He wasn't real. Just a figment of Tsukiko Sagi's twisted imagination in the gray, dull world she calls home. Lil' Slugger, even though he was a murderer, his killings out some color in the gray. His slight bent aluminum bat, his golden inline skates and his thick brown hair under his worn baseball ball cap; they all came from Tsukiko's mind. She had originally made him up to cover up her mistake. She blamed him for her irresponsibility that got her puppy, Maromi, run over by a car. It was Tsukiko's fault and she knew secretly knew it deep down but she made Lil' Slugger up as a cover story for her stupidity.

Much to the city's dismay, he became real. Tsukiko insisted on his existence; going as far as to draw him. Every single detail of Lil' Slugger was drawn by Tsukiko over and over until he was perfect in her eyes. His skin, his face, his crazed smile right as he swings his bat, his eyes were almost hidden by his hat but they weren't… Just enough for one to see the chaos flowing through them…

In the beginning, Tsukiko didn't realize who or what he was. Lil' Slugger went on a rampage when Maromi wasn't enough to fill Tsukiko's void any longer. The puppies said 'murderer' came to life. He terrified her! She didn't want him to go around killing people but that's the profile she made for him. Tsukiko was mute so she didn't voice her distaste in his actions. But, Lil' Slugger knew how she felt about it. He thought he was making her happy, fulfilling what she created. When he finally approached her in his ghostly form, he was outraged by her fear. The look in her eyes set him over the edge. He struck his creator with the bat she gave him. He felt no regret… It was her fault he was the way he was! That's when Maromi came into play and put his 'life' to an end.

Tsukiko secretly missed Lil' Slugger. After his death, she was still mute and drew multiple characters for various things. She always felt his presence in the shadows. It comforted her. As she got older, she still drew him. Year by year, they grew up together until they were both nineteen. Maromi still talked to Tsukiko from time to time, when she really needed it but Tsukiko was leaning in another direction… She loved the pink droopy-eared dog but she wasn't enough again. She needed actual love. As soon as Tsukiko accepted that, Lil' Slugger came into the picture again.

Tsukiko was getting out of work late again. She carried Maromi everywhere with her still, in hopes that she would still comfort her loneliness. The timid girl was fumbling with the keys to the car when she saw a shadow in the corner of her eye. She dropped her purse and keys in shock at the shadow.

It couldn't be him, could it?

Tsukiko turned around, gripping Maromi as hard as she could. Her empty brown eyes widened at the sight of him.

He was taller; now much taller than Tsukiko. Everything about him was seemed different but the same. The same skates and the same bat but the bat was stained with blood splatters and the same hat, even more worn out than before. He grew into his lips that were in a perfectly straight line set across his face. His eyes… Were just as empty as hers but had a warm spark to them Tsukiko didn't understand.

Lil' Slugger approached her slowly with his bat still held closely at his side. Tsukiko just stood there frozen. Was he the answer to her prayers?

"Y-you're suppose-supposed t-to be-be dead…" Tsukiko choked out. Those were the first words she had spoken since Maromi died over a decade ago.

Lil' Slugger stopped only a foot away from her. He was surprised that she spoke but his mouth twisted into an unreadable smile. It wasn't the same smile as before. He dropped his bat to the ground and took his thumb and ran it across her pale cheek.

"Only if you want me to be."

His touch was warm. Lil' Slugger was real. If he came solely from her imagination, he would be like a zombie, cold as ice. Tsukiko was oddly comforted by his touch.

"Do you want me dead, Tsukiko?" His voice was smooth and easily heard. He sounded hurt at the thought she would want him gone.

She stared into his eyes for a long time contemplating the question. When she finally closed them and shook her head hesitantly.

Lil' Slugger was created to fulfill Tsukiko's dreams, to make Tsukiko happy… If he wanted. He unconditionally loved her. He was made with the ability to have his own free will and Tsukiko was the reason he had it. He leaned down to her eye level but her eyes were still closed. She was trembling… He brushed his lips across hers and her trembling became less.

Tsukiko opened her eyes, expecting him to be gone. She believed her mind had been playing tricks on her this whole time… Lil' Slugger was still there. He brushed a piece of her hair behind her ears and kissed her again. This time, she responded and kissed him back.

All the memories of his terrorizing the city flooded her mind. He killed everyone he hit but her. Everyone who witnessed Lil' Slugger's actions would have shriveled at the sight of him. They would have been shocked to death at the sight of Tsukiko kissing him. Tsukiko didn't care; they all thought she was crazy anyway.

Lil' Slugger wrapped his arms around her waist and brought her close. He deepened the kiss with such emotion, Tsukiko almost couldn't believe it. How was this so real? Tsukiko didn't want to know how… She just knew it was. It was so right. She had created her own dream and he became real person with real emotion. They parted after a long time and Tsukiko blushed.

Then she realized there had to be some things said first.

"N-No… No…" Tsukiko stuttered.

Lil' Slugger watched her with hopeful but sad eyes when she hesitated to speak.

"No more… No more killing a-an-and hurt-hurting people…"

"I can't promise that."

Of course he couldn't promise that. That's what he was originally supposed to do.

"W-Why?" There was a spark of disappointment across her features.

"I'm going to protect you. Always. No matter what it takes, Tsukiko."

She didn't argue with him any further.

"You're s-staying?"

Lil' Slugger gave her a nod. Tsukiko felt her insides lighten up as she hugged him again.

"With me?"

"Always." He reassured her by kissing her affectionately.

They held each other close until someone else came into the seen. It was a middle-aged drunkard obviously looking for some 'loving.' He stumbled into the parking lot giggling to him-self and mumbling profanities. Until he saw them by Tsukiko's car.

"Hey baby! Looking for a good time?" He began to approach Tsukiko, "Why don't you ditch this immature kid and play ball with a real man!"

Her body tensed in fear of the man. Lil' Slugger scowled in disgust at the man. He let go of her and twitched his left hand. The bat rose to him and that twisted smile Tsukiko feared so much reappeared across his face.

"I want you to go home. I'll be there soon." It wasn't a request. It was an order.

Tsukiko nodded quickly and gathered her things off the ground. Lil' Slugger gave her the grace of letting her leave before he approached the drunk.

At first, the man did not know what he was doing. He glided away from him like he going to leave but no there would be no 'leaving' for this pervert.

He only laughed at little slugger until he saw that he wasn't gone.

"Hey kid, you wanna play?" The man pulled out a gun and laughed.

Lil' Slugger began to skate towards him at full speed. His sadistic smile never ceased. He raised his bat in anticipation and the drunkard panicked. Lil' Slugger wasn't going to let him speak to anyone like he had to Tsukiko again.

The drunkard shot the gun and it hit Lil' Slugger but instead of wounding him, it when straight through him. The man screamed and shot the gun several more times into no one's ears. This only made Lil' Slugger's smile wider.

Whack!

The unnamed man hit the ground at full force as blood splattered the ground. Lil' Slugger had hit him in the jaw and raced away, laughing at his obvious victory. He now had a new stain on his bat and new meaning to his existence.

Protecting Tsukiko.