Nuki's Note:

I tried hard, really hard, to make this chapter good. It put me through hell, but god knows, I tried. Whether or not I succeeded with that, I'll leave it up for you to decide. IMO this chapter is confusing and Ayaka makes no sense whatsoever, but... yeah I don't know. Here it is, chapter 25.

Momoko brushed a finger through the pale yellow forest of Sakio's hair. His head was growing heavy on her thighs but she ignored it, keeping herself busy by fiddling with his hair strands between her fingers. Although the covers under her legs were getting hot, she wouldn't shift her position. Momoko was willing to sacrifice her own body's comfort in order to let Sakio remain asleep. After numerous cases of being touched inappropriately while asleep, Sakio rarely allowed himself to doze off in Momoko's presence. However, today he wouldn't awake to Momoko's hand down his pants; she was giving him a break.

The window remained shut and the only source of lighting for Sakio's room. Yet an abrupt draft breathed through the room. Momoko's head snapped up immediately. She first confirmed the window was tightly shut, and then began scanning the room. Much to her dismay, she saw what she wished she wouldn't find.

"If I don't believe in you, will you go away?" The small psychic muttered bitterly.

Across the room stood—no, floated, a transparent being. Her colours were dull: skin nearly sheet white, hair the palest shade of yellow, eyes a green that had been drained of nearly all its colour. She floated with her fingers intertwined with each other under her chin. Her expression was saddened at Momoko's hostility. And she wore the clothes she had been dressed in on the day of her death.

"Why are you mad at me?" She whimpered. For the most part, her voice was the same as well, although it carried just the faintest, eerie echo.

"I'm not mad." Momoko averted her gaze elsewhere. "I'm just confused. Why am I the only one who can see and hear you? And why can't you knock anything over or do something that would let someone else know you're around?"

"I- I think Ayaka-chan can communicate with me too…" Usagi, or what was left of her, admitted shyly.

"But how? How is it that Ayaka-san can see you when no one else but I can? How can I see you, yet I can't see my own mother's ghost? I don't understand." Momoko narrowed her eyes in frustration. She honestly didn't mean to come off as so harsh with the ghost; her nerves were just on edge with confusion.

When Usagi failed to answer, Momoko voiced a passing thought. "By the way, just because you can appear anywhere as long as I'm around, doesn't mean you should."

"… I'm sorry." Usagi lowered her head shamefully. She glided across the room and stood at the edge of the bed. She gazed at Sakio for a moment before bringing pleading eyes to Momoko. "Can I touch him?"

"If he wakes up, I'm going to act like you're not here." Momoko replied with forced softness. She felt the temperature around her plummet as Usagi moved a transparent hand to Sakio's arm. Instead of phasing through it immediately, it rested on his skin. If Sakio had been awake, he would have felt as if someone who had been standing out in cold weather for an hour was touching his arm.

Several seconds later, Usagi's hand disappeared into Sakio's skin. She blinked and withdrew her hand. A smile replaced her surprised expression, bringing a few tears to drip from her eyes. With one last gaze at the boy, Usagi faded away.

Chapter 25


Ryo easily saw the consequences that could rear up if one of the kids got away now that he had seen a murder. They were consequences Ryo did not feel like handling. To ensure he wouldn't have to be bothered by them, he felt one of his pockets for his phone and dialed up a number.

"Kano, where are you? . . . Go back to the locker room, both of you. . . There' something going on. In case one of these kids is smart enough to run away, I don't want him going anywhere with his memories still in his head. Don't ask questions, just do as I say." Ryo paused, listening to the reply on the other line. His eyes redirected over to Natasha, who was too busy watching the stagnant scene across the field to notice. "Sure . . . let them come."

Ryo hung up and joined Natasha in watching the kids. There was little movement, speech, or action of any sort. All eyes seemed to be sewn on the leaking corpse, despite the fact that Kaito was the only one who really cared to look. If there was anyone who did not want to look, it was Momoko. She didn't just not want to look, she wanted to get away. It came to her with a bit of a shock when she realized that she'd rather be anywhere else in the world than here in Sakio's arms while he was slipping into a disturbed state of mind.

