There lived, very long ago, a great sculptor of Greece by the name of Pygmalion. Though women flocked around him in droves like cattle, he found himself disinterested, driven away by their countless failings and flaws, and turned instead to his art, carving from purest snow-white ivory a figure: a woman so perfect, so beautiful, that he fell in love with the artpiece. However, real as he regarded it, it was not flesh and blood. It was cold to the touch, dead to the eyes, closed to the heart, and yet he loved it still, though it would never return his feelings.

Day by day, he kissed the unyielding lips, he stroked the frozen skin, he caressed the stiff contours and lost himself in the simplicity of it all. And he loved his statue, loved it in spite of itself.

The day of the Festival of Aphrodite came at length, and there in the great temple Pygmalion made an offering and prayed at the altar, "If you can grant all things, you mighty gods on high, I wish, with all my being, to have as a bride…one like my ivory girl." Smiling upon the smitten sculptor, the great Goddess of Love granted him his true wish, and upon returning home, he embraced the statue as he always had done—and lo, it yielded to him!

He kissed the lips, and they flared to life, a blush darkening over the cheeks, and the body molded under his fingers as beeswax in the sun—flesh, alive, warm, throbbing!

His precious vision he'd named Galatea—"she who is milk-white," his flawless beautiful artwork…given life given to him.


First Movement: Salvaged Dignity

"We gather strength from sadness and from pain.
Each time we die we learn to live again."

Source Unknown

Hiwatari Satoshi had just had about the crappiest day of his life, and for a fourteen-year-old boy with no living relatives, living by himself, slave to a creature sharing his own body, without a soul to care for or to care for him—this was saying something.

How exactly had his life slipped to this new low? Had he perhaps committed some karmic infraction recently, unknowingly, that he should merit such a blow? Was his life already not hellish enough that whatever gods sat above looking down on him thought, "Well—there's a nice young man who doesn't seem to be suffering enough! Smite!" Damn…

He trudged along the sidewalk from the schoolyard, not bothering to head towards the trolley station, instead opting to walk the few blocks back to his empty apartment, taking in the evening breeze and setting sun behind him. Classes had ended some time ago, but he'd found nothing better to occupy his time with until now than simply sitting on a bench and watching the crowd disperse. A teacher had come along eventually and informed him that they were closing the gates, and students needed to vacate the grounds.

Why go home? It was the same there as anywhere—no other humans around for company, no classmates, no friends, no Niwa, not even Dark to occupy his thoughts. All he had was that cursed voice poking around inside his head, delving into thoughts he considered private. Krad might be able to deprive him of his body, but his mind was one thing he fiercely guarded—however futile that effort might prove.

He could, he supposed, distract himself down at the station—Dark had sent an advanced notice today…he would appear at the Central Art Museum the following Friday evening to retrieve the Kan no Ken, the Sword of Foresight. It was part of a cache of special Hikari works forged around a time of great upheaval, as a peace offering to the various warlords threatening their lands. The Kan no Ken would be the first to make its appearance at the museum, followed by a new weapon every month; Dark would certainly not be short on works to target.

The Kan no Ken, as with most every Hikari work, had been imbued with the characteristic magic of his family—magic that at once gave to its user as well as took away in its own style. Its wielder could see the outcome of every battle it was raised in, an outcome that could always be changed depending on how the user took action. Quite handy in the clutches of a warlord. But as with every artpiece, this too came with a price, and when the sword foretold its own user's demise, that fate could not be changed.

Gods, Satoshi wished he could change his fate. He didn't need a centuries old rusty piece of steel to tell him his future: he could already see it now. Fated to always be alone in body, fated to never be alone in mind, fated to chase Niwa and never catch him, fated to… Fated to always let him go.

His classmates didn't understand him, his drive for pushing himself on the police force, for idling away hours in a class he'd already passed years ago. And all the adults around him placed him on some high pedestal from which he couldn't get down. Hiwatari Kei was…even more of some sort of worshipper of him, or rather he worshipped what he was, reminding him constantly in short, clipped tones that he had a duty to perform for his family. And Krad? Hah—yes, the psychotic blonde demon in his mind was the only one who stayed with him despite what trials he endured, despite how badly Satoshi wanted him to leave.

When had he become so foolish?

When had he completely forgotten what his name meant? "Wisdom"? When had he traded his ever-calculating nature that tested and retested every option available to him for a single moment of rash action—action he couldn't retract? When had he let himself become so—so damn affected by those around him? When had he stopped thinking and started…feeling?

