.Stealing for Keeps.


He could steal all he wanted...

But he could never steal what he wanted.


~I wish I did, but then again, since when did wishes come true?~

05. Stealing for Keeps: Normalcy

He could hear the loud gun shots ricocheting off of the roof. He shook his head, just a bit amused. Lately, they've been taking more drastic measures to capture him, and he knew that he was supposed to be quivering in terror.

(He wasn't, by the way.)

"I really should be more cautious," he mused to himself as he raced across the tiled roof. "I mean, they've been catching me more and more often." He shrugged; he knew that even though he should do that, the adrenaline was rushing to his head. It was an uncontrollable feeling, and he wasn't exactly eager to stop it either, seeing as how once he did, he'd lose all of his nerve.

Suddenly, Nagihiko looked downwards at the massive drop in front of him, and he felt his heart plummet. He dismissed the feeling; they were old reflexes from an old fear. Nagihiko could hear the loud screams, as they yelled, "We've got him! He's stopped! There's no way he'd survive a drop like that!"

At those comments, Nagihiko merely snorted. He jumped gracefully off of the roof, letting the wind sail through and gently cushion his fall. He watched the ground race up to meet him, but he really didn't think about anything. All he could see was blackness and a deep dark green that was threatening to engulf him.

Now. Nagihiko snapped open the parachute and landed semi-gracefully on his feet, stumbling slightly. He shrugged the pack off of him, and jumped when somebody appeared from the bushes.

"Fujisaki-sama, hurry!" he turned towards the elderly maid. She gave him a small smile as he handed her the pack.

"Thank you, Tomoya-san," he said quietly as he sprinted away. She ignored him as she skillfully and hurriedly wound it up and disappeared into the foliage.

He could hear the people pursuing him with incredible speed. He raced through the pitch black forest, his air puffing out of him forcefully. He could hear the cracks and snaps of twigs and leaves as the careless people behind him tried to catch him.

Nagihiko almost froze when he heard a gun shoot off from behind. Lithely, he dodged it and let it hit an already dying tree. Nagihiko patted the tree as he sprinted past it. "Sorry," he muttered, grinning.

The grin dropped off of his face as quickly as it had appeared. Since when had smiling been so easy? Before, doing these missions made him sick to his stomach, and he had to swallow the guilt down for days, weeks, months…

He could only shake his head. It was just the rush of being away from home; it was just the feeling of being away from those watchful, cruel eyes. That was it, and it was nothing else.

He turned when he heard the snipers shooting carefully, aiming well. He felt one shot graze his ankle, and he nearly collapsed from the sudden pain that shot up his leg. He cursed, but kept running, slowing down just a little bit, but with a slight limp. He heard one of them whisper a hurried, "Yes!" in success.

Nagihiko rolled his eyes as he dashed around a tree. The limbs from the trees scratched and tore at his face, and the many gashes he got from falling a few times when he was climbing that (stupidly) massive wall weren't helping much either. A few more shots from other successful shooters managed to hit his arm, somewhere close to his leg, and his shoulder.

Nagihiko kept running, since his mother made him train for 'endurance' as well. Finally, he kept running until he skidded to a sudden stop, and surveyed the area critically. He had memorized the map before, so it had to be around here, or else he'd be screwed, and they'd serve his head on a platter to their owner. Literally. He could hear the footsteps coming closer…

Nagihiko spied a rock and ran over, crouching behind it. He felt a bit vulnerable, and he still couldn't find that cave that was 'supposedly' hidden. (He really has no sense of direction.) He crawled a bit more and pried a few rocks loose, and in a burst of pure luck, uncovered the cave.

"Oh yeah, it's hidden alright," he said, his eyebrows furrowing as he went deeper inside, hoping that the rock was big enough to hid the opening of the cave. He heard the steps come and go, snapping twigs and leaves as they went.

One person cursed loudly, angrily, and stomped on the ground in pure rage, knowing that they had lost him. Nagihiko shuddered.

Nagihiko had lost count of just how many people had passed by, but eventually, they tired, and then, he rarely heard anything besides owls, and mice, which were running for cover from said owls.