Now as this ordeal had been taking place, Ayaka and Reika had been venturing around the school in search of their split up group. Neither girl had any clue of the events that had already taken place, yet both held an uncertain feeling in the pit of their stomach. Perhaps it was just the mixture of darkening weather and the virtually empty building (school had been over for a good bit of time, now) that brought an eerie atmosphere over them. They ventured hand in hand, each girl thankful that she had the other by her side. This would have been a suspiciously creepy setting if one were to experience it alone.

They found luck in the locker room. As Reika spoke with her cousins, Ayaka noticed something odd in the twins' mood. They were often laid back, carefree like leaves that had fallen to the surface of a sluggish creek, drifting along with the flow. Today they were stiff, coming off as even more unfriendly than usual.

"They might all be down on the field." Kano offered up with little emotion. "Ryo made it sound that way."

Ayaka blinked. Why was Ryo at the school? And who did Kano mean when he said 'all'? Often there was a good chance that if Ryo was somewhere, Natasha was there as well. Did that mean Ayaka's mother was here too? But why, what for? Just what was going on? Ayaka glanced at Reika and assumed that, by the bewildered expression on her face, she was inwardly asking all the same questions.

"I don't think you're going to like what you find down there." Kanto warned.

If Reika and Ayaka had actually known what they would find on the field, and what would take place after their arrival, they would have both gone straight home without even giving it a second thought. However, they didn't know what was waiting for them down on the field. They had no idea that Ryo had injected his sons with some drug that was tearing away at their mental stability. No idea that Akashi and Kaito had been attacked and injured by a group of boys who hated them. No idea that Sakio had drilled a kitchen knife through the skull and brain of one of the attackers. And no idea that the bloodshed would not stop there, not yet.

They had no idea. And so they left. They exited the locker room, entering the dimmed outdoors where increasingly strong breezes and gusts of wind forewarned the approaching storm. Strands of Ayaka's hair were slithering about her, obstructing her vision as she and Reika began to descend down the wooden stairs. The two girls looked down and not ahead. If they had glanced up, they would have been able to see the corpse from their view. It would be distant but visible. At the base of the hill, the wall of boys around the body made it much more difficult to see. Reika and Ayaka would have only noticed it if they had looked hard enough.

Each of them delayed a few precious seconds before reluctantly starting off in the direction of the group of students. They didn't exactly see the two adults standing by the woods, although those two adults definitely saw them. At the sight of her daughter drawing near to Ryo's batshit crazy sons, Natasha lurched forward, wanting to snatch up Ayaka and go home. Ryo caught and restrained her before she could get very far. He brought his arm as a barrier across her stomach, wrapping the other one below her shoulders in attempt to pin her arms at her side. Natasha gave him a fight, but Ryo's strength withstood hers. He succeeded in knocking the wind out of her by bringing his elbow hard into her stomach. Coughing, Natasha fell limply in his arms. Ryo did not lightening his grip at all. Instead he took this opportunity to threaten the weakened woman.

"Don't you dare say nor do anything, Natasha. You'll ruin everything."

". . . Hate you . . ." Natasha whispered, still lacking desperately needed air due to the intensity of Ryo's blow.

The corpse was somewhat hidden due to the angle from the foot of the flight of stairs. But now as Reika and Ayaka grew closer to it, they could see the blanched, lifeless body as well as the pool of blood that had formed around it. Hitoshi had fallen in such a way that his wound was revealed for all to see. A small rivulet of blood streamed from the thick gash in his head. Tiny bits of his skull floated in the puddle under him, clearly visible as their white-ish colour clashed against the crimson. All of this took Ayaka back to the night she had stumbled onto the basketball court in a park where two dead bodies lied on the concrete. Both the thought and the sight stirred the food in her stomach; she hoped it would stay down.

