Marilyn. She was a strange little girl, an outcast of her own right.

Even though she only thought logic and accepted what was real, she still lived not in this world. Her mind running over this one event, this one story that unfolded on the soil she treaded as she left the cemetery.

The young girl knew that coming to Middleton would greatly change everything that had to do with Kim, and seeing the unmarked grave of the one who killed...Killed Kim in the would change everything. She never really lived in reality-

And maybe...Maybe half of her obsession was not alone obsession --but fear. Fear to be buried deep underground, forgotten, disowned, dead and with three little letters replaced for her name.



Chapter Two—


By time she reached home it was dark, but Marilyn knew her father wouldn't mind. He never was that worried about her anyway. You might imagine after losing your wife and son that you'd grow to appreciate your only living child more…but Mr. Benjamin was an old fashion man, with old fashion views. Marilyn was just a girl, and that girl would only grow to become a woman. Fundamentally weak. That could be why Kim was so amazing to little Marilyn. Here was a girl, a young woman who was the opposite of that which her father told her that all women were. And perhaps that is why Mr. Benjamin found Marilyn's obsession so annoying. He thought, perhaps, if he brought his silly child to the death place of her hero it might rid her of this obsession. But he was wrong…dead wrong.

Marilyn pushed open the door, almost tripping over a discarded paint can. Flipping on the lights she found that the floor was scattered with them, with brushes, newspapers and tarp. Each can was empty but there wasn't a drop of paint that marred the white gleam of the room. Shielding her eyes, she hurried upstairs. The house was quiet, her father must be out and she gave it no more thought. That was when a heavy and horrible thud came to her ears from the direction of the study.

The girl seemed to take more time as she walked. Usually being alone in the creepy house wouldn't have worried her so much - even if some stupid thing crashed in the study. But now, chills crawled up her spine as she set her hand on the doorknob. Her insides twisted as she swung the door open only to find a little stuffed bird down on the floor. It was the place where her father had set up his books, papers and other things the man collected. He was a fan of taxidermy, which didn't bother the girl…until now.

She let out a sigh, feeling extremely silly as everything untensed. She walked towards the bird, a raven, and kneeled picking it up. But something about the strange little dead creature seemed different. As if it vibrated under her hand, but she figured it was just her. After all, what could get her now? Everyone who once lived here died along time ago, and couldn't possibly come out and attack her anyway. Somehow, she still felt uneasy - like a bubbling came across her skin as she thought about it. But she was a girl of reality, not fiction. Marilyn took the chair from the desk, and lined it up with the bookcase. But before she could hop herself into the metallic and leather chair to replace the bird, she felt a sudden chill.

It wasn't like any regular chill, but it made her feel very heavy from inside out. Like her whole spirit had suddenly sunk so low, and a deep-sorrowful feeling over came her. Marilyn felt like mourning, crying out and she clung to herself for support. As if she just held herself to keep from falling down on her knees. Her legs shook from under her, as if they weren't use to standing but she maintained strong. Although this feeling made her feel as if she was being pushed down into the ground- before her ears perked up to hear a very awkward sound.

It could pass as Marilyn was hearing things, but she highly doubted it. She heard the whispered sobbing of what she believed to be a girl. They sounded distorted, echoed and over all disturbed and it just added to the heavy feeling of despair that was slowly consuming Marilyn. Her first reaction would be to run away, but something inside of her willed her to stay. If not for a second—to catch or prove herself horribly wrong. Nobody was home, so who could be crying? Marilyn wanted to run, as far away as she could...But feeling the bird still in her hand she gripped it slightly tighter. She didn't want to be blamed yet again, so Marilyn weakly took the chair and lifted herself up.
She reached but found herself too short to get it to its proper place. Marilyn pushed herself higher, tip-toes as she use to when a child...But as the sobbing got louder, she tried harder and harder to push the sound away. Marilyn found tears dripping down her cheeks, and gasped. Whatever it was was so strong. The screaming moan of agony filling the air, that she found her eyes flooding in protest to her wishes of solitude in the study.

