A/N: Merry Christmas... :D I'm so tired. This is my gift from me to all of you: 40,000 words worth of fan service. Hope you enjoy. Looking back, I realize I had a lot of reckless youth when I started writing P:V. My grammar was terrible, but I had so much going for me with my driven passions on writing... yeah. I guess every FF writer starts out like that.

I feel old.

This is what it must feel like to look back on your past stories. "Passion" and whatnot is something I wish I had again... By the way, happy third anniversary, P:V! :D

Okay, guys. I haven't read the actual "story of evil" novel, but in this story's case, we're not going for the exact storyline. I herby disclaim mothy's gorgeous piece of afajdflkj. It's so holy that it can't even be called earthly. Anyway, yeah... I'm really excited the big production later on. :D

Check out another new doujinshi series for P:V; by himeka1010. (www . vocaloidprjt . blogspot . com)

By the way, I've fallen in love with Madoka Magica.

/人◕ ‿‿ ◕人\- "Hey you. Yes, you. Hit favorite, and make a contract with me!"


Berlin, Germany

Takashi HQ; Purgatory

1:02 AM

General POV

Each crack of the whip was followed with a ear-piercing scream. The odious blood and steel walls only added to the suffocation of the room as a heavy lash met with scarred skin, evoking another yelp. Dangling, barely clothed, and wrists cuffed, Lily hung upside from the ceiling, forced to endure the strikes inflicting on her bare foot. The lack of blood circulation caused her dizziness, and her swollen tongue was further proof of her suffering. Blood protruded obscenely from her gaping wounds. Sheening sweat layered above her scarred forehead, and she bitterly clenched her teeth to block out the pain. Disoriented and barely moving, she looked barely conscious to others.

This was not the case.

SHLICCKKKK!

"A-AAAAAAGGH!"

Her back, marred from ancient wounds, now displayed a horrendous collection of scars and ripped flesh. Her tender skin became blistered and red, shining under the bright lights. The cooling vendors rumbled below, keeping the products below cool as they witnessed her punishment. To Lily's ears, the vendors sounded like angry grumbling accompanied with unwanted spectators.

The bandages swaddling her thighs collapsed to the floor, revealing the stub in its oozing state.

Each blow to her one foot caused something to pop, making her entire body wrench in agony. Lily panted weakly, no longer fighting against the binds. Her vision was slowly starting to darken, and her head throbbed painfully. Just as she was about to lose herself to sleep, the chain jerked and descended. Her eyes met her father's, whose intimidating stare clearly mocked her predicament.

"Hacking and stealing my own products for your own benefits was a good idea, Lily. You're awfully smart," The CEO smilingly said, eyes dropping to the capsule in his hands, playing with it with utmost tenderness. He then frowned, glancing back at the bound woman hanging upside down, "but you're impulsive as always. Those units you stole were only for design: cheaply made models for the current versions."

Lily's eyes widened in disbelief as she clenched her fists. Her chest swelled with self-hatred and humiliation at her mistakes, and she swallowed the hard lump in her throat.

"Trial models are no match with the updated serials," Leon pulled on gloves, his fingers stretching the nitrile material. With a sharp look to the side, he jammed a vaccine into her bicep and injected its contents, evoking a choked gasp of surprise from the girl. Slowly, her face began to take on a green color, and her eyes watered. Her entire body went limp as she began to lose consciousness.

"What... urgghh..." Lily moaned, struggling to stay awake. If she fell asleep now, then this man would probably send her into the labs as a test subject; the last thing she wanted was to end up looking like a mutant with stiches all over her body. Her eyelids drooped as she clenched her teeth, "Go... to h-! ARGH!" A sudden pain ripped through her nerves, causing her to jerk back violently. She belted out a wordless cry as her throat practically burst into flames. Pain spread through her vocal chords like a wildfire, and even uttering a single syllable became torture. "AGH! KGH! RRGH?!" Her eyes widened in panic and confusion as she looked at her calm father.

What the hell had he given her?!

"Did you really think you could compete with the VOCALOID, let alone destroy the top product that I spent seven years perfecting?" Leon seethed, relishing her struggle with greedy eyes, "You've betrayed me for the last time. The injection I gave you will shut off the parts that allow your legs mobility. You'll never be able to run away again." He watched as she threw her head back as her muscles contracted mercilessly. Feeling strangely generous, he suddenly smirked, "But if you beg for my forgiveness, then I'll lighten your punishment. How does that sound?"

"R...Rea..lly?" Her voice was so strained she could hardly speak; the pain was so intense that it brought her to tears. She glared and sweated, shuddering as prickles stabbed into her nerves like needles. Her hazy expression of anguish couldn't even describe how unbearable this filthy pain was. Yet even after her failures, even after the way she suffered to this point, she still regretted nothing.

"Why not? 'Please forgive me, Takashi Leon. I am but your bootlicking dog." he said, his smirk growing wider, "Just say those words, and I'll let you sleep." Lily's chains clinked under the light's glare. One by one, the scientists left the site, disinterested and discussing notes for the upcoming project. They muttered in German and paid no more attention to the scene.

Lily gave a stern stare, appearing to think deeply on the subject, "I'll..." she gasped out, brows harshly indented, "I'll never... for-... forgive... you." Leon's smile instantly vanished, and a dull expression replaced his face. This girl was so predictable.

"For what? Teaching you a lesson? Humiliating you in front of our peers? Reducing you to a cripple?"

"N...No..." Lily managed, her cheeks reddening and her chest heaving with tremendous effort. Her answer piqued Leon's interest, and he strained to hear as she drew her last breath, "I won't... forgive you... for defiling... Mother's... garden!" Though her eyes had supposedly been forced into a muddled condition, they looked strong for instant. However, it was only for an instant.

Lily had used up the last of her angry resistance to say those words. In her dim consciousness, she had even bitten her own tongue just to stay alert... just so she could say those words until the very end.

"I take it you've already seen the reactor," Leon chuckled, clasping his hands beneath his chin, "So you haven't completely wasted your time while you were in Japan, I see." He smiled and then turned his head away, allowing the clean-up crew to disentangle his adoptive daughter from the binds and carry her off into the infirmary. Strolling past the doors, each step he took lit up the corridors, and his top scientists soon joined him.

"Takashi, mein herr?" Harkinian spoke quietly, waiting until Leon grunted in reply, "Die japanische Regierung ist sich bewusst, Ihre aktuellen Aktivitäten. Glücklicherweise haben sie nicht in der Lage, um Ihre Position zu verfolgen, nachdem Lily zurückgegeben. Das Defoko Mädchen ist nützlich, nachdem alle." A smile graced the CEO's lips as he arrogantly strode past the welding factory, paying no mind to the explosions or German cursing. He'd put the damage on their tabs.

("Takashi, my sir?) ("The Japanese government is aware of your recent activity... Fortunately they haven't been able to track your position after Lily returned.")

("That Defoko girl is useful after all.")

"Natürlich. Teleportation ist ihre Fähigkeit und unser Hauptvorteil." Leon smoothly replied, placing his hands behind his back. They started down a stairwell with scientists following their trail. "Particle Reaktoren ermöglichen eine schnelle Reise für uns. Trotz seiner Schwierigkeiten, haben wir es geschafft, den Transport von Materie mehr als hundert mal manipulieren den letzten zwanzig Jahren."

("Naturally. Teleportation is her ability and our main advantage.")

("Particle reactors enable fast travel for us. Despite its difficulties, we've managed to manipulate the transportation of matter more than a hundred times these past twenty years.")

Curiosity ebbed into Harkinian's primitive mind. Resisting the hissing voice within his head, he moved the cigar to the side of his mouth to speak, mumbling and rubbing his hands nervously, "U-Und die GPT-Maschine?" Sweat broke out on his brow as the blond man suddenly stopped. Curse it all. He shouldn't have reminded Leon about the only thing that allowed that damned brat to escape. Rough memories were resurfacing, and the air grew suddenly cold.

("And what of the GPT machine?")

Leon's smile was positively ominous. The way he spoke so calmly in Japanese set the burly man on edge. "A good question, my brown-nosed friend. Because of its constant malfunctions, the GPT only works 15% of the time. Luck must've been smiling on my beloved and cute daughter; otherwise, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Now, unless you don't want me to dump your ass alongside my wife, keep that running mouth of yours shut."

The brute mercenary immediately did as he was told, huffing nervously and kept his head down. It was strange to see him so clean cut and tidy today. Lately, Takashi Leon had reguarly adopted a more unkempt and frugal outlook due to his daughter's escape. To see him shaved and dressed in pressed clothes was almost alien to Harkinian. Even his shoes shone like diamonds.

They entered the conference room where head scientists and sponsors waited, calmly looking up from the chrome table. With cold eyes, they watched the blond CEO take his seat, which stood at the very head of the curved table. Metallic polygons, about the size of golf balls, were toyed in their hands, humming from its vibration.

"As you can see, the graviton formula we've developed can be produced within in a high range of containers, notably, metalloids." Leon announced, bringing up a holographic model of Crypton's latest products. "I'm impressed. The matter has been finely arranged, and the damage resistence has increased. Thanks to the necessary supplies and money provided, we've succeeded in advancing our explosives." With a bright smile towards his peers, he winningly nodded, "This will certainly hit the underground economy, everyone. Paid vacations and raises are on me."

Murmurs of approval reverberated throughout the room, causing Leon's smile to widen. Leaning back in his chair, he closed his eyes and clasped his hands. The adults suddenly spoke up, asking him about the recent even in Tokyo. Thousands of dollars worth of damage had piled up; a good fraction of their air force had been depleted, and it seemed Project Rin wasn't going to make the flight on February. Insecurities regrew in the men's hearts, and they suddenly started questioning the CEO's motives.

"As for Hatsune Mikuo," One of the chief scientists cleared his throat, "How can you ensure his loyalty? That boy has bad blood."

"What should we do about Dell? If he were to ignore our exchange when February comes, what we will do then?" Another asked.

"Moreover, how will we hurry along Project Rin's progression?"

More questions came to life, and Leon frowned. There just was no way to please these nervous subordinates. He raised a hand to quiet their incessant chatter, and he was rewarded with silence.

"Gentlemen, please," he chuckled smoothly, "These matters are just mere annoyances, perfectly harmless, in fact. I've thought everything through; but, if you feel the need to make suggestions, there's no one stopping you. Please speak your minds with ease, but rationally consider the successes I've coordinated so far." A secretary brought everyone glasses of red wine, and she hesitated while serving Leon. She kept space between them at arm's length and kept her eyes averted, the corner of her mouth trembling slightly. With a smile, he played with the glass in his hand, "I'll answer frequently asked questions: Firstly, controlling Mikuo won't be a problem; none of my products are foolish enough to trust him, and they report his activity to me. He's doing his job."

Low murmurs of approval filled the room.

"And I doubt Dell has the nerve to bring a war to his home, knowing we have a booked history on him. He knows this for sure," Leon's eyes darkened as he glared at the drink in his hand, "No one refuses me without penalty."

"We cannot fully operate the reactor without Project Rin," One of the oldest members spoke up, leaning over the table and clasping his grisly hands, ignoring the refreshment altogether, "We're not supporting your motives unless you remove her heart. As long as she retains an individual mind, she will be harder to control. Right now, Project Rin truly believes she can coexist as human and project alike, though she ultimately prefers to stay human." Everyone's heads turned to the man, and Leon continued listening while resting his chin on the back of his hand. "I mean no disrespect, Takashi. You've left us nothing but good impressions, but your predecessors' failures have greatly sapped our expenses." The chairs creaked under the weight of the nervous men.

Leon merely nodded in understanding, "Yes, Chairman. You're only being careful."

"The Takashi household has greatly disappointed me in the past, costing millions of dollars down the drain," Chairman grumbled, crinkling his brows, "But Project Rin is a formidable force that any society can use to empower themselves. Your country knew you wouldn't hand her over so easily, and they discharged Project: VOCALOID altogether. But you had bigger plans for this girl all along, didn't you?"

All eyes turned to the blond CEO, who kept an unreadable expression the entire time while listening. He then leaned back against his chair and fixed his tie.

"Years ago, there was one thing I discovered after transferring my family reactor to Japan. The reactor holds a highly reactive element that becomes more powerful when organic substances are melted down within it, in other words, human bodies. It will eventually self-sustain after gathering enough material, and from then on, we can use the element to our advantage: creating weapons, medicines, energy will broaden our technological achievements." Leon sighed as he recounted how much everyone stressed while importing the bubbling reactor under Japan borderlines. "Project Rin is a necessity because upon combining her body with the element, she can become the most powerful force in the world."

"Perhaps even more powerful than...?"

"The greatest achievement of all," Leon cut in, smirking, "is overriding the limits of human ability. Creating a force that opposes the laws of nature would make every human on earth tremble to their knees, even the government dogs themselves." Leon suddenly stood to his feet and extended his arms, appearing intimidatingly powerful, "And it would make us the most powerful men in the world."

Everyone went silent as a projector came rolling in. The lights dimmed as footage of the VOCALOID during the train incident replayed, ripped from the main computer. Scenes dropped on the meddling teenagers trying to interfere with her transformation, notably the blond boy, the teal agent, and the brunette girl.

"Kids are so stupid these days." One man murmured as he watched the brunette run with Rin on her back.

"That red-haired girl... she's interesting, alright." A female scientist chuckled as she watched the crazy plumber infiltrate the main aircraft and hack the system.

Leon stood beside the 120' flatscreen, pointing out the details. "They may not look much, but they'll cause trouble more than they're worth." He told his superiors, a look of disdain crossing his features, "The easiest way to get rid of them would be killing them, but since that teal girl is with them, things might get complicated if the government gets involved again." He frowned, eyes narrowing once he saw the blond boy known as "Len" calm the VOCALOID into submission.

This wouldn't be good for promotion.

Leon sighed before operating the remote again. A pedestal rose before him, revealing a capsule of the bubbling element from the Takashi reactor. He took out a syringe and extracted its contents. "Take a vote everyone. All in favor of testing the new drug on these children, please raise your hands." Grumbles rumbled throughout the conference, and the people wasted no time voting.

All hands went up. Raising an amused brow, Leon scanned his surroundings before chuckling.

"I'll have Haku make the arrangements."


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Project: VOCALOID

Chapter 23

Connect

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Tokyo, Japan

3:03 PM

Meiko's POV

"I was so, so stupid..." A dreading feeling built up in the pit of my stomach as I finally glanced over, using all my strength to just turn my head. I met Kaito's dead but guilty-ridden eyes. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach. For years I've prepared for this moment, but now, everything just felt so surreal. I never imagined my confession would be like this. He grinned sadly, his lips trembling with uncontained bitterness and self-hatred. "You'll always be my number one girl, y'know? I do love you, Meiko..., but not like..." His voice trailed off as his face suddenly grew tense. He looked away.

A pin dropped.

"I'm sorry."

There was a long silence before I finally replied.

"... It's okay, Kaito. I know." My voice went strangely soft, and I was vaguely reminded of Rin, who often spoke so quietly. I stared deep into Kaito's pain-filled eyes as he attempted to laugh. He painfully looked up to the ceiling, his face contorting into another aching grin. I couldn't help myself. "I'll love you no matter what. I'll always love you."

His laughter sounded like strangled noises; it was as if he were choking. My heart broke when he spoke again, his words were like millions of knives stabbing my heart.

"Stop that. Never say that again."

Translation: I never saw you more than a sister.

Well, God, Kaito. You could've at least said that instead...

The bus rattled as everyone around me roared in boisterous laughter, slapping and pushing each other into seats. Stupid jokes were exchanged as we rolled over another bump, causing everything to bounce again. Students kept shouting at the top of their lungs, trying to outdo each other as they belted popular love songs as if the place were a karaoke joint instead of a public transport.

"A slender flame burns at the edge of my heart

Without warning, it spreads into a burning passion!"

Annoyed, I tried to ignore them, looking out the window. It was snowing again, and the sky had grown cloudy.

"... I'm wrapped around your finger, from lips to tongue!

Even if this is something that cannot be allowed, the flames jump higher still!"

By now, everyone was laughing and singing, clapping their hands to the beat. Some of my classmates even went as far as serenading each other, melodramatically grabbing each other's hands and looking deep into each other's eyes.

"I want to embrace you~! I want you to tell me that you don't think this is a mistake!"

My eyes burned as I tried not to think of Kaito, biting my lip and sniffling as I looked up. I'm not going to cry... I'm won't cry after all this time of holding back... not because of some stupid love song like Magnet!

Despite myself, I threw my head back against the back of the chair and sang along in a soft voice.

"I want you to kiss me, and I want you to remake me...

I want to drown in this moment of captivation...!"

Some broke down into fits of laughter, high-fiving each other and bundling up. Others simply rolled their eyes and went back to whatever they were doing. Right now, I was boiling mad. How can they joke about a song like this? It wasn't funny. Two lovers are voicing their angst because their love will never be accepted, but even so, their passion each other is so strong that they would defy and throw everything away just to be together again.

A love that tears people apart... isn't anything to joke about.

"BWAHAHA THAT WAS GOOD, SHINICHI!"

"Ara? You think so? Ehehe."

Today, I hate everyone. Goddammit.

I resisted the urge to throw my boot at them and forced myself to slunk against my chair, blowing my bangs out of my eyes. I can't say I didn't see the rejection coming, but it still hurt to think about. I haven't talked to Kaito since then, and it's a good thing too. Once the train fiasco was out of the way, the rest of us had to go back to school.

Sick of everyone's noisy chatter, I booted up my MP3 player and jammed out.

I guess I already knew, but I just never wanted to admit my worst fears. It went unsaid, but to be honest, the truth was never far from my mind.

Kaito didn't feel the same towards me.

But that wasn't the worst of what happened.

I'd seen my life flash before my eyes three times. Now, that was a new record. I hadn't been through that much excitement since middle school, but I tell you, nothing beat the robots or those Crypton crazies. Ha. I actually had nightmares about that day, believe it or not. It was a real pain in the ass, considering I had to pull through semester finals those past four weeks.

Somehow, it felt alienating having to go back to school life after what happened. Rin's breaking point, the train wreck, and Miku announcing her identity as some versatile voyeur working behind government lines. And then, revealing that Mikuo was actually her dead brother?

I craned my neck against the window, groaning.

My head hurts.

A sharp whistle shattered my eardrums, directing everyone's attention to the front of the bus. I unplugged my earphones as Ms. Haku kept yelling, "Everyone! We'll be arriving at Crane Hotel soon! Don't forget the rooms we've already booked for you, and please walk up to the front desk for your room keys!" Sighing, I collected my things and waited until we arrived.

Winter break had finally arrived, and school wouldn't be going on until after Christmas. It was great and all, considering all the effort I put in to finish those annoying projects. Still, Ms. Haku kept reminding the cast to pack up for the outing. Everyone would be booking rooms in a classy hotel, and we had all the time to stay there because it was near the Gyro Concert Hall, the place where we would be performing pretty soon. Everyone worked themselves to the bone these past few months. All that script and memorization... and all those rehearsals had finally come to this.

In three weeks, we were going to present the "Story of Evil" live in Tokyo.

"Teto... Teto?"

"...Heh." Drool dribbled down her chin as she suddenly grinned, her cheeks flushed. Whimpers and gasps escaped her as she sensually arched her back. My jaw dropped open. What on Earth...? She then started squirming, "Oooh~, not there!" She suddenly arched her back, giggling flirtatiously, "Ted-kun~! Too rough~!" She kept moaning while snuggling deeper into the crook of her seat, throwing herself in my arms. I shuddered at this awkward display, hesitantly eying as our classmates eyed my junior in sheer disgust and shock. Their eyes then fell on me, and whispered echoed in the bus.

My face exploded into heat. I saw red, tensing when whispers intensifed me. I grabbed hold of Teto's shoulders and shook her as hard as I could, "WAKE UP, YOU CLOSET PERVERT!"

"AAGH!" The said redhead woke up with a start, almost flying out of her seat as the comic she used as a sleep mask went tumbling to the floor. She immediately posed dramatically, her eyes wide and yelled, "BURN HER! BURN THAT WITCH!" Embarrassed, I gritted my teeth and crossed my arms. I tried to ignore everyone's laughter on the bus.

"What are you rambling on about? The ride's over."

Teto blinked multiple times before rubbing her eyes, "Wha... oh, really? Okay..." She yawned and stretched her arms before collecting her bags. Everyone got off the bus and into the snow storm. We practically raced to get out of the cold, some pelted snowballs at each other along the way.

Crane Hotel was a hot place to crash. It was a three story building with beautiful blue gradients painting the outside walls. The furniture was velvet red, and there was expensive carpet covering from head to toe. Elegant stairways winded up to the different floors, and the hallways were brightly lit with chandeliers and oil paintings. Not to mention the food looked pretty good.

Teto and I were lucky. Our room was on the lower floors so we didn't have to walk too far with our heavy luggage. We exclaimed and marveled over our awesome room: there was a 20'' flat screen, video games, a mini fridge stuffed with our guilty pleasures, and heck, we even got water beds!

'Course, we had to put our stuff away and head right back to the entrance so we could head to the Gyro Concert Hall. Y'know, those large stadiums where concerts took place. That's where our play will take place. We practically threw our luggage in the closet before zipping down to meet up with the rest. Everyone was already there, bundled up like abominable snowmen. Once roll call was done, we all walked downtown.

Teto sighed, pulling her thick jacket closer to her body, "I feel like a lot of us are missing today. Luka won't be here until later 'cause she's got stupid lessons. Kaito is already working at the concert hall, who knew. Kagamine-kun's at the hospital 'cause of his injuries. Hatsune is..." she awkwardly glanced at me, "Well, she's doing whatever spies do..."

I grumbled.

"And Rin..." I glanced at her, noticing how teary her eyes suddenly became, "Dear God, I miss that loli."

I shrugged, adjusting my earmuffs, "I talked to those NND guys the other day. All I know is that Dell and his coup are trying to correct her behavior, biologically, that is. Apparently, she's being hidden from the media." Man, it was gonna be a while until I see her again. Kicking a can out of my way, I jogged past carolers and jingling bells. Teto hooked an arm around mine to catch up.

"Haha, it's been so crazy. Four dead on the train incident. It's all over the news." Teto breathed before dropping her voice to a whisper, "You know... I really thought we were going to die out there. Luka's still shaken, but she's trying not to show it. That day, we had a hard time convincing my parents that we were caught up in a blackout surrounded by a mall stampede." She tittered, shaking her head, "I can't believe it. I'm alive... you're alive. We're all alive."

My eyes softened as I realized she was shaking. In attempt to comfort her, I secured our arm embrace, "Yeah, and we're okay." Wincing as people pushed and shoved past me on the way to the doors, I quickly shouldered my costume bag and pulled Teto into the building, feeling the warm temperature heal my body of aches and frostbite.

Another day in my life goes by...


The stage lights dimmed, creating a heavy atmosphere as my chain boots clunked against the grass layout. With a firm mindset, I approached the kneeling prince, hunching over a freshly dug grave. His head bowed in reverence, the blue royalty painstakingly showered the pit with flowers. I closed my eyes and asked in my most determined voice.

"Are you ready?"

"My heart stills..." He laughed shakily, covering his eyes with his dirty hand, "I've waited for this day since... since my beloved's death. Yet I cannot help wondering if we should really go through with this? Is this what she really wishes? To burn that monstrous yellow country to ruins?"

I narrowed my eyes, glaring down at him like I practiced. Right now, the mist was slowly clearing, revealing our lithe forms on the stage.