He couldn't answer any of those questions right now—he didn't care any more. His relationship with one of those closest to him was in shambles now, and for all his education…he couldn't think of how to repair it. In the space of fifteen minutes, all that he'd worked to attain until now—tentative friendships, aloof stature, a place of belonging…gone, along with his self-respect.

Gods, he'd almost cried! He—Hiwatari Satoshi, had nearly broken down, at least on the inside. As if he'd have ever shown it on his cool features. Instead, a simple, "I understand…thank you anyways," and he'd walked away. Walked away, from a place to which he could now never return. No, no…breaking down was for at home. For behind closed doors where only Krad could see him, and he could care less at this point what the blonde thought of him. He was tired of putting up masks to hide his feelings.

He hated the Niwas. He truly did. Each and every last one of them. Not because in his veins ran Hikari blood, not because he'd had it drilled into his head for years, to hate them. He just did. He hated them.

And he hated Daisuke most of all. Hated him so fiercely, more than he hated Dark even, more than…more than he hated Krad even…and yet that didn't stop him…


'Damn you, Niwa'

The door creaked open pitifully when he finally managed to drag himself up the stairs and maneuver his key into the lock of his apartment. He easily slipped his shoes off in the genkan and padded across the floor straight for the bedroom. It was barely even nightfall, and yet the past few hours had drained him more than Dark ever had, and he slid silently onto the mattress, shaking the bed frame as he sank into the center.

On his back, he stared up at the ceiling, face expressionless. His eyes were heavy, and yet his brain refused to slow down and allow him a chance to breathe, to recover lost energy. Neurons fired mercilessly as his mind leapt from one topic to another: Dark's notice said he'd strike Friday at ten o'clock, the apartment really needed to be swept, his rent was due at the end of next week, Niwa was an absolute twit, and Saehara wanted to hold a briefing meeting the next morning…

Life sucked. And he supposed he had his lovely parents, whoever they might have been, to thank for that. If his mother hadn't been a Hikari, if his father hadn't fallen in love—or perhaps they hadn't really been in love; Satoshi found it difficult to picture a true Hikari falling in love.

Even though…well, perhaps it wasn't so difficult to imagine that.

Tomorrow he would wake up, he would get dressed, and he would take a trolley down to the police station. He would sit through Saehara's rundown of how he intended to capture Dark that Friday evening, exactly where he would have men stationed, and how low the probability was that he would escape this time. Satoshi would make an excuse about needing to get to class, and Saehara would apologize, lavishing him with overly-polite speech, and he would leave.

He would see Niwa sitting in his little chair in the front row, off to the left, and he would watch him from the back of the room, and enjoy him squirming under his cold gaze. He would exude indifference from every pore—so what if Niwa knew, now? So what if he made the redhead uncomfortable now? That was what he was supposed to do! To let that boy know that he was watching him always, prepared to pounce on him always, bound and determined always to carry out his duty…even if that wasn't true.

And perhaps Niwa would try and talk to him, to explain that there were no hard feelings on his part, and he did appreciate "Hiwatari-kun" listening to him all the time—and even appreciated him telling the redhead about his feelings. That it showed they trusted each other, even if their alter egos were enemies.

Satoshi would then glare, toss back a soft, "Whatever…" and walk away, just like always, just like nothing had happened. And he would keep his mask in place and never let it down until he was alone—or as alone as he could be, considering his situation.

But that was all for tomorrow—a wonderful day to look forward to.

Tonight he could sleep and lose himself in the bliss of dreams, praying they weren't reduced to nightmares, for he didn't need anything to make this day worse. Stripping off his overshirt and slacks, he slowly and methodically climbed under the covers and settled down. His mind wasn't racing so quickly now, he almost felt calm.

As he closed his eyes, an unfamiliar sense of serenity washed over his mindscape gradually, like a fog rolling in with the tide. His thoughts became muddled, unable to differentiate one from the other, and just before he slipped completely free of connections to the waking world, a voice he could not hear with his ears whispered lightly:


It was, Krad supposed, very late at night—midnight, one in the morning, somewhere around there. The moon had been high in the sky, sailing alongside the twinkling stars, for quite some time, and the entire world, it seemed, was fast asleep.

Everyone except himself and his host.