Kaito crashed into Ayaka before she had time to blink. His weight burdened her, causing her knees to bend and quiver as they struggled to hold up. Ayaka was fighting against Kaito's refusal to ease up too much to notice that his bleeding arms were draped over her shoulders and spilling blood on the back of her clothes. Somehow Ayaka did manage to duck out from under him before he caused her to topple over. When she actually looked at Kaito, her legs instinctively brought her back a step. Much to her own displeasure, Ayaka recognized this state of derangement Kaito was in. His pupils were shrunken drastically, brows narrowed in such a manner that he looked frightening when he frowned and horrifying when he smiled. Both of his arms were exposed and bleeding from odd wounds that were out of his typical cutting patterns. They caught Ayaka's attention more than anything else.

"Kaito-kun, what did you do to yourself…?"

"It hurts…" Kaito whined, suddenly looking very, very drunk. He leaned on Ayaka's shoulders once more. He repeated the phrase continuously, just as a little boy would complain about baking under the intense heat of summer sun. After the tenth 'it hurts', Kaito underwent a radical mood swing. One that brought out alarming anger. "IT HURTS, GOD DAMMIT!"

He then thrust a finger in the direction of the boys who had attacked him, suddenly seething with rage. "I didn't do anything! They're the ones who did it! You think I'd do this to myself?"

As quickly as the anger had flooded over him, it soon drained. He once again collapsed on Ayaka, demanding her sympathy. Had the memory of that night where Ayaka cared for Kaito as the stomach flu tortured him etched itself into Ayaka's brain, her patience with him would have run thin very quickly; her desire to run away would have been much stronger than it was. Ayaka kept the better memories she had of the boy in the front of her mind.

"…What's going on?" Reika finally asked timidly.

At that point, Momoko shoved her way out of Sakio's clutch, a move that surprised the other two girls. Sakio merely blinked dumbly at Momoko, making no further attempt to get her back. This beyond infuriated the girl, but she dragged her attention away from Sakio and directed it at Ayaka and Reika.

"Drugged up." Momoko pointed at Akashi, Sakio, and Kaito. She whirled around and jabbed a finger in the direction of Saniiro, Tanjiro, Souta, Akeno, and Jiro. "Ambush." With one last forceful movement, she pointed at Hitoshi. "Dead."

Her short explanation might have been humourous, but the situation was too tense for anyone to so much as smile. When Ayaka and Reika showed no signs of comprehending, Momoko irately spat a choppy explanation using more than one or two words to explain everything. Even in spite of her anger, Momoko's account consisted of the usual, uncharacteristic polite language she always used in speech. When she finished she left the other two in something of a doubtful daze. After all, it wasn't every day that one heard about an abusive father injecting his already violent enough children with drugs that drain their sanity, while it just so happens that on that day, they're attacked by people who hate them.

During the silence that followed the end of Momoko's speech, Ayaka was sure of only one thing: if anyone ever wrote a book about her life, she'd never ever want to read it. It was the sort of thing that just didn't belong on the shelves at bookstores. Not to say her life was boring, heavens no. Her life was just not the sort of life meant for storytelling.

Ayaka dared to let her gaze fall over Kaito. It would have been so much easier to sympathize with him if he didn't look so demented. Even though he was currently staring off into space, his dangerous side dormant for the time being, his eyes made all the difference. He caught Ayaka looking at him and he scowled at her. He was probably upset that Ayaka had just brushed him off when he kept trying get her to care about him. Somehow it only pushed Ayaka further away. She didn't want to be repelled from Kaito. She didn't want to fear him. It was like standing next to an endangered tiger species. Sure you felt bad for the thing, but that didn't change the fact it could rip your head off without warning at any given moment.

"… I thought we were going to fight." Akeno muttered, putting a break in the silence. He earned Kaito's attention, or at least, half of it. Kaito still seemed to be off on some other planet, but the part of him that remained on earth was glaring in Akeno's direction.

"That's right. That was the plan. Let's all kill each other now." He offered just as casually as one would suggest getting together for lunch.

