A/N I'm sorry, I know I should be updating SaS, but, well, the next chapter is supposed to be a bit more lighthearted and I'm really not in a happy mood lately. This is kind of a frustration vent so I hope I can update chapter ten soon, I hope this isn't TOO bad. It's definitely OOC near the end because I'm sure Ikuto isn't so easy going with his feelings. But who knows, maybe he is.

If OOC isn't your thing, don't read the ending or don't read at all. Thank you.

Once again, an awkward silence loomed over the Hinamori family's dinner table. Quiet reigned save for the metallic clink of cutlery against ceramic dishes and the odd sip of a glass. Clearing her throat loudly, Hinamori Midori tried to smile as she glanced at her glaring daughter. Currently, Amu was engaging in a one-sided glaring contest with her fried fish as she stabbed it viciously with her fork before stuffing it in her waiting mouth. A black cloud hung over the hunched rosette and even Ami; the most clueless of the three could sense the untouchable aura that engulfed her. Coughing again, Midori gestured towards the juice bottles."Ehh, Amu-chan, would you please pass the juice?" She asked hesitantly, not quite sure how thin the ice she was walking on was.

Silence loomed even thicker as Amu made no sign of hearing her request, licking her fork ignorantly, her fork clacking annoyingly against her plate. Midori's eyebrow ticked in annoyance and her hand clenched around the fork tightly. "Amu-chan." Her tone much harsher now, her brown eyes narrowed as her daughter continued to ignore her.

"Amu!" her father's curt shout elicited a nod of the head from the quiet rosette as her cold eyes bored into her parents'. "Pass the juice Amu." Gone was the politeness, the harsh demand the only thing she heard.

Quirking one eyebrow up, Amu's face contorted in a mockery of surprise. "Oh? You've finally noticed I exist?" she asked snidely, watching as her parents' faces morphed into shocked expressions, they're eyes widening like saucers and mouths gaping like goldfish.

Quickly however, her mother's eyes narrowed and her lips pursed. "How dare you talk to your parents that way? Apologize at once!" pinning her down with her stare, Amu glared back defiantly, straightening her back and daring them to move.

"I've never asked you for an apology, so you shouldn't either." She stated bluntly, turning back to her food as though nothing happened.

Gaping fish-like faces met her and Midori sputtered angrily. "How dare you! Get out of my sight this instant you disgraceful brat!" shoving her chair back angrily, Amu stalked up the stairs, tossing her rosy hair as she did before leaving her angry family with one last remark.

"Just make sure not to go on too many trips while I'm gone okay?" snarling coldly, Amu ran up the stairs wildly and threw open her door, slamming it shut with a too long pent up passion and punching the frame furiously. "ARGHHH!"

Fury and frustration roared in her voice and her charas hid behind their eggs fearfully, watching their holder glaring contemptuously at the door as though it held the world's evil. Sighing, Dia sank in her spot and hugged her face to her legs sadly. Amu had been like this for the past week. Gone was the cheerful, easy-to-tease Amu, this Amu was angry and vengeful. What seemed like years of resentment and hurt was currently leaking from her pores like a disease infecting everything she touched; her family being the most affected. Amu had always been a model daughter and a perfect older sister, but now, she was spiteful and hateful, despising her parents and everything to do with them. And the thing was, it wasn't some sort of teenage phase or whatever therapists were calling it these days. Deep inside, Amu was hurting. Something in her heart, something she had tried to swallow and keep hidden for all these years, had finally broken free, snapping its chains and wreaking havoc.

As her chara most directly related to her emotional needs, Dia sensed a darkness in her normally sweet holder and feared for her and her sisters. The thing that caused charas to disappear was the loss of hope. Shugo Chara disappeared along with forgotten dreams. However this time, it wasn't the loss of dreams that led Amu astray, but an immense flood of pain. It wasn't hopelessness that touched Dia's soul, but a tearful monster in Amu's own heart.

And for once in her existence, Dia did not know what to do.

Snarling in frustration, Amu threw herself on her bed and punched her pillows rapidly. Screaming and heaving as she pounced on them ferociously. Grunting in fury, the rosette collapsed on her bed and quivered as the very fight inside of her vanished.

