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The darkness inside me

Chapter Text

Kaede padded down the street weakly, her pink hair dripping with water droplets heavy and full. Her whole-body damp from the rain but she didn't care, despite the occasional shiver that ran down her spine every now and again. She had long since stopped caring about such things.

There were many things she had faced in the past worse than this, only coming back to haunt her in her dreams when she slept. The neglect and abuse at the orphanage, Th death of the first non human friend she ever made, her own parents abandoning her as an infant and having been treated like a freak her entire life.

Like the saying went "A little rain never hurt anyone". A strange yet common phrase used by the humans when the weather turned poor unexpectedly in order to remain optimistic. Though wearing damp clothes would become uncomfortable after a while, she wasn't really paying attention to it anymore.

All she could think about was the lingering ache of pain and guilt in her heart. Her inner demons coming back to haunt her louder than ever, unable to push them to the back of her mind like she usually did. Of what she had done and the things she could never undo, no matter how much she wanted to.

How she wished she could undo the cruel hands of time and undo her mistakes. Undo what had happened to her and make it all go away, but she knew life was not fair like that. Life had constantly dealt her the short hand in life, only allowing her brief moments of happiness only to tear them away from her yet again.

Kohta now knew, he knew everything after reclaiming his memories. Having remembered what cruelty, she had inflicted on him in a state of jealousy and hatred of being lied to. Though she had fought hard against her diclonius nature, eventually she had given into it and done something unforgivable. Yet her heart selfishly continued to long for him to love her again.

She had murdered his sister and father, left him an orphan like herself because of her own spite. Her diclonius nature having driven her to attack him and kill out of cold blood. She had almost gone after his cousin too until he snapped and begged her not to. Sometimes she wished she had just so she could have Kohta all to herself and not have to share.

She had spent the past 8 years filled with guilt over her actions. Trying to find a way to apologize for what she had done, knowing nothing she could say would be good enough. For what she had done even death would not be good enough. She would continue to carry this suffering in her heart for the rest of her days, slowly hating herself as days passed.

How could anyone so kind and gentle ever forgive someone like her, the monster she was. For causing him such pain and grief, having to live with the fact she could never undo it. Someone like her could never be deserving of his love or affection, it would only make her feel worse about all the things she had done up until now.

After having defeated Mariko or number 35 and coming clean about her feelings to Kohta. She had fled Maple house after killing each and every one of those soldiers in cold blood. Though they had put up a good fight she had beaten them all. Having used a sneak attack to get away, but accepting each and every one of the bullet wounds she received at the time.

But of course, they barely touched her due to her rapid healing. She healed faster than average humans thanks to her DNA of being a diclonius, it had its perks and its downsides. Her horns were still healing leaving her vulnerable and in great pain, but she wouldn't need to fight unless necessary. Besides, she was well out of the area Kohta lived anyway.

Using disguises and her intelligence, she had made her way to Tokyo. The main capitol of Japan, somewhere which was far away from Kohta, meaning she could do him no harm. She wouldn't put him in danger again like she had last time, her own actions putting him at risk time and time again which she could not stand.

Though it hurt terribly to know she would never be able to see him again as he was her first love. It was for the best, she knew it and it was the best decision to make after all. He would easily forget her or think her dead, he would never come looking for her. She would forever be the lonely girl from his childhood and first love. And she was content with that.

No matter how much she loved Kohta, how much he meant to her. She didn't deserve his kindness or affections whatsoever, for what she had done she deserved any punishment he was willing to give. He was the first person to ever show her kindness after the hardships she had endured growing up and she would forever be happy for that.

No matter how cruel or how awful it was she would take it. She had caused him a great deal of pain and she would never stop remembering that, not for a second or a minute. Wishing every day that things had been different for them both. That she could have lived happily with Kohta instead of facing everything that they had up till this point.

Forgetting the past and living with their demons, pushing it to the back of her mind and living as Nyu. But she knew deep down that dream could never last and at some point, she had to wake up. She had to face what she had done and they would never stop coming after her, so she had to hide and continue running till it was over.

So, she had painfully left him behind to have a peaceful life. She had left behind the boy she loved to protect him against being endangered or having to suffer any more by her hands. With every step that she got further away from him her heart broke just a little bit more. Being reminded that the childhood dream she had was the only piece of happiness she would ever have.

She was hungry, she was tired, she was badly injured and she was hurting. But she would survive, she knew all too well how to get by in this world no matter what the method. She had harnessed that ability quite well since she was a child. On the day, she had slaughtered the people at the orphanage she had found her own way in the world.

People with horns didn't have many places to go or people who would understand them. But they would find their own way, they always did. It was in their instinct to find a way. Her kind were naturally programmed with a killing instinct and survival method that awoke at a certain age. When they were at least toddlers their intelligence exceeded their years.

Be it theft, murder, manipulation, threat or force. She knew all the tricks and trades to get by in this world on her own two feet, how else had she survived this long after all. Back as a kid she had used her cute face to lure in her victims before killing them before they could suspect a thing and stop her from taking what she wanted.

But her body was weak and reminding her of her need to rest and eat. But she couldn't stop, not until she was safe. Her body was telling her that there was danger all around. Eventually she slumped against the wall, gritting her teeth and hissing in pain. Her head ached badly and she could see the blood dripping down her head which didn't look good.

The smell of blood was making her sick and because of a lack of food her healing wasn't as fast as normal. While she was a mutant, she needed sustenance like a human after all. She wasn't a complete monster, her body had limits the same as a human but it took a lot to take her down unlike normal human beings.

She had stuck to back allies out of fear of being caught, if someone saw her they would only ask questions. Hell, if someone saw her horns they would call the damn police after all. Humans only knew how to probe and cause problems, which is why she long ago stopped trusting them. But out of all of them, Kohta was special, Kohta was different and always had been.

Her stomach gurgled loudly causing her to groan and mutter crossly. God, damn it would her stomach ever shut up, she could smell and see the food stalls and restaurants nearby. But she had no money and there was nobody around to get food from. She could easily break into a house and kill the owners for food, clothes etc. But in Tokyo that would draw too much attention.

She clicked her teeth in frustration as she tried to think of an alternative to the mess she was in. Racking her brain for every possible solution but it didn't do any good and just made her headache worse. But she was tired, she needed rest and to re-energize, but where could she go? Slowly she felt her eyes closing shut and the world going black.

"Geez. It's really coming down huh, it was only drizzling earlier" Kaneki said curiously peering up at the grey sky. It looked so angry and intimidating with no change of clearing up. He remembered as a kid he and Hide would go out and play in the puddles, always trying to cheer him up when he was down or troubled by anything.

It hadn't rained like this in so long, it had been sunny for a while now but the rain seemed to come out of nowhere. Meaning the café was closed a lot and not many customers came. No normal person liked to go out in the rain unless it was necessary, besides nobody liked being wet after all.

"The faster we get home the sooner we can dry off. Now hurry up" Touka grumbled. He really was distracted easily, you would think he was a child or something damn it. The two had gone on a trip to the shop for more coffee for the café, while the owner god dinner ready and cleared up with everyone else. Saying how it would be good for the two of them.

It had been a few months now since Hinami had come to stay with them, and at least 2 years since Kaneki had come to stay at Anteiku. Having adapted to his new life quickly. He often missed the old life he used to live but accepted this was his new life now. Besides, he had his adopted family to make things better and he felt less now that he had them.

Suddenly Touka stopped in a standstill, her whole body froze and on alert. There was a strong smell of human blood in the air, but it was not human or ghoul. There had been no warnings in the news lately about attacks, so what had happened. Whoever this person was they were hurt badly, but who were they?

Kaneki saw her expression and became worried, was something wrong? What had happened? Then he caught wind of it, the strong scent of blood wafting in the air. "Touka, can you?..." he trailed off quietly. This was no human or ghoul, it was a scent he had never smelled before and it scared him like hell. What was going on right now?

"The smell of blood, it's so thick It's sickening. But it's not ghoul or human" She replied quickly. They had to find the source before any rogue ghouls made a mess of whoever or whatever it was. She rushed ahead while Kaneki followed obediently. They had a policy at Anteiku to never leave their own behind no matter what, helping the occasional human too.

Eventually they reached the source of the scent and the two stood there in awe. Not sure of how to act or what to think, they had never seen anyone like this before. Wondering how the hell no other ghouls or even a nosy human hadn't come across this scene already, I mean though she was well hidden someone would have seen her.

There covered in blood like out of a crime scene, wearing a ragged and bloody outfit was a girl with magenta pink hair and horns protruding from her head. She was no ghoul like they had suspected, but what was she? They had never seen anyone like her around here before, causing them to wonder where she came from.

Kaneki went to approach her but Touka stopped him. He really needed to learn to be more cautious about the unknown or unfamiliar ghouls or he would get himself killed one day. Though she was unconscious she was still awake, meaning she could attack them. They had no idea of what she was capable of.

"Oi, what are you?" she replied quickly her tone aggressive. She would attack them if she had to, they looked as though they were dead already so she had the upper hand here should a fight break out. The girl didn't respond, just sitting there as blood poured out of her and rain continued to soak her. Her scent getting stronger and stronger as more time passed them by.

Kaneki took a deep breath then approached her into the rain. He slowly placed his arms around her and managed to carry her so she was on his back, piggy back style. She was lighter than she appeared to be, her body was in a rough state and the scent of blood was strong but he held back his ghoul urges until they got home.

Touka looked apprehensive, but the girl had no way to fight and her body was in no shape for it. But she was still on edge in case something bad were to happen anyway. "Let's get her back to Anteiku, she could die if we leave her like this" Kaneki said sternly. She needed help and he wouldn't let her die out here in the state she was in.

Touka blinked then nodded, she then lead the way back to Anteiku while holding the umbrella over them all. Keeping them dry from the heavy rain that poured down. But her eyes averted back to the pink haired female then to the road ahead of them every now and again. Her curiosity driving her wild.

"Look at her horns? What's wrong with her? She looks so creepy!"

"I'm scared, is she some kind of monster?"

"Is she going to hurt us?"

"What a freak! Freak, Freak, Horned freak!"

Kaede felt her eyes slowly opening, her head aching still but her wounds no longer hurt. She could still hear the sound of rain but it wasn't as hard as it had been before, not as close even. Her body was heavy and she couldn't remember anything up until this point. Just what the hell had happened to her while she was out.

She recalled bumbling around in the rain like a lamb would when separated from its mother. Trying to remain hidden from danger because of the injuries she had sustained. Aware of the danger and problems she would face should anyone find her. the military being able to track her down due to records of her on the data.

Her eyes then snapped open and she sat up which she instantly regretted, due to no food her wounds were taking their time to heal. Her head ached and throbbed as did the rest of her wounds. She peered at her body to find her clothes stripped from her body, now wearing an unfamiliar pair of pajama's on her person. Her wounds healed and dressed by someone.

She looked around to find herself in an unfamiliar room, but it seemed homely and cosy. But she sensed she was not alone and they were indeed not human like herself which worried her. She tried to move but her body sent another sharp pain through her. She cursed internally at her inability to move, blaming herself for not being careful or finding somewhere sooner.

Suddenly the door moved, causing her to go on alert. While she was weak she had enough energy to summon her vectors, prepared to fight to the death if she had to. She would not go back to being locked away and used as a testing object inhumanely like she had back in the years she had spent locked away in the labs.

An elderly looking man with a kind face, followed by two teenagers a boy and a girl. One had violet purple hair and purple eyes, long bangs covering her face. Appearing to be around her own age. The other was a baby faced looking male with black hair and grey eyes. He reminded her of Kouta, innocent and kind. Naïve to the cruelty of life, which eased her temper a little.

"I see you are feeling better my dear. I have to say I was surprised when Touka and Kaneki came back with more than just coffee" he replied in a kind but playful manner. Kaede softened but kept her vectors out in case. She was in an unfamiliar place and these people may do her harm, what if they gave her up or tried to kill her at all.

"My name is Yoshimura and this is Anteiku. We won't hurt you, we have a policy of not taking part in unnecessary violence" he replied calmly but his tone was stern. Upon hearing this Kaede drew back her vectors, she felt better for resting but she was still sore and hungry. She could smell coffee, but no food which annoyed her.

"You were in a pretty bad shape when my subordinates found you. May I ask what happened before you were found in that alleyway with so many wounds?" he asked. Something pretty serious must have happened to her in order for her to have been so weak she had to pass out in a semi public place like that unprotected.

Kaede stiffened, flashes of her past battle running through her mind. Her head bowed and her bangs covered her eyes "I was running away, I couldn't go back" she replied coldly. She had no place back there so what was the point, there was never a place for her. It would forever be a dream that she would continue to chase for the rest of her life.

Touka heard this and looked pained, this girl had obviously suffered pretty badly. Someone or something had caused her pain and she had nowhere to go, running blindly until they found her. She was like them, alone in the world and just trying to get by as best she could, though she had no allies and just herself to rely on.

Yoshimura hummed "I see. From what Touka and Ken told me, you are no ghoul but you aren't human either. You are something we have never seen before in Anteiku" he replied. She had no scent of a ghoul but not one of a human either, it was something completely different. She was deadly too, he could sense that about her. But she was scared and alone.

She fought because she had to, to protect herself not because she was a cold-blooded beast. Doing whatever she could to get by on her own, it was only a miracle that no doves had come across her at any time. But she would find her way here at Anteiku, for she was one of them now.

Kaede stiffened, so he could tell she wasn't human. But from what she could tell neither were they, meaning she had no need to feel afraid of them for whatever reason. They had no desire to do her harm and had helped her out when she needed it. Plus, she had a hideout now so she could lay low until her injuries healed and she could leave.

"May we have your name my dear?" Yoshimura asked patiently. It would be nice to know her name if she would be staying here and working amongst them from now on. It wouldn't be easy for her to work or live here if she did not know what to address her by, besides it was only polite manners after all.

Kaede blinked and then sighed heavily peering up from her bangs silently, her red eyes gleaming with defiance and yet a calmed state "Kaede" she replied sternly. She had no last name, simply the name her parents had given her. She had no idea where she came from or where she had been conceived, only that she was alone in the world.

Yoshimura's smile grew and then he turned to Touka "Touka, did that friend of yours not leave you some food the other day?" he asked hopefully. She could not consume human food, so why not give it to this poor girl. From the looks of her, she could use a warm meal and they would happily provide her with what they could manage.

Touka became defensive, her friend Yoriko had made that for her especially. She relied on her to share her opinion of how good her food was even if she couldn't taste it at all. Even if it caused her great pain she still had to consume it no matter what. It would upset her otherwise. Because she knew how much it meant to Yoriko.

Kaneki saw her defensive attitude and understood, she cared about her friend's feelings a great deal but this was important. This girl could consume human food unlike them, so at least it wouldn't be going to waste on her half. The poor girl looked half starved "Touka, she'll die if she doesn't" he replied sternly.

Touka stiffened then sighed heavily, she knew they were right and her friend would never be the wiser. "Fine, I'll have to heat it up though. It'll have gone cold by now" she retorted before leaving the room. She would just have to make an excuse to Yoriko about it in the future to say how good it had tasted despite not actually eating it.

Kaede watched Touka leave quietly, seeing a slight glimmer of herself in the girl. Lost and alone, seeking her own place in the world yet unable to find a peace still. However, she wondered what kind of life this girl had lived compared to herself, she obviously had people who cared for her unlike herself who was all alone.

"I apologize for Touka. She's a kind girl but she's a little brash at times, you will get used to it" he replied reassuringly. He then turned to Ken with a kind smile once more. "Ken, please keep her company while I handle things downstairs. Fill her in on what she needs to know" he said before leaving the room and the two teens alone.