Their sleep cycle was usually the same; Krad had arranged it that way so that he could be around the boy as much as possible, always watching over him, always ensuring that he did nothing the blonde would not approve of, always making his presence known lest his precious Hikari ever forget that he was with him, every waking moment. So he was awoken, groggy, in the middle of that night when Satoshi awoke for some reason—not abruptly, really, he simply sat straight up in bed, head rising off of the pillows, and lolling forward dazedly.

He threw his legs over to the side of the mattress and slid down onto the cold wooden floor, walking into the kitchen without bothering to turn on any lights. Krad barely stirred to consciousness, not used to waking up in the middle of the night, and took a moment to register what exactly was going on; was the boy up to get water? Use the restroom?

At first, he stayed silent, sitting in the recesses of the boy's mind as he idly observed his strange movements. In the dark, Satoshi was blind as any human, even given that he didn't need glasses, and he fumbled around the kitchen counter dumbly as he searched for a glass among a row of clean dishes sitting on a towel. He finally managed to brush across one and stuck it under the faucet, turning the water on full blast until the cup was nearly full, then downed the entire contents in a single gulp, as if he'd just run a mile.

He repeated the action, downing this one too, and then refilled it a third time and managed to top off half of the glass before he was finally satiated, breathing heavily. He poured the rest of the water down the sink and set the cup back onto the counter with its clean mates—but not without managing to knock over a few of those mates in the process.

Cursing loudly, Satoshi bent down and rested on the balls of his feet as he felt around on the kitchen floor, searching lamely for shards. This wasn't, of course, the smartest thing to do, and he naturally found those shards and sliced his right hand open in the process. More curses ensued, and he shot back up, cradling the wounded hand by the wrist.

Grunting, he hobbled warily to the bathroom this way, careful to step lightly lest he crush more glass underfoot on the way out, and eased the door open with a shoulder, flicking the light on with his nose as he held his hand.

It was here that Krad's curiosity got the better of him, and he slipped into a form more familiar to him on times he directly addressed Satoshi. Simply by bending the Astral around him to his will, he could fashion an image which perfectly mirrored him on the physical plain. It was a perk of whatever he and Dark could be referred to—they could cast images of themselves which only they and other hosts could see, specifically referring to the Niwa and Hikari hosts. But they could only become, as was implied, image—not true flesh and blood, not without their hosts. Dark and Krad could move only within a certain area of their host, not granted true freedom as real humans.

Still, it was so much more entertaining to feel as if they were two separate beings by adopting this form—he could look down upon his Satoshi-sama with his devilish smile and have the ever-present glare returned him, and it almost felt real…almost. And even more so, this way the boy had to acknowledge him, as it was so much more difficult to ignore someone standing in front of you than someone inside your head.

He phased into being leaning against the doorjamb to the bathroom, and watched curiously as Satoshi rushed ahead, collapsing onto the floor right beside the bathtub while still clutching his wrist. With considerable effort, the boy managed to get the water turned on—hot only, for some reason—using one hand and plugged the drain. Krad waited patiently as he looked on intently, curious as to what the boy would do once the water level rose.

A moment later, though, he flinched inwardly as Satoshi plunged his wounded hand into the hot water, watching the steam rise up and fog the mirror behind him. The boy heaved and cried out pitiably in pain, but refused to pull back, and Krad peered down into the water at the blood slowly seeping from the wound and staining the water a deep crimson…the color of the Niwas.

'S—Satoshi-sama' The golden demon actually faltered for words—he'd always been the one with a silver tongue perpetually-laden with blandishments for his Tamer, but tonight he was…disturbed, to say the least. 'Your hand'

"Leave me be…" came the cold whisper, back still turned to him, "Just…for once, can't you leave me be?"

Krad reached a gloved hand out instinctively, even though it could do no good, to chastise the boy and make him face his curse. Overhead, the lightbulb which hung down flickered pathetically. 'You're bleeding, Satoshi-samaBind your wound. Now.' His voice was not the usual light tenor that seemed always laced with laughter, antagonizing Satoshi to no end—tonight, it seemed to actually command his Tamer. 'You've cleaned it, now bind it.'

A coughing laugh echoed through the empty bathroom, "Cleaned? This is cleaned…?" He clenched and unclenched his fist a few times, sending new spurts of bright red liquid streaming into the murky water, and grimaced in pain at the stinging. "No…not cleaned… I'm never clean enough…never clean enough…"

With that, he stood slowly, knees bent as if he hadn't walked in ages, and climbed into the still-steaming water. His skin took on a pink tinge in response to the sudden rise in temperature, a sickening tone coloring his normally pale flesh. His nightclothes soaked up the water, growing heavy and pulling him down as if encouraging him to lie down and forget all his troubles. He sank low onto his back, legs pulled up in the small tub, with his head kept just barely raised above the surface to allow breathing. Shirt billowing up around him, it pulled up a bit and exposed the soft still-pale flesh of the boy's toned underside, the only part not yet stained by the water's hue.