And with the death of her fighting spirit, the tears poured forth. Tears streamed down her face as her fists clenched against her scrunched nose and flushed cheeks. Sobbing quietly, Amu wrapped her skinny arms around herself and curled up in a ball. From downstairs, the sounds of a door opening and closing and the pitter patter of leaving footsteps caused the tears to pour down faster as Amu gulped for air like a suffocating woman. They had left. Screaming suddenly, she brought her hands up to her ears and shrieked.

Why? Why didn't they love her? Why couldn't they see past her act? It wasn't her fault, it wasn't! It wasn't her fault she couldn't express herself. Every time Amu was around people, a new character would replace her real one. Whether it was her Cool-and-Spicy one or her Older-Sister one, or even her Model-Daughter one. Her true self would just never come out right. All her life, Amu had had problems expressing her true feelings and would never be able to confess when she was sad or ever be able to explain why. It wasn't something she did on purpose, it just happened, like a defense mechanism. Except for her, it didn't defend anything except her potential happiness.

For once she wanted her parents to LOOK at her. She wanted them to look at her and see what she was truly feeling. She wanted them to see past her outer characters and know she was lying when she said she was alright or when she smiled behind her tears, they'd wipe them away and hug her tight saying, "I know. It's okay. I'm here." When her outer characters appeared, she couldn't stop them, but wasn't her family supposed to know her best? Weren't they supposed to be able to know who she was? Weren't they supposed to love her no matter what?

If that was the case, then WHY did she feel like they didn't give one damn about her? Why did they always leave her like this? Alone. All alone in a world where all she wanted was her family. Why didn't they love her? All Amu wanted was a family who'd love her and see her for who she was. She wanted them to KNOW her and know when she was sad or happy or miserable and angry. She wanted a family who would stop at nothing to discover her problems and would try their hardest to help her solve them. She just wanted a family that CARED. Was that too much to ask? Was she being selfish? Was it her fault?

She only wanted to be loved.

Only that.

But they always left her alone; they always went away without so much as a good bye. All her life Amu had been an independent child, always doing things on her own and doing it herself. But she was TIRED. All she wanted was a mother who'd make her lunch and hold her when she was hurting. All she wanted was a father who would see her crying face and promise to kill the boy who broke her heart, to see through her facades. She wanted a family who actually gave enough of a damn to bother trying to see her for who she was.

She was sick of being hidden from the world, sick of lies coming out but not being able to stop them. She was sick of it, but she didn't know how to get out of the hole of her life that she didn't remember digging.

She didn't know anything.

She didn't even think she knew what love was.

Was this what love really was? Leaving people behind to fend for themselves? Being selfish and never checking to see if things really were what they seemed? Only bothering with the preliminary affections and not bothering to push on further? Was that it? Was what she thought was love, a pink sparkling, flowery illusion just that? An illusion? Was it just all in her head?

Did love even exist?

That night, Amu came to the conclusion that love didn't exist. At least, not in the sense that she believed it to be. In her mind, true love, real love, the kind that allowed a person to feel whole and wanted and complete and perfect and content just wasn't real.

That night, as she lay curled up against her tear-stained pillow, Amu threw out her romantic vision of love and closed her eyes, accepting the truth. She would never find someone that would love her and comfort her and take away all her fears. She would never find someone who could see right through her and actually care about solving her problems. She would never find a family, or anyone, like that.

Because love didn't exist. And that night, that is what she told herself.

The next day, her charas refused to come out. The seam that had once divided their middles had sealed shut and Amu realized, with a sinking heart, her charas had left. Swallowing, Amu tried to put it out of her mind and pretend it was all a dream until she went downstairs to rummage up a lunch and found her family still gone. Searching hurriedly all around the house, Amu's eyes shot to the ground in dejection as she faced the reality that her family had just went up and left her without even saying where they were going.

Biting her lip to keep from crying, Amu grabbed her black book bag and slammed the door shut. She didn't need them. She didn't need anybody. Hinamori Amu was better left alone anyway. It wasn't like anybody really cared about her anyway. At least not where she was now.

And in that sudden moment of clarity, her limp hand tightened into a fist and the wind blew her hair wildly. She was leaving. She was leaving and she was never going back. Not caring where she would stay or what would happen to her, Amu knew deep inside where a bit of her heart still remained beating, that she just couldn't stay here any longer. Being in that house, with that fake family and never ending silence was eating away at her soul and soon, there would be nothing left.

