She was smiling. That single action, even if it wasn't for him, propelled the same involuntary reactions - the lightheadedness, the warmth that seemed to reach his toes, the quickening pace of his heartbeat. It wasn't always like this. But right now, at that moment, he felt wonderful. There was this inexplicable giddy feeling he couldn't - he didn't want to shake off.

She was walking, and she was going to pass him by. He waited at the side. She seemed to be talking. Her smiling mouth was open and produced words he couldn't hear. She stopped every now and then, engaging in conversation with people he couldn't see. Yet he stayed where he was, waiting, anticipating.

She was carrying a book. The book was very familiar. Yes, he remembered it. Lately, she never left home without it. A feeling of animosity sprung from deep inside him. He hated the way the book was safely enfolded in her arms.

She was very close now. He could smell the whiff of spring blossoms coming from her hair. It stimulated his anxiety. "Wait," he hurriedly instructed his anxious body. He would wait.

He would wait, and then she would see him waiting for her

She passed him by, without a word, without a glance.


Terror filled his heart.

Momo…! He tried to shout her name, but no sound would come out. She was moving farther, farther away from him. His feet gave chase. How could she miss him? Why didn't she see him waiting?

He was running as fast as he could. But something weighed down his every step, and much quicker than usual, he grew exhausted. Momo! He shouted again, but she couldn't hear his soundless voice.

He continued his pursuit.

He didn't know how he did it, how far and fast he had run, but suddenly he was there. Just there, behind her. She wasn't miles away like she had been earlier - now she was just in front of him, and he could reach out and touch her sleeve.

Relief flooded his face. Now she would see him

His hand went through the fabric of her dress, and he fell to the ground on his knees. He tried, but he soon learned that he could no longer stand up and run after her. He watched her walk away. He called out, many times, but she never looked back.

Although he had sworn to himself that he would never do it, he cried.

His tears tasted bitter as they streamed down his face. He was a child again - no, he had always been a child, a child who wept whenever he was lonely - and he had been all his life, before her. This child cried his heart out, until his vision was blurred, and he couldn't see anything anymore, even her.

But when the hateful book appeared before him - again, he didn't know how it happened - he could see it perfectly.

Demon Arts and the Shinigami Practice, the title read.