"She can't taste vengeance... what good will it do even if I bring her the head of that hell spawn of a princess?!" The prince got to his feet, throwing his capes around and desperately clenching his fists, eyes tearing up, "IT WON'T BRING HER BACK INTO MY ARMS! IT WOULDN'T MATTER IF WE JUSTIFIED A THOUSAND EVIL COUNTRIES! IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE FACT SHE DIED BECAUSE OF EVIL! THE EVIL THAT SPURNS US INTO A DEMOLISHING END TO MANKIND! THE EVIL THAT WILL CONTINUE EXISTING NO MATTER WHAT! SHE DIED FOR THE SAKE OF MANKIND?! WHAT LIES!"

Our audience was immensely silent, reveling in the well-practiced angst in Kaito's voice, one that wasn't entirely fake. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Ms. Haku smiling strangely as she watched Kaito unsheathe his sword with an anguished cry.

"I say... I SAY GOD IS DEAD!"

Teto remained on the side on the stage, everything darkening except for her spot. She looked seriously at the audience, clutching the microphone against her thick rose corset, "In his anguish, the young man had been reduced to a little boy. This was not the first time a woman has left him, no less in a tragic way. The memories flooded back into his mind, convincing him that history has repeated itself again." She closed her eyes, turning her back to us, "Aye, his mother had left him at a very young age, leaving him to the throne and awaiting expectations at the age of nine."

Whispers of praise directed towards Kaito's performance. He stood in front of me with a grieving look, but it was hard for me to tell what he was thinking. Just as Teto ended her sentence, I thought I saw a look of real pain cross his eyes. The way he trembled... he wasn't entirely pretending.

"Every scrap of my sanity is boiling for her blood! That girl's blood!" he cried, "I want her dead,' my mind screams. 'She is only but a little girl!' my heart screams. I cannot choose between life or death! She was bewitched, but everything ended in tragedy because her!" He staggered forward, grabbing my by the shoulders and shaking me, "If you had the power to go back in time, would you have killed her to save your father?! TO PREVENT THIS?" I allowed myself to flinch and pretended to look disheartened, "TELL ME! TELL ME RIGHT NOW!"

I reared back and struck him across the face. Not hard enough to hurt him, of course, but we both made it look realistic as possible. Kaito pretended to stagger back, clutching his cheek. I took a deep breath, firmly staring at him. Right now, I am Germaine. I am the Red swordswoman sworn to protect Lucifenia. My father has been publicly executed in order to be made "an example of" if someone were to defy the Yellow monarchy.

"Nothing could've been done to save them. We have no such power." I barked, slamming my foot against a headstone. "In a worse case scenario, we could've all died in the beginning. You rounding up your troops with our militia was the best thing that ever happened for Lucifenia! Here you are, sniveling like a dog! Think about the other sacrifices people made to get this far!" I shouted, turning on him with my sword drawn, "And now, at the worst possible moment, you intend to waste those sacrifices by running from the battlefield?!" My eyes went ablaze, and I forced my face into a furious expression, "Remember that day when you found Michaela's body floating in bloody water."

Kaito's face tightened, and he glared up at me, eyes dimming, "Stop..." But I continued talking about Michaela's death. Just like in the script, I did everything to rouse the prince's anger once more. I coldly spoke, delivering his mind into a tremulous state of wrath. There was no room for pity here.

I glowered down at him, pointing my blade at his chest. "If you plan on abandoning us, then I'll end your pain right here. But tell me: will you dishonor Michaela's sacrifice by running away?"

That certainly snapped him back into action.

"Don't talk about honor as if you're familiar with it, Mercenary," The Prince snapped, flinging my sword away with his in a matter of seconds. Walking a little past the tombstones that honored the Yellow rebels, he looked up into the starry night. "Michaela... I couldn't save you; I told you lies, thinking we could actually bring peace to this era. There's nothing left for me... except to fall prey to my own evil. Forgive me."

In the shadows, I saw Teto shooting us a 'good-job' pose.

I remained silent, acknowledging his change in heart, "Will these hands be stained with child's blood then?" A dark chuckle erupted as he brandished his sword, "SO BE IT! THERE'S NOTHING LEFT TO DESPAIR! SHOULD I WEEP I WILL WEEP FOR THIS CORRUPTION!" The drums rolled, climaxing until the stage curtains fell, ending the scene.

"And... CUT!" The lights came back on, along with boisterous cheering from our cast. Most of our classmates wildly whooped from their seats, and some of them came up to hug me. Ms. Haku started clapping her hands, shooing the backstage crew into action. She barked at us to pay attention.

"LISTEN UP! We're gonna need the Kagamines for the riot scene if we're gonna continue. Which, unfortunately, won't be today due to their absence on short notice." The drama club leader sounded more than pissed. Boy, Len and Rin were gonna be in a world of trouble. "In the meantime, actors! Head into the commons and continue your character seminars!" Her eyes burned into the audience below, causing them to shiver, "I will make your lives miserable if you put on a pathetic performance! We have less than three weeks to get everything done! Pull yourselves together and bring honor to Seija Academy!"

Ms. Haku laughed, "Please do, everyone."

Audible groans and complaints echoed through the concert hall, further heightening the stage manager's temper. Ms. Haku, on the other hand, laughed. A hush befell the students as Momoko slammed the megaphone against the palm of her hand, gritting her teeth.

"Don't make me get Hatsune-kun."

"Oh, mighty Momoko!" Some stupid backstage boy dramatically threw his feet in reverence, making his friends laugh.

Rolling her eyes, Ms. Haku chuckled, "Now, then. Let's practice the scene renovations, okay? We gotta make good time, people! Good time!" She snapped her fingers, and everyone was instantly at her command. As she shouted instructions to the light techs above, everyone piled out of the doors.

"You were amazing, Meiko!"

"Like, totally. You make a badass babe."

I tried to smile, shaking my head as I allowed myself to get carried away. Looking back, I saw Kaito being surrounded by his own friends. My smile faded as we parted, keeping my head up. He suddenly looked at me, and my eyes widened. I hastily looked away. Because of the awkwardness, I couldn't bring myself to even look him in the eye anymore. I hated it. It's been weeks since we talked, but I can't even face him after all this time.

I thought we could be friends... but...

"Hahaha! So, I was like, 'that guy's a tampon', y'know?" Kaito guffawed along with his friends. Without a word, I picked up my sword and headed backstage. I looked angrily at my feet as I walked.

Kaito, you idiot.


Gyro Concert Hall... ha. These place is full of memories.

I met my juniors at the stairwell, and we immediately starting taking out notebooks.

These dumb seminars are for actors who don't know their own characters. If you're up onstage while presenting a bland performance, it wouldn't even matter how well you memorized your lines. Putting yourself in your character's shoes is what delivers a hard impact to your audience.

Akita, Gumi, and Sonika greeted me and Teto once we met up on the stairs. They gave us snacks from the machine nearby, and we started having a mini picnic. Surprisingly, we were well-received, save for Akita's snooty comments.

"Meiko-senpai did well for an amateur. In fact, you were almost as good as me. Though I am not one of the main leads, I shall make this play a great performance using my superior acting skills!" Akita bragged, her chest swelling with pride, "Since I was a child, I've always performed for my maids and butlers. They loved my singing and skits. Ah, all those lessons I took were worth the effort! I am a shining star, after all." Teto and I exchanged funny looks.

Gumi munched on a carrot before sighing heavily, leaning in and whispering to us, "But Neru-sama doesn't know that her father always paid the cast to watch and praise her performances." Teto raised a brow at this, chomping down on her long breadstick.

Munching between bites, she asked, "Does that mean her acting is bad?"

Sonika reddened, threateningly pointing at Teto with her spoon, "W-Who are you to say such things, Kasane? Demeaning Neru-sama like that?" She made sure to keep her voice down, and Akita apparently didn't notice, for she was too caught up in her gloating. I stared blankly ahead, sighing.

Akita suddenly stopped bragging, "Ah, that's right..." She turned to Teto, raising a brow, "Your acting looked a less stupid than usual. Were you even into it?" Instead of snapping back like Teto usually would, she grinned (which looked fake) and looked away.

"My bad. I'll do better next time."

Akita, Gumi, and Sonika stared at Teto before exchanging suspicious looks. I ignored their glances sent to me and stayed quiet. With a sigh, I tossed my soup can back in my lunch box.

"What's with you guys?" Sonika asked, crinkling her nose, "You haven't been acting like idiots lately. I-It's weird... don't get the wrong idea though! You're freaking us out."

"If there's anything you want to say, you can tell us." Gumi scooted towards us, looking sincerely worried. I tried to smile, shaking my head. Did we look that obvious?

"Don't worry."

Meanwhile... when are the other students gonna show up? I'm getting really tired of waiting.

"Um... excuse me, girls?"

We all looked up.

A boy, looking no older than Teto or Rin, stood before us, awkwardly clearing his throat. He was pretty small in stature, being skinny. His hair was stark white, and his eyes were unusually bi-colored: one was green while the other was blue. He looked unusually pretty for a guy... reminding me of Len. Still, he had a lighter skin tone, and the fact he wore skinny jeans (which somehow appeals to girls, God knows why) only enhanced the fact he was trying to make a good impression.

Yeah, it wasn't working.

Who in the right mind would even look at him twi-

Eh?

My eye twitched when I saw love-struck looks on Akita's, Sonika's, and Gumi's faces. They immediately straightened, fixing their hair and clothes while openly staring at the albino. Weirdly enough, even Teto looked like she was struggling to contain her fidgeting, and a pinkness flooded her cheeks. I inwardly groaned, burying my face in my hands.

"I-I'd like to know if any of you have seen Rin-chan." The albino spoke nervously, averting his eyes and rocking on his feet. Noticing the girls' oogling, he looked extremely uncomfortable with all their eyes on him. He tugged at his shirt collar, and he coughed nervously, "S-sorry, I must be bothering you guys. I'll just go now."

"Hold it right there!" Akita immediately got to her feet and promptly flounced up to the confused boy. She smiled at him flirtatiously, eying him up and down, "Where do you think you're going, Handsome? Maybe if you tell us your name, then we might help you." She tilted her head, purposely allowing her side-tail to swing over her shoulder, "What do you say?"

The albino stared, "Akita-san, are you feeling alright today?"

Akita mockingly rolled her eyes, "Oh! Of course I'm feeling just marvel-" She blinked, "...how do you know my name?" Her catlike eyes narrowed in suspicion, "Have we met?"

"What... oh," The albino blinked several times before sighing. He nodded as if he understood the problem. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a pair of cracked glasses and put them on. We immediately gaped in recognition.

"UTATANE?!" Teto all but shrieked, pointing a finger at him. Her eyes were wide, and she looked like she saw a ghost.

Utatane... Piko?!

Whoa... he actually looked good in pullover sweatshirts.

Akita stammered, "H-How...? Why?" She shook her head multiple times before crossing her arms, "Since when were you actually good-looking?!" Unbelievable. Her rudeness was always such a turn-off, but then again, she stole the words right out of my mouth. I felt the same way. This boy, dressed in urban clothes, is Rin's nerdy self-proclaimed boyfriend?

Utatane looked put off by Akita's words, nevertheless, he replied, "I'm wearing contacts since my glasses broke." He sighed heavily, a small blush sprouting his cheeks, "I-It's really embarrassing. I wasn't looking where I was going after my date with Rin-chan, and I tripped."

"What's with your clothes?" Sonika asked, ardently raising a brow, "Trying to make a new fashion statement? Or maybe you're looking to get popular?"

Utatane's eyes widened, and he defensively threw his hands up. "What? Th-That's not it!" He lowered his gaze, "I just thought maybe I should start dressing differently! I mean, as a Rin-chan's boyfriend, I think I should start becoming more confident. I read an online article that dressing like this would boost my confidence," He bit the lower portion of his lip, looking even more embarrassed, "Ugh. These clothes feel kind of tight, and my contacts itch if I forget to take them out at night." He awkwardly pulled at his new outfit. He sighed, removing his glasses, "But if this is the best way to become Rin-chan's ideal man, then I guess I'll just have to bear with it."

I looked over at Teto, who looked grudgingly awed by these words. I, myself, couldn't help feeling touched for Rin's sake. I couldn't help the jealousy swelling in my heart. Goddammit, these boys are ripped off from the shoujo mangas; her love life is a lot more exciting than mine.

This... boy. This boy who used to be bumbling and shy... likes Rin that much to the point where he's willing to change for her?

...

Kaito, you idiot.

"I'll be going then. It was nice talking to all of you," Utatane waved before leaving but not before jotting back, "Oh, that's right. If you happen to see Rin-chan, please tell her I'll be on the third floor with my group. Room 13A." Finally, he left.

"Hmph. To think I actually went for a weirdo like him. I should've known." Akita huffed, hanging off the banister. Rolling her eyes, she threw her hands up and started for the other direction. "This sucks. I'm tired of waiting."

"Hah...?" I rose a brow as her green-haired cousins immediately followed after the rich girl. "What if the students come by?"

Akita snorted, not even turning around, "If you haven't figured it out by now, then you're pretty dense. Everyone's obviously skipping." Sonika and Gumi looked over at us and shrugged, trotting after their ringleader.

So, everyone's playing hooky today. Great.

"What a waste of time." I grumbled, picking up my stuff and about to leave. I noticed Teto was still sitting there, visibly shaking. "Teto?"

"Dammit, I'm so disappointed..." Teto cried, burying her face into her hands. I glanced down at her as she continued weeping. "To think... to think they're not actually twins! GAAAH! THE MAGIC'S GONE!" She openly wailed and threw herself onto the banister, embracing it as she were seeking comfort, "So their romance was never incestuous? This is worse than the time I found out reality isn't like anime... What am I supposed to believe now?..." Shudders wracked her shoulders as she hid her face, her curls bobbing.

The hell...? Is she talking about Rin and Len?

"If we were a movie, tons of Rin and Len shippers would've died right now!" Teto wailed, slamming a fist against the floor, "The blond pairing just lost points, Meiko! Piko's moving up in the world with his makeover! He's gonna take Rin's delicious moe mind! It's over!" Despite she was getting upset over something completely ridiculous, I couldn't help feeling somewhat concerned for her well-being. After all, she really did look upset. In attempt to soothe her rambling notions, I reached out and touched her shoulder.

"Uh, well..." I tried softly, rubbing her back, "Think of it this way: it's good they're not actually related because people might give them more trouble whenever they act lovey-dovey. It'd be too hassling to keep up such a romantic life on both parts." She went strangely silent, and at first, I thought I was able to cheer her up, but the nasty look on her face told me otherwise.

"You don't understand." Teto grumbled, shrugging off my touch, "I can never look at them the same way again. They lied to me, and I supported them. Now, their relationship is normal and boring like any other couple's! Harrumph!" A heavy sigh escaped from her as she finally composed herself, picking up her script and stomping back in line, "Everything I believe in is lies. My life is a lie."

"Do you know what you're saying right now?" I muttered, trying to maintain a straight face. Of all the things to worry about, was this the only thing that was seriously bothering her? She's seriously missing the real issue of Rin being a cyborg. I tried to smile despite myself, "You sound like a hardcore incest shipper."

Teto glanced over her shoulder, "I've raised a new flag." She answered, completely serious. I must've been making a weird face because she suddenly snickered, "What? I just think even as siblings, Rin and Len still would make a hot couple. They're hotter than fire!"

I resisted the need to slap my hand against my forehead in sheer shame.

Dear God.

Just as I was about to retort, something rattled above us, causing me to glance up and nearly fly backwards at who I saw. Hatsune Miku. Luckily, she hadn't seen us. She was heading our way and talking to someone on the phone. She didn't look too happy. In fact, it looked like she was debating with someone. I grabbed Teto by the collar and pulled her into hiding.

"URK?!" Teto glared at me, "M-Meiko-what the hell?!"

"Shh!"

"... Look, SeeU. I don't have that kind of money. Either you take it or leave it, otherwise, forget we ever talked about Project Rin." Teto immediately went silent hearing those words, and her eyes widened. She silently looked at me and motioned with her hands, imitating long pigtails. I gritted my teeth, nodding.

I hadn't seen this teal traitor all day. I barely saw her the past few weeks, and I have to say, I'm glad I didn't. Looking at her face makes me want to throw something at her. Here she was, in her glory, standing tall and talking in a stern as if she were in charge of some badass organization. The way she slinked around and kept her voice low, it definitely screamed "fishy".

A light tap on my shoulder brought me back to Earth, and Teto whispered urgently, "Your phone's vibrating. It's from Len." I ignored her, clapping my hand over her mouth to silence her. Right now, the kiddo will have to wait.

Over the phone, incessant chatter blasted through the receiver. It sounded like whoever was on the other line didn't like listening to reason. Miku breathed in, trying to contain herself. She looked deranged, as if she'd been verbally battling since this morning. Inhaling sharply, she explained in a really patient tone.

"Alright... alright. Let's negotiate," Miku answered, rubbing her temple, "If I convince Honne Dell to release her into your hands, along with your ¥205570008 yen, will you reconsider? Ah-ah. I promise there will be no government ties. South Korea and Japan will have nothing to do with each other once this exchange is complete. Your rebell-, I mean, your party will be able to reform a biological weapon as you see fit. Project Rin? Yes, I can send you her files."

(A/N: ¥205570008 = roughly $2 million)

My eyes widened in shock, but I leaned closer to hear better.

"This is a one time offer. I assure you that Project Rin can be controlled so long as she's disciplined. According to what I've heard in the market, you are very good at correctional behavior." Miku smiled wryly, trying to persuade her buyer, "No worries. Convincing Honne shouldn't be a problem, and he'll definitely do whatever it takes to cover his tracks. What I need you to do is promise me two things..." Her teal eyes went dead serious, "First. Insure me you'll be able to safely transport her across country border lines. How reliable is your transportation?... Mm-hm... hmm.. okay." She inhaled, "Secondly, you must sign a pact that you will never, ever use her against Japan, also ensuring of our valid conditions in our contract. Understand?" The conversation rambled on, but it didn't matter now. I've heard enough. Her voice fell deaf on my ears as I reveled in what I just discovered. My hands loosened around Teto's face, allowing her to breathe properly. Still, I couldn't believe what's happening.

Miku... is planning on selling Rin out? To foreigners, no less?

My fists clenched at my sides, shaking. "Gnngh..." I gritted out, a familiar wave of heat washing over me. I glared through the darkness, hatred oozing out of me. As I was about to get up and give that bitch a piece of my mind, Teto held onto my arm. Snapping back at her, I was surprised to see her conflicted expression. She shook her head at me pleadingly.

"Good, I think we're at an agreement." Miku's lips tightened, "Alright. I'm counting on you, SeeU. I'll meet you at the airport soon, and I'll make sure to give you all the details..." Her teal pigtails swished as she gazed out the window. A small gasp of surprise emitted from her as she hurriedly rushed up the stairs, her voice echoing. "I-I'm late for my seminar. We'll talk again..."

Once she was gone, that's when I stomped into the open, breathing heavily and breaking into a sweat. I gritted my teeth again, glaring at the spot where she once stood. Teto walked up silently with her head down. The snow fell in torrents, making our pale reflections look like ice statues.

"God." I audibly grieved, grabbing handfuls of my hair and shaking. Not from fear but anger. I turned to Teto, my voice trembling, "Why is she always doing this? This is the second time she's betrayed someone!" My junior remained silent, her eyes averting. "Teto!" I pleaded, my anger turning into desperation. I couldn't stand this anymore, not knowing what people were thinking since that train incident. Kaito, Len, and Luka... and now, Teto?

"If the South Koreans are getting involved, then what are we supposed to do?" Fear etched across Teto's face as she finally looked up at me. I was taken aback at the strength of her emotions. She must've been suppressing her feelings for a long time now. Her lips trembled as she shook her head, regretfully sighing, "It's not like... we owe Rin anything."

My eyes widened, and I tried to protest, "Teto-" The said girl suddenly grabbed my hands, surprising me. She smiled widely, shaking her head with a laugh.

"C'mon. Let's stop talking about this. This stupid dress is giving me hives, so can we please get changed?" As I was about to answer, I suddenly realized how badly Teto's hands were shaking. I looked down at her trembling fingers leading up to her smile. Her lips trembled slightly, but when I blinked again, she was grinning even wider. "Ehe... C'mon, please?"

I felt my face contorting, and inside, I wrestled with my feelings before finally giving in. Sighing, I reluctantly nodded.


Once we arrived in the dressing room, we were met with a spectacular sight, and my jaw hit the floor.

"Eeek! Meiko-senpai! Teto?!" The pink-haired beauty quickly hid the eggplant behind her back, squeaking in denial, "I-It's not what it looks like...!"

Teto grinned widely, nodding obscenely while stroking her chin, "Mmm. I knew you were gonna do it." The pink-haired girl screamed in mortification, throwing her hands up as plates of sweets went flying. Everything she made clattered to the floor, along with the eggplant she was holding. Blushing out of her wits, she ran to the nearest wall and promptly started banging her head. A horrified gasp escaped from Teto as she fell to the floor, trying to recollect the fallen food, "NOOO! WHY NOT ME INSTEAD?"

Did I just see... what I thought I saw?

Was Luka really practicing how to kiss the freshman professor... using an eggplant?

"Luka, you-?!"

Luka's scream went muffled against the clothes rack, and she rapidly shook her head in denial. "I-I-It wasn't my idea! It's her fault! Everything is her fault!" She pointed directly at the surprised redhead, "N-No... this isn't it." Swallowing, she shakily turned to face us. Red stained her face, coloring to the very tips of her ears as she tried to meet our gazes without collapsing. Jeez. Her knees were wobbling.

My eyes widened. Why is she so upset? I didn't really see this side of her very much, so I didn't know what to do or say...

"T-The truth is..., I-!" Luka swallowed, fisting her skirt as she suddenly looked down. Terror etched her rosy face as she swallowed again. "The truth is that I...-"

"You're doing it wrong, Luka-pants." Teto, having suddenly recovered from her previous despair, blatantly interrupted, not really noticing our glares directed at her. She shook her head, snickering. "You look like you're confessing your undying love to Meiko. Isn't Professor Kamui the one you wanna hitch? If that's the case then-!" Luka frantically shushed her, covering her mouth with her hand and angrily glaring down at her.

"Teto! Not in front of Meiko-senpai!"

Teto's smile didn't reach her eyes, and I could tell she was obviously trying to hide her discomfort. Once her pink-haired cousin desperately looked at me for help, Teto's happy expression fell, and she bitterly looked to the side. Once Luka turned to her again, she quickly smiled again. She kept teasing Luka, not even looking at me.

I breathed deeply, deciding to avoid the previous event for now. Turning to Luka, I asked, "So, you like professor Kamui?" At those words, Luka turned into stone. Her eyes went as wide as saucers, and her face heated up several thousands of degrees. Her bottom lip began trembling like crazy as she shakily withdrew from Teto, staggering back into place. I blinked several times, trying to take everything in as I further asked, "Well, it's just a crush, so I guess it can't be all that-"

"I don't care if it's a mistake!" Luka shouted, surprising the both of us. Here we were, inside the dressing room where Teto and I were about to change. Who knew it would lead to discovering a surprising, forbidden secret. Luka's face went burgundy red as I openly gaped at her, "Oh... I'm sorry, I didn't mean to shout." She timidly pulled at her thick coat, "B-But... I'm going to make this clear to both of you." Taking a deep breath, she continued, "I appreciate your concern, but I'm perfectly capable of deciding things on my own." We watched as she tenderly put the eggplant on the refreshment table, "It's true... that I love the professor. I... he's the only man for me."

I hesitated, trying to put my words as gently as possible, "But we never knew him up until now. Who he really was in the past, the kind of stuff he got involved in..." My voice trailed, remembering how shocked Luka was upon finding out about Rin, and how professor Kamui got involved in her creation, along with the company exploits. She'd been so shock that she was under a catonatic state for a few days. She recovered, but she hasn't really been the same.

