Author's note: This is meant to take place the first year Taiga and Ryuuji knew each other, early November, well before Christmas.

In a fit of rage, Taiga flung the plate of food onto the tatami mats where it shattered. She then stomped towards the door. From the kitchen came the deeply offended voice of Ryuuji.

"Hey! I don't care if you are in a pissy mood; you don't come over to someone's house and break their things!"

"Rot in hell…" Taiga grumbled back while on the move.

She had been acting foul the entire night, complaining of headaches, an upset stomach and just generally being a misery to be around. Inevitably they had ended up having a fight which culminated in Taiga becoming so angry that she threw a plate on the floor, spilling the food and breaking the plate. Ryuuji had had enough, that plate was one of the few things Yasuko had brought with her from her parent's house. It had been in the family at least 25 years and now she was going to just walk off scot-free like she always does when they fight. But not tonight, Ryuuji stood at the narrow entrance to the kitchen blocking her way, he had more to say and tonight she would listen.

"You're always like this, you say and do whatever you want and just leave. Then, you'll act like nothing happened no apology or anything. Well…I'm not letting you leave tonight until you apologize for breaking Yasuko's plate!"

"Get out of the way, you were the one being insufferable, it was just a stupid plate you can get a new one!"

Taiga was like a caged animal agitatedly pacing back and forth in front of Ryuuji. What was with her? Even for Taiga this was a new low.

"All I want is an apology, is that too much to ask?!"

"I have nothing to apologize for and unless you get out of my way I'll break something else!"

She said these last words while staring directly into Ryuuji's eyes, they were clearly meant to be a promise of physical pain. But while staring into Taiga's eyes, he couldn't help but notice how bloodshot they were, something seems wrong. He relaxed his posture, and instantly took up his usual caring demeanor. In his mind he had already forgotten about the plate when…

"Gaah!" Taiga had taken the opportunity to shove Ryuuji to the left with enough force that he toppled backwards banging his head on the stove. Ryuuji held his head and grit his teeth in pain. Unseen by Ryuji, Taiga turned back momentarily with a look of concern.

"Damn it that hurt!"

That shove was nothing like her usual acts of violence. For the first time since he had known her, Ryuuji felt like she had actually been trying to hurt him. She slipped on her shoes and was now working on the buttons of her large white coat. This was too much, the last straw and now she was going to get away, well not without a final jab.

"Now I know why your parents don't want you around!"

Ryuuji immediately regretted those words, more so than anything he had ever said. He wanted to catch the words before they reached Taiga's ears but of course this was impossible. With Taiga facing away from him, to Ryuuji it looked as if she had just taken some bitter medicine. Her whole body shook momentarily; her voice was nowhere to be found. With movements that could be described at best as wobbly, Taiga opened the door and proceeded outside in a manner more accustomed to a malfunctioning windup doll than a human. The door closed with a quiet click, a far cry from the usual bang characteristic of such angry exits.

Should I go after her? I don't even know what I'd say… What can I say? Shaking his head Ryuuji mournfully cried "What have I done…"

At the moment all she could think about was putting distance between herself and Ryuji, she took off running down the street. The sun had set several hours ago and the cold air that rushed past stung her cheeks. Before she knew it, tears were streaming down her face. She had gone too far this time; Ryuuji hates me now, why else would he have said what he did? He had never said anything this hurtful before... Taiga slowed her pace, she had reached downtown. The shops were all brightly lit; there were even a few that had begun displaying Christmas decorations despite it only being early November. What he said wasn't untrue, because I am the way I am, my parents didn't want me around, abandoned me, don't love me; Her thoughts sunk lower and lower. As she passed shop after shop, not even the occasional Christmas decoration was enough to assuage the anger flaring up inside her. She punched a nearby brick building with her mittened hands.

"Damn it! I don't need them! I don't need anyone!" Not even Ryuuji she almost added. I don't need them to love me… I've lived my whole life without their love and I can damn well keep on living without it! She glanced down and in frustration realized she was wearing Ryuuji's scarf… She had always been able to say that no matter how bad things got at least Ryuuji would be there, now she wasn't so sure. A smile that would look right at home on death row passed across her face. There must be something wrong with me to make someone as kind as Ryuuji hate me, maybe I'm just unlovable. She ended up at the train station and took a seat on a nearby bench. Not sure what else to do, she closed her eyes.

She found herself sitting in class as Koigakubo Yuri (29 and single, even in dreams) lectured to the class. Taiga didn't feel like paying attention and tried to block out what she said. However, she heard something odd; "As you know, there are two types of people in this world: the loved and the unloved".

"Huh?" What kind of a lecture is this?"

