Yellos. This looong, decidedly dark but with a happy ending (depending on whose POV you look at it from, of course) story was inspired by a recent discovery I made about my sorta-crush.

Wanted to do it all in one go, but now that I think about it, it might be a drag reading this all in one sitting… maybe I shoulda separated it into chapters…?Oh wells, enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: I DON'T OWN DGM CHARACTERS, ONLY MY OCs (in this case them being Madoff, Hoshi, Sora, and Haruka).

"Hey, Sora…"


"You'll never leave me, will you?"

"Never!" Sora said. He grabbed Hoshi's small hand with his and held it. They smiled at each other, Hoshi's eyes teary and bright and really pretty. She watched on in silence. She wanted to be included, didn't want to be ignored. She didn't know how to say it out loud without sounding funny, though. Akira turned to her, finally remembering that she was their friend too.

"Haruka, too!" Sora grinned, his hand latching onto hers. "The three of us will never, ever part with each other. Once we get our Innocence, we'll be able to protect each other!"

Hoshi's fake, teary-eyed smile turned into a frown, but Sora didn't notice because the instant he turned to look at her she already had a big smile in place.

"Yes!" Hoshi beamed, her hand latching onto Haruka's free one. Haruka didn't flinch as the other girl's fingernails dug painfully into her skin, almost drawing blood. "We'll protect each other, won't we?"

Haruka gave them a small, limp smile, replying with a quiet "Yes…"

Hoshi was really good at pretending. Pretending that she actually cared for Haruka, that she didn't want Sora all to herself, that she didn't want it to be just her and Sora, alone. That she didn't want Haruka to die. It was fine, though. Haruka felt the same exact way about her.

"Get up already, you damn pig. My uniform needs cleaning."

Haruka Miyazaki ignored her and slept on. The other day they'd just came back from a rather difficult mission, which was why Haruka was going to rest up as much as she could before the next mission came in. Hoshi wouldn't understand, though, despite having gone on the same mission as her. Supervisor Madoff knew that under Hoshi Koda's pretty, perfectly symmetrical face full of caramel-colored locks was a useless, disgusting piece of shit, although he never bothered enlightening others of this. Despite being an accommodator, Hoshi had little useful skills. Even her anti-akuma weapon was practically useless, since the stupid bimbo hadn't ever fully mastered it and so could only activate it under extreme duress, and sometimes not even then.

Unfortunately, Haruka had let slip one day to Madoff-san about the promise she'd made to protect both Sora and Hoshi. That's why the supervisor now always lumped the two of them together on missions. Madoff-san knew that Haruka would keep the other from dying because of the damn promise she'd been forced into. Now she was stuck being the permanent body guard of the one person whose death she wanted more than anything in the world to see.

"Fine, since you enjoy it so much, you can wallow around in dirt as much as you want, you stupid pig." Haruka heaved a tired, irritated sigh as something wet landed on her. She sat up and removed a dirty, mud-encrusted uniform off her face. She glared at Hoshi, who smirked at her.

"While you're cleaning up that mess you caused, I'll be telling Sora all about the mission I just successfully completed." The snob twitched out of Haruka's room and slammed the door. Haruka's hands tightened on the crumpled uniform in her hands before suddenly, forcefully launching it at the waste basket in the corner of her room.

Haruka shrieked into her pillow. Unbelievable! How had Hoshi managed to fool practically everyone here into thinking that she was some beautiful, ridiculous Godsend? Only a handful of people knew what a spiteful, hopeless liar she was, but they were lowly, powerless people like her who didn't have much influence or powerful people like Supervisor Madoff who didn't give a damn what the hell their subordinates did as long as they got the job done.

"Ugh…" She got up, slipping out of her nightgown and into something more comfortable and presentable. Dressing nice wouldn't help her image, though. People really did think Haruka was a lazy, dimwitted pig who relied on Hoshi's skills to get around. It was actually the other way around, but not like anyone was going to take her word over Hoshi's.

Even Sora was disappointed in her drastic change in temperament. Despite her dry eyes, Haruka felt like crying. Sora, who should've known her better than anyone else, who should've seen through all of Hoshi's damn lies a long time ago… He was still ignorant. Like the others, he saw and knew only what Hoshi wanted him to. Even right now, Hoshi was probably spoon-feeding him lies about how she had single-handedly saved weak, useless Haruka from Level 2s or something.

Ignoring the stares of passing finders and scientists, Haruka sullenly made her way to the dining hall, where Hoshi's welcome back party was being held. She wasn't surprised to find Hoshi in a ring of captivated men, the frontrunner being none other than Sora Morita. Haruka received quite a number of glares as she plopped down next to Hoshi, who gave her a smile of sugary sweet overdose.

"Good morning, Haruka-chan," Hoshi beamed, somehow turning the honorific into a derogatory term.

