A/N: Flashbacks are in italic. And since I don't see much thriller, I thought I'd contribute to the thriller count. But then again, I'm not much of a thriller writer so… This is kinda slow. Again. But I thought I'd give you a preview of her past. Don't worry, Ikuto, her knight in shining Armani will appear soon enough, if you're nice and give me lots and lots of review, I'll wave my magic wand and have him out in a flash. So please review!

Disclaimer: Shugo Chara! Characters and quotes belong to Peach-pit and respective authors.

Tracks, she thought wildly, looking at the fresh set of footprints striking against the pale white snow. They were hot on her trails; she just felt it in her bones, but… How? Her great escape had been executed less than minutes ago, in the dead of the night, when the hell hole she was caged in fell into a deep slumber, and even those detested wardens succumbed to sleep- the sister of death.

How? The question echoed endlessly, bouncing off the walls of her mind. How had they been so swift to realize her absence? How? She could not fathom, her mind reeling. They would imprison her once more, keep her under a watchful eye, her chance at freedom would be a mere dream. She shook her head in abrupt, jerky movements, a puppet pulled on strings by an inexperienced master, she could not allow that to happen, never would she return.

Screaming… Shrieking cries for help… An unnerving silence… She stilled, keeping the memories at bay, now was not the time. Returning her gaze to the tracks set against a white background of snow, she closed her eyes, seeking refuge behind her lids, only to be assaulted by a fresh wave of memories. White walls, white as snow… White sheets, white as snow… Thick white drapes pulled across her windows, not a single ray of sunlight filtering through that heavy wall of cloth, white as snow.

Hell would be less of a torture. What had she done to deserve such a fate? What great sin had she committed? She remembered so little, but in a deep, shadowed corner of her past, she recognized a time when her world was filled with colours, with warmth. A room, a face everything seemed too vague and indistinct, as if she was losing her grip on reality. No, she griped, not now. Sleep would have to take her another time, not now when freedom was too close in her grasp to forsake.

She was in a room, walls a sweet baby blue with some obscure design of artfully painted silver alphabets. Her hand clutched Teddy, gently holding his soft furred paw, while a pretty lady gingerly combed a brush through her silken fair gold hair- methodically, stroke after stroke. She rather liked it. The pretty lady smiled. She smiled back. Together, they faced her Anime themed mirror –framed by an assortment of platinum plated characters- side by side, the pretty lady taking her right hand, Teddy in her left. They looked the same, same soft flyaway curls (hers a cherry blossom shade, the pretty lady's a warm brown), same winged cheekbones, and same adorable dimple in the chin. The pretty lady's lips formed a word, a foreign word she recognized instinctively as her name, and she laughed, gurgling: "Mama pretty!"

Her knees buckled, and she fell to the snow-cloaked ground. Mama, she thought, labeling the once familiar face. She gazed fixedly at the receding footprints, her mind racing with her pulse. Truth slowly dawned, and she chuckled, not a trace of humor in the dark sound. Those footprints were hers, and hers alone. They had drugged her so heavily that it was no small feat to be thinking straight, how she was still on her toes was unimaginable.

Thoughts flying back to that gentle face named 'Mama', she frowned, as strange emotions stabbed at her. She loved Mama. Mama was a friend. Mama would never hurt her. Mama was mama. Otousama, on the contrary, was an entirely different story. Given, he had never touched a strand on her head, but Otousama, with his vivid green eyes –sparking like hers– and his cold calculating exterior that held no secret to what was on the inside, only had words for her that ran along the lines of, 'How much do you need?' It was her only definition of the meaningless word 'O-tou-sa-ma', at least… Until that fateful night which marked the pivotal point of her life, the night when everything changed, and surprisingly, it was that particular night she remembered only too clearly, when all happier memories faded to being backup vocals for this devastating melody.

It was late, and dark, as dusk claimed the city. It was snowing too. She remembered the snow. Her eyes opened the slightest crack, she dug her fingers deeper into the icy white, the snow felt the same as it did back then. She blinked –once, twice– as the snow beneath her bled the deep red of a withering rose. Red, she remembered red too. A haze of burgundy washed over her vision. Thump. Sobbing… Thump. Moaning now… Thump! The door crashed against the wall, as she flung it out of her way, bile rising up her throat, as her stomach twisted in horror.

