"Hey, Selena, uh, stop for a second."

"A-ah."

A brief touch on her arm stopped Selena for a second as she turned the corner.

"It's… you." There was lingering resentment in her voice, and Nex winced.

"Um… yeah." He stepped to the side, put his hands on the railing that wrapped around the open edge of every floor of White Cross Tower, looking out over the Zone. "It's me."

White Cross Tower was Innex sector, and Innex sector was busy, maybe the busiest in Central. Even though the sun had already set and the moon had phased in, the only change in the flow of people from one place to another was that they found their way by streetlights floating overhead and were lured into the stores with the flashiest glowing signs.

The sound of life was floating up from below, engines humming, people talking, children laughing, a torrent of footsteps., the occasional rush of a car. A row of neatly trimmed trees climbed up along the border of White Cross Tower, right between the walls and the city around, and they were just high enough that Nex reached out and brushed the velvety green leaf of one, moist from the quick shower earlier that evening.

"Look, uh, I never got the chance to say this, but…"

Selena scrunched up her face. "But?"

"Uh…" He bit his lip, and turned away. "The whole Heartbreak Spirit thing…"

"Yes?"

He waited for a while, and then sighed. "Look, I'm really sorry for it all. That was stupid of me."

Two floors below, the monorail pulled into its station, a sound like water pouring onto a plate for long seconds. When it finally went quiet, Nex noticed that Selena was standing next to him, looking out over the railing.

"The…"

He looked up at her with one eyebrow raised high over his glasses. "The?"

"The Dimensional Zone is… is an amazing place."

He stared at her for a while. "Uh, stream of consciousness much?"

She ignored him. "How many people are in the Zone?"

"Between all the regions? Like… eighty million?"

"Yes, probably. No matter who you are, one of those eighty million must have hurt you somehow, right?"

She smiled, still looking out at the street.

"If they all let themselves feel hurt because of someone from that eighty million, the Zone wouldn't be anything like how wonderful it is now. If it's in the past," she said, a faraway expression on her face, "just leave it there."

Nex looked up at her, his eyes wide, and turned to the same street she looked out on.

"That's… easier said than done," he said under his breath.

"True, but I agree with Selema anyway!"

At that moment, Nex noticed that there was a full-blooded Pure Demon with a blindfold and capes to his right, giving him a glowing grin and thumbs-up.

"Holy shit, Demon-" He very nearly jumped over the railing.

Selena raised her hand timidly. "U-um, my name is… Selena, not…"

vvv

"The story of the Heartbreak Spirit?"

"Yes! As told from a normal Central Academy student's viewpoint," Sec said, leaning against the railing. "It'll be helpful where we're going."

Nex furrowed his eyebrows.

As a Sayar, their emotional displays were magnified several times over for him, and he could see the feelings Selena was trying to hide – fear and hesitation, fear of that Sec, and a number of other factors impacting her microexpressions, but that Demon…

It was like staring at a blank white page.

Demons were naturally harder to read than other races, but he was on a whole different level. Nex felt powerless, like he was standing before a Demigod legion with his hands bound.

"Well… all right," he said, tearing his eyes off of Sec's blindfolded face. "Uh, where should I begin… you're not going to interrupt me like your friend does, are you?"

Selena stopped, a look of curiosity on her face, and then she giggled into one hand. "Miki? Don't worry, I'll stay quiet."

He started walking down the hallway, motioning for them to follow. "Well, it started three hundred years ago, in the abandoned old Central Academy. There was a girl, human, unnotable, average."

"What was her name?" Sec asked.

"Oh, god damn it" – Nex cycled through every emotion in an instant before throwing his arms in the air. "I don't know. It's not important! What's important is the one who appeared – a half-demon from a very powerful group, named Vexan. The legend says he was basically perfect in every way – perfect looks, perfect grades, perfect ability. The girl fell in love with him."

"How come he gets a name, but the girl doesn't?" Sec crossed his arms. "This story isn't fair to-"

"I swear, if you couldn't kill me by throwing a tissue box, I would hit you." Nex buried his face in his hands. "Anyway! The girl fell in love with him, and asked him out."

"Did he say no? Oh, I hate these sad endings to romances." Sec said. Nex ignored him.

"He agreed, but was just playing around. She tried her hardest and overworked herself to keep up with him, but then he left her for a girl with better grades."

"Wow, what an asshole. So much for perfect."

Nex ignored the Demon once again.

"Most of that actually probably happened, but from there it turns into urban legend. Myths say she died of grief and became a ghost – she was called the Heartbreak Spirit, and would bring bad luck to everyone who got better grades than she did. You could hear her miserable wailing through the halls at night, they said."

"So that's why you used that one…" That time, it was Selena who spoke, and Nex looked away.

"Yeah…" He sighed, and stopped at one point along the railing, pointing into the distance.

"See the spires? Kind of a rusted red? That's Old Central. The Heartbreak Spirit legend is nonsense, but if there's any truth to it, it's in there."


A/N: Looong-overdue story of the Heartbreak Spirit, nya~! xD

Well, I don't have any time and I gotta run, so no long author's note, but - hope you liked the chapter~! Selena and Sec are on their way to intersect with the plot, but - how exactly~? The only way to find out is to wait~!

See you next week~! Until then, Kisho, out~! /salute