A/N: It seems as though I'm not quite as ready to give this fic up than I thought. This is a continuation of The Eight Powers and differs drastically in style and format and pacing. The plan so far is to update once a fortnight; sadly enough, the chapters will usually be somewhat shorter than before. I have actually written several chapters ahead. Cookies to everyone for putting up with me. :)

Beta: Thank you En ar Ciel for being wonderfully amazing. Any mistakes you see are completely her fault. (I'm joking, she's flawless.)


Expressions

Dearest Diary,

I think I'm in love. It was love at first sight, really; I caught sight of my love through the window of a store. Oh, it sets my heart aflutter when I think back on it now. I was just going about my day as usual; smelled a few flowers, donated to charity, helped an old lady cross the street when – there! The sight of my love had my pulse racing.

My love is smooth and sharpdazzling, really. The most beautiful thing I've ever seen.

So, of course, I purchased the knife. And now my love and I are together and shall live happily ever after. The End.

Hugs and kisses,
Your Loyal Serpent.

(P.S. I'm quite certain that our resident Ice Princess is either delusional or hallucinating. You might want to watch that.)

l-l-l

"You just had to go and make everything worse, didn't you?" Nagihiko asked brightly, beaming. Rima glowered at him.

"Yes, that is exactly what I meant to do. I would give anything to be with a person as charming as yourself," she bit out. For once, she regretted having ever opened her mouth.

"What was it you said again?" Nagihiko pretended to ponder deeply, gazing skyward and tapping a finger against his chin. "Oh yes, 'I refuse to kiss someone that I not only don't know, but severely dislike'."

"Shut up," she said coldly.

Nagihiko pretended not to hear her. "And what was it that Sanjou said in reply to such an obvious invitation?"

"Shut up, Snake."

"'Then how about you two get to know one another and learn to tolerate each other then?' is what she said, if I recall correctly. Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with our little half-hour-long rendezvous in this corner or that idiotic essay about each other that we must now write?" Nagihiko's tone was as politely poisonous as ever. He probably sounded just as sarcastic when he purchased bread from the market.

"I don't know, Mr. Exposition, why do you keep using rhetorical questions? Is it a symptom of your retardation?" Rima gripped her pencil so tightly her knuckles turned white. She felt an incredible urge to leap across the table and stab the boy repeatedly in his eye.

Nagihiko clucked his tongue and acted disappointed. "Now, Rima, that's terribly politically incorrect. You should be ashamed of yourself. I know I am. In fact, I'm fairly certain your parents are ashamed of you, too. What a little disappoint—"

"Fujisaki."

That made him pause. Her voice had been quiet, flat, defeated almost. Not to mention that this was the very first time that Rima had ever called him by name. Hell, other than the teachers, Kairi, Tadase, and occasionally Kukai, nobody ever referred to him as anything other than 'Snake'. This unnerved him enough that he actually did stop talking—if only momentarily. He watched her as she stared stonily at the table instead, tilting his head to the side as he examined her.

There was a brief moment of tense silence. And then…

Tap.

Nagihiko grinned lazily as he began to tap his pencil against the corner of the desk.

Tap. Tap tap tap.

Rima raised her gaze to glare pointedly at the offending object. It was too bad Nagihiko obviously did not care a whit about her discomfort.

Taptaptaptaptap. Tap. Tap. Tap tap tap. Taptaptaptaptap.

Her gaze travelled even further up until she was fixing Nagihiko with a look that said very plainly that she was unamused. If looks could kill then hers would be repeatedly bludgeoning him with a bright, neon BE QUIET sign.

Tap. Tap. Tap—

"Stop it, Snake!" she hissed through gritted teeth.

He didn't.

In fact, he sped up slightly.

-taptap, taptaptaptaptap. Tap, tap, taptaptap, taptaptaptaptap. Tap—

"I swear I'll kill y—"

"So how come you never smile?" Nagihiko interrupted abruptly. Taptaptaptaptap.

"What?" Rima blinked, disconcerted.

Tap, taptaptap, Taptaptaptaptap.

"Well, okay, 'never' is stretching it. Still, with that sour expression on your face all the time I would have expected you to look like a wrinkled hag by now," he said casually. Tap, tap, taptaptap—

"What." She repeated flatly.

taptaptaptap. Tap, tap—

"So? Got some dark past? Murder? Intrigue? Scandal?" He leaned forward resting his chin on his palm as though he wished for nothing more than to hear what Rima had to say. His hand stopped tapping, possibly in anticipation of her answer or possibly because Nagihiko wanted to find some other way to antagonize his newfound companion.

As if Rima had decided that her glares could not become any more poisonous or deadly even if she tried, her expression went blank. Mostly, she was just confused. Was this a mind game? Nagihiko was usually a lot more direct with his attacks. This new tactic made her uncomfortable for reasons that she couldn't quite fathom. For a moment she didn't answer him.

"…How come you never smile, then?" she asked quietly.

Nagihiko's expression didn't falter, although his eyebrows creased gently. "I'm sorry?"

"You heard me, Snake. So? Murder, intrigue, or scandal?" she asked mockingly.

"Are you blind," Nagihiko said, not quite capable of making it sound like a question. "Of course I smile. I'm rather known for it in fact. That, and my charming wit."

Rima scoffed derisively. "Don't be stupid. What you do isn't smiling, it's moving muscles in your face for no apparent reason."

"R-really?" He immediately cursed himself for stuttering and showing weakness. He swore to himself that if he slipped up and stuttered again he would dye his hair pink and call himself 'spicy'. "Could've fooled me."

"I only smile when I have reason to, unlike you," she said with a quiet disgust. "You are the worst kind of liar."

At that, Nagihiko's smile faltered but immediately brightened again. It was perhaps more strained than it had been previously, but even Nagihiko wasn't perfect and Rima was getting under his skin.

"Takes one to know one," he shot back hastily. It was weak, but he was off-balance and this was what resulted.

Rima looked at him levelly. "Yes," she said, "maybe it does."

l-l-l

Tool of Torture,

I've been contemplating homicide recently. I'd be doing the world a great favour if I do convert my fantasy into reality. In fact, I suspect that the only reason that I have not yet carried out the deed is that I desire to be as disagreeable as possible.

Although I should bear in mind that if I do cut off a snake's head, then YOU'LL be the ones to clean up and do the paperwork.

Jail wouldn't suit me, though. Of that, there is no doubt.
-Mashiro