Chapter 29

When I stalked back home, she was there waiting for me. I kicked open the basement door and saw her sitting on the cold floor, poring over the thick tome she'd brought. She flinched and looked up. Trepidation and downright fear flooded her eyes. I was getting real good at recognizing fear.

Resisting the sudden and unexpected impulse to frighten her more, I strode down the stairs confidently. That's what I was; confident, in control, powerful. I controlled my own life now. I did what I wanted, when I wanted, and no one could stop me. Her body stiffened at my approach, and she shrank away as though waiting for some signal to spring backwards.

"I'm going to leave Hayashi Grove," I declared.


"I said, I'm going to leave Hayashi Grove," I repeated. "Soon, probably, too. It won't take the police too long to find me."

"T-then, you really did...?" she whimpered. I didn't mean to, really I didn't. But she was so afraid, so I replied,

"Nothing he didn't deserve." Slinking closer to her, I wondered how scared I could make her. How far could this go?

It clicked, yet not the same. A different connection snapped into place, one more powerful. I froze, living it, tasting it. I didn't think there would be a difference in the fear of one person to another's. Oh, but there was - why had I never realized this?

You have no idea what it was like - nothing to compare to, no words to fit. It was flying, it was adrenaline and anticipation, it was perfection in a single feeling - yet none of those things, not exactly!

But it was impatient: a thousand coiled snakes slithering and pressing against my ribs from the inside. Something that choked my breath and made everything else so foggy and distant. I stared fixedly at Arianna, not really seeing anything else.

It was like she discerned some visible change for the worse in my countenance, because she tensed and scrambled to her feet before stepping back rapidly. I laughed then, high-pitched giggles that came out somewhat hoarse. Yes. Tears began to shine in her eyes.

"After what I've done, they're not gunna let me back here," I told her. "They're going to want to lock me up and keep me away because I'm the bogeyman to them. But, it's okay, Arianna! I'm not going to let that happen." Another twisted smile. "You won't let it happen either, will you? You wouldn't betray your best friend Marx?"

I needed her reaction, more than anything. I would have given up everything for it, if everything had not already been lost. I needed her fear. Transfixed, I pursued her footsteps.

She took a deep, steadying breath. She even closed her eyes for a moment or two before opening them and meeting my gaze. I didn't anticipate her answer. "No. What you are right now, is not my best friend."

I stopped. My voice came out a dry hiss. "What? What did you say?"

"This isn't you, please, Marx... don't hurt me."

"But you'll come with me, won't you?" I growled. "Yes, yes you will; we'll escape together."

She'd already broken the connection - they always did, break something so perfect - so I felt no hesitation in stalking closer and baring my fangs inches from her face. "You will come with me."

Shaking; that meant she should be afraid, but there was something in her eyes, something like steel. She reached out to push me away, but I recoiled violently before she could touch my skin. Backed up a few steps with warning in my eyes: Don't get any closer.

Her voice was so much more level than I expected it would be. It was like my weakness gave her strength; like a leech. No; that was me. Her weakness giving me strength. "N-no. I'm not leaving with you. I thought that I could fix this because you're truly a good person when you're... you're not like this. I-I didn't do enough, I should've tried harder, but... Marx, there's something really wrong with you and I can't just pretend none of this happened. I'm not going to go with you."

Everything inside me froze. Ice-cold, stopped immediately; I think even my heart ceased for a minute, letting the ice trickle through my veins and freeze my blood. "No, please," I whispered, suddenly stricken with a terrible fear myself. "Please, you can't - no -"

I choked on my words. They simply wouldn't come; weren't there. I couldn't speak. I... wasn't right, wasn't normal, but I liked her fear and - why wasn't she afraid? That wasn't fair, I couldn't deal with this, she, I-

That maybe I really was broken but then that I needed help but I couldn't fix myself. That she tried and she loved me and she tried and tried but she couldn't fix me - maybe nobody could, and I couldn't get better...

Never is a terrible word, it means infinite, eternity, no matter what, won't change.

That I will never be anything but Marx. I shuddered, sickened, then growled at myself in fury.

I'd given up my regret! I'd made a choice there on the rooftop, and I would stick by it! Yet Arianna wasn't fitting perfectly in that decision now. It wasn't my fault - but hers. I had resolved to accept myself for everything I was, yet she couldn't. The very person I had expected to accept me regardless of my actions and behavior. She was turning her back on me when she should be dying to stay by my side.