He sighed in a bout of sudden relief, the adrenaline draining away from him. He felt the pain come back with a dramatic flair, stinging and shocking him. He winced as he tried to move his ankle; it was most likely sprained. Nagihiko gave it a sour look, but before he could do anything for it, he felt his cell phone vibrate.

He snatched it up grumpily and said, "What?"

"Now, now, Nagihiko, I believe it is much more traditional to say, 'Hello', and not 'What', when you answer the phone."

Nagihiko smiled a tiny bit as he applied pressure to a cut on his arm. "Hey, Dad," he said quietly, ducking behind a rock cautiously. He could've sworn he just heard voices…

"Hey, kiddo, how are you? How's school?" his dad asked eagerly, cheerily over the phone.

"It's alright," Nagihiko said as he craned his head over the rock and squinted his eyes in the moonlight. "I've made a few new friends… they're pretty nice."

"… I recognize that tone, Nagihiko. You have a girlfriend, don't you?" his father quickly accused. If Nagihiko hadn't been crouching behind a rock during the dead of night in a random city in Hokkaido, Nagihiko would've sputtered.

"Dad… what?" Nagihiko asked, a bit incredulously.

"There are after curfew rules, aren't there? After all, with so many teenagers and their raging hormones, and then, you guys don't have adult supervision… Nagihiko, you better not be doing underage activities in your room," his father warned, but Nagihiko could hear the grin all the way from his end of the line.

"Dad," he hissed, embarrassed. Nagihiko stiffened when he heard soft, prowling footsteps nearby, and he shrunk behind the gray rocks of the dark cave.

"I'm just saying. Rushing things doesn't help one bit…" Nagihiko nodded absent-mindedly, forgetting that his father couldn't hear something like that. Close by, Nagihiko could hear gunshots and startled birds, one yelping in pain, the others screeching in fear.

"… Nagihiko. Are you playing video games?"

"… Huh?" Nagihiko said unintelligently, most likely from the unexpected question.

"Are you playing video games? I keep hearing gunshots… Are you playing that 'Call of Duty' game?"

"Er, yeah," Nagihiko agreed, making a face as he touched something unexpectedly damp.

"Hmm," his father said, "I never thought of you as the sort of 'gaming nut' kind of person…"

Nagihiko breathed a sigh of relief as those suspicious footsteps strayed away, and he started checking his cuts and bruises again. Hopefully, the gunshots would fade away soon too… "I'm not really a 'gaming nut' sort of person, Dad," Nagihiko stated wryly.

"That's what all teenagers say. That, and, "Oh, we're not doing anything bad in my room, we're just 'talking'," his father said in a high, squeaky voice.

"… I sound nothing like that."

"That's what we'd all like to believe, but man, before you hit puberty, that voice was way up there. I kept mixing you up with Nadeshiko!" he said, his father's laugh boomed from the other end.

"Wow, Dad. Way to boost your son's self-esteem level to new heights."

Nagihiko nearly staggered when he heard an ear-shattering scream, a scream so frightening and full of rage he almost had a heart attack. He was guessing that that was the owner of that mansion he just raided…

(Although, he was secretly hoping it wasn't…)

"What was that? Did you finally win your game?" his father questioned.

Nagihiko finally relaxed as the footsteps and even the gunshots completely disappeared from his mind. He smiled slightly.

"No, Dad… Sadly, the game is just beginning."

I yawned as I sat down on the cold ground, half-heartedly doing my stretches. "Why do I have gym in the morning, again?" I asked tiredly.

Amu plopped down beside me, tying her hair up into a ponytail. "So that we can 'wake up' and concentrate in class," Amu said, "But hey, at least we have Utau and Kukai in this class."

"I don't even understand why they did the schedule that way," I replied as I stopped and gave up on stretching. "I mean, having all the grades warm up together? That's so stupid… Besides that, having Kukai in this class with us…"

Amu stopped and thought about it, laughing nervously. "Oh, yeah, you were on Kukai's dodge ball team…"

I nodded sourly while I rubbed at the dark purple bruises that seemed to be everywhere on my body.