Ken shifted awkwardly before sitting in the chair Yoshimura had been previously. He bowed his head shyly not wanting to look her in the eye in case she got mad again. She was a pretty girl up close now that she was cleaned up. Short and shiny magenta hair and big red eyes. Pale creamy skin and a well-developed form, very pleasing to the eye.

Aside from the horns growing out the sides of her head, you would never think her anything but a normal girl. But the question was, what had she been doing all alone and who had she been running from? She didn't have to tell them right away, but sooner or later they would have to know in case the rest of them were in danger.

Kaede saw his timid appearance and softened, he meant well and he had saved her life. He alongside his friend had aided her in her time of need despite not being obligated to. She sighed heavily but didn't look him in the eye, she may as well thank him for saving her life. Who knows what would have happened if he and that Touka girl hadn't come along.

"Kaneki…." She said bluntly addressing him. She recalled this was what that old guy had called him, though she hadn't responded she had indeed been listening and in-taking information. She had to know what they had in store for her, if they were a threat which she now knew they were not which she was relieved about.

Ken stiffened and looked her in the eye quickly, not wanting to seem rude "YES!" he replied quickly. He had learned from experience how scary Touka could be when she was mad. This girl obviously had a temper on her too, but whether or not she was as bad as Touka was yet to be found out, but they would have plenty of time he guessed.

Kaede frowned at the volume of his voice but simply sighed, deciding to brush it to the side. "Thank you, I owe you all my gratitude. If not I would have died tonight" she said gratefully. If he had not found her when he did, she could have been found and killed by anyone, in her weakened state anyone could have taken advantage of her.

Kaneki was surprised by the genuine tone of her voice compared to how hostile she had previously been. He then smiled and leaned closer to her "It's alright. Here at Anteiku, we help our own" he said warmly. She was not human nor ghoul, but she had needed help that was the main thing. She had been injured, alone and hungry, left to her own devices and close to death.

By bringing her here they had saved her life and taken her out of harm's way. But as to her true nature and where she had come from, they would just have to find out eventually. But what he did know was that she was now one of them, she was now part of Anteiku just like them.

Chapter Text

Kaede scraped her fork around the plate quietly, having eaten half of the portion. It was some form of pasta in sauce, she hadn't eaten this well in a while. Almost crying at how good it tasted. The flavours of the sauce, the softness of the pasta, all the balanced flavours. There had been a lot of love poured into this meal when it was prepared which made it taste even better.

Her inner child coming to light, not having been this excited over a meal since getting shaved ice at the zoo. This side of herself not being able to experience such a delicacy, her more innocent known persona Nyu being spoiled with such a thing. But now she could enjoy it as herself and not as one of her split persona's.

A hot meal, something she hadn't eaten in a long time. Finding and stealing whatever scraps she could get her hands on or stealing the odd snack, while running for her life from her captors. When she left maple house, she never brought any money, tickets or anything of value to help her. She simply carried the clothes on her back and left, never looking back once.

Not wanting to endanger Kohta any further, knowing he would probably hate her knowing what she had done. Her heart heavy with regret at what she had done and what she had been forced to live with all this time. She had no desire to cause him any more suffering than she already had, so she had done the only thing she could and left him.

She had kept going with her battle wounds until her body could no longer move from exhaustion and hunger. Until she had reached Tokyo and collapsed in an alleyway from the own pure willpower. Unable to go on, her body drained of all energy and blood loss. Desperate to keep going yet her body was slowly failing her and caused her to collapse in an alleyway, alone and wounded.

Waiting for a possible death or to be found and captured again. Unaware of her saviours that had found her bleeding heavily and unconscious from the strain her body had been under. Carrying her back the their hideout and somehow managed to avoid getting caught or confronted by any sort of law enforcement whatsoever.

Then she had found herself in this place called Anteiku, welcomed by an unknown breed of people who tried to fit into society. Running a coffee shop as forms of a base and hideout. With a place as convincing as this, there was no way in hell anyone would think anything of their background. Rather clever if she said so herself.

Living alongside the humans who were naïve to the creatures that were able to live peacefully with them. Going about their day non the wiser that their barista's were in fact non humans. Though she was slightly jealous at the quality of life they had now compared to her own background growing up.

But they had no weapons, no guns, just nothing threatening about them. She could sense a strong power radiating from them, but nothing like her own. Different somehow yet still deadly. Not like her kind, yet somehow similar. Finding comfort within their community while still against others of their own kind. Mirroring Diclonius in ways and yet so different.

She could sense these people weren't human, but they certainly weren't diclonius like herself. Hell, she doubted if Kurama knew anything about this place, which made it all the better. She wondered what kind of den she had entered after being saved by them. What her future would consist of from this day onward.

They obviously did not mean her harm or they would have killed her in that alleyway. However, they were still semi hostile towards her, which was expected as this was their den. They had no horns like herself, but they had a scent about them. The scent of blood, coffee and dead humans.

She had no idea what life they lived outside of running this shop, but it was obviously not one any human would understand. A world that remained in the shadows of the light human were used to living in. To their eyes a simple coffee shop, but she could tell there were secrets beneath its innocent appearance.

But she didn't mind taking advantage of this place until she was strong enough to stand on her own again. She had no intention of attracting attention to herself when she was a wanted fugitive. She had no desire to be locked away in a body suit and helmet again. To be locked away and tested on over and over again like a tool, all she wanted was to be free and live happily.

To be able to walk in the sunshine, for people to not be afraid of her and treated like a freak. To feel a sense of warmth and acceptance that she had been robbed of as a child, while kept prisoner and after leaving maple house. She wanted to enjoy this feeling for as long as she possibly could before anything bad could happen in the future.

She could never be with Kohta again, now that she knew the truth there was no way in hell he could forgive her. But deep down she wished she could go back to that time when they were happy. Back when he simply protected her and shrugged off any of her breakdowns. Showing her the world through a child's eyes and all the wonders it had to offer of her then innocent mind.

The warmth that she had felt in her heart before her nature as a diclonius had taken over driving her to kill. Throwing away her humanity and pain to commit endless murder on others. A sharp jolt of pain then shot through her body, causing her head to ache badly. The stress was causing her headaches which in turn was harming the injuries she already had.

Her body still ached as her wounds had not properly healed, but thanks to consuming food she soon would. But she had nowhere to go, no home to return to, no family to stay with. She couldn't go back to maple house, she couldn't face Kohta nor his cousin. The woman who was trying to steal Kohta from her and had come between them as kids.

That crying face, the babyish eyes and the affectionate innocence. Luring Kohta to her side with her femininity and selfishness, seemingly innocent and unaware of how cruel life would be. Just how far a person would go to make a person snap, how a seemingly sweet face could hide a nature of pure cruelty and manipulation.

In her eyes, Lucy knew the truth. Yuka, she had never known true pain or suffering, not like she had, not like Kohta had, or Mayu or Nana. She knew nothing of the true horrors of the word. Seemingly a selfish brat spoiled by her parents love and seeking the attention of her cousin because she was an only child.

She had robbed her of Kohta's love leaving her alone in the world. Nobody to rely on anymore, nobody to call friends or family. She had nothing and was the only Diclonius here in Tokyo. But part of her didn't care for family or friends anymore. She had long since discarded such a thing after being betrayed so many times that she locked away her heart. Protecting her mind from the endless pain.

She couldn't bear getting close to anyone, out of fear of hurting them or being betrayed. All she had ever wanted was to be loved or have some form of happiness in a world that hated her. But it seemed with being born one of her kind came with many hardships and cruelty, knowing she could never truly belong somewhere.

She had never had a family, parents, love, affection, friends. All of it was alien to her, something she was not used to or never had. Leaving her to roam constantly by herself. She had no idea of what she would do next or where she would go. Her plan was just to keep running and taking what she could to survive and make her way in the world.

It had gotten her this far after all, to kill only when necessary unless she lost herself to the dark side. Then she would lose control and go on a killing spree attracting more attention to herself. Only stopping when she gained control again or turned into Nyu thus becoming her more innocent and harmless side again.

Suddenly the door opened and the same dark haired boy from before entered, she believed his name was Ken. He was carrying a hot steaming cup of some brown liquid that smelled pretty good. He appeared timid and seemingly afraid of her, but given her true nature rightfully so. He saw the world through innocent and yet cautious eyes, which was not so bad in her opinion.

"Um… Hi. I made you some coffee, I thought it may perk you up a bit" he offered politely. After training with Yoshimura, his coffee brewing skills had come rather good. But he was yet to become a pro. However, he had sampled some beforehand and found it acceptable. He had then poured a second cup which he had now brought up to her room in hopes of helping her feel better.

He shyly approached her bed and placed the coffee on the table. He had left a small bit of milk and sugar beside it, since she wasn't a ghoul she could consume cream and other complimentary sides. If she didn't like them they could always throw them out, I mean it's not like they could consume them. But human customers that entered could drink them, so they kept them on site.

Kaede stared at the brown liquid with surprise, she had mainly drunk tea living with Kohta. But she had to say the coffee smelled pretty good, it would also help perk her up more. If she was going to go anywhere or build her strength, she would need energy. Caffeine would help boost her healing as well as the food, after going so long without it would do her good.

She couldn't remember the last time anyone was so kind to her, aside from that brief time with Kohta as a child. Being able to have that memory in her heart no matter what hardships she faced. Since coming here these people had treated her with nothing but kindness. Welcoming her into their home and even patching up her wounds without so much as questioning it.

They hadn't even called a doctor or cops on a mysterious pink haired girl who was badly hurt. Instead they concealed her and kept her safe making sure she wouldn't be found by any suspicious or curious civilians. How they had managed to carry her here with the wounds she had previously baffled her, but she praised them for it.

They had redressed her in spare clothes and even given her a room to sleep in until she recovered. For that she was grateful, as they had helped her out a great deal and she was able to relax. Resting her broken body until her strength and she could move on, finding a safer place to hide and survive as best she could on her own again.

They were harbouring a fugitive unknowingly and didn't even question it. They gave her a bed, they gave her clothes, a hot meal and a place to stay. They were either too trusting or could relate to her troubles. Either way she was grateful for their kindness. What they were doing meant more than they knew. Strangely, she felt at home here, more than she ever had back at maple house.

But she couldn't stay here and she knew it, even if she thought about it there was no way she could. She would only endanger them and put them in trouble, she had caused and seen enough bloodshed as herself. Kouta's family, Aiko, all the people she had murdered while she lost herself to the DNA voice in her mind and killed ruthlessly.

She then gazed up at Kaneki, her red eyes deep and thoughtful, sending a shiver down his spine. She radiated power like he had never felt, but it certainly wasn't a ghoul's aura. Her eyes were different from ghouls, they were blood red and appeared human aside the colour. But no normal human had red eyes, further spiking his curiosity as to her true identity.

But he knew one thing for certain, she didn't mean them any harm. Though he had sensed tension from her before, she had no interest in attacking them or any other wicked act. She was simply observing them, learning about them. Trying to understand her new habitat and surroundings, adapting after coming from god knows where before all of this.

So, for now they could trust her to an extent, until she did anything suspicious or tried to harm them. But that would be foolish in a den full of Ghouls, while she was on her own. Suddenly the silence was broken with her abrupt speech, sharing her first words with them since finding her. Her voice sounding older than she probably was, not that he minded that of course.

"Kaneki, right?" she asked sternly her tone weary, showing her weakened state. Despite having eaten and replenished herself, her exhaustion would need time to heal as she had come a long way. She had spent days, nights, hours and minutes travelling to get this far. Barely sleeping or resting, trying to get as far away as possible where she was out of reach from her captors.

Kaneki stiffened and nodded, not knowing what to do. Should he stay and make conversation with her or just nod and leave her in peace instead? I mean she didn't appear friendly. However, given she sounded exhausted and had very little rest. Anyone would not be in the best of moods, but she would need time to get back to herself after what he could only imagine she had been through.

She peered up at his timid appearance and sighed heavily "You don't have to freak, I'm not in the habit of killing non-humans" she replied bluntly. His kind, whatever they were had done her no wrong. They had saved her life and were now hiding her. To her, they were innocent and for now, seemingly good people. She had no interest in doing them any sort of harm whatsoever.

Kaneki felt a cold chill go down his spine, panic hitting him like a rock. How did she know he wasn't human? Only other ghouls would be able to tell that and she certainly didn't smell like a ghoul. His heart raced in his chest and he felt nearly sick, just what was she? But at least he could tick off or the others she didn't want to kill him, so what the hell did she want then?

Kaede sighed again, it seemed she had scared him without meaning to. Giving off the wrong impression because she wasn't in the best state or mood after everything that had happened. She had never been good at talking to people even as a child, but then they hadn't really been the type to trust anyway. But she could tell he was a good person, they all were.

She gripped the fork in her hand tightly, she had never revealed her identity to anyone before. Her kind new each other by instinct, able to sense one another no matter how far the distance. It was in their nature, being born with psychokinetic abilities. However, she was one of the few able to breed and spread their mutation. While silpelits like nana were simply worker drones.

She knew the dangers that would come with revealing herself. But for whatever reason, she felt like she could trust these people. Allowing herself to lower her guard, just for now. "I'm not what you are, but I'm not a human. I'm nothing like those creatures who live such carefree lives" she replied bluntly her tone pained. Humans had been the ones to cause her pain.

Humans had been the kind to betray her over and over again. Fooling her into believing that she could trust them only to betray her time and time again, all but two whom she had lost because of her powers. Causing her to realize how ugly and corrupt the world truly was when you pulled back the curtain and saw the truth.

Kaneki stiffened, he could tell with every word she meant it. That she was trying to tell him about herself but was having a hard time opening up to her saviours. But he knew that Touka and the others would want to hear this. But he had a feeling she didn't want to share everything so soon, so for now she would just have to listen.

He hesitated then sat down in the chair beside her bed. In ways, she reminded him of Touka, distant, cold and damaged. Desperately trying to embrace their nature while trying to live a normal life. He sighed heavily as he tried to compose himself and find a good response. She was hurting and damaged, that was clear to see. But he would try his best to offer condolence and reassurance.

"I can't imagine what happened to you to be so badly hurt. Nor can I understand why or by whom. But I know what it's like to feel lost and unable to fit in" he replied hesitantly. Memories of his life before he joined Anteiku, the events with Rize and what happened prior to him learning about his new identity as a ghoul.

After first being turned into a Ghoul, Kaneki had spent his time sobbing and trapped in his apartment. Starving and fighting against the part of himself that was now a ghoul. He avoided his only friend, his life and his education, he ignored it all as he battled the storm inside. When he eventually did leave, he found himself horrified at his ghoul nature.

It took him a long time to accept what he was or even feel comfortable eating human flesh. But over time he was able to adapt, though it had been anything but easy for him to do. He had adapted to drinking coffee and eating humans, but felt better eating them when they were suicide victims. They had chosen to end their lives and they had not been killed.

Yoshimura told him to think of it as a form of ghoul vegetarianism. They were able to feed and still live a normal life without harming anyone and guilt free of what they consumed. After thinking about what the older ghoul had said and allowing the words to sink in, he saw it in a better light and better alternative to killing.

Over time Anteiku had become his family and allowed him to feel happy again. He could still see Hideyoshi but was unable to tell him his true identity as a ghoul. Which hurt him as he was the closest friend he had. But in order to keep Hide safe, he was hiding his identity as a ghoul from him. Not wanting him to come to any form of harm, the very thought making him feel sick inside.

