The girl was silent, perched on the roof of a broken down building. The wind played with her white-blonde hair, kept in a loose ponytail, but she hardly noticed. She had more on her mind than the four story drop below her bare feet, or the spreading bruise beneath her grey tank-top. The entire city was spread out in front of her, most of it shiny and new, but there were dark patches. Places where rats still dwelled, where the tunnels that unfurled beneath the city met the streets. The ugly side of the Uppercity, where young children killed to survive and not a soul would hesitate to rob you blind and leave you with a knife in your back, bleeding out in some back alley.

The slightly-run down building she was perched on was far enough from those districts that Koi could sleep soundly at night, but not so far that she felt comfortable sleeping without a weapon close at hand, or with her sleeping in another room. But of course, Koi didn't have a say in the matter. The girl would sleep in whosever room she wished, and it had been a while since she'd chosen to rest, curled up like a kitten, next to Koi. Which was one of the many reasons Koi felt compelled to do this.

Of course, she wasn't crying. Not yet, anyway. It hadn't really sunk in yet, but it would. Sooner or later, she knew the tears would come. Her sobs would give her the shakes, and she'd put her face in her hands, and feel the three longs scars that ran across her left cheek with her callused fingertips. The three scars that she, the dark haired girl Koi had met so long ago, had admired.

Personally, however, the scars mocked her, declaring her a murderer. They installed fear and hate in everyone who saw them and knew of their significance. Koi had once tried to enter a market, tired of surviving on caught or stolen meat, and foreign, wild plants. That had been the last time she'd seen 'civilization', swearing never to return to the Undercity again, as long as she lived. People had thrown things at her. Rotten vegetables, eggs, and disgusting things she'd rather not mention; it had taken days to wash the stench from her hair.

It hadn't been long after that when she'd run into the girl. The silly, stubborn girl she'd come to care for. 'Stupid Koi,' she often though. 'When will you learn to keep your heart to yourself? Every time you give it away, it ends up broken.'

There was a human on the path.

Of course, she'd seen humans on her pathways before, but they never stayed long. They certainly never had the bad manners to collapse right in the middle, except this one. Humans were certainly unpredictable.

Koi frowned, setting her basket of herbs down. Pausing, the tall girl surveyed the scene before tossing back her hair. She approached the crumpled body, hands on hips, lip curled. Something that probably used to be a plain shirt was ripped along the sleeve seams, with minor rips and tears all across it, making the shirt resemble a pile of rags. A road rash, fresh and ugly, covered most of the creature's back and upper stomach, and Koi spotted what looked like a whip wheel spreading across one shoulder. Her insides curled in disgust, and she fought back the urge to gag. Monsters, anyone who could beat a small creature like this, human or not. And she knew quite a lot about monsters from her own experiences.

Koi crouched next to the fallen figure, gently rolling it over so she could see the face. A multicolored bruise decorated the right cheek, and an old scar ran from left eyebrow to hairline. Koi sighed, and stood up. She couldn't just leave the poor thing like this; her conscience, whatever was left of it, simply would not allow that to be an option.

"Humans." She spat, growling at herself. Humans were always interfering.

Koi herself looked very, very human. Her white-blond bangs were cut roughly at her eyebrows, and the rest fell down to her ribcage if she didn't keep it up. Her skin was a semi-pale colour with a slight tan to the arms from herb-growing. She was of a slightly taller than average height for a teenage girl, and her clothing looked like she'd bought it from a detailed seamstress of the UpperCity. Koi was partial to short, red-plaid skirts and black hoodies.

If you looked at her closely, however, you could see the features that proved her a creature of the wild. Her ears were slightly furry, brownish, heavily pierced, and came to a point. Her hazel eyes subtly changed shades, darker when angry and lighter when cheerful, and in the dark her pupils turned to slits, like those belonging to cats. Her teeth were bright white and slightly more pointed than those of humans. While not very strong, she was quick and cunning, with an 'every man for himself' sort of mentality. Light hair and a pale complexion had been passed down from countless generations.