Krad could only stand there rooted to his spot, staring down at the pathetic soul and looking entirely out of place standing in the middle of the bathroom in his long white robes and spick boots. Diverting his attentions once more to the wound, he noted that the bleeding had slowed, but the water was still a muddy reddish-brown hue, discoloring whatever exposed flesh managed to peek out from underneath Satoshi's waterlogged clothes.

'Will you bind it now, Satoshi-sama? You shouldn't leave it that way'

A low sigh, "And what would you care…a limb lost?" The life was completely gone from the boy's deep blue eyes, that tantalizing flicker that always rebuffed Krad anytime he tried to get close, the flicker that instead drove him even closer. "What would you care? What would…what…would…" Any other words were lost to oblivion as the eyes slid shut and clenched tight, "What would anyone care…what would he care…?"

Krad's worried frown twisted into one of disgust: that Niwa boy again…why did Satoshi-sama always focus on that stupid child who refused to even acknowledge that the two were enemies? Krad had tried to kill him on several occasions—if that didn't make the Hikaris dangerous people, what did then? Always so nice and trusting and—and—frustratingly innocent.

But now was not the time to focus on Niwas, so he pushed the thought to the back of his mind and turned back to his host. 'Satoshi-sama.' He took on a tone which likened him to an adult chiding a small child, and the boy actually opened his eyes and turned a disinterested gaze in the blonde's general direction, arms crossed impatiently —but not quite focusing on him, 'I will not ask again—next time I shall take matters into my own hands: Get out of the tub, bind the wound, and put on suitable sleepwear. Stay in there much longer and you're bound to catch something, a cold or worse.'

He was fed up with "asking" his host to get his act together, and he'd taken on a snappish, orderly tone, growing angry with Satoshi for taking such horrible care of himself—it was winter, after all, and sitting in a stale bath which was quickly growing cool, not moving, wasn't the best course of action for the boy.

Perhaps he was tired, perhaps he didn't want to fight at such an hour, or perhaps he just didn't care at this point. Whatever the reason, Satoshi did comply with Krad's "request", pushing himself into a standing position and wringing the excess water from his dripping clothes. He slowly stepped out of the tub onto the carpet, getting it soaking wet, and paused in front of the medicine cabinet as he reached in for a roll of medicinal tape, haphazardly binding the wound in silence.

Replacing the bandages in the cabinet, he padded softly into his room, stripping his shirt before he even had crossed the threshold, and stepped over to the closet to rummage through it for more nightclothes.

Krad once again stood in his astral form, leaned against the doorjamb, looking on in casual disinterest—this was a ritual he'd witnessed often before, after baths or showers, though never did he remember it seeming so…tepid

Satoshi had, before, always attempted to keep most of his body covered at all times, being the modest human that he was and ever under the hawk-like gaze of his Hikari curse—though Krad also conjectured it was the only way he could fight back at the blonde, depriving him little pleasures like watching the boy strip.

This time, though, it was as if he didn't even realize Krad was there—didn't realize…or just didn't care. With his back still turned, he stripped fully, removing the soaking bottoms and boxers, then slid into new ones, getting these a bit wet as well since he hadn't bothered to towel off. Under any other circumstances, Krad might have snuck a peek with the lowered defenses, but the atmosphere was just too heavy right now, and such an action would have been…wrong.

Voice steady and completely without emotion, Satoshi observed distantly as he pulled up his pants and adjusted the tie on them, still without a shirt, "You always watch me…have you no decency?"

Krad replied simply, not moving an inch from his post, 'When it comes to you, Satoshi-sama, I am all but devoid.'

The comment which, under normal circumstances, would've drawn quite a rise from the boy failed to evoke so much as a twitch of the lip tonight. Instead, he pulled a shirt from an open drawer and slowly drew it over his head, oblivious to the hungry eyes of his curse falling silently over his back as the muscles tensed with the effort.

Padding over to the bed, he slipped silently onto the mattress and pulled back the covers, settling under them and drawing them back up, not yet lying down, but sitting up with his back pressed against a wall of pillows, knees drawn to his chin. He remained this way for a few minutes of stark silence, staring ahead into nothingness, with neither breaking the stillness.