Luka's facial expression softened, and she smiled sadly, "Yes... it really hurt me to know he's been keeping secrets like that. I told him he could trust me, so it upsets me when he shuts me out like that. But it really upsets me when he won't share his pain with me." She lightly touched her breast, sighing deeply, "I think I understand why. He owes a lot to Rin-san, and I would think he feels guilty after watching what Crypton did to others: their sins have burned into his eyes, his soul."

I looked down, my will wavering.

"He was partly responsible, I suppose." Luka said, her smile dimming, "For creating something... like Rin-san."

My eyes widened.

Something... thing?

Terrified, I looked at Luka, trying to deny what my mind what warning me.

Did she just call Rin... a thing?

"But if, if it weren't for Rin-san, I never would've met pr-... no, Gakupo." Luka suddenly looked up, the light returning to her eyes. Her face was uncharacteristically bright and glowing. Her smile never looked so beautiful or radiant. "I have her to thank. It's because of her... that I can finally say that I love Gakupo." Teto and I exclaimed in shock, totally not expecting this. She just... threw me off like that?! I couldn't find it in my heart to be angry with Luka. It was impossible.

"You love...?" Was all I could manage, trying not to lose it right there. Pink tendrils framed her face as she grinned confidently, which was totally different from her usual gracing smiles. I felt so ugly compared to her.

"After this rehearsal, I'm going to find him and tell him that I love him."

No one spoke for what seemed like years. My mind was reeling full of memories. Was this really the future? Images of a mini Luka running after me screaming my name popped into my head. One time, she only knew half her kanji, and within a blink of eye, here she was: a girl in love, growing up. I felt like crying despite myself.

Oh... god.

When did the world start changing?

"DON'T SAY THAT!" Teto shrieked, flinging herself at Luka and shaking her shoulders, "It'll never work out! You just can't, Luka! No!" She flailed wildly, grabbing onto Luka's shoulders, "No... I'm such an idiot. No... no... you can't get involved with him anymore than you already are! It's too dangerous!" The pink-haired girl openly stared at her now crying cousin. "I-I-!" Sobs racked her body, "I'm sorry... for making fun of you. I-It can't turn out like this!"

Luka struggled to loosen her iron grip, "T-Teto..."

"It was so easy to just say... that we'd be there for Rin, but-!" Fear etched across Teto's face, "I never take anything seriously. I just thought everything would work out, but I've been having so many nightmares about that night." She lowered herself, barely supporting her own weight as she fully leaned against Luka, "It scares me... I haven't been able to talk about it, and it hurts me even more! Rin's face! Those dead people! Those freaky activists that nearly killed us-! Even the Hatsunes!"

I gritted my teeth, remembering Miku's conversation with the unknown Korean.

"Teto..." Luka attempted to say, only to be interrupted.

"I can't lose you!" Teto tearfully retorted, "I didn't tell any of you this, but... I was so, so scared for you! For all of you! Seeing Rin and seeing all of you falling off the train so many times, I really thought we were going to die. Rin scares me... even though I love her, I..." She backed away from Luka, sniffling loudly, "How can I call myself her friend? I'm an idiot. I-I didn't really care about what happened to me back then. I just... I guess I just that willing to throw away everything so we could get home."

Luka's face crumpled, and tears started to leak out of her eyes as well, "T-Teto..."

Teto kept laughing and crying at the same time. "Right before we got attacked on the train, I-I told Kagamine-kun... that I'd root for Rin no matter what," She hiccupped, and her eyes grew red, "And I've already went back on my word. I'm all talk, y'know? I'm so stupid, so stupid... SO STUPID!" I watched in shock as she threw everything off the vanity desk and knock over the clothes racks. "URGHH!" She pulled at her hair, struggling to keep her voice down, collapsing into the seats in a crying heap. "Hatsune is going to take Rin away..., and there's nothing we can do to stop her!"

Luka looked shocked and upset by this statement, "Teto, what-?!"

"And I made you cry too. I should go to hell!"

"Teto!"

"God, I should just-!"

"TETO!" This was the second time I heard Luka seriously raise her voice. Grabbing Teto by the shoulders, she strictly stared down at her, "I've heard enough. I already told you many times complaining doesn't get you anywhere, didn't I?" I was shocked by this display, rendered speechless. I could only watch as Luka firmly pressed, "Enough! What about Rin-san?!"

Teto sniffled, appearing a little startled, "You were in a catatonic state..., and you wouldn't even see anyone for days. How are you thinking so clearly?" Luka lowered her eyes, her pink bangs falling into her face. She brushed them aside.

"Well... I suppose I just got tired of hiding." Her face suddenly appeared firm, "Now. What's wrong with Rin-san?"

Teto spilled everything. She couldn't stop rambling, and her words were barely understandable. Luka's eyes got wider and wider at the news. Finally, she collapsed in her chair.

"So... that's how it is." Luka glanced at me, her smile losing hope, "I'm jealous, you know. I thought if I pretended to be like you, then maybe I could get strong as well. You impulsively rush into things, and you're always fighting until the very end. You're always trying to live up to your ideals..., but now, I'm not even sure what to do at this point," She then looked at Teto, now disheartened, "Is there... really nothing we can do?"

I glared down at the carpet beneath my feet, trying to contain myself.

Oh... Luka, if only you had a little evil in your heart to know what I've done, who I used to be.

Luka's face fell even further. Sighing shakily, she set down her book and went to comfort Teto, "The reality is that things will not always turn out the way we want them." she said, calmly stroking a hand through Teto's curls, "And we haven't even seen Rin-chan since... that day." A deep, shuddering sigh escaped Teto. She didn't say anything, but she still hung her head in shame, trembling. The pink-haired girl tittered, her smile fading, "Is it weird that I'm starting to doubt our efforts? That everything we've done so far is worthless?" She crinkled her brows at Teto, tearfully smiling, "Well. If you're a fool, then I suppose that makes me even more idiotic than you. Maybe the reason we're all still alive is because we're a bunch of fools."

Fools?

"Do you have someone you like, Meiko-nee?"

"Why are you always so kind, Meiko-nee? If only I could be like you..."

Stop it...

"Kaito is very fortunate to have someone as kind, strong, and beautiful as Meiko-nee."

It's not like that, Rin-chan... it was never like that at all.

"You'll always be my number one girl, y'know? I do love you, Meiko..., but not like..."

I already saw this coming... I already knew it would end like this!

Teto's crying, Luka's frustrated expressions, and these past frustrating events. I've had just about enough. It's just like Teto said, it's a miracle we're all alive and safe. No one can call her an idiot for being scared, not even me. Because the biggest idiot of all was never her, Kaito, or even Miku. I looked over at the mirror, glaring right at the culprit.

It's me.

I'm the biggest idiot of them all.

"Don't second guess yourselves." Hearing myself talk surprised me. It looks like I wasn't the only one either. My long-time neighbors turned to me, appearing confused that I just started talking now. My hands petted their heads, roughly tussling their hair until they resembled cotton candy. Grinning, I gently bopped their heads, "You both had good intentions to help and understand Rin... even when others didn't." I took a deep breath, stating firmly, "So no one should ever call you idiots for that."

Luka's eyes widened, and she grabbed my hand before squeezing it. Teto did likewise. With a grin, I pulled away.

"M-Mei..." Teto's eyes watered.

I cocked my head, closing my eyes with another smile, "You're both good girls... y'know?"

Unlike me.

In a flurry, I threw my costume aside and put on my old clothes. Grabbing stage swords from the corner, I charged out the door and dashed down the corridor. I knocked down whoever got in my way, my feet moving in a flurry once my fury fizzled in my head, screaming for my idiotic pride. I knocked down whoever got in my way, my feet moving in a flurry once my fury fizzled in my head, screaming for my idiotic pride.

I saw red.

What Luka said... it was true: things don't always turn out the way we planned, but that doesn't mean we have to give up.

I could hardly breathe. Flight after flight, room after room, my search for Miku went haywire. I left students shaking in their spots, which only added fuel to my fire. I interrogated, threatened, and I almost threw a kid over my shoulder looking for her. I stormed down the corridors, angrier than ever. Luckily, people jumped out of my way once I slammed a door open. She wasn't there.

Voices shouted behind me, and I ignored them. I didn't give a boot whether people followed me downstairs.

My temper was at its boiling point. My frustration got the better of me as I practically crashed through the sky balcony, wildly looking around. Where the Hell is that teal bitch? The wind whipped against my hair. Miraculously, I caught a glimpse of teal down below. Miku was with her seminar group, apparently she was heavily involved, smiling every time someone praised her verbal eloquence.

I practically zoomed to her location, knocking stuff down and tripping over feet. It didn't matter once I finally burst through the courtyard doors, screaming like an axe murderer.

"Hatsune... MIKUUUUUU!" I yelled at the top of my lungs, glaring past the bystanders and directing all my fury at her. The said bitch looked confused, setting down her stuff and standing. I shot her my deadliest glare, cocking my head in the most intimidating way I've ever been taught. I threw a sword at her, causing her to catch it on instinct, and the other students cried out in alarm.

I unsheathed my sword from my belt, its wooden blade trembling from my constant clenching, targeting the object of my fury.

Miku's mouth dropped open in realization, "Meiko...?"

Everything replayed in my head. Memories of us singing together, walking and eating here in this very courtyard with other contestants, it all flashed before my eyes, leading me down to a state of extreme hatred. The roaring crowd, our pretty dresses, the bright stage, and the way she kept fidgeting when her eyes finally met mine.

"Meiko, could you come with me for a second?"

She said she lost something. Being concerned and thinking it was bad enough to be her microphone, I rushed from the deck and followed her. She led me through darkness, and the way she guiltily looked at me before shutting the door in my face... all of it happened in this very spot.

Yes. Gyro Concert Hall is where Miss Diva finals took place.

This is where Miku betrayed me and shattered any chance I had of reaching my dreams. Abandoning my thick coat and gloves, I shed everything that would get in my way. Throwing away all logic, I defied any better warnings going off in my head and surged forward with a battle cry, preparing to unleash my hellish onslaught.

Through the snow, I glared directly into her eyes. Brown eyes met teal.

A fire crossed between us, drawing our invisible battlefield.

THWACK!

My blade met hers in an instant, but I wasn't surprised. I stayed on my feet and kept going at her, striking wherever I saw teal. Her shocked expression told me she didn't see this coming.

Well, she should've.

"Oh my gosh, what's going on?!"

"WHA! Isn't that Meiko?!"

"S-Someone! Get Ms. Haku!"

Am I doing this for Rin? or for myself?

"M-Meiko-! Stop! STOP!" Miku tried to block my advances, only to get whacked on the shin, and a breathless, pained cry escaped from her. Her surprise turned into anger, finally realizing I was serious. She hesitated, but I only kept going. The hair in my eyes, and the screams of our unwanted audience led me to a mindless fury.

"YOU TRAITOR! LET'S SETTLE THIS!" I roared at her, pushing my foot down on her chest and pressing. "SO GET UP!" I snarled in her face. Even if I'm just an idiot, I still want to do everything I can. I wasn't about to let Miku repeat this... by betraying someone, taking away their dreams. "ARGH!" I clutched my heel in surprise, gasping as I stared at Miku, who wiped the sweat from her brow.

Miku glared at me, finally getting serious. She panted, pushing back her annoying pigtails.

Is what I'm doing wrong?

I screamed again, launching myself at her again. Again. Again. Our swords kept striking. I managed to get two more strikes on her before she managed to get me down using a leg sweep. My head met the floor hard, and a sharp hiss of pain escaped from me.

Maybe I really am one of those stupid fools.

Her blade was coming for my shoulder, so I rolled out of the way just in time. Getting on my feet, my chest heaved rapidly. Sweat formed at my neck, dampening my mood even further. I panted, watching as Miku narrowed her eyes at me, readying herself for another attack. I clutched my bruised side, containing another hiss.

I can't think anymore.

But I can't stop moving forward!

"THIS IS IT FOR YOU!" I shrieked, racing across the space between us and raising my sword.


Rin's POV

A fractured conscious now defines me.

The threads of harmony have definitely come undone.

The hand that touched me was so warm and nostalgic. Len's hand, that is. I think I understand now... I think, what this heartrending feelings are... this... "love". Thinking back to the first night we met, I remembered how intriguing Len was to me. His kindness and bright personality made me feel warm when I observed him, and I indeed felt very alienated when he shared his friends with me, for I was mostly interested in him at the time.

Even when I didn't understand Japanese during the first months I stayed in Japan, that didn't stop me from pursuing Len. I followed him everywhere and shied away from friendly encounters. The only thing I knew was how safe and connected I felt when he was near me, so I investigated those feelings and continually burdened him without considering how others might've felt.

Eventually, I became attached to him, so terribly attached...

After realizing how much I was hurting him and how others were effected by my constant presence, I still tried to avert my eyes and remained the role of Len's shadow. Kaito, Meiko, and everyone else had each other. I noticed how they all seemed so happy being around each other, and how everyone appeared so content when they were with people dear to them. Their happiness made me deeply envious and curious. Soon, I wished to obtain that same happiness.

When I broke free for the first time, my new life was created, and I suddenly knew what I wanted: happiness. That same happiness that everyone had, correlating with people and creating beautiful memories. Their luxurious, normal lives... was my greatest desire.

My hunger for love and company all went to Len, and negative consequences erupted.

It may seem naïve, but I was young. All I wanted was to find a happy life beside Len, to always be with him. I knew how other people admired Len, and how they flocked to him, but even though they must've loved Len... I know they couldn't possibly relate with me, as their feelings for him can never measure up to mine...

Oh... there I go again. These poisonous thoughts clouding my mind are branding me as selfish. Have I become so embittered that I act like Len is my possession...?

Slowly opening my eyes, I laid still on the enclosed incubator, staring past white-uniformed adults through the glass. Tears prickled my eyes as the lights harshly punished my eyes, causing me to see white. My body felt incredibly numb, and I couldn't move a muscle. It was as if I'd been lying in cold water for hours, though the white comforters pillowing my body was there. Once again, I was locked away in scientific prisons. They may as well have locked me inside a coffin; these glass walls mocked my imprisonment.

Classical music echoed through the laboratory, supposedly muffled through the glass, but it reached my ears somehow with clear singing. I cringed when the violins moaned, enhancing a dreary mood. I hate this music, and it reminds me too much of the past events. Though I wanted to cover my ears and ask them to change the soundtrack, I couldn't even move my lips.

I've been confined in this underground sanctuary for two weeks, unmoving and eating through a tube. This place is where Dell's activity thrives, and he's done nothing but care for my well being. Still, I now somewhat resent him for putting me in this solitary confinement, because he's giving me treatment similar to my father's. I've slept most days after constant scanning and testing, and they only allow me to exercise within locked rooms.

Then again, I closed my eyes while thinking of Miku, this is what I deserve... isn't it?

You were right after all, Miku. My decision caused more people to get hurt, and the fact I wanted to stay weighs on everyone as a consequence. I wonder... are you gloating now?

The violin's pitch dropped dramatically as I stared at the air vents, eyes slowly starting to close.

Why... after all this time...

Why does pain always override the happiness I dream of?

Struggling against the numbness spreading throughout my body, my fingers barely trembled as electric currents zapped against the binds. The medicine was overwhelming, and it hurt to use my abilities like this. My muscles cried out as I summoned electricity to counter my paralysis. I breathed heavily, narrowing my eyes as I finally managed to turn my head sideways. From this angle, I witnessed Dell surrounded by the NND, holding up several phones and papers. He appeared to arguing, throwing his hands up and frustratedly running his fingers through his hair many times.

"No, Vice Secretary, I'm not letting her loose on a wild rampage! Who do you think I am?"

"D-Dell!"

He switched phones, "No. Interviews won't be schueduled. That topic is off the record, and Rin is under my survellience and my authority! You have no rights to enter my property, or I'll file lawsuits!"

Dell's face looked tired, and he looked like he wanted to turn tables over. In fact, he looked so devastated that the NND backed away from him, and the scientists kept trying to calm him, offering him medicine and pulling up a chair for him. Dell pushed everyone away, now fervently shouting at the phones. It was surprising, for I've never seen him look so disoriented.

My mouth trembled slightly as I watched him finally slam all the phones into their receivers, collapsing into the chair while hunching over and clenching both sides of his head, mumbling something about coffee. Just get him a coffee, he kept saying. Someone please just get him coffee, and feet went everywhere. I tried to form words, but my tongue laid still, refusing to obey me.

Why, Dell, sir...?

You're upset because of me, aren't you? These people... whoever they are, they keep bothering you because of the damage I've caused to your wonderful city, your home. Yet even as I've wrecked and killed those people on that train, you didn't seem angry with me. You ushered me into this reactor and injected tranquilzers so I could be in this calm state. You helped me instead of condemning me.

But why...

Why are you still helping me?

These people, I've seen them... with flashing cameras and angry signs, I most certainly believe they want to know who I am, and they most likely want me dead. I know what I've done, Mr. Dell, killing those people when Lily's accomplices destroyed that train... those people died because of me. Not only that, but my friends are also hurt right now.

If only I hadn't hurt everyone dear to me...

Why are the people I love dearly always the easiest to lose... especially at my expense?

The NND turned their heels on Dell, walking out the doors on his command. Before Iroha left, she turned and stared at me directly in the eyes, much to my surprise. Her expression looked unreadable, and I couldn't tell what she was thinking. However, I was certain that Gachapoid was on her mind. I believe she blames me for his disappearance, and so do I. Finally, she broke our gaze and promptly exited through the double doors.

I finally exhaled, not knowing I'd been holding my breath while we stared at each other. My face grew hot, and I rested my throbbing head. Achingly, I closed my eyes again, panting heavily.

If only Gachapoid were here... he would tell me what to do.

If only I hadn't taken him for granted...

"Gacha..." I croaked, my vision slowly dimming.

My thoughts started flooding back to the last time I spoke to him...

"Rin! GET DOWN FROM THERE!"

"Kaito? Rin? What's all the r- AGGAK?! Kaito? Can't you keep an eye on her for ten minutes?"

"Shut up! I'm not the one who left just so he could watch Pigtails' volley practice!"

"N-! I did not!"

"I bet you got a great view of those booty shorts, huh? Pervert Shota!"

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?! NOW YOU'RE IN FOR IT!"

Foot by foot, I walked across the banister and marveled how smooth my movements have gotten. Thinking back to yesterday, I remembered how well the tightrope dancers performed inside the strange box called the "television". I couldn't help but wonder if I could live up to such talent. I couldn't stop thinking about their graceful forms and limber agility, and knowing the only way to amount up to their skills was to practice.

As Len always says, "Practice makes perfect."

I felt light and happy as I twirled, much to the alarm of Kaito and Len. Though I couldn't comprehend why they seemed so upset, the warm wind and the gulls drew my attention, and I marveled at the summer glory around me. From this height, I could see and hear everything. A breeze ruffled my clothes, tickling my nose. I closed my eyes and simply breathed.

The salty yet gentle smell of summer, the orange sky with clouds resembling feathers, and the waters reflecting the world above...

Surely, this is life.

"Mistress, I insist you get to lower ground this instant!" An overly stern voice hissed in my ear, shattering my peaceful moment. I reluctantly tore my gaze away from the docks to meet the eyes of my supposed servant. "How many times have I told you not to let those circus acts get to your head? You know better than to practice such demise!"

Heat flooded my face as I immediately crossed my arms. I defiantly continued to walk and ignored Gacha's prattling.

"I know! Oh, I know already!" I protested indignantly, "I am being careful, Gacha!"

"It doesn't matter. Please step down!" Huffily, I broke into a fast trot, increasing the alarmed cries and Gacha's temper. The robot whizzed past my head and continued scolding me. "Please don't question my motives, miss Rin! You should follow my directions because I said so!" The sunset illuminated his tiny form, ironically making him appear more dreamy despite his effort to appear intimidating.

I turned my head from him with another huff and continued sprining over the railing with my arms now spread eagle wise. Liberated and free, I envisioned myself soaring over the town with wings. My raised fingers touched the clouds as I gave a happy sigh.

I feel so light.

Suddenly, my view went tilting rapidly and my hands went spiraling downwards. Before I realized what was happening, several voices cried my name. Notably, one that was screaming in my ear proved to be the most distressed.

"MISS RIIIN!"

I fell off the river walk that day, and Gacha was boiling mad by the time Len and Kaito saved me. At the time, I was only worried about how cold and dark the waters were. Something about being in water always scared me. Even when we arrived home, he continued scolding me in that mechanical tone while washing my hair and dressing me in warm clothes.

"Filthy, filthy... You've soiled your clothes, and you don't even know how to swim! Hmph. For once can't you listen to me?" Gacha muttered as he scrubbed my mud-caked cheeks with a washcloth. Every time I tried to apologize, he would simply throw clean clothes in my face in disapproval, "Always causing trouble and coming home unkempt, you're going to be the death of me, Miss Rin."

I frowned, "But-MMF!" My mouth was suddenly stuffed with orange slices, and Gachapoid continued fussing over me.

"You haven't eaten breakfast again, have you? Honestly, miss Rin! Your energy levels will become irregular if you don't remember to eat around the clock!" Annoyed, I vented out my frustration by munching the orange. He started combing my hair, showing no mercy on the wet tangles. Surely, this must be his revenge.

"Gacha, Gacha! That hurts!" I protested angrily, standing and waving him away only to have him glaring at me with a giant's rage. I immediately went quiet seeing his wrath.

"Sit."

Intimidated by his piercing glare, I had no choice but to consent. Gachapoid continued his lecture, and I did my best to listen. Still, I couldn't help the resentment rising within me.

Gachapoid is so very long-winded. Anywhere I go, he keeps worrying about me! I truly don't understand why he worries every moment of each day. I stared up at his levitating form, his words barely coherent as I examined him with utmost seriousness, trying to comprehend his intentions. He suddenly stopped speaking, noticing my intense stare.

"M-Mistress... are you even listening to me?"

I frowned at him, tilting my head and puffing my cheeks, "Oh, Gacha. I know already. Can't you have a little more faith in me?" I clenched my dress and lowered my head, still staring at him, "Len and Kaito saved me, so why are you so upset?" Gacha's eyes narrowed, practically bumping heads with me as he glared at me face to face. Surprised by the pain, I clutched my forehead with a cry. A mechanical hand extended in front of me, wagging a finger back and forth like a windshield wiper.

"Don't you know why I'm angry?! I want you to be more considerate of your health instead of fooling around!" His outburst shocked me into submission, and I silently sat there. After a long pause, Gachapoid sighed, "Miss Rin, I-... I apologize. I shouldn't have have yelled." His form shamefully turned away, and he guiltily started for the vanity desk, "If you can't trust me, then I should ask that Kagamine boy to take care of you instead."

Gulping the remains of the last orange, I licked my fingers clean and stared at Gacha confusedly, "But Len's always taken care of me even before I met you, Gacha." I said, impulsively continuing, "Even when everything seemed so complicated then, I was already happy." I smiled pridefully, tugging the hem of my pajama shirt, "If Len is here, then I have nothing to fear."

If only I'd noticed how his entire form seemed to deflate while I spoke those words, and his silence for the rest of the day.

I should've realized sooner... just how much I hurt him.

I always... always... ruin everything.

I always hurt others.

Professor Kamui's laptop shut close and awakened me back into the present. Sitting up on the examination table, I tried to ignore the hammering in my chest as the people dressed in white examined me from meters away, taking notes. I broke into a heavy sweat as their critical gazes pinpointed my body like knives, digging into my skin. I hated how they looked at me, as if I were a test subject rather than a... human.

History has repeated itself.

A heavy sigh escaped from the purple-haired professor as he turned his chair to face me, fixing his tie.

"The tests have confirmed you've been taking prescribed drugs to improve your hormonal imbalance, yes?" Kamui asked, halting my train of thought, "You're aware of the effects it's done to your body?"