Her species had been nicknamed the Mischiefs. They were a mostly harmless sort of creature, eleven in nature, keeping mostly to the Cities and playing practical jokes on anyone unfortunate enough to catch their eye. They craved civilization, and were not fond of flora or fauna.

Which was why Koi was out in the middle of UpperCity's surrounding forests, cut off from most civilization, growing herbs. As an exile, she had learned to avoid the rest of the world as much as she could.

The human coughed weekly, startling Koi out of her thoughts. Stroking the three scars on her left cheek, she made a split-second decision. Lifting the bruised and battered body, Koi left her ignored her abandoned basket and strode off the path in the direction of her cabin. She was careful with the human, trying to touch it as little as possible, but her detour through the forest left her with little doubt that her new companion was female.

When they arrived in the clearing were Koi had built her home, the girl in koi's arms had begun to stir weakly, whimpering in pain. Swiftly, Koi opened the front door with her hip (she never bothered to lock it- nothing worth stealing) and crossed the threshold.

Her living room/kitchen was a mess, as always. Dried out herbs and dirty clothes littered the table and hung over chairs. The sink was piled high with dirty dishes Koi had yet to attend to. Several window boxes, one filled only with broken glass, were placed around the kitchen window. To the left, a few feet into the house, was a small staircase leading to the loft, which doubled as Koi's bedroom and armory. Past the stairs, in a slightly larger room, a fireplace was built into the left wall. A couch, patched, stained, and old, faced it.

Striding over old newspapers and the occasional pair of socks, Koi reached the couch and deposited her charge onto it. She turned away, walking over to a bookcase in the corner where she kept her box of first aid supplies.

By the time she had located the heavily decorated wooden box, the human girl hazily regained consciousness.

"Who… Are you?" She coughed, making as though to sit up and then wincing.

"Don't try to get up, I'm a friend." Koi ordered, removing a bottle of disinfectant and a clean rag. "This may sting a bit," She lied, internally gleeful. She'd always wanted to use that line.

The girl didn't protest, just watched as Koi removed the lid form the bottle, then covered the opening with the rag and tipped it over before righting the bottled and setting it down on the wooden floor where she had knelt, only slightly taller than her patient. As gently as she could, Koi pushed the bottom of the shirt up and began to thoroughly clean the girl's road rash. The human whimpered and twisted away from the cloth, biting her lip to help distract form the pain.

"I'm sorry, but it'll hurt a lot worse if I don't clean it now," Koi said, scrubbing slightly harder.

"I know," the girl said through gritted teeth, holding onto the couch to keep from moving again. "Thank you."

"I'd say 'no problem' but this probably going to cause plenty of them." The scarred elven girl paused, evaluating her progress. Most of the dirt had been scrubbed, and the rash looked slightly better. Not a lot, but slightly.

"I'm sorry…"

"Not your fault. If I wasn't prepared for the consequences, I would've left you where I found you. Hold this?" Koi handed the human a roll of bandages while she fished around in the box for a salve that would insure no infections set in.

"…What's your name?" The girl asked, looking up at Koi.

"Koi. Like the fish that look like fat goldfish." Koi dipped two fingers into the jar she kept the salve, getting a decent amount. The human sighed in relief as Koi spread the salve along her upper stomach, before she moved to massage it into her lower back, probably relishing the cooling sensation on her irritated skin. "You?"

"Call me Cassy." Cassy smiled tentatively at her rescuer.

"Well, Cassy, it's nice to meet you. Mind telling me who did this to you so I can turn them into mincemeat?" Koi took the roll of bandages back, and helped Cassy into a sitting position so she could wrap the linen around her properly.

The girl's face fell, her dark hair falling forwards to hide her face. Koi felt her grin fade as well, even as she covered the hideous rash.

"My father." Cassy's voice was a whisper. "It was my father."