"Get rid of them first." Akeno ordered, eyes grazing over the three girls.

Kaito suddenly remembered Ayaka's existence and flung himself on Ayaka once again. This time she noticed when his blood splattered over her clothes and skin. Droplets trickled down her legs, sending shivers throughout her body. Ayaka didn't know what to do other than try her best to not let Kaito crush her. Dealing with him had escalated to high levels of difficulty knowing that Ayaka knew he was under the influence of some sort of drug that tangled his mind.

Akeno watched with disbelief. It wasn't long before he addressed Ayaka with a question she had kept in the deep corners of her brain. "Why the hell do you put up with someone like him?"

Ayaka stopped moving. She reviewed Akeno's question again and again and again in her mind. When she failed to utter any sort of answer, Akeno continued, a little softer in tone than earlier.

"You're a pretty girl. You could do a lot better. In fact …" He glanced from Ayaka to Reika to Momoko. Quietly, he added, "You could all do a lot better."

"Shut up." Kaito snarled in poor defense. Again, he looked drunk, acting as an intoxicated person would while trying to brush off an insult someone had just shot at him.

"I'm showing your girlfriend some respect and concern." Akeno's harsh attitude returned as he lashed out at Kaito. "I don't think she gets those very often. Not from you."

For the first time today, Kaito was entirely on earth. The alarming truth in Akeno's comment had yanked him out of the clouds with such force that Kaito could only gawk stupidly at the other boy for ninety seconds before finally regaining himself. He wasn't the only one taken aback. Ayaka had flinched at Akeno's sentence. Her first instinct was denial. The truth, however, was too strong for her to reject it very much. It sank in heavily, like a rock dropping into the pit of her stomach. Kaito did have his caring moments, but often his favourite pastime seemed to be treating Ayaka like a dirty rag. The memory of Kaito's confession, hardly even being a week old and one of the kindest memories Ayaka had of the boy, was being buried but other much less pleasant recollections.

"She's moping. She's moping because I'm right and you're nothing but a shithead." Akeno scoffed. He wore a smug grin as Ayaka second guessed numerous things in her mind. Although now wasn't the time to be thinking about it, Akeno couldn't help but hope Ayaka would choose to leave Kaito. Akeno wouldn't have minded taking her for himself.

Kaito was exchanging glares between Ayaka and Akeno. Ayaka didn't see the aggravated expressions Kaito was sending her; she was now the one wrapped up in her own little world. Akeno, on the other hand, immediately saw that his remarks had been successful in digging under Kaito's skin, irking his patience. Kaito caught Akeno smirking at him and the two engaged in a glaring contest. Akeno broke away after several minutes to unleash a string of insults he had been creating in his mind.

"You're not even sticking up for yourself? Here I am, trashing you as much as I like, and you're not saying anything in return? How stupid; you're just an ass. You mistreat your girlfriend and when you're humiliated, you've got nothing smart to say because it's all the truth." He said all of this in a very hushed tone, pretending that he didn't want Kaito to hear him.

"Bastard." Kaito growled through clenched teeth. His frustration was being tested, pushed to its limit.

Akeno faked sincere annoyance. "Is that really all you have to say? I honestly thought you were better than—!"

Boiling over with rage, Kaito whirled around and tore the kitchen knife from his brother's hands. In the time span of a few quick seconds he thrust the blade into Akeno's throat, catching the attention of every person on the field, adult and student alike. The blade had gone in easily, fueled by hate and fury. It lodged into Akeno's neck, slashed through his trachea, and ripped through his esophagus. Blood began to seep out of the wound in his throat and bubble up out of his hanging mouth. Then Kaito twisted the knife to create an entire hole in Akeno's throat. He at last yanked the blade out of Akeno's neck and the corpse fell to the ground, blood raining from his throat and gushing from his mouth.

