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                                RIKKA IS A SHADOW.

                                As she sits curled up against the wall, staring at the night sky through the windowpane, she can only recall certain things. Things that are not hers. Her first kiss? The day she graduated from high school? How about her first real Christmas with snow? She shakes her head. "It's all a lie." She pulled her knees close to her chest and rested her forehead against them. What was her life supposed to be like, here on out? A sigh escaped her lips. She felt herself slide sideways against the wall, body coming into contact with her bed. She closed her eyes, remembering. "All of it..."

                                The moonlight that cascaded shadows on her floor disappeared for a moment as a figure climbed into her bedroom. He stood up and gazed at her. "Rikka," he called to her, his voice calm and yet almost empty. Behind dark eyes was understanding. He moved toward her and reached out, his fingertips brushing the strands of hair from her eyes. "Is it a curse I've given you? Can't you be happy?" She shifted on the bed and pulled a pillow close to her face. She looked away from him, uneasy.

                                "What you offer me is fake," she replied.

                                "You can make these things real," he sat down next to her and moved the pillow.

                                Rikka glanced up at him and sat up. Each night was the same. He would come in through her window, even though he could easily use the front door. He would sit next to her on the bed and talk to her calmly, then there would be silence. His hand would reach out, as it was doing now, and everything would change. She would see things that weren't real, and for a little while, they would become her reality. This was their exchange. "Sceon, no..." she attempted, but the words got caught in her throat. His fingertips were on her forehead again, but this time for a different reason than pushing her hair aside.

                                Her world seemed to explode in colors. She could hear voices in the distant, jumbled, like a tape recorder being played in reverse. Everything seemed so familiar to her, as though she'd lived it her whole life. And yet...

                                xxxxxx ☆ ★ ☆

                                Rikka stood in a hallway, the lights dim and flickering. She could feel the floor shaking. Her body was screaming at her to run. Students were crowding doors, trying to break through. The stairs overflowed with people. Her peers pushed past her, shoving her. She felt someone ram into her shoulder, sending her down to the floor. H-hey...! she thought, putting her arms in front of her face to protect herself. Rikka half walked, half crawled, trying to get out of the panicked flock of students. She felt her hands meet a back door. Rikka got up, throwing open the door and slamming it shut behind her. Her hand moved out blindly, fingers coming across a light switch. She flipped it on. Some of the overhead bulbs had broken, but there were enough still functioning to give her some sight. She locked the door and stepped forward, staring out the window. What she saw was complete chaos. Outside, the streets were broken and in chunks. Car alarms were set off in the distance, filling the air with what sounded like a distressed symphony.

                                Rikka's gut was telling her to move forward. She examined her surroundings. With the madness from the hallway, there was no way she could possibly go back. A overhang extended from where the window was, several balconies connecting below it. She took a deep breath and pushed the window open, testing the stability of the overhang with her foot. When she decided it was safe, Rikka slid toward the right wall of the building. If she planned it correctly, she could slip down the overhang and land on one of the classroom balconies. The closer she got to the edge, the more her fear of heights kicked in. What am I doing? she thought, panic setting in as she slipped off the end and crashed down onto the side balcony, her hands grabbing madly at the railing. She hung from the second story, sweat dripping from her face. I can't do it!

                                Rikka's fingers slipped and she cried out as she fell. Before she hit the ground, something caught her. She looked up at the face of someone she swore she knew. Brown hair shaded his eyes, strong hands holding her close to his chest. In moments, he had set her down. The ground seemed to explode around her. She cried out, yet his figure stayed in front of her, protecting her. It wasn't until she was able to open her eyes that she saw he was doing more than protecting her, but fighting someone. She couldn't believe her eyes. His hand was thrown out into the wind, a darkness escaping his palms like fire. Near the other side of the school, another figure was standing in a fighting pose, electricity whipping around like vines. One shot out from seemingly nowhere, catching her dark savior off guard. It came at her like a bullet, scraping her cheek. "O-ow!" she cringed, her hand reflexively clapping over the wound. Blood smeared on her skin. Her guardian grimaced.

                                "You're forgetting who you're fighting against!" he roared, a burst of wind erupting from the center of his chest. It seemed like he could manipulate time and space itself. Things slowed, and before she knew it, there was silence. A broken fire hydrant had been spraying water over the grounds, but the liquid was now stagnant in the air. "It's over. Are you okay?" he asked suddenly. She turned her attention to him.

                                "Who are you? What's going on?"

                                "I'm here to take you back. You may call me Sceon."

                                "Take me back? What do you mean?"

                                Before he could answer, everything went black.

                                xxxxxx ☆ ★ ☆

                                Rikka gasped and her eyes flew open. She shot up from the bed. "Welcome back," Sceon smiled at her. It took Rikka a moment to adjust. She looked around, realizing she was back in the comfort of her room. He patted her on the head, the smile seeming comforting to her.

                                "Why did you cut the memory short?" she asked, her heat still pounding. It had felt so real.

                                "I've told you before. That was the day we met. The day I came back to that realm to claim you."

                                "Yes. And to repay your debt for saving me, you sealed my memories and now I take orders from you."

                                "You act like I'm some criminal, Rikka," he sounded hurt. "It's destiny. You're to be mine, and mine alone."

                                [To be continued]

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