Cult of Rage
by Hikari Takaishi


In midst of a stormy night, a young genius sat at his computer with no other lights turned on. Many books and sheets of paper were scattered around him but his mind was focused completely on the screen. His fingers moved quickly along the off-white keyboard and words raced across the screen in a near fury to get to the end of his thoughts. Within a few minutes, he stopped and looked at his small report. It was seventeen pages long. It wasn't so small anymore.

Typing in the last two words, "the end," the youth realized a slight problem. Those were the only two words on the page, making the report eighteen pages long. He scanned his report, looking for something to eradicate. Once he took out three words, he went to the end and glanced at it. Those two words were still on a separate page.

"I've calculated all the words; they should fit by now," he muttered, slightly disappointed. If he took out anymore words, his report would be ruined. And he had to include the ending words as a part of his grade. Frowning on the subject, he deleted the ending and saved it just as it was. He stood up from his seat and went to go to his bed. Stumbling in the dark, he soon tripped over one of his school books and landed with a thud, just as a crack of lightning and a burst of thunder filled the night.

His eyes darted toward his window, for the storm had taken him for surprise. He hadn't realized it was raining, let alone having a storm. Standing up, he then made his way to the balcony in the dark. The cool air whipped past his body as the sliding door opened. Once he stepped out, a gust of wind blew by, making him shiver only a little.

"Get a hold of yourself, Ken," he whispered to himself, watching rain fall from the sky in a hurry. Whenever it rained, the boy felt unsure of himself. It was as if the tormented souls that he once knew were around him as those wet droplets dart down to earth. Whenever it rained, he felt empty and alone. Although he knew it was just the chill of the rain, his thoughts never ceased from agreeing to his feelings.

Shrugging off the thought, Ken turned and walked into his bedroom. The blinking on his computer caused him to walk to the data processor rather than to bed. As he sat down, he noticed that he had just received an e-mail from an unknown user. He clicked on it anyway. In a flash, his screen read:


Feeling Strange?

Everyone gets that feeling that they don't belong. Be sure to recognize the symptoms of depression. If you feel constantly dedicated to something and spend all your time on that and only that, you might feel slightly pressured about something. Right, Ken-chan? Do you believe too many people look past you instead of at you? And do you think that you are the only one who feels this way? You're not. There are many young teenagers like yourself who struggle in life, just trying to make someone happy. Am I correct, Ken-chan?

Would you ever … join a 'cult', Ken-chan? Would you be willing to meet others just like you? Boys and girls who are intelligent but are overlooked for that are gathering everyday, to talk about their feelings, to make friends, to feel like they are not alone. Do you feel alone, Ken-chan? Don't be. Join our little cult and repress the fear of loneliness.

No need to reply, you will see the attachment with the address. We'll be looking forward to seeing you, Ken-chan.

"How bizarre," blinked Ken. He clicked the close icon but it wouldn't exit. He tried it again, but the same thing happened. The e-mail was still on the screen so he curiously checked the address of the so-called cult.

"Someone's pulling my leg!" he boasted in his mind, "they demolished that building years ago."

He was finally able to exit the window and shut his computer off. Lying in his bed, Ken stared at the ceiling and wondered about the strange e-mail. How did anyone suspect loneliness? He was very social, very active, and very popular. Yet, somehow, he was lonely. Very lonely, in fact. No one understood his complicated thoughts; no one even cared to look at him rather than his intelligence. With a final few moments of thought, he fell asleep with the rumbling thunder as a lullaby.


The sound of heavy rain was the first thing Ken heard when he awoke in the morning. At first, he didn't believe it was still raining. By looking out his window, he was finally convinced. He slipped out of bed and glanced at the mess inside his room. Instead of cleaning it up, he walked around the mess and to his door. Walking into his living room, he found a small note from his parents. It was just to inform him that he was going to be alone for the next week because they had gone to visit a relative in the hospital. It wasn't anything new, Ken already knew about it.

"Alone for a week," he said aloud and looked at his home. It was so tidy… so neat… so… boring. It didn't take long before he decided to check out the address from the strange e-mail from the night before.

An hour later, Ken was out of his apartment building and strolling down the streets of Odaiba. Another hour later, he appeared at the end of a near empty street that looked almost dead. Cars were beaten up, dented, and cracked, then left on the sides of the roads with graffiti on the sides. What was left of the stores and other residents was broken windows and boarded-up windows and doors. It was a whole different side of Odaiba than the uptown residences.

Ken glanced at the paper that he had written the address on and looked down the street. Strangely enough, there stood one apartment building with clean windows and operable exits and entrances. That would have been enough to make the normal schoolboy turn back and go home, but Ken continued down the street in curiosity. Nearly fifty feet away, he stopped and fixed the position of his jacket. The rain made it hard to focus on the top of the building, but the walls had scrapped paint and boards over the top windows.