She ignored her and grabbed a few morsels of food off of the skinny girl's plate, much to the annoyance of the swarm of males. Unlike them, Haruka knew that the instant Hoshi left the room she would go to the lavatory and purge her meal, so the less the skinny bitch ate the better. It was a waste of damn good food.

"Hey Haruka." Haruka merely nodded at Sora's greeting, wanting to look at him but at the same time not wanting to. She could tell he was disappointed by her unresponsive, cold welcome by the tightening of his eyes and the way his smile flattened, but he didn't press further. Instead, he turned his attention back to the Hoshi. Haruka's blood boiled and seethed as she saw, out of the corner of her eye, Sora's hand gently take Hoshi's, their fingers intertwining and tightening. The sight of it absolutely churned her stomach.

Having lost her appetite, Haruka slammed the chopsticks in her hand onto the table, but this went unnoticed by the crowd. As expected, of course. No one ever really payed attention to Haruka, the sullen oaf who spouted nonsensical lies left and right, the specter that fed on the leftover rays of the star Hoshi Koda's limelight.

Star. Her name really matched her. Hoshi was a "star," one that the likes of them—the gullible, idiotic, wishful humans—could never, ever understand or reach because she was held firmly forever in the grasp of Sora, the "sky." Haruka was only a "far off" dream, a "distant" whisper of what could have been.

It'd been evident to everyone but Sora that both the girls were in love with him—he'd never noticed Haruka's affections, of course; only Hoshi's—so it was with great relish that Hoshi had tipped the balance of their relationships and taken Sora from her.

She'd had several chances to since then, but Haruka never, ever tried to get revenge against the popular, pretty girl. It'd be a wasted attempt, because everyone would know it was her—her hatred for Hoshi wasn't exactly what you'd call a secret—and she'd get some hefty retribution from the Hoshi fan club.

It just wasn't worth it. She needed a foolproof plan, a surefire way to take Hoshi down for good, but even if she did, what then? It's not like Sora would love her any more. If anything, Hoshi's death would only strengthen Sora's love for her, making it nigh on impossible for Haruka, who'd never really stood a chance in the first place, anyway.

Haruka sighed. As much as she hated Hoshi, Haruka hated herself more. Stupid, ugly, plain Haruka, who couldn't even stand up to her long-standing nemesis, couldn't expose her for the lie she was. Who couldn't even confess to her one love, couldn't bear the probability of rejection. Who couldn't even stand up for herself against strangers, couldn't deflect their insults and criticisms and projections.

Sometimes, she wished the Millenium Earl would just hurry up and wipe the damn stupid, hateful humans off the face of the earth already. Haruka didn't even flinch when these thoughts brought on the usual bought of pain from her arm. She didn't need to look to see that the growth had spread. Haruka knew that she was slowly becoming a Fallen, but that was fine. As long as Hoshi was near enough at the time of her collapse to feel the brunt of her destruction, Haruka would gladly endure anything.

"I knew I'd find you here."

Haruka looked up from her book to find the lovely, naïve Sora sadly smiling down at her. Her heart beat kicked up, but she quickly stifled the urge to smile at the brown-haired exorcist and instead gave him a long-suffering glower. Sighing, she picked her bookmark up off the floor and placed it in her book before slowly getting to her feet.

They were in a quiet corner of the library that was rarely frequented by scientists, finders, or exorcists. Haruka knew that few people would come here, particularly if she were here, which was precisely why she always came here when she wanted to get away.

"Why aren't you with the others?" she asked indifferently, brushing at the nonexistent dust on her gown so as to avoid having to look him in the eyes. His bright green eyes, always fit to burst with disappointment and guilt when looking at her. As they should be. He'd been her one and only true friend here in the Order, and he'd gone and abandoned her.

He ignored her abrupt manner and smiled. "We haven't spent any time alone together, just you and I, in a long time." He was right, of course. About two months ago, everything between the two of them had suddenly gotten awkward, and things had only gone downhill after he got together with Hoshi.

"Unlike you and Hoshi," she smiled bitterly at his slight grimace, "I have things to do. I can't spend all my spare time participating in frivolous, inconsequential things." She needed to find out if she could somehow speed up the process of becoming a Fallen.

"You shouldn't spend all your time on work though, should you?" He replied, his wan smile turning into a concerned frown. "It isn't good for your mental health to spend all your time on work with no play…"

"And it isn't productive to spend all your time messing around not getting any work done!" Haruka snapped, glaring at him as she tucked the book away in its place on the shelves. She'd have to come back later to finish reading it, because with him there pestering her, she wouldn't be able to get anything done.

Haruka frowned as Sora gave a long-suffering sigh of his own. "How did we get here, Haru?" She flinched at the use of her childhood nickname, and Sora cringed at having hurt her.

