It was my fault they died; that I admit to—but I did it out of fear.

You see, that day I learned something about my dad that didn't sit well with me, and I fixed it. I made sure that he was no longer a threat, but by doing that, I ended up getting my mom involved too.

I was only eight when I did it, but I remember it perfectly. I remember being terrified, and frustrated—just wanting a way out—and I know those reasons alone won't change what I did but…

It was an accident killing her… It really was, but I don't care if you believe me or not. I'm not here to beg, just to explain.

I did pay for it, just so you know. I was sent to a juvenile facility, and then later prison—on my thirteenth birthday—when they tried me as an adult. I did my time. I learned my lesson. I know what I did was wrong, and I can't take it back.

But that was years ago, and I'm eighteen now. I've been let out for good behavior, on parole, and I'm thankful that I don't have to share a jail cell with my inmate anymore.

The devil designed him just for me, and I'd be willing to bet they were brothers at this point.

Takahiro said that I could live with him when I was set free, so here I am. He also told me that he forgave me for what I'd done, but that only made the guilt consume me more.

I wanted him to hate me—no, I needed him to hate me. It pissed me off that he kept smothering me with kindness…

I had been sleeping most of the morning since I was let out, even if my brother tried to force me out of bed earlier. Who knew a simple, "Just a little longer, Takahiro," would make him leave me be?

I guess I wasn't used to not being bothered out of bed when I was asleep. After all, this was the first time I wasn't forced to share one, especially since my inmate refused to let me stay in mine…

Mine? Yeah, I liked the sound of that. This bed was mine. This room was mine. My body was mine, finally all mine.

It was scary to belong to myself for a change.

"You're here!" Takahiro said from the living room. I groaned from where I was laying, and wished for silence.

"I thought I'd surprise you," a smooth, velvet voice spoke up. He sounded professional, high and mighty—superior even. He must've been rich guy, just a guess.

A woman was heard groaning. "No, he's here because he threatened to go out of the country! So I told him that you'd be more than happy to accompany him to his next book signing, and the after party."

My brother laughed. "Usagi-san, neglecting your fans is rude." Usagi-san? Rabbit?

"You know I hate parties, Takahiro," said rabbit replied.

The woman was heard scoffing. "You mean you hate people, sensei." He sounded like he hated the world.

"As it should be," he retorted. See now? My point was proven.

I could hear the cheerful smile while my brother spoke again. "If you needed me for something, why didn't you just ask, Usagi-san? We're friends after all—and of course I'll go with you. When is it?"

I realized they weren't going to shut up anytime soon, so I groaned and got out of bed. It was strange to get out of bed wearing clothing, since my inmate didn't like me wearing any. I felt so out of place in my gray pajama pants, and long-sleeve, navy blue shirt.

How odd it was to wake up like this… I couldn't even remember the last time I thought this was normal.

The urge to cry welled inside me for a fraction of a second, before it disappeared behind my stone façade.

Crying solved nothing.

I walked down the hall and into the kitchen to see my brother being clung to by some weird man in a suit and tie. He had silver hair, violet eyes, and this superior look that could make anyone but me flinch. He didn't look like he liked me, more like he was bored with what he saw.

I hated him already.

The woman with red hair and grayish-blue eyes was smiling at me when I finally noticed her. It was possible that I might've been her prey.

She dashed over to me, clanking her loud heels on the kitchen floor, and embraced me as if I were her long lost boy toy. "You're so cute!" she practically shouted. "I'm Aikawa, Eri!"

She released me and tugged at both sides of my cheeks. I showed her little emotion, but I'm sure a slight blush rose on my skin. That was the one thing I could never hide about myself, even though the old Misaki was gone.

The new me still had that stupid flaw.

The man with violet eyes stared me down and made a dissatisfied noise. "He doesn't look like he's been in the penitentiary." Jackass much?

Takahiro patted the man's back and tugged himself free from his grip. "Ah Usagi-san, this is my little brother, Misaki. Misaki, meet Usami, Akihiko."

He gave me a firm nod. "Pleasure." It wasn't.

Aikawa-san was still beaming at me, or undressing me with her eyes. I wasn't exactly sure. "You're so cute, Misaki!"

"You said that already," I told her. She recoiled upon hearing my morbid tone. I couldn't blame her, since I did sound a bit lifeless. It didn't help that I stopped giving a damn about the world around me, so my conversational skills were shot too.

My brother went up to me and gave me a concerned look, touching my forehead. He ignored the way I retreated from his touch and pretended to smile. He knew men touching me was a no-go.

"It's your first day back," he said. "Are you sure you don't want to celebrate?"

"You should come to the signing and after party," Aikawa-san said with a forced smile of her own. "It starts this afternoon!"

Before I could shake my head, Takahiro shook his, and waved his index finger at me. His smile was so happy that I felt smothered again. All this pretending seemed all too familiar.

"Don't refuse, Misaki," he pleaded. "It could be fun. Usagi-san, won't it be fun?"

Usagi-san –I mean Usami-san, was glaring at me. I think he was in love with my brother, because the affection Takahiro was showing me didn't sit well with him. It was like he was trying to murder me with his eyes, although I'm sure he knew that I beat him in the murder department, unless he had hired hit men in his past or something.

If that was the case, then I'd have quite a challenge, wouldn't I?

"Yes Takahiro," Usami-san replied. "Bring Misaki along." Short, clipped replies. He was jealous of me, of my brother's affection towards me. It's the same affection he gave Usami-san so why…? Maybe my brother didn't love him in that way.

It's not natural is it? For a man and man to love each other…? Then again, what happened to me in prison wasn't natural either, but it was how I survived.

