(31/05/2009: Thanks to Rae for beta-ing.)

Paper Thin

"..like a dozen paper cuts that only I can trace.."


That was Fate Testarossa's lingering thought as she stared at the dark ceiling from where she sat.

Her room was dark; the lights were off, and the soft sound of pattering raindrops filled the room.

When she had come back, she'd slid her bag down to the floor by the side, placed her textbooks on the table, and dropped in the chair.

That was four hours ago.

(Four hours, and she hasn't moved.)

She felt a wry smile forming.

If you could only see me now..

Her eyes closed.

I wonder what you would do?

She didn't try to suppress the sharp pang she felt in her chest.

She didn't try to ignore it, and let it have its way with her.

But all the same, she felt her teeth clench; and her fists tightened.

A shuddering breath.

She should have been used to this by now.


But she wasn't.


Physically, Fate Testarossa was healthy.

Sure, there were many instances when she would just get really, really sick - and part of it was her own fault for not taking care of herself properly, another was just because she had always been prone to sickness.

It was fun.

But it wasn't like she was going to die anytime soon, so whatever.

Fate had different ideas.

She thinks she knows how it feels to die.

To want to die.


It's a little bit like poison, she reflects.

It's a busy road on a busy day.

People are on walkways, cars are zooming past her, but all noise seems to fade and her mind blanks out.

She isn't sure why she does it.

She isn't sure why, for a brief, brief moment, she just wants to stand there.

But she moves.

Maybe it's the sharp cry from Hayate that snaps her out of it, maybe it's the blaring honk from the car in front of her, maybe it's the painful screech of the tires., but she moves.

She moves.

Hayate's staring at her now, she senses.

She turns around, and watches the turmoil of emotions in Hayate's gaze from across the road.

Another car zooms by.

She's confused.

She isn't sure what just happened, but the fear and alarm in those blue eyes speak volumes.

And she knows that something is very, very wrong.

Her mind replays what happens.

And she understands.

Oh, she thinks. Oh.


"What's wrong with you?"

She's been cornered.

Hayate sounds calm.

But she's anything but calm.

And it's almost funny, because Hayate overreacting is a rare occasion in itself.

The grip on her hand tightens almost painfully.

"What's wrong with you, Fate-chan?"

That's a good question.

What is wrong with her?


Her mind replayed the incident all day.

And she couldn't stop herself from thinking about her; which was strange, because she had been doing just fine for the longest time --

She wanted to throw something against the wall with a force that would probably make it crack.

Her fist, maybe.

Anything to get those ash blue eyes out of her mind.


"Why didn't you want to move?"

She grins involuntarily.

It's a strange feeling.

A strange, strange feeling.

"I don't know, Hayate..."

She feels as if she's detached from her emotions.

"I don't know."

Hayate stares. The concern and worry is clear in those blue eyes.

Then, finally,

"...Why did you move, Fate-chan?"


The pain came back with a vengeance.

She let it pierce into her soul.

A morbidly curious part of her wondered just how long more she could endure it.

Physically, Fate was healthy.

As healthy as she could be, at least.

It was her mind and heart that were not healthy.

And Fate knew.


"Do you happen to need anti-depression medications, Testarossa?" Signum asked sardonically.

Hayate had refused to leave her alone, going as far as to get the older woman to watch over her when she had been called away by a lecturer.

It was, however, probably a good thing that both of them knew better than to say anything to anyone else.

"Do I?" There was an almost curious tinge to Fate's voice.

Signum gave her a scrutinizing look.

Fate felt herself smile, despite herself.

"I'm feeling relatively normal, Signum."



A real frown crossed the older woman's face.

"Why do you think I moved, Signum?" she asked, suddenly, before the other could say anything else.

For a long moment, there was no answer.

It was a strange question in itself.

Not just because it was something that Fate was curious about, but because what most people would ask, should they be in their right senses, is why they did not want to move.

But then again, this whole thing was already strange in itself.

(And not in a good way.)

"You know the answer to that." Signum said simply.

A short pause.

"Humor me?" Fate asked lightly.

The blonde did not need to look at her older companion to know she sighed.

"One," Signum started, "you refuse to be an inconvenience."

A liability.

"Two," her tone was calm and matter-of-fact, but Fate was perceptive enough to detect the disapproval in that voice, "you seem to think that your life essentially revolves around - and for - those you care for."

It hadn't always been that way.

But shit happens.


The blonde said nothing.

"And three."

It was as if the temperature in the room dropped below zero at that instant, because this time, the tone was cold, brutal and piercing.

"Because I'd like to think you're not a coward and a fool, Testarossa."

Fate had to smile at that.



A/N: Got inspired. Well, kind of. I can't really tell if it makes sense. The switch between past and present tense may be confusing, but I did it on purpose. And yes...I changed my mind about not posting.

Muse has returned to its dead state; therefore no guarantees on updates.

And props to you if you can figure out what the theme song for this story is.

Edit: Thanks to Ikka for quick beta-ing. :P