Did you all know that education is a pain in the ass?

Well it is. It is! Yoo Ara despises schoolwork!

On the other hand, I really enjoyed my break.

Also, happy late new year to everyone! c:

Yoo Ara's resolutions are to manage her time properly, to get better grades, and to be less stressed and more healthy!

I'd love it if you'd leave a review on the chapter, but some of your resolutions for the new year as well! c:

Sorry if the chapter seems a little bad. It was hard to write out the last half because no matter how I tried to fix it... Meh.

Enjoy the read anyways! It's a long one. c;

P.S. Take a look at my other Rimahiko story Lovesick too please! It's my shabby replacement of Dark Side, but if you love this story, you'll love my other one too!


::The High School Hierarchy::


"Ikuto."

Kazuomi's voice cut through the room like razor blade, slicing the silence. Ikuto simply kept silent because he knew. He knew that his stepfather had the eyes of a demon, a third eye. An all-seeing eye.

He could see. He could see it all.

The scowl on his son's face, even though the only thing facing him was his broad back.

The tussled blanket on the floor and crinkled sheets on the mattress.

The amateur rope, still knotted to the bedpost.

The window that was slightly open, letting in the cold air that whisked the warmth of the house somewhere far, far away.

"Ikuto."

Although he knew it wouldn't have worked, the jock wanted to try staying silent for once. But he simply didn't have that right when it came to his stepfather, so he opened his mouth. "Yes?" he said slowly and impolitely in the most polite manner possible.

There wasn't even any hesitation. Not a pause, not a moment longer than needed.

"You brought a bitch in here?"

Ikuto frowned.

The blue haired man knew that Amu wasn't a bitch, but he didn't understand why it bothered him so when he head Kazuomi say that. It wasn't as if it was the first time he had heard his stepfather say that. He had brought plenty of girls back to his room, and never gave it a second thought when Kazuomi cussed his women with the worst insults to kick them out of his house. Ikuto didn't even care about the slap he received each time he got caught like that by his stepfather, not even the degrading words that was slapped onto his conscience.

So someone, anyone, explain to him why his blood was beginning to boil.

"I told you not to bring any bitches to the house if your mother is still allowed to come home." The furious expression on the old business man seemed to emphasize the hand that was slowly beginning to turn into a fist, about to take flight. "Can't you hold your puny, rebellious dick for a few days while Souko is allowed to rest at home?"

Ikuto turned his head to get ready for the impact. He had learned by now that if he didn't let his face follow the flow of the punch, the damage would double. His face was something that, as a jock, he couldn't afford to destroy... At least not yet. There was only one semester left, for goodness sake.

The fist was lifted high enough, and Kazuomi seemed to tire of spitting insults to the teenager. The hand zoomed through the air-

"Honey?"

And stopped midway.

"Honey." The voice came from outside the door, down the stairs.

His hand fell.

"Honey?" Sweetness, all in a single glaze of a word.

Ikuto supposed it would calm the man in front of him, but he didn't dare let out a breath in relief. For some reason, even now, he was thinking about that pinkette. And he didn't know why.

Kazuomi's eyes squinted and glared at his supposed son. "You get off today. This luck won't save you a second time. Not another time." With that warning set in place, he walked out of the room without closing the door, his voice trailing in his wake. "Yes, Souko?"

"Was that Ikuto you were speaking to?"

Kazuomi frowned, but then quickly made it disappear. He knew where this was going... But making Ikuto suffer some punishment sounded nice. "Yes."

A bright smile lit her face, slightly creased from the stress that had taken its toll on the woman's fragile body and even more vulnerable mind. "I want to see Ikuto."

He knew where this was going. "Ikuto, come down."

The jock groaned from his room, hearing Kazuomi's loud order. When would this be over? If his mother wanted to see someone, she would speak to them endlessly. But if that person made one wrong mistake, even so much as a small sigh, Souko would go berserk and would have to rapidly be admitted back into the hospital. The only people that she didn't have a breakdown with was Kazuomi and Utau because Ikuto was never with her as much as they were.

