Disclaimer:

"Would it be wrong?
Would it be right?
If I took my life tonight
Chances are that I might
Mutilation outta sight
And I'm contemplating suicide
'Coz I'm losing my sight
Losing my mind 
Wish somebody would tell me I'm fine…"
Papa Roach: Last Resort

Taboo subject alert! This fic deals with self injury in the form of cutting. Angst abound, so beware. If you are a cutter, please be aware that the contents of this fic may trigger you. Extreme caution advised.

Flip Side Of The Coin

By Nanaki Lioness

He stared.

Stared at the worn oak table in front of him. At his arm sprawled across it. At the myriad of marks and scars, twisting and growing up it like sadistic red ivy.

Does it hurt? No, not really. I wish I could say it did, but it doesn't. It hurts afterwards, but by then the deed is done and I've added another chapter to the storybook that is my life.

And now… Now, I'm about to add another one. Adrenaline is high- someone could walk in on me- but that somehow makes it better. If I'm found, then maybe I won't have to speak. Maybe I don't have to be the first person to utter those words.

'Dad, I hurt myself.'

It sounds like I'm a complete nutcase, right? I hurt myself. Cause harm to myself. Cut myself. It's all the same, just different fancy words.

I can hear it now… 'Oh Matt? He's such a nice boy. I couldn't see him doing that.'

That. And what exactly is that? Spoken about as a taboo, when it really shouldn't be.

What have I chosen this time? Heh, whatever I can get my hands on. This time round it's a cheese knife, one of those ones with the holes in and prongs on the end. Sharp thing.

There's a name for me. Self Injurer. Sounds so clinical, so diagnosed. I don't like it.

He heard a key turning in the door, and hesitated. The blade was already in his skin, dripping crimson blood onto the table, pushed deep into the flesh. Jumping, he hurriedly removed it and threw it in the artificial fruit bowl on the table, rubbing his sleeve over the bloody marks on the table. He hoped against hope the fresh cut didn't bleed through his black top noticeably as his Dad entered the apartment.

"Hey Matt."

"Hey Dad."

Standing, he informed his Dad that dinner was in the microwave and walked off to his room. Hoping he might pick today to inspect the dusty, aimless fruit bowl. Hoping he might not.

Torn. That's what I am.

He could hear his mobile phone ringing somewhere on his consciousness. Ignoring it, he pulled his shirt off and wrapped a makeshift bandage around his arm, putting another top on quickly and answering the still-ringing phone.

"Matt, guess what?!" The voice chirped before he even had a chance to say anything.

"What?" Matt asked, rolling his eyes and dropping onto the bed.

"Guess what I got," Tai continued in his sing-song voice.

"What?"

"That new game we were after," came the reply. "Fancy coming over to play it?"

No, not really, but I have to keep the façade up, don't I?

"Sure, why not? Be round within half-hour?"

"Great! I'll raid the fridge for snacks. See you then."

"See you."

Placing the phone down on the side, he sighed and laid down on the bed. His arm stung, and he could feel it still bleeding beneath the bandage. It felt cold, and he rubbed it gently to instil a little heat into it.

I really have got to stop doing this…

But I can't… It's a drug, an addiction… And it takes away the pain, just for a little while.

A really little while.

Sighing and getting up off the bed, he picked up his phone and walked out the door. He certainly didn't want to be late and add Tai being worried to his list of troubles.

. . . . . . . . . .

Do I really want to be playing games?

Matt sighed, ringing Tai's doorbell.

No, not really. I want to curl up in a corner and stay there.

Tai opened the door, beaming from ear to ear.

But if I did that, there are people who would try and drag me out from it…

"Come on, come in, lets play!" Tai said, grabbing Matt's arm and pulling him in. Matt hissed in pain and wrenched away, realising his mistake only as he noticed the look Tai was giving him. He cursed his natural instinct to pull away when in pain, and stared at the floor.

Funny how when I do it, it never seems to actually hurt. But, I know all the pain receptors are there because that hurt.

"Did I squeeze too hard?" Tai asked as Matt held his arm gently.

Matt forced a smile. "Yeah. Just a bit."

Tai grinned. "Well, when you're done whining about it, come and play!"

He bounded across the kitchen to the living room, sitting down in front of the television and turning the console on. Matt followed him, gently sinking to the ground and leaning against the coffee table behind them.

How long has this been going on now…? Six months? Eight months? I don't remember…

And how many times have I come close to telling someone? Double that. Triple, even. But can I make myself say those words? Of course not. It'd cause unnecessary worry for everyone.

 And what the heck caused it? I don't even remember that.

"Matt, are you listening to me?"

Do I look like I'm listening?

"Sorry, Tai… What did you say?"

Tai sighed and rolled his eyes. "I said did you want to order take-out or raid the local 24/7? There's nothing in our fridge and the freezer's empty too."

"Do you mean there's nothing you want to eat?" Matt asked.

Tai looked sheepish.

"Same thing, right?"

I'm not hungry. I don't want to eat.

"It's okay, you chose. I'm not bothered."

I'm not bothered about much anymore.

"Matt?"

Matt looked up at him for the first time since they had sat down, and realised his friend's eyes shone with concern.

"What's wrong with you?"

Matt shrugged. "Nothing. What makes you say that?"

"You just seem… Different…"

How to I respond to that? To 'different'?

"Don't worry about me," he said, smiling slightly.

"I never said I was worried, I just asked what wrong," Tai grinned.

Matt grinned back. "To quote you- 'same thing, right?'"

They left the conversation at that, Matt finally turning his attention to the game Tai was attempting to show him. He didn't process it for long, though; didn't really register it at all.

When did the things I love doing become tedious? When did I stop enjoying them?

When did I stop enjoying everything…?

"Matt, your attention's wandering again…" Tai said, slapping Matt's arm.

Matt grabbed it and glared at him, hissing in pain.

Tai looked suspicious. "You can't tell me that hurt as well," he said.

"Shut up," Matt snapped, averting his eyes.

Tai rolled his eyes. "I didn't hit that hard."

"You didn't have to…" Matt murmured to himself.

"What was that?"

"Nothing. Look, sorry. I'll concentrate."

Everything's become such a challenge… Every time I open my mouth, I want to tell someone. And then I don't want to tell someone. I hate the confusion.