"Of course,we're all loved here, even me. What I lack in romantic endeavors, my family more than makes up for! Now, the loved control everything and only keep the unloved around for their own amusement. In this class, our unloved little jester is…. Aisaka Taiga!" Hearing this, Taiga stood up at her desk and in a panic, realized everyone was staring at her. She ran for the door but tripped and fell flat on her face as peals of laughter rang out all around her. In a fit of desperation she turned her head towards Ryuuji, her eyes silently pleading for help. Ryuuji sat at his desk looking at her severely. He got up, walked towards her and offered her a hand. But before Taiga could reach it, another student stood up and held Ryuuji back, it was Minori.

"No, no Takasu-kun, you've got to treat the unloved like the trash they are, watch!"

She kicked Taiga hard in the stomach. "Ugh!" Again and again Minori drove her foot into Taiga's abdomen, the room began to spin and voices started to fade. The last audible voice was Minori saying:

"See Takasu-kun, then you leave them there on the floor like the trash they are…"

The room disappeared and reformed around her. She now found herself lying on the floor of her room in the first house she had lived in. She was holding a crayon, drawing a picture while kicking her legs and humming happily. I remember that picture; I made it when I was six. I worked on it all day, I was really proud of it. The picture was of a sunset over the ocean with a man, a woman and a little girl playing in the sand.

"There!" Apparently happy with the finishing touches, six year old Taiga stood up and began walking with picture in hand down the long hallway and to the right, into the living room. In the living room sat Taiga's mother with a bottle of spirits and a tiny glass full of ice. Her face darkened at the sudden appearance of her daughter. Undaunted, Taiga made her way towards her while saying:

"Look mommy I drew a picture, it's of you and me and daddy at the beach."

Taiga's mother held out her hand in a halting gesture which froze Taiga midstep. "I don't want to see it if it's got that scumbag in it". Silence filled the room, broken only by the clinking of ice cubes shifting in the tiny glass. "Leave mommy alone". Not willing to press her luck any further, Taiga turned and left immediately.

Discouraged but still hopeful, she made her way back into the long hallway past her room and into a room on the left. It was an office and sitting at a large mahogany desk with his back towards her, was Taiga's father.

"Look daddy I drew you a picture and wanted you to see it!"She held the picture out in front of her with both hands.

Never turning around, Taiga's father said in a dull tone "That's nice Taiga, put it with the others on the fridge." At least look at her when she's talking to you damn it… Six year old Taiga glanced around the room struggling to think of something more to say.

"This one's a… a special picture, see look!" Taiga could feel every note of desperation in her voice. Just look at her picture!

"That's nice Taiga, put it with the others, daddy's busy right now" he said in a firmer voice than before all the while looking at his papers.

Again six year old Taiga stood fumbling in the doorway, trying to think of something to say. After several seconds of trying, she gave up and walked out of the room. She headed towards the kitchen wearing a look of failure. Now I remember thinking: I'll just be a good girl and put it on the fridge, maybe they'll see it there, and then I'll get a glass of milk to cheer me up. Picking a blue magnet that roughly matched the color of the ocean; she hung the picture next to the others she had drawn. First, she scooted a nearby chair away from the dining table and towards the counter. Taiga stood on the chair and opened the cabinet; she grabbed a large glass and placed in on the counter. I didn't want to make a mess, I was careful… Next, she opened the fridge and grabbed the milk. I had to be careful… Cautiously she poured the milk into the glass making sure not to spill a drop. I knew what would happen otherwise… Finally, she pushed the chair back into its original position. With a relieved sigh, she picked up and carried the glass back towards her room. Several steps in she tripped and fell. The glass of milk shattered against the kitchen floor. Taiga's hands quickly followed the glass to the floor and broken pieces embedded themselves into her skin. The loud shattering of the glass was followed by a terrified whimper as Taiga looked down at her hands to find them bloody.

"What was that?" Her father's voice called out, "Could you get that I'm busy right now."

"Always passing things off to me, remember last week when she wet the bed? I handled that it's your turn!" Her mother's voice was quick to retort.

"Don't give me that crap, I'm the one who pays the bills around here, make yourself useful for once and see what she's done this time!"

More and more words of increasing severity were shouted into the air as they continued their fight from several rooms away. I had done it again; they were fighting because of me…. I didn't know what to do… Taiga ran to her room and slammed the door behind her. She leaned against a wall before crumpling into a fetal position. The voices still continued shouting in the distance, every word still audible. Baring a face of anguish and sheer terror, she used her bloody hands to cover her ears. Everything around her began to fade away. Taiga woke up, cold, sitting on a bench at the train station. Her head burned like fire as she gave way to uncontrollable sobs. They'll pay… They'll all pay…