I tilted my head confusedly, "W-What effects do you speak of? I feel... fine." I suppose I wasn't being entirely truthful. Lily's arrival haunted me, along with the memories of destroying anything in my vision. It made me remember the... the violence I created when I was younger.

Professor exhaled, "As a result, you have low levels of estrogen." He showed me the charts on the screen, pinpointing the scales developed over the last four months. "As of now, it seems, your mood will be greatly influenced. Your hormones will decrease the onset of an enzyme called monoamine oxidase. An overflowing concentration damages neurotransmitters that greatly affect emotions, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Neurotransmitter fluctuations can have an effect on thinking, digestion, sleeping, eating, pain levels... at the worst, you could've possibly developed mental issues."

My face fell at those words as I looked down at my feet, shifting uncomfortably. To think I'd've carelessly put such poison into my body... how reckless of me.

"You shouldn't just listen to... Ms. Haku and take painkillers if you haven't consulted a doctor beforehand, Kagamine-chan." Professor Kamui frowned, closing his eyes and crossing his arms, "Please be considerate towards your health. Your body may be genetically advanced, but impulsively consuming chemicals won't guarantee your well-being in the long run."

"I understand." I answered softly and lowered my eyes, "Pardon my ignorance. To think I've caused everyone so much trouble this entire time..." Ms. Haku's medicine hadn't worked after all. Yet after everything's that's happened so far, my words were bland and insincere.

"Well, I can't say I didn't see this coming." Professor answered softly despite his bitter words. I blinked before lowering my gaze. After running many tests, I'd finally been released with a list of strict rules. As of now, I wasn't allowed to attend school after February. This would surely affect my academic standing, being absent for so long. I frowned as he, along with many bodyguards, escorted us to his vehicle.

This is so terrible...

I could no longer see my friends as much as I used to. The only places I could go are engrained into my memory: the mansion, the underground quarters, and school. Nami wasn't allowed to leave the mansion either. After our reunion, she continued whining and complaining about missing all the events and hated being away from her job. After being denied her freedom, Nami sulked for hours. She insisted that she should be able to see me and Len, but unfortunately, Len was already sent to rehabilitation (alongside everyone else) because of the injuries I inflicted him.

The kind professor glanced at me before exhaling. He opened the space between the chairs, taking out a canteen and generously passing it to me. It was hot chocolate, modified to meet my diet's standards. Its contents warmed my tongue, and there was significantly less sugar or whip cream topped with cherries. Despite my disappointment, I appreciated the effort on his behalf.

"Professor..." I spoke after a long silence, staring at my cuffed hands. He hesitantly glanced at me from the rearview mirror. From what I could see, I do not think he wished to speak to me, but he still considered the option out of being polite. Hair hung around my face as I tensed my shoulders, the car's motion causing my entire body to jump.

"Yes, Kagamine-chan?" He sounded guarded, considerably nervous. My mouth curved downwards as I involuntarily clenched my hands into fists. Color cars and buildings passed me in a matter of seconds, appeared like blurs. I pulled at my starchy coat, feeling strangely alienated by the heavy material. I silently motioned to Herr Hoppy sitting on the dashboard, and he complied. Collecting him in my arms, I breathed in Len's calming scent.

Suddenly, I felt a little braver as I started to ask, "Is it true that you knew my mother?" Immediately, the air grew heavy. I could feel the tension radiating from the man as I saw him grip the steering wheel, though he wouldn't look back at me and kept driving. I immediately regretting asking him, seeing I had damaged him by mentioning my mother. Shakily, I started to apologize until he suddenly spoke up.

"Even after all this time, I can still remember her face." His voice was soft and strangled, as if he were trying to keep his voice even. He cleared his throat multiple times before continuing, "She's the most innocent woman I've ever met." I remained silent, for I wanted to hear more. Adjusting the mirror, he glanced back at me with a stern, pensive gaze, "She grew attached to things easily. She always liked sweet things and flowers. In fact, sometimes, she'd make a flowery cake and eat everything in an entire day. No matter how much she ate, she never gained weight," he said, cracking a slight smile, "She didn't have many friends, but she kept the ones she loved close to her heart."

The thing in my chest contracted painfully as I lowered my head, "She sounds... wonderful." I whispered, and the professor's face seemed to soften.

"I learned many things from her," he answered, his tone softening, "She was a good woman, but she had a heart of glass, very fragile and nicked." Those words confirmed my thoughts. Because of Mother's fragile personality, she sought to create me in order to restore her precious memory, but... she eventually regretted it.

"Mother was truly fortunate, to have someone like you as her friend...," I murmured, "She must've loved you very much." As if noticing my bitter tone, Kamui's eyes seemed to adopt a more sympathetic look. I lifted my head and looked at him with an embittered smile, "I used to blame father for what happened to me, but now I realize that it's mother's fault too."

"Kagamine-chan..."

My head lowered as I began to whisper, "Their only interest in me was built on a foundation of lies and blood. Father's edging ambitions and mother's desperate delusions... have birthed into what was called, "The VOCALOID", or myself. Pursuit of knowledge is supposed to empower mankind, but in the end, that hunger leaves them unsatisfied... corrupted even."

Professor went silent.

I sighed slowly, glancing over my shoulder to stare at the metal imprint on my lower back, its letters gleaming.

"I realize what I really am now: this... VOCALOID," I shuddered and clutched my chest, my voice dropping to a whisper, "Everyone already knew everything about me since the beginning, but no one said anything to me." I breathed hoarsely, swaying along with the car's motion, "Why am I always the last to know...?"

"That's...," Professor started hesitantly, "We didn't think it was something you wanted to hear, and it wouldn't've changed anything if you knew. Your friends didn't say anything because they were worried about how you felt."

I stared at the blue car passing us, "You're speaking out of turn, sir." I replied softly. How could he possibly know about my friends' feelings?

"Then with your permission, will you allow me to continue speaking my mind?" he asked, turning his eyes back on the road. I gave him my consent, and he spoke, "Now that you're aware of everything's that happened, what will you do now?" The blood drained from my face as I remembered the horrible message Dell told me about my father "If you'd like, I can take you to see your friends-" Pressure weighed on my shoulders as I thought back to that horrible man... Leon, and my blood became ice. While I was in that VOCALOID phase, I kept hearing his words and seeing his face. No matter how much I tried to block him out, his presence lingered and tortured me, whispering commands or sickly sweet words.

"N...No, no, no, no...! NO NO NO!" My feet harshly connected with Professor's seat, and my body trembled horrendously in a fit of spasms. My hands started shaking, and I broke into a sweat. I clutched Len's rabbit against my chest, squeezing him in attempt to be comforted. Still, that did nothing to soothe my terrors. "I-I don't have that right! How can I face them like this?!" I whimpered, "They couldn't possibly wish to see me after everything that's happened! They're all hurt because of me!"

A tortured mewl escaped me as I thought of everyone and how much I hurt them, including Len. Resting my head against the armrest, I trembled. The breeze breathed on my skin. My eyes stung as I remembered how Len still kept staggering towards me while I rained punishment on him, electrocuting him over and over again! And then there was everyone else!

Meiko-nee tried to help me, but I betrayed her! When Lily was hurting me, it was Meiko who stepped in and tried to save me. In return, I left her dangling off the side of the train.

She was so strong, after all... always looking after her friends.

Oh, Meiko-nee...

I still remembered the wild fire in her eyes as she stared at me while clinging to the side of the train, slipping away and screaming.

Teto and Luka, too. I remember frightening Luka while she watched Len protect me. Even then, she tried to support me by standing up to my sister. And Teto... she fought me to protect Kaito, Meiko, and Len inside the helicopter, while I didn't hesitate to take her down. I still felt the sour breath of helicopter fumes.

Kaito, too. He had done everything he could to help his friends. Yet even when they tried to help him when he was injured, it was him who ended up saving them.

Their frightened expressions, screaming, and the thundering footsteps as they fled from me...

Every time I pictured their faces, I wanted to close my eyes and forget.

And Miku...

My eyes stung as I thought of the teal-haired girl. She'd tried to kill me three times now. The first time was during the sleepover, and the last times took place on the train. I cannot fully comprehend her character. Despite the fact we harbor dislike towards one another, I'd believed she was an honorable character. Yet since those incidents, I've been questioning her true character.

Was she really as noble as many people described her to be?

I groaned, writhing in my seat and hunching over. My hands dug into my ugly hair, yanking and fisting. If only I hadn't remembered everything, if only I hadn't stepped on that train...

Why did things have to turn out like this?

"Because you need to face the truth."

"Mikuo-kun." I gritted out, baring my teeth as I shattered my mental image of him.

How could he be so cruel? Making me remember the "necessary truth"? How could he do such a thing?!

Because it was what you wanted.

"You don't need to force yourself, Kagamine-chan. I'm sorry, you don't need to force yourself." Professor quickly said, chidingly drawing out his tone, "I-I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said anything." I breathed shakily, clutching Herr Bunny even closer to my chest. "I... oh, I'm sorry."

"Shouldn't you despise me?" My mouth moved on its own, surprising me. To my ears, Kamui sounded startled as well. "I killed mother: your friend. You're aware of that, are you not? She feared me, hated me..., and she tried to kill me," A shiver ran up my spine, "It surprises me you haven't tried to end my life too. Why... why are you and Dell helping me? Why are you still shelter me even after I took their lives?!" I nearly shouted, referring to the people on the train. The child's shoe flashed before my eyes, and my voice broke. "Tell me... tell me why... why are you doing this?"

If only they would've unbound me earlier, then I could've ended everything sooner. I could've escaped this fate. These cuffs were reinforced to counter resistance. Struggling against them rubbed my wrists and biting my tongue off wouldn't have been good.

I didn't want to leave a mess for anyone to clean up.

Everyone... why? Why are you making me live on like this, why? You all know what I've done and who I've killed. That should be enough for me to atone for my sins, to've left me in that dark warehouse. Is this my punishment?

Am I allowed to live just so I can continue suffering...?

Professor went strangely silent, then he finally spoke, "Although it was your undoing that brought Miriam to her untimely end, no one blamed you during the incident." A deep sigh escaped the man, surprising me, "During a test drive, Miriam voluntarily went inside that room to disable your nerve center, that way we could advance your VOCALOID mode." I tensed at this horrifying confession, looking at him with disbelieving eyes.

"No... why? Why didn't you stop her? You all should've known it was too dangerous!"

"She was the only one who memorized your brain patterns. Therefore, it only seemed safe to put on the job." The professor replied angrily, "But none of us knew what her real intentions were."

Helpless and devastated at this truth, I bent over and covered my face with shaking hands. I curled into a ball, trying to shield myself from any more piercing words. Each fact cut me like a dagger; I felt so vulnerable and exposed. I didn't want to wake up and face this terrible reality anymore. It was so unbearable. It hurts. It hurts. And even now, where am I supposed to go?

Professor Kamui sighed, signaling before turning a street corner. He pulled over near a stop, finally turning to face me properly.

"When I first starting working under Crypton, I'd often notice you one of the most prominent projects in our block. My co-workers never saw you anything more than a test subject, and so, I thought the same way. I, myself, never thought of you as a little girl with an individual mind, rather, you were just a bionic mechanism with the deceptive appearance of a blue-eyed child." He looked away, laughing slightly, "I saw the monstrous things you've done. I know the people you laid to rest: my co-workers and our arrogant sponsors." he then adjusted the mirror, allowing the sun to pour in. "I then realized your humanity upon your yearning for love. The signs were subtle, but they were still there."

Memories flashed before my eyes, and I vaguely recalled a young man dressed in a lab coat. His hair was purple and down, and he barely acknowledged his co-workers. Unlike the others, he seemed very introverted, preferring his work over sociality.

"Do you remember, Kagamine-chan?" He flashed a sad look over his shoulder, "You were the first to know whenever Miriam walked into your compartment. I know because I was the one assigned to monitor your brain activity; it always increased when she was around you."

My handcuffs clinked and scraped as I sat up straight, staring at my superior, "Is this true?"

Professor smiled, starting up his car again, "It puzzled at first. It wasn't until the first time we released you into training..." his eyes barely flickered with remorse, "that I finally realized Crypton products were just young minds put to torture. They, like you, were just children. I realized too late most of them were involved in trafficking."

My eyes widened.

"At that point, how could I despise you considering we, the company, created you as you are?" He asked, "Moreover, personally getting to know Kagamine-chan proves you are much more human than you give yourself credit for." He looked like he was suppressing a smile, "Megurine-chan would scold me if I said this, but... like all girls, you're an emotional volcano. So I don't think you're that different after all."

We were on the road again, and I was left feeling amazed and somewhat dazed. I blinked back tears as I gazed outside the window, a bitter smile tugging at my lips. Even though I can't possibly forgive myself after all that's happened, professor's words soothed my unease. I clutched my chest. As I hold this pain that ensnares my heart like a crown of thorns, I will let go of my selfish thoughts and hope this pain makes my heart bleed.

"Help."

A throbbing sensation pulsed throughout my mind, making my senses reel. Something caught my vision as I turned to face the window. My eyes widened as buildings blurred past my vision, instead, I found myself gazing into the green eyes. This presence felt so strong, and it felt painfully familiar. As if this were a maternal cry calling out to me, I instantly reacted by slamming my palms to the glass. The thing in my chest swelled painfully, and my nerves tingled. An electric current traveled to the tips of my fingers, making them tickle. I gasped.

"So cold... can't move."

For a moment, I thought I saw a tube filled with bubbling water. It was large and mystifying, and its cords appeared to burrow underground. Recognition swelled within me as I further investigated the tube.

"Water my flowers, my little girl."

That voice...

"Mother?" I breathlessly asked, leaning both palms against the glass. I felt professor's eyes drop on me from the rearview mirror, but I paid no mind to him. Who was calling out for me? My feet slammed against the door, creating a large dent. Professor's cries fell deaf on my ears as I continuously kicked the latched door, creating heavy pounding.

I was entranced by the humming voice, breaking down the door that confined me as I leapt from the car and into traffic. The fray of vehicles hardly bothered me as I followed the voice, edges of my vision whitening. Blares of a large truck fell deaf on my ears as I hurried through the road. I couldn't hear anything anymore, and I no longer cared about what happened around me. Everything around me felt like a dream.

I stumbled into the sidewalk, ignoring the stares people gave me as I ran down the street. A flurry of snowflakes sprayed my vision, dampening my hair and clothes as I continued running, hardly sweating. I found myself staring off into a park ahead, another memory rushing back to me.

The little girl stared in dismay at the crushed dandelion in her hand, sniffling. She'd fallen and destroyed the flower she'd meant to give to her mother. In the green field, she laid on her knees, bawling her eyes out. It wasn't until a woman waltzed up to her, trying to hide her amused smile while nodding in empathy as the child profusely apologized, trying to stifle her cries as she shamefully presented the damaged flower.

The woman broke into a wide smile, graciously accepting the gift. A teal-haired boy came rushing up to them, worriedly looking down at his friend.

"Cheeks softer than petals with hair brighter than geraniums," The woman laughed, lifting the girl into the air and raised her to the sky, fondly gazing up at her as if she were all the goodness in the world. "I do believe you're the prettiest flower here."

Suddenly, I stopped, horrified upon realizing where I was.

"Where did you go!?" I cried out, now alone in the vast white wonderland, my feet crunching against the ice. The voice leading me was no longer here, and I was left stranded in this empty space. Tears leaked out of my eyes as I desperately turned to find anything, anyone in my awakening. Sobs swelled in my throat, but I swallowed them as I continued turning, braving the biting frost that nipped my ears.

I continued calling for that voice, desperately waiting for an answer, but only the cold wind answered my call.

I am... alone.

My hot tears dampened the ground as I grabbed fistfuls of snow and cried. No one is here to offer their warmth, let alone witness my demeaning shame: this... sadness.

Here I was, alone, just like the moment I opened my eyes. And very soon, loneliness will be my eternity. It's what I deserve. I'm not worth the dust my friends walk on, so how can I stand among them and pretend I am one of them?

My crying grew louder, and the inner beast within me thrummed against my chest, but I held myself back. It was all I could do to suppress hysteria on the spot. My cries went unheard, swallowed by the howling gale. It hurt even more to know no one would come for me.

Professor is wrong, after all. How am I like the others at this point? Many people are dead because of me. Their pale faces haunt my dreams, and their screaming burns into my mind. I've been branded like a product.

"No more lies..." I cried out against the wind, throwing handfuls of snow into the air and tossing it back in retaliation, "I CAN'T AVERT MY EYES FROM WHAT I'VE DONE!" I screamed, digging my fingers into my head and yanking, scratching at my scalp, "I can't ignore it anymore! Their blood stains my hands! Four weeks! How can I return like this?!" I asked, slowly retracting my hands to lull the aching throb in my chest.

How can I... keep living?

My clasped hands were reddening from the cold, and the shackles on my wrists rubbed my skin raw. I already knew the answer to that unspoken question. I thought dying was what I wanted, but the more I think about it... the more I realize it wouldn't change anything. Whether I live or die doesn't matter. It wouldn't amount to much, my death, that is. My blood isn't worth to be spilled along the others'.

How... strange.

I smiled bitterly, the snow falling into my eyes, "Haaah... I am so... so selfish." After the train incident, I was separated from everyone, contained underground and isolated from their faces. I've been drowning in self-pity and misery that I created, when after all this time, I did want to see them.

Even now, I still...

Mother's face flashed before my eyes, driving me into a corner. I bit my lower lip, trembling. The real reason why I came to Japan was to find her. She was the first person who taught me love. She meant the world to me though my feelings went unrequited. That stunning woman, who walked in beauty, left me to die. Even still, I wanted to find her... I still...

Breathing heavily, I slumped my shoulders as I wiped my tears, sniffling.

If my own mother hated me, her child..., then surely, no one will ever love or cherish me as much as I hope for. Kind people will pity me, maybe even forgive me, but they would never understand me. Let alone love a creature like myself.

"You're wrong." Len's voice suddenly cut through my impending thoughts, causing me to gasp. Those words he had whispered in my ear that day... and his voice battled with my terrible conscience. I suddenly remembered how tightly he hugged me, throwing away his pain and doubt just to hold me in his arms...

How warm he felt...

Len's soothing whispers reached my ears, and the places where he touched me left pleasant tingles.

Len... Only Len did everything for me...

It was as if he were still holding me.

Tears coursed down my cheeks as I sobbed into my hands, shoulders wracking furiously. I whispered Len's name through my parted fingers, cheeks reddening from the cold. All the memories we shared, and everything he did for me... it was for me; it was sincere effort and... yes, that's what I can call it. He's always shared everything with me, including his own strength. I wish he was here, holding me, touching me...whispering in my ear, looking at me...

I ached for him. I wanted to see him again, hear him again, touch him again...

That warm face...

Meiko-nee, Kaito, Luka, Teto... Nami, Dell... Ted, Akaito, Akita and her friends, and Ms. Haku...

Gachapoid..., Len...

Everyone...

"I want to see you..." I spoke aloud, furiously wiping my tears. February is my deadline, but even so, can I be selfish one more time? After this, I will be a good girl. It makes me a bad, bad girl for saying this, but even after everything's that's happened, I'll never regret the memories I made in Japan: my mother's favorite place in the world. For me, it'll always be my favorite as well.

I'll never regret this.

I mournfully gazed up into the sky, snow falling into my eyelashes as I blinked. I started running again.

If all I have left are choices with no right answer, then I'll abandon everything.


Len's POV

"So, what should I get my parents this year?"

"Eeeh?! You still haven't bought them anything?! Christmas is next week!"

"I can't help it! What can you get adults at this age?"

The city is especially pretty this time of year, but it's also at its busiest. Girls from another school rushed past me, probably heading towards the nearest shop. I was on my way to the Gyro Concert Hall after having the NND drop off my stuff at the hotel the play cast would be staying at. It took forever, but it was finally over. I heaved a sigh and laid back against my wheelchair.

A childish huff came from behind me, "Why all the sighing? That's all you've been doing since we left your rehab sessions. Anyway, I'm the one who should be complaining! Why am I always the one stuck babysitting pubescent humans?!" Iroha rattled, furiously pushing me across the high bridge. As she skidded to turn, I glumly rested my chin into my hand and silently fumed. "Today was supposed to be my day off!" the android whined, stomping her feet, "I wanted to play with To-chan!"

"Sorry you gotta put up with me." I grumbled halfheartedly, looking down at my useless legs.

That's right... it's been four weeks since I've last seen Rin.

That train incident really took its toll on me. I wasn't able to go to school for what seemed like years. But when I wheeled through the academy doors, people kept asking me about how I got so badly injured and where Rin was. News about the train accident spread like a wildfire, and once again, my family was the center of attention. Four dead, and not to mention the rumors about an unearthly girl who had a voice of a dragon wouldn't rest up. Most of the survivors from the train refused to comment on the situation, but some of them mentioned the robots and that psychotic girl claiming to be Rin's sister.

Anyway, it sucked. I had to be put into a hospital for weeks. I couldn't walk because of the injuries inflicted from trying to confront Rin. Mom wouldn't stop hounding me about my apparent recklessness, but it's not like she was there at the time.

Four weeks...

"But right now, my heart is trying to tell you something."

"Can you hear my heart?"

I scrunched up my nose in thought.

What did those words even mean? I said them to Rin, but that's because it popped into my head, and I wasn't even thinking much about it.

Back then, it wasn't such a big deal, but now I wish I could've expressed what I felt without sounding like some weird and creepy poet. I should've just told her something different... like, "Let me hold you" or something. Why on Earth did I have to bring up hearts into our conversation. That's just embarrassing. I'm trying too hard, for crying out loud.

I groaned and buried my face in my hands.

Oh, great... wow. My biggest problem is wishing I'd said something more manly when I helped her revert. Wow, what is wrong with me? I have better things to worry about.

The ride was getting boring, and I had to stop myself from falling asleep several times. My wheels rolled against the grated bridge. I rolled past carolers, who were waving and cheerfully closing in on me. Iroha grumpily steered me away and kept pushed onwards. A snowflake fell into my open palm before melting quickly. With a heavy sigh, I leaned even further against my wheelchair, watching the snow fall.

We finally arrived at the concert hall. Iroha did the honors of practically speeding me inside. Then her phone went off.

"Eh? What do you want, Kamui?" Iroha skidded us to a stop, putting a hand on her hip and raising a brow. "O-Okay, calm down. I can't understand a word you're saying. Say that again." Curiously, I looked at her as her expression slowly changed into one of panic and disbelief. "SHE WHAT?!" She practically screamed, attracting attention. "YOU'RE KIDDING ME!" My eyebrows raised at her changing expressions. Iroha groaned in frustration, slapping a hand against her helmet. "Fine, fine... if she's heading in this direction then it shouldn't be hard to track her down. Understood." she clicked her phone shut and let out an exasperated sigh, "Honestly..."

"Did something happen?" I asked, tilting my head back so I could see her.

Iroha grimaced, and she immediately glanced away, "... Nothing." Stuffing her hands in her pockets, she gestured to the corridor leading to the wide auditorium. "You better get in there. Sorry to bail like this, Kagamine, but Kamui apparently needs my assistance right now."

I frowned, "Oh... okay."

Iroha left without a word, leaving me in the foyer.

I checked my watch, grimacing. Great. I was two hours late, and I didn't even know where I was supposed to be. Time to find Ms. Haku. I wheeled into the Concert Hall, passing the jazz quartet playing in the café. Hot food filled my nostrils, and I was tempted to go back and get something. I shook my head and attempted to open the concert doors.

No good. They were locked.