And I can't say it. Someone's just going to have to guess, because I'm not going to say. I can't say.

I can't

. . . . . . . . . .

He awoke, wearily, to the sound of his phone ringing. Reaching out into the night, he kept his eyes closed as he felt light from somewhere burning through them.

Someone handed him the noisy device, and he felt for the 'answer' button.

"Hello…?" He asked tiredly.

"Matt, it's TK. What's up? You sound tired."

"It's night-time," Matt replied.

"Actually, it's only half nine."

Matt opened his eyes then, looking over at Tai. Tai shrugged, taking his game off pause and continuing.

"I fell asleep and Tai didn't wake me up…" Matt said by explanation. "What's up, Teek?"

"Nothing much. Do I have to have a reason to call you?"

Matt laughed slightly. "No, of course you don't."

As TK talked, Matt responded how he saw fit, still trying to wake up and function. He hated the idea of falling asleep when other people were awake around him. He imagined horrific visions of somehow making it obvious to all what he chose to hide.

Although, I doubt Tai would come to the right conclusion. Anything but.

TK and Dad, however…

As TK hung up, Matt put his phone down and sighed softly.

"That's the second time it's rung," Tai said, pausing his game again and turning round to look at Matt. "You slept straight through it the first time. You fell asleep an hour or so ago, and I couldn't wake you up."

Matt nodded, surreptitiously stretching to look at the state of his top. Even though it was black as night, blood always seem to colour darker.

He was lucky- no mark. The bandage had obviously been enough.

How many times am I going to get that lucky? One day I'm going to have a pale top on and it'll bleed straight through…

"Matt!!"

He looked back at Tai, who was beginning to look a little annoyed.

"Quit daydreaming when I'm talking to you, would you?!"

"Sorry…"

"What's with you?! You're on a totally different planet today, Matt!"

"I said sorry didn't I?!" Matt snapped back.

"Well, if you'd just tell me what's wrong, we wouldn't have all this, would we?!" Tai shot back, obviously sulking.

"Nothing!! I said nothing!" Matt said, heated venom in his voice that seemed to lack substance.

Tai looked up at him, anger giving way to concern a little.

"Then why are you crying?"

Matt opened his mouth to protest, but rose a hand to his cheek. Stunned, he felt the wet tracks of tears staining them.

I'm falling apart…

Getting to his feet, he almost fell over himself trying to get out the front door quickly. He could hear Tai calling him, but ignored him. Getting out of that house and away from the line of questioning currently being fired at him was all that mattered.

Running out in to the road without even looking, he didn't stop until he felt he was far enough away. Stopping to catch his breath, he struggled to keep his emotions in check.

I can't keep doing this… I can't

"Hey!"

He turned to a hand being placed on his shoulder, and gave the owner of it a shocked stare.

"TK?"

"I was coming over to see you guys," TK explained, obviously bewildered. "Tai spoke to me the first time I called you, and said about some new game he figured I'd like. But- what the heck's the matter?"

"Nothing," Matt said, straightening himself out a little and smiling falsely. "Nothing at all. C'mon, let's go back."

TK raised a suspicious eyebrow, but shrugged and followed Matt back to Tai's apartment. Matt would talk when he was good and ready, and he knew not to pry.

He couldn't help but notice, however, the strange look Tai gave Matt when he opened the door to them. Nor could he miss the whispered words from his elder brother that sounded something like 'don't say a word'.

What's going on…?

They walked in to the house, Tai chatting normally to the both of them while Matt looked in to the distance.

"Did something happen?" He asked after a moment, putting a hand up to Tai to halt his talk for a moment.

Matt turned to him.

"Huh?"

"I said, did something happen?"

"What? No, no. Nothing's happened. I'm just tired. I was thinking, maybe I should go home and go to bed…"

"You can stop here," Tai said, almost too quickly. "It's no problem, really."

The tone of his voice screamed 'don't think about saying no, we need to talk'. Matt knew better than to argue, nodded his thanks and borrowed Tai's bed whilst the other two played games.

Sleep heals the soul. Sleep is a cure for everything… I should spend more time doing it. It's underrated, it really is.

But it's that horrible circle… I'm too depressed to sleep, even though sleep will help it.

I hate this so much…

. . . . . . . . . . .

"Matt…?"

Matt stirred slightly, opening his eyes slightly. Seeing nothing, he opened them fully and focused on Tai's form sitting on the end of the bed.

"Matt, we need to talk. Seriously. No backing out."

He sat up, sighing slightly. "I know…"

I can't lie. He'll see straight through me now he's seen a potential problem.

"Where's TK…?"

"Sleeping on the sofa. Mom and Dad came home and went to bed, and Kari's at a friend's. I'm the only one awake."

Matt grinned. "Except for me."

"Well, now you're awake, yes," Tai said, rolling his eyes. "But before, I mean."

"Yeah. Yeah, I know."

An awkward silence followed, punctured by Tai sighing loudly.

"So, are you going to tell me?"

How does 'no' take you?

"Well…"

He won't accept no. He'll accept the truth. And he'll freak at me, I know he will…

"Have you… Well…"

I can't say the words… I can't, Tai. Guess, please. Go on. I'm serious- ask me if I hurt myself.

Please…

"Have I what?" Tai asked, obviously clueless.

Matt stumbled, not finding the words he wanted to within his reach. Stopping and starting, he eventually did the best thing he could. He flicked on the lamp and rolled up his sleeve.

The bandage seemed pretty clean, he noted- until he started taking the layers off. Each time he uncovered a layer, more pink spotting become uncovered. Pink became red, red became crimson, and crimson became his skin. Tai watched with vague distraction as Matt balled the bandage up in his hands and fiddled with it, leaving the cut exposed.

"So… That's why your arm hurt earlier, right?" Tai said; a statement rather than a question.

Matt nodded. "Yeah…"

Keep going…

"And…?"

Tai, you idiot!! Isn't it obvious?!

…No. Not to you. Because you don't do this thing, you don't understand it.

"Nothing."

He hastily rolled down his sleeve, but Tai shook his head.

"You obviously showed me for a reason. How did it get there?"

Matt stared at him, again lost for words.

"Matt?"