He should have remembered to check the schedule of his mother's visits that the hospital had sent home. He hated seeing his mother break down, which seemed to happen every time he spoke with her. It was the main reason he had no tangible connection with her anymore other than his and her blood.

"I said to come down, Ikuto." The voice was firm, commanding, urgent. Ikuto hurried out of his room, slowing down to a simple stroll once he reached the bottom of the staircase. Seeing his mother in the wheelchair as his stepfather pushed it from behind...

He held onto his phone and kept it in his hand. He had the emergency number on speed dial one.

"Ikuto!" she, once her eyes found Ikuto, shouted with joy that could as easily disappear as it had appeared.

Speed dial one. Speed dial one. As quickly as possible.

His mother twitched, wrecking his slowly built-up nerves. Then, thankfully, she gestured towards the living room with the same serene expression still on her face. "Come sit on the sofa, Ikuto." Making sure not to even remove the fake smile he had planted on his face, he obliged, despite already knowing what the outcome of this was.

Life really wasn't fair.


Amu laid down with her eyes closed.

She didn't seem to understand Ikuto. First, he went and told her that love didn't exist. Now, he's practically confessed that he had a crush on her.

Then there was Rima. How in the world did she find out so fast? Ikuto worked quickly. That was something the pinkette would have to take note of.

As for Kukai, she couldn't even bear to reply. How could she? After what she had done? Why did she deserve happiness at this point?

The happiness she had before was so short-lived. If only she hadn't ruined it all back then. This was the karma that came from it. None of this would have ever happened if she simply didn't exist. If only she could disappear.

No one would be hurt.

But...

No.

She couldn't think like that.

She couldn't afford to.

As long as she repaid her debt, as long as she returned the happiness she had taken away, surely even she would have the right to live. Even she could regain the right to be happy. It wasn't so long ago, and yet it felt as though a lifetime had passed since her happy days as the leader of her hipster rank alongside Rima, Nagihiko, and her beloved Kukai.

Kukai.

Oh god, what had she done?

What had she been forced to do?

Why did she have to break so many people?

A tear fell from her eyes. Then another. And another. And another. And soon enough, she was crying a river in the darkness and the comfort of her loneliness.

"I'm so sorry Rima... If it's like this, will I finally be forgiven?"


Kukai was standing in front of Nagihiko's door. Although by now it was past midnight, he couldn't sleep. How could he, when his best friend lived right down the block, the friend that he was supposed to depend on but instead was on his enemy's team?

The love of his life was in pain, the deepest pain he had ever seen on her face, in her eyes. How could he just stand by and move on when that was clearly not the solution that he wanted?

It was so simple. Although Amu told him the basics, he knew she was hiding something, anything. And that something was something that he knew either Nagihiko or Rima knew. Why wait when Nagihiko was only one knock of a door away?

He was asking a lot of questions, but he didn't know if he was answering them correctly.

But at this point, the brunette didn't care anymore. He knocked on the door, three times to be exact. Then he rang the doorbell. Another three times. Just when he was about to knock again, he finally heard Nagi's voice. "Who's there?"

"It's Kukai."

"Kukai? What are you doing here?" That's the reply, but the door was still in the same position as it was when Kukai had just arrived.

"I locked myself out of the house, and no one's home," he lied. "Can you let me in for a night, homie?"

A pause. "I don't know, Kukai-"

"What do you mean you don't know?" Kukai shouted, feeling rather agitated that he wouldn't let the brunette in even after telling such a pitiful lie. "You won't even help your friend in a time of need? Well, fine, that shows us how close our bond is."

That seemed to do the trick, because the purple haired man finally opened his door, standing there in a white tank top that went gray at the peak of his left shoulder and a pair of black sweats. "I'm sorry Kukai. I was just having second thoughts because I've got company over."

A snort seemed appropriate. "Company? At this time of night-" Then the soccer jock immediately shut his trap. Now he knew where that little gray on his shoulder came from.

Rima was standing in front of the two, rubbing her bloodshot eyes in which the brunette could still see the tear stains on her cheeks and oversized tee shirt. "Nagi? What's taking you so long—oh...it's Kukai."

Kukai was about to faint because surely he must have been dreaming right now. Because Rima was standing in front of him, at Nagi's house, past midnight, crying, in nothing but an oversized tee shirt.