"I'm sorry." Koi meant it. Pinning the bandage to keep it in place, she let the shirt fall back down, then frowned at it. "Wait here for a moment; I think I have some things that will fit you." Abruptly, she got up and paced to the stairs, running up them two at a time.

Cassy looked down at her shirt, grimacing. By the time she looked back up, Koi had returned with a black button-up shirt and a pair of work pants. She never wore them anymore, and thought that they were probably a bit too small for her now. She tossed them at Cassy, who let them fall into her lap.

Cassy picked up the shirt, and then looked at Koi.

"Why are you doing this?" She asked; her voice was soft. "Why are you helping me?"

Koi shrugged, "I don't know; because you're cute?" Cassy rolled her eyes.

"Turn around while I change, you letch." Koi grinned, but did as she was told. If Cassy was joking, she'd probably be just fine.

A few minutes later, with some minor assistance from Koi, who had turned around to help when Cassy had started making sounds that brought to mind a whipped dog, Cassy was changed and brushing her hair. She was starting to look slightly better, despite the large bruise on her cheek. Koi was washing the girl's face with a cloth, while Cassy borrowed her comb.

"So, can you tell me why your father decided to give you such a nice sunrise?" Koi asked tentatively, running the damp cloth across Cassy's bruise for emphasis.

Cassy paled, slowly setting down her comb. Koi quickly backtracked.

"It's okay, I mean, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to, it's fi-" She began.

"No, it's alright. I just… Give me a moment to decide where to start, okay?" Cassy tried to look down, but Koi put her hand under the other girl's chin firmly, forcing Cassy to look her in the eye.

"Why hide that pretty face of yours?" She asked, voice light and teasing, her face anything but.

Cassy smiled at her, blinking back tears. "Thanks. For everything… I just….Thank you."

"Anytime." Koi promised, releasing Cassy and straightening up. "If you're going to tell your story, you might as well start at the beginning. While you try to decide when that is, I'll make us something to eat. I would've done this earlier, but that rash of yours needed immediate attention."

Cassy nodded, and Koi turned and made her way to her kitchen. Pots clanged and cupboard doors slammed.

"Do you like rabbit soup?" She called back to her guest.

"Definitely!" There was a smile in Cassy's voice.

"Good, 'cause that's pretty much all I have!" Koi laughed, and her charge joined in.

Soon, Cassy was handed a bowl of steaming hot rabbit soup. Her stomach growled. Koi snickered, sitting down beside her.

"So, do I get to hear the story now?" Koi asked, after they'd sat in silence for a few minutes.

"…Yeah." Cassy studied her soup bowl with unusual concentration.

"See, I'm not actually human." Koi raised an eyebrow. Cassy ignored her and continued, "My… race, I guess you'd call it, has the ability to change how we look: anything, from our skin colour to… to our genders." Her face flushed. "I… I was not born a girl, but I changed myself so I could be. It took a lot of effort, a change that major. Colours and stuff are easy; but actual changes in your shape are so hard, because you can't add or subtract mass. And it hurts a lot… but I managed it. When my father… found out, he was furious. He hit me," the way she said it, it hadn't been the first time, "and tried to force me to change back. It didn't help that he was drunk, and he's always been a mean drunk.

"Anyway, I couldn't change, not after I'd just become female. I was bleeding and exhausted, but he just... he just left me there, lying on a pile of shattered glass." Cassy sobbed, tears streaming down her face. "When I finally came to, I could barely move. Bu he didn't care. He dragged me, literally, to the fields; this was at the end of the harvest season. I couldn't work, and he got angry again, and beat me. I thought for sure I was going to die."

Koi winced, rubbing the crying girl's shoulders. "It alright," she soothed, "He isn't here, you're safe."

Cassy nodded, but she couldn't stop her tears. She continued on anyway.

"After he was done, I crawled. It hurt so much, so much worse than when I changed, but I knew I couldn't let him find me again. I made it into the forest, and I heard him calling for me. I hid, I don't remember where, and eventually I passed out. When I woke up, I was with you."

