1: Off With a Bang

Running was all she knew.

If there was even the slightest chance of failure. Run.

Escape the scars of the future before they have the chance to bleed.

It was the most she could do to survive, bravery only ended in pain. Regret. The realization that everything would have just been better if she didn't try in the first place. Although even that had begun to fail her. How long had it been? 8 months? A year? Life had seemed free since she escaped the grasp of societal expectation all that time ago. She thought back to when she first broke the chains and breathed the air with a new look at the world and what her life could be.

Tears streamed down the girl's face as she nearly ran through the halls of Ashinaka High School. After all those years, so close to graduating and leaving forever, and she finally just couldn't take it any longer. Misery followed her in those halls, tragedy its counterpart. Those who weren't afraid of her hated her. Those who loved her only wanted something from her and she had forgotten what family was. What comfort was.

The other students barely glanced at her, not that she was ashamed of her tear streaked face, soon it wouldn't make a difference and it would be like they had never existed. She had to get out of there no matter the cost. Not a single person stopped to ask if she was alright… although she probably would have knocked them into next week if they had.

The last trip to her room took only seconds as she grabbed the only things she needed, already staged by the door. The last bit of money she had, the rest wasted on people she had hoped would someday consider her a friend, seemed to weigh ten times more in her pocket than the shiny, black violin case strapped across her back and skateboard in her hands. She barely glanced at the door as it slammed behind her with a sense of finality.

As she eventually made the trek across the huge campus, only one teacher on a short break called out to her. Although he shrunk back with an expression depicting near terror as she glared through his skull into the deepest depths of his truest fears. Before she knew it, she was standing before the immense bridge leading to freedom.

Her first step was launching her PDA into the freezing ocean that seemed to never end, touching the horizon in the most delicate of lines where later, hours from now, the sun would paint the world in infinite shades of red.

Red like her blood. Red like her name. Red like her vision as her feet pounded down the sidewalk, weaving between pedestrians and cars as she clung to the hope of future. Several months ago, she would have just turned and faced her pursuers head on, but several months ago was another lifetime. The fight had left her after that, although she still seemed to be in constant pursuit of danger and excitement. Anything to distract from her miserable existence.

She felt her side begin to cramp up and grimaced, internally yelling at herself not to be such a weakling, keep moving. Because as she heard the safety of a gun being clicked off, there was no way she would stop now.

Not even for the crowd of people leisurely walking down the sidewalk towards her. Her eyes widened in panic, there was nowhere to go. They were the only ones around besides the armed men chasing her and the cars blocking her from avoiding them by running into the street. The only escape was an alley just in front of the group, and as she heard one of the guns being cocked she realized if she took this route one of these innocents would be shot and possibly die.

Unfortunately for them they hadn't spotted her yet, and unfortunately for them she was in the mental state that would lead to their pain over hers.

A large, blond man, much taller than her and walking at the front of the group was most likely to be shot, so she wasn't too worried. It looked like he could take it. However, as one of the other men stretched their shirt moved to reveal a distinct black mark on their chest and her breath got caught in her throat.

Well… Shit.

And as she spun around at the last second to face what she had been running from, a loud bang echoed in the air and her left shoulder, right in front of the large man's heart, burst into a blossom of red, radiating pain throughout her entire body.

She barely had the chance cry out in pain as she clutched the wound, knees hitting the asphalt with a thump, before the group behind her burst into action.

The large man took a protective stance while a more weak-looking young man and a small child stood a way behind him, but if another bullet was fired they were in plain view. A chestnut-haired boy about her own age took down the first man and the last member of the party she tried to protect, with dark sunglasses and a black baseball cap went after the second.

As she looked over at the hole in her soaked sweater she internally swore. That sweater had lasted ages and she had grown rather sentimental towards it. She still remembered making the purchase all that time ago.

The young girl took the final step off the bridge, refusing to take the train or ride her skateboard so she could take in every moment and not rush into her new life. It didn't matter that she had nowhere to go, no one to rely on and no one to rely on her. In fact, that was what she had counted on the most. There was just one problem though, and she bit her lip as she looked down at the only clothing she owned, which just so happened to be the uniform that she hated from the school she hated.

Diving into the first clothing store she saw that looked like it would at least be cheap if not fashionable, her eyes lit up with the newfound realization that she could finally wear what she wanted. It took her not even 5 minutes to grab her new outfit and pay. She bit her lip at the register, realizing the chunk this would take out of her limited funds.

"Shouldn't you be in school right about now, kid?" She looked up at the cashier, raising her eyebrow at him as if she was daring him to keep talking.

"Nope." Although she may have seemed like a sweet, innocent schoolgirl, the moment she felt threatened in any way would be the moment the person making assumptions would realize their mistake. The cashier shut his mouth immediately and turned his gaze away from her piercing eyes, muttering a quick "Thank you" as he handed her bag over.