Your stubborn willingness to totally disregard the truth and accept the lies?

Coward that she was, Haruka replied only with a lame, half-hearted "We just grew apart." He wouldn't leave it at that, though.

"Why, Haruka?" She backpedaled as Sora took a step closer to her, invading her personal space and grabbing her arm, the one with the growth. He didn't notice her grimace of pain, so caught up was he in his little spiel. "We were so good together, the three of us, but after Hoshi and I got together, you, you couldn't just be happy for us, you—"

"Me?" she gasped, recoiling away from him and painfully jerking her arm out of his grasp. "How could I possibly be happy?" The anger and betrayal and disappointment that she'd kept safely bottled up inside finally spilled over and out. "Why wouldn't I oppose it? The one person I love, the only one in this entire God-forsaken world that I trusted and cherished, betrayed me! You chose that—that bitch! Over me!"

"Of course I'd choose her!"

"Why? You should know that I-I love you…" she admitted, choking out the words she'd dreaded and wished to utter for so long now.

"Oh, please!" Sora scoffed, cutting her heart to shreds. "You—you were the one who rejected me, so what should it matter now that I'm dating Hoshi? You're saying that you love me now? You only want me because you can't have me anymore."

"What?" Haruka gaped. "What the hell are you talking about?" She'd rejected him—?

"Damn, I knew I shouldn't have bothered!" Sora snapped, finally losing the rest of his patience. "You're being so childish about all of this! Acting as if you don't know—!"

"I-I don't! I-I don't know what you're talking about… I-I never would've rejected you, if you'd asked! You should know that, that I—!"

"So you're saying that Hoshi lied to me?" Sora snapped, abruptly cutting her off. "You're saying that she lied to me about telling you my feelings, lied to me about your response to my confession, just so that she could have me all to herself?"

Haruka reeled back in shock. She hadn't thought of that possibility until he'd said it aloud, but now… that did make sense. It sounded exactly like something the sly bitch would've done.

Seeing the answer to his question displayed clearly on her face, Sora turned away in disgust. "I don't know what I saw in you now, Haruka," he admitted, adding insult to injury with his insensitive words. "I-I'm glad that Hoshi and I got together, that she saved me from ending up with—with you…" His barbs bit deep into her already bruised, tattered heart, and it took all her will not to give in and let all the tears that had built up inside of her stream down the sides of her face.

Sora, the new, cold, beautifully impartial Sora, carried on through his tirade without flinching, not caring that he was forever destroying what was left of Haruka's battered, irreparable heart.

"I don't know what happened to you, but—you've changed. You're not the Haruka I knew, the Haruka that I loved. That Haruka… that Haruka is dead. You—you're just a ghost. A remnant of a person, nothing more. An akuma." She cringed away from him and clutched her arm, the injured one, the cursed one, to her chest in an effort to keep her heart from hurting, to keep it from further breaking into a million shards and embedding themselves in her chest.

She raised her other hand to her face, as if to shield off any more venomous words, but it seemed as if Sora was finished. He had absolutely nothing left to say. There was only a dead silence, and that, to Haruka, seemed even worse than the explosive outburst.

Out of the corner of her eye, there was movement, and Haruka's eyes flicked over to Hoshi, who confidently strided over to Sora, who stood calmly looking down at Haruka.

"Are you okay, Sora?" she asked sweetly, her concern and protectiveness cloying and suffocating even to Haruka, who stood more than five feet away from her.

Sora turned to her and smiled a worn-out-yet-happy smile. "Thanks for waiting, Hoshi. I'm okay. I just had some things to clear up." She'd been waiting? That meant she'd probably heard the entire humiliating, heart-crushing conversation.

"Should I leave…?" She asked innocently.

"No. We're done." Sora turned to look at Haruka and murmured in a low voice that only Haruka could hear. "We're done. You are nothing to me now. I don't want to see your face ever again."

Haruka nodded her head numbly, but he didn't acknowledge even that. Like some horrendous, bloody accident, Haruka couldn't seem to take her eyes off of them, which was why she couldn't help but notice the smug look Hoshi sent her way.

The door to the library slammed shut with a dull note of finality, taking the last of the light with it, leaving Haruka engulfed in a veil of darkness.

It wasn't until she was sure that everyone had left, that she was sure that she was utterly alone, did Haruka allow the tears to spill over. She crumpled to the floor and cried dry what was left of her heart.

Haruka didn't know how much time passed since the light in her life had disappeared, leaving her alone in that dark, desolate room, but she knew that it had indeed passed, because she felt the shriveled remains of her heart contract once, twice, then… nothing. With a shuddering breath, Haruka hardened herself, condensed her emotions into a small, unfeeling pinpoint. It was easy, since her heart was already broken into so many small, easy-to-mold splinters.