Koi began to hum a tune, easing herself onto her back, the open air still below her feet. The sky was a dull gray, an unhappy colour. She shivered, watching the clouds pass overhead. Her jacket lay somewhere behind her; she'd flung it aside in her anger after pushing up the trapdoor that led to the roof. Koi wondered if it had been blown off the building and was soaring over the city, a black star in the evening sky. Probably not; if it had fallen, it would be in some gutter, dirty and unnoticed.

Much like Cassy had appeared, the first time Koi had seen her. Alone and bruised up, lying in the middle of Koi's pathway; it had been… surprising, to say the least. Surprising to discover that somewhere between her general grumpiness and reluctance to admit anything- to herself or anyone else- she was still capable of caring about anyone.

And what a mistake that had been, learning to care again. Even though she wouldn't have traded it for the world.

"Hey! Koi, knock it off!" Cassy laughed, shielding her face from the soap bubbles Koi was attempting to hurl at her.

"Never!" Koi mock growled, "This is war! Attack, bubble minions!" She and her new housemate roared with laughter, smearing each other's faces with bubbles. Previously, they'd been doing the dishes, but when they'd gotten to the actual 'dish washing' part, they'd gotten a little distracted.

"I'm so glad I met you," Cassy sighed, when they'd exhausted themselves and sat on the kitchen floor. "I think it was the best thing that's ever happened to me."

Koi blushed, looking down. "Ah, shove it. You don't mean that."

"Yes I do Koi!" Cassy beamed at her. "I really, really do!" If possible, Koi's face turned even redder.

It had been three weeks since Koi had carried the girl home and heard her story. In that time, Cassy had recovered fully and sometimes even smiled. It had been odd for Koi at first, but slowly she had learned to accept, and even enjoy Cassy's company. In fact-

A screamed curse interrupted Koi's thoughts and Cassy's laughter. The smaller girl's face paled.

"It's him!" She whispered, sinking lower as though that could protect her.

Koi shifted into a crouch, listening intently.

"I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE!" a man bellowed, the drunken slur evident in his voice. Cassy started to shake. Koi put a comforting hand on her shoulder, inching over to the stove before standing up. For second, all was still, then a crack rang out.

"KOI!" Cassy screamed, crawling over to her fallen friend. Koi sat up, shaking. Her face twisted into an expression of rage.

"He shot at me!" she hissed eyes wide. "I'll kill him!" She started to get up, but Cassy stopped her, tears in her eyes.

"Please, don't!" She begged. "He'll kill you!" Koi's face softened slightly and she resumed her crouch.

"Then what do you want me to do?" Koi's acid green eyes were sincere. Cassy wiped her tears on the back of her hand.

"Can't we just leave? I don't want him to hurt you… and I can't.. I can't go back to him." The dark haired girl buried her face in her hands, shoulders shaking with silent sobs. Koi pulled her close, murmuring comforting words.

Another gunshot rang out, making them both jump. Cassy looked up, her face red and tear-stained.

"We can go. I didn't like this old house anyway." Koi leaned forwards, kissing the top of her friend's head, and let her go, crawling over to the stairs. "Pack some food, there's a loaf of bread in that cupboard," Koi pointed, "and the money is right next to it." With that, she darted up to the loft, and their bedroom.

Trembling, Cassy did as she was told; flinching every time she heard a shot or a bellowed curse. Her father was circling the house. After what felt like hours, Koi finally appeared at the bottom of the stairs, a small brown bag thrown over her shoulder.

"How're you doing?" Koi whispered, as the drunken man began to pound on the back door.

Cassy's laugh was shaky.

"What did you make this house out of, steel?" She asked, smiling weakly.

"Just oak wood." Koi smiled back, wrapping an arm around the other girl. "You ready?"

Cassy nodded, too nervous to speak.

"Then let's-"

A tremendous crash interrupted Koi's next words. The girls spun around, staring at the broken down door in horror.

A big man stood there, sweat and spit dripping down his face, a scar running from his hair line to his jaw. Cassy whimpered piteously, edging behind Koi to escape his glare. The reek of alcohol was evident about the man.