"Huh," he scratched the back of his neck. He turned around to walk home but he was immediately stopped by another figure. "Gah!" he exclaimed and stepped back, obviously shocked.

The stranger tilted her head and her fine, black hair surrounded her pale face. "Ken-chan?"

"Ma'am," he nodded.

"Ken-chan," she smiled faintly and took him by the arm, "I knew you'd come."

"But I-" he started. His voice was drowned out by the thunder. The strange girl led him into the apartment building and down the stairs into the basement. During the entire time, Ken didn't say anything. His curiosity stole away his mind.

A maze of dark hallways was what they went through. Many doors were opened, only leading to more empty hallways. Ken was certain that they were traveling in squares. The final door was pushed open and a large room was displayed. Twenty, even thirty children near Ken's age filled the room, keeping their mind on their work that they were doing. Strange as it was, Ken felt rather comfortable. Here he was, with tens of kids like him. Suddenly, he wasn't alone.

"Ken-chan," the unknown girl said lightly, "welcome to the cult."

"Cult?" Ken managed to say after his minutes of silence. "What cult?"

"The Cult of Rage." Tens of eyes peered into his lonely two and another crash of thunder sounded.


Days later, Ken was more commonly seen at that abandoned building rather than his home. During school, his interest in subjects dropped immensely. His attempt to earn perfect grades slipped with those few days that passed. And the respect that he held from others was also lost. Ken was more independent than he was before he received that e-mail.

The Cult of Rage was amazing. There were forty-two kids altogether who had once in their lifetime felt alone. And more than half of those were Ken's age, in Ken's predicament. They understood how he dealt with life and how hard it was to be a normal teenager. Nobody disrespected another if one forgot the initiation tasks. Nor were there any actual fights between those 'friends'. After his first few days of learning of the cult, Ken's list of initiation challenges were made.

The third sounded the most difficult of all tasks. Take a deck of cards into the alley near the police station; perform illegal gambling acts until one notifies an officer. After getting being warned, enter the scene again until a chase has begun. Cut the way out of the alley and return with the officer's gun. If that wasn't done that day, another chance was given.

Secondly, Ken had to come up with a way to create the fire within a building without actually being in there at the time. That seemed easier than the first one. Only, he had to start a fire within the school, in midst of third period. The easiest task was the first task. He was to falsely set the alarm in both the fire department and the police station, sending them to the opposite sites.

Sure, the tasks seem adolescent and weak, but one member of the cult had told Ken that these were tests of courage. If he given up on any of the three, the final and fourth wouldn't be given. He wouldn't tell Ken what the fourth was. It was on the secretive side. Ken hated secrets. His whole life was a secret.

That night, when Ken left at exactly ten to midnight, it started to rain again. Without a warm jacket or a simple umbrella, he set out on foot to walk that hour home. White lightning streaked against the sky in sync with the rumbles of thunder. He turned the first street corner and nearly ran into a tall youth.

"Watch it!" he snapped, not caring who it was.

"Whoa, sorry."

"Takeru?" Ken raised his eyebrow and looked up at him. The hat on Takeru's head sheltered him from the rain. "What are you doing here?"

"I was just curious why you walked around here every day," he answered with a shrug.

Ken shook off the look on his face and glared. "Stop following me."

"I wasn't really. I don't know where you went afterwards so--"

"Shut up! You were following me. I don't like people who follow me." Ken took a step towards the other and clenched his fists.

Takeru pushed his fists down and blinked. "What crawled up your rear end? I was just wondering if you were going to some club or something."

"It's none of your business. Leave me alone," he twisted in his steps and hurried off in the other direction.

"I was just curious!" Takeru yelled above the rain. Just as he was about to walk away, he noticed a piece of paper on the ground. Picking it up, he read the address and realized that the building wasn't too far away. Since his curiosity was getting the best of him, he walked towards it. He stopped in front of an old, broken down apartment building with every window broken. No lights were on. Anywhere. Takeru set his hand on the doorknob and opened it with ease. No sign of the candles or long hallways were seen. All that was there was torn wallpaper, wet ceiling spots from where the rain slipped through, and holes in the corners where rats had made their home.

"All this extra time for," Takeru squinted in the dark, "this? He must need more help than I thought."

With that, Takeru exited.


The following morning, Ken awoke at five thirty. He woke up earlier than schedule to plan for his little prank in the school. Instead of doing the first task first, he was attempting the second. His brilliant idea was to kill two birds with one stone. Beforehand, he was going to call the police station and warn them of a suspicious character lurking within the shadows of the fire department. Meanwhile, he would call the fire department and report a fire nearby the police station. But really, the fire would be in the center of the Odaiba school in midst of third period. It was a perfected plan.

