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Chapter 2 ~ Innocence

Maybe it'd be better,

If I just died.

"Alright, why don't you try solving this one?" The problems on the screen flipped to a new word problem as the math teacher called Lucas to the front of the room. Lucas grabbed the pen from the holder and held it firmly. He raised his arm and pressed the pen against the white smart board. Lucas wasn't terrible at math but he never had the time to catch up with the rest of the class. He scanned through the equation and preformed some mental math for his solution. His mind came to a halt as he couldn't figure out the problem. Lucas's vision became hazy as his mind began to fog up. His muscles trembled. He took a huge gulp but it got caught in his throat. Water formed in his baby blue eyes. He began to whimper like a little dog. "Oh that's right," the teacher spoke. "You're new here. Ask one your classmates and copy their notes." The boy couldn't handle it any longer. Warm tears trickled down his flushed cheeks. The rest of the students couldn't believe what they were seeing. Lucas just gave his colleagues something new to spread around…

It was November, but it seemed old man winter decided to show its face a month sooner than expected. The outside world was entirely dressed in white. The grey clouds carelessly sprinkled snow from the icy sky. The ground was blanketed with sheets of ice. Spring View Middle School looked like it took a vacation to the arctic tundra. Lunch time had rolled around as Lucas finished putting his textbooks in his messenger bag. The blonde sighed as he attempted to erase the embarrassing scene from algebra from his memory. Drowning out the nattering that resonated throughout the classroom, Lucas's leaned against the glass wall and watched the snow plummet from clouds. Ice twinkled against the tracery of the glass. His mind was still going on how much he made a fool of himself. He never wanted to disappear from a situation that badly since that time with a certain person a year back. Lucas leisurely shut his blue eyes and started to clear his thoughts. Echoes from the students gradually dissipated; he was actually drifting asleep.

"Hey Lucas!" The young blonde jolted up at the call of his name. A familiar face walked up to him. "Hey sorry about that! I didn't mean to startle ya." Ninten scratched the back of his head. "I was wondering if you wanna study together." The energetic boy flashed a wide grin.

"Huh?" Lucas blinked. Study together. Those words echoed deep within his head. Lucas glanced in the opposite direction, embarrassment taking over his tainted blue eyes. Was he referring to his massive blunder during algebra? Was he implying something? The blonde's heart ached the more he thought about it. "No thanks…" he murmured. Lucas pulled his body up against the freezing glass wall in attempt to increase the gap between him and Ninten. The blonde didn't hear a reply. In that moment, there was an awkward tension that sat between the two – a long pause.

"Hey…" Ninten broke the silence. "I…" Lucas turned his head toward the boy dressed in stripes. "I didn't mean it like that." He rubbed the back of his head – a nervous tick. "You see, my friends and I get together every other day at the library for a study session during lunch. I just thought…you'd come along since you've been eaten in here by yourself these past several days." Ninten glanced downward at his shoes in shame.

"Oh…" Lucas narrowed his eyes. It was then that moment of awkwardness vanished. He turned his head away from Ninten again, hugging his arms. He felt a knot in his stomach and squeezed his biceps harder. He wanted to be left alone. He slowly got up on his feet, slid his arms into his brown jacket and pulled the strap of his bag over his shoulder. "I'm sorry." Ninten glanced up. "I…don't feel so good right now. Maybe some other time" Lucas was certainly feeling nauseous. "I'm just going to the nurse's office and lie down."

"Oh, if that's the case I'll walk you down there. I am the nurse's aide after all." Ninten quickly offered, putting on nervous grin but Lucas shook his head.

"I'm fine but thank you." Lucas excused himself and strolled out the classroom. Ninten remained, standing next to the now empty desk. The boy dressed in stripes sighed.

"Darn it Ninten. You blew it." He cursed himself. "Now what will I tell others?" His thoughts were then interrupted by a heavy pulsation coursing throughout his body. Ninten jolted. He staggered a couple inches back, sweat dripped down his temples. The sensation was overbearing, it burrowed into Ninten's soul. The boy's chest tightened as pressure built up in his lungs. He clutched his chest, gasping for air. His legs gave out from beneath and fell onto his knees. He felt the sudden urge to vomit, the sensation traveled up his throat. But Ninten resisted as he swallowed it down. He held his chest tighter and remained on his knees for what seemed minutes. He felt as if he was on the verge of losing consciousness.