"I… I…"

"You what?"

Don't, Tai!

"It's…"

"Just tell me!"

"I put it there…!!" Matt shouted, closing his eyes as he said it. He didn't want to see Tai's reaction when he opened them. He didn't want to know.

"You… Put it there…?"

"I put it there," Matt repeated quietly.

"What… Cut yourself?"

Matt could see Tai wasn't comprehending what he was being told, and he couldn't blame him. He nodded, closing his eyes again.

Tai looked dumbfounded. "Why?" He asked, puzzled.

Matt shrugged.

"Didn't it hurt?"

"No, not really."

Tai looked even more puzzled.

"That really doesn't make sense, Matt."

"Nothing ever does any more…"

Tai sighed, still looking a little stunned.

"Well, I think you need a new bandage…" He said, standing and walking out the door in a daze. Matt didn't follow- he could tell his friend needed time.

A few minutes later, Matt was re-applying a fresh bandage Tai found in his parent's first aid box. Matt couldn't quite tell if he was angry or not, though he did seem to look a little happier.

 "So that's what's been wrong, huh?" Tai said after a moment. "Hmm. Tough one."

Matt shrugged. "Why d'ya think I never told you? I thought you'd freak out at me."

"Why? If you're doing that," Tai said, pointing to Matt's arm. "Then you're obviously already upset enough without me freaking out at you."

"You don't think I'm crazy?"

Tai laughed. "No. I just think maybe you need to talk to someone instead of resorting to that."

"If it was that easy, then I wouldn't have to do it, right?" Matt snapped softly. "I do it to escape- to have some control. To… Anything…"

Tai looked confused again. "That doesn't make sense either."

Matt shrugged again. "It never has done, so why should it start now?"

Tai sighed. "Well, you know we have to tell TK."

"What?!" Matt near-screeched, fear in his eyes. "Why?!"

"Because he'll be worried."

"And here's me thinking you were starting to be sensible about something… No, I'm not telling TK!"

"You can't just leave it!" Tai said. "Somebody has to know!"

"You know, right? That's already one too many…"

"Well, if it helps, I'm glad you told me," Tai confided. Matt narrowed his eyes, but there was no menace in them.

"Why? So you can frighten the life outta me by threatening to tell TK?"

Tai didn't reply, for once speechless at his friend's dilemma.

"Well, TK would understand, Matt…"

"No, Tai," Matt corrected. "You can't ever truly understand unless you've been there. And if I find out TK has been in the position to understand, I'll kill whoever put him there."

"So… Who put you there?"

Matt shrugged. "It's been a while, I don't remember."

"It's a pretty big thing to not-remember."

Matt shook his head. "It's no big deal. Stop making it to be."

"Maybe not a big deal, but it is a big cut. You really should get it seen too."

Matt laughed. "It's one of those things I've kinda learnt to do myself," he said softly.

They stopped talking, Matt choosing to lay down and stare at the ceiling and Tai choosing to fiddle with the bedcovers.

"How long?"

Matt looked up at Tai, who was watching him intently.

"How long what?"

"How long have you been doing it, what do you think?" Tai responded a little brazenly.

Matt shrugged. "Six, eight months. Haven't kept track."

"You know, I may not be the best listener, but you could have told me."

Matt shrugged again. "When all you want to do is sleep and cry, you certainly don't want to see people, Tai."

Another silence reigned. Matt turned over and flicked the light out, signalling the end to the conversation.

"I'll talk in the morning," he said by way of explanation.

Tai nodded, though Matt couldn't see, not moving for a minute or so. Finally, he stood up and climbed on to the top bunk- Kari's bed. She wasn't going to be at home, he figured, and he didn't want to tell Matt to move.

"Matt?" He called out in to the darkness.

"Yeah?" Came back the too-wide-awake voice.

"You will be all right tonight… Won't you?"

"Yeah. Why shouldn't I be?"

"I dunno… I guess I just don't know why you do it."

"Well, I don't do it because I can't sleep, Tai."

Tai grinned a little. "That's good to hear."

"It might make you feel better to know I'd never do it at somebody's house either."

"Uh huh. Good."

"And it doesn't mean you have to go hiding everything sharp at my house either. If I don't have something sharp, I'll use something blunt, and I know which is better on my skin."

Tai winced. "I thought you weren't going to talk about this until tomorrow?"

Matt shrugged in the darkness.

"I… Didn't want you to worry…"

Tai laughed- the only answer to that.

They lapsed in to silence, Tai keeping this ears open until he heard the soft sound of Matt breathing in sleep. Only then did he close his eyes and let himself drift away, too.

. . . . . . . . . .

Matt awoke the following morning to Tai sitting on the edge of his bed, staring at him.

"What…?!" He snapped irritably, turning over and closing his eyes again.

"It's morning," Tai said by way of explanation. "Mom's making breakfast."

Matt groaned and turned back over, blinking at the light in the room.

"She doesn't have to feed me…" He said wearily, yawning and sitting up.

Tai poked him in the ribs. "Of course she has to feed you. You'll waste away if you don't eat."

"Mmm. Is TK still here?"

"Yeah, he's here. Been waiting for you to wake up, like us all…"

"You… You didn't-" Matt began, looking down at the bedcovers and refusing to meet his friend's eye.

"No," Tai interrupted. "You asked me not to, right?"

"Thank you…"

Tai shrugged. "Just get out of bed already! Geez…"

He made his way out the room, leaving Matt to wake up and follow him a few moments later.

He seems to understand. Funny that- I never imagined telling anybody, let alone Tai…

Not that I mind. I feel better now somebody knows.

He smiled at TK as he sat down opposite him for breakfast, trying to signal all was well. TK smiled in return and turned his attention to his plate again.

I mustn't worry TK. I mustn't.

. . . . . . . . . .

School the next day was a struggle- Matt dragged himself out of bed with the feeling that he really should have stayed there. However, he realised, sleeping all day wasn't going to help his education any- and nor would it please his father. Glancing at the clock as he picked up his comb, he did a double take as he realised the time.

Twenty to nine?!

Getting ready quickly had never been his strong point but he excelled himself in doing so. Ten minutes later he was running out the door, even though he figured there was no way he was going to get across town to school in time.