"Haha, he'll never find me- YOOOWW!" Suddenly, something hard crashed into the back of my wheelchair, causing me to lurch forward and almost fall out of my chair. Luckily, I managed to grab onto the handles right before I could do so. "Ow, ow, ow!" Someone wailed behind me, causing me to turn around fully.

"Oh. Are you hurt?"

Glitter momentarily blinded my eyes, and I blinked several times to see a little girl wearing a Santa dress, accompanied with a hat jingling with gold bells. Suddenly, I found myself face to face with the idol child singer, Kaai Yuki. She was on the floor, rubbing her bottom and pouting. Shock overwhelmed me, and I nearly fainted on the spot.

Wait. Wait a second.

Am I seeing things?

"Whoa! A-Are you who I think you are?" The said girl suddenly stopped and stared up at me. My lips twitched into a disbelieving grin, and I sat upright. I could feel my knees buckling. My mouth went dry, and my eyes popped out of my face.

The pigtailed girl scrunched her face at me, "Whatcha mean, mister? I'm Kaai Yuki! Daddy said everyone should know that by now." she then pursed her lips thoughtfully, slowly getting up, "Or... um, like Mama would say to Ryuto... oh." She then took on a very serious pose, shaking her finger at me, "Have you been living under a rock?"

Nope. This is definitely her.

Her voice and attempts at acting adult...

It had to be...!

"IT'S REALLY YOU! Y-YOU'RE KAAI YUKI!" I immediately blurted, grabbing her hands and squeezing them. My hands were shaking. I inwardly cooed at how soft her hands felt, and I couldn't help smiling even wider. I resisted the urge to hug her right then and there just to make sure she was real. She blinked. The look she was giving told me she used to these kinds of outbursts, either that, or she was pretending she wasn't scared of my intense fan moment.

Kaai Yuki!

Oh. My soul.

Yuki nodded, tilting her head curiously, "I sure am. Oh, do you want my autograph?"

What? Did I hear right?

My mouth fell open.

"YES! OH MY GOSH YES! YES PLEASE!" Eagerly, I flung her arms aside and reached for my bag pack. It was a struggle, and I probably should've been more prepared, but I finally managed to grab my math notebook and practically thrust it in her direction. I grinned excitedly, hardly able to contain myself. "C-CAN YOU GIVE ME YOUR EMAIL?! I PROMISE YOU I'M NOT SOME CREEP!"

Popping out an apple-themed pen and took my notebook, Yuki laughed, "You're funny, Onii-chan."

My eyes went misty, and I brought my hands to my chest, extremely touched by this gesture.

I can't believe it.

Kaai Yuki is smiling. Kaai Yuki is smiling at me. Me.

This is the best day ever.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I'm crushing on little girls, but I've loved Yuki Kaai even before she made her debut. She's only nine, but she sings the most high-spirited songs I've ever heard. Even if I'm having a bad day, listening to her sing cheers me up. And now, ever since she made that candy land music video, everyone knows who she is. I glowed, reveling in sight of her standing before me.

I knew she was pretty cute from the television, but looking at her standing right in front of me...!

I never knew how tiny she was in real life!

This is so cool... my classmates are going to be so jealous. I watched as she scribbled across the front of my notebook, unable to suppress my excitement.

Math, never again shall I forsake you.

"From Yuki. To my friend..." She drawled, suddenly looked up at me, "What's your name, onii-chan?"

I blinked, now back to reality, "Oh. I-It's Len. Kagamine Len." Yuki's eyes went wide as saucers, and she stopped writing. She stared at me as if I'd turned into a toad. I raised my brows and smiled anxiously, but before I could ask her what was wrong, footsteps sounded, along with a boy calling out.

"Ah, Yuki-chan. So that's where you've been, hm?" We both turned, surprised to find Hatsune smiling and nodding at us. A loud squeal erupted from Yuki as he approached, and a grin ate up her face.

"Mikuo-nii!"

"You worried me. I was afraid that you'd gone off and got eaten by monsters."

"Monsters? What monsters?"

Hatsune simply smiled before grabbing her and tickling her, causing her to shriek with laughter. "Monsters like me!" Miffed, I sat there and watched as he put his filthy hands on the cute singer. So, he even got acquainted with her before I did? This is ridiculous. I finally cleared my throat, and that's when he finally noticed me. "I see you've met my friend here, Kagamine-kun. What a pleasant surprise."

What a liar.

"Same here." I replied, not even bothering to hide my sarcasm. Hatsune appeared unfazed, his smile only growing.

Hatsune... he's supposed to be dead, isn't he?

According to what Miku said, this guy... wasn't even supposed to be alive.

But why?

Ugh. I don't get it.

"What happened to you, Kagamine-kun?" Hatsune asked in concern, gesturing to the wheelchair. "Are you alright?" Pch. Look at him, making me look like a helpless handicap in front of my favorite singer. The nerve of him.

"I'm fine." I answered flatly, crossing my arms, "Just an accident happened is all. Anyway, how do you know Kaai-chan?"

Mikuo smiled fondly at the girl, who adoringly clutched onto his waist.

"I just met her today. She got lost on the way to the sports stadium after the winter parade, and I'm helping her find her mother."

"Mikuo-nii is my friend, you see!" Yuki exclaimed cheerily, cheeks reddening, "He's really cool!" I bit my lower lip, not particularly liking how she kept smiling at him like he was the best thing since bananas.

Hey... I'm the one who used half of my allowance to buy your albums.

Where's my fan service?

"Oh... that's cool." I stiffly answered, tearing my eyes away from this disgusting sight, "A-Anyway, Hatsune... you wouldn't happen to know where Ms. Haku is, do you?"

Mikuo hummed thoughtfully, stroking his chin, "If I recall, she's orchestrating the set right now. As you know, the backstage crew still has some trouble moving the back scenes around. I don't think you should bother her right now..." He then trailed off, looking as if he were pondering about something. "Ah, come to think of it, you're awfully late."

"Mikuo-nii! Mikuo-nii!" Yuki tugged persistently at Mikuo's sweater vest, trying to catch his attention. She pouted, clenching her hands into tiny fists, "This guy! This guy...!" She pointed at me, "This guy is Miku-onee-chan's boyfriend! That's what Mama keeps telling me, y'know! 'Cause, y'know, whenever Miku-nee comes over, all she ever talks about someone named Kagamine Len! And that's this guy's name!"

Mikuo blinked several times. A slow smile crept his way onto his face as he glanced at me.

"...Oh, really?"

My face went burgundy.

B-B-BOYFRIEND?!

Did she just say that I'm Miku's-?!

"Who, me?!" I nearly yelped, steering back in shock. The sly look on Mikuo's face made me want to pummel him, but I didn't want to make myself look stupid in front of Yuki, who kept looking at me expectantly. I laughed nervously, my face growing redder each second they looked at me. "N-No... well, I don't know how you know her, but... it's not like that! I swear!" I broke into a sweat as Mikuo's eyes bore into mine. He's coming onto me! "R-Really! She's beautiful and all, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't see me in that context!" I rubbed the back of my neck nervously, "P-Plus, it's not like we have the time to get... you know, together?"

Not to mention... the way Miku had been acting lately... made me realize I hadn't known her that well like I thought I did, but that didn't change the fact that we're still good friends.

But I wouldn't mind going out with her, I guess... yeah.

Mikuo flashed Yuki a million-watt grin before nodding in agreement, "He's right, see. Boys are animals at this age, Yuki. You must be careful." I didn't miss the glance he gave me, and it ticked me off. "Very... careful." Straightening himself, he closed his eyes and nodded, "In any case, it seems the only girl who's on his mind is Rin-san."

What... did he just say?

Yuki crinkled her forehead, "Rin?" She turned to me, appearing a bit sad, "Is she your girlfriend?"

I blinked.

Rin... my girlfriend?

I tried to picture it. Holding hands with her, eating together, walking to school or gym together, studying together...

Whispering in her ear, comforting her...

Kissing her... holding her...

OH SHIT-wait, we've actually already done those things.

Why am I just realizing this now?

I internally sighed, and I furrowed my face in deep thought. Leaning forward, I sighed. Rin made me overthink things, even now. Right now, I wasn't even sure where we stood. If anything, we can't be friends after everything we've been through... after all we've done.

I... may... sorta-ish... like her.

We were behind by three points. The night sky was illuminated by the bright stadium lights, along with the audience cheering our long time rivals on. Ted, beside, sweated up a storm. His usual laid-back nature was swallowed by his determination and fire as he yelled out orders at the forwards, sprinting to keep up with the rival player who had the ball.

I was behind him by three feet, panting.

"You can do it, Len! You can do it!" Rin's cheering came from above the stands, surprising me as she shouted even louder than the others. She shot me one of her rare, soft smiles. "I believe in you!"

Is she my girlfriend? I mean, we've done those things couples do, but we've never really talked about DATING and all that. I-I mean, she's cute and sweet and even though she freaks me out sometimes- wait. I'm in a wheelchair because of this girl, but lately my heart's been hurting worse 'cause of her!

I sighed, throwing my hands up in the air.

Rin... Rin doesn't even think of me like that! She called me her friend, you know! Back then she thinks we're still friends so there's no way we can be-! Hang on a moment, Len. Rin... she's just a little clueless about things, you know. I shouldn't let this get to me, and I mean it's no use worrying over-

OH NO WAIT PIKO.

She's going out with that...! Woman-stealer!

UTATANE PIKO.

But then again, she doesn't even understand how he feels about her, so it's all good-

"Mikuo-nii...?" Yuki's slightly scared whisper broke my train of thoughts, "Why's he flailing around like that? Is he dying?" I turned into stone. Oh crap. I forgot those two were still standing there. Then Mikuo laughed.

My face burst into flames.

The more I chase after Rin, the more distance between us, it seems. I groaned, my back hitting my wheelchair as I ruffled my hair, muttering complaints. If only I could run, then I could find you. I could have pledged my emotions to you in a deeper sense, to force you to understand what I meant to say.

Darn it, Rin... what are you doing to me?!

I hate this... no matter what I do, I just can't stop thinking about her.

Frickin' Jesus. It's the hormones... yup. It's gotta be.

Our relationship = it's complicated.

"He's thinking about Rin-san: his twin sister." Hatsune corrected, patting the girl's head, "She is a nice girl, just like Miku-chan... around our age. She's also quite pretty, other than the fact that she eats quite a lot."

Yuki rose a brow, "Just like Miku-nee? But...!" She pouted, crossing her arms, "No way! Miku-nee is the best! No one is just as pretty or cool as Miku-nee because she's the best cousin in the world! I wanna be just like her when I grow up!" She shuffled a bit, "'Sides, the only other girls in Miku-onee's grade wear too much make up and are mean. Believe me, I've met them."

Hatsune laughed good-naturedly, "Now, now. Let's not make assumptions. You might come to like her."

"Nooo! I don't wanna meet her!" Yuki puffed out her cheeks indignantly, stomping her feet, "She sounds weird!" Yuki then turned to me, rushing forward and grabbing my hands with a hopeful gaze, startling me. "Hey, Onii-san? If you don't belong to Miku-nee, then can I be your girlfriend?"

My heart just exploded from my chest.

Wait, she said what?

My jaw dropped, "R-Really?"

"Yup! Even though you sorta look like a girl," Those words pierced my chest, causing me intense pain to my pride. My smile trembled, but I willed myself not to cry. Not now. "I think you're cool and funny! Therefore, you must become my husband!" She gave me a very serious look, "I promise to make you happy."

I laughed nervously, breaking into a sweat as I realized Hatsune was watching us with amusement. Dammit, look at him smiling. No, no. That smile is positively ominous, and it's the pretext to my doom.

He wasn't planning on telling Miku or Rin, was he?

Evil bastard.

Come to think of it... isn't Rin somewhat interested in this b-

Realizing Yuki was still waiting for my answer, I gulped, "A-Ah, um... m-maybe when you grow up, okay?" For a moment, she looked a little disappointed before brightening again.

"Hm~! Okay, Len-nii. The wedding can wait until I become a fourth-grader! Besides," Yuki giggled, her cheeks pinking, "I want Ryuto to come back first!"

Ryuto...?

Huh, must be a school friend.

"Ah, Yuki. I think your mother's over there." Mikuo noted while pointing out a woman idling near the exit doors, looking worried. "Let me escort you to her." Yuki agreed and handed me back my notebook. She started skipping ahead of him, but not before waving furiously at me.

"Bye, Len-nii! I'll see you again!"

Sheepishly, I waved back before rubbing the back of my neck.

So, we'll meet again, huh?

When will that be?

Hatsune gathered his checklist and books, turning to me, "According to the list, your group is downstairs. The seminars have already begun, so please hurry." I nodded, my thoughts now recollecting as I stared at the guy in front of me.

If Hatsune is supposed to be dead, then am I talking to a zombie?

Moreover...

"Who are you really?" I said the question out loud, not really giving it much thought about how it might've sounded. Hatsune glanced up from his clipboard. I narrowed my eyes at him, remembering what Dell said about him. "How do you know Rin? Are you like..." I wasn't sure how to put this, but I continued, "What are you trying to accomplish?"

For a moment, all Hatsune did was stand there, looking at me. I tried to see past his calm face, and it frustrated me to not know what he was thinking. His face suddenly broke into a cheery smile.

"I'm afraid I don't know what you're trying to ask me, Kagamine-kun." He told me, shrugging slightly, "In any case, I'm sure you know me as 'Hatsune Mikuo', the younger brother of Hatsune Miku. I'm just your classmate and supposed philosopher who enjoys simple things. To Rin-san, I suppose we're confidants." He then looked overhead at the chandeliers, our reflections hovering over us. "And my goals are just like anyone else's."

"But everyone has different goals." I answered, crossing my arms.

"A fair answer." Hatsune chuckled, glancing at me amusedly, "But I'm curious as to why you look at me with such suspicion in your eyes, Kagamine-kun. You always treat me so cautiously. Have I done something wrong?"

My eyes narrowed even further, "... Not that I know of." I cautiously wheeled back, and I continued staring at his strange grin. That was Hatsune for you. Always smiling but no one knows what he's really thinking. I've never met someone like him before, so I guess that's why we don't really get along. I just didn't know what to make of him. I just... didn't know how to deal with him.

"I suppose I should be relieved." he cheerfully answered.

I snorted, "Well, that's good, considering you're not dead."

Hatsune stopped smiling.

I blinked, realizing what I just said.

Augh... crap.

"You're right about that," Hatsune drawled, approaching me. Gulping, I tried to scoot back, but he swiftly grabbed my wheels and reeled me in. I found myself face to face with his now intense stare, "It's nice being alive, isn't it." He clenched my wheels even tighter, staring straight into my soul, "I was in an accident not too long ago, but I lost a lot more than you."

"What's... that?" I asked uncomfortably, trying to get my space back. Way too close. He's way too close.

Hatsune kept smiling, slowly reeling away, "My happiness." He drew away even further, his eyes dimming, "Well. I've wondered what's the point of living if you can't be happy. People chase after it until the very end, and then they'll wonder if they've truly obtained it..." I furrowed my eyebrows, not really getting it. Seeing my confusion, he sighed, "My apologies. Do you understand why I'm saying this?"

Well, I know what he's saying, but... in actuality...

I shook my head, "You're confusing me."

Hatsune lowered his eyes, his shoulders sagging a little. "You have my apologies; my mind tends to wander." He then smiled at me again, "Thank you for being honest. I'd hate to see that trait go to waste, and it's a lot more assuring than seeing you acting as though you understood me." He fixed his tie, his smile easing, "In fact, I'd probably hate you for that."

I rose a brow, "Hate me?"

Like you don't already?

Hatsune closed his eyes and nodded, "It's just that there's nothing worse than to lick each other's wounds so much that you think you really understand each other, when you really don't." I stayed quiet, not knowing what to say. "Well, it seems I've wasted your time, so I apologize again. Please excuse me." He started to leave.

"Wait. You never did answer my question." I held up my hand to stop him. To my relief, he actually paused. "What are you trying to accomplish?" Not even looking at me, Hatsune reached into his pocket and pulled a long, dangling chain with a jewel at the end. I squinted and realized it was a gold necklace. He rose it to the window, allowing the sun to capture the jewel. The jewel appeared to glow.

"The owner of this necklace used to be really beautiful and kind, even to me," He answered slowly, gripping it tightly, "You could say I'm trying to fulfill her dying wish."

Oh... I wonder what that is.

"Don't run into Ms. Haku on the way. You might get in trouble for slacking." Hatsune said as he started walking away, "Oh, and I wouldn't take the elevator if I were you." He calmly enunciated as though I wouldn't understand him the first time.

Affronted, I stared after him, not sure why he was telling a cripple not to take the elevator. How else am I supposed to get downstairs? Using the stairs?

So he makes fun of cripples now?

Punk.

After all these days of not seeing him, I'd hope he'd be less of a jerk. Shaking my head, I went on my way towards the elevator. Surprisingly, the area around it looked strangely isolated and dark.


"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!"

BOOM!

My stuff flew everywhere.

This is the worst day ever.

"Agh! Shit..." I gritted out, my fingers clenching around the netting as if it were my lifeline. I looked down below, panting as I realized what could've happened if I'd fallen the entire drop. I couldn't move, and here I was, trapped in this net like a fish. My wheelchair lay a few feet away, bouncing freely against the cords.

The lights above me flickered like dying fireflies.

As it turns out, the most of the area was completely was empty, and most of the lights that guided me through the hallways were strangely dimmed. By the time I reached the elevator, it struck me as odd that the lights didn't flash on once the doors opened, as a result, I couldn't see anything within that barely lit corridor. Still, I stepped inside.

Also, the elevator doesn't work.

And here I am, laying flat on my face twenty feet underground and trapped inside the elevator shaft.

I'd gotten a few scrapes and a near heart attack from the pit drop, otherwise, I was fine. My heart was still beating like crazy, but at least I hadn't died. If it weren't for this net, I'd probably end up like one of those missing people on television.

Apparently, there's just not enough life-threatening situations for me...

"Great, now how am I supposed to get out of here?" I mumbled angrily, mostly to myself. My head kept spinning, and the wheels on my chair kept turning. Strangely enough, I wasn't panicking as much as I would've, given the situation, but I felt incredibly frustrated. My shoe had fallen off, and angrily, I grabbed it and flung it down the shaft, surprised to hear a loud chomp.

Dust rose from below, along with a loud ripping noise and heavy sigh.

"I'd like to see you digesting leather. It's a pain." A raspy voice croaked from below, causing me to immediately look down. My hands raised in defensive fists, and I heard a hollow chuckle. I blinked, somehow this voice sounded familiar. "Waking me up by throwing a shoe at me. As expected of your gentlemanly charms, you dirty mongrel."

I peered through netting cautiously, bracing myself when the dust finally cleared. The sight that greeted me threw me off-guard, and I gaped, totally not expecting this.

The face was recognizable, I could make that much out, but I had to blink several times to make sure what I was seeing was real. I don't think I was hallucinating. Jade eyes pierced through the darkness, staring at up me somewhat sternly. In the dim light, I could make out a small body resting against the a pentagon-shaped cage. I still couldn't see him well enough, but I didn't have to actually see him to realize who I was talking to.

"You're... Gacha...poid?" I finally uttered, eyes wide. I recalled the stern kindergartner who rescued me from that time. His stern stare was a little more than discomforting, and anyway, how could I forget those critical eyes? If I recall, he's also Rin's 'servant' or whatever... and he is a detached part from her brain... or something.

But the big question is, what is he doing trapped in a cage inside an elevator shaft?

Jade eyes narrowed suspiciously before widening at the sight of me, "Wait... it's you!" Watching me writhe in the netting, he scoffed, "What ill-timing. You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?" He gestured towards the wheelchair dangling off the netting before finally falling. It went down hard with a crash. He sighed, "Of all the people I could've reunited with, it had to be you..." The little boy croaked, his voice echoing. "You humans make my life hard."

I nervously cleared my throat, "Sorry." Wait, why am I listed in his category? Then I saw the shoe being spat out and immediately refrained myself from retorted. "I... haven't seen you in a while. I-I've been meaning to talk to you more, but I never got the chance." I finally said, my eyes fixating on his small form, "Why are you down there?"

Gachapoid remained silent.

"Hey, are you listening?"

"You want to talk about mistress Rin, I presume?" Was his sudden and calm reply.

My eyebrows furrowed, "How did you...?" I shook my head, not wanting to get distracted, "This isn't really the time-"

"Just speak your mind. Worry about that later."

Water dripped from the pipes above.

I paused, seeing if he had anything else to add. He only looked at me and waited. I averted my eyes, "Rin gets hurt easily, just like you said before. She's stubborn, childish, and she's always talking down on herself...," I then looked up, "But she's really kindhearted and willing to help people they need her... even it if means giving up her own desires."

"All fatal flaws of a girl such as herself." Gachapoid deadpanned, his eyes glowing through the bars of the cage. I blinked in surprise. I wasn't expecting to hear this.

"You think so...?"

"Unchecked selflessness grows to naiveté, and her fear of hurting others often leads to hurting herself instead." Gachapoid stood on his feet, croaking strangely, "Furthermore, the more she restricts her frustrations, the more likely she'll come to a destructive breakdown." His eyes bore deep into mine, "Have you ever wondered what it's like knowing your hands are stained with blood while attempting to adjust to a normal life?"

I stared at him, unable to reply.

"The more she tries to ignore her past, the worse her future will become." Gachapoid said, "Her fa-... no, Leon will never let her go. The pride of ambition will never loosen its grasp on her." A heavy sigh escaped from him, "Speaking of which, how has she been?" The question alone was enough to make me wince. I couldn't answer.

When I finally could, my voice sounded weak, much to my own anger.

"Not that great..."

For a moment, Gachapoid was silent.

"I see..." he finally said before dropping his gaze, "I felt a shift in her mind at one point, but I was hoping she hadn't resorted to VOCALOID mode," His eyes dropped on my wheelchair, "but I was right after all."

"She didn't mean to hurt anyone! That girl! Lily! It was all her fault!" I shouted right before he could make any conclusions. Realizing how angry I sounded, I tried to calm down, "I-If it's anyone's fault, it's hers."

"Lily, you say?" His voice sounded as dry as leaves, "Oh, right. Rin's stepsister..."

"Some sister she is! Putting other people's lives in danger just so she can kill Rin! She called Rin a monster!" I shouted, standing on my elbows. Scoffing, I add, "She's the worse case of brutal. I can't even walk now because of that Looney." Hearing no reply, I took that as a sign to continue, "In any case, it's great that I found you. If we hurry, we can find a way to get out of here..." I smiled down at the android, "Any ideas?"

A loud rustling sounded from below, and I was left in anticipation before he finally decided to answer, "... Say you were in a dangerous situation. If you had a choice between doing what's right and doing what you want, what would you choose?"

Huh?

"Uh-"

"Just answer."

I furrowed my eyebrows.

I wasn't exactly sure what was going on, but I finally decided to think. Between what I want and what's right. Hm. I tried thinking harder.

Ah! I got it.

"Well, I'd want to do the right thing. So it's both." I answered, staring down at him. The net bounced, making my entire body sway. "If running away is the second option, it's technically the wrong choice, isn't it? No one really wants to run away from their problems, it's just that they're so scared that their body just reacts that way."

The android sighed, "An interesting answer," he sharpened his claws (wait, claws?) against the bars, "Then it's a shame Mistress Rin constantly mixes those choices up." He stared up at me, "Unluckily for us." His footsteps echoed. "Tell me, Kagamine Len, do you treasure the life you have? Do you consider your family and friends precious?"

I blinked, "W-Well... yeah. Sure, I do." I thought back to Kaito, Mom, and Dell. Akaito and Ted, who were my best buds, and even my neighbors, classmates, and teachers. I was glad I got to know them. It would be a shame if I died here and never got to see them again... maybe we should hurry up and try getting out of here.