If there was ever a time Ayaka went so numb she couldn't even blink, now was that time. She could feel nothing. Nothing at all. It was as if someone had jammed a vacuum hose in her body and sucked out all of its contents, including her thoughts. She stared at the body with huge, unblinking eyes. What were mere minutes seemed to be long, dragging hours of nothing but disgusted, terrified, and shocked silence. Ayaka first began to regain feeling when her stomach began rolling in its place. The rest came back very quickly as soon as Ayaka realized that Akeno's leg was touching her ankle.

Numbed shock had spread amoung everyone, save for the three brothers and their father, who watched with calmness that was almost as sickening as the display itself. Even Tanjiro, Souta, Jiro, and Saniiro, all whom had been rather unflinching at Hitoshi's death, showed clear signs of discomfort. Although Akeno's murder was much more gruesome than Hitoshi, that wasn't the key factor that made it worse than his.

It was Kaito.

Kaito watched Akeno's lifeless body for several minutes as if to see if he would miraculously spring back to life. After a slice of time had passed, Kaito burst out into hysterical laughter. It wasn't a cheesy villain laugh as seen in movies. It was loud and frightening. It carried humour- Kaito found this to be utterly hilarious. He was laughing so hard he had to bend over, clutching his sides, which felt as if they were splitting apart. His outburst was enough to convince Saniiro that remaining on this field while Kaito and his brothers were in such a demented state would not be the smartest thing to do.

"Forget this. I ain't staying for this." He growled and slipped away. Souta, being the most cowardly out of the four who remained, followed behind him. As they escaped, Ryo noted their exit and contacted the twins in order to insure the two boys didn't get very far while still carrying memories of everything that had just occurred.

Ayaka garnered a huge effort to draw her eyes away from Akeno's corpse, only to find that they glued themselves on Kaito. He was quieter now, although the deranged grin remained on his face. Ayaka looked at him with mixed emotions. Oddly enough, the good memories she had of Kaito grew stronger as Kaito grew more insane. They prevented her from feeling outright rage and resentment towards him. She could only watch him in frustration.

No matter what, Ayaka had always cared for Kaito. Now pondering over it, she didn't know why. Kaito was difficult and monstrously selfish. That was only the beginning of his faults. Underneath it all, Kaito wasn't a good person. He did have his 'good' moments. They were moments where he stopped being mean and rude. Ayaka was the only one to see these, and even for her, they were quite rare. Usually Kaito bossed her around, always demanding something from her.

But he wasn't always like this…

A new thought jumped up in Ayaka's mind. If Kaito had gone straight from trying to kill her to demanding her attention and care all the time, Ayaka wouldn't have been able to handle that. True. So very true. Right after Ayaka had earned the respect of the three boys, Kaito had been very shy and quiet around Ayaka. He had been afraid to ask things of her. In fact there had been a period of time where Kaito actually asked Ayaka's permission to touch her in any way, whether it be a hug or a simple brush over her hand. Recalling that brought an old memory over Ayaka's vision. She and Kaito had been sitting together on the side of the road. Kaito, out of nowhere, had offered up a warning…

"What would you do if I was mean to you?" Kaito prodded timidly, voice muffled by his arms which he kept wrapped around his knees.

"Nn? What do you mean by that?" Ayaka turned to Kaito and blinked curiously at him.

Kaito hesitated before continuing in a rushed fashion. "I think… I might say mean things to you. Or do mean things to you. Because I'm a mean person. And I- I don't know how to be nice to you."

Ayaka was about to tell Kaito it wasn't hard being nice, but she held her tongue. Kaito's excuse was a little more than just an excuse. He had spent years knowing only hate and abuse from his father. Of course kindness was something unfamiliar to him. He seemed to hardly even know how to receive kindness, much less return it.

"It'll be okay, Kaito-kun." Ayaka managed to say.

Kaito looked at her with high skepticism. "You won't hate me? … You won't leave?" He pushed further. Worry coated his tone.

"I'm sure I can figure out how to handle you." Ayaka smiled.