And, just as abruptly as it came, the terrible sensation stopped. Ninten felt disappeared. He blinked, and then quickly rose to his feet. His breathing was normal; he felt stable and was no longer feeling faint. His eyes glanced around the classroom. There were a couple of students that gave him the eye, as if he was having a seizure or rather. He just turned his head in the opposite direction to avoid eye contact.

"Ninten!" A voice rang through the boy's head. "Can you hear me?" It was a boy's voice. Ninten closed his eyes, lowered his head and folded his arms. His mind melted as he channeled something from within.

"Yeah, you felt that?"

"Yes, are you alright?"

"Still trying to compose myself but I'll survive. How about everyone else?"

"All of us are fine. I suggest we discuss further matters in the library."

"Alright, I'll meet cha' down there." Ninten opened his eyes and fixed his gaze toward the frosted glass wall. There, he could see the other side of the building. He made out a figure with blonde hair, a brown coat and a yellow and red stripped t-shirt strolling across the busy halls. "Lucas," A serious expression was painted across his face. "I'm sorry, but some way or another, you're gonna have to get involved." With that, the brunet threw on his navy jacket, grabbed his backpack and darted out into the main halls, making his way toward the east corridor. He jostled through horde of students and worked up the steep flights of stairs as he approached the library entrance. He grabbed the cool metal handle of the large wooden doubled doors. Ninten took in a deep breath and murmured. "I just hope when that time comes," he squeezed the handle. "You'll use your PSI to your advantage." The boy pulled back the door and stepped into the library.

Something was wrong with this picture. Lucas laid on one of the black leathered beds provided in the nurse's office. From a normal standpoint, the scene was so trivial, but it would fall into the book of irony for others. Lucas was indeed a psychic user, the powers of psychokinesis. Psychokinesis is an umbrella term for any capability that comprises of having control over one's mind. One factor could be used for regeneration or healing. So why would someone with these extraordinary powers end up at the school nurse's? The answer was simple. Lucas didn't want to use PSI. He wanted to let his nausea dissipate like any other normal person. Normal. Yes, to live blissfully in ignorance to the world around him. There was a term for this. People who are certainly unaware of this phenomenon called PSI, or any other supernatural occurrence in general. Something beyond their level of comprehension. A Muggle, that was the word.

It wasn't comfy like his bed at home, but it was acceptable and more tolerable that he'd anticipated. The room was small, the back wall was coated in plum-purple and the two side walls colored in cinder. The scent of disinfectant and sanitizers filled the air. He was in a fetal position - on his side, hugging his arms like he would usually do, legs curled partially into stomach. The blonde's back was facing towards the doorway in order to keep the nurse and possibly others from looking at his lonesome appearance. "Why?" he whispered. "Why am avoiding him like this?" Lucas hugged himself tighter. "He was only trying to be nice, trying to connect with me. Only for me to say no." His vision blurred, his body shivered and something hard formed in his throat. "I'm so..!" His voice croaked. Liquid spilled from his big cerulean irises. Not only was the first time he cried today, this was now the second. The thought of that made the boy even more frustrated. He frantically wiped the tears that were rolling down his face with his sleeve. He tried to hold back the occasionally sniffles and hiccups. Lucas continued to rub his puffy red eyes. He then rested in silence on the firm leathered bed for the rest of the lunch period.

"I'm just worried about him, y'know?"

"I think you're overreacting."

Duster slid a bowl of tomato soup across the table to Kumatora. The cafeteria was filled with the nattering of adolescent school girls. The walls were completed with a chestnut brown, complementing the beautifully marbled flooring and fluorescent lighting. Duster and Kumatora were seated at a long grey table built for two. Duster had come to accompany Kumatora for lunch. The tomboy had established such bad reputation among her school, her crude, obnoxious and vulgar behavior had kept every girl at a distance with the occasional snobbish remarks. Her grades weren't necessarily poor but she remained with the lowest score in all of her classes, another good reason why everybody kept her at bay. She couldn't care less honestly. Kumatora had better things to worry about other than a school occupied by arrogant, pampered little girls that ran the building like some sort of sorority but she appreciated his company anyway. The pinked haired girl dipped her spoon in the thick red soup. "Look, all I'm saying is that we gotta watch out for him more often." She swirled the crimson liquid.

"And I'm saying that we can't monitor him twenty-four-seven like some sort of maximum security prison." Duster leaned back and folded his arms. "The guy's thirteen; he should be able to take care of himself without us hovering around him. Hell, he was managing by himself at the age of ten."

"Duster, both of us weren't even around him during that time." She narrowed her eyes at him.

"You know where I'm getting at." He retorted.