"Do you truly mean that?" he quickly asked.

"Of course I do. It's not like I can lie about that." I stiffly replied, somewhat affronted that he kept asking rhetorical questions.

"Good." Gachapoid sounded blatant, and much to serious for my liking, "Then you wouldn't try risking your life or anyone else's in order to change someone else's, would you?" He quickly continued, not allowing me to interject, "Because if you do, then you will end up losing everything." His jade eyes narrowed into slits, "In a dangerous situation such as that, what do you think the right choice is?"

"The right... choice?" I dumbly repeated.

"Knowing you, you'd try helping that person as best as you could. In Rin's case, you've done enough... but for what reason?" He asked, "Do you really want to make her life happy like yours? Or are you just helping her achieve a happy life so she can be grateful to you?"

My eyes shot open.

Inhaling sharply, I clenched the rope, "Are you saying... what I'm doing is out of my own selfish desires and not for Rin?!"

Gachapoid simply sighed, "That's not what I meant, but just because you persist on doing what's right doesn't mean you're doing it for the right reasons. In the long run, you're not guaranteed a happy ending." Another loud crunch resounded, making me flinch. It sounded like he was eating something. "In fact, some humans are so sure of what they're doing that they become obstinate. The more they become like that, they'll become averted from happiness."

I clenched the webbing, "What should I do then? She saved my life before! I just want to repay her..., and Dell's the one who entrusted me to her!"

"Don't confuse gratitude with responsibility." He called between loud munching, "And-" Crunch. "If you confide under a roof and are well-fed, why would give it all up to be someone's benefactor on whim?" A loud crunch resounded throughout the corridor, "I'd never allow that to happen. I'll shred your face to ribbons first. I'm the one who's entitled to that right, not yours, and especially not Dell's."

Dell?

I remembered that time when I'd been thrown off the Ferris wheel at the amusement park. Only Rin had saved me then, along with those other people there...

I gritted my teeth, "I don't like hearing that from someone who's been missing for a month! I swore I would be there for her forever!"

A low snarl came from below, "You did what...?"

"I swore I would protect her and be there for her forever!" I repeated even more impatiently this time, glaring at him, "That's what I intend to do."

"If you strive to give her everything she wants in order to alleviate your own guilt, then don't." The boy sharply raised his voice, scraping his claws into the dirt, "It's not like she ever asked you to protect her in the first place. At times like these, what is it that you humans say...? Ah, I remember now." He then tilted his head at me at a weird angle, pupils enlarging, "You shouldn't make promises you can't keep."

I reared back, angry.

This guy... just who does he think he is?

"In case you're wondering, I actually do keep promises!" I shouted back at him. Gachapoid didn't look at all affected by my indignant face, brushing off my retort.

"Aside from that, you're in that state because of love, aren't you?"

I blinked. Then my eyes widened, and my face burst into flames, "L... LOVE?""

Gachapoid scraped his boots against the floor, and it was starting to bother me, "From what I've speculated after all this time, you have feelings for miss Rin." He replied nonchalantly, looking at his now sharpened claws. This made me even more embarrassed. How can he even talk like that so calmly?! "The reason why you're determined to create a better future for Mistress Rin is because you love her, correct?"

My face went red.

Why... Why does everyone keeping bothering me about her?!

Don't they have better things to think about, for crying out loud!

"L... LOVE?! W-What do you know about me?! Why does everyone keep assuming I do things for Rin because I love her?!" I immediately shouted, denying all the images of her face in my head. Blushing and gritting my teeth, I leaned over and glared, "IT'S NOT LIKE THAT! I just... I just care about her, okay? I don't think I could live with myself if I just stand by and watch her get hurt. I just want her to be happy."

Gachapoid sardonically rolled his eyes, "...I see."

"No, you don't!" I argued, clearly seeing past his words. Did he think I was that stupid? "I hate seeing her depressed, so I thought if I could at least try being there for her and telling her she's not just a killer, then she would at least... value herself more." I raised my head and continued in a determined voice, "She just doesn't understand how amazing she is." Gachapoid remained silent. "T-That's why... that's why I need you to come back with me!" Leaning in, I tried to meet his eyes, "The one she really needs right now isn't me." I sourly admitted, closing my eyes, "I've always kept saying to myself that I would be the one to protect her, but I don't even know how!"

A silence.

"But you... you're the only one who can live up to that role! You're a part of her, so who better than you can help her right now?" I forcefully asked, not particularly liking how he immediately looked away, "You know how to protect her, don't you? Right now, you're the only one who knows everything about her! But you ran away-" He immediately opened his mouth to protest, "DON'T LIE!" I shouted, rattling the ropes, "You weren't there when she needed you!" I told him, "So-"

SHRICKKK!

Gachapoid ended my sentence with by scratching his claws against the wall, and a screeching noise erupted.

"You think your words can change what I've had to live through?!" Gachapoid's hysterical outburst stunned me into silence. Raspy and unsteady breathing followed after, sounding muffled in the suffocating room. "You're so naïve... so blissfully ignorant, and yet," I heard the robot swallow, "Despite your ignorance, it shields you from everything and keeps you drunk on happiness. You and your kind live off that luxurious belief that the world revolves around you."

Sweat formed at the base of my head, "Wh-What are you saying?"

"You have no ability to save mistress Rin. Protecting someone's life with your own isn't something just anyone can do! Stop taking her so lightly!" Gacha snarled, so unlike his adult-like demeanor, then a strange calm took over his tone, "Just stay as you are, Kagamine. Remain as you always were, and don't interfere anymore. It doesn't matter how you feel about her, just stay out of it. No more." His breathing came in deep, harsh gasps.

I sat up, staring through the shadows.

"Then... you're telling me I should give up?" I asked in a disbelieving tone. I shook my head, trying to convince myself I heard wrong.

"If you really want to do something for Mistress Rin...," the boy murmured, sending me a haunting stare, "then you should experience what I've experienced first." He gestured by displaying himself fully, making my eyes widen in disbelief and horror. I reared back purely out of instinct.

His body...

It looked much worse than I could ever imagine.

The lights glared down at him, revealing what he'd been hiding the whole time we talked. He glared at up me, his arms wide as if receiving something. I shakily stepped back, gasping at his scales and spines.

His mouth was full of jagged, razor-sharp teeth, devouring my shoe, along with other junk he'd been given. He munched casually, gesturing to himself.

"Burn this into your eyes."

He looked more like a monster than a boy. Emerald scales, caked with scars, aboded his arms, legs, and upper torso. Blood stained his clothes. His posture was oddly bent, and he appeared to stagger whenever he tried to walk. I could see his entire spine protruding obscenely from his neck down to a new, mean-looking tail; the appendages looked like jagged knives, about the size of dinner plates. His face and body, they looked so dry and scaly. Speaking of which, his face was marred with bite marks, and chunks of flesh were missing from his body, stitched with chunks of shaped metal.

Most of all, what shocked me were his eyes; they looked so cold and used to witnessing tragedies.

Fear enveloped me. My hands went clammy, and my throat went dry. I couldn't speak, and for the first few moments, I couldn't even move. I just sat there, staring him down as if he were some extinct animal. I felt my entire legs prickle just looking at him. This sight, it was beyond creepy. I... I just didn't know... what happened?!

I hesitated before answering, "I... you're..." I swallowed my words.

The dino-like boy scoffed bitterly, curling his tail, "You can't, can you? You're unwilling to give up some humanity out of a little pity, correct?" Something... was terribly off about this boy. The last time I met him, he seemed less resilent. Now, he appeared even more hostile than before. "Your current paralysis is nothing compared to what I've gone for her. You were lucky."

"What... happened to you?" I finally asked, my eyes reveling in this horrible sight. He looked too young for these changes. It was disturbing, seeing this transformation.

Gachapoid sighed, "In my previous life, I was once like SF-A2 Miki, that girl who attacked you and your friends during your time at the amusement park," He stared up at me, shocking me even further, "I was a Crypton failure." He spun around, revealing the similar imprint Rin had on her back. "I ran away last month so I could locate Rin's grandfather, Masaki Takashi. See, he was once Leon's sponsor, and he has an incredible amount of information about the whereabouts of Leon, along with his plans. So, I sought him out." He turned around again, sighing once more, "But he was in league with a two-faced bastard. They turned me in, and Leon then scheduled me to undergo surgery, Crypton style."

"S-Surgery?"

Gachapoid nodded, swallowing the remains of a radio, "As you can see, I've been 'upgraded'. I now look like a mutated dinosaur." He laughed hollowly, his strange voice echoing, "Isn't it ironic? Years before I met Rin, I wanted to become a dinosaur so I could gnash Crypton Media Future to bits... and I got what I asked for."

I uncomfortably bit the inside of my cheek, "But it's the way you wanted it to be, is it?"

The little boy shook his head, growling somewhat, "In any case, there's no chance that miss Rin wishes to see me like this. She wouldn't recognize me." He lowered his gaze, digging his claw into his arm, digging into the flesh, much to my horror. "I hate this body... it's painful, and my legs feel like horrible blocks of tissue and sore muscle. My skin feels so dry... it's worse when it gets flaky."

My hands shook.

Stop... stop...

A hollow chuckle escaped Gachapoid as he gazed at his claws, bringing them to his face, his smile darkening, "I don't think I could bear it if she looked at me with eyes like yours. She'd deny me, and she'd tell me to stay away. She'd scream and run at the first sign of me." He brought his arms to his chest, trembling, "I can't blame her. Look at me. I'm disgusting... so, there's just no possible way for me to see her again." A heavy, shuddering sigh escaped from the little android as he slumped against the bars of his cage, "It'd be fine for me to just rot here. I'd prefer that than frightening her like this. I'm not the Gacha she knew me as..." He lifted his head, his lips breaking into a painful smile, "I've changed."

Disbelieving, I stared down at him, "Is that all that's holding you back? You're worried about your appearance?!" Gachapoid didn't flinch. "That's ridiculous!" I shouted angrily, clenching the ropes even tighter. "Do you even know what you're saying?!"

"Rin doesn't need me..." Gachapoid sourly replied with a sigh, "She never has. All I've done is scold her, berate her, stress her about the little things. I make a bad nanny." He drew his claws across the wall, adding another scratch to the wall, "I even failed to stop Leon, so now I'm imprisoned here in this... wretched form!"

CLAANG!

The cage echoed with vibration from Gachapoid's tiny fists slamming into the bars. He drew back, clenching his teeth.

"I can't even do my job correctly, for Miriam's sake! Why was I born into a tiny, insulting form in order to look after Rin?! It's a mockery! Why did Miriam create me like this?! If she wanted me to properly protect her from Crypton's influence, then she should've known better than to give me a form of a child! No less another form of a goddamn tennis ball!" He screamed, digging his claws into the wall until blood appeared. He kept screaming, swallowed by self-hatred and rage. His cries echoed through the shaft, painfully echoing in my ears. "I'M NOT EVEN BIG ENOUGH TO HOLD HER IN MY ARMS! THIS BODY... MYSELF, INCLUDED! I'VE BEEN EATEN ALIVE BECAUSE OF MY OWN FAILURES!" When he finally stopped, his breathing came in harsh gasps. Sweat poured down his face, dripping into his scars and bruises.

I watched in horror, not realizing I've been holding my breath until he turned on me with wild eyes.

Gachapoid clutched his shoulder, panting and glaring. He looked like a beast out of hell, gritting his teeth and growling in an animal-like manner. His muscles pricked, and an aversive look etched into his face. He grabbed onto the bars of the cage, reaching for me.

"Don't tell me to go back... WHEN I LOOK LIKE THIS!" He shrieked at me, his sanity crumbling. "YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND! IF I GO BACK THEY'LL SWALLOW ME WHOLE! THEY'LL WOLF DOWN MY SKIN AND GNASH MY BONES! YOU WOULDN'T UNDERSTAND HOW PAINFUL IT WAS! MY FACE! MY BODY! THEY TOOK EVERYTHING FROM ME!" His palms clenched around the bars, violently rattling the cage, "I HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO GO BACK TO! RIN NEVER EVEN LOVED ME! SHE LOVED YOU! YOU! A PATHETIC EXCUSE OF A HUMAN WHO STICKS HIS NOSE INTO OTHER'S AFFAIRS OUT OF HIS OWN DAMNED CUROSITY! I GAVE HER EVERYTHING AND LOOK WHERE IT LANDED ME! I'M EVEN WORSE OF A MONSTER THAN SHE IS!" He tilted at his at a horrible angle, baring his sharp teeth, "Even now, looking at you makes me want to rip you to pieces... and consume you whole." A demented grimace took over his face, and he looked possessed, shaking, "Do you still want me to come with you, Kagamine?" He laughed hollowly, his eyes burning into mine: those tortured eyes. "Even now, do you still want to risk everything you have to protect Rin? You understand now, don't you? What really happens when you decide to truly protect someone..." A hollow laugh echoed throughout the corridor, echoing in my ears, "You'll lose everything."

I could only stare at him helplessly, words stuck in my throat.

The little android... he'd been tortured and beaten for Rin's sake... and here I am, lucky I even got away with a few scratches. This android, this boy... had been reduced to a monstrous... thing. Tears leaked out of his eyes, and he trembled violently as he looked up at me. My eyes widened.

For the first time ever, Gachapoid actually sounded like a kid.

"But I regret nothing." Gachapoid tearfully smiled, which shocked me even further. I've never seen him smile, let alone to me, "I won't ever change... I live for the sake of my mistress. The pain I went through for her... is nothing compared to seeing her suffer."

"You..." I managed.

"But now, look how's she's grown. Already she's rebelling against my advice again and falling in love..." He leaned his head against the bars, smiling tiredly, "Where have those times gone... when she would listen to me? ask me about everything? stuff her face as if there was no tomorrow?" Sitting on the floor, he glanced overhead and coughed, sighing, "M... my job ends here. I especially don't wish to see Rin... after my disgracing defeat."

What...

"All that's left for me is to die... in this place." Gachapoid peacefully smiled, cocking his head back. "No one... needs me anymore."

"HEY! Gachapoid! You're Rin's servant, aren't you?" I shouted angrily, clenching the ropes, "ARE YOUR FEELINGS FOR RIN THAT WEAK?" Confused, Gachapoid glanced up at me, somewhat startled. "Lots of crap happened to us! To everyone! But are you just going to give up and waste all your efforts?! Is this what you really want? Is this what Rin would want?!"

Gachapoid stared at me, disbelieving.

"Don't say that no one needs you, Gachapoid! Rin needs you! I need you! Dell and those NND guys need you!" I shouted heatedly, fists clenching, "Our home needs you, even if they don't realize what's going on! So..." I pleaded, my face contorting into desperation, "Snap out of it!"

Gachapoid shook, curling his knees closer to his chest, "But... I-" his voice sounded strangely tiny, vulnerable even. He swallowed thickly, "Mistress Rin won't recognize me. No one will acknowledge everything I've done... who I am..." He looked down, trembling even harder, "She won't want me by her side like this..."

"That's wrong!" I answered immediately, shaking my head, "She's not like that! You're just afraid, aren't you?" I pressed gently; I frowned at his shrinking frame. "I'm sure the one she needs right beside her is you. You're not unworthy or anything if that's what you're thinking... I mean, going through all of that just for Rin! It's amazing!" I exclaimed, feeling a bit envious myself, "I hate to say this... but you've beaten me by a landslide. You're cool, Gachapoid."

Gachapoid blinked, his claws shuddering, and he looked up at me.

"You... truly mean that?" he asked, his voice sounded small. "Even as I am now?"

My lips trembled into a smile, "Of course."

The rope suddenly snapped, and gravity suddenly grabbed me. With a yell, I tumbled down, grabbing to whatever cords I had left. The fall was hard but nowhere near as bad as it could've been. If it weren't for the soft ground and me hanging onto the rope remnants, I seriously would've broken something. Still, the pain came at me full force.

"AGH!"

Gachapoid's eyes widened, and he crawled towards my aching body.

"A-Are you hurt?"

"Ow, ow ow. N-Not really..." I grimaced painfully, standing on my elbows. My back said otherwise. Dirt caked my face, and I sneezed. Ow. I'm gonna feel this tomorrow morning. I then glanced up at him, seeing him up front... I realized something. "You know, you actually don't look that scary." I gripped the bars of his cage, causing him to tense, and I looked at him directly in the eye. He tried to look away, but I only kept coming closer.

I think I prefer the chastising know-it-all butler than this sad little boy.

Carefully, Gachapoid raised his head, his eyebrows furrowed.

"... This is the first time," he whispered, hesitantly edging closer, "Someone other than miss Rin looked me with undaunted eyes... from behind my cage." My eyes grew wide, then my lips quirked into a small smile.

"Cages don't suit you, y'know." I answered, reaching out for his scaly hand, "Come out. You don't need to stay here in this dark place anymore."

The reptilian boy stared at me through the bars, disbelievingly retreating into the shadows.

"H... How can this be?" he managed, fear swimming in his eyes, "You're human! You're supposed to be selfish! Rational! You're supposed to look out only for yourself! That's only the way humans have ever acted! Because of them, we all got hurt! Because of them, we-!" My face hardened, and I reached for him again. "N-NO! Get away-!" Tears broke his voice.

In a flash, I pulled both of his arms forward, looking him straight in the eye.

I saw everything: the pain, the sadness, and the torture in his marred face. His wrists were surprisingly small, and I couldn't help feeling my heart wrench as he gritted his teeth, shame bubbling in his eyes. He hated being seen like this, weak and exposed. He didn't like how my eyes took in every disfigured part of his body.

"Rin is really lucky..." I looked up with my eyes burning in envy and awe, "to have a friend like you."

Gachapoid blinked slowly, eyes widening as he looked down, "F... Friend..." he echoed the words as if it were sacred. He looked nostalgic, breathing, "Friend..." He kept repeating to himself, trying to absorb the word. I exhaled sharply, my hands slowly tightening around his wrists but not enough to cut off his circulation. A sharp exhale escaped from him. His eyes suddenly shot open, and he shook, which looked unnatural. His face went white.

I stared at him, confused, "W-What's wrong?"

"M-My sensors... t-they're running wild." He hissed painfully, clutching his chest, but he still managed to talk, "Mistress Rin is nearby. She's running at large."

My eyes went wide.

Rin...?

My face hovered near his, making sure he wasn't lying. I'd pound his face in first.

He better not be...

I haven't seen her in weeks, and it hurts. It really hurts... not seeing her.

Dammit, I miss her.

"You want to see her, don't you?" I suddenly spoke, surprised by the longing in my soft voice. I wasn't sure if I was really asking Gachapoid, but I already knew my own answer, so I turned to him and met his blinking eyes. Without another moment, I reached my hand out to his. "Let's go and see her. Together." I told him solemnly, "Let's go home." Gachapoid blinked. "You're coming with me," I told him firmly, taking his hand in mine, "Whether you like it or not."

In an instant, Gachapoid reared back and yanked his arms out of my grasp, causing me to blink, "You're acting awfully familiar with me, touching me so casually." He stood up and brushed off his starchy overalls, his resolve returning. He frowned seriously at me, "Next time, refrain yourself."

"Er...?" I twitched, confused by this recovery. I didn't have time to properly react when Gachapoid suddenly bared his teeth and claws, snarling fiercely. I froze.

W-HUH?!

SHRICCK!

The iron bars sliced open, falling in shambles. Gachapoid's fangs closed around the final bar, snapping it like a pencil, no... it was more like crunching bones. My mouth hung open, and I looked up from my uncomfortable position, trying to get up as he stepped out.

"The main reason why I'm marred like this...," he sighed, straightening his crumpled tie, "is because I was teething then, so I couldn't even defend myself from those bratty failures." He seemed a little taller as he yanked my chair upright and assisted me into it none too gently. He picked up an iron pipe and crushed it between his razor-sharp teeth, gnashing it to bits nosily. He swallowed, his throat momentarily bulging. "I'll go for their throats the next time I see them."

Curious as to what he was staring at, I followed his gaze and gasped.

Why hadn't I realized it sooner?

This elevator shaft... it was completely empty. We were inside a pit the entire time.

"RRAAWAR!" Unsheathing his claws, Gachapoid launched himself and began to climb. He jumped from wall to wall, climbing in rapid progression. His boots barely slipped against the stone, and with a rapturous roar, he jumped onto the net and tore everything up. He bit wherever he saw fit, tearing the mesh into shreds. I watched from below, breathing heavily as I watched him mold the netting into a long, dangling rope held together by complicated knots.

He landed next to me with a loud thump, not hesitating to secure my wheelchair by rope. He made sure not to constrict me too tightly after securing me to the wheelchair. After making sure everything was sturdy, he climbed back up the shaft. Once he reached the platform, he made sure to pull me up.

It took a while, and I hadn't exercised in a while, but once I finally made it to the top, I threw my arms up in relief.

"Thank God!" I collapsed against the back of my chair, sighing, "I was starting to think I'd be stuck there forever." I didn't have time to relax when Gachapoid whisked me away, but not before forcing the doors shut with his claws. I yelped, squirming in my chair as he practically speeded me down the aisle. I was still tied up, for crying out loud!

"H-Hey! You mind slowing down?! I'm in a wheelchair for a reason!" I shouted, my hands clenching around my armrests.

"I apologize, but there's no time to waste." Gachapoid simply replied, jerking left and causing me to nearly slam against my side, "We must find miss Rin. Besides, considering you survived rounds of her electrocution, I'd say you have a surprisingly high tolerance for pain, don't you think?" The lights flashed before my eyes, and an overwhelming dizziness overcame me. I clenched my teeth.

"W-Whatever." I groaned, holding onto my head.

The headaches weren't over after all.

We speeded down the corridor, where people jumped out of our way and gawked at us in surprise. Some of them pointed at us, clutching their ruffled clothes and belongings. Gachapoid's footsteps thundered as we wheeled down the flight of stairs, and I clutched my heart as if it were about to burst. I heard loud shouting and cheering coming from outside, so I craned my head to see what was going on through the windows.

"Mistress Rin... she'll be arriving... here!" Gachapoid gasped, immediately turning in the said direction, causing me to clench the armrests even tighter.

"YAGH!"

We crashed through the rotating doors and right outside where a crowd of my classmates could be seen a few yards away. They were shouting and jumping, it looked like, and some of them were holding up cameras.

"CHICK FIGHT!"
"HOLY SHIT NOW THIS IS WHAT I CALL ACTION!"

I rose my brow, squinting through the snow. Gachapoid tensed behind me.

"No good. Mistress is somewhere beyond this crowd, but I don't wish to get caught up in the massive crowd. What is going on over there, for Miriam's sake?" His frustration matched mine, and I tried to look for a clearing; there wasn't any. I spotted an elevated incline, one that overlooked everything in the courtyard. I quickly pointed it out.

"Hey, let's go up there. Maybe we can see what's going on."

Not wasting another moment, Gachapoid wheeled up there. Grabbing the banisters, I leaned in and looked below. I did a double take and rubbed my eyes, wondering if I was seeing things.

"HRAAAAAGH!"

Meiko shouted as they both ran towards each other. With a violent thrust, the sword went flying out of Miku's hands, and Meiko attempted to pummel her. Her hits ended up striking the floor, desks, or Miku's blocking arms. The agent moved like a panther across the pavement, avoiding most of Meiko's wrathful blows.

THWACK! THWACK THWACK!

"You two-faced brat!" Meiko successfully knocked her down after charging, earning a short cry from the junior.

My mouth fell open.

You've got to be kidding me!

"MIKU! MEIKO-NEE!" I screamed but to no avail. Our play cast was too noisy.

