~Chapter 1~

I nervously approached my target, a small jade beetle worth millions of dollars. Every step I took resulted in me scanning the room carefully. After finding it safe, I took another step. This happened about a hundred times before I finally came within throwing range of the little treasure. Miyako hadn't come, nor any of her associates. In fact, I wasn't even worried about them right now. It would probably be up on the roof. That was where the demon was probably going to be.

That evil thing...I could never forgive it! Not after...not after that. I shook my head and tried to remain focused on the object at hand. It might not be here. It might not have come. It might have forgotten all about me.

I threw my pin without saying my usual phrase. If it was here, I didn't want it to hear me. I didn't want it to see me, to smell me, to touch me. I didn't want it to be near me.

The demon sealed, I collected the pawn and ran as fast as I could to get out. I mean I literally high-tailed it. I couldn't afford to make the same mistake twice...


"Maron, did you seal the demon?" Fin asked me when I got home.

I nodded.

"Was Miyako trying to stop you? What trap did she have planned this time?"

I shook my head. "She wasn't there. I guess the owner of the beetle never notified the police."

"Why?"

"I don't know and I don't care. I got the demon, what else is there?" I snapped.

Fin averted her gaze. She didn't know why I was acting like this. She had asked me on several occasions, but I had never told her. I had been like this all week. She wanted to know what was wrong, but I just couldn't bring myself to say it.

"I'm sorry, Maron. I didn't mean to upset you," she murmured.

I flopped onto my bed. How long had it been since I truly rested? I was always waking up in the middle of the night. I would toss and turn, and eventually roll off the bed. Fin was getting worried about me. She wanted me to talk, to spill it. No. It wasn't her concern. She didn't need to know, so I wasn't going to be the one to tell her.

Fin floated above my head and put a hand on my cheek. "Maron, you know you can tell me what's on your mind, right?"

I didn't answer.

"Maron?"

I still didn't answer.

Fin rested herself on my head, arms spread wide, legs spread wide. It was her way of giving me a hug. Being so small, it wasn't very easy to embrace someone a good five feet taller than you.

I brushed her off. Hugs, warmth, touch. I wanted no part of it. Heck, I didn't even want Fin in the same room as me! Stupid little angel just couldn't take a hint... I didn't care what she must think of me. I didn't want to be around people. People were nothing but troublesome creatures. The included me. I brought this on myself, I might as well have just asked for it!

I let out a sigh mixed in with a frustrated growl.

Fin knew better than to ask me what was wrong. She was pushing her luck just trying to make me tolerate her presence right now. Any other time I would feel bad for the angel. After all, she honestly had no idea what was making me so snappy. And I planned to keep it that way.

"Maron, my mom wants you to come over for dinner!" Miyako shouted from right outside my door.

I remained silent. My door was locked, as it had stayed that way for the entirety of the week. If she tried to come in, she wouldn't be able to. I refused to open it. I just couldn't stand being around anyone right now. I didn't want anyone to find out; this was my problem, I would handle it on my own.

"Maron? Are you in there?" she continued.

As tempting as it was to say "No." I opted not to. I didn't smirk, smile or laugh.

"Geez, Maron... You're so stubborn sometimes..." I heard her voice fade away as she left to go back to her own apartment.

Well, even though Miyako wasn't catching on yet, Chiaki had been keeping a safe distance from me. I figured he wasn't as dense as I pegged him to be. He must've sensed all the glares I kept giving him, along with almost everyone at our school. Only a select few people dared to go near me, one of them obviously being Miyako. I could easily glare at her all day long, every day. But I didn't, because with Miyako, glares just didn't work. She never seemed to actually grasp the concept of 'alone time'.

I wanted to yell, to scream, to beat the living snot out of something. I didn't. I couldn't. I was Maron Kusakabe, daughter to the two worst parents in the world. I lived alone, I breathed alone, I ate alone, I drank alone, I slept alone, I fought alone. I was the lone wolf of my friends. That was how it would always be. I could take care of myself, I didn't need anyone else. I wouldn't give in to my emotions just to beat something up and make a huge mess everywhere.

I looked into my mirror. I tried to smile and look happy, but it didn't work. I frowned in anger. My eyes, it was my eyes. They kept reminding me of how I felt. I never wanted this; I never wanted to be reminded!

I grabbed the mirror, ripped it off the vanity, and slammed it repeatedly against the wall. Shards started to fly, and Fin was starting to cry. Who. Cared. About. This. Stupid. Ugly. God-forsaken. Mirror!

I threw it on the ground and kicked it away.

I felt an itch and I practically ripped my skin off.

I was ready to kill something if needed.

Fin was the only one who noticed my anger. My chest was heaving and with each breath I growled. My fingers had cuts all over them from the now-shattered mirror. She started to say something, but stopped when I gave her the coldest stare I'd ever given anyone.

"MARON! ARE YOU OKAY, MARON?" Miyako's voice screamed.

I sat down on my bed and tried to calm down.

"Maron, don't make me worry like this! Please, Maron, open the door!" I heard the doorknob rattle and knew she was trying to open it. "Maron!"

Good luck opening that, Miyako. Unless you have the power to break down a hard wooden door to invade your friend's privacy of her home and make her pay for a new door, you wouldn't open it.