She didn't know how or when, but Haruka knew that, without a doubt, come heaven or hell, Hoshi Koda would die before the completion of her next mission.

Haruka smiled serenely at her nemesis as they stood facing each other in the training hall. The other girl frowned suspiciously at her, wary, as she should be. If Haruka had her way, no one would notice Hoshi Koda's transformation from beautiful pampered princess to bloody, grisly mass of pulp until it was far too late to do anything.

This thought brought another twinge of pain from her arm and shoulder—the stages had progressed so rapidly and effectively that she had to wear long sleeves every minute of the day so her dirty little secret wouldn't get found out—but Haruka readily welcomed it. It meant that she was almost done with the transformation from exorcist to Fallen. Soon, Hoshi would meet her end.

"Hurry up and activate it already," Haruka snapped, eyeing the pathetic excuse of an exorcist as she cowered away from her and hid behind her boy toy, Sora. Since the library incident, Sora had made it his duty to chaperone Hoshi whenever he could when she was with Haruka, the existing nonentity. Haruka wouldn't be stupid enough to do anything to her here, where anyone could stumble upon her in the act and stop her, but Haruka knew now that Sora knew her as much as he did Hoshi.

"Come on, Hoshi," Haruka taunted, flicking her Innocence—a lengthy whip with a sharp, barbed tip—lazily at the girl, who squeaked and shuddered against Sora. He smiled encouragingly at his weak, useless girlfriend.

"You can do it, Hoshi. I believe in you." Haruka faked a gag at the corny, clichéd line, but Sora pointedly ignored her, instead trying to coax the Hoshi's Innocence out of her unresponsive body. Unlike Sora and Haruka, Hoshi had managed to land herself with a parasitic-type Innocence, meaning that she'd had it the entire time. It could've manifested itself anytime during their childhood in the Black Order, but she just never had the skill or effort to do so because it wouldn't have benefitted her much to leave for missions that would probably kill her and not let her see Sora again.

The sly bitch, Haruka thought, watching the other girl squirm against the boy. The sight of it riled her stomach, and if she'd had breakfast, it would've gladly come back up on top of the revoltingly lovey-dovey pair.

"You can activate it in times of need, so all you need to do now is somehow focus less on need and more on want." In times of need, my ass, Haruka snorted, kicking at a piece of rubble near her foot. It was a proven fact that Hoshi couldn't activate Innocence even to save her own pathetic, sorry life.

With the increase in akuma and Noah sightings, more and more exorcists were needed to eliminate them—thus the training sessions. If Hoshi could somehow manage to activate her Innocence, she could stop tagging along with Haruka and complete missions of her own, meaning less akuma. Madoff had told Haruka to instruct Hoshi because he didn't want a mob trying to lynch the bitch once they found out what a damn useless liar she was. Being short one exorcist—no matter how seemingly useless—wouldn't benefit the Order, considering the situation.

"If all you plan on doing is cuddle up with your boyfriend, can you leave so I can actually get some training in?" She really needed it too, now that her Innocence had deteriorated so quickly. It'd taken a lot of effort just to extend the whip the twenty feet to Hoshi. If she didn't work on it, she'd be doing too-close-for-comfort close-combat with akuma. It wouldn't exactly benefit Hoshi's assassination contingencies if the assassinator failed to show up because she'd idiotically done herself in.

"You know, Haruka, you can go," Hoshi said in an embarrassed, considerate voice. She had to keep up the act, wouldn't want dear Sora to find out what a bitch she was after all the effort she'd put into destroying Haruka's life, no? "I don't want to waste the time that you could be spending with your friends." Friends, what friends? You mean all the ones you turned against me? "I'll be fine with Sora helping me, really."

"No one's forcing you to stay, you know," Sora snapped, finally acknowledging her existence.

"Actually, you're wrong. The only reason why I'm here is because Supervisor Madoff forced me into this. What, like I'd come here with her of my own volition?"

"You can just go; it's not like we actually need you here, since you aren't helping with anything by yelling at her like that."

"How are you going to explain my absence to Madoff-san, then?"

"We'll just lie, say whatever to get him off your back. As long as you're not on ours."

Haruka smiled bitterly at his words. "That's fine by me." She turned and stalked out of the training hall, not casting a backwards glance at the couple as they tried—unsuccessfully, of course—to get Hoshi to activate her Innocence.

Finders and scientists stared as Haruka stomped in a rage to her room. Dear God, it should've been easy for Hoshi! The Innocence was a part of her damn body, for crying out loud! Even Haruka had managed to master her anti-akuma weapon years ago, and it'd been far more difficult for her to acclimate with her Innocence since it wasn't embedded in her body somewhere.

She ripped off her bulky black sweater and jumped onto her bed, the springs squeaking as she attacked her pillow with her fists. Oh, how she wished that it was Hoshi or even Sora's face that she was punching and not just some inanimate object that couldn't fight back.

