Sakine Syndrome
Chapter One

'And Then It All Changed'


That video haunted Kaito. No matter where he went in the city it seemed to follow him, like a persistent ghost. It had been displayed, in an almost constant loop, on the large screens on the bigger buildings. All the TVs on display in the electronics store had shown a smaller, but vastly multiplied, number of the same thing. There had been posters showing that woman's too-bright, too-young, smiling face plastered on literally every available flat surface. And now, to add insult to injury, Kaito could hear people talking about it, too.

It seemed, no matter how far away from the city centre he strayed (or, indeed, how far away from the Vocaloid household he went), he would never be free of that video.

Or the woman in it.

Watching his breath drift through the chilly November air, Kaito sat, slumped backwards, on a park bench. His hands were dug deep into the pockets of his coat, his scarf pulled up around his mouth. His eyes stared up aimlessly, as empty as the bleak, dark blue sky.

Meanwhile, a group of guys- they must have been about eighteen, nineteen, maybe in their early twenties- were talking amongst themselves about that video. Some were smirking, some were making crude gestures, some were outright guffawing- but all of them made Kaito's stomach turn.

He wanted to hit them. Badly.

His fingers clenched into fists in his pockets. He bit his lower lip.

That violent thought surprised Kaito. He flinched at the voice in his own head, which was getting darker and darker without his accord- almost like a completely different person.

In all honesty, Kaito couldn't remember ever thinking such venomous thoughts before.

Not when his part in a duet with Miku was swapped with Rin because 'she's more popular'.

Not when he'd been trying to solve that Rubik's Cube for two hours, and Len plucked it from his fingers with a sigh and a 'geez, it's not that hard', and solved it in little under a minute- which had made Kaito feel like quite an idiot.

Not even when Rin ate all his ice-cream, even though she didn't like it, just to 'see the look on your stuu-pid face, Bakaito!'

Kaito hadn't been angry, not even then- although he had felt strangely depressed when he'd opened the freezer to find it empty. He ingested so much Häagen-Dazs it was as essential to his survival as air or water.

Well, Kaito would never have hit Rin, anyway; he'd have felt physically ill if the thought so much as crossed his mind. Rin was cruel, yes, but she never meant it seriously- and anyway, she was just a kid.

And now, so was she.

Meiko.

Although, that wasn't strictly true anymore, was it? She wasn't Meiko, the woman in red who didn't know her limits when it came to alcohol and had a bit (a 'bit' being an understatement) of an anger management problem- not anymore. She was the all-new, upgraded, shiny and amazing sixteen year old girl who danced with such a happy smile in all those videos and on all those posters and in all the minds of every single person within a fifty mile radius.

Kaito had to hand it to Crypton- they'd done a very good job advertising the newest Meiko model, or 'Sakine 16', as they called her. You couldn't take two steps out of your own home without seeing her face somewhere, or hearing a mention of her from a passing stranger.

Sakine 16 had been featured on every early-morning breakfast talk show and quite a few news stations over the past few weeks, and her popularity had taken off like a rocket. Now, only into fifteen days of her release, there were rumours she'd be just as popular as the Kagamines- maybe even as popular as Miku- which was almost unthinkable.

It was funny, though...

When it came to spats about 'popularity', nobody ever mentioned Kaito. In fact, they rarely mentioned him at all. The only people who seemed to care about his existance were the fangirls who paired him off with Len, and drew rather graphic doujinshi about them getting together- and getting pretty... intimate together, too, in a matter of seconds after the confession scene (which usually involved tears).

Kaito only knew about the existence of those doujins because Rin had bought a couple at a comic festival. She had burst through the front door that day and practically shoved them in Kaito's face, going "read this, read this! It's really interesting!" And then she'd stood there, grinning the grin of one who had no compassion in their heart, as Kaito's eyes grew wider and wider and his skin became paler and paler.

At least Len handled it fairly well. He'd just sighed, gone "whatever. I don't care about your weird hobbies, Rin," and hit his sort-of sister gently over the head with his fist.

But, then again, Len didn't have to worry about his popularity being based solely on strange fan works; his CDs all sold well, and he had a large fan base devoted to the 'cute' brother sister dynamic between himself and Rin.

Who did Kaito have?

Even though he'd never been popular- always stood off to one side whilst the limelight shone perpetually on Miku, Rin and Len- he hadn't been alone.