He broke in to a steady jog, even though he knew it wasn't going to save a lot of time on a half-hour walk.

 "Hey! Where are you going so fast?!"

He turned, slightly out of breath, to see Tai and Izzy running to catch him up.

"S-school…!" He panted.

"Matt, it's only eight!" Tai laughed. "Why do you want to get there so early?"

"Eight?!" Matt said incredulously. "My clock said I was running late!"

"I think it needs a new battery," Izzy said, smiling slightly. "It probably stopped last night. There's no rush now though, Matt. We can walk at a much slower pace."

Matt sighed and walked alongside the other two, staring at the ground in deep concentration.

I knew I shouldn't have got up this morning… It's going to be one of those days…

. . . . . . . . . .

By the time lunchtime arrived, Matt was finding it difficult to keep from screaming. Loudly.

Detention for 'not listening'- Dad's going to be so thrilled…Extra homework for 'daydreaming'. Roll on the afternoon…

"Hey."

He turned to see TK standing behind him, looking lost.

"What's up?" Matt asked, his troubles forgotten for a moment as the presence of his brother overtook his feelings.

TK shrugged. "I'm worried about you."

"Me?"

"Tai's house the night before last- something happened, didn't it?"

Matt sighed. "It was nothing. Tai and me, we fought- nothing unusual. Okay, Teek?"

"I suppose… You just… Well, you looked really upset."

Matt grinned. "I probably was at the time. It's forgotten now, don't worry."

TK smiled a little. "Good."

"Hey, come on TK!!"

They both looked to the voice to see Davis beckoning to the younger boy from across the courtyard. Grinning, TK rolled his eyes.

"See you later Matt."

"Yeah, later TK…"

And then he was gone- the one thing keeping Matt's mind mostly sane was making his way to have lunch with his friends.

I wish I felt hungry. I wish I had an appetite…

And I really wish I didn't want to do *that*…

He laughed gently to himself, even though the thought wasn't even mildly amusing.

Who am I kidding? The slightest thing goes wrong and I want to do that…

"Ishida Yamato!"

He looked up at the sharp, teacher-sounding voice that had called him, and found himself face to face with the Principal.

"Sensei?" He said, slightly confused at why the man before him looked angry.

"Look at you!"

Matt looked down at himself, and then back up at the Principal, still no wiser.

"You're a state! Your shirt's un-tucked and those clothes don't look like they've ever seen an iron! Part of the school rules states you are neat, presentable and tidy at all times! Do I make myself clear?!"

"Crystal," Matt muttered, staring at the floor.

"Look at me when you speak, Ishida!"

"Hey, leave off him, Sensei…"

Tai appeared at Matt's side, glaring at the Principal. Matt slapped him gently, trying to alert him into remembering that getting on the wrong side of their Principal was like trying to wrestle a tiger.

"I didn't ask for your opinion, Yagami!"

"Yeah, whatever…" Tai said, uninterested, grabbing Matt's blazer sleeve and tugging him away.

"Are you asking for a detention?!"

Tai shrugged, still ignoring the words being spoken at him. Matt followed Tai, dazed and shocked.

"Tai!" He hissed when they were out of hearing range. "What did you go and do that for?!"

Tai turned to him, and Matt could see determination in his eyes.

"I want to help you," he said softly. "I don't want you to do that if I can stop it."

"That little scene is going to land us both in detention, you know."

Tai shrugged. "Nah, not for you. It's me he's angry with. He was only picking on you because you don't look smart today. I'm sure that's only because you got ready in ten minutes, anyway…"

Matt rolled his eyes. "Hmm."

"So, how do you feel?"

Matt looked at him, puzzled.

"How do you feel?" Tai repeated, indicating Matt's arm.

Matt shook his head. "Don't even go there."

Tai lowered his voice, even though they were in solitude. "So… Do you want to?"

Matt froze for a moment, not sure how to answer.

Nobody's ever asked before. And if I tell him, he may stop me. And if he stops me, then I'll have to feel like this all day.

"I'll take the silence as a yes."

Matt sighed, not meeting Tai's eye.

"Matt… How often-"

"Enough," Matt snapped. "Too much. Too often."

With that, he turned and ran.

I can't handle him asking questions. I can't handle him caring.

I need to…

I have to…

. . . . . . . . . .

No less than fifteen minutes later, Matt was in hiding. Or rather- sitting on the floor of a Maths classroom, behind the teacher's desk.

Nobody can pry here. Nobody can try to stop me.

He rummaged around in his rucksack, searching for the small pouch he kept in there especially for times like this. Finding it, he opened it and tipped the contents on the floor.

Shifting through the boxes of aspirin and paracetamol, he fished out what he wanted and held it up to glint in the light. A sharp, shiny, silver razorblade.

He pulled up his sleeve, opting for a piece of flesh above his cut from two days previous. One quick glance over the desk to the door confirmed he was in the clear, and he didn't waste any time. He ran the blade over the skin a few times, shaking so much the lines weren't straight. Then he pushed it deeper in to his arm, closing his eyes and letting the blood pool to the top of the cut and spill over the edges soothingly.

And then, that sound he was dreading- the click of a door.

Opening his eyes, he panicked. The contents of his pouch were strewn everywhere, he was bleeding onto the carpeted floor and his school uniform, and he held a bloodied razorblade in his hand.

I can't hide everything at once…! Oh God, somebody's going to find me, they're going to find me…

He had enough time to pull his shirt sleeve down over the cut and throw the bloodied razor into the bag before he heard the surprised silence in the air and the patter of feet coming towards him.

"Yamato?"

Sensei Yurusi looked confused, Yamato noted. After all, he was sitting behind the man's desk attempting to re-assemble the contents of his schoolbag.

"Sensei," Matt said, nodding and continuing to throw the items on the floor back in to his bag.

"What are you doing?"

"N-nothing…!"

Sensei Yurusi narrowed his eyes.

"Yamato. You're bleeding."

Matt's eyes widened, and he looked down at his arm. Blood was spilling through the white shirt, leaving a crimson patch. A growing crimson patch.

Sensei propped himself up against his desk, concern etched across his face.

"Yamato- why are you bleeding?"

Matt didn't answer, pulling his blazer back on to cover the patch, praying it wouldn't seep through to that, too.