Figured out how to handle him? Sort of. Maybe. Okay, probably. Ayaka had to give herself some credit. In a few months, the one year anniversary of when she met the three would roll around. Several weeks later, the one year anniversary of when she actually managed to befriend the three would also peer around the corner. Perhaps in retrospect, less than one year wasn't that long at all. But dealing with Kaito and his brothers virtually every day, Ayaka felt that she knew them… decently. And she believed she had followed through with her past self's claim: she had figured out how to handle Kaito.

Ayaka brought her head to look at the screwed up Kaito, the boy so different from the ill one flashing in her head, making a stiff confession. He was the farthest thing from perfect. He was sinful and cruel. Rude an arrogant. Selfish and self-centered. He was also weak and vulnerable. Hurt and alone. Longing and searching for love, just like every other human being on the planet. He was Kaito. He was Kaito and—

Ayaka had not noticed the argument Tanjiro and Akashi had dove into while she was so intently focused on Kaito and her feelings for him. She didn't know what they were fighting over, but a particularly loud yell from Tanjiro brought her out of her thoughts. She realized she had been absent mindedly staring off into space while the attention now pinpointed the two boys standing behind her. They must have shifted positions. Ayaka remembered them being much closer to the bleachers than they were now, standing just a few feet further out into the field. Whatever it was they had been debating, it was growing heated very quickly. At least on Tanjiro's part.

"You said you wanted to fight one on one, well here we are. Why are you being such a baby about this?" Tanjiro snapped. Judging by his provocative tone and restless body language, he was clearly itching for a fight.

Akashi had been completely calm ever since he had run down to the field. He replied to Tanjiro's urges with no emotion. Not even annoyance. "I don't feel like it."

"Dammit! You can't just walk out! What are you?! A coward?" Tanjiro shouted despite the fact he and Akashi were closely facing one another. "Are you afraid of losing because you're still injured?"

"I told you: I just don't feel like it." Akashi replied dully.

Tanjiro responded with a dark scowl. The drug seemed to have a different effect on Akashi than his brothers. Sakio and Kaito had both been provoked easily and reacted violently. Oddly enough, Akashi seemed much mellower than before, no longer angry at Tanjiro. However, Tanjiro didn't share Akashi's composed attitude. With the scowl still creasing his forehead, Tanjiro snatched the pocketknife he had used on Kaito's arms and barely managed to scrape Akashi with out of his pocket. In a split second he accomplished the task he had tried earlier, driving the knife into Akashi's side as far as the short blade would go.

Akashi emitted a noise that sounded like a relative of a grunt. Tanjiro grinned madly. It had nothing on the type of expression Kaito was capable of pulling off, but nonetheless, it was a devilish grin of triumph. He was the only one doing the grinning. Kaito and Sakio were bothered, watching their brother and looking like they weren't sure if they should offer any (violent) assistance or not. Reika had gasped, clasping her hands over her mouth. She had gone completely white, too numb to do anything but gawk. Ayaka and Momoko had gasped as well, their jaws open. Even Jiro looked uneasy, although not because of what Tanjiro had done.

He had every right to be nervous. Akashi had dropped his head. His pose leaned forward, giving into the pain the blade had caused from tearing through his skin, tissue, and muscle. He hung hunched over for a moment or two, then barely lifted his head up to Tanjiro. His bangs fell across his sharply narrowed eyes. At the angle, Tanjiro was able to just barely see the malevolent grin stretched across Akashi's face. By the time Tanjiro realized he was the one in trouble, Akashi had already jabbed a hand gun against his skull. Akashi didn't even hesitate before pulling the trigger.

Not once. Not twice. Not even after three shots did Akashi stop. He fired the gun at least seven times. A crack of thunder helped to cloak the gunshots, reminding everyone that a storm was still on its way- almost here. He frowned when no result came from pulling the trigger, pressed the nozzle to his temple, and tried once more to fire. Although he succeeded in nearly giving Reika a heart attack, he failed to reap any outcome by pretending to shoot himself in the head. Ignoring the knife still lodged in his side, he whipped around and shot Jiro right between his eyes.

