffled into their seats around and ahead of him, and finally, class began. The topic was finally revealed: Fusion Summoning. Yuri leaned forward in his seat. He didn't know anything about this yet.

"Fusion Monsters are one of the most powerful tools available to us in our duels," the teacher explained. "They are monsters summoned by combining two or more other monsters. You can identify a Fusion Monster by its purple background on the front of the card. Fusion Monsters are separate from your main Deck and sit in your Extra Deck, so you can summon them anytime once you meet the conditions to summon one."

One of Yuri's hands immediately shot to his pants pocket, where a card was sitting, waiting. It was his favorite card. And it had a purple background! Was it a Fusion Monster? Would he finally learn how to use it?

"Can any of you explain exactly how to summon a Fusion Monster?" The teacher asked. Someone sitting in the front row raised a hand, and they were called on. A girl, with purple hair tied back in a ponytail.

"To summon a Fusion Monster, you have to play the Spell Card Polymerization. You must also have the Fusion Materials listed on the card either in your hand or on your field," the girl answered. There was no smugness in her voice, no sign of showing off, it was simply a statement, a fact. Interesting.

Yuri wiggled his toes inside his shoes. Polymerization? Fusion Materials? He was pretty sure he had the spell, but the rest he wasn't so sure...

"Correct," the teacher said. "In most cases, Fusion Materials are sent to the graveyard, like with a Tribute Summon. Fusion Materials are usually listed as specific monsters..."

Yuri slumped forward in his seat. Specific monsters? He wasn't sure what the ones listed on his card were, let alone if he had them. He still wasn't entirely sure his card was a Fusion Monster, either. The confusion and the uncertainty were eating at him now. Usually, he was able to pick up and learn everything introduced to him immediately, and this feeling was mostly new, and troubling. He couldn't pull out his card during class, he'd already been yelled at for it before, but later he was going to have to figure this out.

It was his favorite card, after all, and what kind of favorite would it be if he couldn't even use it?

After a time, recess came. They were all considered to be too young for the physical training most Academy students went through, so recess was the closest they had. And they took advantage of it. Most of Yuri's classmates took advantage of it: playing games together, running around the playground, making full use of everything the playground offered. Yuri no longer tried to join them. He stopped being invited long ago; they claimed he 'took the games too seriously and went too far', and the skill and attitude he took in dueling 'creeped them out', so they 'preferred not to hang around him'. Once upon a time, he'd forced his way into their games anyway, but found they were much less fun when he wasn't wanted. So instead he kept to himself, usually swinging on the swings or balancing as he walked around the main playground area's wooden perimeter.

Today's however, he saw that girl out of the corner of his eye. That girl with the purple hair in a ponytail from class, who answered questions about Fusion Summoning without hesitation nor flaw. She seemed to be keeping to herself as well, sitting in the sandbox. He thought again to the card in his pocket.

Yuri held great pride in himself, but didn't consider himself above asking for help when he needed it. He just rarely needed it at all was the thing. So he quickly approached her, but didn't get too close. He didn't want to get on her bad side, and these days most of his classmates seemed to find his presence unsettling.

"Excuse me," Yuri began, and the girl looked up from her digging. "You know how to Fusion Summon, correct?"

"That's correct," she responded, her face neutral. He wasn't sure what to make of her, or at least, her impression of him. She didn't seem too eager to deal with him, but she didn't immediately send him off as most did lately. A good sign? He hoped so.

"If you don't mind, I wanted ask you something about it," he said. "You mentioned Fusion Materials in class. I think I have a Fusion Monster, but I can't figure out the materials for it. There aren't monsters listed on the card. I was hoping you could help me figure it out."

The girl sighed, but got up from her position on her hands and knees, standing up in front of him. She brushed some of the sand off of her hands before holding a hand out to him. "Let's have a look, then," she said flatly.

Yuri took his card from his pocket and held it out to her, but didn't let go as her outstretched hand grabbed onto it. She seemed unfazed as she leaned forward to get a better look at Starving Venom Fusion Dragon. As she read its text, she seemed to relax a little.

"We only ever talk basics in class, and this card seems a bit complex. I don't understand it fully myself just looking at it now, I can't blame you for being confused." Her tone became a bit lighter "This one doesn't require specific monsters, like the ones we talked about in class. You just need two monsters with the Dark attribute symbol in the top-right corner. And Polymerization, obviously."

Yuri glanced over the card text again, though it was upside-down for him. He thought he could see where that was outlined. He smiled. "Of course. Now that you say that, it seems obvious. But I greatly appreciate your knowledge and assistance. Thank you for your help."

"Hopefully you have what you need to summon that monster," the girl said, glancing back down at the card again before letting go.

"I believe I do," Yuri mused as he carefully placed the card back in his pocket. Perhaps not the best place to hold onto something so important, but he was always careful, and he preferred to keep it on him at all times. It was...calming. "I think I have a copy of Polymerization somewhere. And my deck is full of Dark type monsters, so that shouldn't be an issue. I'll look my deck over after class is done for the day."


They stood in silence. Yuri debated whether he should leave or if the conversation was going to continue. He had to admit he wasn't great at deciphering between the two, since he didn't talk to anyone much these days. He'd almost decided on the former when the girl spoke again.

"I don't think we've properly met. My name's Serena."

"Ah, how rude of me. My name is Yuri. It's nice to meet you."

"And you as well," Serena responded as the two reached out to shook hands.

As their hands touched, Yuri could feel something, like a spark, or a gut feeling, perhaps. Immediately, he had the impression that Serena was someone he should keep his eye on. It made sense; she was clearly smarter than most of their classmates, and appeared about as interested in them as he was these days. But this feeling went deeper than that. Yuri almost had a premonition of sorts. He had the feeling they would either go on to become great comrades, or fierce enemies.

He couldn't wait to figure out which it would turn out to be.