Marilyn felt a cold brush against her skin, and her reaction was shivering. Marilyn put her free hand to her mouth - seeing a cold smoke like breath come from her lips. As if she was outside in the freezing cold weather. She stretched, and pushing the black bird into it's place...just an inch more-her wrists painfully rubbing against the shelf of the bookcase...But before she could finish that final last inch the bird blinked; this dead, stuffed bird blinked and shook and drew breath. It's gleaming black eyes glaring at her renewed, no longer coated with dust. It hopped from her hands, and all thoughts of ignoring the screaming cries and the cold were thrown away. How could she ignore a cawing, living bird, which was once dead and lifeless in her hands? It then reared back it's head and let out a low gurgling caw, which sounded from all around her, blood dribbling from it's cracked beak before lashing out at Marilyn with it's dead, dry talons, beak and withered tongue.

The girl let out a scream, falling backwards off the chair, landing on the desk - the papers flying out every which way from the impact and a loud boom heard. But to all this, her ears were closed, muted sounds, but to this 'once fictional' reality her eyes, ears, and lips breathed it in. Taking in every sound, experience...Even as her head crashed into the paperweight. She didn't even move, her mouth open in a gasping expression...And the raven, content with its work landed on her chest and picked at the girl like a vulture does a carcass.

Marilyn shivered still, sitting upright on the desk. Her head pounded with unmerciful force; overtaking her thoughts, lightheaded truthfully as she examined her surroundings through blurred and sleepy eyes. It was completely black except for the light that flooded from the large bay windows that opened to the backyard. Marilyn's eyes fell to the ground watching the black melt into light. The back of her head had a heartbeat pulse, and she lifted her silky skinned fingers and touched it...Slimy clotted blood sliding against it as a welcome. The events, the sounds, the all came back to her and her eyes broke from its mindless gaze to show fear. Carefully she slid off the desk, looking around and through the darkness for any sign of the demon bird, but instead her eyes could make out a white bed, a few white dressers and white curtains that blew from the cracked windows. The four walls were much like the study, but the surroundings were different. This was a bedroom, and her lips parted to confess her confusion.

"What's going on here?"

She held her head, hoping to realize all of this as just a dream she could free herself from. But always in a dream, your not just in a room-something happens…as it did for Marilyn. A sniffling came, and she gripped the bloodied paperweight. Holding it up, clutched in Marilyn's hands, fingers covered in dried blood. Ever since coming to Middleton, weird things were happening, once and for all she was going to get some answers...But not the ones she wanted.

Marilyn walked softly, carefully towards where the quiet sobbing was coming from- but hearing a strange sound underneath her foot, and a newfound slimy feeling under her shoe, she looked down only to find her slightly dirtied white sneakers painted with blood. A thing she was seeing quite frequently lately, and she grimaced. That was the least of her worries as she looked up, to find herself in not the distorted bedroom, but in something which looked like a living room. There was a broken flat TV, a large bent couch and an armchair and beyond them a ladder style set of stairs that lead into the ceiling. The larger windows here provided much more light, and burned the girl's eyes. She lifted up a hand, blocking out the light. But as she could now see, she stared in disbelief.

"K-Kim?" No wonder this place seemed so familiar, it made her blood curl and her heart quickened. She was, even if a dream, standing in the Possible's living room! With each heartbeat, that ticked like a clock, she took a single step towards the sobbing creature before her. The blood was more like a trail towards the red headed hero than a pool as she once thought it to be. The sobbing was familiar to her ears and she figured the sounds she had heard before to be from Kim. It all made sense now, and even if this was a dream Marilyn was going to make the most of it. No matter what!

A clink caught her attention and Marilyn found a discarded switchblade at her foot. It looked the same as the one in the police reports, the pictures. She was really here, and that's when again Marilyn took another blow. The once clear air covered as heavy as before. Painful, and sweeping through her was the mournful sadness of her childhood hero, as she saw her weeping. The blood seemed to become more and more obvious, as if it was multiplying. Marilyn looked around and there seemed to be only Kim in the deserted looking room, beside herself. A tear fell over her flushed cheek in surrender to this overwhelming emotion forever stained on this place. But as the emotion came quicker over her, Marilyn's weak hand stretched out to touch the teen's shoulder but stopped when she heard the agonizingly weak words:

"It's all my fault."

"No it wasn't." Marilyn's voice said, soft and non-threatening. She saw the teen hero turn to her, her eyes gazing out, as if right through her. Marilyn observed how her lips seemed to be in a permanent downward expression, as if she could blame her? Her cheeks soft from the constant crying, and it seemed as though Marilyn had to use all of herself just to move to just look at the body of this person. This couldn't have been the person she long admired and looked up to, for her beauty and strength. Was this even Kim? She seemed so...dead...Marilyn remembered her seeming so strong and in charge in her photographs. But this person--her whole emotional feel seemed so totally different it seemed her mind was exchanged with a permanently depressed person.