"I don't know. Maybe this is what they call 'Big Sister Instincts'." Kumatora sighed, as she brought a spoon full of tomato soup to her mouth.

Ever since the restoration of the world, Duster had to require an occupation – a job. Thus, he returned to performing as the bassist for the local band, 'Desperado Crush Mambo Combo' or DCMC for short. The members welcomed him back with open arms. His attire was identical to the one he wore a year before, a white collar shirt laced with a red tie, hidden by a milky pink suit, silver slacks and black dress shoes. He was given a brown afro-wig by the band when it was time to perform on stage. Duster looked rather ridiculous in uniform, but he didn't mind. He'd grown accustomed to it over the three years he received amnesia due to a certain incident. Besides, he was given the opportunity to do what he loved; play music. It was a rare sight, seeing a man at an all-girl school. The two could distinguish the giggles, offensive comments and occasional glares that were made to them. Kumatora couldn't tolerate the glances Duster was receiving, eyeballing him like a piece of meat. The pink haired leaned back and threw her legs on top of the table, resting the bowl on her stomach.

"Really?" Duster shook his head. "No wonder nobody wants to be around you, you're uncouth." She simply ignored his comment. "And for goodness sake!" He turned his head the opposite direction. "Pull your skirt down! I don't want to see that!" his face took the color of a ground cherry. The girl looked down and saw that her black skirt was sitting a few inches above her waist. A mischievous grin was painted across Kumatora's face.

"Oh come 'on honey, don't be like that! You know you want a peek." She raised her voice and leaned back more, exposing a partial bit of the inside of her skirt. The man's face grew several shades redder in embarrassment. He clapped his hands over his syrup –colored eyes. She laughed hysterically, pulling the bowl close so the soup wouldn't spill.

"Excuse me." The moment came to a grinding halt when a blond girl stood in front of them. "Can you guys like, be quiet? It's really annoying, and disruptive." Her voice was filled with disgust, not to mention haughtiness. The two just stared. The girl ran her fingers through her golden locks and trailed off with her head held up high. Kumatora spat. She turned her head in the direction the girl took off and stuck her fist out.

"Yeah, like I give a rat's ass!" She hollered, waving her middle finger in the air.

"You need to stop." Duster chuckled.

"What? Ain't nobody in this school met someone like me!" The girl scoffed.

"You're a mess."

"A hot mess." She corrected. The two sat exchanging insults and jokes for a half hour. It was when the tomboy switched an earlier topic. "Hey."

"Hmm?" The dark haired man leaned forward.

"I…" She stopped.

"What is it?" He raised an eyebrow, giving all attention towards her.

"I know. I know that Lucas has to grow up," Kumatora lowered her voice. This caught Duster off guard. She's bringing this up again? He blinked. "and I know we can't always be there to protect him. But you gotta remember, Duster." Her appearance was gloomy and hurt. "He's still a child." The man folded his arms and glanced to the side. It was then; vivid images flashed in his mind – a young boy, an old man, a crushed leg. He shook the memories out of his head and fixed his attention back at the girl. "Duster," She started again. "promise me, if anything happens to Lucas, the two of us will be there to help him." The look in her eyes, it was fierce and passionate, a loving heart.

"Of course." He assured her. The pink haired gave a sigh of relief. She took another spoonful of the soup. "You know," She looked up. "you aren't exactly the type most people tend to get along with." Duster had his elbows propped on the table, leaning his head against his closed hands. "You're stubborn, loud, vulgar, rude," He went on listing adjectives that would typically describe her, or what separated her from most females. Kumatora wrinkled her nose as he went on. "But," he stopped. "That's what I like about you." He lifted his head and gave a warm smile. "You're not afraid." She blinked, and then there was a pause. The girl returned the smile. She brought the bowl up to her lips and drank the rest of the tomato soup.

"Damn straight." She savored the salty taste.

Finally, the last bell rang. It was time to go home. Lucas packed his belongings, zipped up his jacket and headed out into the throng of middle schoolers. He followed the halls out into the school entrance. Snow continued to fall from the tainted clouds. Lucas loved the smell winter air: crisp, cool and fresh. From here, he had to walk up the street and meet Kumatora at the High School. He then trailed up the frosted cement. Surprisingly enough, there was hardly anyone around. Everyone else went downhill. The blonde continued to walk the lonely streets for about two blocks. He had kept his head down, glancing at his feet, not bothering to pay attention to the road ahead. It was then, those words echoed in the back of his head.

"You gotta make it your mission to be twice as cool!" Ninten's words rang within his mind, over and over. He continued glowering, biting his bottom lip.

