Summary: "No!" 9-year-old Ryou screamed, yanking off the Sennen Ring and throwing it across the playground. "I didn't kill her!" And to his surprise, the voice was gone...

Disclaimer: Ryou and friends belong to their respective owners.

Note: First published November 3rd, 2003. Song lyrics removed May 14th, 2005 to comply with new policy. The fic itself sucks regardless, and will be de-suckified once I'm done with this cold/school/bout of writers block/all of the above.


His shoes scraped the pavement.

He was getting too tall for the swings at the park.

But he didn't care.

He didn't care that people thought he was a neckerphilic or whatever it was called...

He didn't care that the clouds above him were saturated with rainwater and set to burst open at any moment.

He didn't care...

The park was where he felt closer to her.

Nine-year-old Ryou sighed and closed his eyes, feeling the first drops of rain hit his cheeks and faintly hearing the bell ring back up at his school, the bell that signaled school was over. He always skipped the recess at the very end of the day, because he hated hearing that bell, he hated it so much...if only it hadn't been broken on that one day...then he wouldn't have been late to her preschool, and she wouldn't have tried to cross the street by herself.

Ryou turned, seeing something out of the corner, and for a moment he fancied he'd seen a little girl with silvery-white hair flying behind her in the wind, swinging away next to him.

But he blinked, and the girl was gone. He turned away and stared at the ground, cursing himself for blinking. When he looked away, or blinked, she'd always vanish...

Heh. Silly little Ryou...still in denial, tsk tsk.

Ryou shut his eyes and bit his lip, gripping the chain tighter. That was the bad thing about the park...

He was closer to her, but he was also closer to the voice.

He didn't understand the voice. Sometimes it was there, sometimes it wasn't, sometimes it was fairly civil, sometimes it would be so awful Ryou would do anything to be rid of it, but he did know that the voice was playing a game.

The voice was trying to push Ryou to the brink of insanity.

You know you're never going to see her again. You know she's dead.

Or did no one tell you? the voice asked then.

Ryou bit his lip a harder, reopening a cut and reminding him painfully of when he split his lip during the last time the voice had been talking to him...

Don't ignore me, Ryou. Now the voice sounded a bit annoyed. I'm your mind...don't you want someone to talk to? Don't you want to be my friend?

"...n-no," Ryou whispered. "I don't like you...why won't you just go away?"

Because I can't go, Ryou...I'm your mind, I can't leave.

"But you've never talked to me before..." Ryou mused.

Because you used to be happy. You're not happy anymore, Ryou, and I want to fix that.

"No you don't!" Ryou yelled suddenly, biting his lip harder still, feeling blood slowly trickle down his chin. "You're lying! Everyone's lying!" He felt tears fill his eyes, but he squeezed his eyes shut, scared of what the voice would do to him if he cried. "I'm happy...Amane-chan will come back...she will..." he whispered. "My mind will be gone..."

You can't get rid of me, the voice said gleefully, sounding rather like a child with a new toy. Don't even try...

Ryou slipped off the swing, his head in his hands.

You don't want to get rid of me, Ryou...I'm the only thing that keeps you living...do you want to die...?

Ryou was shaking. "Yes!" he yelled. "I want to die, I want to be with my Amane-chan!" Unable to fight anymore, he let the fresh tears slide down his cheeks.

If I kill you, would you stop crying?

If I kill you like you killed her...

Those words shocked Ryou out of his tears.

"B-but I didn't...I didn't kill her..."

"I...I wanna wake up... I have to be dreaming!" he cried. But he knew that he was once again lying to himself.

For a few moments, everything was silent. "He's gone," Ryou whispered, breathing heavily.

Who's gone? The voice began to laugh. Ryou shuddered, wishing the sound would stop.

"I want to go back...I want to tell her I'm sorry..."

She'd never forgive you... the voice said matter-of-factly. You killed her, Ryou. You killed your little sister.

Ryou was shaking uncontrollably. He felt himself growing hot...he looked down, and something inexplicable happened...he realized that the Sennen Ring, the one his father had given only weeks before Amane's death, was glowing under his shirt.

Admit it, Ryou! You killed Amane!

"No!" Ryou cried hoarsely. "I didn't kill her!" He reached down and grabbed the Sennen Ring. He wasn't sure why, but suddenly wearing it felt so wrong...

He yanked, and the string broke with a snap. Ryou threw the Ring across the playground, and it skidded across the blacktop.

That was when he realized...the voice was gone.

Ryou's eyes widened and he stared at the golden ring, his breathing heavy.

The voice...it couldn't have...it wasn't possible...could it possibly have come from the Sennen Ring...?