Krad had only taken a few hesitant steps into the room as he studied his Tamer with the same eyes a scientist might wear when studying a lab rat running through a maze—a look that spoke clearly, "I know what's going on and you don't."

Finally, he tested, 'It's about that Niwa isn't it? You're still brooding over this afternoon, aren't you?' His voice was hollow, lifeless, as he spit the detestable words from his lips, graceful features twisting into an ugly frown.

At this, Satoshi's head shot up, facing him now for the first time that evening, finally focusing on him, just like Krad liked it. The eyes that bore into him were wide and frightened though, like an animal caught under a predator's gaze, knowing it was being hunted—and Satoshi knew that he was being hunted, that Krad would track him and hound him and keep any others from him, knew how he viewed anyone getting close to his Satoshi-sama—particularly Niwa Daisuke. His voice grew frantic and heated, "Krad—! You—!"

'So it is, then? I see' he spoke, as if he had merely said that to determine if that was truly Satoshi's reasoning behind being so depressed at the moment.

"Don't you even think about—!"

'Calm—calm, Satoshi-sama. Really, I've no reason to try anything on that boy nowNow that he's at last traveled beyond your reach' The blue eyes fell away, toying with a thread that had unwound itself from the sheets, and Krad smiled, pleased with his deductions, 'You see? I am youThere is nothing that you think that can be kept from me.' The smile fell away when he received no response, and he unconsciously retreated into a lecture-tone, 'I told you it would end this way—I am all you have, all you needand all that is left is for you to simply accept that fact.'

These cold words, though, fell on deaf ears, and faded away slowly like phantoms into the night. Krad's golden eyes narrowed as Satoshi pulled his knees even closer, burying his face in them as if they could return some comfort to him. He could not look ahead any longer, and instead turned his face away to the rest of the room, which seemed to be lit by the pale, otherworldly glow Krad's astral form gave off. After a moment more of silence, though, apparently his curse grew tired of the effort put into maintaining the image, and abandoned his form, retreating silently into his nook deep inside the boy's mind to await the coming morn.

The illusion that he was alone at last seemed enough to stir Satoshi to life, and in a soft, quavering voice, he spoke into the empty room, "Am I…really that bad?" Ignorance truly was bliss, and as he expected no answer, he received none. "…Am I…?"

"Hiwatari-kun! Hiwatari-kun!"

"…No…no, don't…don't say it…"

"Hiwatari-kun! Riku-san—she—!"

Satoshi covered his ears in desperation to drown out the voice of Niwa Daisuke—the voice which existed now only in his memories of the earlier afternoon. So cheery, so excited, so expectant of support, "Hiwatari-kun—she saidshe said she likes me! We're going to the art show this weekend and—"

"Shut UP! I don't—I don't want to hear you—!"

The phantom voice did not listen, though, and the memory played on regardless of his yelling, "Hiwatari-kun! She likes me back! Me! Not Dark inside me, but Daisuke me! And—I like her too! I like Riku-san—!"

"No…I don't want to hear you like that! Don't—don't be happy, NIWA!"

"Hiwatari-kun! I like Riku-san!"


"II'm sorry, but II don't like Hiwatari-kun that way"

…Only fools confessed like that. Hiwatari Satoshi…the idiot, despite his name.

"Don't be happy…without me… Don't…don't leave me behind…"

Wait for me… A tear crested its banks and slipped down in a salty trail—two, three followed.

"…It's wrong…it's wrong… I wanted it to be different…to be me… Why does he get to share his warmth with her, when I'm so cold…so cold…" As if to reinforce this fact, he sniffed and rubbed his bare arms vigorously with his palms, inadvertently reopening his newly-bound wound and sending a twinge of pain through his being that resonated even to Krad who had been trying to rest—with little success thanks to the boy's dramatic monologue.

"But…so badly…to want something so badly is—selfish! I want him to be happy, I do…but I wanted him to be happy with me! Why can't I be happy too?!" The tears flowed more profusely now, making his voice crack pathetically, and they felt as if they were burning down his cheeks, so cold were the tracks. His eyes were getting more and more bloodshot as his voice rose, frantic in tone, "How horrible is it to want to be happy like that—how horribly selfish

"I'm just as bad…" he announced with finality, "…just as bad…as my own damn curse…!" In defeat, he collapsed into deeper sobs, as if this very fact of comparison had been enough to send him well over the edge.

