Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh, nor do I make any profit from this piece of fanfiction.

Reader Warnings: None.

AN: This was supposed to have been written for Halloween, but as you can see, I'm a bit late for that. Yet another attempt for me to write Season 0!Yami/Atem. Also heavily inspired by the Persona series. That said, I wrote this with the track "Soko ni Iru no wa Dare" (AKA the Midnight Channel theme) from Persona 4 playing in the background. An upload of the track can be found on youtube here: www . youtube watch ? v = zlV8Ck6x9t. Upload not done by me, and as always, remove the spaces! Enjoy!

Shadow


He opened his eyes, to find himself in front of the school gates. What he was doing here, he had no idea – he spent enough time here during the week, and given the treatment he received there day in and day out, it wasn't exactly his idea of a place to hang out in his free time. It was dark out, this much he realized, but despite the lack of lights, he could still see. He looked up, and his jaw dropped.

The sky was the strangest mix of purple, black, and green he had ever seen, and unless he was very much mistaken, the sky was positively glowing. He shivered, not from any sort of chill (the temperature was quite comfortable here, wherever here was) but from fear. Not that fear was anything new to him, after getting bullied and beaten up day in and day out.

In an attempt to calm himself, he muttered, "Okay Yuugi, what was the last thing you remember doing?" Digging into his memory, he remembered eating dinner, doing his homework, then spending a few hours working in the Puzzle like he did every other night. And then he'd gone to bed. Which meant, "I must be dreaming," he concluded.

And proceeded to pinch himself.

Except it hurt. "Now that's weird, I didn't think you were supposed to feel pain inside of a dream," he muttered, rubbing his sore cheek as he looked around. To his surprise, there was no sidewalk leading up to the school. If anything, it was like he was standing in the only sign of civilization for, well, as far as he could see. Which was, given the all-consuming darkness around school grounds, not far. He turned to his right and began walking, following the exterior of the school wall, seeing if it would lead to that street light with unpredictable signal changing times – he liked to play "Guess the Seconds" with it every morning; winning meant he would get himself juice instead of milk from the cafeteria during lunch, not that he'd yet to drink anything but milk for lunch.

"Well, that was odd," he declared, as he found himself on the far left side of the school's front walls. He turned around and took a few more steps, only to find himself on the other side. Tenuously, he reached out with his right hand . . . only for it to disappear once it reached past the invisible barrier of the school's outer wall. Pulling his arm back, he walked to the front gates once more, except this time, they were open, as though to welcome him inside.

He entered the school grounds, unsure of what to expect. A sudden shout echoed through the air, and Yuugi nearly freaked out and ran before he realized what he was looking at. A much larger boy – not that it was hard to be taller or bigger than himself, Yuugi morosely realized – was gleefully rolling in a pile of dead leaves and trash.

"Money, money!" the other boy exclaimed as he tossed a mixture of dead leaves and trash into the air.

Just what was going on here? He walked onward, into the school building, past the shoe lockers, only to find the building empty. The eerie glow of purple and green illuminated his way through the darkened halls as he explored. A sudden shriek rent through the air, and following the noise, he threw open the door to a classroom.

"The pounding! My ears! The pain, it won't stop!" he clutched at his ears, blood leaking from them, clearly from his attempts at deafening himself to make the illusionary noise stop. Spotting Yuugi at the door, he rushed over, clawing at his legs, "Just make it stop!"

Yuugi backed away, scared. "I . . . I . . ." He stumbled back a few steps, before hastily running away up another staircase. Just what was going on here? What sort of torture were they going through?

Unhinged laughter followed by the crash of breaking glass echoed down the hallway, and this time, he found himself outside one of the science classrooms. The laughter died down as his hand shakily reached for the handle – did he want to even see what awaited for him on the other side? But he had unmistakably heard the sound of breaking glass, right? What if the person inside was hurt, and needed help?

Pulling together what little courage he had, he opened the door, noticing a faint sweet scent in the air. Feeling a little light headed, he peered inside, this time, finding an unconscious teenager sprawled on the floor, a trench coat with paper – each with some sort of tragic event written upon it – pinned to the inside. His lips moved, and Yuugi caught the faint sounds of mumbled words.

Kneeling down next to the other boy, Yuugi put his ear near the other. "I'm a psychic! The bottle is floating, see? I'm a psychic!" the other repeated, as though it were a mantra.

Shaking the other, Yuugi asked, "Are you alright?"

No response came as the other continued to mutter his mantra. No signs of injury were upon the other, although there was a shattered bottle nearby. Carefully manipulating the glass so the label was facing him, he read, "Chloroform?"

He didn't have time to ponder the situation as an explosion echoed through the school building. Rushing to the window in the classroom, he opened it, and, looking up, spotted the smoke billowing from the roof. Making an adrenaline-fueled rush up the stairs, he wrenched the door to the roof open, only to nearly heave at the smell of burning flesh. A figure was writhing in agony in the flames, and he quickly looked around for a bucket and a source of water. And he would have run down the stairs to the nearest bathroom, had a strange sight not stopped him dead in his tracks.