Kaede softened, she could sense a soul like her own in this boy. Who had been wronged and simply wanted to be loved, someone who had suffered wrongly and didn't understand why. Humanity had turned against them and they were forced to suffer cruelly, not knowing joy or happiness, except for that one light in their lives that made it all worth it. Hers being Kohta.

She scraped her fork around her plate again silently, poking the food like a child. She was full but that coffee smelled really good, she could at least consume one cup at least. "I'll leave the food on the side when I'm done. You don't have to stay and keep an eye on me" Kaede replied quietly but her tone was softer. Less angry, less frustrated.

Ken nodded quickly and got up, she needed some time alone. I mean, given she was alone and in a nest of ghouls whom saved her, of course she would need time alone. She wasn't like them, one of them and she had obviously been through a lot before coming here. She could tell them whatever was on her mind when she was feeling better.

However, part of him couldn't help but want to reach out to her. Want her to speak more and talk about whatever problems she was carrying on her shoulders alone. I mean he wasn't the best at advice himself, but he certainly wasn't an idiot. He would gladly help her find her way through whatever storms she still fought inside her heart.

"Y'know, we aren't all bad here. I mean…. Touka can be a little rough around the edges at first and Nishiki can be sarcastic or moody, but we are good people" he explained. However, he wondered if he just should have stayed quiet and just left her alone with her own thoughts, as she simply stared at him with wide eyes.

He wanted her to know she could trust them, that they were on her side. That they wouldn't hurt her or betray her like whoever had caused her the wounds she now carried on her person and in her heart. She was safe here and part of a group of people that just wanted to enjoy their days peacefully like any other human being.

Kaede blinked and bowed her head, somehow his words reminding her of Kohta. The same gentle heart and kind soul she so easily shattered with her jealousy as a child. She sighed and gripped the fork in her hand again, memories flooding through her mind. Bringing back bittersweet memories of the happier moments she had experienced briefly.

Sensing the tension in her tone, Kaneki decided to make an exit. She was frustrated, tired and badly injured. Probably wanting nothing more than to rest rather than listen to him ramble. However, aside from her attitude she had a look about her he hadn't really seen in anyone before. Cold eyes, that could change from gentle, to defensive to a mix of both.

But more so, those horns of hers. After cleaning her body up, they had found her horns hidden beneath the ribbons. Proving she was not a ghoul but something else entirely. However, suspecting she would not want them to know they had refastened them. Wanting to act none the wiser about her mutation and whatever creature she was compared to them.

Kaneki entered the café quietly, thinking about how sad and hurt Kaede was. Fighting a storm inside of herself and trying so hard to share with them what she was feeling on the inside. It was scary of how he could see so much of himself in her, the same pain and the same loneliness. Like looking in a god damn mirror.

The same broken soul that hid their pain deep in their heart, or at least tried to forget. Living with their demons, often facing them when they broke though the shield they had created around their hearts. She was alone and afraid, she had nothing and she had no-one. It seemed Anteiku had a habit of collecting troubled people and having them create a band of misfits here.

"Hey, how's our guest doing?" Touka asked casually her tone somewhat abrupt. She was the type of person to get straight to the point most days. Only showing other sides when it came to close friends. She had been more on edge lately since they had adopted the new guest in one of the spare rooms in the cafe.

Kaneki stiffened and looked up, caught off guard by the confrontation "Huh? Oh, she's finished eating. She really liked your friends cooking" he replied quickly his tone nervous. He felt that the other small things she mentioned would want to be kept private. He didn't like intruding in someone else's secrets if they were not willing to share them just yet.

He had a feeling that if he told the others she would snap. Unable to trust them and seemingly lash out at them and given they had no idea with what or whom they were dealing with. It was not a good move. So for now he would act none the wiser and continue to go about his day as if nothing had happened.

Touka softened and yet looked suspicious, it was clear she was no ghoul if she could consume human food. But she was still not a human, that was for damn sure. She didn't smell like a human, her aura certainly wasn't human either. She had never seen anything like her in her life, but when she would reveal herself she had no idea.

That was the worst part, waiting. Knowing whose lives they were putting at risk for the sake of protecting a girl whose background and identity they knew nothing of whatsoever. She needed answers now, she needed to know what they were getting themselves into by saving her life and bringing her back to Anteiku.

"She's not a ghoul, but she's not human either. I don't know what she is, but she doesn't want to hurt us" Kaneki explained suddenly. He could tell Touka was worried, but he didn't want her to be troubled unnecessarily. There was no need to feel afraid, be on guard by all means but not enough to need to fight her.

Touka stiffened and looked at him with confusion, how did he know this? They had only just met her a short time ago and already he was calling her an ally towards them? Just what had she said to him and what had they spoken about? Was she trying to hone Kaneki onto her side or use him against them? The very idea made her blood boil.

Kaneki saw her expression and panicked, knowing she was prepared to attack their guest for answers. "She mentioned it after I brought her the coffee. I didn't ask her anything she just told me" he replied quickly. He didn't want any fights to start, not when they had no idea of what she was capable of. Her powers could be stronger than theirs, since the aura he got from her was frightening.

Touka relaxed but was still confused about all of this. This girl hadn't said a word to any of them not even Yoshimura, the most peaceful ghoul out of the entire café. Acting cold and distant, like a silent doll keeping her words locked away. So why Kaneki of all people? Why tell him all her secrets?

Kaneki was a half ghoul, a one-eyed ghoul. He was never born a ghoul like the others, he had been made, so why did this stranger trust him so much? Enough to confide secrets to him? "Did you find out what she is?" Touka asked curiously. Just what other kinds of things had this girl told them? To be more exact had she told him about her intentions at all?

Kaneki shook his head "No, but I can tell she isn't a ghoul. She had some form of weapon, I sensed it when Yoshimura confronted her and we joined him. But I don't know if she's ready to reveal herself yet" he replied. In a way he could understand why, she was used to being alone and was undoubtedly isolated from humanity. Hiding and protecting her true nature from everyone and everything.

So of course, she wouldn't be so eager to show her true abilities to them just yet. Simply letting them know the basics that she was comfortable sharing with them for the time being. However, he hoped in time she would realize they weren't enemies to her but allies, allowing her to become one of them.

Touka sighed, she recalled the girl had called herself Kaede. However, they knew no last name, where she was from or her background. For all they knew she could be one of the doves in disguise. She could be an escapee from one of the wards putting them in danger. They didn't know anything about her or whom she was in relations with. Hell, she could be lying to them all.

"Now, now. This young lady is out guest and we must make her feel welcome here" Yoshimura scolded firmly. He could tell this girl was not bad at heart, just lost and deeply damaged. She would need their help to readjust into society and heal the wounds in her heart. She had been badly hurt by someone and dealt with great loss, but they would help her overcome them.

Finding that there was a way to live peacefully and yet use your abilities for good intentions. You did not have to be the monster, there were ways to find yourself. You just had to take your time. This girl had lost her way and needed to heal her wounds, both emotionally and physically but that would take time of course.

Touka clicked her teeth defiantly but didn't respond. It was clear she felt deeply frustrated by this whole situation and was trying to find her stance on how she felt about all this. But she would follow Yoshimura if he felt this was the right thing to do, I mean he was rarely ever wrong about this sort of thing after all.

He then turned to Kaneki with a warm smile "This young lady, Miss Kaede. She seems to have taken a liking to you Kaneki" he said kindly his tone almost playful with amusement. Kaneki blushed, since being tricked by Rize he had never been flirted with by a girl. He hadn't sensed that she would carry thoughts about him, but if so he was touched.

"I want you to take care of her, help her find her way around Anteiku. After all she will be helping out around here more often" he replied. She was one of them now after all. Kaneki then nodded quickly and Yoshimura smiled, then leaving to prepare to open. Knowing that their guest would be in good hands under Kaneki's care while adjusting.

Touka approached her post by the coffee bar, but she looked anything but pleased. "Just keep your wits about you, trust your gut instinct got it" she replied sharply. Then leaving to start her shift. She didn't like this one bit, but she would go along with it until she sensed they were in danger.

Chapter Text

Kaede stood quietly by the window, her magenta hair tumbling in front of her face. Her red eyes calm and yet curious as she watched people go about their daily lives in the street below. Nostalgia hitting her, of the days she spent with Kohta as a child before her powers awakened fully and she was forced to walk down the bloody path of her true nature.

How carefree and calm they were, unlike her they had a normal life she had been robbed of. Blissfully content in living in a fantasy world of happiness, without pain or suffering whatsoever. Never having to worry about being hunted, discovered or harassed, just able to be themselves and worry about their own silly lives.

She envied them, how happy they were. Having never known the pain she had endured, the heartache and the misery. All because she was different from them, because she was a mutant. But at the same tame she still held a slight hatred for them, remembering it was people that also treated her to cruelly and caused her to suffer the way she had.

Though she found humans fascinating, her feelings towards them were very mixed for obvious reasons. The likes of Kurama and the children at the orphanage had caused her to hate humans, how cruel and wicked they could be. But the likes of Kohta had made her realize that some pure, gentle people still existed in the world.

She frowned and gripped her arms tightly, having folded them across her chest. Watching them act so cheerful was annoying her, the fact they had everything she had not didn't help either. Making her remember the life she had left behind and the pain she carried in her heart, bringing back bad memories like a dark cloud swirling in the sky.

But she would leave them be, they had done nothing to her. There was no reason to kill them unless necessary, she was safe in this city and had somewhere to hide. At least for a while anyway. Though she had no idea of how long this peaceful bliss would last until it all came to an end and she was forced to fight once more.

Her wounds now felt better than they had before, almost having gone but not completely healed. They certainly weren't as bad as they had been when she arrived at this place. Because of her advanced healing and having eaten, the pain more more tolerable than it had been earlier. Though she had not quite completely healed.

She was still wearing the pajamas's from earlier as her previous clothes were being washed by the owners of the café. But had said they would be able to return them later today. Honestly, she was surprised by how hospitable they were. Opening their arms to her and helping her, which she was truthfully grateful for. It had been a long time since anyone was kind to her.

She wondered what she would do next, I mean she had nowhere to go aside from running. Having to keep herself from being captured again and locked away in a cold lonely prison. Being treated like she didn't even deserve to be alive, often wishing that she were dead if it meant she didn't have to be treated the way she had been anymore.

Constantly having to stay under the radar and avoid Kurama and the others. Having to stay away from trouble and anything that may cause suspicion and give away her location. She would rather die than go back to that place, where she was experimented on and tortured. Being treated like a lab rat instead of like a person. I mean she was human to an extent just mutated.

But she was no fool and the inevitable truth lingered at the back of her mind like a dark cloud. But she would keep fighting until she died, forever trying to escape them with every fibre of her being. They would find her again they always did somehow, they just didn't know how to give up. Making her wonder just how long they would chase her until they let her go. Like dogs chasing a cat down an alleyway.

She sighed heavily rubbing her eyes, thinking about it just made her head hurt and left her in a bad mood. So, she pushed the thoughts out of her mind and to simply enjoy the peace and quiet. Like she said she had no idea of how long it would last this time before she ended up meeting conflict once more and was forced to fight.

Clothes and bathing should be first on the agenda, though they had done well to patch her up and tend to her wounds. She still had blood and filth in her hair, she could smell it. Slowly she padded towards the bathroom to take a long shower. They were good for clearing her mind as well as cleaning, a quiet place where she could simply be alone with her thoughts.

"Kaneki, would you mind taking these up to our guest?" Yoshimura asked warmly. The young lady would need her clothes back. Plus, they had bought her some new ones while she would be staying here. She could not go about in nothing but her underwear after all. She needed to be clothed, especially if she was going to a member of Anteiku. It would not be proper after all.

Kaneki blinked as he was handed the bag, though he didn't mind doing so what if she was asleep. She had been through a lot before coming here after all. She needed her rest. She had barely been able to walk forcing her to be carried all the way back here. Then laying unconscious in the spare room for what felt like forever.

There had been so much blood on her when they found her. So many wounds that he didn't know where they were all located. It took him hours to wash the blood off himself that had stained his clothes too. Wanting nothing more than to get the scent of blood off of his clothes as it scared him, her scent hadn't been like a humans.

But none the less he had worried about her after handing her to Yoshimura and Touka to take care of her. Knowing she would be in good hands while he bathed himself and freshened up. However, he could simply leave them outside the door for her to find. I mean, he could knock then just leave the clothes outside for her to take in by herself and change.

Whatever the case, she needed clothes. They had been forced to find a replacement for the dress though it had not been easy to do. It had been a high-quality dress after all. But they had been able to get her a uniform and other clothing no problem. Touka having checked her bra size after removing her clothes that she had been previously wearing.

He took a deep breath and headed up the stairs to the apartments above quietly. Feeling bad about the fact he was going to disturb her peace and quiet. Though she did not seem rude or unsociable, she seemed to enjoy her own company. But she probably had no friends or companions meaning she was used to caring for herself.

She seemed to trust him yet felt hostile around the others and he wondered why that was. Though she said nothing against them, she gave them a cold and suspicious gaze that pierced them like knives. Except for himself, maybe because he reminded her of someone, or because he seemed less intimidating.

Sure, Touka was nice but she could seem a little intimidating and bossy at first sight. But she was really just complicated and a bit of a Tsundere. Though he would never say that out loud. Sure, she put up a polite and kind front for the customers but outside of that she could be brash, stubborn but thoughtful. A troubled, emotional woman with a fiery temper.

Over time she had come to show a kinder side to him while stills stubborn. Coming to care for him and worry over his well-being, though she did not always show it visibly. She also had a strong friendship with her classmate Yoriko who even came to visit Anteiku that one time when Touka was off sick after fighting against Shuu Tsukiyama.

Kaede hadn't yet met Hide, Hinami, Nishiki or Shuu yet. The other members here at Anteiku, those who also sought to live peacefully amongst the humans. God knows how any of them would react to meeting her. Hopefully they wouldn't start fights or talk about her scent. It would be rather rude having only just met her.

Nishiki may be suspicious and do his own spying on her, but unless she did something to threaten them or cause trouble. He doubted he would pick a fight with her at all. As long as she did no harm to Kimi and didn't get in his way they should be on good terms. The guy had come a long way since his troublemaker days after all.

Shuu may get over excited and talk about her scent which would undoubtedly creep her out. So, it was best they meet later on as to not scare her off or give her the wrong idea. He himself was still very withdrawn from Shuu after what happened when they first met, never forgetting what he put him through in the beginning.

Hinami would be very polite and sweet, probably a person she would quickly grow to like. Hinami may even help her adjust and maybe even become a friend to Kaede. Despite being a preteen, Hinami was very shy and yet radiated a warmth about her despite all she had been through. In ways reminding him of himself.

It was hard not to dislike Hide, he was a genuinely kind and sweet guy. He had been there for him during the hardest parts of his life and he would forever be grateful for that. Though he was a bit of a joker he was a sincere person and always looked out for others. Using methods of being a mischief maker to make people smile and forget their problems.

As he reached the top of the stairs, he stepped onto the landing hesitantly. He was always awkward about entering people's private spaces. I mean, it took him a while before he could even get Touka to invite him in. Though it was rare, they would have dinner and coffee in her room. Enjoying a hot cup after a nice dinner, sometimes Hinami would join them too. Feeling like a small family group

He hoped that Kaede would come to be part of them too, she was obviously not a human. She had nowhere to go and the fact that she was wounded proved she was endangered by someone or something. But she was safe here and at Anteiku they always looked out for their own kind, even friends who were close to them.

Eventually, he shook these thoughts from his head and thought about the task at hand. Though now that he was here he was feeling kind of nervous about the whole thing. I mean he had never really been good at talking to people, being a very shy and awkward person even when he became comfortable around someone.