Ken stepped out of his room, making sure his door was locked so no one could get in, and walked into the living room. In a matter of days, his parents would be home. They would return to the home they left it in. Perfection. They had perfected the homestead, not Ken. That tweaked a nerve within his mind and he nudged the coffee table with his foot. The little trinkets jiggled only a little.

"Nothing is perfect." Muttered the boy, "nothing is perfect except for the cult."

His foot raised and swiftly kicked the leg again. The kick caused the table to tilt and everything slid off. He then walked over, even on, some of the fallen items and shut the door carelessly, not sure if he locked it or not.

Since it rained the night before, the roads were damp and mud puddles surrounded each sidewalk. Ken easily sidestepped them and hurriedly made his way to school. Once he arrived, he checked the clock. Seven-fifteen. He had over an hour to prepare his little prank. The doors were open early in the morning to allow teacher easy access. Ken used it as an easy access, too.

"Well good morning, Ken!" the secretary waved through the office.

"Ma'am," he falsely smiled, "how are you doing this early of the day?"

"Just fine, just fine." She smiled and asked, "Can you be a sweetheart and take these boxes up to the chemistry lab?"

Ken's small grin widened; that's where he needed to go for the fire. "Sure, I'd be glad to help," he took the two small boxes into his arms, nodded, then disappeared up the stairwell. The hallway to the chemistry lab came into view, but it was soon intercepted by the science teacher himself.

"Oh! Ken! Thanks so much," the teacher chuckled, "you saved me a trip down the stairs. Literally and figuratively."

"No problem," Ken secretly cursed under his breath afterwards.

"Alas, I still have to go and get my coffee. Say, can you set these on my desk?"

"Sure." Ken made his way into the lab and dropped the boxes on his desk. He quickly pulled out the little triggering system he came up with earlier that morning and set it to go off during third. After setting it in the back of the class, where there weren't too many chemicals around, he dropped a crumpled piece of paper over it casually. The door opened and he snapped his head.

"Takeru," he hissed, "now what are you doing?"

"Opening the door for the teacher," Takeru blinked, allowing the science professor enter with another fourth of a dozen boxes.

"You have science first," Ken questioned, "right?"

"No," he shrugged and dropped his bag on the floor, "I have it third."

The genius froze and remembered his little task. His cult couldn't have possibly known that one of his friends was in third period science… could they? Of course not, he convinced. Just a strange coincidence. Ken then decided to have the office call Takeru down for a phone call. Yes, that's it. None of his friends shall be hurt while doing this activity.

"As much as I'd like to chitchat," he made his way to the door, "I can't. Things to do, people to see."

Takeru took a step back to avoid Ken and replied, "Whatever."

Ken sat in his math class with his pencil tapping his book. Only minutes before he had to make a few calls. His mind ran slightly slower than usual. It was stuck on the fact that Takeru was in third period science. If any, any one of those chemicals reached the flames, that class would be gone in an instant. Nervously, Ken raised his hand to be excused to the restroom.

On his way, he stopped to get his cell phone, then casually slid it into his pocket and walked to the bathroom. Checking to make sure it was empty, Ken dialed the school first.

"Hello," Ken disguised his voice easily, "can I speak to my uh, son? Takaishi Takeru? He forgot to tell me where he's going after school."

"Just a moment, sir," the secretary answered. He waited impatiently while his hands shook tremendously.

"I'm sorry," her voice came over again, "he's in the middle of taking a test. Leave a message?"

"Shit!" Ken slammed his finger into the phone to turn it off and scratched his head. He paced quickly through the bathroom and felt heat form onto his head. The last thing he wanted was to have a friend hurt. Pushing back the thought, Ken carried through with his little mission. He called the fire department and right after, the police.

Ken kept pacing in the bathroom. It had been three minutes and he still hadn't come up with anything to keep Takeru out of danger. Finally, he heard the fire alarm go off. Millions of shrieks filled the math class just as Ken was pacing to get in there. He slid in perfectly with the class as he listened to a few girls saying how much they hated the pretend fire drills. If only they knew.

Out of the corner of his eye, Ken watched the chemistry hall. As they passed, brilliant flames flew through the glass window on the front door. Everyone, including Ken, screamed.

"Shit! Shit! Shit!" Daisuke was yelling his head off, "this isn't some damn practice!"

"That's Takeru's class!" Hikari yelled to him. Ken tried to ignore them both. A swarm of students flooded the hallways, pushing each other down the stairs and away from the flames. The stench of fire hung densely above them all. Several students were hurt in the process of getting out of the building. And that fire was drifting across the halls rapidly.

"The fire department will be delayed!" one teacher said to another, "someone made a prank call."

"Damn teenagers," the second one grumbled. Ken ignored them too. When he was out of the building, he noticed a few people standing around others. Curiosity caught his eyes when he saw the chemistry teacher.