Mama was on the floor, face streaked with smudged mascara, eyeliner and who knew what else she had applied over her aging skin like a mask. She stood rooted, shock and fear warring for domination within her, threatening to shatter her control. However –with an effort– she suppressed them, storing them away to deal with another time, and they eventually subsided, leaving a frightening mild curiosity as her eyes settled upon an equally frightening figure she could not seem to put her finger on. Unruly dark hair, face contorted in sick pleasure, a fierce cruel grin twisting his lips, eyes green and evil enough to rival the Devil's, eyes that sparked like hers.

A blood curling scream pierced the air, an awful discord of Mama's and hers; she lunged to her feet, hauling a priceless crystal vase off the nearby glass table. Rose petals rained across the cold marble floor, red like her rage. She opened her mouth, and what came out of it was not the girly shrieking that resonated from the back of her throat seconds ago, but a strong yell, a battle cry that was all her own. She brought the vase down, with every ounce of strength she possessed. He never knew what hit him, slumping to the ground, dead as the dead winter the filled the air that night. She never imagined that the shattering of bones would be music to her ears, or that the pungent smell of blood would be a delicate fragrance to her senses. She never imagined, but that was exactly how it turned out to be. The reason for her lost childhood was gone, gone for good.

She brushed the snow off her soft cotton capris, her skin turning an unnatural blue. She remembered now, remembered her wife-beating otousama, remembered her too weak mama, remembered her inhumane family who claimed this to be 'bad publicity' and stowed her away in that god-forsaken asylum as if she was a raving lunatic, probably forgotten all about her too. The insane urge to giggle bubbled up her throat, her lips twitched, and she lost it.

She laughed, laughed at the world, laughed at herself, laughed at the fact that while she had been terribly concerned in covering her tracks, her entire existence was actually a bothersome set of tracks those monsters who shared her blood and her name attempted to conceal. What a cold irony, her life reduced to footprints in the snow.

That dredged up yet another foggy memory. She stumbled blindly through the bleak trees, not seeing the path before her. "Found you!" She gave a tiny gasp in shock, her adorable cheeks flushed in excitement. "Ikuto-niisan, you found me!" Ikuto chuckled, it was a nice sound. He tweaked a thick braid of pretty pink draped across her dainty shoulders, framing her lovely heart-shaped face; her black velvet beret was on the ground beside. "You're really good, Ikuto-niisan," She looked up at him with open adoration. "No," he corrected, jabbing a thumb at the set of tracks she left behind, "You're just really bad." She frowned, first at the snow, then at him with a heartbreaking expression, lapsing into silence. "Not bad," he quickly amended, "Naïve, innocent." She blinked, the question in her expressive eyes, "Na-ive?" He smiled, "It's good."

Innocent, she thought bitterly, a fresh bout of giggles edged with panic scratched her throat raw; it was a sad rusty sound, as if it had been left unused for a long time. Innocence was far from a good thing. It was filled with stupid ideals of happily-ever-afters, true loves and gold hearts. It meant believing in 'the right thing' and seeing it through, and having faith in those up there for good to always triumph over evil, just like in those ridiculous fairytales that brainwashed children into thinking the universe was a bed of roses.

'Innocent' meant being absurd, and she still had years ahead of being absurd when she was forced to accept the harsh reality, a couple more years of thinking life as a picture book. Dammit… She wanted to be absurd; she would give anything to take back those years of being absurd, but her family had destroyed those childish fantasies– permanently.

Her boots were crunching on hard asphalt, instead of squishing in snow, but she barely noticed. In her state of physical, mental and emotional turmoil, she could only walk, till her body collapsed, and hopefully with it, her mind and her heart. Then she would never have to remember, she would never have to feel, and she would never have to fear, the way she did when a pair of blinding headlights rooted her to the spot.

Tires squealed, as well-worn rubber protested against too smooth concrete, the distinctly familiar male driver maneuvering a break which brazenly challenged Newton's second law. That –added to the strain of everything– gave her more than enough reason to allow the low numbing peace ease back into her mind, sleep would take her now. She felt her eyelids slipping with reality. Ikuto-niisan –with a boyish smirk on his lips– had his hand extended towards her, an offer of friendship, companionship, and so much more. He winked, "C'mon Amu!" She was swept off her feet.

Okay, so how's that for a first thriller chapter, not too bad I hope. Reviews are really appreciated. Really, really appreciated.