She was done. Done with doing nothing and suffering in silence. If her parents really didn't care about her, then she would leave. When had they ever been there for her? When had they ever looked at her and truly seen her? When was the last time they had ever even hugged her? She couldn't remember the last time they had smiled at her and patted her head, kissed her forehead or showed her any affection at all. When had they ever said, whether it was verbally or actively, that they loved her? When had they ever even showed they cared?

Amu was done. She would leave, and she would leave tonight. While the moon was high and her parents were still out. She would take the money under the vase and flee onto a bus and never be seen again. She was thirteen, she could get a job somewhere, she could stay in a shelter until she could. She could start again, become someone else and maybe, she could find someone to care. Only to care though, because she didn't believe in love. Not anymore.

So as Amu threw open the shiny doors to Seiyo Academy, she gazed at its familiar walls, cherishing the memories it had given her and thanking her for a world she could always escape to.

Suddenly, a purple haired blur appeared next to her and shrugged an arm over her shoulders. "Ohayo Amu-chan." Smiling sweetly, Amu jittered in surprise before leaning into his embrace.

"Ohayo Nagi." She replied quietly, revelling in his touch knowing it was the last time she would ever see her best guy friend.

Rima and Yaya met them half way to her class and Amu laughed and smiled as she normally did, trying to enjoy her friends' company and push her heartbreak out of her mind.

Inside, Tadase was already waiting with his notebook open, pens lined up neatly on the side. "Your hair looks cutes today Amu-chan." He complimented her shyly, a light blush powdering his pale cheeks.

Grinning sweetly, Amu thanked him without a stutter and took her seat next to the window. Staring out wonderingly at the birds and sky, her golden eyes scanned the trees intently for any sign of cat-eared boy sleeping lazily in its strong boughs. Failing to locate the elusive high schooler, Amu was surprised by the rising disappointment she felt in her stomach and quenched it quickly. She was leaving tonight. Whether she got to see him, Utau, Kukai or not.

The thought of leaving without at least seeing those three made her heart hurt a little bit more and Amu sighed. She supposed it wouldn't be too much trouble to stop by the soccer field for a bit and visit Utau's studio before she got home. Finding Ikuto on the other hand, would be impossible. He was never in the same place twice and Amu had no way to contact him. Despite his cat-like personality, he was as fluid as water when it came to disappearing.

Doodling in the corner of her page, Amu tried to make a mental list of what she would need to bring, but failed when her mind kept wandering back to a swinging cat tail and an infuriating smirk.

Running to the soccer field after the last bell, Amu hopped up the bleachers to get the middle spot in the high row and cheered loudly as Kukai dribbled the ball up the field effortlessly and aimed a perfect kick into the goal. All around her, cheers exploded from the onlookers and Kukai grinned boyishly, shooting a special smile her way when he noticed her cheering. "Go! Go! Sei-yo!" she cried passionately, whooping as the goals were shot and the ball was passed, Kukai getting every shot he took.

Amu didn't stay long, only twenty minutes until half time, considering she arrived there late since it was her turn to wipe and wash the board. Bounding down the steps, she launched towards the laughing Kukai and high fived him hard. "Liked what you saw Hinamori?" he smirked teasingly as she grinned energetically.

"You haven't missed yet Kukai, that's amazing!" she shot him a thumbs up and he pressed his own against hers in a symbol of friendship.

"We'll have to have a rematch sometime Hinamori, Ran and you vs. Daichi and me." Swallowing rapidly from a quickly emptied water bottle, Kukai failed to notice the rosette's downcast expression before it jumped back to the happy one from before.

"Definitely." Smiling a little more sadly than before, she waved as she walked backwards, swallowing the guilt that was quickly rising. "Good luck Kukai! I hope you win!" he watched her run out of the field, wiping a tear from her eye as she did. His grip on his bottle tightened and Kukai was overcome with the sudden feeling that something was going to go terribly wrong.


Running as fast as she could, feet pounding on the pavement, Amu threw away her feelings as she burst through her house's door and collapsed on the ground. Covering her face with her hands, Amu cried miserably, wondering why she was feeling this way. Why did her heart clench even more now that she had seen her friends? In the end, Amu couldn't bear going over to see her best friend at her studio so in a cowardly attempt to run away, she had fled back home. Or soon to be ex-home anyway.

