I hereby dedicate this fic to The Amber Raven, who requested the fic :)

Disclaimer: I no own, U no sue, k?


There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.

-Aristotle

There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. Being alone is being away from others because you choose to. Being lonely is when there is no one there for you.

-Unknown


Am I sick?

Everyone seems to think so.

They don't trust me.

They think you're insane.

I AM insane.

They want to lock you up. They want to throw you into the asylum and toss the key down a well. Nobody cares about you. Nobody likes you.

Spirit likes me.

No he doesn't. If he had the choice, he'd forget all about you. They'll ALL forget about you if you let them.

I don't need them to remember me. I don't care...

Yes you do.

You're wrong.

You're afraid.

I'm not.

Liar.

Why do you care?

If they lock YOU up, I'll get locked up with you. I don't want to be locked up again. Remember what happened before? Do you want to go back to that? Do you want to go back to being trapped in the dark?!

You're an idiot if you stay here.

This is my home.

Nobody here likes you.

I don't have anywhere else to go.

They'll throw you away. All you are is garbage to them.

You're wrong.

You know I'm not.

Stein takes a long, deep drag on his cigarette, the acrid smoke filling his lungs, the strong, bitter taste playing in the back of his throat.

The nicotine puts the brakes on his runaway train of thought, temporarily soothing the anger and hopelessness welling up from the seemingly bottomless hole where his heart should be.

You have a heart. You cut your own chest open to check, remember?

That's not the kind of heart I'm thinking of. The kind of heart I'm missing isn't something that you can just dissect and observe. It's something that exists in your own mind.

How do you know it exists, then?

Because everyone else seems to have one but me.

He drops the burning cigarette stub and stamps out the feeble light beneath his heel. It gives off a dying hiss that fades away to nothingness, the cool night breeze carrying the smoke away to oblivion.

Maybe he should sleep. Yeah. Sleep was good.

He returns inside his empty, lonely house and lays in his empty, lonely bed, thinking all manner of empty, lonely thoughts.

Sure, he had his classes at school. But those were only for a few hours each day, and heaven knew no student in a right frame of mind came to him voluntarily after it was over. He was the freak, the scary teacher, the one that never quite fit in. That's the way it's always been. And it's mostly his fault.

Because he's insane. He's wrong, he's dirty, his very existence is a sin. He can't be around people without wanting to hurt them; he can't make friends without driving them away.

It's because you're a freak. Your own PARENTS didn't even want you- you should have never been born.

It's not like I asked to be this way.

He can't help the way he is, no matter how much he wishes he could change. This madness is a part of him, and he can't shake it off no matter how hard he tries. And it's not like he hasn't tried. It's not like he wants to have a monster inside him that he just barely manages to suppress. It's not like he enjoys knowing that the only thing separating him from that gaping maw of insanity is his ever-weakening willpower.

He grips himself in a strange half-hug as he trembles.

It hurts...

What hurts?

...Everything.

It wouldn't hurt so bad if you didn't keep trying to fight it. There's nothing wrong with who you are. THEY'RE the ones that are wrong!

Stein turned over in bed, trembling harder still.

Why do you keep fighting it?

It sounds so gentle now. He doesn't mind having it in his head so much anymore, as long as it stays like this.

Why?

I can't give in.

But why not give in? All your hurt and all your anger would just go away. You could be happy for once.

But would it really be happiness?

You'll never know unless you try it, will you? I thought you were always curious. I thought you wanted to know everything.

Would it really be so bad? Even if it isn't happiness, isn't it better than pretending?

...If I went down that road there wouldn't be any going back, ever. I don't want to do that.

It would feel good.

I could hurt someone.

Why are you so afraid? Is there really anyone here you're scared of hurting?

Stein has to think about this. He tries, almost desperately; to think of someone he couldn't ever hurt. There has to be someone, right?

What about Maka? She might not be his own daughter, but he still felt some sort of protective instinct toward her. She was a nice girl, and he didn't want to see somebody harm her-

Because you want to do that yourself, right? You wanna dissect her to see what makes her tick.

- There has to be someone.

What about Soul? He was a good kid, if a lousy student with no motivation. Stein likes him...

But you still want to cut him into pieces. And don't even try to talk about Kid, you want to cut him up worst of all. You shouldn't be around them.

No. He didn't want to-

Stop pretending already. You said it yourself.

But he wasn't pretending... he wasn't. He didn't want to hurt people, he was so tired of these urges...

You're a really bad liar.

Now he's just mocking himself.

I don't want to kill anyone.

You didn't used to say that.

I'm not LIKE that anymore. I don't WANT to be like that anymore.

Is that really what you want? Do you want to live a boring life, never accomplishing anything, and then die and have the world forget you? That's not who you are. You can TRULY be the one who surpasses the gods.

I don't believe in any gods.

You could become one.

But what would the point be in that? Power? I already have power. I just want...

What exactly DID he want? To not be bored?

You'll always be bored as long as you're here. As long as you're human.

I can't change what I am.

But you want to. You know you do. If you didn't, you wouldn't be denying your true nature.

Who determines true nature? I could be good, somewhere-

Deep in your heart? I thought you didn't believe in abstract constructs like a heart or a conscience.

Stein sighs and rolls out of bed. He supposes trying to sleep was a bad idea after all.

"Professor Stein?"

Stein jerks out of his stupor and mentally slaps himself back into reality.

"Yes, Maka? Is something wrong?"

Maka scratches the back of her pretty head and smiles sheepishly.

She smiles just like Spirit.

"Not really. I just wanted to let you know I really liked your lesson today, but I don't think I quite understand it. Do you think you could explain it a little better?"

"So not cool," Soul mutters. Of course he wouldn't like having to hang behind after class.

Stein is momentarily taken aback. Then he smirks inwardly.

She was brave enough to walk right up to me without being afraid.

She must be as mad as you are.