It'd been weeks, but since the library incident, Haruka's feelings for the boy she'd loved since childhood had faded, taking a darker turn. Now, she wished for Sora's demise nearly as much as she did Hoshi's.

Haruka sighed. When was Madoff-san going to give her a damn mission with Hoshi already? Screw the Order and their hopeless fight with the damn Noah clan—she wanted everything to be done and over with already. But there Madoff was, dragging Haruka's miserable, pathetic life on longer than necessary.

She grabbed her battered pillow and covered her face, screeching into it like a banshee. Fuck the neighbors. They didn't give a damn about her feelings, her wants, so why should she care about theirs?

"Hey piglet, get up." Haruka's eyes instantly opened, and she half-heartedly dodged the blow aimed at her. It didn't take much effort, really.

"What do you want?"

"Madoff-san wanted me to come get you, he wanted to see both of us in his office."

"Sure, whatever." Haruka stood up and went over to her closet. "Get out, you damn creeper. I'm changing."

"No need to say anything. As if I would want to see your filthy body?"

The door slammed shut loudly—Haruka's neighbors were probably getting really annoyed with her again, but who cares, everyone was always put out with her—and Haruka sifted through the pile of clothes lying on the floor of her of closet, looking for something relatively clean and presentable. She eventually decided on a worn white button-up shirt with frayed cuffs and sleeves that were a tad too long coupled with a loose pair of black slacks.

When she left the room, Hoshi sneered at her unkempt, disheveled look—compared to Hoshi, Haruka resembled a bloated rat covered in open sores. Haruka ignored the other girl's stares and walked briskly to the supervisor's office, her nemesis having trouble keeping up due to her lack of exercise.

"Wait up, damn you!" The few people in the hall way with them started at Hoshi's slip in character, but Haruka acknowledged the other girl's whining with only a smirk, instead quickening the pace to a brusque jog.

By the time they reached Supervisor Madoff's office, Hoshi was covered in sweat and breathing like a bellows, making rather unladylike grunts. Haruka sneered at her and knocked on the door. She entered upon hearing a deep "Come in" from within.

When Haruka opened the door, she started in surprise and stopped; she wasn't the only one. When Hoshi saw Sora standing in the supervisor's spaciously tidy office, she squealed and pounced on him. He wrinkled his nose as the smell of her ripe body assailed his senses. Haruka bit back a short bark of laughter. He was only accustomed to being with the Star when she was in perfectly-coifed perfection, not a lock out of place nor a human blemish on her face. This would be a much-needed reminder to him that Hoshi Koda was only human, just like the rest of them.

"Sorry for interrupting your conversation with Sora-kun, Madoff-san, but I was told that you needed to see me…?"

"That's perfectly fine, he's part of why—Hoshi, get your hands off of him and pay attention!" he gruffly demanded, his bristled face turning an unattractive shade of red. Hoshi pouted and simpered but reluctantly climbed out of Sora's arms. How Soa never tired of her childish antics was beyond Haruka. Maybe it didn't matter as long as he had a pretty face to kiss and a warm body to hold at night.

"Now, back to what I was saying…" Madoff-san said, giving Hoshi one last glare before continuing, "I have a mission that I would like the two of you to go on. Nothing out of the ordinary of course, just your typical Level-Ones disturbing village folk."

"When would you like Hoshi and me to leave, Supervisor Madoff?" That would be a piece of cake, even with her defective Innocence.

Madoff-san responded to her declaration with only a gruff laugh, holding one hand over his eyes. Haruka raised an eyebrow at him.

"You're not going."

"What—?" Haruka and Hoshi asked simultaneously, leaping at the supervisor and nearly toppling his desk.

"What do you mean by that, Madoff-san?" Hoshi gasped, casting frantic glances at the man, who simply leered at her.

"It seems you need more incentive in activating your Innocence, Hoshi, which is why on this mission Sora-kun will be accompanying you in place of Haruka-chan." Haruka evilly, eagerly took in the way Hoshi's face instantly paled at this revelation.

"B-but—you can't do that!" Hoshi cried, slamming her hands on Madoff's desk. Haruka's eyes glanced over at Sora's impassive face. How was he taking the meltdown of his perfect little princess? Was he silently raging under that collected façade—?


Sora and Haruka both jumped at the loud noise, and Haruka's eyes instantly darted back to Hoshi and Madoff, who had slammed his meaty hands onto the desk.

"You seem to have forgotten who runs this branch of the Order, Hoshi Koda." Haruka shivered at the cold, collected voice of the German supervisor. "I advise you to remember your place else I'll have to publicly reeducate you and the rest of the Order on the matter of your true position here." Hoshi shuddered at the threat and mutely nodded her head. Haruka straightened as Madoff turned abruptly to face her. "That was all, Haruka. You are dismissed."