"How in the-" Ken mumbled. He then saw some of the classmates of Takeru, and Takeru himself within that circle. He rushed towards them. "I saw the explosion and… how did you get out?"

"A student complained of smelling smoke," Takeru shrugged, "then when we saw some of the flames, we were going to go out the door."

"But he said we wouldn't make it in time so he directed us to go out through the last two windows." Another student picked up from there, "Kind of creepy."

"What was the cause of the fire?" Ken asked.

"Probably a leak in the gas tanks," the teacher adjusted his glasses. "I've always asked for a new one, but the school couldn't afford it."

Ken secretly smirked and followed the group away from the building, watching the firemen rush into it. Later that day, the news reported seven wounded, none dead. Ken felt rather proud of himself. He had pulled off two tasks in one day and hadn't harmed one of his good friends. It was his celebration. Until he came to the cult.

"You never said to hurt anyone!" Ken blinked in astonishment from the disappointment of his friends.

"We never said not to either!" one black-haired member hissed.

"I didn't even help him! He did it on his own!"

"You attempted to help."

"It's not the same."

"Get the third task done already," one of the oldest members directed Ken to leave.

Ken stood up, glanced at his watch and remarked, "My parents are going to be home. I have to be there or they'll send themselves to an early grave."

"Then stay." The girl who made the remark looked Ken straight in the eye.

"I can't," he walked around her and left the building. As he shut the building door behind him, he caught a glance down the street. "Not again. What in the hell do you want, Takeru!"

"Why do you go into an empty apartment building after school?" Takeru walked towards him.

"Because I like to kill the cockroaches," Ken stepped off the last step and added, "it's none of your business."

"Jeez, get some extra sleep," the blond shoved his hands in his pockets and turned away, "you act as if you started that fire in the school."

"Is that an accusation?"

"What? It's just--"

"If you're blaming me for that damn fire, recheck your evidence, I was in math. You heard the chemistry teacher! The leakage!" Ken pushed Takeru on the back and caused him to stumble.

He caught his balance and turned around. "The way you're acting, you most likely did!"

"You know why I like you so much," Ken glared, "you make such an easy target."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

Ken flipped the collar of his jacket and walked away. "Watch your back. Don't follow me anymore. Don't talk to me anymore. Don't accuse me anymore. And most of all, don't try to figure out what's going on. If you do that, you won't get hurt."

Takeru watched the other turn sharply around the corner and disappear into the darkness. Just as he did the night before, he entered the apartment and glanced around. It was still dark and damp. Nothing had changed from the night before. Except… Takeru squinted to see the barely decipherable "Leave Ken-chan alone" scratched onto the walls.

Ken jogged up the steps of his apartment stoop and threw open the door. In about ten minutes, his parents were expected home. He skipped every two steps on the stairs since the elevator was crowded. Once he got onto his flat, he strolled over to his door and pushed it open. Inside, everything was torn from its place. Family pictures were off the walls, the collector item's that his father gathered were now gone. The Ichijouji residence had been robbed.

"Shit, what'd I do?" Ken recalled to carelessly slamming the door that morning. He stepped in the middle of the mess, some trinkets crunching under his weight, and looked at what used to be the perfect home.

"Honey, the door's open," Ken heard his mother and he practically felt his hand strangle himself.

"Ken?" his father pushed open the door. The three stood in silence as the worried glances were exchanged. Finally, the question popped up.

"What happened!" Mrs. Ichijouji wailed, taking one of her porcelain dolls in her hands.

Ken tried to explain, but all that came out was, "I don't know."

"Son! We've trusted you to take care of this place. You've never let us down before!"

"Dad! I had a lot of things on my mind," Ken knew that wasn't a good enough excuse. His father stood there, scolding him to death while he kept swallowing the lump in his throat. Comparisons of how they left it to what it looks like now were tossed around. And then, his father compared him to his brother…

"If your brother were still here, he would have kept this house in better shape than you!"

Ken forgot about the terror, the hurt, and being ashamed. He glared up at his father, clenched his fists and muttered loud enough for him to hear, "Next you'll be blaming me for his god damn death!"

He kicked the fallen table and stormed into his room. There, everything was perfect. Since he had locked his door, no one had gotten in. Locking it again, Ken then threw himself onto his bed and covered his head with the pillow to drown out the sound of his mother's weeping and his father's yelling.

"Everything is my fault," Ken said to himself, his words muffled by the pillow. "I've let everyone down. Everyone used to look at me as the perfect little boy in place of Osamu. They never let me be myself. And now that I have turned into myself, they hate me. Everyone. Everyone hates me. I've let them all down. It's all my fault," he repeated the last words with tears, "all my fault."