I have two choices. I can lie, and get out of this. Or, I can tell the truth.

He opened his mouth to speak, but found he couldn't- he choked on his own breath and immediately burst into tears.

Or, there's hidden option number three. Way to go, Matt…

"Something tells me that this little escapade wasn't an accident," Sensei said softly. "It's not every day I find pupils in my classroom during lunch hours."

He leant down and picked up Matt's schoolbag, and tipped the entire lot out on to his desk. Papers, schoolbooks, pens and- more importantly- boxes of painkillers and the one piece of nailing evidence.

The razorblade- blood smothered and smearing red on to all his belongings.

Sensei looked at it, looked down at Matt who was sobbing harshly, and then back to the blade.

"You know I'm going to refer you straight to a school counsellor, don't you?"

Matt looked up, tears streaking his face.

"Don't say…" He begged, his voice hoarse. "Don't tell, please don't tell…"

"Yamato, this isn't something I can hold in trust. This is a very serious matter."

"Don't!" Matt said again, despair in his voice.

Sensei Yurusi sighed softly.

"Yamato- Matt… Do you really think it will be good for either of us if I don't pass this information on? Self injury is a very serious issue, and I think it's one that-"

"I get by," Matt insisted. "Really. It's not so bad."

"If it's not so bad, then why did you risk coming in to a classroom where anybody could walk in and find you?"

Matt shook his head. "No. No-one's ever found me before."

"So you do this often, then?"

Laid yourself a trap there, Matt…

He didn't speak, standing up and picking up the contents of his bag and putting them back again. When he came to the blade, he hesitated before picking it up and throwing it to the bottom of the bag. Slinging his bag over his shoulder, he made to leave.

"Yamato, you're not leaving this classroom."

Matt stopped, turning to Sensei Yurusi.

"You can't make me stay."

"No, but I'd appreciate it if you'd at least clean your blood from my floor and my desk."

Matt dropped his bag, blushing red and apologising hurriedly. He was saved by his phone ringing, and he pulled it out of his pocket. The screen read 'Tai'. Sighing, he turned the phone off and threw it into his bag.

"Go down the hall and turn right," Sensei said softly. "There's a staff bathroom. Clean yourself up a bit, and bring back some wet cloths."

"Yes, Sensei…"

He left the room, following the directions and entering the door marked 'staff'. It was empty, which didn't surprise him.

A mirror caught his eye, and he made his way over to it. Looking up at his reflection, he gasped.

The Principal was right…

He did look a state. His clothes were crumpled and now, bloodstained, and he looked generally bedraggled. Pulling off his blazer, he saw the red patch had spread up to his elbow. Running the taps, he pushed the sleeve of the shirt up and put his arm under the cold water.

The excess water mixed with the deep red blood, turning the water a funny shade of pink. He didn't look- instead, concentrating on his reflection. He ran his free hand through his hair a little, straightening it out.

When he felt his arm was as good as it was going to get, he pulled the shirt sleeve back down and put the blazer on again. Staring at his reflection one last time and sighing, he wet some paper towels and took them back to the classroom.

Well, that was a stupid idea. How the hell did I get myself in to this…?

. . . . . . . . . .

Matt didn't return to lessons immediately that afternoon. He spent an hour begging with Sensei Yurusi not to tell anybody. The man had eventually agreed- but only on the grounds that Matt was to report to him every lunch hour to tell him how he was 'coping', and that he make an appointment with the school counsellor.

Matt had been more than happy with that- it meant his parents and TK didn't have to know.

The last lesson of the day was Maths, with Sensei Yurusi. Matt and he were sitting comfortably, feet up on chairs and talking casually, until pupils started to enter the room. Sensei got up and Matt followed suite.

"I want to kick this," he said softly. "I want to do it without TK and my parents finding out. They don't ever need to know."

"Does anybody else know other than myself?"

Matt nodded. "Tai knows."

"Well, when I'm not there- call Tai. He's a good kid, really. He'll help you."

Matt nodded his thanks and made his way to his seat as Tai entered the room.

"Matt!" He hissed, stalking up to him. "Where the hell have you been?!"

Matt scowled at him and raised his blazer sleeve just enough for Tai to see the blood stain. Tai sighed, collapsing into his chair.

"What are we gonna do with you…?" He mused.

Matt sat down next to him, exhaling audibly.

"Actually… I did it here. Sensei Yurusi walked in mid-way. He… He saw. He knows."

Tai's eyes widened. He looked a mixture of relieved, shocked and confused. Matt smiled at that.

"It's okay, Tai. It's gonna be okay."

Tai didn't pry, simply shrugging his shoulders and pulling out his notebooks. Matt did the same, realising a little too late that his Math book was covered in blood.

Tai noticed first, nudging Matt gently and indicating the red splodges on the cover. Matt panicked and threw the book back in his bag.

At least I don't have to make up a reason why…

The lesson passed uneventfully, if not a little noisily- the last lesson before home time was always the loudest. As soon as the bell rang to signify the end of school, everybody jumped up and started putting their books away.

Matt stayed a little longer, nodding a final thanks to Sensei Yurusi before being practically dragged out the door by Tai.

"What's the rush?" Matt asked, half-running to keep up with his athletic friend's fast pace.

"We're going to the talk," Tai stated, not slowing down.

Within seconds of arriving at their destination- the locker rooms-, Tai was tugging at Matt's sleeve, attempting to see the reason behind the reddened shirt.

Matt pulled away. "It's just like all the others. Pretty red, pretty vivid, and will leave a pretty scar. Stop fussing."

"So, is that it now? What did Sensei say?"

Matt sighed. "He wanted to tell people. But, I agreed to come and talk to him every lunch hour and to see a school counsellor so he won't have to tell. Other than that… He didn't really seem very shocked, as such."

"You shouldn't have run off," Tai said, more than a hint of concern in his voice.

"I know. I'm sorry if I worried you."

Tai muttered something and shrugged- his way of trying to play down the concern he had so obviously felt for his friend.

"I'm also under instruction to phone you if I feel bad or want to," Matt continued. "But, I guess I'm just not good at that kinda thing."

"What kinda thing?" Tai responded, leaning against one of the lockers.

"You know… Talking about how I feel and all that."