"By your leave, then, Supervisor Madoff." Haruka turned away, catching Hoshi's panicked, pleading look and relishing in the girl's helplessness. She couldn't resist the temptation, so, just as she was about to close the door to the supervisor's office, she snuck one last glance at Sora's face. She caught a glimpse of the doubt and uncertainty clouding Sora Morita's face as the illusions he'd created and enforced about the person he thought he'd known and loved crumbled into ash.

Haruka smiled in anticipation of Sora's anguish. Soon, he'd be left with the remnants of a person that hadn't existed. A nonentity.

A ghost.

Sora and Hoshi were gone for days, weeks, years, it seemed. Time dragged on for Haruka, who couldn't wait for the return of the couple, couldn't wait to revel in their despair. Couldn't wait to carouse in the destruction of the bonds they shared.

But when that day came, the day that Sora and Hoshi finally returned from their mission, Haruka was shocked and disappointed to see that the mission had had the opposite effect. Instead of breaking them apart, it somehow managed to push them closer together. How could this be? Was that idiot Sora so besotted with the Hoshi that he'd created in his mind's eye that he was perfectly fine with the much-less appealing reali-life thing?

Haruka seethed inside and wallowed in self-disgust. If you wanted something done, you had to do it yourself, it seemed…

It wasn't until later that day, when the Order was throwing a welcome-back party and Haruka was sulking in the library and revising her assassination plans so as to include Sora that the man himself came and tore down the misconceptions she'd been under.

"You're almost always here." Sora chuckled uncomfortably, squatting down in front of her in the corner of the library Haruka had claimed as her own.

"What do you want?" Haruka muttered, not bothering to look up from the book she was reading. Not the last one she'd read, of course, the one during the incident; the stages had progressed so far that it was obvious that the end was drawing closer and her life to an end, so there wasn't much of a need to finish it.

He ignored her and carried on with his monologue. "You were always like this—going off on your own and holing up somewhere to hide from the rest of the world. That part of you hasn't changed, huh." She returned the favor and ignored him.

She could see that he was bothered by this, and it made her glad, in a petty sort of way. How did he like being ignored, like he'd done the old Haruka, the weak one, the sentimental one?


She finally decided to say something, else he'd never get to the point and leave her to her plotting.

"I thought the old Haruka didn't exist anymore, and that I was nothing but a ghost." She turned her cold gaze on him. "Why are you talking to things that don't exist? If you don't stop, you'll eventually become one yourself."

"I-I, I just wanted to say that y-you were right, Haruka—she's not, not who I thought she was, and I'm sor—"

"Save that apology for someone who actually cares, Sora." If she'd still had one, Haruka's heart would have throbbed in unbearable pain at the regret and sorrow that appeared on the face of the boy she'd thought she'd loved. But Haruka had no more capacity for love or sorrow in the shriveled husk of the remains of her heart, so his pain brought only joy to her, none of the agony.

"What, you think that now that you know Hoshi's a damn lying bitch that I'm going to forgive you over that misunderstanding?" She snorted. "If you do, you're more naïve than I thought."

She stood up, looking down on him with disgust and spite dripping from her facial features. "You're right, Sora. The Haruka that you knew and loved is dead. Me, I'm nothing but a ghost, a demon that's going to hand out some spectral retribution before disappearing." She turned and walked away, and just before she shut the door, she paused and left him with one last warning. "If you know what's good for you, Sora Morita, you'd best leave the Order, and soon."

As the scenery flashed by in a blur of leafy green and muddy brown, Haruka Miyazaki smiled as she sat smugly within the confines of the train, Hoshia Koda fidgeting uncomfortably in a corner of the cable car beside her. Madoff-san had told the both of them to think of this mission as a test for Hoshi Koda—she'd been given enough incentive to do better, it seemed.

Since the mission with Sora, word had spread of Hoshi's inaptitude. It hadn't come from Sora, of course; he wasn't the kind of person to do that—he was too weak in that sense. Word had come from the other, less agreeable partners coupled with her on the missions that'd came after the first, who'd quickly let slip the fact that Hoshi couldn't activate Innocence to save her own life, much less the life of anyone else.

The rays from the setting sun cast a ruddy, golden tinge to the world around her, and Haruka grinned. It looked as if the entire world were bathed in blood.

She languidly raised a hand to shut the train's window drapes. Soon, the play of her life would come to a close, and the blood-drenched curtains would forever fall on the last bloody act of her tragedy.

"Let's hurry up and get this over with," Haruka said, raising her hands above her and stretching. Hoshi merely stood there, a dull lump of flesh and Innocence. Haruka raised a sardonic brow at her. "What, no comments, no quips, no barbs?" The girl replied merely with a listless, half-hearted glare, and Haruka laughed. Who was the sullen oaf now?