A faint beep was heard from his computer and he snapped his head up. He hadn't remembered turning it on. Yet he didn't remember if he turned it off in the morning. Sliding out of bed, he sat on the chair and glanced at the e-mail.

Not everyone hates you, Ken-chan.

"How the hell!" he bit his tongue and swore again. Another e-mail beeped in.

What's wrong? Cat's got your tongue? Why don't you come back to the cult? Leave the ones who disbelieve in you. We believe in you, Ken-chan. You can stay with us. Does that not sound like a perfect plan? Many of us stay here already.

Ken glanced at his door and heard his mom crying again. Closing out of the e-mails and turning off the computer, Ken slipped on his jacket and walked to the balcony. Taking one last look of his room, he threw open the door and started to climb down from his story.

It wasn't raining, but the clouds were thick enough to hide both the moon and the stars. The youth quickly ran the streets of Odaiba until he reached the dead alley with his cult's home. He paced into the building and slammed the door behind him. Thousands of candles must have been through the many hallways he went through. None of them had died from his brisk walk. He appeared in front of the door and opened it with a kick.

Tens of eyes stared up at him. Each and everyone blue. Just as he stepped in, they looked back down to whatever they were doing. Many of his friends were gone. But a fair amount lingered in the room.

"I knew you would come, Ken-chan," the mysterious girl from his first day smiled. "After you finish your third task, we can get through the final initiation. And then, you're a full-blooded member."

"Can't wait," Ken muttered and ran his fingers through his hair. He sat down in a chair and slouched tremendously. "Is it okay with you if I just go to sleep now?"

"Do whatever you wish."

He nodded faintly and crossed his arms over his chest. The dark circles under his eyes seemed to darken as he drifted into slumber. It wasn't deep into his rest before he thought he heard someone calling his name. Thinking it was a dream, and only a dream, he positioned himself in the comfortable chair and kept his eyes shut.

"Ken!" Takeru called, walking down the halls. "Damn it! Where do you go in the endless maze?"

He twisted through every obstacle and turned every corner, yet he seemed to be going in circles. Finally, he reached the door that Ken entered not too long ago. It was old wooden and it squeaked when he opened it.

"What the f--" Takeru glanced around the candle lit room. Flames flickered everywhere and danced on the walls. His eyes fell upon the sleeping Ken and blinked. "Ken!"

The sleeping friend opened his eyes and rose from his seat. "What are you doing here!"

"What are YOU doing?"

"What are YOU doing!"

"Candles?" Takeru looked around, "this is what you come to do every day."

Ken looked around. None of his friends or other members of the cult were around. Only candles. "Not really…"

"What are you doing here?" Takeru questioned.

"What are YOU doing here!"

"I asked you first!"

Ken sighed, "I actually asked you first in the first chain of 'what are you doing' lines. So what are you doing?"

"I just got curious of why you came here."

"And I come here because I want to," Ken took a step towards Takeru. "Now leave."

"If a candle falls, you know this thing is going to catch on fire."




"Listen to me you little twerp," Takeru grabbed onto Ken's coat and raised him on his toes, if not higher. "You've been acting rather strange and because I am a friend, I want to figure out if something's wrong because that's what friends do. Friends won't let someone hurt their friends. Got it? Now, I don't want to hurt you, so what in the hell is going on with your 'tude?"

"Takeru," Ken choked, "you're hurting me."

He released the other.

"You wouldn't understand. You shouldn't even be here." Ken rubbed his neck.

"Yeah, well, curiosity gets the best of me. Do you know what happened with the fire?'

Ken glared, "How am I supposed to know!"

"I don't know… maybe since you like flames so much!"

"It could have been any other simpleton to make a damn trigger to make a flame begin at a time," he murmured, "don't go blaming me."

"You seem to know an awful lot about it. Considering you first said it was a leak in the tank. Ken, what the hell is going on!"

"Stop asking! I have no idea."

"You're lying."

"Shut up!"

"…" Takeru turned to walk out. Just as he set his hand on the knob, a sharp jab hit him on the side of the head and he fell over. The blonde jumped to his feet with his fists to his face for protection. Ken was already throwing another punch.

The two pushed each other into different sides of the walls, thrashing at the opposite with tight hands. Candles fell from their position, but extinguished as the fell. Takeru tackled Ken onto the ground and finally pinned his arms down. Both glared into the other pair of blue eyes, pure hatred and evil.

"I left, my home, unlocked," Ken said, breathlessly, "Mom and Dad, came home, saw everything, gone. We were robbed. Wanted to relax for the weekend. Came here. Okay?"

Takeru blinked and released his hold from the boy. "So you lit, a million, candles?"

"That I don't know."

He stood up and let Ken up as well. "Uh, sorry."

"Yeah," Ken dusted himself off, "whatever. Maybe you should go home."