I closed my eyes at the memory and hugged myself, trying my best to find my comfort zone. Reality hit me full force when I realized that I didn't have one. "Yeah, I'll go," I whispered in a frail voice. If it'd make my brother happy, I'd do it. Besides I needed a distraction, and the parole officer was stopping by tomorrow around four. I had freedom today to do what I wanted.

I had craved this freedom for ten years.

My brother touched my shoulder, and I peeked one eye open at him before opening both. "Are you okay?" he asked.

"I'm fine," I assured him. I was used to being this way, to feeling this way. Shattered was just me, just Misaki.

After Aikawa-san excused herself and went to the car, I headed to my room and changed into decent clothes. I couldn't stop myself from getting excited when I picked up my shirt and jeans from the drawer. They had a price tag on them, and the shoes he'd given me were in a new box containing that new shoe smell. God, I loved that damned smell. Takahiro had bought me clothing, and that meant that I got to wear something first for a change.

They were mine.

After removing the tags and changing, I walked out of my room and down the hall towards the kitchen. Halfway there, my feet came to a slow halt, and I overheard my brother and Usami-san talking.

"He's different Usagi-san," my brother said. He sounded troubled. "He's not the same. He's not happy. How's he supposed to live with me if I can't even get him to smile anymore?" He released a miserable scoff. "I always made him smile when we were younger... He sounds so different too. You heard the way he spoke to your editor."

"It's the same way I speak to her," Usami-san remarked. Good point.

Takahiro chuckled, but it soon became a tired sigh. I leaned against the wall and folded my arms while I listened, furrowing my brows.

"You know, part of Misaki died that day," Takahiro stated. "The day he killed our parents. I visited him every day he allowed me to in prison, every day... right until he didn't want to see me anymore. He said he was ashamed."

"But you weren't?"

Hesitation was never a good virtue to have. "I'd never be ashamed of Misaki," he finally said. "That was an accident. That's all it was, an accident." Part of it was, yes; but most of it wasn't.

"Takahiro, he hasn't had proper schooling in years," Usami-san commented. "Those Japanese language sessions and books you sent him probably didn't help any. He was surrounded by convicts. Learning of any kind is difficult in that facility, and the top felons of our country go there."

"I know," Takahiro admitted. "I just want him to find his way in the world."

"He'll never do that without an education," Usagi-san stated. "A job's out of the question for him until he gets a diploma too—or at least a G.E.D."

My brother made a noise of approval. "You're right… It must have been so rough for him though. The way he flinches when I touch him…"

Believe me when I say: I've been in hell for the past ten years.

I sucked up some courage and walked into the kitchen. At the sight of my attempted smile, Takahiro beamed. "There you are Misaki," he said. "You look refreshed."

Usami-san grunted in careless approval. "We should get going."

As I went to the door and reached for my coat, my sleeve slid down a little, revealing the self-harm I had inflicted on my wrists. In a hurry, I grabbed my coat, and threw it on, making sure my brother hadn't seen what I'd done. Takahiro hadn't noticed, but Usami-san had.

As my oblivious brother slipped on his coat and started to leave the house, I rolled my eyes. "It happened when I was locked up," I told Usami-san, since he wouldn't stop staring at me. I couldn't tell whether he was surprised or pissed. Either way, his folded arms and his superior posture made it hard not to fidget. "I was just trying to escape," I explained. I didn't know why I felt the sudden need to defend myself.

"From your sentence?" he asked accusingly. What a douche.

"From my inmate and his gang," I clarified, leaving the house. He followed me, and once we were both outside, my brother locked the front door.

I stuffed my hands in my jeans and walked with them to the car where Aikawa-san was waiting. On the way over, I looked up and gasped, stopping to stare in awe. "That's your car?" I asked the egoist.

Usami-san smirked as he walked up to his red sports contraption. "It is. Beautiful, isn't it?"

I refused to answer and instead glared at his retreating back. Show off.

I didn't like that man, or the way he was fawning over my brother, and I certainly didn't like that my brother was dragging me along like this—not when I felt like trash.

I hated myself.

My brother may have forgiven me, but I couldn't do the same. The old Misaki was dead, and I didn't know how to bring him back.

You can't take back murder—even if it was an accident—even if the target deserved it.

My brother came up to me and checked my forehead, making me flinch. "Misaki, are you okay?" he asked softly. "You're pale. Are you feeling sick?"

I nodded. "I'm fine." I trudged to the car and got inside after Usami-san opened the door for me. "Fine," I whispered to myself, like I would every night in that cold cell. "I'm fine." I wasn't.

In truth, I was on the verge of a mental breakdown, but I dispersed the feeling once everyone had entered the vehicle and the car sped off.

In the rear-view mirror, Usami-san kept glancing at me like I was a test subject, or as if I were about to go AWOL. I returned it with a glare of my own when he stopped at the red light, but when it turned green, he drove off and focused on the road again.

I hugged myself and gazed out the window, just enjoying the scenery. This was the second time in years that I had been able to see the city, and it was just as overwhelming as the first.

At least I was free of that place, and as long as I kept my parole, I wouldn't have to go back.

The only negative outcome of this was that bothersome author my brother befriended, who was currently eyeing me again in the mirror. We'd stopped at another red light and this time, I took note of the way his eyes seemed so full of intent when they connected with mine. There was something burning in them, just like the curiosity in mine.

Interest was definitely there, but I wasn't sure why.

My face heated up when I found myself really examining his features, so I frowned and averted my gaze. He chuckled to himself and Aikawa-san looked at him suspiciously.

"Sensei," she said. "The light's green." He waited a few more seconds before he sped off.

There was an uncertain, curious tension developing in the car for the remainder of the ride, although I wasn't sure who was emitting it more. Was it him or me…?

A/N: Misaki is ooc, but whatever. You may or may not take to it. ;P Review if you'd like. Read on if you dare. o_O Have a nice day! :)