Inside his mind, settled along the outermost edges of his consciousness so as to be able to catch his entire speech, Krad had been lazily processing the information transmitted to him as Satoshi berated himself—after all, feeling sorry for himself seemed to be something his lovely host enjoyed doing frequently, so why deny him his one or two pleasures not provided by Krad himself?

But these words…they struck a deep ominous chord inside whatever passed for a heart that beat underneath the layers of Astral and flesh inside Krad's center.

"I'm just as bad…as Krad…"

Just as bad…as him?

Just as bad…?

He was…bad? What he felt for his host was wrong? How could such emotion be unacceptable—to want the boy all to himself, to never share him, to desire the child to see nothing but him, to keep him close and watch over him always…Satoshi-sama felt it was…punishment…? How, how? The two were both so much alike—the pinnacle of design of Hikari genes, best of the best, perfect in every way, and he thought it was wrong that they were that way? How could something so right…be wrong?

Impossible—inconceivable! He couldn't comprehend—refused to try to comprehend such absurdity. Selfish—ha! Self-preservation wasn't a sin to avoid, but nature to embrace! How on earth could Satoshi-sa—

Then he felt it, sharp, piercing his mind with short stabs…crying inside his mind

The pain—the pain! Like a thousand tiny needles had been dumped inside his head and were shearing his consciousness, tearing into both his astral and physical forms and ripping him apart on the sub-atomic level without any tangible methods conceived.

It was—sadness! Sadness like he'd not experienced before—or rather…sadness he'd not experienced in so long that the emotion was utterly foreign to him. The tears, pain that came from within, the frustration, all of what made up his precious Hikari child and kept him whole—now it was tearing him down like a condemned building!

Built up inside of his mind and heart for so long, it now ate away at his lowered defenses like drops of acid rain on his very soul, until he could no longer hold it back. As if he'd unconsciously been shielding Krad from his pain, it now flowed forth unhindered.

Without thought, the curse instinctively shifted to astral form and dropped to his knees in genuflect, clutching his skull in fury and screaming at the new sensation—to any onlookers, a silent scream, which would make it only that much more unsettling. Satoshi's crying had blended, now, into his own mind and thoughts, swirling and vortexing until the thoughts were as one, and one's pain was the other's.

Krad had never felt this kind of pain before—because he'd never cried, never felt sadness or pain like this, never endured the pain of waiting so long for companionship, to have it denied when it was so close he could taste it, the scent still lingering fresh on his nostrils. Pain that couldn't be healed easily, that would fade only with time and the blessing of forgetfulness, that couldn't be sutured or bandaged, that couldn't be willed away—it was too much!

It very nearly made him sick, stomach twisting in a horrible new sensation that made him light-headed and sent the room into a spin, gag reflex activating involuntarily—what was this?! What kind of emotion—what were these tears that could make Satoshi—could make him feel this way?!

"I'm just as badas Krad"

'S—Satoshi-sama' He reached a gloved hand up desperately, pawing the air even though he knew he would receive no aid. No…Satoshi-sama wasn't listening in the least.

'Stop it—now! Stop that infernal racket now! Disgraceful—you're—Satoshi-sama!'

But Krad had not yet realized, apparently, that you cannot order someone to just stop feeling a certain way, just as it was equally futile to order them to start feeling that way. Human emotions were one area he'd yet to master, and it seemed that even given a millennium more, he never would.

'STOP IT! NOW!' No one heard him, no one was listening, not inside that empty space that seemed to stretch for eternity, just the two of them in the little bedroom, sitting in the dark and crying. He was all alone—and at the same time never alone, just like Satoshi.

'IIpl—easeSatoshi-samamake it stop' Good gods, he'd even resorted to begging now…

Was he truly that repulsive? That undesirable to be associated with? That to simply be compared with him…moved the one to whom he was closest to such tears as these? This sorrow, rejection, frustration, anger, and tears tears tears…

"It hurts…"

'It hurts'

And so…together they hurt…but at least it was together.

It's never much fun to just hurt alone, you know.

Author's Notes: Sincerest apologies for it being so long since an update, but it's all this behemoth's fault! I've spent nearly a year on this thing so that I could bring readers a timely, constant update, which I hope will be appreciated! I'd like to extend my thanks to my co-authors, Penchy and Jocy, as well as my betas Emi and Lara, without whom your eyes would bleed from spelling and grammar errors, most likely. Next update in one week, so get ready! — Sage