"What about you?"

"I can't go home. I'm the blame of everything."

"We have an extra-"


Takeru blinked in confusion. "If you change your mind," he shrugged, "you know."

"Whatever." Ken followed Takeru's exit down the hallway with his eyes. As he turned around, he jumped. There weren't anymore candles. It was back to the sixteen teenagers with their games and books. Baffled, Ken went back to his chair and sat down. One of the cult members approached him.

"Are you aware that he is trying to steal you away from us?"

"What? He's just a damn blond. He worries about everything. He can't get me away from this," Ken growled. He was tired, all he wanted to do was sleep.

"Tomorrow, when you do your third initiation, let whatever happens happen. Got it?"



"Choose which card is the queen of hearts," Ken called from the alley, shuffling the cards. "What ever you place as a bet, I'll double it if you win."

Several kids younger than he were lingering in the alley, waiting for someone to win. Nobody did. A lot of adults had tried to swindle the kid out of his money, but he had good grounds from where he stood. He practically stole their own money.

"You want to try?" Ken held up the deck of cards to a man at the end of the alley. He had been in "business" for almost an hour.

"Sure, kiddo," he shrugged and walked towards him.

"Kiddo," Ken rolled his eyes and showed him the queen card. He set it down and two other cards, and ace and a three. Mixing them up, Ken told him to place a bet. The man set down a fair amount.

"Go ahead," Ken crossed his arms.

The man looked from card to card. Then he looked up at Ken. He flipped the middle one, "It can't be the middle one because it's the three." Turned over the left one, "And the left one is the ace." Setting his finger on the third, "But… it can't be the third one because the queen card is in your pocket."

"Really?" Ken played dumb and searched his pockets. Sure enough, it was in there. "Well, what'd'ya know. It is in there."

The man nodded. "Yes, and because you are holding an illegal gambling game in Odaiba, I have to-"

"No." Ken said forcefully.


"I'm not going with you."

"You're going to the police, kid."

Ken tapped the wall beside him, "Looks like I'm already here."

"You really want to be a smart-alec?"

"Born, raised, and proud, sir."

"Come on," the undercover officer grabbed his arm. Many of the kids ran away.

Ken sighed and followed in his steps. Just before they turned the corner, he gave a hard punch to the gut of the man and quickly swiped his gun. Leaving the gasping-for-air cop behind, Ken bolted down the alley. After he climbed the first wall, the officer started chasing him.

"Ken!" the black-haired cult member called. "Toss me the gun!"

He did just that and leaped off the wall. In the distance, he could see the basketball court just outside of the alleyway. As he landed, he heard the enemy jump for the wall.

"Shit, they're fast," Ken launched himself off the ground and took off in a heavy sprint. His cult friend was well ahead of him, making his own path difficult to follow. His breath started to get weak from running so quickly but he wouldn't let himself slow down. He could just feel the heat of the man behind him.

"Come on!" the friend pulled him out of the alley, "run for the courts and afterwards, go home. I'll help you if you get into trouble."

Ken nodded and mad dashed across the busy highway. Basketball players were cheering for each other loudly as he slid into the crowd. He noticed that Takeru was playing and Daisuke and Hikari were on the opposite side of the court, yelling for him to win. The police officer stopped at the side of the court, frantically searching for Ken. When their eyes met, mental daggers were thrown and Ken fled from the area.

This time, he wasn't so fast. He tripped over the drinks of the players and fell hard to the ground. The game was stopped just in time to see the man pull Ken to his feet. His blue-eyed gaze glanced at everyone. Everyone was looking at him with shock. Takeru didn't even blink once. One single, loud crack broke the silence. The next thing Ken knew, the grip on his arms loosened and the man behind him fell. He turned around to see the fallen cop, beginning to die in his own pool of blood. Ken gaped at the body and he started to back away. He made a run for it, but Takeru caught him by the arm.

"Ken! What are you doing!" Takeru called into his ear.

"Let go," Ken choked out. It didn't happen. Out of the corner of his eye, Ken caught the glimpse of the cult friend aiming the gun again. "Let go, Takeru."

"Ken! What's going on!" Daisuke appeared by his side.

"Why was that man chasing you?" Hikari was standing next to him.

"Let go!" he yelled. The grip only got tighter.

Let whatever happens happen.

The crack of the gun sounded and Ken's instincts kicked in. He tackled Takeru to the ground and listened for the bullet to run into something. As it turned out, it pierced through the water tank and disappeared into the alley. Watching the cult friend run away, he did the same, leaving everyone in the same confusion as he was in.

Never once did he let up on his speed. The feel of death followed him down the streets and around each corner. And finally he came to the street where one way led him home, and the other led him to the cult.

Run for the courts and afterwards, go home.

