Author: Shiva Darkwater | Rating: PG-13 | Summary: When all one wants is a break, one usually can find nowhere to run… unless… | Email: melancholy | Disclaimer: All characters, planning and ideas belong to me. Please do not use. | Dedication: To Malice Mizer, the wonderful Japanese kei band that helped me to write this all in one night. I wouldn't have been able to write this without them. | Author's notes: This is my baby. I had to hand this story into a class for marks and got 100%. I also handed this story into a contest. I hope to know the results by late June.

Treading Water

It was raining. Always, it was raining. Days were spent in a fog filled daze. Curbs slowly drained the endless water into the many sewer systems. A dull grey lined the streets as men and women alike, in dark outerwear hid beneath the refuge their umbrellas provided. Nights were spent in likeness. Cars swept past, spraying up trails behind them. The darkness added to the mist, blinding the driver of pedestrians and other dangers.

It wasn't the best place to live, but many made their way throughout life. It was a business city, uninterested in families or homes or children. Anyone who couldn't contribute something to society and the good of the city were tossed aside like a pen that ran out of ink, or a stapler that couldn't puncture paper. Survival of the fittest was a key element to existing in this type of place. From an early age citizens had to grasp that concept and live the lives given to them on their own.

It was inside a Mini Mart, the kind that you could spot on any typical block, that a teenager was hiding out in. It held all of the basic necessities of any individual: groceries, junk food, magazines, videos and it even included random kitchen appliances. The owner was a middle-aged, balding man with salt and peppered hair and a beer belly. The kid was minding his own business, flipping through a magazine that kids his age really shouldn't be looking through. He could feel the man's pale green eyes on him however, suspicious. He seemed to be just waiting for the chance to kick him out. Teenagers out on a Wednesday night in a corner store must seem really suspicious. Who knew when a whole mob of them might pile in to take over the place? Grey eyes rolled at his sarcastic thoughts and continued trying to ignore the glare of the storekeeper.

He flipped the page of the trashy magazine he was reading, glancing at the middle-aged man out of the corner of his eye. He hated the man already, but if he weren't there where would he go? Back home? It wasn't very likely. Dropping the magazine back on the rack, the teenager then headed over to the big refrigerators at the other end of the store and picked up a Vanilla Coke. Wandering a bit more, he grabbed for a bag of Cheddar potato chips, knocking several others off the shelf at the same time.

"Okay, that's it." The teenager turned as the storeowner stepped out from behind the counter and in his direction. "I've been watching you since you came in and you're nothing but trouble. What do you think you're doing?" The man didn't give the boy a chance to answer and impulsively continued on. "All of you teenagers are the same. Waltzing in here with your leather jackets and cool attitudes. Thinking you're better than everyone. Flipping off at your superiors. Well, I'll tell you a—"

The teen cut him off, grey eyes narrowed although the bill of his black baseball cap was lowered over his eyes to shade them from view. "I really don't think that's necessary. If you want, I'll clean up the mess I made. I—"

The man, whose green eyes flashed bitterly, also interrupted him. "I don't need any of your help. Get your hands off of my products. I want you out of this store. I never want to see you set foot around here again. Out, now, before I call the cops on you!" His voice was hoarse from too much liquor and cigarettes as he threatened the teenager out of his shop.

Rolling his eyes, the blond set the cola down on the shelf to let the ignorant storeowner deal with it. "Yeah, yeah. Whatever man, I didn't even do anything." He headed out of the store. The small chime above rang softly, oddly sweet compared to the animosity that was held within the store. He regretted not taking the bottle of cola with him, just out of spite. He shuffled out into the pattering rain, hands stuffed into the pockets of his black motorcycle jacket. There always seemed to be a hassle wherever he went because of his appearance. It wasn't fair the way people treated teenagers. It made him sick.

There really wasn't much else that he could do on a school night though. Pondering over the thought of going over to a friend's house, he quickly changed his mind. Ainsley's place was out of the question; he lived with his parents and younger siblings, the small house was full enough as it was. His other close friend, Drystan, was a little bit more practical to stay the night with, except for the fact that he was boasting about a hot date that whole week. So, his place was out of the question as well.

Heading home seemed like the only option left and the one he least liked. The blond teen sighed, deciding to take his time. With careful calculations, the bus stop was approximately two blocks down the street on the other side of the road. Considering the bus arrived in durations of twenty minutes of each other… With an inward groan, he shook his head. One of his nerdy friend's analytical minds was starting to bring him over to the dark side.

He headed to the bus stop, grey eyes gazing up at the sleet like rain that swept him down the street and soaked his clothes. Life was like every other night in the city. The street was empty, like usual in a residential district of town. Still, the teen crossed the street at a designated crosswalk. Not really paying attention to anything, lost in his own thoughts, he hardly noticed the single Sedan that sped down the fifty-kilometer-per-hour road. The vapour in the air dimmed the glare of the headlights. The squeal of the damp tires and the loud blare of the vehicle's horn made the boy stop in his tracks and quickly turn to see the car barrelling down the street. "What do you think you're doing? Attempt suicide on some other street, jackass!" The woman in the automobile had rolled down her window to curse obscenities at the youth before speeding off down the road like she was in the Indy 500.

The teen was left shocked, eyes wide as his heart rate tried to slow to a normal rate and he released the air that he didn't realize he was holding in. How many times have people been killed by senseless drivers? How many senseless drivers cared about destroying lives?