I mean, she hadn't really been friendly but he hadn't been cold either. Just some casual conversation with him giving advice and her giving him some vague but important details. Slowly he breathed in and out trying to calm himself and remain composed. He was just returning her clothes and giving her the new ones. Nothing to get worked up about.

Just think of it as an errand, nothing to worry about. Simply returning her belongings, he was doing a good deed after all. She wouldn't be mad at him for such a thing. He approached the door to her room and stood outside for a good few minutes. Thinking of what to say, I mean he barely knew her apart from some brief exchanged words.

She was still a stranger to them yet acted with a kindness towards him. Telling him things about herself that she wouldn't reveal to the others, showing she trusted him. However, before he could make a move she spoke up and caught him off guard. Having not expected her to be awake or even know he was there. I mean, he had been very quiet.

"I know you're out there, so quit standing there like a lost child" Kaede grumbled from within the room. She had sensed his presence approaching since he was halfway up the stairs. She had no idea why he didn't just knock already instead of standing outside her door like a creeper. He was only making a scene by standing around instead of just coming in already.

Kaneki shivered, even as a ghoul they used their scent of smell instead of sight when it came to fighting or getting around. That was how you sensed danger or were able to tell humans apart from other ghouls. So how the hell did she know he was outside the door. He hadn't made a sound and the floorboards hadn't creaked. Meaning she had to have other abilities ghouls did not.

There were a lot of things they didn't know about her yet. The most important being just what she was capable of. They had not seen the full extent of her powers yet after all. But he wondered how long it would be before she revealed herself and all the powers she held inside of her. But at the same time he was a little scared about it.

Slowly, he opened the door slowly feeling awkward. "H… Hi, I brought you your clothes back" he replied timidly. I mean aside from the loaned pyjama's she had very little clothing. He didn't want her to get sick because her clothes had been damaged. She would need them in daily life after all. They were a basic necessity for all people regardless of gender.

It was then that moment that time stopped for Kaneki and his heart leapt into his throat. Trying his hardest to control his hormones and not panic about the scene before him. I mean he had acted the same way when he met Rize for the first time, having never seen the female body up close and personal before. He hadn't even been able to watch porn.

Kaede was wrapped in a towel, which ended at her upper thigh and was bound tightly around her D cup breasts pressing them upwards. Her body exposed aside from the towel she was wearing. Water dripping from her breasts, hair and legs, running down her body in a very seductive manner. She was certainly developed meaning she was older than Touka or Hinami.

Her soft curves, smooth skin, ample bosom and mature air. She was very much a woman in both personality and appearance. At that moment, his voice seemed to all but vanish. Trying not to stare yet not being able to look away, drawn by her feminine sexuality that seemed to radiate from her like the UV rays from the sun.

She saw him staring and sighed heavily, she knew he was a guy so hormones would be running rampant. But surely, he could control himself and simply find another outlet. "Did you want something?" she replied sharply. She could see he was staring and it somewhat annoyed her, considering she still had feelings for Kouta despite having left maple house.

She needed time to adjust and get used to these new surroundings. He had her trust to an extent but if he or anyone tried anything funny she would attack in self-defense. She would not allow herself to be taken advantage of or tricked the same way she had in the past. She had learned from her mistakes and new better than she had as a child.

Kaneki jumped at her question, feeling embarrassed and guilty at having caught her while indecent. But she had been the one to invite him into her room after all. So, he wasn't at fault here. "I… I brought you your clothes. We had them mended and got you new ones. Your new uniform is in there too" he replied awkward avoiding eye contact with her. But god damn it was he tempted to look again.

Kaede softened and approached taking the bag from him. She found her previous black dress and pink shirt to be fully mended and replaced. Now followed by a sweater and skirt too. She wouldn't be surprised if they had bought her new underwear too. I mean it was an essential, she couldn't go about without them after all. She had guessed the girl must have don't the shopping.

Inside there was also a uniform similar to the one he was wearing except for women. Meaning a catch to staying here meant she had to work here. Which would be annoying as she had never had a job before. She looked up at Kaneki slowly, a look of gratitude on her face "Thanks, this was nice of you" she replied. She had thought about how she would get out without clothes.

Kaneki softened but was still blushing "I… Its fine. I… I uh… I'll leave you to change then" he replied shyly. He stumbled out of the room quickly closing the door behind him as he left. He didn't want to go through something like that again if he could help it, that was the most awkward and uncomfortable thing he had ever experienced.

Kaede blinked as he left rather quickly, though kind he was certainly innocent. In ways he reminded her of Kouta, the same bashful nature yet held a strong will inside of him. But she found that adorable, capable of retaining innocence in this very ugly world. That took a strong will and a lot of resilience to still be able to retain such a persona.

She then approached the bed to look at her new clothes and try on the uniform she had been given. I mean, she may as well check that it fit her after all. They had been so generous as to buy her clothing. Though she wondered where she would wear them to, she had nowhere to go and no money. Unless they were just to wear when she wouldn't be needing the uniform for work.

She tipped out the bags contents and watched them spill onto the bed. Not expecting there to be so much contents, it had been lighter than it appeared at first glance. Surprised but touched by the clothing she had received aside from the new set of bed wear. She had never received a present from anyone before, not even Kohta.

The uniform consisted of a plain white blouse, the standard kind used at schools or a work area. A dark maroon tie that was almost as red as her eyes, a black vest with a button-down front. A coffee coloured apron and a black pencil skirt. For accessories, there were some black knee length stockings and her red shoes.

Though she had no idea what kind of business they were running, it was something to do with hospitality. Though she wondered why as they could probably get anything they wanted. Aside from the uniform there were some casual clothes as she had expected. They had indeed replaced her black dress and gotten her some new clothing. Which she was grateful for.

There was also a yellow sleeveless turtleneck sweater, a red knee length skirt with a white underskirt and some brown ankle boots. Nothing showy and instead casual. But they were all knew and just bought, they still had the tags on and that new clothes smell from the store. Meaning they had been shopping while she was out cold.

First, they took her in and patched her up, then they fed her and now they gave her clothes and a job. She had no idea of why they were helping her but she was indeed grateful. They were putting themselves in danger by helping her but they still hid her. For that she owed them a lot, knowing just how cruel and sadistic her captors could be to non-humans.

So many of her kind had been tortured and perished, so many innocent lives. There were so few of her kind in the world, because they weren't allowed to live. But it's not like they asked to be mutants. They had no choice in the matter of being born like this, many times had she wondered what it would be like to be born a human.

She decided to try on the uniform then go address her new companions. I mean, she may as well show her thanks and ask about what they had planned. She deserved some form of explanation. It was a game of, you show me yours and I will show you mine kind of thing, even if it was a tad more childish.

"So, Kaneki I hear that you guys got a new female member at this place" Hide said playfully. A mischievous twinkle gleaming in his eyes, damn Kaneki was one lucky son of a bitch. First Touka and now some unknown new girl, he was getting a lot of attention from the ladies. Now if only he would share his secret so that he could finally get a girl.

Kaneki blushed, remembering the scene from before with Kaede. It's not like he meant to see that, but she had invited him into her room of her own accord. So, it had been consensual. But as for now he was simply following orders and helping her out. She had been very badly hurt when they found her so it was simply hospitality and kindness. Nothing more, nothing less.

It was part of Anteiku to help those who needed protection. They had done the same for Hinami and her late mother, so why not help this girl who had been mortally wounded. She was alone in the world with nowhere to go and nobody to rely on. She had been outcast from society and survived by god knows what kind of methods. She really was safer here.

However, that was not to say he was somewhat worried by how Hide always got the gossip on something that was going on in his life. Making him wonder if he was spying on him. I mean unless there was a mutual friend telling him all this, he recalled how Nishiki also attended the same college he had without ever even noticing it before.

Hide smirked at seeing Kaneki's face light up, so he had seen her up close and personal already. Then why was he keeping the details all to himself that was by no means fair. As best friends they shared everything, he had been keeping enough secrets that made him worry. Was it so bad he wanted to know what was happening in his best friend's life?

"Aww c'mon man don't be a prude! Tell me, c'mon don't leave a guy hanging!" Hide begged. How old was she? What did she look like? What was her name? He hadn't really seen that girl Rize around meaning it didn't work out between them. Though he hated to say it, she had been way out of his league from the beginning.

Touka seemed to take a liking to him, acting less bossy and restrained against him. But for now, they didn't seem to be flirting but had a close friendship which he was grateful for. It was good to see he was spreading his wings and trying to be more confident around people in general, compared to how closed off he used to be.

Kaneki didn't have that many friends and always had been a loner, even when they had both been kids. So, he was glad to know he had someone to talk to while he worked at this place. It meant he had someone else to look after him. The guy acted like he was capable but in fact he was weaker than he appeared to be.

Kaneki became conflicted and awkward, honestly Hide was asking questions he didn't really know himself yet. She had given him the bare essentials when they first met anyway. He knew her name, he didn't know her age, what she was, who she was, where she came from etc. They were very much strangers on that level so there wasn't much to tell.

Touka saw he was struggling and decided to help him out. He could see the two had a close friendship, much like she had with Yoriko. But they had their secrets for reasons. They had to protect the ones they loved from the dangers of the ghoul world. They couldn't let them see how cruel this world was and just what kinds of things they had to deal with.

"She's a bit tired at the minute so she's resting. She was pretty roughed up when we brought her here. Honestly, Kaneki has been so flustered he didn't know what to do. But he's being a trouper and helping me out" she replied in a friendly manner. Always being able to put on an act, most likely from years of training to blend in to keep up her double life.

She had so many wounds on her body and the stench of blood had been so strong Touka felt sick. The scent wasn't sweet like human meat, this scent had been very different indeed. They had both carried her to Anteiku and cleaned her up. While she was out they bought her the necessities she would need after it was agreed she would be joining them.

She trusted Kaneki for whatever reason despite Touka's suspicions. But since she had acted mainly neutral while here, she was no enemy of hers or the rest of the people here. She had raised no hand against them nor made any threats that would suggest she bore them any ill will. So she was in the clear for the time being.

Kaneki would argue but it was true, he had given her the clothes Touka bought. Helped with the food prep, made the coffee and left Touka to clean her up. He had just been a helper. He had been too panicked to do anything and was only just getting used to the fact he had to fight, still training in terms of hand to hand combat.

Hide blinked, she had been roughed up? Did that mean she had been in a fight or assaulted? Damn that sounded rough, no wonder Kaneki was so hesitant and avoided the subject. He then smiled warmly "You're a lucky girl to have such a useful helper. Honesty, he may not look it but Kaneki's a great guy. Always there when people need him most" he replied.

But he worried that Kaneki worried more about the well being of others than himself. Though he was kindness, neglecting his own feelings was by no means healthy. The guy could afford to be a little selfish and indulge in himself every now and again. I mean, at the end of the day he was still human with wants and needs.

Touka blinked in surprise, she could hear the genuine kindness in Hide's voice. He really cared about Kaneki the same way Yoriko cared about her. It was sweet to see. She smiled again only this time a genuine smile "He is, honestly it's because of him that she has been able to open up" she revealed. Though she was not very happy about it, she was glad he was able to get her to speak.

Kaneki was touched to hear her say something genuinely nice to him. Not thinking Touka could smile like that, least not around anyone else but Yoriko at school. She looked pretty when she smiled, so why not do so more often? It made a nice change to her usual scowl or frown.

Kaneki wiped down the bar after they closed up for the afternoon, while Touka washed the dishes. Just another day at Anteiku, but at least they had more customers today. Though they had learned to hide how hard it was to be surrounded by humans when their scent to them as ghouls was very hard to deal with when their hunger arose.

"Say Kaneki?" Touka asked curiously. She wondered if he knew what this girl was, surely, he had a gut feeling like she did. She just wanted to know what his thoughts on it were? She had seen it on his face all day that he had something on his mind and it was obvious as to what and whom it was. She was good at reading him.

"Hmm?" Kaneki replied quickly. He knew Touka didn't like to be kept waiting, always having an impatient streak. She had a temper you did best not to mess with. Though she acted cute at work she could indeed be scary. She wasn't a bad person per-say, her emotions just ran stronger than most and that was a good thing.

Touka sighed, it was best to ask the question now rather than later. "That girl… what do you think about her? I mean aside from the fact she is obviously not human?" she asked. She had no idea of what to think of her, though it scared her how she saw herself in the girl. Small glimpses of the person she was and reminding her of how cruel the world could be to their kind.

Kaneki blinked and then sighed heavily, this was a hard question. "I… I don't know. She's obviously been hurt, more than just physically. But she doesn't really talk much so…" he trailed off. She always had a sad look in her eye that worried him. Like a woman scorned and hurt by the world. Lonely, longing and resentful, but as to why was still a mystery.

Touka said nothing but agreed, this girl was hiding something and obviously had her demons. But when she would start to spill the beans was another question indeed. For now they just had to keep playing the waiting game until she felt like opening her mouth and spilling her hidden secrets.

Chapter Text

Kaede sighed heavily and pulled on her uniform, not really wanting to do this at all but being forced to. So, long as she was staying here she had to pitch in the same as everyone else. Though she hadn't planned on staying here long and leaving when she got better. She had been convinced to stay for her own safety. After explaining how dangerous it was to be out in the city alone.

She had never explained how she had been hurt or where she came from. From the way they looked at her, it was probably a mutual enemy. Though she could only assume that for now. She had no idea of what enemies or danger she could face here in Tokyo compared to Hokkaido, but she would be able to handle them herself if necessary.

However, she wasn't going to reject the offer of a roof over her head and a room to herself. She was so used to running or having brief happiness, that prolonged safety and comfort felt like a dream. But it would take her a long time to get used to being around these people who had taken her in. Let alone the endless customers she would have to deal with while working as a waitress.

She was bad at dealing with people, having isolated herself from them a long time ago. Only had she lived with Kohta and the others, but that had been for a brief time. Having left when she felt she had endangered them. She was used to carrying everything on her own shoulders, getting what she needed by any means necessary. She had never been able to live a carefree life, at least not outside of her dreams.

Dreams where she had lived with a family, parents whom had loved her. Being able to attend a normal school, make friends and live happily. Able to live with Kohta happily without the fear of being separated. Though of course they would always be dreams, a life that could have been had she been born a normal girl and not a mutant.

Today was her first day working at the café downstairs with the others. Yoshimura had given her the training on how to make the coffee they brewed, but it didn't take a genius to figure out how to be a Barista/waitress. Clearing tables, cleaning them, taking orders, making coffee etc. It was simple and easy enough, as long as nobody asked her any personal questions about her looks too much she would fine.

After years of dealing with harassment about her horns, it was fair to say she was rather sensitive. Seeing them as a bother instead of something to be embraced, no thanks to her childhood bullies. The only happiness she had ever known was when she met Kouta for the first time or lost her memory and lived as Nyu.

Now her personalities had managed to meld again once more, turning her into the girl she had been once upon a time. She didn't know how, call it another head wound or something. But she was no longer the innocent Nyu or the cold-blooded killer Lucy. The personalities had combined into the girl she had originally been, sweet yet stubborn. Bitter and yet merciful.

She would be working alongside Touka, Kaneki and an older ghoul named Nishiki. Like herself he wasn't a very social person, meaning they wouldn't have to speak to each other much.

Though she felt a connection to Kaneki, she hadn't spoken to him much. What was she supposed to say? Her head was so full of thoughts and the voice inside of her never gave her peace. She could never get rid of it, she could only learn to tolerate it. Learning to shut it up or push it to the side. Knowing when to use her diclinius nature and when it was safe not to.