She was doing this for her own good. Her family didn't want her and even if her friends cared about her, it just wasn't enough. Even her best friends couldn't see into her heart to discern what was hidden. She was leaving to get a new start. To throw away her dozens of characters once and for all. She was going to leave this place that had brought her nothing but misery and pain. Her friends would forget her in time. She was only a class-mate, it would be alright.

She was lonely. But even though she was surrounded by her friends at school, what they gave her was just never enough. It would never be enough.

So as she packed her bag, the words she kept repeating over and over in her head blurred in a series of syllables and sounds until they suddenly made absolutely no sense and Amu felt calm once again. The items in her backpack seemed to overflow as Amu carefully tucked her charas in. Walking slowly down the stairs, Amu zoomed into the kitchen before opening the fridge and throwing together a novice dinner.

Eating the cold food dully, Amu picked at it a bit more before throwing it in the sink and tossing a few energy bars and snacks in her bag and looking at the clock. It seemed as though the time had flown while she was in her room and Amu hurriedly pulled out the bus schedule she had printed out during lunchtime and scanned it hurriedly. "Ahh, good. A bus leaves from Juuban street at 9:25." That was in ten minutes, she could make it.

Stuffing her feet in her shoes, a queasy feeling overtook her stomach and Amu heaved in a breath. Closing the door shut for the last time, a sense of vertigo swept through her before she regained her senses. She had to do this. She wouldn't be able to bear it if she had to stay there any longer. "Good-bye." She whispered quietly before stepping towards the gate.

Just as her fingers touched the latch, a dark, velvety voice stopped her right in her tracks. "So you were just going to leave without saying good bye?"

Eyes widening, Amu's hand lurched from the gate as though burned and she pulled it back to her chest. Heart thumping wildly, Amu forced herself not to turn around. There was only one person who could make her feel like she was going to explode and turn to mush at the same time.

"Ikuto." She murmured, hardly surprised, yet shocked all the same. He always did have good timing.

"Well?" his question remained unspoken, yet echoed in her head like a shriek in a cave.

Still refusing to turn around, Amu clenched her fist tightly and shook her head. "Go away Ikuto." She shot out harshly, hand hovering over the fence once again.

She heard him taking a step forward, then two, then three, until he was right behind her, his shadow looming over her. Eyes fluttering, Amu's hands gripped the iron tightly and she squeezed her eyes shut. "Turn around Amu." He commanded softly, his hands reaching around her to softly hold her own, both of them now holding the fence.

"I don't want to." She whispered.

Pulling her hands away from the fence, he held her there, hovering between the choice of leaving or staying until her heart nearly burst and the all pain threatened to come through. "Turn around." He commanded again, and this time, she complied.

Turning in his embrace slowly, she looked up at him and watched as the moon hit on his face, emphasizing his intense gaze. In his sapphire eyes, she saw anger and she saw sadness. She saw confusion and she saw pain. Pain? Why was he in pain? Looking his body up and down, Amu couldn't detect anything wrong with him, he seemed perfectly fine to her. So why were his eyes hurting?

"What are you doing Amu?" startled, Amu froze before looking away.

"I don't have to tell you anything Tskiyomi."

The anger in his gaze won as he narrowed his eyebrows and pulled back his lips. Tightening his grip on her arms, he pulled her closer and glared at her. "The hell you don't. Just what did you think you were doing?" raising his voice at her, Amu gaped at him with shining eyes. Ikuto had never yelled at her before, threatened her yes, talked loudly, yes. But never yelled.

Standing there dumbly, she stuttered. "I…I…what do you care anyways? I'm not anything to you. So why don't you just leave me alone?" she knew it was harsh and she knew it was cruel, but she couldn't help it. Everything was just coming out wrong. All the anger inside of her was lashing out at anyone and everyone, whether they deserved it or not.

Shock registered on his normally composed face and as his grip loosened, a surge of guilt swelled through her. But instead of letting her go and stalking off into the night like she expected, Ikuto's eyes caught her own and held it, a swirl of emotions filling them, his shoulders tensed and a certain seriousness emanated from his aura. "Don't." his voice was low and emotion filled. "Don't you ever ask me if I care and don't you ever tell me to leave either." Gripping her shoulders now, he shook her hard as he watched her eyes shine in the moonlight and her mouth gape. "Now tell me, what were you doing?"