I closed my eyes and curled up into a ball. I didn't want to be bothered by anyone. I didn't even want to keep sitting up.

"You aren't going to answer her?" Fin asked very tenderly.

I just rolled back and laid down, my eyes still closed.


The next morning, I made myself breakfast. I ignored Miyako's invitation to have breakfast at her house. I ignored some of my other neighbors comments about what they heard last night. I ignored Miyako's warning that I'd be late for school. School could wait for me; it wasn't going anywhere.


At school, everyone was starting to worry about me. Now that I'd been gone for a week, and still wasn't back yet, they were growing anxious about my well-being.

"Maron is skipping school again, I see..." Pokkoliomao-sensei muttered in front of the class. "Miyako, haven't you check on her yet?"

Miyako looked down but replied, "I tried to, but she won't speak to me. I've tried calling her, sending her letters, even banging on her door and begging her to let me in. I don't know why she's acting like this; it's not the Maron I know."

"Did something happen?" the teacher asked.

Miyako shook her head. "No, she just suddenly started acting weird."

Pokkoliomao-sensei sighed and held her forehead. I was such a mysterious girl... Nobody knew anything about my past or my personal life, and now I suddenly decided to stop coming to school altogether? What was wrong with me?

Nobody ever suspected that I had reasons for not attending...


I laid on my bed and didn't really do anything. I just rested one arm over my eyes and relaxed.

"Maron...please tell me what's wrong..." Fin whispered.

I shook my head and said, "Nothing. I'm fine."

"Um...how about some music to lift your spirits?" Fin said as she turned on my radio. She looked back at me with a smile, but when she saw I wasn't moving or humming or anything of that nature, her smile dropped and she turned the radio off.

"What about if I spy on someone for you?"

...

She moved closer to me. "Well, what about taking a shower or soaking in a nice hot bath for awhile?"

...

"Maron, isn't there anything you want to do?"

...

Fin decided to drop the topic. Sighing sadly, she flew out the window for some fresh air, and hopefully to find a demon. Right now anything was good if it got me out of my apartment. Naturally, she had been trying to do just that since I first started acting weird. If only she knew...but I didn't want her to know.

After I was absolutely sure she was gone, I moved my arm from my eyes and sat up. I stared after her.

My eyes brimmed with tears and I didn't try to stop them from falling. I didn't even wipe them away. I blinked and got up to sit on the couch.

I didn't practice rhythmic gymnastics. I didn't exercise. All I wanted to do was lay on my couch and watch television. All I watched were comedies that I normally would laugh hysterically at. This time they didn't affect me, no matter how many times I replayed the funny parts. I gave up after a few hours of this and let the remote slip out of my hand and onto the floor. As I continued to watch my comedies, I traced little lines and shapes on the floor with my finger.


When Fin came back, she found me not tracing the floor anymore, but just laying on the couch watching stupid actors and actresses. Although, she couldn't be too sure I was actually paying attention to them. I didn't really seem to look at the TV to watch it. I was just staring and the TV happened to be in my way.

"Maron, I'm home," she said.

I snapped out of my trance. "Yeah. I can see that."

"Anything interesting happen while I was gone?"

"No."

"Don't you want something to eat? You missed lunch," she said.

I sat up and shook my head. "I'm not hungry."

The angel acquired a disbelieving look on her face, but said nothing more. Talking to me had become unpleasant for anyone who tried to do it. Most of the time, just getting me to respond required a great deal of effort, and even then there was the chance I might not say anything. Even Miyako, who repeatedly begged me to either come out or let her in, was beginning to give up. She stopped coming over as often, but still called me whenever she had the time. And Miyako always seemed to have alot of time.

Only Chiaki seemed to know I was trying my best to push everyone away. That might've been why he didn't even talk to me anymore. I actually didn't care. Hopefully he would convince Miyako to just give up altogether, and then I could finally be by myself, despite the presence of Fin.

I was pretty sure, however, that even the teacher was starting to worry. Even though she didn't always act like it, she had a big heart. There was room for every single one of her students in that heart of hers.

And speaking of the teacher...

I heard three knocks on my door, followed by, "Maron, are you home? I need to talk to you."

I turned over on my couch.

"Maron? ...Maron? Ma-"

"She's home, Pokkoliomao-sensei, but she won't talk to anyone. We never know what she's doing because she keeps her door locked and never opens it. I'm starting to wonder if she ever even comes out of there," Miyako jumped in. "Now you know why I can't check on her."

"Maron, are you okay? If something's happened, you can talk to me about it," she told me, trying not to believe Miyako's claims. "Please open the door."

...

"Maron, if you don't open this door, you're getting a zero on all your missed assignments!"

She should know better. Threats wouldn't work with me. I'd already skipped an entire week of school; what made her think she could make me open my door just so she could hound me with a billion questions? I'd already put up with Fin doing that, I didn't need to silence someone else, too!

"Miyako, does anyone around here have an extra key to her room?"

"No. Maron asked the doorman to give her the extra key, so he did. No one's been able to see her ever since."

"Why would she want an extra key?"

"Probably to make sure nobody can get in."

"Is it because she wants protection from something?"

Hm... The teacher had a point. I guess you could call it protection. Or, you could call it desperate to be left alone. Maybe you could merge the two and call it protection of my desperation to be left alone.