"Hm, so there was one bullet left…" He mused.

With difficulty and a grunt, Akashi yanked the pocketknife out of his side and dropped it on Tanjiro. "This belongs to you."

Akashi immediately collapsed to the ground, clawing at his wound. He twisted around to glance at Tanjiro. The boy's face was nearly unrecognizable from bullet holes and blood. Shattered bits of his skull and jaw lay scattered about his body. This pleased Akashi despite the stabbing pain in his side. He turned back around, hand over his wound, satisfied.

This time the silence wasn't very long before a teary eyed Reika gave in and darted to Akashi's side. It made sense. Reika knew exactly how she felt about Akashi. She loved him. He had shot and killed two people, but her selfish side pushed away the victims and worried only about Akashi's pain. She knelt down beside him and delicately touched a finger to the wound. Pain of her own flooded in her eyes. It was clear that even the selfish part of her, who only wanted to care about Akashi, couldn't ignore her conscious reminding her that he had shamelessly added two lives to the list of lives he had taken.

Four were now dead, just as Momoko had predicted. Two had gotten away, but not with their memories of the murders they had witnessed. The area around the middle set of bleachers was sullied in large puddles of blood. Kaito, Sakio, and Akashi had gotten what they wanted: their revenge. They were, for the most part, content. Others were not.

Natasha was beyond shaken after Kaito had pulled off his little stunt. She was struggling against Ryo again, desperate to free herself so she could get her daughter away from those dirty little monsters. Ryo wouldn't have it. He again elbowed Natasha in the gut, this time with harder force. She gagged and fell in his arms. Ryo freed a hand to give a powerful yank on her long black tresses. He was hurting her. Natasha's blind fury began to give way to meek confusion. She didn't understand why Ryo was hurting her. They both knew that unless seriously hindered, nothing could stop Natasha from doing something she set her mind to doing. If Ryo didn't keep her in pain, she would run to her daughter. Even so, Natasha still didn't understand why Ryo was being so rough. When he again yanked her hair, Natasha felt moisture drip from her eyes.


Ayaka looked from the bodies, to Akashi and Reika, to Momoko sitting on the bleachers looking like she had just gotten beaten, to Sakio staring off into space, and to Kaito licking the blood off his arms. She blinked away tears and fought to gain control of herself. Ayaka was trembling from the frustration she had bottled up. She didn't understand how everything had suddenly turned so casual. There were four drained bodies lying on the ground and no one seemed to care much about it anymore. It was almost as disturbing as the fact Kaito was sucking up not only his own blood, but also the blood of Akeno that had splashed over him. He caught her staring in revulsion and sent her a frown as if to say 'What's wrong with you?'.

"ME?!" Ayaka cried out. "What's wrong with YOU?" She flung a finger in Kaito's direction; he eyed her as if she was the one on drugs.

Ayaka wasn't usually prone to outbursts- that was something that ran strictly in her mother's department. But a great deal of stress had descended upon her with the force of a falling boulder. The stress had been bottled and allowed to bubble, growing more powerful. She was overwhelmed with a flurry of mixed emotions. On top of this, no one was saying anything. For whatever reason, Ayaka felt that something had to be said about all this; if no one was willing to speak up, she'd do it herself.

"What're you talking about?" Kaito inquired in that slow, intoxicated manner. He was quite a nasty sight, saliva mixing with wetting the blood that had dried over his arm. The wave of Akeno's blood that had splashed over him stained his body in isolated, running splotches. And of course there were his eyes, pupils still very much shrunken. Adding to this, his lips suddenly parted into an amused smile. He titled his head to the side and looked at Ayaka as if she were someone he just met whom had left a bad first impression. "You're really weird."