"No way…" He murmured. "Not me. I can't do anything..." He brought his hands to his sides and curled them into fists. "I just embarrass myself and cause trouble for others..." He stepped in a pile of white snow, his shoes crunched into it. "Why? Is this…the way I'll always be?"

"Maybe it'd be better if you just died."

"Maybe it'd be better if I just died…"

"That's right. You should just die."

"I should just…die…"

Lucas then jolted in a daze. He had realized what he just thought of. How could he think of something terrible like that? The blonde noticed that he drifted off conscious while he was walking uphill. But that wasn't just it; his surroundings were completely altered; instead of the grey sky, winter snow, silent icy roads and concrete buildings, he was met with something much darker. He was on an endless plane of grass, but was blemished with an unorthodox color of navy blue. The sky brewed a deep olive, with crumbs of black streaks scattered across. There was essentially nothing but the vast area of blue and green, though the scene was horrendous and unnerving. Lucas's eyes dilated as he observed region he was in. His legs trembled. "W-Where…am I?" He turned his head in all directions, but saw nothing but the empty space. His heart pounded wildly, so much that he thought he it was going to collapse. He just stood there, frozen in place. His cerulean eyes flickered. It was then he felt something drip on his nose. The boy in the brown jacket flinched. What was it? Was it raining? His hand reached for his nose and gently placed his finger on the dorsum. It was black. What is this, ink? Lucas felt another dribble on his cheek. The boy glanced up. Little dark splashes came down from the tarnished sky, which was now accompanied by ominous bright clouds that were spiraling rapidly. A cataclysmic flash erupted, blinding the petite blonde. The black liquid sprinkled across the field and a strong current swept in, rustling the blue grass. Blasts that were equivalent to the sound thunder rang in Lucas's ears. His vision came to when he saw the clouds bubble in unison. His eyes widened…

There, beyond the silvery ripple, resided a head. It resembled the one of a mannequin, shaded in white, pointed nose, chiseled jaw and hairless. Its eyes painted black, the color of death. It just looked down upon Lucas, aware of his presence. He just stared back in horror. No, horror is used to describe something frightening or utterly creepy. What were the words for situations like this? Fear? Terror? It doesn't matter. All he knew that was petrified and needed to escape from whatever that was. Suddenly, the Mannequin Head's eyes glowed. Its jaw lowered, revealing its massive mouth. Several colorful lights formed within the dark hole. It was difficult to conceive what the vibrant glows were. Lucas remained in the position he was in, locking his eyes upward. Then, another brilliant flash illuminated the scenery. The lights shot downward, cutting across the black atmosphere. Each light grew bigger and bigger into groups. It was then, Lucas finally understood. Those were constellations, a system of multi-colored suns heading straight at him. The blonde didn't have time to think. He had to move now. And with that, he leapt into the air, gliding from the gigantic cluster of stars. Each one exploded upon impact, holding the amount of energy equivalent to a supernova. Lucas fell back down toward the diminished meadow. He channeled something within. Something he hadn't really used in over a year. A encircle of light formed at the soles of his shoes. It cushioned his landing. The moment his feet touched the ground, he darted off into the distorted land. Lucas kicked up the black sludge in the grass, splashing it onto his jacket and shorts. The boy didn't care. He just needed to keep on running. The Mannequin Head glided across the bubbling clouds. More colorful lights formed at the opening of its mouth. All of them fell like the shooting stars they were. Lucas prepared to jump again, but his foot was tangled in the wet grass. He struggled freeing his leg, then finally pulled it loose. However, the bright constellations rained down on him before he could make another move. The explosions sent him hurtling across the air. He smashed onto the wet terrain, skidding through the dark fields of grass. The blonde quickly regained movement but couldn't support himself long enough to run again. The Mannequin Head charged up another spectrum of lights. Lucas was gasping for air, only being able to crawl. Again, a fantastic display of stars plummeted down towards the earth. Lucas attempted to crawl faster, but wasn't getting anywhere out of range of the oncoming shower. His arms gave out underneath as his face went into the dirt. He felt the heat draw closer to him. A warm stream traveled down his face, mixing in the dirt and bruises. Lucas buried his face in his palms, sobbing, waiting for his last moments of being alive…

A dazzling barrage of red, blue and yellow overpowered the shower of constellations as the multi-colored stars hurtled themselves back at the Mannequin Head. Supernova's detonated as the enormous figure crashed onto landscape. Lucas's hands remained buried in his face, tears seeping through.