"UGH...!" I nearly gasped when Miku staggered, and for a moment, I thought it was over. Suddenly, Miku shot up and harshly brought her fists up, connecting with Meiko-nee's jaw as a double uppercut. A loud grunt escaped from my childhood friend and babysitter, allowing to Miku follow up with a series of punches. With a violent grunt, Meiko-nee was finally knocked back. She immediately held up her arms to block out her blows. Their sneakers grated against the floor as they fought.

"Both of you! CUT THAT OUT!" I screamed with all my might, gripping and shaking the banister in attempt to grab their attention. It didn't work. Even though a few people looked up at me in surprise, those girls didn't hear me and kept throwing fists. Sweating frantically, I turned to Gachapoid, "Hey, come on! Do something!"

Gachapoid blinked at me, startled, "M-Me?"

Miku's rapturous shout reverberated, following up with heavy blows. I snapped my attention back to them, horrified to witness what was happening. Their swords had clattered to the ground, and they were now beating each other up ruthlessly. They were snarling, biting, clawing, and pulling each other's hair. Miku grappled Meiko by the collar, striking her multiple times across the face. Rearing back, the brunette's hands closed around Miku's jacket and lurched forward.

"Yes!" I shouted at Gachapoid, my face contorting into desperation, "They're not only my friends, but Rin's! How do you think she'll feel if she sees them fighting like this?"

Gachapoid flinched, looking extremely hesitant.

"HA! YOU HIT LIKE A GIRL, HATSUNE!"

"STUPID MEIKO! THAT'S 'CAUSE I AM A GIRL! WHAT'S YOUR EXUCSE!?"

Pained grunts elicited from both girls as their heads butted from Meiko's attack. Swearing, Miku clutched her head and glared nastily at Meiko as she staggered back. Meiko hissed through clenched teeth, shoulders hunched and body racking with heaving gasps. Her knees shook under her weight, and a large cut formed on her forehead.

"What's wrong, Meiko?" Miku snapped relentlessly, panting. She brought up her fists defiantly, "Had enough?" Meiko scowled darkly, popping her knuckles. She wiped the blood from her mouth, looking at Miku like she'd become a murderer. Charging towards her with a cry, Meiko yanked Miku forward and forced her into falling with her, shooting her legs up and connecting with Miku's gut.

"MIKU! MEIKO-NEE!" I screamed, horrified. Ignoring Gachapoid, I flung myself over the banisters, shrieking their names. Idiots! Why are they doing this? They looked like they really wanted to kill each other.

Everyone screamed as Miku went flying backwards. Her back met the concrete, and she hit her head, earning disgusted shudders.

Why? Why does everyone have to keep fighting each other like this? Aren't we in the same boat? the same side?

I lowered my head, unable to watch much longer. Hearing them curse and beat each other like this, what was it they were trying to prove? Again, why do they have to fight like this?! We should be on the same side!

What about us?!

My fists clenched at my sides as I trembled, losing my thoughts to the endless noise. How long was this going to keep going on? Seeing my friends keep fighting each other, seeing everyone get hurt... how long am I supposed to keep watching all of this while being so weak?

The clamor, spewing insults, and heavy hits suffocated my ears. All at once, painful memories resurfaced.

And what about the rest of us?

Kaito, Dell, Mom, Professor Kamui, Kaiko, Megurine, Kasane, the NND... all of them... their faces.

What about what we want?!

"That's it...!" I muttered angrily, clenching my fists and raising my head. All at once, I forced myself up from my chair and leaned over the banister, shouting at the top of my lungs. "YOU BOTH SUCK!"

Gachapoid's eyes widened, "Kagamine..."

"JUST SAYING WHATEVER YOU WANT AND DOING WHATEVER YOU WANT! DO YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT WE WANT?! STOP DECIDING THINGS ON YOUR OWN!"

They still couldn't hear me.

Frustrated, I slammed my fists against the fencing around me, cursing.

"Shit!"

"Meiko! MEIKO! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?!" Kaito's voice reverberated throughout the crowd. Surprised, I looked up and saw him rushing into the circle, pushing people past alongside his friends. He looked incredibly mad. Kasane and Megurine were right behind him.

"Meiko-senpai!"

"Meiko!"

"STAY OUT OF THIS!" Meiko-nee snapped, shoving past our friends and charging and Miku again. She launched herself at her with a furious shriek. Miku, panting, stayed on her feet and knocked her aside. "URGHH!" Meiko-nee stumbled, clutching her lower abdomen and cursing. She hissed in pain while glaring at Miku. "I'll definitely stop you..." she spat, wiping the blood from her brow. "EVEN IF IT MEANS BREAKING EVERY BONE IN YOUR BODY!"

"Ms. Haku! MS. HAKU OVER HERE!"

"You're just a violent delinquent!" Miku shrieked.

"It's better than what you are! You're a backstabbing coward because you only think about yourself!" Meiko-nee shrieked, slamming a boot into her stomach and rearing forward, "Hurting others and playing as the victim! You always do this! Acting like this because you can't have what you want, isn't that right?!"

Kaito's shouting did no good to anyone's ears, as the people kept pushing each other to get a closer look. Megurine and Kasane remained huddled in the sidelines, watching Meiko-nee in terror.

"I'm doing what's best for Rin! I am not the traitor you think I am, Meiko!" Grabbing Meiko-nee by the arm, Miku threw her over her shoulder, who landed on the ground harshly. Miku hovered over her, preparing to deliver the final blow. "It's not what you think! I WOULD NEVER SEND ANYONE TO THEIR DEATH!"

"GET... OFF ME!" Meiko-nee practically sent her flying, causing her to stumble a few steps. Her face was beet red as she panted nosily, shaking in her steps. "You never liked Rin. You liar. Liar liar LIAR!" She kicked snow in her face, "If you're doing it because you hate her then say it!" She pushed her backwards again, "SAY IT!"

I froze.

H-Hate Rin?

Miku... hates Rin?

I mean, I knew that they never got along, but...

What's going on?

A breeze shook me, and I instinctively turned to see what caused it. My jaw dropped as I witnessed Gachapoid leap down from the flight of stairs and land right between Miku and Meiko-nee, effectively stopping their blows by grabbing onto their offending wrists, swiftly taking them down hard.

"KYAAA!"

"URRF!"

They now lay in the snowy grass, the wind knocked out of them. Dazed and too shocked to move, they remained laying there. A hush befell everyone as Gachapoid slowly straightened himself, revealing his face.

"W-Whoaa..."

"Who's that?'

"Is that... a dinosaur? wait! it's a boy?!"

Whispers audibly pierced the air, making everyone take several steps back. The little android simply stood there, sighing at this feedback. He looked down at Meiko-nee and Miku, who were still shocked by his sudden interference.

"W...Who are you?" Miku asked, on her hands and knees as she openly gaped at him. Her eyes bulged at his scales and spines, "No. What are you?"

Gachapoid unsheathed his claws, staring down at them, "If what Kagamine said is true, then you humans are awfully bad influences to be Mistress's friends." he stated in a cold voice, his claws gleaming in the sunlight, "Anyone who harms Mistress Rin will find out what pain really is."

Wait, no! That's not what he's supposed to say-!?

Rapid footsteps crunched against the snow, along with soft panting.

"E...everyone..."

A soft voice reverberated throughout the air. My eyes widened as I witnessed someone approach from the opposite gates. Megurine, Kaito, and Kasane all looked up, their faces becoming shocked. A sharp exhale escaped from Gachapoid as he turned in a direction, his entire form going rigid. The crowd immediately parted, growing silent.

I gasped, craning my neck, "Rin..."

Her head was down as she staggered forward, swallowing air. Rin approached the clearing, her clothes damp with snow and her entire form shivering from the cold. She trembled, her eyes meeting everyone else's. She looked incredibly confused and sad. She looked at everyone one by one until her eyes finally dropped on Meiko's and Miku's trembling forms.

Her eyes grew big. She finally gazed at Gachapoid, who had froze on the spot. Her facial expression resembled confusion, and she cautiously moved forward. Gazing down at the little boy, she scrunched her nose thoughtfully. The cuffs binding her hands had rubbed her raw, and her skin was left red.

Rin...

My heart skipped a beat, and I clutched my throbbing chest. She looked like she'd been running for ages, and her face and skin looked incredibly red from the cold. There she walked in her glory, in that strange hospital gown Kaiko-nee makes her wear.

A relieved smile broke out on my face. It hurt my face, but I could really care less. I inhaled sharply, feeling my knees grow weak at the sight of her, which was funny considering my current state.

Finally... I finally get to see her...

My smile widened as I watched her stare at Gachapoid with that soft, curious expression.

I missed that look...

My hand reached out towards her, and I realize just how much I missed holding her-

"Are you..." Her lips parted, and she hesitated, stepping closer, "Gachapoid?" The said boy warily met her eyes, and he looked like he wanted to say something until realizing his own appearance. Shamefully, he averted his eyes and tried to hide his claws from her sight. He didn't answer. Breathing steadily, she neared him, "A... Are you Gacha?" Her voice sounded so small, so hopeful. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. He flinched. "You're really him, aren't you?" She whispered, reaching out for him.

"Stay back." His croaky voice broke the silence, and he immediately moved away, not looking at her, "You'll..." he trembled before taking another deep breath, "get dirty if you touch me."

Rin stared at him, surprised by these words.

"W-What's going on...?" Someone asked from the crowd. Ms. Haku, along with several other students finally arrived, stopping once they saw Rin. If I didn't know any better, I'd say Ms. Haku was staring at them with pure disbelief.

Rin's face crumpled into tears, much to my horror. Her shoulders began to shake, and she started to sniffle.

"Rin-" I started hurriedly, my arms moving the wheels in a flurry. I was about to call her again until-

"Gacha! GACHAA!" With a cry resembling a baby lion's, she closed the space between them and flung her arms around the scaly little boy, sinking to her knees and burying her head into his shoulder. She broke down in sobs, clutching his clothes and constantly feeling him as if he would disappear any moment. Her eyes, wide with bubbling tears, trembled with uncontained mirth and relief.

Gachapoid stood there, frozen in disbelief, "Mis...tress..."

"I WANTED TO SEE YOU!" She bawled, her voice breaking as she clutched him closer. The spines on his back appeared to dig into her arms, but it didn't look like she cared. If the situation weren't so serious, the sight would've looked strange. An older girl, bawling like a baby, holding onto a precocious child less than half her size. Her hands clenched around his matted clothes, and she squeezed the life out of him.

Gachapoid let out a breathless cry, whether it was from the bone-crushing hug or her words, I didn't know. But anyone could see his disbelief slowly turning into tearful elation. His arms trembled as he slowly returned her hug, but his eyes appeared out of focus. He didn't look at her, and it looked like he was trying to grasp the situation, convincing himself this wasn't a dream.

"Gacha, I'm sorry!" Rin sobbed, closing her eyes, "After all this time I've d-done nothing but h-h-hurt you... I know I did. I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." The rest of her words were barely coherent. "...d-done so much for me... selfish... m-me!" A fresh batch of tears appeared in her guilty-ridden eyes, and her entire body went slack from constant crying. She clung to him like a little girl.

Gachapoid couldn't answer, and he simply held her. He just held her silently. He looked very stony, but he still wouldn't say anything. Miku and Meiko-nee slowly got to their feet, bewildered as they watched this reunion. No one else said anything.

"W-Why...?" Rin gasped, shakily withdrawing so she could see his face. Staring at his supposed mistress, Gachapoid finally sighed regrettably.

"Please compose yourself, Mistress Rin. We are in public, after all-" Rin suddenly grabbed him and pushed her head against his chest, shaking. He gasped, slightly winded from the impact.

"Why didn't you tell where you went?!" Her voice broke, and she lowered her head even further, "I-I searched everywhere for you!"

"Did you?" Gachapoid sounded surprised before his expression softened, "You're infantile as ever, mistress." he said softly, "It wasn't in my best interests to be found by you... especially like this." He gestured to himself with another sigh. Rin sniffled, raising her head to meet his eyes. He finally smiled though he looked insecure, "I wanted to stop your father... the company, but... I failed you." He then lowered his head, whispering in shame, "Forgive me for appearing to you as I am."

Rin looked surprised, and tears bubbled out of her eyes.

It pains me to see her like this. I smiled bitterly, slowly raising myself off the banister. Even though I'm happy for that android, I couldn't help my negative feelings surfacing to life. It seems every time I see her, she's always crying.

A wave of understanding overwhelmed Rin. A small smile appeared as she laughed, her hand trembling as she cupped his cheek.

"Gachapoid looks different, but he's still so kind and chastising." she hiccuped, her smile broadening. A tear ran down her cheek, which Gachapoid brushed away. A pang of envy hit me. I tried to ignore it and watched on. "You really did those things for me? Really?" she smiled when he didn't answer, and she hugged him again, "I'm sorry, Gacha. I didn't know... to think I've been so unkind to you, and yet you protected me with the best intentions."

"No one can call you a failure for that." Rin answered with a huge smile. It was like seeing the sun clear up a rainy day. "You really are my dearest friend..." she managed, looking so happy that she started crying again, and she pulled him into a fierce embrace. Gachapoid appeared shell-shocked and speechless. "I don't deserve a friend such as you." Her hands shook and managed in a whispering voice, "I love you very much."

Gachapoid's eyes went wide with disbelief. Those words were magic. In an instant, all sorrow and regret melted away from his little face. His pain disappeared, and he suddenly looked healthier than ever. His face went red. His lips trembled, and tears trickled down his face. It was as if he'd been waiting a long time to hear those words from Rin. His composed mask fell away. Letting go of all his dignity, he promptly threw his arms around Rin's neck and squeezed her.

"I..." he managed, gulping soundly, "I... love you, too."

"Rin...! KAGAMINE RIN I SWEAR YOU WON'T-!" The NND came bursting in, looking determined with their nets ready. They suddenly stopped upon seeing Gachapoid, shocked to move, especially Iroha. Professor Kamui shortly followed after.

Iroha's eyes watered, "R-Ryuto...?"

Megurine gasped when she saw our professor, her hands flying up to her mouth. Kasane looked away from this sight. Miku shakily got to her feet and looked incredibly uncomfortable by this entire ordeal.

"Well, it looks like everyone's here." Someone casually stated from behind me, causing me to turn around in surprise. It was Hatsune. Smilingly, he glanced at me, "Shouldn't you join them?"

I stared, "You... when did you get here?"

"Such trivialities shouldn't concern you." Hatsune laughed before rolling me down the platform despite my protests. Didn't the scene mean anything to him? It wasn't my time to barge in, besides. T-This wasn't my ideal way to suddenly join in when someone else is having a moment! For crying out loud, I'm really alienated right now!

"H-Hey, wait a s-!" All eyes fell on me, and the crowd parted for me and Hatsune to pass. I stiffened, trying my best not to look at anyone as I was forced through by a humming Hatsune. He appeared unfazed by all this attention, even when the NND and Miku shot him disbelieving looks. Finally we came to the clearing where Rin and Gachapoid were. As if sensing my presence, Rin glanced up.

Our eyes met.

Rin's smile collapsed.

Something sharp pierced my heart as I looked at Rin, swallowing the lump in my throat. My face grew a thousand degrees redder, and my muscles started prickling. My arms turned into jello. My throat closed up, and my cheeks were burning as if I'd been in an oven. My heart started racing.

"Len?"

Oh god, her voice. The way she said my name-! It sounded so... the way she said it just sent a hundreds of arrows through my heart. Jesus... Jesus!

Feeling my face burn, I embarrassingly turned away. I swallowed. Oh, c'mon, Len. I've been through soccer matches that required more energy and motivation to get through, and I've had to glare my way past rival members, but for some annoying reason, I just couldn't even look this one girl in the eye!

What happened to my manly confidence?

WHERE IS IT?!

Inhaling sharply, I dared to look back and was instantly with her flushed face and big blue eyes.

I almost drowned in those eyes-WAH?

"R..." I clenched my teeth, forcing myself to speak, "Rin..." Despite my pounding heart, I finally made eye contact. She looked me over, her eyes widening as she took in my form. Horror crossed her features as she slowly stood.

"Everyone! Back to practice. Seminars are officially over!" Ms. Haku announced, smiling as if nothing weird had happened. Everyone turned to her, surprised. "I mean it. There's nothing left to see. Please move along." She ushered the students in the building, who reluctantly headed inside, rubbing their heads in total confusion.

"Weird, man..."

"Did you get what was going on?"

"Why did she show up like that anyway? In cuffs?"

Kaito, Kasane, and Megurine still stood in their places, staring at us hesitantly. The NND hurried them in another direction, but not before shooting Gachapoid a pensive stare, which he nodded as reply. Iroha quickly knelt beside Rin, taking away her handcuffs without a word. Professor Gakupo took Megurine gently by the arm, which she started protesting against, and he gently reassured her. Biting her lower lip, she glanced at me questioningly.

I sighed, starting for the doors until Mikuo grabbed me by the chair.

"You have five minutes." he simply told me before gesturing to Rin and Gachapoid. He smiled at Gachapoid, only to receive a murderous snap of his teeth. Chortling, he left. Miku, gasping, attempted to rush after him.

"Wa-! MIKUO!" She shouted, only to be stopped by Ms. Haku.

"Ah, Hatsune-san. You're not going anywhere right now..." Despite her gentle voice, anyone could tell how angry she was. With her other hand, she grabbed Meiko-nee by the collar. "We may not be on school grounds, but that doesn't mean the rules are any different around here. Our actions reflect what Seija character is..." Her fists clenched around them in vice-like grips, and her smile looked positively eerie. "Understand?"

My friends shuddered at this sight, but Miku still attempted to speak.

"But Ms. Haku, you don't understand." she gasped breathlessly, "I-I need to talk to Mi-!"

"Friendly little chats can wait in the meantime, don't you think?" Ms. Haku, unfazed, started to pull them along, "Let's have some coffee and talk about what happened today." Meiko glanced over her shoulder, smiling a little at Rin before reluctantly trudging off. "Kagamines?" the white-haired woman called over her shoulder, making us perk to attention. She smiled. "Make that ten minutes." With that, they left.

It occurred to me that the only ones left were Rin and Gachapoid. Shakily, Rin approached me before hesitating and immediately retreating. I stared at her, confused and somewhat rejected. I tried not to let it bother me as I cleared my throat.

"Why are you here, Rin?"

"L... Len..." She finally managed between sniffles, gazing up at me with the saddest eyes I've ever seen. She looked so tragic, in fact, that I swore I felt my heart crack at this display. I died a little on the inside. "I'm sorry!" She blubbered, her hands clenching around her chest, as if the pain was too much to bear, "But because of me... you can't even walk! I-I..." she lowered her head, "I shouldn't even be here..." For a moment, she reached out for me again before immediately retracting her hand.

I shook my head at this reaction, frowning even more, "Why are you always putting yourself down? It was my choice to approach you, and none of this," I gestured to my wheelchair, "is your fault."

Rin's expression became even sadder, "You don't need to say such kind things anymore, Len. I already know how much I hurt everyone." She lifted her eyes, tilting her head at me, "But even despite that... Len cried for me." My eyes went wide. She actually remembered that? She looked at her hands, holding them close to her chest, "Your hands felt so warm."

"Rin..."

"Why did you protect me? Why did you come after me?" Rin asked in a surprisingly calm voice, and she looked at me sadly. She clenched the hem of her dress, "Telling me I'm not a monster, that my life should be happier, reaching out to me even though it was painful... but not only that," Sniffles broke her voice, "You cared for me, tried to understand me, and telling me that I wasn't alone anymore... and trying to stop Lily. A-And even promising me that," Her eyes searched mine as if dying to know the answer, "you would always be with me forever and protect me."

My fists slowly unclenched, and I let out a breath I didn't know I was even holding.

Rin tilted her head at me, terribly confused, "Why have you done all those things for me after all this time? I cannot compre-" Without even meaning to, I lurched forward, startling both Rin and myself as I grabbed both her hands. Her hands... they felt so cold but soft. I brought them to my lips, inhaling her citric scent. Finally, I turned them over and kissed her palms, breathing against her fingers.

Gachapoid scoffed a little, turning to Rin, "Does that answer your question?" Rin blinked, startled and confused. She looked down at me before glancing at Gachapoid again.

"...No."

I frowned, tightening my hold on her. "Really, Rin?" I tugged a little at her hands, finally getting her attention. I brought her hands directly to my heart, intertwining our fingers, "You still don't get it? You still don't know what my heart was trying to tell you?"

Rin immediately looked guilty, "But I-"

In an instant, I pulled her into my arms, forcing her head against my chest. Surprised, Rin's first reaction was to leap away, but I held her still.

"Len... you're shaking." Rin stated softly, surprised, and she leaned even further into my chest, "Your..." she hesitated before speaking, "Your heart is beating so fast..." Confused, she gazed up at me, her eyes widening even further. She cupped my face with both hands. "Your face is red... why?"

I gritted my teeth.

Why, she asks. Why, why, why?! Doesn't she know already?! Hasn't she figured it out by now?!

"Don't you know the answer?!" My voice sounded so angry, and without even realizing it, I grabbed Rin's shoulders. I glared into her eyes, "It's so obvious to everyone else, but you still haven't-?" A sharp sound erupted from the back of Gachapoid's throat, and he stood by, staring me down. I immediately clamped my mouth shut, shaking my head at myself. Getting mad at Rin wouldn't do any good... patience... patience, Len.

I took a deep breath, "Rin..."

Rin blinked. "L-Len?"

I looked at her dead in the eye, "What am I to you?" Rin froze up, and she lowered her gaze while biting her lower lip. She looked worried. A red flush painted across her cheeks as she started clenching the hem of my coat, nuzzling her face into my lap.

Embarrassed, I cleared my throat, "H-Hey, what's with that reaction?"

"Of course, Len is very important to me..." she replied into my lap, cringing as she looked at me again, frowning. She hesitantly sighed, "But if I say Len is my friend, then I feel as though Len will get angry again, and you might distance yourself from me again." I cringed at the memory when she'd confronted me about me avoiding her. I wish she hadn't brought that up. Tilting her head at me, she whispered, "If you don't want to be my friend, then why have you done all those kind things for me... ?"

Why...?

"I love you very much."

I sighed, closing my eyes. I wished I'd been the one she'd said those words to. I glanced over at Gachapoid, feeling a little envious despite myself. Lucky guy.

"Because," I started, staring directly into her eyes, surprising her. A pretty blush spread across her face as she drew back. I frowned at this and grabbed her arms, forcing her to look into my eyes. She inhaled sharply, trembling like a frightening rabbit. I smiled sourly, leaning closer. So close, in fact, that our lips nearly touched. "you're the reason why I want to become strong. You just don't know how much you've done for me."

"B-But I've done nothing!" Rin protested, clasping my hands in hers, "Why would you want to protect someone who brings you nothing but pain?"

"I don't mind if it's you." I firmly answered, smiling a little. She widened her eyes in surprise at this. I don't care what happens to me, really. She'd probably cry if I told her that, but it's true. The reason why I kept chasing after Rin is because I just can't afford to see her leave. I shook my head with a sigh. I stared into her melancholy face. I yearned that she'd be able to smile again.

Remembering her smile... it just made me realize how much I've always wanted to protect someone like her.

Ever since I was a kid.

"I... I..." Rin managed, clinging onto me, and she shook her head.

"You sure like to worry, don't you, Rin?" I muttered, our fingers intertwining. I somehow found the courage to meet her gaze again. "I guess it's only a Rin thing to do."

Rin opened her mouth to say something.

"Mistress..." Gachapoid drawled, not caring that he interrupted our moment. He glanced at her with a slight frown, but that didn't mean he was displeased. "It's not cordial to interrupt someone when they are speaking."

Look who's talking.

Mentally rolling my eyes, I did my best not to laugh at the irony.