"Get out!" Koi shrieked, her hands turning into fists.

"GIVE ME BACK MY SON YOU WHORE!" The man advanced, his face turning red.

"Koi!" Cassy wailed, pulling at her friend's arm. Koi dodged just in time, letting Cassy pull her to the door. "Run! Koi, we have to go now!" Cassy cried, looking over her shoulder at her father, who was just turning to face them, reaching into his pocket for the knife Cassy knew he kept there. "RUN!" She shoved Koi in front of her, trying to run. Koi grabbed her hand, holding the provisions with the other, and pulled her into the forest.

"I'LL GET YOU!" Cassy's father screamed, his cries growing fainter as the two girls dodged trees and foliage, ducking through forest. "YOU JUST KEEP RUNNING! I'LL FIND YOU!"

Koi sighed as the sun sank behind the Uppercity, casting a red-orange glow on the black metal hat surrounded her. The clouds had cleared just before the sunset, letting the blood-tones of the sun shine before it turned dark.

In the times before, they had taken the man's words to heart and kept running, through the forest to the Deserts of Jarl, where brightly coloured caravans of goods traveled. Transporting supplies from Uppercity to the Undercity; caravan masters had a reputation for being shrewd on the market, but kind in their homes. After sharing a few nights with them, sitting on the rugs as the sun cast blue shadows across the never-ending sand, listening to stories of old heroes and villains alike, Koi and Cassy had to agree.

Then they had traveled to the Forgotten City of the West, where rusty gray metal lay in piles, like fallen soldiers. The dreg members of the Guild lingered around every corner, knives glittering by torchlight and eyes glittering with malice. It was a cruel place, where mothers killed their children to avoid another mouth to feed, and the elites of the Guild ruled with careless hand. The sons of the Immortals (the joint leaders of the Guild), one named 'Angel' and the other 'Scorpion', were rumored to be even worse. Soulless killing machines trained from birth to look out for themselves, and only themselves.

Koi stood, shivering in the scant lighting. She turned from the building edge and strode to the trapdoor she had entered from. Working the stiffness form her limbs, she stooped to pick up her jacket, which had not fallen. Standing over the door, Koi felt a sudden tightness in her chest. She bit back the lump in her throat and opened the doorway and slipped out of sight.

"Koi, I don't think this is safe…" Cassy said, nervous. They were camped in one of the many abandoned buildings that littered the outskirts of the Forgotten City. Cassy had been acting like this ever since they had made their way past the rusted, barbed-wire fence that surrounded the whole city, an attempt made by the government long ago, to keep people out of this wasteland of a city. If anything, it had backfired, allowing the Guild to easily claim that 'anything and everything within the fence belongs to us.' The Guild had used to resemble a rebel force of sorts, but over time it had fallen to greed and violence.

"I know, and I'm sorry, but it would be worse if we slept in the open." Koi sighed, wrapping both arms around Cassy, who leaned into her. They had become very close during their cross-country "adventure" as Cassy liked to call it. They needed each other now, knew each other now.

"I know…" Cassy mumbled, leaning against Koi's shoulder. "So, what's next?"

"The Uppercity." Koi grinned. "I've heard it's beautiful there."

Cassy smiled. "I've heard you can see the ocean, not a day's walk from there. I'd love to see the ocean."

Koi whistled, imagining the vast expanses of water. She'd only seen the sea once before, as a child.

"Have you ever seen it?" She asked.

"No, but I've dreamed about it. Is it beautiful?" Cassy turned her head to look into Koi's eyes.

"More than you can imagine." Koi said, winking at her. Cassy rolled her eyes, before returning her gaze to the fire Koi had built for them.

After a few minutes, their peaceful silence, so full of hope, was broken by banging on the garage door.

"I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE!" A hauntingly familiar voice screamed, and the banging increased. Cassy bit back a whimper. During the weeks, months, or however long they had been traveling together, Cassy had become more outgoing, and more secure with herself. She and Koi had grown close and sometimes… sometimes Koi wondered if it wasn't something more.