He'd always been with Meiko.

But now, thanks to the creation of Sakine 16, it felt like she was drifting away. Or maybe she already had. Maybe... it was already too late to reach her...

As Kaito mused, the conversation between the boys drifted back to him;

"Man, don't you think her upgrade is pretty fi~ne, if you know what I mean? Hahaha."

"Oh, I hear you! She's way more sexy than before- Crypton sure know what they're doing with their little lolicon mascots. I think they might just've got a new fan."

"She was pretty old and boring before- like, eurghhh. She reminded me of my mom- and that's just fucking sad. But now- ahh, well, I hope they do a bikini special with her like they did Miku."

"It'd be even better with Sakine, though, 'cause unlike Miku she's actually got a fucking sexy figure- you can see it so well, what with that short skirt and skin-tight shirt..."

"I know, totally. Her tits in that are like-"

And that was when Kaito decided he didn't want to listen anymore. He closed his eyes, hoping it would help blot the sound out, too- but of course, it didn't. If anything, he could hear every minute detail of the conversation more sharply. His shoulders began to shudder.

He really, really wanted to hit them.

There had been nothing wrong with Meiko the way she was. In fact, she'd been perfect- if not to the general public, than to the Vocaloid family. She was Miku and Rin and Len's big sister. How could she fulfil that role when she was now physically, and mentally, not that much older than Rin herself?

She had been Kaito's best friend.

But she didn't remember that anymore, either.

Kaito didn't know what, exactly, the scientists at Crypton had done to her brain. However, when she returned from the lab (after what Crypton had reassured the Vocaloids, falsely, was just a 'minute check-up, nothing too big, so don't worry'), her memories seemed to have been wiped. She knew who her family was, of course, but she couldn't remember any of the separate times she'd spent with them, or all the fun they'd had.

Not the time they all went to the Obon Festival. Not the time they went to the beach and smashed watermelons on the sand. Not even the time they went camping, and Kaito set up his sleeping bag on an ants' nest, and then he fell into a patch of nettles searching for his shoes that Rin had hidden, and Miku accidentally dropped the map into a pond so they got hopelessly lost and then Meiko hit Kaito upside the head and declared it- and all other misfortunes that had ever befallen anybody in the whole universe, ever- was Kaito's fault. Somehow. Because it always was.

She was still Meiko, in that she had the same body; it had just been slightly altered. Shorter. Wider eyes. A more 'innocent' face.

But her memories had all-but vanished.

And her personality was completely different.

She looked like the old Meiko, and sometimes Kaito thought he caught glimpses of that woman he knew so well in the more subtle expressions on her face; but she was, in essence, a completely different person.

An imitation.

No, not even that.

She wasn't even trying to imitate Meiko. She was living in her skin, using her heart to pump her blood, but she was as similar to Meiko as death metal was to classical music; they were two complete different entities. Both death metal and classical were types of music, and both Meikos shared one body- but they weren't the same, and never would be.

Never would be...

Kaito wondered if that was true. Would he really never see Meiko again? Would she always be that cute, smiling, innocent school girl, dancing in a girlish outfit to a bubbly pop song about honey and cute emoticons?

Was that really it?

Kaito bit his lower lip. The corners of his eyes began to bead with tears- his view of the sky above began to blur- and he sniffled, wiping an arm across his face, shaking his head. Trying to stop himself from crying. What would that have looked like, a fully-grown man on a park bench outside, sobbing to himself like a child?

Meiko's voice answered for him:

Pathetic.

You're pathetic, Bakaito! Stop that! You've gotta shape up, okay? You're a man, right, so act like it!

But Meiko would never speak to him like that again. At least, Sakine 16 certainly wouldn't have done.

And that knowledge was enough to break down any restraint Kaito might have had.

It was weak.

It was pathetic.

But, at that moment, it also felt horribly necessary- because if he didn't vent out his emotions like that, he didn't know what he'd do. He was sure, if he tried to bottle these feelings up inside, they'd explode, like gun powder. He'd do something stupid- well, he was stupid- like hurting those men, who were really beginning to piss him off, or, or-

But Kaito couldn't think beyond that.

All he could do was sit there and cry.

And wonder when his tears would stop.


a/n: : I decided to write some Kaito/Meiko because who doesn't like Kaito/Meiko? XD They're very desu, yanno.

~renahhchen xoxoxo