A/N: This is a teaser for an AU concept I'm considering writing, throwing it out there to see if anyone would read it. It's likely to end up being an Atem/Yami x Yuugi slash story, with some dark/disturbing themes, based on a mixture of the manga, the anime and with a little of my own world thrown in for good measure. What do you think?

Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-Gi-Oh!

The other children didn't like playing with Yuugi.

It was a problem that had baffled countless parents, carers and teachers. Yuugi was, to all intents and purposes, a perfectly amiable child; open and friendly, with a vivacious interest in the world around him. Bright without being exceptional, quick to smile and even quicker to laugh, the boy was an ideal playmate. He seemed to have inherited his grandfather's love of games, that curlicue swerve of a mind that delighted in nigh-insoluable puzzles, and his talent for inventing games appeared to be inexhaustible.

And yet, the other children never wanted to play with Yuugi. Yuugi was strange, they said, mouths twisted with something not-dissimilar to fear. Yuugi was weird, the bad kind of weird, the kind of weird that made floorboards creak in the middle of the night and doors swing open when there was no wind. Yuugi was half not-there, they said, half empty like a broken doll, half empty like a reflection in rippling water, flickering out even as they looked. Yuugi spoke in riddles and said strange things to the air and the air answered back.

Their parents scoffed, of course, safe in the knowledge that there were no such things as ghosts that open doors or monsters that snuck out from under the bed. They would tug their children away with scolding hands, irritated words, berating them for leaving the poor boy out - and none of them ever seemed to notice, when they looked at the lonely child playing in the grass, the length of the shadow stretching behind him or the faint incandescent glow of a third eye, shimmering at the edge of sight.

No one seemed to notice that Yuugi was the only child who had never been afraid of the dark.