"Well that was a close one, wasn't it?" A voice spoke up. Lucas lifted his head and glanced over his shoulder, his vision hazy. There were two boys. One of them had a familiar face - a blue and white striped t-shirt, navy jacket, red baseball cap, and red bandana.

"Don't worry you're safe now." One of them turned his attention towards him. "Lucas." There it was, that same goofy grin. It was Ninten.

"W-W-What…are you d-d-doing here?" Lucas stammered. He was in disbelief. Though, was he seeing things? The other boy looked identical to him in every way. He had same black hair and similar red baseball cape, except he wore a blue and yellow striped t-shirt and crimson jacket. The Mannequin Head rose to the base of the clouds and started to charge yet another ray of stars. Ninten and the other boy focused on the floating figure. With a blinding flash, a storm of constellations shot towards them. Ninten raised his arm above his head, holding his finger up.

"Just don't tell anyone else in class, kay?" In that moment, a swirling cobalt erupted from his finger and engulfed the three in a crystalized barrier. The shooting stars collided with the barrier and burst upon impact. The other boy took two fingers and placed it on his forehead. He stuck his other hand in front, aiming it toward the massive figure. Just then, an emerald pulsating ball flung toward the Mannequin Head. Lucas recognized the attack. It was identical to his. The green orb struck the Mannequin Head. A pattern resembling a spider web glowed on the surface of the figure. With a deafening sound, the Mannequin Head exploded into many fragments which fell below. Though tears blurred his vision, the blonde watched in amazement as he was able to make out the entire scene. However, a wave of fatigue hit him. His vision grew dark and felt disoriented. Lucas collapse on the ground, falling unconscious.

He sat in the vacuum space. Alone as always, cradling himself. "So useless…" he murmured. "I couldn't do anything but run away. Why...am I like this?" His eyes filled with shame. He buried his face into his knees like he always does. He dug his nails into his skin in vexation. "If only I were stronger." His voice sullied disgust. "If only I had more power…" He hugged himself tighter. Water leaked from his cerulean eyes, soaking his denim shorts. "That won't happen. I'll never…"

"That's no good." A voice chimed. His head bolted, lips trembling, eyes red and poofy. He turned the direction of the voice. Then, what you came face to face with…

"You're…" His eyes faltered.

"That's right! I'm you, the other you." It was a mirror reflection in facial appearances. He had round cheeks, stout jaw, burned orange hair and blue eyes. However, his attire was completely dissimilar. A red and green t-shirt, brown denim shorts, green socks, and brown boots. It had the most reassuring smile, as if it'd gotten the birthday present it'd always wanted. Sitting on its knees beside him.

"The other me..?" He sluggishly gestured to himself.

"Have you forgotten? We promised we'd get stronger. That way we wouldn't have to suffer like that ever again." The mirror image's voice was evidently loud. So much so that he felt like taping its mouth shut. He lowered his head once more and cried.

"But...I can't…"

"So you're just going to sit there and feel sorry for yourself? You're going to go back on the promise we made?" The mirror image raised its voice. "Weakling! Coward! Why don't you give up and die?" It taunted, how annoying.

"Those words again… it would be better if I did. All these feelings, I just want them to end!" More tears trickled down his cheeks. He grinded his teeth.

"Then turn those emotions into power! All that confusion and all that frustration" He then jolted his eyes and fixed his gazed at the reflection. "You're from Fantasy, remember?" The mirror image assured.

"F-Fantasy?" He blinked.

"Surely you couldn't have forgotten. Magic, Imagination?" The reflection explained. "All those things people wished that were real." It leaned forward with a stupid smirk on its face.

"No." He shook his head. "No, no, no! I don't remember!" He brought his hands to his head and clapped them over his ears. "I don't know what you're talking about! Just leave! Leave!" He shook his head violently, rocking back and forth as he usually did. "I don't need!" He went into a panic, again. "I DON'T NEED!"

"Listen to what I'm saying." The mirror image stood up. He just ignored it and kept repeating those words. "You just have to believe is all." It chirped "Believe me when I say our desire will be granted with certainty." At this pointed, he'd stop spouting nonsense and listened to what it was saying. "Believe in magic." It repeated once more.

"M-Magic?" He blinked. It nodded.

"As long as you believe, and as long as others keep fantasizing, then we will certainly achieve power without fail." The reflection took a step forward and brought its head to his level. It held up its finger and smirked. "Belief will be the key to obtaining power." He frowned, closed his eyes then opened them again.

"I believe!" he declared. It nodded. The reflection extended its hand toward him. He glanced at it. Then with a determined expression, raised his arm and took its hand.

Next Circle…