Today, she would be meeting customers and whatever their kind was. Aside from Touka, Kaneki and Yoshimura. She didn't really know anyone else, they were all strangers to her instead. Just faces she would either never see again, or just come to recognize yet still remain strangers to her. It was as simple as that, no connection.

She sighed and looked at herself in the mirror. Feeling out of place but having to accept this was the way things were now. In order to remain safe, she had to blend in with these people. Pretend that she was normal when she was anything but. She had been reminded of that her entire life. Just how much she didn't fit into society and how they hated or feared anything different or strange.

They already knew she wasn't a threat to them, sure she hadn't told them that she was a diclonius. But she had explained she wasn't intending to hurt them and was not an enemy. They were like her, outcast from the world and alone. Forced to hide who they were in order to protect themselves. Though she would need time to learn to trust them, she meant them no harm.

The clothing was pretty basic, but certainly not something she was used to wearing. She was wearing a long sleeved white blouse, basic standard the same as one would wear in a school uniform. A dark maroon tie that ended at her breasts was worn around her neck. A black vest waistcoat, a coffee coloured apron with a slight frill effect, a black pencil skirt with a small slit in the side. A pair of black upper thigh length stockings and her red platform shoes.

She certainly didn't hate them, she just felt very out of place. She had never attended school so wearing a uniform was alien to her. It was not something she was familiar with whatsoever. Even as Nyu when she attended college with Kohta and his cousin, she had worn clothes belonging to Yuka. But they had all been causal compared to this very smart attire.

Though at least for a brief time, she had been able to act and dress like a normal girl. She had been loved and cared for by Kouta, being spoiled during her innocent state. Naive to the world and the damage she had caused, even for a little while. Unable to use her powers and simply locked inside her own head, as if living in a dream.

To hide her ears from customers she was wearing hair ribbons. About the only thing from her old clothes that had stayed in one piece. Needing to be washed thoroughly in order to get the blood out of them. I mean, if anyone saw her horns they would become scared or point them out. Thus, risking her being found and captured again.

She sighed heavily, then exited the bedroom quietly. She couldn't prolong it forever, she had to go and face the music. Though she had a feeling she was going to hate every second of it. She didn't do normal, she had never known what normal was. To her it was a brief moment of peace before she was forced to endure misery.

"You've certainly made a habit of coming here often" Nishiki muttered. Though he didn't understand the relationship between Kaneki and Hide much, he could somewhat resemble it to his relationship with Kimi. Kaneki trusted him and cared about him a great deal, but hid his identity as a ghoul from him. It must not have been easy on him given Hide had once mentioned they had known each other since they were kids.

Hide grinned "Could say the same for you, when did it become a habit for you to start working here?" he teased. Seems he had finally started to act like an adult instead of a slacker. He wondered if that cute girl of his that he met that one time was still with him. He wondered if she got lonely at all when he was away at work like this. I mean they were in college after all.

Nishiki frowned and grumbled, he had never wanted to work here at first and was getting used to it. But for the safety of Kimi, he would put up with just about anything for her sake. He didn't exactly understand the methods or lifestyle of Anteiku, not hunting humans for food like they were designed. Instead eating humans as if this were a meat market.

Picking up dead bodies instead of fresh meat, the flavour wouldn't be as sweet as when fresh. But they were able to live in peace because of it, so he envied them in that area. Nobody got hurt, nobody got killed and the people had chosen to end their lives. Was a pretty clever system in his opinion, allowing them to eat and not have to hurt anyone.

But they were able to life peaceful lives under the radar without getting caught. So, he respected them in that sense. It was amazing how long they had been able to keep up their facade. But he wondered if any of those doves got nosy about it, I mean suicides weren't exactly anything new. But wouldn't police become suspicious at the lack of bodies?

It was then that the side door that led to the apartments upstairs opened. Hide's eyes widened in awe, unable to believe how lucky and yet strange this day was turning out to be. A very pretty young girl with shoulder length magenta pink hair and red eyes stepped out from the upstairs stairwell. She had pale creamy skin, a great figure and was totally his type.

He had never seen her around the café before, meaning she was new. Seemed this cafe hired cute girls as if it were a trend, not that he minded that of course. He wondered if she was a friend of Touka's or was a newbie here, either way she was fair game to him. He wan't going to let an opportunity pass him by while he had a chance.

Nishiki meanwhile was stunned, his bad mood gone and suspicion rising in him. He had never seen this girl around here before, nor had Touka or Kaneki mentioned her before. She didn't smell like a ghoul, but she didn't smell like a human either. But she was powerful, that much he did know. He had felt it before she even entered the café. But how the hell was she affiliated with Anteiku?

She couldn't be a spy, she didn't seem like she knew anyone here. So, what was her purpose, I mean he didn't know everyone, but usually he would have been told details on new recruits. Though for now he would lay low and mind his own business, I mean, she hadn't done anything or hurt anyone. But he would still be on guard.

It was then that Kaneki and Touka showed up from back. Having finished deliveries and giving Nishiki his break. The guy had taken over for them since they had been busy and he had nothing better to do. They had been getting some food for Kaede, since unlike them she could eat human food. Basic necessities for an apartment as well as more coffee for the café, which they had been asked to buy.

Kaneki then saw the surprised faces and shock, wondering what was going on. Had something happened? No, then he would have been told about it by Yoshimura beforehand if so. He really hoped none of the ghoul hunters had been nearby or that there had been rogue ghoul attacks nearby, that wouldn't be good for the cafe.

After looking around her realized what the source of attention was, or more precisely whom in this case. Kaneki perked up a little when he saw Kaede wearing the uniform. Since it was her first day here, he had been given the duty of easing her into her role while Touka would help her get used to serving people.

He only hoped Hide would lay off on his playboy attitude. The guy seemed to flirt with any pretty girl he saw. Since Kaede was new here that made her open game to him, which h worried about. The poor girl had been through a lot before coming here. She wasn't used to social interaction, so of course she would be uncomfortable about her first day behind the counter.

"Sorry, were you waiting here long" he apologized. He had been given the task of teaching her the ropes and he had left her here alone. That was really irresponsible of him. He had been here nearly a year and yet he was still being clueless, he had completely forgotten about her training. He needed to act like the senior here and help her get used to her new position.

Hide and Nishiki looked stunned and suspicious at the fact that Kaneki knew this girl. Like he was acting very familiar with her as if they were friends which raised red flags. But they had never seen her before today. Were they somehow involved, knowing Kaneki he would never say so. This girl didn't seem to be much of a talker so far so she wouldn't tell. Meaning they were currently in the dark about it.

Kaede blushed, this guy was so strange. Yet at the same time she liked him, related to him. She then looked away in annoyance "I came, like you told me to" she replied bluntly. People were staring at her, these two guys were staring at her. She felt naked, emotionally. Just like she had when she was a child, people always staring at her because she was different.

Kaneki blushed and bowed his head "I have to go change, I'll be right back. Just wait up" he explained. She was in the same position he had been when he first arrived, now he had to help her get used to her new life. He then bolted up the stairs quickly to change, though he got the feeling Nishiki and Hide would get the wrong idea. He was simply looking out for her for the time being.

Touka sighed, since Kaede had come to stay here and work with them. Kaneki had felt pressured by his new role of teaching her the ways of Anteiku. Probably thinking about back when he had been a newbie. But he really needed to put less pressure on himself, she seemed to be semi independent already o he could take it somewhat easy.

Hide saw Touka's weary expression, Kaneki was such a lucky guy. He was so damn jealous, spoiled by the company of two beautiful girls. He was living every guys dream, lucky bastard. "Say Touka, instead of working why don't you go on a date with me?" Hide teased playfully. He would keep her company and make her happy, then she wouldn't have to worry about feeling lonely.

Touka smiled sweetly, brushing off his advances "Sorry, I promised to show Kaede the ropes. She's pretty new and this is her first day" she explained. Though she was a little hesitant about it. She was still on her guard around this girl, her complete power extents were unknown and so was what her true identity was too.

Hide pouted at her rejection, but at least he knew the new girls name now. Kaede, as in the maple leaf. What a cute name for such a pretty girl. He wondered if her personality was just as sweet to match. At least now he knew how to start a conversation with her. He only hoped that luck was in his favour.

"So Kaede, how old are you?" Hide asked eagerly. She looked pretty mature, meaning she was probably in college too. But he had never seen her around the campus, meaning she went to another. God, as long as it meant he could see her again he would search it all night if he had to. I mean, he was desperate for a girlfriend. He was popular enough but he never seemed to get lucky.

Kaede sighed heavily, she had no interest in this guy or any for the time being. After abandoning the boy, she had been in love with since she was 10, she was in no rush to find someone else. Leaving him behind had been the most painful thing she had ever been forced to do. In order to protect him, she had to stay away from him. As much as that hurt her to do.

"Eighteen" she replied bluntly still holding the notebook in her hand. Part of her wanted to use her vectors to push him off his damn stool. But she was trying to keep a low profile. So, for now she would tolerate it, god knows how Touka dealt with this day after day. Probably blocked it out after a while, which she would have to start doing if this continued.

"Woah, that's the same age as me. But I gotta say you look much older" he said playfully. At first glances, she looked at least twenty, twenty-one ish. She certainly got hit by puberty hard. He had never seen a girl like her before, she was mysterious and that only drew him in more. If only he would let her into that pretty head of hers, but she kept rejecting him.

Kaede frowned, she was losing patience here. But this was her job now, so she had to get used to dealing with people like this. So, she just had to tolerate until he got bored and gave up. "Listen are you gonna order? I'm getting bored here" she replied bluntly. Either he wanted coffee, or he could leave. She wondered how Kaneki dealt with this half of the time.

Hide pouted, damn she was hard to please. Hella cute but she certainly was stubborn, making him wonder what kind of magic Kaneki had when it came to seducing women. First that girl Rize, then Touka, now Kaede. He was pulling them left right and centre, he just had to know his secret. He was getting very bored with being single, he wanted a lady in his life.

She then went to make coffee anyway, anything that would mean she got head space. God, she felt like there were eyes on her, her heart was racing she felt so out of place. She would never understand what made her so interesting to others, would she ever be able to live a life of peace where she felt like a strange animal at a zoo.

"Hide, can't you lay off for just one second" Kaneki sighed. Whenever he saw a pretty girl he just had to make a move. He could never just lay off and simply watch from afar. He really needed to get a hobby, or did he just spend most of his time slacking off or hitting on girls. You'd think he would get bored of it after being rejected so many times.

Hide pouted and pulled Kaneki close, a frown evident on his face "Kaneki you gotta let me in on the secret. How are you so popular?" he whined. It was more than fair to say he was jealous of how popular Hide was with the female gender. It seemed like he was slowly collecting a harem of girls.

Kaneki blushed, Hide never knew what had happened with Rize that day. So, for all he knew things went wrong somehow or it was simply a one night stand. Not that he could ever tell Hide the truth. Hey buddy, that girl I liked happened to be a ghoul and somehow I ended up with her organs inside by body so now I'm a half ghoul.

"You got two babes working beside you every day. Tell me what your secret is to making them like you" he begged. He would take any advice no matter what it was, he was getting desperate. Anything that meant he could finally score with a cute girl and get a date after what felt like forever, he needed someone like that in his life.

Kaneki stiffened, yes, he did think that Touka was attractive and Kaede was cute too. But he so far saw them as friends and he did like them. But he doubted either of them would be interested in him. He then felt his cheeks heat, was Hide actually asking him for advice on love. He himself had no idea, hell he had always been awkward. He had no idea how to approach girls or tell them he liked them.

"Here's your coffee" Kaede said suddenly. She placed the cup beside Hide, she could see Kaneki was uncomfortable. The poor guy was hiding like her, unable to tell the person closest to him the truth. Carrying such self hatred, grief and sadness in your heart to be lying to someone closest to you about who you truly were.

Hide then straightened up releasing Kaneki from his grasp, smiling flirtatiously at Kaede."Say Kaede, what's your type of guy?" he asked curiously. Though part of him already knew. She was awfully comfortable around Kaneki while she barely gave him the time of day, yet Kaneki refused to reveal his secrets to him.

Kaede blushed, she had only ever liked one guy. She had never been able to give her heart to anyone else since, the trauma had just been too deep. Kohta, the sweetest person she had ever met and she ruined his life. She had never really known anything about a type, she had never thought about such a thing.

Looks wise she had never cared about that sort of thing, but from Ai the girl she befriended as a child, then Kohta, she supposed her type was dark haired people. Or what most called ravens. Personality wise she had never thought about that either, but after meeting Kohta. She supposed the gentle loving type, the kind of person who was a kind soul.

"I guess, dark haired people. Nice personality, just kind in general" she replied awkwardly. She didn't really know how else to answer this question. This was the first time she had ever had to think about such a thing in detail before. Simply because she had never really taken that into consideration before now.

Hide felt his heart shatter in his chest, knowing all hopes of getting with her were as good as dead. Kaneki was so her type, he didn't stand a chance of making her like him. But maybe he could persuade her if he maybe, acted gentle instead of flirty. I mean, not everyone found his jokey attitude funny and instead somewhat annoying.

Kaneki meanwhile felt his cheeks heat, that description fit the bill for him completely. Was she saying she had a crush on him? But they had only just met one day ago after all. However, all people were different. I mean look at Hinami, she had been very shy and well mannered upon meeting him but they had become very close over time.

Kaede saw their expressions and shifted "I'm not interested in dating anyone. I just answered your question, ok" she replied bluntly. Why was everyone so damn curious about her so suddenly? Some strange girl shows up and suddenly its question time, let me know all your personal details. No refusal.

Kaede cleaned the counter of the store quietly, her eyes filled with annoyance and gripping the cloth tighter than she should have been. Somehow, those questions earlier had effected more than he realized. She hadn't dated anyone since Kohta, technically she had never dated anyone ever. She had been Kohta's friend, he never said he liked her openly and simply wanted to spend time with her.

But she had liked him, she had fallen for him and ruined his life. She had thought of nothing else during the time she had been imprisoned. Having to live with that guilt before she could apologize to him. As if he would ever want to be with her after everything she had done to him. He had said so himself, that he could never forgive her for killing his father and sister Kanae.

There was no way he wouldn't hate her for everything she had put him through and she understood that. So, she was fated to be alone for the rest of her existence, hated and feared by everyone. Unable to ever find happiness, doomed to suffer for her actions and identity as the queen.

Kaneki who was mopping, saw Kaede's unhappy expression. He felt bad about what had happened earlier, even though Hide was just joking about. She was new here and still adjusting to her new life at Anteiku. He stopped cleaning and gripped the mop tightly in his hands. He felt like an ass right now, he would have to speak to Hide about how he had acted in front of her earlier.

He then sighed heavily, he may as well rip the band aid off instead of ignoring the situation. The tension in the air was heavy, almost like a weight that was smothering him. it was the same as when Touka got mad and he had to approach her with caution unless he wanted to get his ass kicked by her upon sight.

"I…um… about Hide" he replied nervously. He was a great guy deep down and the only friend he had ever had. He had been there for him in some of his worst moments. But there were times he needed to learn to keep his mouth shut, otherwise it would get him into trouble someday. But he would never learn unless it was the hard way.

Kaede stopped cleaning and looked up at him curiously. Her red eyes filled with confusion and yet slight annoyance at being remembered. She had tried to forget about it in all honesty, but Kaneki seemed to blame himself for what had happened earlier. Though she had no idea why, he didn't have to take responsibility for someone else's actions.

Kaneki swallowed nervously, sensing her eyes staring into his back. He couldn't just leave it be after bringing it up, he would look like an ass if she did such a thing. "He… he's a good guy. He just takes some getting used to" he replied. Hide was perceptive and always knew when he was hiding something, knowing what was wrong before even he knew. He had been there for him his entire life, his best friend.