What was it then; she could only like me when she was sure I was... what had she said... 'good?' That was idiotic - low - no different than the next person. I'd thought more of her - relied upon her to be more than that. Well then...

"Are you okay?" Arianna whispered.

I transformed my countenance into one of sadness and regret. My voice, when I spoke, came out tragic and broken. "Arianna... I'm so sorry... I-I... I'm scared, and I don't..." Fearfully, I stepped closer to her, as though I needed her comfort. "I just wanted to have a friend, just one person that will accept me for me. I thought you would... you've done so... I'm sorry."

If anything, her expression just turned more agonized - less composed. She looked downright horrified, in a way she wouldn't even when I was threatening her.

She sounded so helpless. "Marx..."

"I need to trust you... l-like the one thing I can cling to, you know?" I choked back a false sob.

Hesitantly, she wrapped her arms around me; I closed my eyes and snuggled into the hug as though touch was not something hideous. "I'll be there for you," she whispered. "You can trust me... B-but, you can't l-leave... you've done..." She fell silent and hugged me tighter, as if somehow that would change anything.

Then she heard the low chuckling. Her arms went stiff around me. In another second she jerked away and gazed at me in disbelief.

"Cute," I giggled. "As soon as I act all sad and helpless and remorseful you like me again. That was a test. Turns out you don't love me, just love me when I'm all adorable and helpless. Why is that, huh? So you can manipulate me?"

"You know that's not true, please Marx, s-stop acting so different." Now she was crying. Again. It was ugly; red-faced and watery-eyed. "This isn't like you, you know how much I care..."

I scoffed. "Well, I don't care about you. Get out of my house."

Despite my order, she stretched out a kind paw to gently place against my cheek. I froze, tolerating the gesture. Because touch doesn't really hurt, you know. It makes my skin crawl like there's hundreds of little beetles on me; I hate it, but it doesn't really hurt. I waited, eyeing her unsurely and holding back a flinch.

But nothing more happened. She was quiet and I was quiet and neither of us moved. Maybe this was as close as either of us were willing to get at the moment and, having reached that boundary, we wouldn't get any closer but we wouldn't move away either. Consistency. A different kind of connection? One less linked through fear.

Slowly, I began to relax, almost against my will. I didn't think it could end up well. I didn't think it could be alright. I didn't think that it would change anything. But nothing was changing right now, meaning nothing was getting worse.

But it couldn't stay this way and it certainly couldn't get better. You can't freeze your emotions in one moment to feel forever. Something has to give. And I couldn't get better.

This hurt, this ached, I hurt, I hated pain!

"Don't touch me!" I kicked her hard and she sprawled to the floor with a cry. "I told you to get out of my house!" I planted my feet, breathing hard. "OUT! GET OUT! I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU!"

She flipped onto her back and looked fearfully up. "Please, I can-"

"NO!" I pressed my foot down on her face, flattening her to the floor and gazing down at her with cold purple eyes. "You better get out before I really hurt you." And I found in that moment, I really hated her, for being so naive, for making pain where they didn't need to be any. For being by me.

This time, she didn't hesitate. I lifted my foot, and she scrambled back, turned, and fled. Her footsteps flew up the stairs, then the door burst open and slammed against the wall before rebounding shut again.

I was alone.

I didn't want to think of what had just happened, so I didn't.

Instead, I padded over to the book she had been poring over before I came in.

The most noticeable feature was an illustration of a huge clock watch with eyes and an assortment of seemingly random items stuck haphazardly in its 'body.'

Flicking over the text, I laughed scornfully. This textbook was definitely too hard for Arianna to read; why had she even tried?

My eyes scanned over a passage about the watch. Evidently it was a celestial being called Nova, possessing incredible amounts of power. It... granted wishes.

Had she wanted to wish away this part of my personality? But that was so stupid! Without it, I wouldn't have been able to fulfill my revenge - Derrick would still be alive, and that wasn't the kind of world I wanted to imagine.

Anyway, I thought as I continued to peruse the passage, to summon the Nova, one would have to collect all the Star Power from each star in the solar system. Arianna would NEVER be able to do that.

But I... I was smarter. I could do that, or better yet, find someone to have it done for me... Yes, I was fully capable of getting it done and summoning the comet Nova! It would be easy as pie! Easy as pears!

Then, then I could make ANY wish I wanted. Any wish at all... I licked my fangs hungrily.

Any wish...