Which way was home? He stood at the corner of the street and looked both ways. Straight… home. Right… cult. His mind spun from lack of oxygen and confusion. He didn't understand all the things he was in. He was a murderer now. Not the actual murderer, but he was an ally. Allies always take the wrap. Ken didn't want to be a criminal. He was simply trying to get into the cult that everyone welcomed him in to be.

If your brother was still here…

Ken felt a drop of rain fall onto his head. He tilted his head to the sky and saw the black clouds. It became dark, just as he did. Just when he said he was going to contain the normal life his brother had, he did something to destroy it.

It's all my fault.

The Ichijouji youth turned to the right and walked towards the cult. If he were to go home, he would only go home to be a failure. A disappointment. Someone whom his brother was not. So many people wanted him to be strong and smart, just like Osamu. At the cult, nobody even knew of his dead brother.

As he neared the building, he noticed a black vehicle parked in front of it. It looked brand new. Ken jogged into the building but was soon pushed out. He fell in front of the car and looked up and several members.

"Final initiation," one said, his voice never leaving the same tone, "a male student, a classmate of yours, is trying to get rid of us, Ken. It is your duty to destroy him before he destroys us."

"What? Who? How?" he raised to his feet.

"Takaishi Takeru," the member said, "he is trying to get rid of us. To prove you are worthy of this cult, you have to destroy him." He glanced at the car.

Ken flipped around to look at the car and his eyes widened, "You're not tell me to chase him, are you?"

"That's what this is for."

"Why! He can't do anything! I'm not going to just… kill him for no reason." Ken stood between the car and the cult.

"Ken-chan," that same girl from the first day spoke, "it's either us, or the world that has turned its back on you. Would you rather have the heads or tails of the situation?"

"I can't kill a friend…"

"You killed your own brother, Ken."

Ken swallowed a lump in his throat. "What?"

"You could have kept your brother away from that car, but you didn't," she hissed.

"It's not my fault!" Ken covered his ears with his hands.

"You wished for your own brother to die!"

"It wasn't my fault, damn it!" he stumbled against the car. In his mind, it played that same event over and over. He watched his brother die and he didn't do anything about it.

"You're a murderer, Ichijouji Ken!"

"I am not!"

"If it weren't for you, your brother would still be alive."

Ken clawed at his ears, wishing he were dead instead of the one everyone needed. Nobody needed Ken Ichijouji, they all needed Osamu. He was worthless. A worthless son of which his parents were ashamed of. He had turned into the Kaiser all over again.

"Since you can't turn back now," the member said to Ken while the confused youth set his hands on the steering wheel, "you might as well keep on going."

"Why do I want to do this?" Ken asked, more to himself than everyone.

"Because Takeru doesn't believe in you, Ken."

"And killing him will do what?"

"Release the doubt you hold for yourself." Somebody said, "If anyone doubts you, don't let them stand in your way. You can do anything you want to. Twice as better as Osamu could."

Ken listened to the engine purr. His fear of ever getting into a car, the murderer of his brother, had vanished and left him with hatred. Perfection was the cult. He wasn't perfect until he destroyed the doubt. …Right? But it was Takeru… the same boy who had told him to go home and had told him that people cared.

"Argh! I don't get it!" Ken slammed his fists onto the steering wheel. He set his head on his arms and looked at the windshield. Rain poured on it heavily and smeared his vision on the world. The lights looked darker and the town looked dead. He squinted to see something move in the distance. Doubt. It was doubt.

"There's Takeru, what should I," Ken looked up to see no one. He was alone again. Takeru was still a good two to three blocks away.

"Doubt can't take over. I've been doubted my whole life. Things change," Ken felt the pedal with his foot. He had never actually been in the driver's seat before. In fact, he still needed to wait a couple years to actually be allowed to drive. His thoughts carried him away until he saw Takeru near. Without knowing what he was doing, Ken turned the headlights on high and slammed his foot down.

"Ack!" Takeru winced from the sudden light and shielded his eyes. Screeching tires told him to drop his arms and see what was going on. He did and immediately dove to the side. His eyes followed the car and watched it turn sharply around. "Ken!"

Ken gripped onto the wheel with shock. He put weight onto the pedal again while Takeru scrambled to his feet. This time, the car was too fast for Takeru and the loud clunk blended with the thunder. Ken heard the blond roll off the top of the car as he turned in a one-eighty again. Turning off the engine, Ken listened to the silence. He glanced into the rearview mirror and his eyes widened. His friend was lying in the rain, his arms covering his face.

"What did I do?" Ken asked himself and jagged views of his brother's death shot through his mind like a bullet.

You're a murderer, Ken Ichijouji!

"No! I'm not a murderer," Ken threw himself out of the car and ran towards the fallen friend. The rain escaped from the heavens harder as Ken dropped to his knees. He lifted the blonde's head from the mud and realized he still contained a pulse.