Haruka turned to the Finder who'd met up with them after they'd gotten off the train. She hadn't bothered listening to anything he'd said that hadn't pertained to the mission, so she didn't know his name. It didn't matter though—if things went as planned, she'd never see his face again. "Where to?"

"This way, Exorcist." The Finder led the pair of them out of the train station and along a small, winding path that would lead them to the small rural village where the Innocence was rumored to be. The dark night pressed in on them from all sides, but Haruka didn't mind the gloom. It'd allow her to get through with the deed that much faster.

Haruka frowned as Hoshi grabbed her arm.

"What are you doing?" she snapped, shaking the other girl off.

"S-something doesn't feel right…" Hoshi whispered.

Haruka gave a derisive snort, but her blood was pounding in her veins. Had the other idiot girl somehow sensed her murderous intent? "What do you mean?"

"H-he, that Finder…"

She inwardly sighed at the girl's response. Clueless, as usual… "What about him?" she snapped, not bothering to lower her voice.

Hoshi sent her an irritated, panicky look, motioning for her to be a tad more quiet. "Look at his cloak. There seems to be, bl-blood at the hem…" Deciding to humor her—she was going to die in a bit—Haruka surreptitiously glanced down and noticed that Hoshi was right, for once. It was hard to make out in the dark, but with the moonlight shining down almost directly on them, Haruka could sort of make out a stain…

The Finder suddenly stopped, and Haruka quickly backpedaled, taking her whip out as a precaution. What now?

"Wh-why are we stopping?" Hoshi demanded in a fragile, trembling voice.

"Why?" the Finder responded, turning to look at them. "Because we've reached out stops of course, Exorcists." The last bit was said in a grinding, metallic voice, and Haruka and Hoshi recoiled as the Finder ripped through the fabric of his cloak and a Level 2 akuma appeared.

Now that she thought about it, the Finder hadn't bothered mentioning his name. No wonder. He'd been thinking the same exact thing as she was.

They were engulfed in a sudden, blindingly bright luminance. Haruka swore. She couldn't see!

"Time to die, Exorcists!" the Level 2 screeched. Haruka fell back as something slammed into her, causing the world to go dark.

Haruka awoke with a pounding in her head and a shrill voice screaming practically in her ear.

"I told you to bring me two live Exorcists." a high, girlish voice intoned, a note of petulance and annoyance marring the words.

"I'I-m terriby sorry, Noah-sama!" Haruka's attention piqued at the word. There was Noah here?

She bit back a gasp as someone kicked her in the stomach.

"You are so unreliable. I know! Why don't you go self-destruct somewhere quietly so you won't be such a pain in my ass anymore?"


"Are you still here?" Haruka shuddered as the akuma screamed and cried out for forgiveness, its anguished cries growing fainter and fainter as it went farther and farther away.

Haruka grunted as someone hauled her up into a sitting position by the front of her hair. "I see you're still alive, then." Her eyes opened, and she was shocked to see a short, dark-skinned girl—no more than fourteen or so—with dark, blue-black hair and bright, golden amber eyes. Out of the corner of her eyes, Haruka could see Hoshi huddled wide-eyed but relatively unharmed in a corner of the room, alive and well, unfortunately.

"Hm…" Haruka's eyes returned to the Noah before her. "This is disappointing. You aren't from the same branch as Allen-kun, are you?"

At her lack of comprehension, the Noah smiled. "It looks like I won't be needing you after all, it seems. Oh well, that means I can just play with you two for a while before I have to go on another mission, since I found the Innocence here already."

The Noah threw her casually through the air, and Haruka gasped when she burst through the wall and flopped to the floor on a pile of debris and rubble. A squeal of terror had Haruka looking up, and she saw Hoshi being dragged towards the Noah by a Level 2 akuma.

"Ah, ah," the Noah chided, waving a finger at the exorcist. "It's rude to leave before the party's over! I was going to pay with the other girl first because she seems to be the stronger of you two, but just for that… you can go first."

Hoshi's face paled. "N-no! I-I don't want to die!" Haruka sneered in disgust as Hoshi struggled weakly, futilely against the akuma. Even now, she couldn't activate her damn Innocence. "Ch-choose her, she's the one that no one wants, the one whose death no one would care about—!"

"You aren't a real Exorcist, are you?" the Noah asked. All of Hoshi's movements suddenly ceased, like that of a puppet's whose strings were all suddenly severed. "If you were, you would've activated your Innocence already."

"You're a fake." Hoshi flinched at the accusing tone in her voice. "You aren't even a fake apostle, since you aren't even an Exorcist. You're just a puny, pathetic human playing pretend." The Noah smiled a sadistic parody of a smile, and suddenly, candles appeared in the air, all of them with wicked-sharp points that simply itched to embed themselves in soft, pliable human flesh.