"Amu-chii! Rima-tan! Good morning!" I didn't even look up; I didn't have to. The only person with that much hyperactivity in the morning is Yaya.

"Yeah, good morning," Utau muttered as she walked up behind her.

"Yeah, it's just beautiful," I said sarcastically, "I mean, it's so much fun, waking up at five thirty in the morning, only to either run five laps around the school or play some retarded sport that does nothing to benefit our, apparently, very important 'education' we receive. Oh yeah, it's an absolutely lovely morning."

Amu scooted away from me quickly, while Yaya just gawked at me. "Somebody hates gym," Utau remarked. I swung my gaze over to her.

"You would too, if you were just pulled through a traumatizing experience with Kukai and a ton of dodge balls," I retorted.

"How could you say that, Mashiro! I thought it was fun!" I turned around and saw a frowning Kukai and a smiling Tadase.

"That's because you sense of 'fun' is twisted, cruel, and simply, stupid," I said, leaning onto my knees for support. "It's like torture for the athletically impaired."

"… Well, that's a depressing way to look at it," Kukai said, puzzled over how anybody could hate sports.

"Mashiro-san isn't much of a morning person, is she?" Tadase asked with a small chuckle.

"Rima-tan's usually the one who wakes up at noon," Yaya said as she took out a lollipop.

"Oi, Yaya, we're in gym class! You're not supposed to be eating candy," Kukai scolded, snatching the treat out of her hands.

"Kukai!" she whined as she chased after him. We all watched the even take place, but then again, it happened so often, that it wasn't even amusing anymore…

"Where's Kairi?" Amu asked aloud, and not to anybody in particular.

"Sanjou-kun said that he had a surprise…" Tadase replied as he watched the gym teacher scream at Yaya and Kukai to stop destroying the gym.

"I don't know them, I don't know them," Utau said, shading her face with her hand. "Jeez, did Kukai forget just how much property damage his family had to pay last year? Anyways, I thought Kairi was the kid that hated surprises."

"He is," Tadase said with a shrug. "But—"

"Okay!" the gym teacher, Kashino-sensei yelled loudly. "Now that Yuiki and Souma have stopped harassing each other and the other kids, we can now move on to gym."

"We weren't harassing each other."

"Kukai stole my candy!" Yaya said crossly, spouting a completely irrelevant topic out. Kashino-sensei, much to everybody's relief, ignored them.

"So today, we're going to—" he stopped as he watched somebody bang loudly on the door, and he uttered a loud sigh.

"Sanjou, were you trying to ditch class?" he asked sternly as he steered the green-haired boy inside. "And who's this?" The whole class watched intently as Kairi, usually the 'perfect' kid, was getting scolded.

Kairi disregarded the first question and said, "This is one of your students. Fujisaki Nagihiko," he said impatiently. Every single girl, besides Amu, Yaya, Utau, and I, much to the annoyance of most of the boys, gasped when the violet-haired boy stepped forward, offering a small smile.

"Well, well, the missing boy appears," I said softly. I looked at him suspiciously… The stupid florescent lighting wasn't helping my scrutinizing.

"Sorry," Fujisaki said politely, "I'm the reason Kai-Sanjou-san is late."

Kashino-sensei nodded gruffly. "Alright then, go get changed, and be quick. Just when class was going to start…"

At that, both Kairi and Fujisaki walked over into the changing room, and the coach watched them closely. "Okay— Girls, will you stop swooning at Fujisaki and Sanjou? It's so disturbing on so many levels." Kashino-sensei shuddered.

Eventually, everybody lapsed into conversation, while I just stared ahead. For some reason, I got the feeling that the real reason that Fujisaki had been gone— the reason that he had a sick relative wasn't true.

It was the weirdest hunch, and I knew I had no right to accuse him of anything, really. It was just strange, but I could see guilt etched all over his face. It was as if he'd just committed a massive crime…

However, at the same time, there was a sense of happiness on his face. As if his greatest wish had just suddenly come true, as if he was 'free', just like he said he wanted to be.

