Ulrich struggled to pay attention in his algebra class. Odd was, once again, trying to successfully count how many wads of gum were under the table. Once he'd completed that, Ulrich was sure he'd move onto flavors next. How... palatable. He shuddered. Odd was something else.

Jeremie, on the other hand, was taking very detailed notes. He was fairly confident he could just snag Jer's notes during lunchtime or study hall and copy his own, sloppy translation of the genius's own form of gibberish.

Yet again he found his eyes roaming towards the expansive classroom windows. He pictured himself away from this wretched place, out basking in the mid-afternoon sun, on a weathered park bench. And, of course, she'd be there, in all her glory. The sunlight would frame her face just right... she'd look like his dark angel. Fallen from heaven, she'd arrived at precisely the right moment. She didn't know it at the time, of course, but that day at self-defense class with Jim... Oh, he'd been so close to the edge, he could taste the canyon's haunting embrace.


A shaking brunette holds a saftey pin to his wrist, daring himself to draw it closer and pierce the flesh. Just then, he hears the sound of a key sliding into the doorknob. He hastily hides his tool of choice under his lumpy pillow. Then he grabs a comic book from the drawer beneath his bed and feigns interest in the fading panels.

"Hey there!" Odd greets him brightly. "How can you read in the dark?" The blonde flips on the light, revealing faint tearstains down each of Ulrich's cheeks. "Hey," his manner changes a bit, from enthusiasm to mild concern. "What's up, man? You okay?"

"Just fine." He means to sound reassuring, but his reply comes out so quiet and gruff that Odd is left more suspicious than before.

"It was your dad again, right?"

"I don't want to talk about it." With that said, he curls up in the fetal position and faces the wall, glaring at the ugly shade of beige it's painted.

Odd promptly climbs onto the stubborn boy's bed and sits on his legs. "Oh, you're going to talk."

"Now that's no fair," he fake-pouts in reply.

"I think it is." This brings about a round of play-wrestling between the two, which ends up reversing their positions. Just as Odd begins to swat at him, struggling for his place on top again, he happens to knock aside the pillow. The safety pin, left open in Ulrich's rush to hide it, pricks him in the back of the neck.

"Youch!" he howls. "Why have you got this here?" He gingerly picks it up and holds it up in front of his face. "Ulrich..." His voice trails. "You have to tell me now. Please."

---

So he draws out the long, painful tale. One of constantly disappointing his parents, constantly being harassed by Sissi and her cronies, and constantly longing he could just disappear.. for good. Odd ends up staying up many hours that night, counseling him, trying to convince him that he's got so much more life left.

Reluctantly, Ulrich collapses into a deep sleep that night. He silently hopes he won't awake again the next morning. However, this wish isn't granted, as his eyes are assaulted by morning's joyful light once more.

Little does he know that, just that afternoon, he'll meet his reason to live.


The class bell rang loudly, causing a chain reaction of closing books and stuffing notes into bookbags. "Remember to study for your test! After all, it's only two days away now!" Mrs. Hertz feebly tried to yell over the students bounding out of the class. They were anxious to get to lunch; nothing would stop them now.

However, Ulrich's footsteps seemed to possess somewhat of a limping quality, dragging him through the doorway and down the bustling hall.

He'd seen the way Yumi looked at him. That slight glimmer in her eyes. She'd never looked at him that way. Her whole face seemed to light-up, more than the candle she'd been carrying for him had ever shone. It almost sickened him. Of course, he wanted her to be happy. Just not with anyone else.

Yet, he'd been given so many chances. Maybe she'd finally given up on such a bashful boy. Maybe this new guy - William, he believed he'd called himself - would make her forget everything she'd ever expressed to him.

Maybe she'd move on.