When she realized the spotlight had instantaneously been drawn to her, Ayaka realized she had no return argument. The question she had fired already held an answer: Kaito was on some sort of mental drug; that was what was wrong with him. No… that wasn't quite the case. Kaito would have killed Akeno if he had goaded him even if Kaito wasn't on the drug. The murder nor post murder insanity had not been out of character for Kaito. The drug was supposed knock his mental stability off balance, yet Kaito didn't need the help of a drug to do something that would be considered completely insane. If that was the case, just what kind of unthinkable lunacy would the drug make him do?

"Kaito-kun, do you know who I am?" Ayaka tried cautiously. Her conclusion was as Ryo had predicted. She was the one in danger now. Ayaka, Momoko, Reika, Ryo, Natasha, any one of them could wind up as the next dead corpse bleeding fresh blood all over the grass. Any one of them, or all of them. It depended on what the drug commanded its hosts to do. That was the drug's effect.

Kaito gave no response other than squinting his eyes as if he couldn't see Ayaka clearly enough even though she was three feet away from him. It led Ayaka to continue. "Do you want to kill me, too?"

At that, Kaito broke into another sadistic grin. "Don't tempt me."

Ayaka did just that. She had been in a similar situation before and had come out alive. Somewhere inside of her, some crazy part of her, held onto a thin strand of faith that she would once again live through her playtime with death.

"You would never kill me. You know that. You would never ever want to kill me." Ayaka informed him.

To disprove Ayaka's declaration, Kaito brought the kitchen knife's tip to poking Ayaka's neck. He held it there, earning a gasp each from Momoko and Reika, who both jumped but made no other movement. Natasha wouldn't have stood for this had Ryo not considerably weakened her down to almost zero strength. She wasn't even paying attention anymore. She was simply staring at the grass, limp in Ryo's hold, unaware that Kaito was holding a long bladed kitchen knife at her daughter's throat.

Fear wrapped a cold, bony hand around Ayaka's arm. All Kaito had to do was drag his hand in a horizontal motion and he'd easily slit Ayaka's throat right open, exposing her arteries and blood vessels for the world to see. The tip of the blade was cold and still a little moist from the drying blood of its last prey. Ayaka could hardly think of something to say now. The realization of how closely death was breathing on her sucked Ayaka dry of any ideas on how to prevent herself from being killed. She stood shivering at the blade's point, half amazed at how easily Kaito had taken all of her confidence. And hurt. She felt unbearably hurt that Kaito was pressing a knife to her skin and she actually feared that he would kill her. Hadn't she already gotten past that part? Hadn't she already been the victor there?

An abrupt flashback to Kaito's confession ripped Ayaka out of her fear while it settled completely over her vision. It caused her lips and voice to move before her mind had any hopes of catching up.

"Kaito-kun, you told me that you loved me a little while ago…" Ayaka's regular vision returned; she saw that Kaito's grin had been erased. With her mind still lagging behind, she continued speaking.

"I really don't know a lot about love. I haven't been exposed to it yet, not much of it. But I think I know one thing. I th— I know that this is not love."

Confidence trickled back into Ayaka's system, slowly but surely. She breathed in deep breaths, taking small steps to restore a sense of calm being within herself. Kaito's anxious expression helped relieve her. He might listen to what she had to say. He might not kill her after all. If she was careful with her words and steady with her tone…

"If you remember, you asked me if I loved you back. I never gave you an answer." Ayaka told him. Her voice was oddly friendly in spite of the fact her next statement was far from that type of adjective. She spoke it very softly. "It's kind of hard to say 'I love you' in this position. What would you do if I said no? What would you do if I told you I don't love you?"

Kaito jolted back as if he had just stepped into an electric fence. For a few seconds, if even that, he looked genuinely crushed. He lowered his head and withdrew the knife back to his side. The injury was easily overcome, his melancholy replaced with anger, but it was enough for Ayaka to see that the Kaito she knew was somewhere under the effect of the drug. Ayaka's mind rushed for something to say. Something, anything that could bring everything to an easy end. Unfortunately for her, that sort of hope was foolish and unrealistic. Before Ayaka could react, knife handle still clenched in one hand, Kaito took off.

He ran away.