"LEAVE US ALONE!" Koi screamed right back, jumping to her feet. Cassy stood behind her, shaking.

"Y-Yeah…" She mumbled, barely loud enough for Koi to hear. There was a silence, as though Cassy's father was surprised that someone had stood up to him.

And then the door fell in, falling to the ground with the loud crash of metal-on-concrete. The two girls flinched, Cassy's hands going to her slightly-pointed ears.

In the doorway stood her father, his dark-brown hair was matted into braids, and a dried trickle of blood marred his left cheek. The scars, his shade of skin, it was all familiar to Cassy.

"BITCH!" He shrieked. "GIVE ME BACK MY SON." He flew at Koi, who pushed Cassy out of the way. She landed with a cry, pain shooting up her lower back.

Meanwhile, Koi was kicking, screaming, clawing, anything she could to stop Cassy's father.

"She's! Not! Your! Son!" Koi snarled, inflecting every word with a blow. The man just leered, silencing Koi with an elbow to the stomach. She gasped, her eyes bulging as she tried to recover her breath. Cassy's father laughed, and began hit her again… and again… and again….

Cassy stared in horror, almost inattentively searching behind her for something, anything she could use as a weapon. Her fingers found a handle, and further inspection proved it to be attached to a pan. Time seemed to slow as Cassy lifted the handle, standing up and running to the two struggling figures. Sounds seemed distorted, almost slower. Standing over her father, the man who had terrorized her time and time again, until she'd met the girl he was pummeling, Cassy raised her arms, gripping the pan in both hands.

At the last moment, right before Cassy brought her make-shift weapon crashing down, Koi caught her eye. She winked.

Down the pan went. Cassy's father cried out, turning his face up with a bellow. Cassy smashed her pan right down on his nose. He collapsed onto his side, clutching his bleeding nose and screaming. Cassy just kept beating him with the pan, tears streaming down her face. She lost count of how many times she hit him, or how long she stood there, sobbing and hitting the man, over and over.

Koi put a hand on her shoulder, and Cassy stopped, her arms trembling.

"He hurt me..." Cassy whispered, allowing Koi to take the pan from her grip. "I couldn't bear to let him hurt you too…" Her shoulders trembled.

"Easy, Cassy." Flinging to pan aside, Koi gathered Cassy into her arms and held her, letting the smaller girl sob into her shoulder. When Cassy looked up, Koi planted a sort, sweet kiss on her lips.

"I've got you." The scarred girl whispered, and Cassy smiled in spite of herself.

Blinking in the sudden darkness, Koi made her way down three flights of stairs to the floor where she'd claimed a room. The house was quiet except for her, creaking as she stepped lightly through the halls. The quiet bothered her; she'd much rather be in a small home full of laughter and work.

Inside her room, she didn't even bother to flick the light on. On her bed, which was freshly made, sat the rucksack she had used when escaping from her home. Inside was a shirt, a few skirts, some money, and a loaf of bread. Next to her bag was a sealed letter, addressed to 'Cassy'.

Koi slung the bag over her shoulder, grabbing the letter with her free hand. The dust on the wooden floor made the trip out of the room slippery. Behind her, the door creaked closed, and Koi knew she wouldn't miss it.

The two girls stared around them, hands clasped together.

"It's beautiful…" Cassy breathed. And indeed, the walls of the Uppercity were beautiful. A shiny black stone that was light as wood and indestructible as steel; it was unreal.

"Yes." Koi agreed, threading her fingers through Cassy, who squeezed her hand and grinned at her.

"I love you." Cassy whispered, leaning close to her rescuer, the exile.

"I love you too." Koi winked, and together they walked past the guards into the marvelous city.

Downstairs, on the bottom floor, Cassy was asleep, resting next to him. The now-familiar feeling of rage filled Koi, and she furiously blinked back tears. Not too long ago, she had been the one holding Cassy like that.