Finding no will to go against him, Amu seemed to sag in on herself as she collapsed into his strength, letting him hold her up, his hands still holding her shoulders. "I'm leaving Ikuto. I'm leaving and I'm never coming back."

He didn't look surprised, merely resigned. Somewhere, in the naïve part of his mind, he had hoped she was only going over to a friend's house, or something else that was frivolous.

Gritting his teeth, he swiped her bag from her grip like lightning and grabbed her by the arms into his own just as quickly. "Put me down!" she demanded, squirming madly and protesting the entire way to the back of the house where her balcony lay. As her room came into view, a new-found strength welled in her muscles. "No!" screaming wildly now, Amu thrashed around like a desperate fish out of the water. "Let me go! Let me go! Don't make me go back there! No!" she yelled, almost begging, missing Ikuto's widened eyes and pitiful expression.

Using that moment of pause as an escape, Amu launched herself from Ikuto's arms and backed away quickly, hunching over ferally. "I'm not going back there."

"Amu-"his hand reached out, but quick as a cat, the rosette jumped back and snarled.

Pain filled eyes connected with his and her soul seemed to call out to him in a pleading attempt to understand. "Do you know how it feels to come home to an empty family every day? Do you know how it feels to have nobody care about you? Every day I come home it's always the same. Either they're never home or when they are, they don't give me a second look. It's as if I don't exist. All I want is someone to care about me, is that so much to ask? All I want is someone who understands." she was yelling defensively like an animal and before she knew it, she was back in Ikuto's arms and his emotion filled eyes were staring back into hers.

There was so much he wanted to say. He wanted to tell her she was stupid, he wanted to tell her to open her eyes. He wanted to show her the smiles her friends had given her all day. He wanted to show her that her friends loved her more than she knew. And more importantly, he wanted to tell her about him.

He knew why she was miserable, he had seen the way she talked about her family, seen the way she tried so hard to impress them and capture their attention and how she always failed. How her shoulders slumped and a frown burrowed on her face and she seemed to want to just disappear, but she never cried. She'd always bury those feelings away and focus on something else, or say she'll just try harder next time, but mostly, she pretended it never happened. She pretended that she didn't care and that it was all fine with her.

But it wasn't.

And Ikuto cursed himself for not dealing with it sooner. Because now it had grown into something far worse. Because of her defensive characters, it was hard for a person to say that they actually knew the charismatic rosette and actually be telling the truth. When her own parents couldn't be bothered to see past her first defense, Amu had stuffed her hurt deep inside of herself, keeping it from everyone; even him. Because of that, it had led to this, all those bottled up emotions coming out a jumbled mess.

Holding the crying girl in his arms, he looked down softly at her and brushed the hair from her face gently. Leaning down slowly, he held her face lovingly in his palm and pressed a kiss against her lips and revelled in her sweet, sad taste. Gasping against his mouth, Amu froze at the contact as the tears streamed down her cheeks. Hugging her tightly against him, he pressed her against his chest, refusing to let go. "Don't let the way your parents treat you take you away from the people who really love you."

"Don't say it like it matters. Love doesn't exist." The way she coldly muttered those words stabbed ice into his heart and Ikuto clutched her tighter.

Pulling back from her, he stared angrily at her. "Before Utau met you, she was cold and didn't smile at anyone. When you became her friend, she finally had someone to rely on. You think it isn't out of love that she smiles? Fujisaki is a guy but he always listens to your problems even if he couldn't care less. Why? Because you're his best friend. And that ramen-eating idiot, he can't stand it when you're sad, because you're special to him. And the Mashiro girl. She's always by your side and gets overprotective whenever anyone talks to you. Why, because she loves you because you saw past her cold exterior." He could see that this wasn't getting through to her at all and in a desperate attempt to make her feel something, anything, he played the one card he wished he could burn. "Tadase confessed to you! He's in love with you." He pleaded, hating himself for saying it, but knowing he would rather see her with him and happy than with no one and miserable.

"He's in love with Amulet Heart." She interrupted bitterly, not seeing his look of utter relief and the way he smiled slightly.