Nothing. But. A. Tee shirt.

Bare legs.

Okay, he hadn't even seen Amu like that yet.

"She came over due to family problems," the house owner explained. "I couldn't just leave her."

"You two have something going on right now." Kukai wasn't even denying it. "You two... right now..."

"That's right," Rima clamored rather loudly, as if saying it louder would make it more true. "I broke my engagement with Ikuto. So I immediately went to Nagihiko's side, because I love him. And thank the stars for once, he loves me. Something happy has finally blessed my life. Can you blame me for wanting to assure my own happiness?"

"Assure? Assure your own happiness?" Kukai was starting to feel confused. He only wanted to talk about Amu, but now... "What about Amu's happiness? Don't you care about Amu?" Shock filled his entire body. "You're supposed to be her best friends! But you two... you two are fucking while Amu is crying."

"We are all best friends," Nagi cut in. "But me and Rima are different. We're lovers, Kukai."

"No," Kukai wanted to laugh, like this was just all a sick, revolting joke. It never came out of his throat.

"We're lovers, Kukai." Rima stared at him straight in the eye. There was no shame. There was no pain, guilt, worry, nothing. "I assured my happiness."

"You... That's what you're really here for..." Kukai couldn't believe his ears. Nagihiko sighed, as well did Rima. That was when Kukai knew.

He was the only one out of the loop.

"Why? Why don't you two care about her anymore?"

"I do care," Nagihiko cut in sharply. "Trust me, I love Amu like she is my sister. But Rima... Rima is the heavier weight on the scale, Kukai. I love her more than anything. I'll... I'll do anything for her, Kukai. Anything." His eyes were dead serious. "Anything."

"Then Rima, can't you talk sense into him?" But the second he looked at Rima, he knew the answer to his own question. "But it's you too, Rima..." Kukai felt so disappointed in the two of them. "Why?"

That echoed in Rima's head.

Why.

Why.

Why.

Why, why, why?

That was when Rima couldn't take it anymore.

"Is it so wrong for me to feel happiness for once, Kukai?"

Kukai was about to shoot a reply, but Rima was quicker.

"Because I haven't felt it, Kukai. I have only felt happiness three times. Once, when I was still in my childhood. Twice, when I had someone I loved before. And now, when I can finally be free to love Nagihiko." Her fists clenched, and Nagihiko closed his eyes. He had heard it once. But once was enough, because he couldn't take seeing Rima in pain.

He left to the kitchen, claiming to get water. Rima, knowing, decided to summarize the long story.

"The first time my happiness was taken away, it was because my parents were no longer acting like my parents. The second time was because I was forced into an engagement with a man I did not love and did not even want to look at, let alone marry. Then, it was because I was betrayed. Because of my lack of so, I refuse to let happiness go. I can't let Nagihiko go." She had rejected him once. And it hurt. The pain had subsided, but she remembered. She remembered. "Not anymore."

"That's-"

"Betrayal hurts, Kukai. It was one of the worst pains I had ever felt."

Kukai shook his head. Betrayal didn't have anything to do with this. "You didn't have to, Rima. But not now... How can you be thinking of your own happiness when Amu-"

That was when Rima spat. She spat, and with contempt in her voice, she lashed back. Back at the brunette, who didn't know a single piece of shit, and thought that he had the right to lecture her and her lover.

"That's the problem Kukai. You don't seem to understand. Because I know what Amu is trying to do for me."

Kukai raised a brow. "Do you really, Rima?"

"She texted me. She's been texting me. She told me that I could take back my happiness. She did this."

"Yes. You're right. She did it for you. So, at the very least, as a friend, shouldn't you do something back-"

"Again. You're misunderstanding again." Rima chuckled. "You're so stupid, Kukai. No one gives up their own happiness for someone else just because they're good friends. That's not how life works. There's only one reason why someone would do that."

And slowly, Kukai's confusion began to disappear.

"It's to pay someone back, Kukai."

The pieces clicked.

"She's paying me back. And I'll let her pay me back."

That was when he knew.

"Amu was the one who stole away my happiness in the first place."