It came back again.

The pain, the hopeless pain pooling in her stomach like a fate she couldn't avoid.

She stopped walking and knelt to the ground. She didn't expect anyone to look her way. It was early morning, and those who walked the streets at this hour walked with a purpose; their lives were too busy to stop and wonder why a schoolgirl was kneeling on the cold concrete sidewalk.

A cat meowed from a nearby alley, apathetically. It was a white cat, short-haired, with a splotch of grey under the chin.

you don't remember me but i remember you
i lie awake and try so hard not to think of you
but who can decide what they dream?
and dream i do...


i believe in you
i'll give up everything just to find you
i have to be with you to live to breathe
you're taking over me


Nyaou.... nyaou.... nyaou...

Miho sat up and thwaked her alarm clock halfway across the room. It landed on top of her console, and she cursed involuntarily. The SF was too valuable, too rare to be broken so idiotically.

It wasn't. The alarm clock landed about a foot behind it, somewhere in the mess of clothing that was her carpet.

She cursed again, but there wasn't any willpower behind it. She stepped silently toward her door. Opening it, she looked quickly one way, then the other. The trip to the bathroom took an eternity. It was too early for it to wake up, and she moved with practiced caution, automatically avoiding the imperfections in the apartement floor.

She showered, briefly.

And then back across the great swath of no man's land, into her sanctuary. Her uniform was clean, and she put it on, rubbing the bruise that was her stomach.

Like a sylph, she left.

---

The petite schoolgirl walked to class, stopping briefly behind the schoolyard. It hit her then, the pain, the agony of living.

Her very being fought against her, and the greater demons of her existence came back to haunt her then. Everyday it was like this - unable to end the cycle of suffering, unable to even end her own life...

She felt eyes. It was the jingai. She dealt with him.

Then Ping found her, and her world became all the brighter. The robot was not just her friend, she was her only friend. Ping's owner had never instilled her with any serious data; the robot was still friendly, unjudging, undiscriminatory.... nothing like a 'real' high school girl.

<Are you okay, Tohya-san? You look sad....>

You could almost believe that voice. She smiled, but her smile turned to ash as she fought to control her body. She couldn't pop here, not in front of Ping... no, not here...

<Please, Ping, go to class for me and tell them I'm not feeling well. Don't worry, I'll be fine...>

But Ping wouldn't go that easily. Damn, there were too few power words to waste them like this...

<But Tohya-san...>
<Look, green cauliflower speckled mushroom soup...>
<Oh....ok...>

Sony was like that. It had taken seconds to find the list of back door voice sequences - the idiots had placed them in her EROM, though on further contemplation they had to be in her Emotion Buffer.

have you forgotten all i know
and all we had?
you saw me mourning my love for you
and touched my hand
i knew you loved me then


i believe in you
i'll give up everything just to find you
i have to be with you to live to breathe
you're taking over me


She ran to the girl's restroom, stomach pooling in her legs as she ran. She wouldn't - she couldn't pop in the hallway. Too many people.

She made it to the stall, but there were still people in the restroom. The bell would ring quickly, and they would leave.

"Hayaku to omoitara, eien da...."

No one heard the silent plea as the girl fought to maintain her dignity.

That's what it always came down to. It wanted her to look stupid, to look weak -- and she was not weak. Had never been weak. Would never be...

There she was, conjugating in English again. It was a litany, something to say while the darkness envolped her and battered at her very soul. Where was her book? Where were her verses?

"K'so."

She had given it to Ping - she had given all her books to Ping. Ping held her defenses when she needed them the most.

Brrrring... Brrrring....

i look in the mirror and see your face
if i look deep enough
so many things inside that are just like you are taking over


She got up. She had to call Ping's wireless modem... she needed that goddamn book...

She walked to the sink, pulled out her phone, and was hit with something the size of the Eiffel Tower right through the stomach. The phone fell out of reach, beeping pointlessly as the ground called random numbers.

i believe in you
i'll give up everything just to find you
i have to be with you to live to breathe
you're taking over me


i believe in you
i'll give up everything just to find you
i have to be with you to live to breathe
you're taking over me


She fell, falling onto the cold concrete of the street. A kitty licked her face, but she couldn't feel it. Too much darkness, too much pain....

Nyaou...
taking over me...
Nyaou... *lick*
you're taking over me...taking over me...

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