My head snapped back up when Kairi and Fujisaki walked out. I watched the purple-haired boy disappear around a corner after briefly talking to Kairi.

I got off of the floor and stood up. "Eh, Rima, where are you going?" Amu asked.

"Water fountain," I mumbled in reply as I walked over. I passed by an inquiring Kairi, which I replied with 'water fountain' again.

I marched past Kashino-sensei, who was currently arguing over the walkie-talkie and had completely forgotten about our lessons. (Which was, of course, completely okay with me.)

I turned the corner and saw him crouching over the water fountain, but then he stopped and winced as the cold water made contact with a red slash on his cheek. I froze and took it in; he was covered in bruises and scratches, and he had two dark circles underneath his eyes. He looked up at me in surprise.

"Mashiro… Er, hi?" he said uncertainly.

"What… happened?" I asked, getting straight to the point as I walked towards him. He backed away slightly, but I kept advancing.

"… Nothing, really," he said as he shifted from foot to foot, but winced slightly at his right leg. "I just… tripped… over a… rock."

"… Fujisaki, that may be the stupidest lie that I've ever heard."

"I'm not lying," he said defensively. I sighed.

"You look like you got beaten up, then whacked with a stick, and then you got insomnia," I said bluntly, looking him over critically.

"Gee, thanks for sugar-coating it."

"So you're really not going to tell anybody what happened?" I asked quietly.

He looked at me and smiled; it wasn't bitter, and it wasn't sad. To be simple, it was just understanding, and in the most twisted way possible, it was thankful. "So you really don't believe me?"

I arched an eyebrow. "Tripped on a rock? Who would believe that?"

"You'd be surprised," he said ruefully. He sat down against the wall and patted the spot beside him. "Want to sit down?"

"Next to a potential transvestite? Not really," I told him. He rolled his eyes.

"C'mon, Mashiro. Please?"

Hesitantly, I sat down beside him, and I looked at him expectantly.

"Why did you want me to sit down?"

He looked at me carefully, his violet hair framing his face, and he shrugged. "Because you're comforting."

My lips curled into a smile. "Well, that's the first time I've ever heard that. How so?"

He leaned against the concrete walls and breathed deeply. "I'm not sure… It's just, your presence… It's refreshing, I suppose. And, your insults help me get my minds off of things."

"That's me, witty little Rima, always happy to be of service," I said sarcastically. He chuckled.

He looked me over for a moment, and then frowned. "Hey, you're not exactly injury free either. What happened?"

"… Oh, are you talking about the bruises? I played dodge ball with Kukai," I said seriously. He laughed.

"And so, since I told you what happened to me, what exactly, happened to you?"

He faced me and offered a weak smile; his eyes were distant for a minute before returning back to earth. "… I can't tell you."

I crossed my arms. "You mean you don't want to tell me, or you're not allowed to."


"Is it a secret?" I whispered as I tilted my head.

"… Yeah," he said softly. "And I promised that I'd never tell anybody."

I stood up and brushed myself off while I gazed at him, never breaking eye contact. "That's too bad then, because promises are meant to be broken."

He opened his mouth to reply, but was soon cut off by a loud boom. "Mashiro, Fujisaki, stop flirting by the water fountain and come into the gym!"

I rubbed my temples as I registered the heart-broken screams of at least fifty fangirls. "Today is going to be a long day."

I tapped my pencil against my desk and stared out the window. I could feel Amu giving me a worried look from where she was, but I ignored it.

It was already my last period, and I was relieved, since I didn't pay attention to any of them. I could feel Fujisaki's burning stare from all the way in the back of the room, but I ignored that too.

Besides that, I feel like I'm forgetting something…

I wracked my brain; my thoughts were way too jumbled up. I was eager to remember, but it was highly difficult.

"Announcements," Koshiro-sensei began as the class neared its end. "Soccer and tennis tryouts will be held in the fields and gym today at four o'clock. The library is opening today right after class ends, and lastly, please refrain from going back to your dorm rooms until five o'clock, due to a few renovations. That is all; you are dismissed."