The grin dropped from her face. "I absolutely despise fake humans like you the most."

Haruka's stomach clenched in fear as the screaming started, but that fear quickly morphed into anticipation and excitement. She didn't know when, but eventually she found herself laughing along to the sadistic, disturbing antics of the Noah as she tortured Hoshi.

Haruka watched as the lifeblood of the girl she'd despised her entire short, pathetic life sailed through the air like pieces of tattered red ribbon blowing in the wind, creating interestingly disturbing images as they landed on the floor in a mess of blood and lace.

Tears of laughter streamed down her face as she cackled at the cruel, exquisitely delightful torture her enemy was undergoing, and it wasn't until she was gasping for breath that she realized the chamber was completely silent except for her hysterical giggles. Not even Hoshi uttered a sound.

Haruka slowly looked up to find the Noah looking down at her. "You're a strange human, aren't you? I'm killing your comrade not ten feet in front of you and all you can do is laugh."

She spared a quick glance at Hoshi, who silently pleaded with her eyes for Haruka's help. She turned back to the Noah and gave her a bitter, sardonic smile. "I absolutely hate her, so why would I care if you killed her? I'd actually thank you for doing that if it weren't for the fact that I wanted to do it so badly myself."

The Noah stared curiously at her a moment before speaking. "But you're all Exorcists of the Black Ordr, aren't you? It's your duty to fight against us Noah and our akuma."

"I absolutely hate the Order," Haruka snorted, propping herself up onto her elbows. "Personally, I wish you guys would hurry up and win the war already and kill all the stupid—" A bright red splatter of blood appeared on the rubble, and a spasm of pain from her chest caused her to double up coughing, gasping for air like a fish out of water.

Haruka giggled as the Noah stood up. "I'm surprised you're not a Fallen already."

"I-I'm getting there. In a bit…"

The Noah eyed her for a moment before grinning, an evil glint in her amber eyes. "Say, I have an idea…"

Haruka Miyazaki opened her eyes and sat up, looking down at Hoshi's arms—her arms—which were quickly mending themselves, the wounds inflicted by the Noah swiftly closing themselves up. The only sign that she'd been injured at all was the dried blood caking her entire body and the stains on the floor.

She looked down and giggled. The bloodstains on the floor looked like loose strands of blood-red lace fraying from Hoshi's—her—black silk dress, which had been under Hoshi's Black Order uniform, which lay in tatters in a pile to her left.

The newly-made akuma swiftly stood up and swayed on her unsteady feet. Despite her clumsiness, she managed a deep curtsy for the Millennium Earl, who stood before her.

"Thank you, Noah-sama, Earl-sama, for the chance you've given me," Haruka murmured in Hoshi's voice. Wicked delight washed through her, and she couldn't help a small titter from escaping. The Millennium Earl merely tipped his hat to her.

"I must thank you, my dear Haruka-chan~3" the Eark replied, fiddling with the two pieces of Innocence the Noah had extricated from Haruka's old body and her new. "I must say that it was pleasant doing business with you. If only all the other Exorcists were as sympathetic to our cause as you~3"

"The pleasure was all mine, Noah-sama." She gave another curtsy, and when she looked up the Millennium Earl was gone, the female Noah the only master still present.

The akuma Haruka smiled at the Noah and curtsied another time. "I can't say how much I appreciate the gifts you've given me, Noah-sama." In addition to turning her into an akuma, the Noah had allowed her to feed on the other akuma present so that she could advance quickly to a higher Level. Now, instead of being a lowly Level 1, Haruka was a Level 2 very close to evolving.

The last bit of juice she'd need to make that evolutionary jump was very close, which was why she was asking the Noah for one last favor…

"Noah-sama, i-if it would be fine with you…" she chanced a glance, and at the Noah's prompting, Haruka continued. "Would you assist me in evading the Gatekeeper at the [insert branch name here] Order? I've a few loose ends to tie and wish to get past the Gatekeeper undetected…"

Haruka held her breath as silence descended upon them, and she'd almost voiced words of apology when the Noah spoke. "Sure! It'll be interesting to see how those Exorcists will react to find one of their own has gone rogue."

"Th-thank you, Noah-sama! I'll make sure not to disappoint you!" The Noah giggled, and Haruka grinned in bloodthirsty anticipation. Hoshi may have been the "star" held firmly in the grasp of Sora, the "sky," the both of them a tempting, irresistible wish, but Haruka was the "far off" vision, the "distant" dream that would inevitably resurface and capture the hearts of humans.

They would be the forever unattainable folly, while she would be the inexorable end.

Tada, the end. Need I say what Haruka will do next? i felt too lazy to write out the rest, so yeah... Well, hope yall enjoyed it while it lasted! Go read my other stories please~!