"You couldn't have known this would happen."
Marilyn kneeled down into the carpet, a sea of sticky brand new blood, and took the frail thin frame of her hero into her arms. Kim welcomed the touch; as if she had never felt it in her entire life...This girl was warm, as everything here was cold…cold, dead and lifeless to the corpse. "Ron's the one who did this, not you." But on those words, Kim pulled away her eyes wide with confusion. "He's the one that slaughtered your family, remember?"

"N-no, no he..." Marilyn sighed, shaking her head as her delicate hand found Kim's shoulder.

"There was footage found of the incident, Kim, from your house's security system. We...we saw everything. How he snuck into the house, how he slit the throats of your brothers-"

"No!" She screamed out, trying to block it out as far away as she possibly could.

"It's true. Don't you remember? Ron did this to you. He caused you all this pain. The whole world knows and no one blames you for what you did. It's not your fault." Kim's mouth hung a gape; the events were distorted in her mind. Being here alone for so long…for so very long. She looked again to the small girl who had come from the shadows. Here was forgiveness, a touch of kindness in the otherwise dark and cold reality she had woken to after that day…a day that was still foggy to her. All she knew was this warmth this child gave her was something she didn't want to lose so she clung to Marilyn, crying as she had for what felt like forever. Marilyn stroke Kim's coarse, brittle hair.

"It's ok, Kim. Everything will be fine, don't you worry."

"It was Josh." Kim whispered, the events becoming a bit clearer. After all this she had pushed those memories away. "He-he made Ron, he was going to do something and Ron protected them."

"Protected?" Marilyn thought to laugh, but Kim's serious eyes sent the laugh that was crawling up her throat to be swallowed back down into the darkness of her stomach. "Kim he slaughtered them!" She tried to reason with her, anything to make her stop being this depressing breakable girl before her. The girl who blames herself, even in death- or dreams...Her hero should be happy shouldn't she? "Why do you protect the guy who destroyed all you loved? Don't you remember it right?" Marilyn questioned, wondering what all this mass of darkness had done to Kim's memories. She figured since RDS use to be Kim's best friend, maybe she didn't want to think of it in that way at all. "...I mean..." She said, taking a little breath. "You killed him with your own hands."

Before Marilyn could even take another breath, she was sent backwards with such strength that it was unbelievable - her limp fourteen-year-old body being thrown into the couch. When she looked up, Kim was standing up - her tangled mass of auburn blood highlighted hair covering her face but even through the hair Marilyn could feel the murderous green eyes gazing at her with hatred. Disbelief. A sob was heard, as Kim pulled back her hair...Before her eyes shot once again towards Marilyn.

"I-I..." Her voice stuttered. "I-I DIDN'T MEAN TO!" She yelled, "I DIDN'T KNOW!" Marilyn moved before a fist came towards her face to smash it inward with the thoughtless rage that overcame Kim. She removed her fist from the soft cotton insides of the couch, which she had punched through. Marilyn jumped to her feet with fear, her only thought a yelled 'What did I say!?' But her thoughts were interrupted when she found the switchblade lying on the floor. "I'M SORRY!" Came another yell from Kim as she sent another punch Marilyn's way, whose eyes were closed and held out the knife with shaking hands. The expected impact never came, instead the sound of the knife cutting through flesh rung in their ears.

It seemed natural, mixing with the designs of gashes and cuts. But when Marilyn expected to see a bloody mess as she opened her eyes, she only saw a knife sticking out of a bloodless arm...

"I'm empty," whispered Kim, the words laced with contempt, before sending a punch into Marilyn's stomach. Marilyn soaked in air, but her lungs still seemed empty feeling Kim's arms against her back and legs before feeling herself flying through air and into the broken television. She screamed as pieces of glass broke off into her back. Auburn hair fell down, darkness covering Marilyn...Black eyes gazing downward at her and the sickening smell of death filling her nose.

"You think I meant to kill him. You think I did it on purpose! That I planned it all along!" Marilyn was gasping, her eyes flickering as she bled, whimpering out a she struggled to sit up.