The only thing that generally registered in my mind was the word 'library'. As everybody practically dashed towards the door, I sat down and gathered my things slowly. What was the rush? As if anybody was actually going to the library.

"Rima, are you coming?" Amu asked as she paused by the door. I shook my head and offered a tiny smile.

"Sorry, I have something to do after this… I'll see you at dinner," I said. I watched Yaya, as her bottom lip trembled and her eyes welled up with tears. Luckily for me, Amu dragged her away before she could make a scene.

I stood up and brushed myself up, but as I stepped outside into the hallway, I heard a loud and sudden thump.

I squinted at the form sprawled in the hallway, with strikingly familiar purple hair.

"Shoot," he hissed, a word that was neither polite nor kind, which was strange, coming out of his mouth. I walked towards him quietly, dismissing the fact that this was rather fangirl-y stalker-ish.

He grimaced as he tried to get up, and he leaned against the wall, taking deep, soothing breaths. His eyes were closed as I leaned and whispered in his ear softly, "You sound like your going into labor."

His eyes snapped open, and he whirled his head and our faces were inches apart. "M-Mashiro?" he stammered. He struggled to get up, but when he saw my sharp glare, he stopped.

"Is it sprained?" I asked coldly, business-like. He nodded numbly. I watched his face carefully; his eyebrows were furrowed, and I felt like he was really close to sighing. "Don't berate yourself on getting caught," I said briskly. "You were definitely going to get caught at some point. I'm surprised you got through PE."

He managed a slightly impish smile. "Painkillers can only get you so far."

I looked at him incredulously. "How many did you take?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Is that a tinge of worry I hear?" he retorted back with a strained grin. "It doesn't really matter." He pushed himself off of the wall and started limping, leaning against the stark white wall for support.

"Holy— if you do it that way, it'll only get worse," I said, grabbing the back of his blazer impatiently.

"I'm fine," he protested.

"No, you're not," I insisted, "You need to go to the nurse."

His eyelids fluttered for a second, until they opened again and he kept pushing himself. "Fujisaki, I swear, stop walking or else I will kick you and make you stop walking," I threatened.

Reluctantly, he did as I said. "You're getting drowsy, aren't you?" I murmured vaguely, watching his eyelids droop. He waved his hand in denial.

"I'm fine," he grumbled.

"Liar," I grunted as I slipped his arm around my neck. "You're really light," I commented.

"Why am I hearing this from you?" he asked, a slurred chuckle coming out of his mouth.

"Shut up," I said, swatting his arm angrily. "You really act different when you're not on painkillers, you know that? By the way, how many did you take?"

"I act different? Really… How so?" he asked, rudely ignoring the second question.

I thought about it for a second as we shuffled forward unevenly. "More… Normal, I suppose. It's a lot more natural; more like how a teenage boy is supposed to act."

He laughed humorlessly. "That's strange. I'm not allowed to be like that," he said, tilting his head. His purple hair tickled her face, and she pushed it away, and it accidentally slammed into the wall.

"Oops. Hopefully those painkillers haven't fully worn off yet," I said, pursing my lips. He shrugged, swaying slightly. "A-anyways, what do you mean, 'not allowed'?"

"I took three before our last period, so it's A-Okay," he said cheerily, his eyes glazing over, once again ignoring my other question.

"You definitely took a major overdose on those pills," I spat, feeling his weight really beginning to register.

He stumbled slightly, and he gritted his teeth, most likely the feeling of pain cutting through the shadow of sleepiness.

"Hey, hey," I said, alarmed as he started to lean against me more for support. "F-Fujisaki, I can't handle this much weight. Unless you've forgotten, I'm only four foot nine," I said nervously as we continued to lean towards the floor.

"Oh, sorry…" he murmured faintly.

"C'mon, we have another hallway," I said, restraining myself from slapping him. He nodded, his head leaning against my shoulder awkwardly and uncomfortably. His eyes stayed closed for increasingly long periods of times.