Kaede blinked and softened, though he had been very abrupt and forward. She had sensed and noticed the playful, brotherly relationship the two shared with each other. Honestly, she was jealous. "I should have explained, a long time ago I got close to someone. They were the first person who was ever kind to me. But… because of what I am. My powers, I ruined their life" she explained.

Kouta had helped hide her horns, shown her the world through his eyes, given her sweets and showed her amazing and strange animals. But she ended up getting jealous and allowing her inner voice to take over. In a frenzied rage, she had murdered people and killed Kouta's family. She had hurt him deeply and she would never be able to undo or take back what she had done to him.

She would continue to live with that guilt for the rest of her life. Forever remembering what she had done to him and what he had been through because of her actions. Because of this, they could never be together, no matter how much she wanted it to happen. She would rather he be happy with someone else, than a monster like her.

Kaneki stood there in awe, she had obviously suffered with these powers a lot longer than him. Much like Touka, she had been born with them and because of that had to suffer. He had no idea what kind of life she had endured by herself, but from the way she acted it was anything but easy. Making him understand why she was so hesitant to get close to people.

He then smiled gently, he couldn't make her demons go away. Nor could any of the members here, but they could help her build a new life. Help her find her own place. "Your safe now, Anteiku is your new home. You don't have to worry about hurting any of us" he explained. None of them were perfect and had done things they regretted or had to live with.

Kaede softened, somehow, she felt she could believe him. That the words he were saying were true, that she could indeed be happy here with them. Though she wasn't ready to yet, in time she felt she could reveal her vectors to him and his friends. If they could see them that is. Not many people could.

Chapter Text

Kaede gazed out of the glass doors silently, her red eyes watching the rain pour down heavily. Memories of her childhood filling her mind, ones of happiness but also ones of great pain. Ones that had impacted her personality and psychological mind state, causing her to battle with the demon inside of her. Fighting her desire to kill and her desire to stay normal.

Remembering her days after she abandoned the orphanage in which she had suffered her abuse. Those brats who had taken what little happiness she had away from her, causing her to snap. Playing with Kouta, messing about and feeling genuine happiness in his company, a feeling she had never felt before. One that she wished would last forever.

However, that was all they would ever be, memories. For that life was now behind her, she now had to move forward and make the best she could. Finding a new home amongst these people. It had now been over a week since she had come to stay at this place called Anteiku. Her wounds having healed now, however her body still ached. The bullets having pierced her body sharp and hard.

She was amazed she was even alive, if you called this living. Though she would usually go into battle without fear knowing she would win, this time she really didn't know. Wanting to repent for her sins, for everything she had done and all the crimes she had committed. Wanting to undo them all so she could redeem herself for good.

Managing to dodge the bullets with her vectors, mostly. However, one had cracked one of her horns. Being made completely out of bone, it had hurt deeply and scabbed over. However, it was slowly starting to grow back. Being the queen, she had abilities silpelits did not. Such as her ability to infect other males, being the first of her kind and the regenerative abilities they did not.

She could still remember it all, the strong metallic scent of blood in the air. The smell of bullets, the smell of death, lingering in the air like a thick smoke. A war of facing the enemy before having run away to Tokyo to protect her loved ones. Never again wanting them to be forced to face this sort of thing. So they could continue their days in peace.

Mariko was dead, Kurama was dead, her captors were dead. The facility would be on its last legs. No longer could they hurt her, for now she was free. Until they rebuilt again and tried to take her back. Locking her away in that dark place, wrapped in a straight-jacket. A mask covering her face and feeding her through a tube. Using her flesh and blood to create more clones and experiment on her race.

But she would not go without a fight, she would not go down so easily. She would do anything to keep her freedom. She never wanted to go back to that dark place again. She would not allow them to treat her like a thing, like a monster. She was a mutant, which made her human. However, unlike most normal humans she was born with latent powers which acted as a defense mechanism.

As a child she had never wanted to use her powers unless she had to. Making sure she never had to kill unless necessary, trying to be as careful as possible. However, it was when she became Lucy and snapped that she went on a killing rampage. Her inner voice or diclonius nature taking the reigns, allowing her to kill without hesitation.

But she wondered, these people were not human either. But they weren't her kind either, so what were they? They were a new species she had never come across before in her life. They seemingly meant her no harm, but what powers were they capable of? She wondered how soon she would find out. To see if they were anything alike.

Meanwhile, Touka stood against the bar, the place had been pretty quiet today on account of the rain. No ghouls would go out and hunt as the rain dulled their senses, plus with any possible doves running around. No ghoul put themselves in harms way willingly without reason. If they were that hungry they would hunt recklessly. However, most knew how to keep their heads down and get by while stating under the radar.

So, they had stood around doing just about nothing. Bored off of their faces and finding ways to pass the time in case anyone had come in on the off chance. The manager had given the clear to close up shop soon enough. I mean, its not like they had anything else to do. So why not just take it easy for once, these opportunities never happened often.

She could catch up with her studies, or listen to music in her room. Maybe she could call her best friend Yoriko and see what she was doing. Kaneki would probably call his friend Hideki or just mind his own business. No doubt Nishio may go to his partners place as they had been apart for some time.

But then there was their newbie, who didn't seem to have any friends that she knew of. If she did, she certainly kept that information to herself. There was still a lot they didn't know about her. She peered over to Kaede who was stood by the window watching the rain fall. Wondering just what was going through her mind. The girl was still a mystery to all of them, but she was becoming one of them.

She had started to acknowledge other members of Anteiku, such as herself and Nishio. But, made small talk with them mostly, other days keeping to herself and performing her job in silence. She would occasionally speak to customers, but rejected any form of interest they showed in her. Such as when she met Hide and rejected him openly on the spot. Shooting him down instantly.

While Touka would be polite and act sweet towards Hide as to keep up appearances. Kaede was true to herself regardless of whether or not she was at work or not. Giving her honest opinion of something whether or not it was best to. However, those this irked Touka somewhat and surprised Kaneki, Yoshimura didn't seem to mind it at all.

She seemed closest to Kaneki, speaking her mind openly to him and showing comfort in his presence. However, she still kept her distance from even him, probably a defence mechanism of before she came to this place. She had obviously suffered some form of deep psychological and emotional trauma. But of what kind and the cause of this was unknown. She obviously had no interest in telling them about it anytime soon.

Touka sighed heavily. There was no doubt that this girl would become one of them, she would need to learn how to fight. But more than that she would need to learn how to act like a human. In order to prevent being caught by doves or figured out, they needed to learn how to blend in. To go about their daily lives without anyone wondering about their true identities. Preventing them from facing any form of danger.

Soon she would be trained how to fight as well as to eventually get a mask. Kaneki did, so she would too. It was the rule, when fighting you need to learn how to cover your face as to not get caught. Your identity was to remain a mystery to doves when in battle. If they figured out who you were, that allowed them to track you down. Find your nest and kill the others, which was the reason they wore masks when in confrontations.

"Hey, we're closing up soon. You don't need to stand around like that" Touka replied bluntly. She may as well make herself useful, she could at least manage the rest of this herself. She would have to go over stock, tidy up and then lock up. But given they had barely anyone in and it was dead quiet. It wouldn't take too long, basically a one-person job that could be done in no time.

Kaede slowly turned to face her, surprised at them closing so early. Having thought how this was a cover up, they would take this more seriously. However, they hadn't had a single customer all day. But she didn't care, truth be told she was bored off her face. At least with this she could go and relax in her room. Maybe take a long bath, read a book or take a nap. Anything to pass the time or help her relax.

She then nodded quietly and went to turn the closed sign around on the door. At least with this no customers would come in, they had the chance to earlier now they lost it. Tough shit. She then left to allow Touka to do her business in peace while she went to unwind in her room. Which would allow her some peace and quiet for a while.

"Magnifique, such a sweet smell. I do say I haven't experienced such a sweet scent since dear sweet Kaneki. I must find the owner of this perfumed aroma" Shuu sighed in delight. Such flavour, such depth, yet not so rich as Kaneki was. It was more perfumed, more sweet. An almost musky scent that was like a dessert wine, full bodied and sweet.

Since his defeat against the Kirishima girl, and attempting to taste sweet Kaneki. He had since kept his distance in an attempt to restore himself and regain his strength. He had hoped to return and apologize for his actions. However, he had sensed a new aroma on his way there. One much sweeter than Kaneki's which he never thought was possible. Their scent not one of a human nor a ghoul, but something else entirely.

It was like nothing he had ever smelt before, but more than that he could sense their power from here. Radiating in the air, causing vibrations to dance along his skin. Bringing him excitement he had never experienced before. He had to find out what this thing was, he could not let such a gem go undiscovered. Surely those at Anteiku would have forgiven him by this point, to hold a grudge was not polite.

Besides, he was parched from his long walk here and the intent of the rain. A delicious cup of Anteiku's coffee would do him well, to warm himself from the cold of the rain. It was their job to be hospitable after all. They could not turn him away after he had come all this way to see them, such a thing would be too rude of them.

Kaede sat quietly in the tub, her bangs tumbling in front of her eyes. Her gaze pinned to the ceiling like knives, her mind swirling with a million thoughts as she allowed herself to relax. Her mind a fog, able to drift out and allow her to feel a clear sense of mind for the first time in her life. All of her troubles, worries and stresses far from her thoughts.

She was slowly adjusting to this new life, her new role amongst this group of people. Learning how to get by, how blend in. For a brief time, understanding what a normal life was. She had never truly known what a home was, what warmth felt like. What company felt like, now she was returning to it. After leaving Maple house, she was now in a new home with new people.

She could tell they held secrets much like herself, which she respected. Protecting their scars and pasts, not wanting people to see the ugliness they had experienced or been part of. These people may have been different to her species, but in personality they mirrored her. They all had something to hide, something or someone to protect. For that she respected them and understood.

She sighed heavily, sinking beneath the musky water of the bath. Submerging herself so that she could bask in the quiet. Hoping her mind would stop rushing back to being defensive, that her desire to fight or protect herself would disappear. To simply allow herself to think, to cut off from life briefly. To enjoy the silence.

Touka stood by the bar quietly, a look of hatred, anger and caution on her face. What was this guy doing here? Was he back for round two? Or worse, was he after Kaneki again like last time? He had already caused enough trouble with Kaneki, trying to eat him and torturing him. This damn gourmet, he was just a sadist hiding under a persona of a gentleman. Piece of garbage ghoul.

"Now, now Miss Kirishima. You needn't give me that look, I come in peace. I am glad to see you are in good health after our past confrontation" Tsukiyama replied calmly. She still had that beautiful fire in her eyes that he loved so much. Her cold nature was what drew him in, her icy glare that sent shivers down his very spine. He loved it so much.

Touka snorted, like she would believe that. After he took Kaneki to his ring to fight against another ghoul. Attempting to kill him for entertainment, then saving his life yet again. After, becoming obsessed with Kaneki and hoping to eat him while he ate a human. After the attack he had laid low for some time, now he was back again to show his face. But why?

"What do you want Tsukiyama? Don't think after what you did I'll hesitate to kick you ass, even if I am at work" she replied sharply. She may not have been able to use her Kagune, but she still knew basic combat. She had a right mind to kick him out and less his ass soak outside. She didn't care how much he complained or how bad her manners were.

Tsukiyama then sat down in one of the chairs quietly, a large smile on his face. He could smell them from here, their sweet perfumed aroma wafting up his nose. How sweet they were. But this was unusual, he could tell they were indeed a female. So ripe, so delicious, yet untouched. However, like before they did not smell like a human or a ghoul. Yet that only intrigued him further.

He rested his hand on the table, leaning towards her with his chin rested on his hands. His eyes gleaming brightly with eagerness, like a small child when they saw something new and shiny. "I would very much like to meet the hidden face you are keeping here. I can smell her from here, she was what brought me here. So please, don't be so rude as to keep her from me" he replied charismatically.

Touka stiffened, of course. He had come here and become interested when Kaneki first showed up. Now he was repeating the cycle with Kaede, now she was the form of his interest this time. However, she couldn't say no to him because he would find his own way to see her. He may have been a piece of shit, but he was by no means a pushover.

Kaede laid in the tub silently, staring at the ceiling while she lay on her back staring into oblivion. Water droplets running across her bare skin, steam arising from the water and causing condensation on the walls. She hadn't felt this relaxed in a long time, to feel nothing and yet everything. So calm inside, so peaceful. She hadn't taken a bath as herself in a long time, as Nyu it was like being a small child again.

She felt so peaceful, so content. Able to act carefree and calm, but feel safe in doing so. Knowing that for the time being, she would not have to keep her guard up fully for some time. She had been here a week, yet she had faced no danger or any suspicious activity. Nobody had come looking for her, nor were police after her either. Instead she was able to remain calm and peaceful.

She didn't have to worry about hiding her ears, she didn't have to worry about being judged. She could hide in plain sight, the people around her knowing she wasn't human and yet being embraced by them. She never thought she could feel so accepted and peaceful around anyone before. Having spent her life feeling like a freak and lonely, she finally felt like she could be happy at this place.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door snapping her from her thoughts. Her eyes snapping open wide and sitting up quickly in the tub. Feeling her heart skip a beat at the sudden surprise of being snapped back to reality. She then peered at the door silently, her vectors having come out as a form of defense, having been caught off guard.

"Um… Kaede. You uh… have a visitor" Kaneki's voice called from the door. He felt bad about interrupting her, while at the same time concerned as to why Tsukiyama was here. That guy meant nothing but trouble. He knew first had of what kind of guy he was, so god knows what he had in store for Kaede. Anything new, unusual or interesting brought his attention like a moth to the flame.

Kaede blinked, a look of surprise and suspicion came across her face. Visitor? But nobody from back home knew where she was, and none of them were stupid enough to come look for her. She had nobody that would miss her, nobody that would care. So, who would come for her? Unless it was the police or investigators hired by her captors to come look for her. Disguised as a friend or family member.

But she would have to risk it in order to not be suspicious in any way. As long as she didn't break her act or let down her guard she would be fine. She could use her vectors and they would never know. She sighed heavily "I'll be down soon" she replied calmly. She would just have to go down with wet hair, but whatever. It's not like they had any customers that would give a shit anyway.

Kaede pulled the clothes over her body calmly. Now trying on the casual clothes that had been bough for her so kindly by Anteiku. For her to wear on her time off, when she wouldn't be working here. She didn't think she had ever received such nice clothes before. But she wondered how they new her size, making her wonder if they had measured her at all while she had been unconscious.

A yellow turtleneck sweater without sleeves. It stopped at her waist and the design cupped her form comfortably. Showing her slender waist and healthy developed chest nicely. A red knee length skirt that matched her eyes, flowing around her knees with a simple white underskirt. It fastened with a zip and hook around the back which was hidden under the hem of her jumper.

She had also been given a pair of brown ankle boots to pull off the look. Which she wore with socks as to not chafe her ankles in any way while she was walking. This was the first time she had worn something that uncovered her horns. She felt so naked, so revealed, she felt so uncomfortable about it, yet part of her felt like she wouldn't be judged for it.

She guessed this would be for when she was about the café or in her room. Though she would love to wear this in public, she would have to wear bows to cover up her horns. She sighed heavily before giving herself a one over and heading out of the room to greet this visitor. Knowing from the way Kaneki had seemed bothered, something had to be up.

Kaede opened the back door the café quietly, ready to address whatever newcomer had come to see her. Truth be told she was in no mood for company and was not happy about being pulled from the peace and quiet. It was not often she got head space, after living in a house with a bunch of other people she was used to people getting in her way.