Still determined to prove his point, Ikuto pressed on, "Well it's still love isn't it? You friends, the Guardians, they risk their lives for you, their Joker whenever there's an enemy-I risk my life for you! How many times have I caught you from midair? How many times have I saved you when you're stupid enough to get caught in a trap? At that battle for the Embryo, I could've gotten it; I could've gotten the Embryo and left you to get hit by that missile. I could have had a thousand wishes, but I chose you." He was quiet, letting his words sink in as he watched the conflicted expression flickering in her eyes and the way her hands shook uncontrollably.

"Love…love doesn't-"

"Don't tell me it doesn't exist Amu!" he swiped his arm down angrily. "You always talk about how you want to get married and have a family. You wanted a princess wedding with a white poofy dress! You have a crush on the Kiddy King! You wanted him to pull you on his white horse and take you away to his castle. You know what love is! How long have you spent pining after him?"

It hurt. It hurt him more than he would ever admit to say the things he had tried so long to ignore. He didn't want to believe his precious strawberry was actually in love with his old rival, but…but as he looked at her, he saw the hopelessness and the heartbreak in her eyes and the words just poured out. It wasn't her parents she was honestly angry about; it wasn't even about her friends. It was the sole fact that no one cared enough. That people were content to just see the outer Amu and never her true self. And she hated that.

"I was never in love with him. It was just a silly crush." She muttered monotonously and Ikuto felt a disgusting pleasure rise in him.

Stumbling around in the dark, Ikuto panicked as he saw her turning around, preparing to leave again before the words burst from his mouth like an uncontrollable waterfall. "You can say all you want Amu, but you can't tell me that what I feel for you isn't love." His low voice halted her in her tracks and Amu's shocked face twisted towards his. "I already told you, remember? I'm in love with you. I know who you are, and I love you for it. You can't tell me this isn't real, because before Easter was destroyed, it was all I had." Never in his life had Ikuto confessed his emotions, it just wasn't in his character. Even now, saying everything he was, a part of him was squirming and trying to stifle a shudder. But deep down, he knew he would do it again and again and again if only the girl standing in front of him would only smile.

Broken eyes stared up at him from wet eyelashes as she took a step forward, ignoring the rumble of the clouds and the darkening of the moon. Living in that house hurt her, going back there time and time again with no one to talk to made her want to cry. But if she could have something to make it worth it, someone to really love her, she'd stay there forever.

"They don't look at me," she whispered brokenly, "they don't even see me."

Stepping forward, Ikuto widened his stance. "I see you; you're beautiful."

She sniffed. "When I come home, they're already gone."

"I won't leave you alone."

"I want someone to love me." She murmured brokenly, the memories of past wishes of having someone to hold her while she cried flashing in her mind, her forced illusion shattering in her mind.

Stepping forward, he buried his face in her hair and clutched to her tightly, a life raft in a raging storm. "Stay." He whispered.

Deep inside of herself, Amu's heart beat. Maybe love did exist. Maybe she didn't need anyone else to love her, maybe she only needed one. But the images of her friends flashed in her mind and Ikuto's words echoed around in her head. When had she forgotten about everything they had gone through? When had she forgotten how special everyone was to her and her to them? When had she forgotten that she was never really alone?

Wrapping her own arms around him, she missed his relieved smile and when he tipped her chin up to his face, her eyes shone like liquid amber. "Will you stay?" he asked quietly.

"Yes." The tears dripped down her cheeks and he brushed them away caressingly.

And as the first droplets of rain hit the earth, Amu knew it would be alright. She didn't need to leave somewhere far away to start anew. She could make a new life for herself right here, in these arms that held her. They would make a life where she kept true to herself and never forgot. She would start something wonderful with the boy who held her in his arms and didn't let her go; even when she yelled and she screamed and said horrible things. He had been there when she needed him and as the rain poured down over them, Amu could feel the hurt washing away, letting Ikuto's embrace melt the pain inside of her to reveal her shining heart. Smiling into his eyes, Amu stopped her tears and tilted her face to brush her lips against his, letting the rain wash over them, and knowing that soon enough, a beautiful rainbow would shine through.

A/N Well the good news is I'm feeling a whole lot better so I'm hoping to be able to get my head back in the game very soon. I hope you liked it!

- Ray