"You're better at it than me," Tai commented. "At least you can admit to how you're feeling. I can't do that."

"Well, that's nothing new!" Matt joked, leaning against the wall opposite Tai.

They were interrupted by somebody walking in, and the conversation fell quiet. They were both content in each other's silence for a while, not speaking even after their interrupter had left.

"Shall we go home?" Matt asked when he felt long enough had passed.

Tai grinned and nodded. "Sure. Don't fancy standing around in school all day!"

. . . . . . . . . .

A week or so passed. Matt was feeling increasingly proud of himself, given that he hadn't succumbed at all. Sensei Yurusi was keeping tabs on him, but Matt felt there was no need. He was on top of the world- things felt right. He felt happy. There was no need.

Until Friday evening.

It's all been going so well until now. I must have known something would over turn it. I can't ever have that eternal happiness everyone else has, no…

He had arrived home to a note from his father stating that he was working late, sorry, and could he fix dinner and leave it in the fridge for him.

Fine, he had thought. Usual turn of events.

Dinner had gone wrong. If anything could burn, stick or mess up beyond repair- it did. After an hour of being unable to cook anything consumable, Matt had given up and done what he called a 'Tai' trick- thrown something in the oven.

Fishing through the nearly empty freezer had been fun. They barely shopped for freezer foods, because Matt made most of his meals fresh. There were a couple of loaves of bread, some chicken and a pizza. Assuming the pizza was there purely for Tai's visits, and that he wouldn't mind, Matt had put that in.

Half an hour later, he went back to it to realise the oven had been on too high. All that was left was black edges and a semi-okay middle. After attempts to cut the edges off had failed, Matt had simply given up and collapsed on the kitchen floor.

Ten minutes later, he got up and felt that familiar urge biting. Remembering Sensei Yurusi's words, he had phoned Tai. Tai had answered the phone and, within seconds, Matt found himself sobbing for no clear reason into the mouthpiece. Tai had simply said 'I'll come round' before hanging up and letting Matt collect himself.

Only- he couldn't.

By the time Tai arrived, the immediate frustration had been over long before he had started crying on the phone- yet he couldn't stop. Every time he calmed down, his body revived the tears from no-where.

"Have you?" Were Tai's first words as he stepped in the door.

Matt shook his head, leaning against the kitchen counter and trying not to sob at nothing.

"So why are you crying?"

"I don't know!" Matt snapped, the end syllable breaking as he curled up onto the kitchen floor into a ball.

Tai knelt down next to him, sighing softly and looking a little lost. Angry Matt he could smack and make better. Frustrated, tearful Matt? He didn't have a clue.

Putting a hand on his friend's shoulder proved useless, as did trying to smack him. Beginning to get frustrated himself, Tai reached out and hugged him.

It worked wonders. Within moments, Matt was calming down, clutching on to Tai as though he were his guiding light.

"So… What happened?" Tai questioned as Matt let go. "Start from the beginning."

Matt took a deep breath. "Dinner. It went… Wrong. Really wrong. And I wanted to do that, but I know I shouldn't, and I just… I need to. And because I didn't, I had to release the frustration somehow…"

Tai smiled a little. "As much as I hate tears, I really do see them as the better option."

Matt shook his head. "It doesn't make it go away…"

"Is dinner really worth it?" Tai said softly. "Is it really worth adding another scar for?"

Matt responded by lifting his sleeve, revealing the twisting redness of his cuts. They stretched across most of his arm, vivid and wild. Tai turned his eyes away.

"Is anything worth it anymore?" The blonde whispered, voice devoid of emotion.

Tai turned back to him, tears shining in his eyes.

"You're worth everything," he snapped before getting up and walking over to the telephone. He picked up the phonebook, shaking as he turned the pages. Matt didn't question.

Obviously finding what he wanted, Tai picked up the phone and dialled a number. Within moments, he was ordering takeout, solving Matt's problem of dinner.

Matt, however, wasn't taking any notice. He was still looking at his arm.

I don't even remember why most of these happened…

He sighed, covered his arm, and stood up. He looked at all the mess in the sink from his failed cooking attempts and sighed, leaning against the counter top wearily.

"I'll sort it," Tai offered. "You go and have a shower or something. Take-out's on its way, so you can just put the extra in the fridge for your Dad."

Matt wanted to tell him no, but couldn't. Instead, he walked away without a word to shower. Tai didn't notice, but as he left, he picked up the ornamental fruit bowl with him.

Locking the bathroom, he reached in to the fruit bowl and pulled out the knife he had thrown in there the week before. There was blood marks smeared across it, and he knew it would be extremely contaminated. Rust was beginning to set in, he noticed with disdain.

Shrugging, he set about sterilising it as best he could. Firstly, he ran boiling water in to the sink and placed it in. The remaining blood on it slowly began to flow in to the water, leaving small red trails in the clear.

After a few minutes, he pulled the plug and took the knife out, cleansing it over with a soapy sponge. The rust remained on the whole, but he ignored it.

He took a deep breath and got into the shower. Rinsing the knife off in the water, he bared his arm and held the knife above it.

You're so calm right now. Why are you doing it?! Why?!

He stopped- torn. He wanted to. But there was no need now. Dinner was sorted. Tai was dealing with the aftermath of cooking. Everything was back to normal.

Except me. Once it grabs me, it doesn't stop biting…

He eyed his wrist. It was one of the only untouched places, white and vulnerable with its blue veins beneath the skin.

Shaking his head, he closed his eyes, leaning against the wall and dropping the knife to the floor. It clanked softly as it hit the floor, nestling amongst the pooled water.

. . . . . . . . . .

Clad in a soft towling gown, Matt's hand hovered unsteadily above the door handle. He clutched the knife in his other hand tightly, trying to decide whether to go out and explain what he had wanted to do.

The fruit bowl lay in the trash- broken where Matt had smashed it to rid the evidence of his blood in it. The ornamental apples and pears were still whole, and he had felt awful about breaking those- so he hadn't. They were now lined up neatly along the windowsill in the bathroom. Decorative, Matt had thought.

He pushed open the bathroom door, and walked out when he saw it was still only Tai that was home.

Tai noticed the glint of the knife immediately, but Matt spoke before he could respond.