"Look here." I emphasized by hugging her, sighing into her shoulder. I started playing with her hair. It's been so long since I've touched her like this. It felt so good... so right. The way her body fit perfectly around my arms, it just felt like I was born to just hold her like this. She felt so warm. I breathed into the crook of her neck, causing her to shiver. My heart jolted at the sight. "I could give you a bunch of reasons why I want to protect you, but the thing is," I swallowed nervously, "I don't need any of them. I want to protect Rin... just because."

"Len..."

"I'm sorry for not living up to that promise like I should have. I'm so, so sorry." I whispered, holding her even closer. "Were you lonely, Rin?" There was a silence. She seemed to freeze up, and I panicked. "Rin? Are you okay?" In reply, she clutched onto my jacket, sniffling against my chest. She curled even closer to me, trying to contain her crying. I grew even more worried.

Suddenly, all at once, she flung her arms around me in a fierce embrace, trembling like a rabbit. My wheelchair flew backwards, and I was forced to put on the brakes so we wouldn't keep moving. Once I opened my eyes, a forest of blonde hair nearly choked me to death.

I couldn't breathe. Who cares?

Rin already leaves me breathless.

Rin hiccuped, drawing back and longingly staring into my eyes. Fresh tears poured down her cheeks as she cupped both sides of my face, sniffling even more. She hiccuped. Her emotions were overwhelming her again that she couldn't even speak. She wailed, using her fists to wipe her eyes. My eyes momentarily widened before softening, and I wrapped my arms around her, pulling her close. She crawled into my lap, her knees on either sides of my thighs. (Hm... this probably isn't good for rehab, but who cares. I can't feel anything.)

"I'm right here, Rin." I grumbled without even meaning to, shushing her gently, "Hm? Just say whatever you want to say. I'll listen."

Rin sobbed, hugging me again, "I... cling to you! Bother you!"

Frowning, I rubbed the back of my head embarrassedly, "Don't decide those things on your own."

I like your attention...

She sniffed, "I injured... K-Kaito... and the others."

"They'll be fine." I told her whilst rolling my eyes. I mean, did you see Kaito and Meiko-nee running around earlier? Jeez.

"M-Miku... despises me." I hesitated. Well, it's been pretty awkward to be in the same room as her lately, considering that she's been a spy and that she tried to kill Rin more than once. Hm.

"She... has problems." Was all I could come up with.

"Len avoided me! Hurt me!" She managed between deep gasps, "... we can't be friends?" I cringed as if she'd slapped me. Agh. Not this again.

I sighed, awkwardly rubbing her back, "I-I didn't mean it. I'm sorry..." I hesitated before sighing again, "Dell and professor Gakupo wanted you to become more independent, so I was told to distance myself from you."

Gachapoid appeared to tense, muttering under his breath, "Not like that, fools..."

Rin hiccupped, holding onto me like a teddy bear, "C-Childish, eats too much..., not cute." My eyes went wide. Wait wait. Is she talking about herself?

"Cute is an understatement of the year!" I shouted and reeled back, glaring at her with all that I had, "You're more than cute, Rin! I like watching you eat because it means you have a healthy appetite! You don't need to hear the obvious, but fine! You're so pretty that I can't believe you're even real!" I leaned in so close that our foreheads almost touched, frowning, "If you won't believe me, then I'll say it to you until you accept it!" I took a deep breath, "You're beautiful, and you're the prettiest girl I've ever met. Your eyes and hair and nose..." Without even meaning to, I kissed her on the nose, reveling her surprised gasp as I pulled away. "Who cares if you're childish? I like you that way."

Rin hesitated, and she stared at me in shock. Her fingers slowly touched the spot where I kissed her. Then her eyes watered again.

"Len..."

"You okay, Rin?" I immediately asked before I could stop myself. Dumb question, Len. Of course a girl can't be alright if she's crying in your arms! Stupid. I am so stupid. I gritted my teeth, restraining myself from bashing my head against the ground. Instead, I tried again, nudging her a little. "What else do you want to say? You can tell me anything."

If anything, Rin cried even harder, clinging to me with all her might.

Shit. That sounded a lot better in my head. What am I, her best girl friend?

"O-Okay, um, do you want to go inside? You're freezing." I tried nudging her again, stroking her hair. I attempted to smile, but it didn't feel right seeing her look so devastated. "Er... wanna watch Sailor Moon?"

Why am I so bad at cheering people up?

I was at my wit's end. I tried getting her to talk, but nothing seemed to be working. Finally, I turned to Gachapoid as a last resort, but he only stood there as if everything was normal.

"I missed you." Rin whispered against the shell of my ear, making my spine tingle, and she had somehow managed to wrap her arms around my neck when I wasn't looking. She looked into my eyes again, sniffling. "I missed you so much."

Time stopped for me, just like the first time we met. That night Kaito carried you home in that storm was the beginning of our story.

She... wanted to see me that badly?

I glanced at the top of her shiny head, and my eyes narrowed as I brought her further into my arms to the point where our bodies melded together. I kissed her nose again, then her hands, and finally...

Rin was caught off-guard by my sudden assault as I took hold of her wrists, gently pulling her in. The snow continued falling around us, and the wind whispered its gentle condolences. I looked into her eyes, my hands slowly sliding to her back. My muscles jumped as she tilted her head, breathing softly. I swallowed, the wind barely cooled my face.

"R-Rin...?" I asked, stroking my thumb across her lips. She blinked in realization before smiling, unaware of the effect it had on me: my mind went numb.

"Len..." She closed her eyes, nodding very slightly.

Gradually, I closed my eyes and leaned into her, and she followed suit. All I could hear was the sound of my heart, and somehow, knowing that she was okay with this... I felt so relaxed. My lips met hers. They were even more tender than I remembered, softer than petals and sweet as honey. Kissing her had never felt this good, the way she moved against me made my heartbeat increase tenfold. Her lashes brushed my cheek, and her warm hands gently pulled at my locks.

I couldn't help myself. My arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her further in, and she threaded her hands into my hair, loosening my ponytail and causing my hair to become loose. She trembled, and I only held her closer.

The wind breathed right where we were, and the snow didn't seem that cold anymore.

At that moment, I knew.

Rin... this is all your fault.

I'm going crazy because of you. You're probably going to get me killed, but who cares. I don't. We parted all too soon due to loss of oxygen. For once, I actually cursed oxygen. I breathed against her lips, staring pensively into her eyes. Again, she blinked at me, tilting her head.

"Don't ever... hide your pain like that again." I told her very seriously, my hands tightening around her shoulders. "If you ever feel like crying, then you can tell me what's wrong- really." I emphasized before she could utter another word. "Do that or I'll punish you."

She squirmed, causing a certain... area below my jugular to tighten. I inhaled sharply, my blood turning into liquid fire.

"By... kissing me?" She asked curiously, shyly meeting my eyes as she touched my lips again. My face burned a thousand degrees hotter, and my lips tingled from her touch. This girl... she's really going to be the death of me.

I coughed to hide my embarrassment, "UM! That wouldn't be punishing you!" I then grinned, shaking my head, "Seriously though. I'll be here for you... so just come to me whenever you feel like it." Our foreheads were touching, and she blinked in surprise as our noses bumped. "I wanna stay with you." I told her firmly, mesmerized by her big blues.

She hesitated, "Are you certain?"

I nodded firmly.

"You won't mind if I..." She bit her bottom lip, "If I spend time with you lots of time with you?"

I shook my head.

"Even if we have m-misunderstandings?"

I smiled, shaking my head.

She cowered, hiccupping, "You... really want to be with me? protect me?" A smile grew on my face as I nodded fiercely.

"More than anything. There's no way I'll ever regret this." I whispered only for her to hear. This was the feeling I started out with when Rin got hurt for the first time, and now, it's the only thing left to guide me. I'll do whatever it takes. "Seeing you happy makes me happier than anything else." Her eyes widened at what I just said, and she tore up right on the spot. I grinned nervously, "Come here, you." I grabbed her hand, holding it tightly in mine.

It was time to head back, so Rin and I started for the nearest infirmary within the concert hall. Gachapoid was about to follow the NND back to their private base, but Rin immediately prevented him from doing so, practically scolding him for attempting to leave her again. The reluctant android caved and here we were, standing outside the dressing room so Rin could... ahem, properly change.

"I will break your teeth if you don't live up to that promise." Was the first thing he said to me once Rin closed the door. I did a double take as I looked him over, my jaw unhinging as I slowly turned to face him.

"You actually have faith in me." I slowly said, stifling my smirk.

Gachapoid huffed, "Your impertinence unnerves me to no end, but..." he glared at the wall, clenching his teeth, "I won't say thank you."

I blinked.

"What do you mean?" I asked, really confused.

Gachapoid reddened before turning his back on me, "You're just a nosy human! I could've gotten out on my own without seeing you. I-In fact, you're the one who should be thanking me for getting you out of the pit! Just because you've proven your sincerity to miss Rin d-doesn't mean I have to trust you! You're just as loose-tong- no, you're even more loose-tongued than her!" He shouted, clenching his fists, "B-But now miss Rin really does expect you to make her happy so if you don't live up to her expectations then I'll...! I'll-!" He stomped his foot on me angrily, snapping his teeth at me like an alligator, "Ultimately, I expect you'll miraculously find a way to become strong enough for her." he glowered, "I can give you a worse fate than dying by Leon's hands."

By the way he was pointing his knife-like claws at me, I probably should've been scared.

Instead, I started laughing.

Out of relief.

This weird android... he actually can be a kid sometimes. Leaning over, I ruffled his hair, surprising him into silence. He appeared to be in a trance as I gently mussed up his hair, grinning at his expression.

"I got it, Gacha."

"..." Gachapoid blinked multiple times before scowling. His sharp canines immediately closed around my hand, and I froze. I didn't feel anything until realizing the blood all over my fingers. His bite was as cold as the grave, and I finally let out a yelp.

"GYAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" I wrenched my hand away from him, horrified at the throbbing pain. The wound itself wasn't so bad, but still! Gasping, I pointed a shaking, bloody finger at him, "You! You bit me!"

Gachapoid wiped his mouth, eyebrows pinched in disgust, "I warned you before. Restrain yourself from touching me; I am not from a petting zoo."

I frowned. "Then why'd you let Rin hug you?"

"Because she is my mistress, and she loves me more than you." Was his flat reply. I tensed. The 'mistress' part I get, but the last part...

"Says who?" I muttered under my breath, causing him to arch a brow.

"Did you say something?"

I shot him a fake smile, waving my hand, "Nothing at all. Just thanking you for adding to my list of injuries."

Gachapoid rolled his eyes before pushing himself off the wall, "In any case, I'll investigate Dell's recent activities. He's yet to fully comprehend Rin, along with Leon's plans." he stared at me, "I hear your school is performing a play here soon and that you're residing in living quarters somewhere in this area." It was a statement, not a question, but I still nodded. "And... are those Hatsunes here as well?"

I crinkled my forehead, "Yeah. Miku and her brother are. Why?"

Gachapoid shook his head, "They're complicated cases," his eyes suddenly narrowed, "Especially that two-faced Mikuo..."

I blinked, "What about Hatsune?"

"You and miss Rin should stay away from him." Gachapoid immediately answered, and his voice seemed to be somewhat off. He bristled as though the name were a curse. "I mean it, Kagamine. That boy isn't someone you want to cross paths with; he's dangerous." He twisted the tie around the neck apprehensively, and he gritted his teeth, "His father was once a Crypton scientist until Leon took notice of the Hatsune daughter; she's exceptionally bright and athletic, even nearing genius level." he paused, "Originally, she was to be the VOCALOID."

I gaped, "Miku was?"

Gachapoid nodded very seriously, "Seven years ago. Crypton attempted to assassinate her in a staged car accident, but it was Mikuo who died instead. They then took his body and reconstructed it with bionic implants where he ended up serving Takashi Rin." he started pacing the floor, nodding, "Yes... this is what my sources told me. According to them, Mikuo and Takashi Rin were very good friends."

"Friends..." I repeated, feeling a wave of nostalgia washing over me, and my eyes widened.

Seven... years ago?

Visions of my blond childhood friend and robots flashed before my eyes, causing me to blink.

I suddenly gasped, turning to Gachapoid, "Wait! So what Miku said and what you jus-!" My voice trailed as my arms went limp. Everything pieced together, and my eyes widened even further in realization. What Kaiko-nee said before... about another VOCALOID before Rin...

Does that mean...?

"Mikuo is the VOCALOID prototype?" I blurted aloud, the color draining from my face.

That would explain everything.

Gachaoid nodded, "Correct, but he's different than what I remember. He isn't who he used to be seven years ago." Rin's humming did little to distract us, but she reminded us that she was still just right behind the door. "As of the present, he's been working behind enemy lines, and yet...," he turned away, appearing frustrated, "His actions are often contradictory... unpredictable even. Dell, Leon, nor I... none of us know his true motives." he told me solemnly, "Regardless, he's still part of Crypton, and that cannot be overlooked."

I tried not to look nervous, "I really wish Dell would've told me these things earlier."

"But he had good reasons not to." he answered.

Good point. I chuckled tersely.

"Miku would, uh, really like to know these things."

Gachapoid immediately grimaced and folded his arms, "That girl has nothing to do with Crypton any longer, as she is no longer a necessity. However, if she keeps sticking her nose in my mistress's affairs, then she most certainly will be in danger."

Well, knowing her (the irony!) she'd probably try to stop Mikuo or Leon's plans, along with pulling the police into the affairs and endangering people even more. Not that she wouldn't have good reasons to get involved, but...

"You should know...," Gachapoid drawled before gesturing to himself, "Mikuo is mainly responsible for what happened to me." He then arched a brow at me, "It'd be a shame if something similar happened to you. Even Lily fears him."

Whoa, whoa.

Even Lily?

"I understand." I relented, embittered that I was getting used to keeping secrets like these.

"Then it's best that you keep mistress Rin happy. If she learns that we're suspecting Mikuo under heinous activity, then she will be stressed out." Gachapoid told me, penetrating my thoughts with his icy stare, "In other words, you and your friends stay away from the Hatsunes and continue your daily routines, but go the extra mile to please miss Rin." He stood right before her door, ready to turn the knob, "Do you understand the importance of the situation?"

"Of course." I swallowed, rubbing my eyes to stay focused.

Gachapoid smiled faintly, "Rest assured, Kagamine. This time, things will be much smoother." Finally, he opened the door, revealing Rin having fallen asleep on the vanity desk.

Yeah... I hope that's true.

In an instant, Rin woke up and sprang out of her velvet chair, smiling at the sight of us. She was so happy, in fact, that she picked Gacha up and swung him around like a ladle, giggling as he protested. I smiled a bit, watching the sight. She paused to look at me, her smile growing a bit as she hastily bent forward and pecked my lips quickly but softly, drawing back with a tender smile.

Stunned, I blushed.

Rin only continued swinging Gachapoid across the room, laughing again.

"ACK...! M-Mistress, put me down!"

My ideal self I dreamt of being since I was small is still far from me, but if Rin's with me, I feel like I can become stronger. I want to protect Rin and her happiness because she's my reason to never give up.


General POV

Sukone Tei ran down through the alleys of Tokyo, nearing sharp corners as she panted. She hurried, hastily looking over her shoulder as she broke into a sweat. She sounded like she was crying for breath as she stumbled down a flight of stairs. Her camera bag kept swinging behind her along. She cradled albums to her chest as if her life depended on them.

"RAGH!" Jaws snapped from above her, causing her to shriek and sprint even harder. Two monstrous robots with black armor were on her heels, leaping from wall to wall as they grabbed for her.

Tei broke into a sobbing fit as she cut corners through an old churchyard, jumping the iron gate.

Fog grew thick around her as she slowed down, panting. She'd never been the most athletic, but considering she'd been running. Something slammed into her with a horrendous shriek, causing her to be knocked over and spill her things. Photos of a blonde-haired boy scattered everywhere, and she laid across a tombstone, crying out. Hair hung over her face like a shrouded curtain as she shakily reached for a photo, only to have a shoe step onto her fingers, causing her to scream at the realization of who it was.

"Sukone-san, I found you." A low chuckle escaped from the younger Hatsune as he smiled down mirthfully. A certain smugness radiated about him as he ground his heel against the palm of her hand, causing another pained cry to escape from the girl.

"N-No... I already told you! I don't know anything!" she begged, trying to shake loose, "Please. Please let me go. I-I was just worried about L-Len-kun... I-I didn't want to see him get hurt b-because of Rin!" Mikuo looked her over slowly before his face broke into a smile, one that sent chills down Tei's spine. The snapping robots stayed in line, growling at his feet. Her red eyes widened in terror as she gulped, whimpering as she scooted back. The robots whirred at this, hissing at her feet as she found her back trapped against the tombstone.

In an instant, Mikuo ripped the bag away from her grasp, spilling tons of photos and recording tapes with interactions having to do with Kagamine and his friends, including Rin. Specifically, there were prized photos of her in her stark cybernetic mode that the media would pay good money for.

"Liars go to Hell...," he drawled, angling his neck with another low chuckle, and his eyes flared, "You know?"

Tei shrank in horror, her knees giving way as she kept shaking her head.

"N-no! T-Those aren't mine! I'M NOT LYING!" She shrieked, balling her fists and hitting the ground. Tears poured down her face as she trembled in terror, begging for her innocence. "PLEASE BELIEVE ME!" Mikuo lowered his gaze, a haze falling on his eyes as he approached, causing her to shriek even louder. The fog enclosed them as he pulled a syringe hiding within the folds of his sleeve.

"Someday visions of love, the ones you wanted to shine, will burn through everyone's eyes." He soothingly told her, crouching right above her form with a sordid smile, "You must be very... desperate... to have Kagamine Len in your arms." The wind howled all around them, and Tei swallowed, her pupils alit with terror as she whimpered like trapped prey. She shakily eyed the syringe in he held, its container bubbling with an alien, glowing substance that made her skin cold by just glancing at it.

But still...

Images of her true love flashed before her eyes, from the moment he helped her up (when they first met) to their recent, awkward encounters. Desiring him from the shadows was not enough. Worshipping every souvenir she'd obtained through dropped pencils, pieces of hair, and even gum wrappers she'd organized into a shrine in her own room... nothing... none of it was enough if she couldn't even touch him.

"Won't you reconsider my offer, Sukone-san?" Mikuo coaxed, tilting his head charmingly like a silver-tongued trader, and his eyes barely masked triumph as she eyed the syringe. "I'm only offering a small sample..., and you need power, too. This element will grant your wish, I promise you."

"Really...?"

Hatsune's smile broadened at her interest, "Of course."

Tei shuddered, eying the syringe that seemed to beckon her. A battle broke out between her mind; one part of her screamed at her not to take it, not to trust this devilish boy, but another part of her whispered to take this opportunity, filling her head with numerous fantasies she'd dreamt of fulfilling ever since she met the blonde-haired heartthrob. Unlike the other girls, she truly loved him for him. His kindness, his flaws, all of them... she was the only one who knew everything about him.

The only problem was that her crush didn't appear to notice her love for him. Her longing for him hurt so badly, and she just wanted to know what it felt like to be looked at with love. For once.

It hurts... it hurts.

If she makes this bargain, then the pain will stop, right?

This terrible heartache she suffered every time she saw him would just disappear, right?

Right?

"W... Will you promise me that I'll find my heaven in this hellish world?" The lovesick girl asked, her crimson eyes welling up with tears as she dug her fingers into the dirt, sniveling, "If I really try this time, w-will Len-kun... fall in love with me?" Snow fell into her watery lashes as she pleadingly looked up at her devil turned savior, reaching out for him. "I don't want... anything else."

"Really? What a good girl you are." Mikuo sympathetically cooed, allowing her to clutch onto his leg, "If all you wish for is to possess the one you love, break his body so he can never use it again. Make him so helpless that he won't be able to do anything without you. Do that, and this time, he really be yours and yours alone. Both his body and heart will belong to you," he calmly enunciated, twirling the needle between his fingers, "No one else's."

Tei's eyes grew wide with disbelief and hope, as if what she was hearing was too evil to be true.

Or... too good.

Her desperate thoughts came down to one whisper.

"Can I really do that? Me?"

In response, Mikuo jammed the syringe into her wrist, causing her to shriek, not out of pain but alarm. He injected its contents, causing the girl to whimper as threads of the element snaked up her arm, splashing into her bloodstream. She gasped, watching as the element consumed her body whole. Pain erupted throughout her body, and a long, painful scream pierced the air.

Tei staggered over, trembling all over as her body went immensely cold. She coughed multiple times, her eyes burning and senses reeling.

She couldn't b-breathe...

Then all at once, a relief washed over her, and an immense pleasure overrode her mind, coaxing her nerves into blissful relaxation as she shuddered, rolling her neck and groaning. Suddenly, adrenaline pumped into her system, and she found herself smiling. She shakily stood, bursting into a fit of insane giggles as she whipped out a gleaming butcher knife, cackling as she saw red.

"I'M ALIVE! LEN-KUN!" A crow flew past, and her senses immediately honed and reeled as she suddenly threw the knife in its direction. With a shriek, the bird went down with its wing completely amputated. Tei was already where it dropped as she, giggling, withdrew her knife and gazed happily at the sight of her newly stained blade.

A mist surrounded the graveyard as she covered her mouth in pure excitement, practically squirming in her shoes as she jumped up and down.

Never... never in her life had she been able to actually have power over someone, even this frail, ugly bird. It only marked the beginning of what she could truly be capable of. No one would have to use her as a footstool! NO ONE!

Her thoughts were reduced to this desire, this want...

All she could see was Len's lips.

Every night she'd cried over him, and once more, the want of him consumed the fantasies in her head.

To Tei, falling in love was no different than falling into Hell...

It was marvelous.

Mikuo's demeanor changed into indifference as Tei adoringly glanced back at him, angling her neck in such a way that would put other contortionists to shame. Long silver hair covered her face, barely hiding her unsettling, thirsty, wine-colored gaze and demented grin. Fire and lust consumed her mind, giving way to the side she's suppressed for so long. She moved in a way that twisted her entire body as if she were a rag doll, crunching her neck bones.

"Eheheheheheh...EHEHEHEHEHEH! S-SO HATSUNE-KUN..." her voice trembled with uncontained excitement as she pointed her knife at him, her eyes and grin widening at the sight of him in her newfound state. She licked her lips, trying to contain her laughter, "T-Tell me... if I let you use me like a toy... to ultimately end Crypton... then..." She gasped, her lips cracking into another insane smile, "you will reward me with Len's heart?"

Mikuo looked at her for several moments before looking up into the glowing moon (the only witness to this event). The wind grew cold, and everything around them whispered death. Here they were, in the ruins of a peaceful cemetery and creating a contract of death. A smile grew on Mikuo's face as he calmly fixated his eyes on his new pawn.

Yes.

Sukone Tei is reborn.


A/N: D*mn jesus, this took me ages to complete. I'm just glad I put out my imagination to share with you all. I love you all. So much. I know this story is three years old, but even so, P:V is a part of me that I will never give up on. It's the reason why the floodgates of my imagination is open to you. I wanted to discover beauty and organization even though I am not good at those things in real life. Even so, the story and its romantic characters... every single one of them is yours.

:D Buuuut, enough with the mushy al;kdjfa;ldjf you guys just make me cry. Thanks so much for your support and know that this story isn't over yet! The Story of Evil play is still being performed by our main characters, along with solving the disputes between friends and foes alike.

Who is this SeeU Miku contacted? Will Len be able to live up to his promise? Can Gachapoid put Dell and the NND back on track and foil Mikuo's insidious plans? Will Kaito and Meiko ever become a couple? Will Leon be stopped before February?

Most of all, isn't Teto going to man up like a macho chick and confess her undying love for Ted alre-

Oh wait, that's for the next chapter, ain't it? XD


MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! :D I will be 17 this year.

Es lebe der Geschichte!