She looked up to see Touka stood by the bar still, an annoyed look on her face. She was barely keeping her temper together, trying to keep up good appearances while at work. She hadn't seen her look so angry before, I mean Touka had always been approach with caution, but now she looked like she could easily break a table in half just by touching it.

Kaneki was stood in the background by Touka, a seemingly troubled expression on his face. Though he always seemed timid, he now appeared to be visibly afraid by this newcomer. She could sense the chills running down his spine, sense his heart racing like a deer trapped in headlights. Causing her to worry just what could be wrong.

"Ah, belle femme arrives. Bonjour my dear, I'm so pleased to meet you" a flirtatious voice replied in a strong French accent. She was even more lovelier than he had expected her to be. Her scent from here was even stronger, captivating him with every second. She had the appearance and aura that resembled Miss Kirishima, which he found very entertaining indeed.

She averted her gaze to see an older male, possibly early twenties sitting in a chair with a large smile. He had a very gentlemanly look about him, though that smile on his face gave her the creeps. His expression reminded her of the look Kakuzawa had given her when he watched her from the other side of the glass. A leer of pure entertainment and wickedness.

She then approached silently, her eyes cold and her body posture defensive. She had never met this guy before in her life, yet he seemed to be awfully friendly towards her despite this. "Can I help you?" she replied calmly but her tone showed defiance. She could already tell Touka and Kaneki were wary of him. Which to her spelled out trouble in every word of the sense.

Tsukiyama hummed, she had just as strong a spirit as Touka had when she was younger. A wild fire in her eyes that sent chills down his spine. How lovely she was, he could barely contain himself. "Pardonne moi, my dear. I heard from a little bird that a newcomer had started working here. I have history with the owners of this café. So, I wanted to meet their newcomer in person" he explained.

Though Kaneki and Touka held his interest, he was eager to learn about her too. What powers and potential she had, and above all why she carried such a sweet scent about her. It was not often a stranger came into their nest, making him wonder how she had come into the clutches of Anteiku before a dove could get their hands on him.

Kaede stiffened, how did he know about this? She doubted Kaneki or Touka had told him, making him a spy. She could sense he was one of them, but the way the others acted. Their history was not good. You could smell the tension in the air, heavy and thick like smoke. Almost suffocating her with how it weighed down upon them.

She then sighed, folding her arms and resting on her hip. Locking out her hip, refusing to approach him any further. "Yeah, I'm staying here. But why come all this way for a stranger? Surely you have better things to do?" she replied bluntly. This guy was an aristocrat, surely, he had more interesting and better people to spend time with. So why waste his time here? When he could be amongst people who were of his class?

Tsukiyama blinked in surprise and chuckled, she certainly had an attitude. But that only made him like her more, intriguing him. Like a moth who danced towards a bright flame despite the dangers. "Unfortunately, I'm afraid you are mistaken my dear. Despite my class I have plenty of free time which leads to a lack of stimulation. So, I come here in hopes of feeling…. alive" he explained calmly.

The glare in her eyes, the deep shine in those crimson orbs. The paleness of her skin, she was so lovely it hurt. He had never seen a creature so fair and sweet, with such a scent as addictive of Kaneki's. He looked forward to the day he would be able to get a taste, to savor her sweetness. A dream that was still out of his reach, yet so close.

Kaneki then approached quietly and placed a cup of coffee on the table. Though he averted his eyes as to not look at Tsukiyama. Feeling his eyes burning into him like sharp knives, sending chills up his spine. He just wanted to get this over with and fast, but he would feel bad at leaving Kaede alone with him after going through his own experience with Tsukiyama.

Tsukiyama smiled warmly, still as polite as ever "Thank you sweet Kaneki. I am touched you went so far as to make me this coffee" he said gratefully. Having been made by his hand, no doubt it would be delicious. If only his sweet Kaneki would look his way, but he doubted he would ever trust him again after what had happened before.

Kaneki shivered and backed off, despite this smile this guy was a creep. His entire body screaming at how he could remember what he put him through. No way in hell would he trust him so easily. But he would tolerate his presence for now, it was Anteiku's policy to help their own. Even if they had their issues with said person.

Kaede saw this, this guy was obviously trouble and had done something in the past. But as to what she didn't know. But whatever it had been, it obviously hadn't been good for them to act this way. She then sharpened her gaze "You got your coffee, you got to meet me. Now leave" she replied coldly. This guy wasn't welcome here, he meant trouble. Which was something she wanted to avoid.

She had finally found a peaceful place again, and this guy was disturbing it. Which was something she didn't appreciate in the least. Though she had wanted to avoid attention, she was tempted to use her vectors. As long as this guy got the message he wasn't welcome here. She would do whatever it took to get rid of him.

Tsukiyama pouted, they really needed to brush up on their manners. "My, my. I came all this way to see you, yet all of you are being so cold. How cruel" he sighed heavily. Could they not just leave things in the past and move on? He had accepted he had been improper, and repented. Hoping to make peace with them again.

Touka clicked her teeth "Don't act like your so innocent. You always come here for a reason Tsukiyama. Now either drink your coffee, or get out" she snapped. She was sick of looking at him already. She was only glad Nishiki wasn't here or he would lose his shit after what he did to Kimi. Though he was the type of guy who looked out for himself, he was fiercely protective over Kimi.

Kaneki stiffened at her tone but agreed, though one to avoid confrontation. He was uneasy about tsukiyama being here after everything he had done beforehand. Warier to his presence. But Kaede didn't know what he was capable of or what kind of person he was. He couldn't help but worry about her walking into a trap.

Tsukiyama sighed, he didn't appreciate the coldness of them, but he would have to wait a bit longer for them to cool off. Which he was disheartened by as he had hoped to get to know this new girl better. "Very well, however I ask I get to speak to this fair lady alone for a while. Surely you can allow me to speak to her for a brief time yes?" he asked calmly. Surely speaking to her would do no harm.

Touka frowned, she wanted him to leave but he wouldn't go unless he got what he wanted. Kaede seemed like she could handle herself, as long as she didn't make a mess, things would be fine.

She huffed heavily "Fine, just lock up when your done" she retorted. She then left the bar to head upstairs. She was done with Tsukiyama, she felt like she was suffocating in this damn room. If she didn't get some head-space she may have cracked or broken any of the equipment in her state. Feeling as though the walls were closing in.

Kaneki blinked, worried about Touka but not wanting to abandon Kaede. He shifted awkwardly trying to think of what to do. "I… uh… I'm going to change. I'll be back soon" he replied quickly before exiting the room too. He tailed after Touka quickly, feeling bad about abandoning Kaede but wanting to make sure Touka was ok.

Kaede watched them leave quietly, she had never seen Kaneki act so on edge. Nor had she seen Touka so upset before. They really didn't like this guy, which meant she had to be on her guard. She then sighed heavily and approached the table. If this guy tried anything funny, or even showed a single threat of being dangerous. She wouldn't hesitate to use her vectors on him whatsoever.

She then pulled up a chair and sat on it, still keeping her arms folded and her legs crossed. Showing she meant business and she wasn't here to mess around. He either said what he needed to, or he left. "Get on with it then" she replied bluntly. She wasn't in the mood for any form of mind games. She had dealt with that while imprisoned.

Tsukiyama then smiled warmly, glad she was being reasonable. Now he could get to know all about her, allowing him to understand this wild flower that had found its way to Anteiku. Though he felt she was out of her place here, far more belonging to a higher state of level. Though that would most likely not happen as she wasn't a ghoul.

"Mon Dieu, you are only 18 years old? My dear you look so much older? Do you attend university like sweet Kaneki?" he asked curiously. Surely, she had an education instead of just working. She seemed to be a very capable young woman, so why didn't she make something of herself. Surely she had dreams didn't she? Most girls her age did.

Kaede shuddered at the affectionate tone he used for Kaneki. Making her wonder if this guy had some obsessive crush on him, while the latter seemed to not feel the same way. "My kind age faster than normal humans. Our powers are built in from the minute we are born, but they awaken when we are young. My parents never really gave me the option of education" she replied coldly.

From as young as 3 years old, diclonius knew about the voices in their head and how to use their vectors. Having made itself known from when those kids picked on her and she met Kohta. She never hesitated to use it, no longer holding back on what she was capable of. She had fought against it, but she grew tired of how the world treated her. So, she lashed out at its cruelty.

Tsukiyama looked intrigued. She obviously wasn't a ghoul then, but something entirely new like he expected. If her kind awoke their powers at a young age, then what kind were they? However, upon hearing about her parents he became worried. Even in the ghoul world, they were capable of having parents. Not all of them perfect, but some were loving and kind.

"Did they home school you?" he asked curiously. Maybe they had just been protective, having those horns out of her head. They probably wanted to protect her from bullying. One thing he knew, was that love was the strongest emotion in existence next to hatred. Acting as Yin and Yang towards each other, always in balance.

Kaede scoffed and chuckled under her breath, she doubted even if she had known them they would do such a thing. She had never even known their faces or what kind of people they were. She had been left alone in a cornfield to fend for herself. An infant left to die the minute she was born. Having felt no sense of love or affection from the minute she was brought into the word.

"I was raised in an orphanage. I was found in a cornfield, abandoned. I don't even know if my parents ever wanted me" she replied coldly. They had years to find her and make up for what they did. But they never came looking. Instead she had been raised in an orphanage that allowed her to be openly bullied. Later murdering her only friend, leading her to snap and murder them. No longer being able to tolerate the abuse.

She was then left on her own to fend for herself. Murdering people so she could use their homes to survive. Later meeting Kohta who became the first friend she ever had, as well as the first person to show her kindness. She fell in love with him at first sight, but he lied to her and betrayed her. Telling her his cousin was a boy instead of a girl. Later allowing that whore to seduce him and take her beloved from her.

Later forced to leave so she could protect Kohta from any more harm. Not wanting to cause him any more pain. As much as she loved him, she couldn't bear the thought of him being hurt again. The first boy she had ever loved, the first friend she had ever made. She broke him by killing his family out of jealousy, because her voice told her to. Causing him deep psychological trauma that caused him to make up lies.

Kanae had never had an illness that killed her, she had split her in half with her vectors. Killing her instantly, the last thing she ever knew was that her big brother had told her he hated her. She had then murdered his father by cutting off his head. Leaving Kohta alone with the corpses of his dead family, begging her not to kill anyone else. Hysterically sobbing as he tried to figure out what was happening.

She had broken his heart, shattered his mind and caused him a pain she could never undo. She only hoped that one day he would find it in his heart to forgive what she had done to him. But she very much doubted such a thing would ever come true. What rational human being could ever come to love a monster like herself. It was impossible.

Tsukiyama was stunned, he hadn't expected to hear this. She was an orphan, meaning like so many others she had raised herself. Having to become street smart as to get by in life. She had never known any form of love, affection or care. Simply having to rely on herself as to get by. Hearing such words broke his heart, causing him to feel sympathy for her.

He then reached out his hand to take hers in his own, unknowingly sending chills down her spine. Gazing into her deep red orbs with his own bright purple ones, a silent conversation being shared. "My dear, you have had such a hard life. Quelle tristesse, my heart aches for you" he replied sympathetically. He only hoped she would find herself here at Anteiku, to find true friends.

Kaede shuddered, though his voice sounded sweet she didn't like this feeling. She wanted out, she wanted to see Kaneki and the others. She wanted this guy gone for good, now. She then pulled away her hand quickly, trying to hide the disgust she felt. This guy gave her the creeps, she didn't like the way he looked at her. Sensing less than pleasant intent from him.

Tsukiyama sensed her discomfort and looked guilty. "Forgive me. I do believe I have made you uncomfortable cher. Allow me to take my leave" he replied standing up. He had long since finished his coffee and become interested in speaking instead. However, it seemed he had overstepped his boundaries which he felt terrible about.

He then got up from his seat to which Kaede watched him, she would lock the door when he was gone. Not wanting to move or relax until he was gone from the area, out of her sight. As he opened the door, Tsukiyama shot her a playful look. He sensed something about her, that he would most definitely find out. But he would wait for that, for when he did it would be truly magical.

"Au revoir my dear. I hope we meet again soon" he replied, his eyes gleaming. He couldn't wait to see what she was capable of. He could feel his senses tingling when he was around her. Meaning there was more to her than meets the eye. He couldn't wait for her true face to show himself, such a thing would be truly magnificent to behold.

Kaede waited until the door closed, before sighing heavily. The air feeling clearer and that shiver across her skin now leaving. The guy hadn't rubbed off on her well, and she hoped she didn't see him again anytime soon. She then summoned her vectors, using one to close the snib that locked the door. Making sure he stayed out for good this time. She hoped she didn't have to see that guys face again in a hurry, he was one she would rather forget.

Kaede paced up the stairs slowly, all of her previous energy having gone. All she wanted to do was sleep, never had she thought anyone could make her feel so disgusted and yet scared. She hadn't liked the way he was so familiar let alone interested by her. His eyes roaming her and asking about her personal life so easily. She hadn't even told Kaneki or Touka about herself.

She wanted to hide, feeling so naked she felt sick inside. Like his eyes had seen into her soul without her permission. Like he was trying to figure her out, like watching an animal inside of a cage. Just when she had been getting used to this place, she felt alienated again. A feeling she hated more than anything else.

Touka saw her coming up, sensing something was wrong. Though she had been irritable earlier, now she just seemed on edge. Just what had Tsukiyama said or done to her. "Hey, it's best not to let that guy inside your head. He's not the kind of guy you should trust so easily" Touka warned. Before he showed up, Kaede had been settling in though still hesitant.

Though she had a level head on her shoulders, she should still be on her guard. Tsukiyama certainly was a sneaky bastard and knew how to take advantage of others. So, she best watch out. Since she was staying here she was one of them now, here at Anteiku they looked out for her own. Which meant she was protected too.

Kaede blinked then frowned "Don't worry. The guy creeped me out enough that next time, I won't hesitate" she replied bluntly. She would have no issue tearing a part of him off need be. She had dealt with worse over the years, learning to not hold back if necessary. Hell, she had been tempted to sometimes tear Kohta's incestuous cousin limb from limb at one point.

This Tsukiyama guy was no different, she knew what she had to do if the time came. Though she appreciated their concern, they really had nothing to worry about. She could handle herself. If he even tried anything, she would not hold back no matter what. Then she would like to see him show his face around here again in a hurry.

Touka blinked, this girl had more spunk than she let on. It was admirable in a sense, but she couldn't risk her drawing attention. As much as she hated it sometimes, she wouldn't put her home in danger. She then sighed heavily "Me and Kaneki are having coffee later in my room. Just thought you may want some better company after Tsukiyama" she replied casually before walking off.

She couldn't say she wasn't trying, even if she didn't know how to feel about Kaede yet. She knew the manager and Kaneki would be disappointed it she didn't at least reach out the hand of friendship. So for his sake, she was trying to be friendly towards their newcomer. Then at least he could stop bugging her about it.

Quelle tristesse-How sad

Chapter Text

Kaede sat quietly at the table next to Kaneki and Touka, her head bowed and staring into a cup of coffee. It smelled good and she felt less tense than she had with that Tsukiyama guy. She hadn't liked how fake he seemed, his smile, his presence, his behaviour. It had made her skin crawl just being around him and everything in her instincts had been screaming.

The eyes she had felt burning into her skin earlier was gone. No longer did she feel like an animal in a cage, being stared at like she was some kind of freak. Like she had for most of her young life. She felt more relaxed, no tension in the air and the eerie feeling of eyes on her. It had been a long time since she had known what it was like to have friends. To enjoy the company of another person.