Standing there, next to the pyre, was a short boy with spiky hair, just like his own. His eyes were narrowed in a glare Yuugi knew he could never accomplish, and the other's lips were twisted into a maniacal grin. The other wore the dark blue pants and jacket of the Domino High uniform, but instead of the standard white dress shirt, he wore a black buckled leather top and a studded leather collar. The smoke was making Yuugi's eyes water, and his stomach finally decided it could take the stench of burning flesh no longer. Clinging onto the doorframe, he heaved – first the remains of his dinner, followed by nothing as he continued to dry heave.

"Why hello, Yuugi," the other drawled, sauntering over. "There's no need to react in such a manner. I'm only taking care of your bullies for you."

As much as he wanted to answer, his stomach would not stop clenching, and the other began to rub his back. Once he could properly talk again, Yuugi turned to his strange almost-clone. "Just what did you do?"

Confusion struck the other's face. "Only what you wanted. You were weak, you wanted justice. You wanted to punish them."

"No, not like this. Never like this."

The other reached out with a hand, cupping a cheek. "What are you saying? Deep down, you know you wanted to." A look of fondness crossed his twin's face, and Yuugi couldn't suppress the shiver that raced down his spine. "I'm you, after all."

Taking a step back away from his darker and taller twin, Yuugi clutched a hand to his chest. "I-I-"

A look of displeasure flitted across the other's face, and Yuugi couldn't help but feel a sense of foreboding. "Why ever not? Didn't you want someone to save you? Someone who could make them feel your pain? Someone who could make them stop?"

Yuugi continued to back away from the other, until his foot slipped, and he tumbled down the last few steps of the staircase, hitting his head against the wall with a solid thud. It should have hurt, but the adrenaline dulled the pain. He wanted to scramble onto his feet and run, run down the stairs, and away from this nightmarish duplicate of himself. Was this what they meant by someone having an evil twin?

The other followed, one step at a time, back lit by the flames behind him. Whether it was a trick of the light or just his eyes watering from the smoke Yuugi was unsure, but the other's outline seemed to waver, and his crimson pupils were positively glowing. He tried to scramble backwards, but the wall prevented him. His sweaty palms slipped along the floor, and the other knelt beside him, a look of curious concern over his features.

"I'm just doing what you've always wished for," the other said again, reaching out to touch his cheek once more. "They beat you every day, steal your lunch money, make your life a living hell at every opportunity. Look at them now! I've only given them a personal hell of their own to live in," a short pause as the grin grew wider, and then, "no matter how short it may be."

In his fear, Yuugi lashed out with an arm, slapping the hand away. "D-don't touch me!"

Confusion. "Why not? Like I said before-"

"No, don't say it! It's not true; it can't be true! There's," he was panicking and hyperventilating now, "There's no way you could be me!"

Anger and confusion crossed the glowing crimson eyes, but Yuugi plowed on, ignoring the emotions he'd seen.

"You're not me! I'd never wish for someone to do something like this, no matter how deep you dig!"

The other's eyes closed, as a maniacal – almost bloodthirsty – smile took over his face. He laughed, insane and feral as a strangely familiar golden eye appeared on his forehead. "The power!" he exclaimed with all the exhilaration of a power high, as he stood and stepped back. A rush of purple-black shadows wrapped around his clone as wind whipped up from nowhere, and Yuugi shielded his eyes with an arm.

A rush of wind caused the door to rattle on its hinges, nearly removing it, and when it finally settled down, Yuugi froze at the sight in front of him.

Standing in the middle of the roof was the outline of a creature with the head and wings of a falcon. His head was multicolored, as though it were covered in some sort of a headdress. A strange red and white crown balanced on its head – had the situation been different, he would have recognized it as the pschent, the double crown of Egypt. His tanned chest was partially covered by an ornate collar of multicolored beads, and thick golden bands encircled his arms. A multicolored kilt, held in place by an equally colorful sash, covered his waist, and his tanned legs ended in the talons of the bird of prey his head resembled. Turquoise wings sprouted from his back, spread in a display of pure power.

The other's eyes met Yuugi's, and in a distorted voice, he declared, "I am a Shadow, the true self." He took a step forward, the concrete cracking as the taloned foot stepped down, and began gathering power in an outstretched hand-

Yuugi's eyes suddenly fluttered open, his heart racing in his chest. Just what was that dream? Turning to look at his desk, he spotted his alarm clock, its glowing red numbers – he suppressed a shiver as he was suddenly haunted by a glimpse of the crimson eyes of his evil twin – reading 3:30 in the morning. Next to it, a golden box lay open, several golden puzzle pieces innocently reflecting the light of the full moon. He reached over, pulling the box to him, trying to take comfort in its presence, when he suddenly stopped.

The golden eye from his dream had been a perfect match for the one that adorned the front of the golden box.

An unbearable silence fell over the room, and Yuugi could hear little beyond the pounding of his heart in his ears. He frantically began searching his room, his eyes trying to pierce the darkness, glancing in every dark corner that wasn't illuminated by the eerie moonlight filtering in through his bedroom window. He suddenly had a feeling that there was something behind him, and he whirled around, arm outstretched, but he encountered nothing.

Nothing but air.

"Get a hold of yourself, Mutou Yuugi," he muttered to himself, breaking the silence as he laid back down on his bed. "It's just a dream."

On the desk, the pieces of the Millennium Puzzle continued to innocently glitter in the moonlight.


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