"I didn't do it."

"How did you get it?" Tai asked, walking over and snatching it from Matt's hand. "You didn't take it out the drawer!"

"That's because it didn't come from there," Matt said, and refused to elaborate. He walked across to the sofa and collapsed into it, ignoring any effort Tai made to talk to him.

Tai eventually got his attention- by kneeling down in front of his friend and forcing him to look at him.

"We have to tell your Dad," he said gently. "You can't do this alone, Matt."

"No!" Matt protested, but Tai shook his head firmly.

"Trust me. Tell him- get it out in the open. Then we can get you some help…"

"I don't need help!" Matt snapped, looking away from Tai and crossing his arms.

"Don't sulk," Tai scolded. "You know I'm right."

Matt shook his head angrily, looking at the floor before whispering something.

"What was that?" Tai asked.

"I said, go home, Tai," Matt repeated.

Tai did a double take. "Home? With you like this?!"

Matt nodded. "Go home. I don't need you here. The moment my Dad walks in, you'll tell him."

"No, I-"

"Go home."

"No."

Matt narrowed his eyes. "Go home¸ Tai! Now!"

"No!"

Matt jumped up off the sofa, stalking over to the front door and opening it wide.

"You heard me! Go on! Go!"

Tai looked set to protest further, but chose not to. He walked slowly to the door, turning to Matt without saying another word.

Matt didn't meet his eye, looking down at the floor.

"Just… Leave me alone…" He said softly.

Tai didn't say any more- he simply walked out the door, taking Matt's rusted knife with him.

Matt closed it with a soft click, falling back against it and sinking to the floor. He hammered the worn carpet angrily with his fists, trying not to cry in frustration.

What did I go and do that for…?

. . . . . . . . . .

Three days later

. . . . . . . . . .

"Matt…?"

Matt opened his eyes wearily, making out the blurred figure of his father standing in his doorway.

"It's seven, son. You need to get up for school."

"You never call me..." Matt said, sitting up.

His father shrugged. "You seemed sick over the weekend. I just wanted to make sure you were okay for school."

No. I want to stay here, all day… Because then I won't have to face Tai…

"But, you look well now, so I'll leave you to it. I have to get to work."

Matt smiled softly.

"Thanks."

"No problem."

The door closed again, and Matt stretched and got out of bed. He set about getting ready, wondering if Tai and Izzy would bother to call for him to walk to school.

I don't blame Tai if he doesn't.

He'd turned his mobile phone off all weekend, and refused any calls from Tai feigning sickness, feeling tired or anything that came to mind at the time. He knew he was in the wrong. He just didn't know how to set about rectifying it.

Half an hour later, he was watching TV whilst trying to pack his schoolbag. He thought about setting off early, to avoid Tai if he did decide to call round.

The doorbell rang, three times, and Matt winced. That was Tai's signal.

What are you doing here this early, buddy…?

He thought about ignoring it, but he knew there was a chance Izzy would be with him, and he certainly didn't want to raise any further suspicions.

He slowly opened the front door, schoolbag in hand. He didn't dare meet his friend's eye.

He was surprised, however, to be pushed aside and have the floor taken out of his hands and slammed shut.

Tai- and Izzy, Matt noted- stood before him, and he knew he would have to do some quick thinking to get out of the way of Tai's wrath.

His friend didn't look angry, he realised… Just upset.

"You know I've been trying to contact you?" Tai said, crossing his arms over his chest and looking stern.

Oh God… He must have told Izzy…

"Have you?" He lied, hoping it wouldn't show.

"You know I have. Your Dad said you were sick or something."

"I didn't feel well, no…"

"I didn't sleep Friday night, Matt!" Tai said, throwing his arms up in the air angrily. "How could I?!"

Matt glanced at Izzy, who looked at him sympathetically.

"I had to talk to somebody," Tai snapped, noticing Matt's gaze. "I couldn't sit at home wondering if you were bleeding to death all by yourself."

Matt winced at the harsh words, and at the reality that another person knew his secret.

"I'm sorry…"

"Sorry?!"

Matt choked, looking at the floor and trying not to cry his sudden tears.

"Yes…"

"For God's sake…"

Within seconds, Matt found himself the recipient of the tightest hug he had ever been given. Once he was released, the concern was enough to break his barriers and he collapsed to the floor at Tai's feet.

"You're so stupid!" Tai shouted at him, sobs catching in his throat to Matt's surprise. "I thought you were dead!"

Matt wasn't listening anymore- he was curling himself into a tight, protective ball, trying to block out the painful words and the realities that came with it.

"I should just leave you here again," Tai wept, the tears giving away his true emotion behind the presented anger. "I should phone your Dad or your Mom or TK or somebody and tell them you need to be helped!"

He dropped to his knees in front of Matt.

"But I can't, can I? I promised you I wouldn't tell. But, if it's for your own good, then is it really a secret I should keep?

"If… If you died because of this, and I knew and hadn't told somebody, I would feel so guilty… I'd feel l-like I'd failed. I'd feel like I-I should have said something to your f-family…

"And then, I'd have failed as a friend… B-Because I knew and didn't get you help, or that I w-wasn't there for you…"

"Shut up!"

Tai stopped, abruptly, as Matt uncurled himself and glared at Tai angrily.

"Just stop talking about it! I won't die- it's not about wanting to die!"

"But the risk is there," Tai said softly. He grabbed Matt's arm, yanking up the shirt sleeve harshly to expose his red criss-cross arm.

Matt hoped Izzy wasn't looking, but the gasp from his red-headed friend confirmed that that wasn't the case.

"These are dangerous. These can kill you."

Matt yanked his arm away, pulling down the sleeve and holding his arm.

"I know I need to tell somebody," he said, looking away from the accusing eyes of his friend. "But it's hard. How do I say that to somebody I love? They would feel like they did something wrong, or that they had failed, or…"

He tailed off as he noticed Tai's haunted gaze staring straight through him.

"They'd feel like me?" Tai said, devoid of emotion.

Matt didn't answer.

"It hurt, yes. But, I'm happier that you told me and weren't hiding it anymore. I'm happier because now I can help you."

He handed his mobile phone to Matt.

"And you can start right here by calling TK."

. . . . . . . . . .

