This was originally written in November 2018

the fun has just begun...!

or... maybe it's stopped before it's even started, because you keep killing the fun with all these doubts piling on and on, no matter how much you try to fight it, and who would even want to be around you like this, anyway?

the fun has just begun. in another place, it started all on its own because all you would do is hold it back, no matter how hard you try.

you'll swing back. you have to.

Yuya pulled his goggles down over his eyes as he walked by the You Show Duel School.

Most days, he'd be excited, run in the second he had the chance to practice, learn, and improve. Right now, though, he ducked his head as he shuffled past. It wasn't like he didn't want to be there, he wanted to, but right now he wasn't sure he could handle it. Did he deserve his spot there? Was he good enough to really achieve his dreams?

Usually, he could talk himself around the problem. Of course he deserved to be there. It was his dad's school. Of course he could achieve his dreams. If he'd made it this far, he could make it all the way. He wanted to and tried to be an optimist, and believe it would all work out. That there was a light at the end of the tunnel where everyone knew his name, everyone was smiling, no one even remembered that his dad ever disappeared and that didn't even matter because he came back. That he had a future at the top, Yuzu and Gogenzaka with him, all three of them both happy and successful. To him, there was no question Yuzu and Gogenzaka would make it there.

At the end of the day, though, Yuya was a realist.

If Yuya wanted to be everything he dreamed of, he needed not only to be the best entertainer but the best duelist the world had ever seen. Yeah, maybe he was a decent entertainer. He could make people smile, at least sometimes, along with him. Sometimes that meant they were laughing at him, but if he laughed, too, they were just laughing with him, right? But Yuya was far from the greatest duelist out there. His win-loss record was 50-50 at best. His strategies felt pretty solid to him, but his opponents often didn't have a hard time breaking them apart. At least he could win some of his duels. He'd won his last two duels, against some fairly skilled opponents, but those wins were probably closer to flukes than anything. But his entertainment skills meant nothing if he couldn't win most of his duels. And even with that, his entertainment abilities were a far cry from his father's.

It felt like he was just struggling against the inevitable. At some point he would fall, and fail, and never be able to get up from it.

He kept claiming he was going to inherit his dad's legacy, but how could he do that like this? Why go to his dad's school at all if he was just destined for failure? Why keep dueling if he wasn't any good at it?

But, no matter how much he turned the thoughts over in his head, Yuya knew that he was meant to be a duelist. His future was in dueling.

If he was meant to duel, then why wasn't he getting any better? Why was he stuck like this? What was he doing wrong?

...Pretty soon, everyone at school would probably start to wonder where he was. But Yuya found himself fine with that. Yuzu was an incredible duelist; these days, she was much better than Yuya, and definitely the best at their school. Yuya's dreams were for him and all his friends to be his best, but all his doubts were around him alone. He couldn't see a future where Yuzu failed to go pro except by choice, drawing out huge crowds to see her Entertainment Duels. That, he knew, would happen with or without him. Could he really do anything for her except weigh her down? It might be good for her to have a day where she didn't have to practice dueling with him. And Yuya's heart wasn't in it anyway.

Right now, he didn't want to duel, because he knew he would just lose. He didn't want to be around anyone else, because eventually everyone else would figure out he was destined for failure, too. And he couldn't do anything to help them, either. His friends didn't really need him to achieve their own dreams.

But, deep down, Yuya knew it wouldn't be long before he went back to dueling, went back to running back into the You Show Duel School with a smile on his face. He couldn't keep himself away from it for long. This was a downswing, but he'd swing back, like a pendulum, out of all this anxiety. And right now, that hurt as much as it gave him hope.