"I swear, if you fall on top of me, I'm screaming 'rape'," I whispered angrily as he leaned against me. "Your fangirls are going to murder me," I said to myself under my breath.

"Yeah, well, your fanboys are going to kidnap me, throw me in a meat sack, and feed me to the wolves," he said, amusement laced into his voice.

"I'm surprised you have a sense of humor," I said coolly.

"I'm surprised that you've managed to support me for this long," he shot back automatically.

I scowled. "Touché."

As we tottered towards the door, I asked him again, "Why aren't you allowed to be normal?" My eyebrows furrowed, and he squinted his eyes, as if he was disoriented.

"Because if I act normal," he said simply, almost sounding normal again, "I'll get in trouble with her." He trembled slightly, and he was slightly paler from usual. I refrained from saying anything else.

We continued to move forward unsteadily, and I piped up suddenly. Maybe it was just the sight of the nurse's door that made me want to say something, but I told him with the traces of a smile on my face, "I like you better like this… retard."

"Always got to sneak in that last insult, huh?" he said, a loose laugh burbling out of his lips. I kicked at the door impolitely, and an astonished nurse opened the door.

He almost dropped into her arms, but before he did so, I felt his warm breath tickle my ear. "But thanks."

I walked into the library, my thoughts on the book that I had looked at just a week ago. The time had slipped away from me. I pushed the thoughts of the rather 'recent events' into the back, back, back part of my mind.

The place had been invaded, crowded with a few dorks and read-a-holics, and they all watched in utter and complete shock. I walked towards the older section of the library, where the books were dusty and a bit crusty. I touched my fingers gently against the worn spines and read the titles to myself silently.

I double-tracked, triple-tracked, and checked over and over. The book had simply vanished into thin air. I bit my lip and walked towards the librarian; she was somebody different from last week.

"Hello, sweet-heart," she said kindly. "Are you looking for something?"

I told her the title of the book, and she clicked and clacked away at her keyboard, and she looked at me curiously. "Are you sure that's the correct title?"

"Um, yes," I said, looking at her with a frown on my face. "Is something the matter?"

She laced her fingers together as she regarded me closely, a look of concern in her eyes. "I'm afraid that that book is nowhere on our database; it has never been recorded, nor has it even been in this library."

Nagihiko opened his eyes again, staring at the ceiling, replaying the rather hazy memory of the trip to the nurse's office in his head. The nurse continued to bustle about, while Nagihiko rubbed his temples. He looked down at his black bag for a moment, staring at the lump inside.

He watched the lady disappear behind another curtain, and he leaned as far as he could and took out the well-worn book. He brushed away the dust and smirked, looking at the faded gold letters that was the cover of the book.

He really hated this book, and he was only reminded of these feelings as he opened to the chapter titled 'Traditions'. He rolled his eyes.

And for maybe the first time of his life, Nagihiko craved something other than 'freedom', something that had become completely unnatural to him and foreign.

For the first time his life, Nagihiko wanted to be normal.

Nagihiko laughed lightly to himself, shaking his head. "… Wow, I really need to lay off of those painkillers."

05. Stealing for Keeps: Normalcy

... I returned from the dead. Whoopee?

So, it's been awhile for this story. This chapter alone created bunches of headaches. THANKS WRITER'S BLOCK, I HATE YOU TOO.

I'd tell you I have excuses, but chances are, you won't listen to me because you have zero patience for me and this story. And BLAHBLAHBLAH, how did this take me three months to write? I dunno. All I know is that my computer wiped out all of my documents today, so I had to go fish around and try to finish this stuuuuuupid chapter before I slammed my head against a wall. So there's my excuse, I suppose.

... Wow. I sound really bitter. IGNORE ME. 8D

Ah, all of that aside, THANKS A BUNCH for the reviews. I'm dead serious- they always make my day. Even though it doesn't always seem like it.

... So yeah, thanks for putting up for such a long... wait, I guess. Maybe I'll update again soon? (Doubtful. Veryverydoubtful.)

Review if you can, and if you can't, hope you had fun reading. :)

"Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday." -Author Unknown