By the time he finally made it to that distant goal of reaching the bus stop in one piece, his mood had slipped into a funk. The night had turned lugubrious as his mind turned to thoughts of angst and death, the cruelty of the world and the torment of living. Wasn't that what teenagers were supposed to think about? How unfair the world was and what they could do to make it right? They were the future of course. Never mind the idiotic adults of the world, they'd be dead by the time the real problems began. Leave it all for the kids to deal with and put the blame on them.

He sighed when the bus came to a stop at the street corner, got on and paid his fare. The transit was nearly full; he had to take one of the seats near the front. Keeping the bill of his cap low, his grey eyes peered out at the other patrons around him. Heavy bass was blaring from some other teenager's headphones and the two gave a slight nod to each other. The girl was in his Chemistry class and they knew each other vaguely.

At the next stop an elderly woman entered the bus. Shaded grey eyes watched the lady walk unsteadily down the aisle, trying to find the closest seat to the front. Nobody budged. He couldn't believe it. Were they really going to let an elderly woman, who looked like she was in her sixties, if not older, stand up in the bus when younger citizens sat up in the front seats that were basically reserved for older people? If that wasn't disgusting, he didn't know what was. Giving a glare to all the idiots, he stood up to help her to his seat. The woman thanked him as her frail hands held onto his arm. All he did was shrug it off and reply with a soft, "It was nothing."

The ride took awhile due to all the stops it took to get across town. Finally, a soft ding rang out in the quiet bus and it stopped at the next corner. Giving a smile to the old woman, the teen once again nodded at the girl from his class before he headed out of the bus. He was back on his home block and ready to just go to bed. Of course, the bus had to park beside a large murky puddle, which he fell in while exiting said vehicle. Cursing once again at the bad luck that had befallen him, he trudged down the street towards his house.

The neighborhood wasn't the greatest, the houses were small and falling apart. Alleys lined the backs of them, and cats had a tendency to roam about freely. His house was third from the end of the street, a small bungalow with green trim. The young man was almost there when he heard a high-pitched scream echo through the otherwise hushed night. Closer still and he heard the shatter of glass through an open window. Another scream was heard and then a gunshot rang out. The screaming stopped.

Grey eyes wide, the teenager turned on his heel and ran. His father had done it. They were always fighting. His dad had drunk too much, his mother slept around too much and conflicts ensued. Ever since he could remember they had never gotten along too well. They didn't try to hide it in front of a child either. At least this time he wasn't home. At least this time, he could run away to somewhere more secure than his room, only to fear if his father would tire of his wife and come after his son instead.

He kept running as fast as his damp, ripped jean clad legs would carry him, skirting around a corner and continuing to run. At some point his baseball cap was blown from atop his head and his shaggy blond hair was exposed to the merciless rain. Once again his mind went over the screams in his head. How fair was it? Why was the world so cruel? Were the words honest, love, and peace ever known in this world? Or were they only left for the romantics who wrote the poetry and novels that he'd found his escape in time after time?

Out of breath, the teen doubled over on the sidewalk. His sides were cramped from the running. His cheeks were flushed and his body hot from the adrenaline that flowed through his veins. It hurt to breathe; a choked sob escaped his throat and he felt sick. Reality had bitten him in the rear and there was nothing he could do about it. His mother was presumably dead, if he could have ever called her a mother… and he felt the same about his father. They weren't parents. How could they be parents if they couldn't even respect each other? What was a parent really?

Lights shone down on him and he raised his head, long blond strands of hair clinging to his forehead. They were streetlights. Somehow he had run all the way downtown. In front of his kneeling form was a small office building that was still open. The lights were on inside and when he arose to his feet to further inspect it; he realized it was a youth center.

Was this fate? It was too much of a coincidence to be anything else. It seemed all so planned in some way… and yet it wasn't at the same time. Fretting over his state of hygiene, he gave up and tentatively opened the glass door. He walked inside, soaking wet from head to toe and glanced around. Everything seemed so spotless and clean. Running clammy fingers through his drenched hair he hesitantly stepped up to the desk.

"Do you have an appointment?" the receptionist inquired innocently, giving the teenager a warm smile. At his look of surprise and quiet stuttering, her green eyes softened. "Did you want to talk to someone?" At his slow nod she smiled once again. "All right, please take a seat and I'll see if anyone's free."

Feeling a little foolish, the blond nodded once again. "Thanks…" he murmured softly, his cheeks flushing at his embarrassment. Flipping through one of the magazines on a small table he ran his fingers through his hair once again, trying to dry it. He was only waiting for a short moment before the secretary told him he could go into the first room on his left.

Opening the door and stepping into the office, the blond was greeted by warm brown eyes behind golden-framed lenses. The man smiled at him and stood up from his roll away chair. "Hello, I'm Masahiro Fujiyama. Why don't you have a seat?" his voice was gentle as he gestured to the chair facing him.

He sat down in the plastic chair, shoulders slumping a little. Plaques and degrees lined the walls and on the desk sat a framed photograph, probably of his family. The aura of the room was very relaxing and gave him a secure feeling.

"What's your name?"

Grey eyes opened from the trance he felt he was in and the teen's lips quirked into a smile as his gazed turned to the man who sat before him. "People call me Callin."