Making an executive decision, she ducked into one of the changing rooms in the store and soon emerged feeling better and more comfortable than she had in almost 4 years. If he hadn't just given her clothes to her, the cashier probably wouldn't have recognized the girl. Wearing a black hoodie and light blue jeans with red converse, the air she carried was nearly threatening and it was almost impossible to picture her back in that school skirt. She looked at ease and like a complete rebellious teenager with her skateboard and violin case, especially since she had let her hair down to cascade over her shoulders and back in smooth waves.

The cashier was completely taken aback at her new appearance and nearly forgot to throw a "Have a nice day!" in her direction. She walked out the door, throwing one hand up in a peace sign without looking back, something she had begun to enjoy more and more. The last thing she did that finally put a satisfied smile on her face, tears now long gone, was throw the bag with her uniform into a trash can out on the sidewalk.

It only took a moment for her to regain her breath and stumble to her feet, her being used to pain like that. She was only thankful the bullet didn't go through her shoulder and penetrate the member of HOMRA. Although, as if her day could get any worse, she spotted the third man chasing after her pull out another gun.

"LOOK OUT!" She screamed as soon as she could, already realizing it was too late. And once again she made the idiotic decision to take the second bullet for the gang members too, blocking it from the man standing with the young girl in the back. This time she wasn't so lucky to get hit in the shoulder as the bullet hit her on the left side in the middle of the ribcage, filling her lung with blood and making her choke on the crimson liquid, spitting some onto the ground.

Her sweater was definitely ruined.

Through clouded vision she saw the HOMRA guys take out the last of the gunners and confiscate their weapons. Finally able to relax as much as she could with 2 bullets in her, her knees buckled and she realized she wouldn't be standing back up for quite a while. The large man caught her shoulders just before she was able to fall forward into a faceplant and he held her head against his shoulder as they knelt on the ground.

She knew blood was probably staining his jacket as it flowed from her shoulder and dripped down her chin. She internally apologized, knowing any effort to try and speak right then would make her feel like she was drowning in agony for sure. All she could do was look over the man's shoulder into warm brown eyes. The eyes of the man who would have taken the bullet in her lung if she hadn't.

"Hey, it's fine. We won't hurt you, we're getting some help now. You're gonna be just fine." She tried to give a smile, but she knew it looked pathetic and showed that she obviously didn't believe him. "Hey, don't give me that look, you are." After a pause he continued, "Y'know, that was a really brave thing you did." Sirens began to sound in the distance and she knew the paramedics would be there soon. She attempted to give a sigh of relief but instead went into a coughing fit. Tears began to run down her face from the pain and the man talking to her donned a worried, almost panicked look. "Hey hey hey, it's fine, you're fine. They're almost here. You just need to stay with us for a moment longer." She tried to glare at him, honestly slightly annoyed at his rambling. He seemed to be more worried about her than she was, although that may have been in part because of the tunnel vision taking over and her sudden inability to think clearly. The last thing she saw before losing consciousness completely was 3 new pairs of worried eyes trying to speak to her, reassure her, thank her, and she knew she was safe.

Darkness swallowed the world. It was cold and lonely. The only being that could be seen emitted no warmth. No comfort at all. Everything was silent but the distant sound of a liquid dripping to the ground, like a leaky faucet asking to be fixed. As the being approached, it was more apparent that it was a young boy. He was dressed in a school uniform and had light brown hair covering his eyes. No smile adorned his lips, nor a frown. Nothing. He was blank. Blank like the darkness. It was not set apart from him, but rather ebbed and flowed around him. His aura, so dark and desolate that no light could penetrate it.

He raised an arm and pointed before him, expressionless still.

"You did this to me. You murderous bitch. You never even looked back." Lips peeled back, creating an impossibly wide grin, revealing piercingly white teeth that could cut through a soul. The dripping intensified into a steady pour as a stream of blood flowed from his outstretched arm, a deep gash making its way from his wrist into his sleeve at his elbow. "And you. Will. Pay."

Suddenly his eyes flashed open to reveal blank, bright white orbs to match his teeth. And as suddenly as he appeared he vanished, taking his darkness with him and replacing it with a blindingly white light.

A/N: Hey guys, so that's the beginning isn't it. I've had this story in my head for a while no so I just decided to finally sit down and just write, y'know?

Just a heads up, the timeline here may be kinda screwy or weird but just bear with me. I think the point of fanfiction is to be able to make the story you want to see rather than just recreate what the world has already seen. So just bear with me and I promise it will be worth your while. Maybe in the next chapter we'll even learn our protagonist's name lmao.

I'm so glad to be able to get this started, see you all later ;)