Biting back her anger, Koi placed the letter next to her old lover's head. Cassy stirred slightly, but did not wake. Coal, for that was his name, pulled her closer.

"Oh! Cass, look at this!" Koi exclaimed, holding up a loaf of bread.

"It's so fresh!" Cassy checked the price. "And cheap!" She smiled at Koi, taking the loaf. "The Uppercity is wonderful. I can't believe we can afford fresh bread!"

"I know, isn't it amazing?" Koi signaled the saleswomen, who smiled and started to walk over.

A boy with ragged, jaw-length black hair turned to them, eyebrows skyrocketing.

"You didn't used to be able to afford fresh bread?" He demanded, walking over. Koi growled, crossing her arms and stepping in front of Cassy.

"Yeah? So what?" She snarled, meeting his eyes. He raised his hands in mock surrender.

"Chill, miss. I didn't mean any offense." He tried to smile winningly, but Koi just glared at him. Behind them, Cassy was paying the saleswomen and promising her that no, Koi wouldn't start a fight; really, she's just a little protective is all.

"Well, you did anyway." Koi grumbled, losing some of her fierceness when Cassy looped hre arms around her waist.

"Come on, he was just surprised." Cassy smiled at the boy, who immediately melted, grinning easily. Cas's eyes sparked, and she blushed slightly.

Koi, who missed this, just sighed.

"Can we go home now?" She asked, and Cassy laughed, releasing her.


"Hey, let me walk you back!" The boy protested, pushing his hair out of his face.

"If you wa-" Cassy started to say.

"No." Koi tugged at Cass's arm, looking harried.

"Please? Just let me get my brother and we can go- Hey, maybe we'll even be friends!" The dark haired boy winked once, and then ducked behind a halfwall.

"Can we go now? Please, he'll be back soon!" Koi whispered.

"Oh, what can it hurt?" Cassy asked, eyes shining.

It was pitch-dark when Koi stepped outside, nearly invisible in her dark jacket. The hood was over her head, concealing her white-blond hair. Tears were finally running down her face and her eyes were red and puffy. Koi, so unlike Cassy, was ugly when she cried.

Her footsteps crunched in the gravel, ceasing when she stepped onto the concrete. Her steps were halting and short, as though she didn't really want to go. But deep down, the exile knew she couldn't stay. She wouldn't let her heart get ripped to pieces, day after day. And that was her own fault, because she hadn't held on hard enough.

"I though you loved me!" Koi screamed, throwing her shoe across the room. Cassy flinched, looking down.

"I'm sorry." She whispered, her voice thick with fear and unshed tears. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, goddess damned, Koi, I'm so, so sorry." Her shoulders trembled.

"Sorry?" Koi sent the bed-side table flying, tears streaming down her face. "I trusted you!"

"You can still trust me!" Cassy looked at her beseechingly. "Damn it Koi, nothing's changed!"

"Nothing's changed? Everything's changed!" The white-blonde girl with scars on her face turned to the window, and with a savage punch, shattered both the glass and the skin covering her knuckles.

"Koi! You're scaring me!" Cassy backed away, hitting the door. Koi stood next to the window, staring at her bloody hand.

"Get out." She whispered, shoulders trembling.



The door slammed shut as Cassy dashed from the room.

The next morning, when the sun had risen and cast its golden glow across the Uppercity, Cassy woke. Coal was in the kitchen, from the sound of it. He always did like those weird songs.

She made to sit up, and something next to her hair crinkled. The dark-haired girl looked down to find a letter, addressed to her in Koi's hand writing. Frowning, she opened it and read the tiny note. Her face paled, and her hands began to shake.

Dearest Cassy-

I'm leaving, so don't bother looking for me. I don't want to be found.

See the ocean, have a bunch of little brats, or don't. I won't say I told you so.

You're so beautiful, and he doesn't deserve you. Don't you dare contradict me.

I'll miss you, you idiot.


P.S. I love you.