"Takeru?" Ken called out. There wasn't a reply. The headlights of the car died out and Ken glanced at the car. One of his so-called friends was now in the driver's seat.

"Shit," the genius voiced breathlessly, "Takeru, come on, wake up."

He started to pull the boy to his feet, but the laws of gravity wouldn't help him and Takeru fell back down. The screeching tires filled the stormy night and Ken tried again. Finally managing to take the boy into his hold, Ken struggled to get them away from the street. As the car drove nearer, Ken's fear weighed him down. He felt twice as slow.

"This is all my fault," Ken huffed and gave up. He dropped onto the ground with Takeru and waited for the impact of the car. The lights became brighter and he swore his own life that he saw the past years flash before his eyes. Only… when he opened them, he wasn't in darkness. Red and blue lights flashed in his eyes as the black car slowly died with its engine.

"Huh?" Ken searched for an answer and finally, he realized that the police had come. He sat up in the mud puddle and snapped his head towards the cult building. It wasn't the same, it seemed beaten down and junky rather than a place you would call home. Rain continued to fall as Ken realized what he had been doing the past few days. He didn't escape from thought until he felt Takeru be lifted away from him. He watched as his friend was placed into an ambulance. Then he dropped his head and closed his eyes, ashamed of his actions, ashamed from not seeing the truth, and ashamed that he did such things. Along with the rain, tears of relief rolled down his cheeks.


"No, I still say that fish can drown," Daisuke said, then biting into a hotdog.

"You're insane!" Miyako laughed cheerfully, "did you actually try to drown a fish?"

"Yeah! My sister had a goldfish and I wanted to play with it one day…" Daisuke blinked.

"You fish killer," Hikari teased.

"You don't go for that murderer thing, Kari?"

"Ew! No way."

"Oh," Daisuke blinked, "well, I didn't kill it--exactly."

"You just sent it to an eternal nap." Takeru chuckled and bit into his own hotdog.

Iori looked up at Daisuke, "So, does a fish drown?"

"Sure, just close up it's gills and--" he was interrupted by Hikari--she slapped him upside the head. "Ouch!" Daisuke laughed and tossed a packet of ketchup at the girl. She giggled and blocked it with ease.

Ken grinned faintly and shifted himself on the railing they were sitting on. "Show's about to start."

Takeru looked up at Ken while sitting on the ground, he had a cast around his lower leg. "What are we going to do afterwards?"

"Let's play basketball!" Daisuke snorted sarcastically.

"Funny!" Takeru falsely laughed.

"Yeah, let's play basketball. You and I versus them four," Ken's smile increased.

Hikari blinked, "That's hardly fair."

Miyako added, "Hikari, you're talking about TK here. He could play basketball in his sleep for Iori's sake!"

Iori blinked along with Hikari.

"Oh forget it," Miyako huffed and crossed her arms.

Each of the kids turned silent as they looked at the buildings in the distance. They were sitting on the bridge not too far away from where the cult building was. Today, it was going to be demolished. Within a minute, they watched the building crumble from the dynamite. Shrill whistles came from the group as the big cloud of dust and junk rose into the air.

Takeru whistled loudly and cheered as they watched. Ken looked down at him, then back at the building. His dark days were over. A smile stretched across his face and he joined in with the cheering.

"Hey, Kari! Give us a cheer," Daisuke almost drooled at the rookie cheerleader. She crossed her arms and looked up at Miyako who was giving Daisuke a look.

"No," she said and started to walk away.

"Come on! I'm sure Iori wants to hear a cheer too!" Daisuke whined.

"Give up, Daisuke!" Miyako poked him in the arm.

"Iori, don't'cha want to see Hikari cheer?"

Iori thought a moment and walked away. "Not as much as you do, Daisuke."

"Argh! Come on! Ken! Takeru! You wanna see her, right?" the brunette practically clung to her legs in pleads.

"Daisuke, please!" Hikari stumbled and started to laugh.

Takeru shook his head and grabbed onto his crutch. Just before he was going to struggle himself up, a hand appeared in front of his eyes. He looked up and saw Ken, still holding out his hand. Grabbing on, Ken pulled Takeru to his feet and grinned.

"Let's go beat them in basketball," Ken said and walked along side of the blond.

Takeru limped his way and finally voiced, "You still owe me a hat. I've tried washing that thing but the mud stains still show. You owe me a hat."

"Live with out it," Ken snickered.

"Ha! That's insane," he chuckled.

"Hey, Takeru?"


"Thanks for the friendship you've given me." Ken tilted his head towards the ground and pushed his hands in his pockets. He felt the arm of his friend around his shoulders.

"Thanks for yours," Takeru replied.



I know it's a weak story towards the end, it happens. Sorry for that.