"I saw you." Marilyn coughed out, tasting blood, and looking up at Kim with no expression of fear. "You stabbed him to death, it was video taped. The whole world knows-" Kim's expression was of shock, hatred as her hand gripped the weak neck of the girl. Squeezing it, tightening her hand around it. She tried to fight it, but the pain the rest in her back, and the rest of her body - Marilyn could only gaze up helpless before she fell into the silent darkness.

"Was that what you wanted?" A calm voice asked out of the black. Marilyn simply opened her eyes to find herself on her couch, a washcloth on her head. She peered out, trying to see anything at all but the world shook and was undefined in her blurriness. A man sat next to her, but Marilyn could tell he was not her father.

"W-who are you?" She stuttered out, her head pounding like it had earlier. Oh, this day was full of pain! He simply grinned at her, gently putting a cold finger on the tip of her red nose.

"I'm your friend." His grin became wider, as she silently watched him, her mouth slightly open. "I'm sorry you had to see Kim like that, she hasn't been feeling like herself since the whole incident." For what happened he seemed really calm and genuine. He leaned closer, and…. And almost-almost she could recognize his face.

"You were real brave back there, not many people can face a ghost on a spirit plane and survive such an attack." The blurred colors, and multiplied images smeared together before bolding. She blinked at whom she saw; rubbing her eyes to find that it did not change.

"Wait." Her breath inhaled a little too fast. "T-This can't be real, you're--"

"Dead? I know. My name is Josh, and this is MY house." He flicked a lock of his blond hair. "But-I'm sure you know that already." Marilyn sat up at his comment, her head still hurting although it quieted slightly.

"How can you be here? This is impossible." His laugh ringed in her ear, laying her down softly again.

"In this house there is no such thing as dead, ask the animals in the study." He leaned so close Marilyn could smell a strange mix of bleach and dirt. "There is still a lot you have yet to learn, Marilyn. I'd be more than happy to teach you everything you wish to know." Just then the door opened and Marilyn jumped in surprise but relaxed to see it was only her father. But after that, noticed that Josh had disappeared.

"Marilyn! What have you done?" The man dropped his three new cans of paint to step into the room. The walls were a deep red. A blood red. And the man liked it. "Not bad, girl. Now go to bed." Marilyn didn't say a word to him but stood, walking to the wall to inspect it, her fingers touching the still wet coating only to find this was far from paint. She turned to look at her father, but only shook her head, wishing this night to be over. He'd figure it out sooner or later.

The answers she was looking for? With all the questions she had Marilyn just couldn't turn it down. She grinned and whispered to no one in particular:

"I'm always willing to learn."

Jao: Ok, this was co-written. Yes CO WRITTEN! I wrote the original and as I was doing so, my very good friend Dia was asking for pieces of the chapter as I went, and being the softie I am, I sent them often. Well, she, either out of boredom or inspiration from her music or something, she re-wrote parts of it and it just was so beautiful. More than that, I found our styles mixed so well. Unlike Clean I have a feeling this fic will get done faster because Dia and I, well we're always writing together.

I really couldn't be luckier to know such a writer and great friend. She's way modest too. I always tell her how incredibly amazing her writing is, but maybe she'll believe me more now. Love ya, Dia. You always inspire me to do better and never give up.

.: sighs :. I also had to upload this chapter like three times cuz FFn likes to eat my enters, indents and end quotation marks. o.o If you know how to keep those preciouse indents, please tell me. I'vetried uploading in each file type, I've tried adding the tabs, I've tried typing hte spaces, it just doesn't stay and makes it harder to read. I'm so so so so sorry about that. If you know a way, please IM me at KJao78 or say something in the review or something. I need to know.

Oh, and about this chapter, that room that the study is. I hope you recognize that room from Paragon. It was the one Josh had set up for Kim as her bedrooms, you know the window where she could watch over all of Middleton from…it's also the room in which the story ended.

Dia: Wow! I couldn't have been more excited than ever when Jao asked to co-write this fic. Not only was Paragon one of the beginning fic's I ever read by Jao, it was my all time favorite along with Secrets and the one that lead me to meet Jao in the first place! Eek! I almost popped out of my skin when she asked me, because I was re-writing a scene that she had done. Just out of fun of course, and she wasn't supposed to read it until later. My enter button decided to be anyway. rambling I was more of the actor, she gave me all the guidelines and I -decorated- which ended up adding like a page of details. Woo! So I really hope you like this.

Comments, Questions - KDia03 D Love ya!