TK arrived within ten minutes of Matt's call. He had got their mother to drop him off, saying he would walk with the other three.

What he didn't expect, however, was to walk into his brother's apartment and find Matt on the floor, Tai looking like he wanted to either hit something or cry, and Izzy looking out of place.

"What's going on?" He said instantly, closing the door behind him and walking over to Matt. He knelt down in front of his brother.

Matt looked up to meet his gaze, smiling softly.

"Hey Teek…"

"Hey, 'nichan."

"Teek… You know I love you, right?"

"Uh oh," TK said with a smile. "What do you want? What are you buttering me up for?"

Matt shook his head, indicating he wasn't playing around.

TK remained solemn, worried now.

"TK… I… Well… Have you…"

He took a deep breath.

"Have you ever heard of self injury, TK?"

TK looked puzzled.

"I haven't. Is that a literal term? Injury caused to self?"

Matt nodded.

"Oh. That seems like a silly idea!"

"Why do you think people do it, TK…?"

TK thought for a moment, and then shrugged. "I don't know. It seems like a useless exercise to me, because it doesn't achieve anything."

"It does," Matt said softly. "It can make the person doing it feel alive when they feel dead inside. It can mask pain for a different type of pain. It can make the person escape from the world."

"What had this got to do with you?" TK asked, eyes narrowed suspiciously now. "Are you doing it, Matt?"

Matt lowered his eyes.

"You are…"

Matt nodded.

"But… Why do you feel dead inside? What pain do you have?"

"I don't know. It's a hidden pain. It's hard to understand…"

TK reached forward and hugged Matt tightly.

"Why didn't you tell me?!"

"How could I? I didn't want you to worry…"

"You're my brother, and I love you!" TK protested. "Of course I'm going to worry about you!"

He let Matt go, blinking tears from his eyes as the reality of what self injury really meant hit him.

"What did you do?"

Matt indicated his arm, but did not show his brother the evidence.

"With a knife?"

"Sometimes."

"Have you ever tried to… You know…?"

Matt shook his head. "No, TK… It isn't the same thing…"

TK looked puzzled, but didn't question.

"Matt… You're going to take the day off school today."

Matt looked up at Izzy.

"Huh?"

"You're going to take the day off," Izzy repeated. "And go and see your Dad at work. And then you're going to see your Mom."

Matt looked positively terrified at the idea.

"I'll go with you," TK said instantly.

Izzy shook his head. "No, TK. Your parents won't be very happy with you and Matt both missing time off school."

TK looked set to protest against the decision, but Matt silenced him.

"No, TK. Go to school. I'll be fine."

"I'll go and talk to Sensei Yurusi," Tai said. "I'll tell him why you're away from school, and why I'll be leaving with Izzy. We'll both come back and get you, and take you to both places. Okay? We'll walk TK to school with us."

Matt didn't respond, just shrugging. The decisions were being taken out of his hands, and for that he was grateful.

. . . . . . . . . .

A couple of hours later, he was sitting opposite his father at his workplace, staring at the floor. Izzy stood at one shoulder and Tai on the other, like guardian angels.

"So, what's the matter?"

Matt wanted to speak, but the words wouldn't form.

"You should be at school."

"I-I know… But- this is important…"

"Then speak, son."

Matt shook his head, eyes tearing up.

I mustn't cry!

His father put his pen down, instantly concerned.

"Why are you crying?"

"Dad- I've been cutting myself!" He said quickly, lowering his closed eyes back to the floor instantly and waiting for the wrath he was sure would follow.

It didn't. In fact, nothing happened at all.

"Dad?"

He looked up at his father, who was shaking his head.

"I know."

Matt's eyes widened.

"You… You knew?!" He sputtered.

His father nodded slowly. "Your mother noticed it first. She comes round weekly when you and TK are at school. I think she checks up on me, to make sure I'm actually feeding you and keeping the house in order."

"I do all that Dad," Matt said softly, smiling just a little.

"Don't tell your mother," his Dad said with a wink. "She thinks I'm an excellent hand with a vacuum cleaner."

Matt laughed a little at that.

"Anyway… She picked up one of your clean tops about six months ago, and said something about it still being dirty. It was a black top, so I don't know how she noticed. She put it back in with another wash, and when it came out, it was still marked. So she took to it with some of that magic cleaner stuff that gets out red wine and hard stains and stuff. The… The solution came up red froth, and she suspected it was blood. And then, it kept happening…"

Matt cursed himself mentally. He always thought he was careful.

"She was concerned that it kept happening, and she talked to a few people at her workplace about it. One of them was writing a column about self injury, and she gave Nancy all the information about it. She passed it on to me, and we both started looking out for 'signs'. You hid it ever so well, Yamato."

Matt looked at the floor at the use of his full name.

"That was the point," he whispered.

"Then… Then she found blood marks. On the table. Tiny, tiny ones, that she never would have noticed had she not being looking for them. She was frantic, but I told her we had to wait for you to come to us… We kept a close eye on you, but there was nothing else we could do."

He smiled weakly.

"After all, out of you and TK, it would always be you who would do something like this. We suspected you may suffer problems with depression given your childhood… Difficulties…"

Matt smiled a little, relieved that his visit hadn't been as difficult as he suspected.

"I'm glad you know," he smiled. "I had to explain what it was to TK."

"So, TK knows?"

Matt nodded. "I told him this morning."

"And, what do you think we should do about this?"

Matt shrugged. "That's why I came to you- because I don't know the answer."

"I think we need to take you to a doctor."

Matt nodded slowly. "Maybe."

His Dad shook his head. "No, son. Definitely."

Author's Notes: No, that's it. It ends there. The road to recovery from self injury is not something that can be done in any length of time that I can perceive in writing… ^_^

I'm not even going to pretend that I haven't written this from personal experience. Writing this in my lowest points gave me the strength to finally tell somebody myself, and I am now on that rocky road to recovery. It's not pretty, as I'm sure anybody who's suffered from this will tell you .

But anyway, I'm going astray. Hope you enjoyed reading it, and I hope it taught you a few facts along the way, too.

Thoughts, feelings, reviews, etc will be appreciated. Nanaki_Lioness@hotmail.com, or reviews for ff.net ^^