To have a normal life and enjoy the freedoms that came with it was not something she was familiar with. After what had happened as a child and her capture at the hands of the government. She had long since closed off her heart to prevent herself from suffering any longer. She didn't think her heart could take any more pain. She knew her mental state would only decline if so.

But this was different, the same warmth of maple house resonating in the room, feeling as though she belonged. She had never felt such comfort since she was a small child. Around people who could understand her pain. They knew what it was like to be isolated from humanity, to blend in and yet feel so different. To never truly feel like they were home, aware they would have to live a secret life that humans could not even imagine.

However, she was so lost in her own thoughts that she was unaware her companions were catching on that something was wrong. Her defensive body language showing that something was on her mind and deeply troubling her at that. There were many secrets they were yet to uncover about her as she kept them well guarded within herself.

Kaneki shifted, Kaede was not like them. She didn't carry the smell of a ghoul and the fact that she could consume human food proved that. Maybe she didn't like her coffee black like them. They were still getting used to having a newcomer in their ranks. To boot this was an area they had never faced before. Though they were welcoming towards her, she was indeed an anomaly to them.

To carry such a strong aura and hidden power and yet still be able to live as a human? They had never met a species like her before. Causing them to wonder if she was the result of ghoul experimentation. There were a lot of things CCG were keeping hidden from humanity, all in the name of destroying ghouls so that humanity would no longer be threatened. Whether or not these ghouls were peaceful or not.

Kaneki took a deep breath, willingly putting himself in danger of getting a negative response. "Do you want some milk? Sugar maybe?" he asked awkwardly trying to break the silence. Though neither of them used it, they still kept it around for the human customers who paid visit. Though it seemed for the first time, someone whom was now in their ranks would be using it too. But at least it would help keep up appearances in case any doves were wondering around.

Kaede blinked, snapping from her daze. Not having realized that she was ignoring the two of them. "Yes, please" she replied quickly. She tried to think about how to make conversation, but nothing came to mind. She had never been one for conversations, due to the fact she had no way of connecting to others. The bullying and isolation growing up hadn't exactly helped. Leaving her naïve to certain areas of social situations and conversation topics.

But the small-talk helped break the ice. Anything to get her mind off earlier, anything to make her forget that purple haired creep. Though adapting to this new world, there were still strange and unusual things she was getting used to. But she still couldn't shake off the feeling that "Tsukiyama" guy had hidden motives for her. But it was the first time she had faced such a situation. But whatever these people were, she knew he was one of them. So, she didn't have to hold back on him.

Touka stared at Kaede blankly, the girl had been here for a while. From how she held her guard up and was always on edge, it was obvious she knew how to fight already. So, they had no problem in that area. It was obvious she meant them no harm and vice versa. So why she still kept so many secrets was a mystery to her. This place was her home now, so she would have to get used to them eventually.

But she was impressed by the mischief and hostility she held even when facing a stronger opponent. She held her guard up against Tsukiyama and wasn't afraid to antagonize him when he came to visit. Since she had come to stay here she had an aura of power about her that left them all on edge. They had never felt a strength like this before, not even for an SS rated ghoul. What made it worse was they could not see where her power came from or how she released it. Its not like ghouls had an invisible kagune after all.

Everything in their bodies screaming that she was dangerous, but that she was not an enemy. But what kind of power she held compared to their own was yet to be revealed to them. They had no clue as to whether she would turn against them or what other motives she may have. But it was Anteiku morals to help any ghoul in need, or in this case any person whom needed sanctuary.

Given this, it was about time she joined their ranks. Kaneki had been forced to go through it when he first came here. Now it was her turn to be able to prove her skills and learn how to fight the doves. She may not have been a Ghoul, but she was not a half breed like Kaneki. She was something they had never seen before. But they needed her, she was their trump card and they could use some unpredictability.

"Hey, Kaede. You doing anything tomorrow?" she asked abruptly. Now that she worked here she would get days off. She had better use them wisely, as well as developing her skills as a member of Anteiku. She had to, Kaneki had to, everyone had to. Learning to fight was just something they had to learn to survive. But obviously she wasn't helpless if she had survived this long on her own before she found them.

Kaede blinked, that's right she got days off while working here. She had simply planned to go about her business and maybe check this place out. She would find her way back by sensing them with her vectors. Though they were not diclonius, she was able to sense their aura and had to miss. Or in the lesser case she would have to remember their weaknesses in order to show glimpses of their identity.

"Not that I recall" she replied bluntly. She had never had friends before, she had never had someone to trust or spend time with. Even when she first met Kohta she had lived a very secret life. Living in the woods, hiding in people's homes or abandoned buildings taking what she could get. She couldn't be picky after all, she had to take every chance that was given to her in order to survive.

"Don't you have friends?" Kaneki asked in confusion bringing milk and sugar to the table. I mean he had Hide and had made his own family here at Anteiku. Surely, she had someone special to her too. Touka had Yoriko, Nishiki had Kimi, so why didn't she have someone? Surely a person had showed her kindness before, hadn't they? Given she had no home and presumably no family to care for her.

Kaede shifted, friends. She hadn't had something like that in a long time, she had long since closed off her heart to such a thing. It protected her from getting hurt again by someone else. "No" she replied coldly. She had learned that you couldn't trust anyone, people you cared for eventually betrayed you. All you could rely on was yourself, it was simply safer and easier.

Though she often missed the warmth of home and family, it was safer to be alone. No innocent lives were harmed, and she was able to remain hidden without gaining any unnecessary attachments. It was a lonely life, but it was the only one she knew, it had gotten her this far after all. Living life on her own terms and completing the mission of creating more of her kind as fast as she could.

Feeling a sense of guilt and sympathy for her, Kaneki decided to speak up. His gut couldn't leave this be and wanted to do something about it. He didn't know what she had faced in the past, but they could change that now. "How about we hang out? After we get your mask? I don't have plans and Touka doesn't either. We could show you around" he asked quickly. This way they could get to know her and learn about one another.

Kaede needed to learn about the city she was now living in and she obviously didn't know her way around. Plus, if any doves showed up they could fight them together, besides there was safety in numbers. They would be spending a lot of time together in the future so they need to learn how to get along. Ignoring one another wasn't going to do any good.

Touka scoffed, giving Kaneki an are you kidding me? Kind of look. She was simply doing this because it was mandatory, and Yoshimura had asked her to. And she could never go against him after all he had done for them. This girl was not their friend, but she was an ally, she was only doing this, so they could grow in numbers. If she was honest, she didn't really want to get all friendly with this girl as she didn't trust her yet.

Kaneki took a deep breath "Its Anteiku's policy to look out for one another and given how injured she was when we found her. Those people may still be out there looking for her" he replied. The scent of blood had been strong on her that day, he hadn't smelled anything like it since he discovered his own ghoul identity. Whomever or whatever had hurt her, intended to kill her that day.

Kaede's gaze softened and a look of awe came upon her face. His words reminding her of Kohta. Of how despite his cousin wanting to turn her in, he had kept her safe and protected from harm. He had a kindness about him that reminded her of the happier days she had experienced in-between the suffering and torment, as brief as those moments had been.

Touka sighed heavily "Fine, but I really want to avoid trouble on my day off" she muttered. Honestly the things she did to keep Kaneki happy. Since when had she become such a softie? She then picked up her coffee and sipped it quietly, needing the refreshing taste to help her relax. It was going to be a long day and Tsukiyama showing up earlier sure as hell hadn't helped things.

Kaede peered at Kaneki quietly, flashing him a small smile. It had been a long time since she had known someone to be so kind. Whenever she was around him she got faint memories of her past days with Kohta. She then picked up her own coffee, sipping the milky caramel liquid. Having only ever drank tea in the past before. A satisfying feeling as she felt the hot beverage pour down her throat.

Touka stood beside the sink washing the dishes quietly, leaving them aside the sink to dry. Her bangs tumbling in front of her face like always, her mind wondering as it always did when thinking. She had expected this sort of thing to happen, I mean she had to endure this when she first met Kaneki. But this was different, she wasn't a half breed. She wasn't anything they had ever met before.

That was what scared her, what if she was actually a trap sent by the doves. What if helping her put them all in danger, they were already under enough pressure blending into society and hiding from doves. Her life wasn't perfect and she did face hardships and dangers in it. But she was happy with it, she had worked hard for what she had. And she wasn't going to risk losing it for a longer who posed a risk to them.

Kaede sat by the table with Kaneki silently, feeling calmer now. The feeling was very homely yet she could sense that Touka did not trust her. However, she understood this as she felt the same way towards them. Being thrown into an unfamiliar situation and forced to accept something new abruptly was not easy. But she was grateful to them for letting her in when she had nowhere to go. It had been a long time since she had a roof over her head.

Kaneki was sat nearby, finding the silence to be awkward. But at least they had plans tomorrow which would allow them to bond. But not talking sure wasn't helping matters at all. "So, Kaede. How old are you? Where were you born? What about family?" he asked curiously. Surely talking about their personal lives would help them grow closer wouldn't it? They all had to share something.

Kaede stiffened, her hands tightening on her lap. Such questions she had never been asked because they had been kept secret. She never spoke of them because of the pain they had caused her. She had a feeling these people had suffered the same as she but they had something to fight for. So maybe, she could trust them with the demons that had haunted her since she was young.

She sighed heavily, the sadness in her heart vented in her tone. She wondered what they would think of her once she told them the truth. Once she revealed to them about the life she had known growing up. "I'm 18, that much I do know. I have no idea, I was found in a corn field as a baby. Guess my parents were so appalled that their baby had horns as well as these freakish powers that they threw me away. I don't even know if they are alive or not".

She had been found and raised by the orphanage as a baby, obviously their humanity and maternal skills had been stronger than their fear. So they raised her amongst other human children. However, they had complained and whispered about her in secret about how strange she was. Never doing anything when the other children abused and tormented her on a daily basis.

Kaneki's eyes widened upon hearing this and even Touka stopped washing up. Now the reason behind her sadness and hostility towards them was starting to make a lot of sense. This girl had nothing. She had no home growing up, no family nor love. While they had faced hardships with their loved ones. She had been forced to raise herself while humanity loathed her existence.

She was not a ghoul, but she wasn't a human either. But she was still seen as a threat by humans because they couldn't understand her, much like the more peaceful ghouls in their community. For that she was feared and hated, ostracized and had nowhere to belong. She had never known friends or family, just her own company.

Kaneki reached out quickly to take her hand, gripping it in his own. Staring her in the eyes adamantly, hard and yet dedicated. She had obviously suffered growing up, but she didn't have to worry anymore. "This is your home now, I know its strange. But you don't have to feel afraid anymore, your one of us now" he replied adamantly. He had felt like her once too, but now everything would be ok.

She would find her feet amongst them and adapt to her new life. Though not easy she would find comfort in it eventually. Because he had felt the same way she had in the beginning too. Scared, lonely and restless, wondering what days would follow after being brought into the world of ghouls. But she would find her strength eventually, they all did.

Kaede softened, home. Now that was a word she hadn't heard in a long time, who knew she could find comfort in such words. Somehow part of her wanted to have faith in the words of Kaneki. She shyly gripped his hand back, squeezing lightly showing her gratitude. Hoping that he was right, that she could find her way again after feeling lost for so long.

"Such a sweet scent, so perfumed yet so rich and flavourful. My skin was crawling with pure excitement. I haven't felt like this in so long, mon dieu" Tsukiyama groaned hungrily under his breath. Those eyes of her, so deep, intense and red like blood. Yet it carried a gleam reminiscent of a jewel one would admire from within a glass cage. Yearned to be owned by so many and yet forever belonging to someone else.

She was not like dear sweet Kaneki, but she was not like any ghoul he had ever met. There was a mysterious air and scent to her that he had never felt before. And that only arose his interest in her further. Where had she come from and why had he not heard about her until now? How had Anteiku managed to hide such an angel, they were certainly collecting strays as of late. No ghouls anyone had heard of before.

He had sensed a great power about her, yet she carried no visible kagune that he could sense, nor did she carry the scent of one. She certainly was an anomaly in the ghoul world that was for sure. Half ghoul or full ghoul, they all carried the same scent. That was how they were able to recognize each other in public. Their sense of smell was stronger than normal humans after all.

A playful smile spread across his face, he had to get to know her. He had to understand this interesting specimen and see what new face had entered their world. For he doubted he could let this one go. But given this one would be a lady compared to sweet Kaneki, preparations would have to be much more different. But the question was, how would he go about inviting her without Anteiku getting in his way?

Yes, he would have to think deeply about this for he had plenty of plans to make in the future. He had to make this young lady feel welcome into their community, it was their new home after all. "We shall meet again soon my angel, then I shall see just what beautiful hell you are capable of unleashing. Those sad yet strong eyes showing your true light".

"Ew, what's wrong with that girl?"

"Yeah she looks so strange, is she wearing a headband or something?"

"Is she dangerous?"

"How come her hair is such a funny colour?"

"I don't like her"

"Freak! FREAK! FREAK!"

Kaede's eyes snapped open wide like a vice, sweat pulsing down her forehead. Her chest heaving as she gasped for air, her hair sticking to her face. Tears stinging her eyes as she pulled herself back to reality. Gripping the sheets, staring at the ceiling. It had been a long time since she had dreamed of such things. The memories of the childhood in which she had endured the worst of her suffering.

The days after she had been abandoned by her parents in a cornfield and left for dead. Days where she had wondered if she was even capable of deserving happiness. Wishing more than anything she could get rid of her horns. The loss of the first friend she had ever made and betrayed by her false friend. Grabbed and beaten to death with a vase by a bunch of sadistic classmates whom enjoyed watching her suffer.

Since then she had been on the run, desperately trying to find a place she could call her own. Yet she had never been able to find it, but had glimpses of tastes of the life she longed for. She sat up slowly, her head bowed. She wiped her bangs from her sweaty face, feeling damp and unpleasant. The stickiness of the sweat lingering on her skin, desperate to get rid of this feeling.

She climbed out of bed slowly and approached the bathroom, she needed to shower. Anything to clear her head and get this feeling from her skin. Hoping to push down the ghost of her past to the back of her psyche once more. She felt like she was suffocating under it all, the weight of her pain making her feel sick and the tears burning her eyes.

Kaede stood under the hot spray of the shower, her hands pressed against the wall. Water spilling over her body in small trails with the gurgle of the drain the background. Allowing her mind to wander. It scared her sometimes, how deep the scars in her heart were. Wondering if she would ever be able to move on from the darkness of her own psyche. The pain that humanity caused her growing up.

The names, the blood, the voices, the deaths, the pain all of it. The scent of smoke, the sound of bullets. All she knew was how to fight and the violence that followed. She didn't like killing people, but she wouldn't survive otherwise. After seeing Kouta with his cousin all those years ago she had snapped. All of the darkness in her heart had accumulated causing her personalities to snap into 2 which later eventually became 3.

Kaede, the person she was now. Whom hated killing unless necessary and felt the burdens of her actions yet longed for a normal life. Hating the destruction and death she was capable of, trying her hardest to repress her powers and try to act like a normal girl. Yet no longer wanted to cause Kohta anymore pain even if they could not be together.

Lucy, the dark side of herself. The one that enjoyed carnage, death and blood. Born of the voice inside of her which had compelled her to kill to begin with. One whom saw the world as a dark and depressing place. Fully embracing massacring innocent lives and watching people suffer, the dark side of herself that hated humanity for what they did to her.

Then the one she had managed to repress as of late, Nyu. The side of herself whom had lived with Kohta innocently. The one who was naïve to her crimes and lived a normal life as she had always wished. Wishing to be innocent of everything she had been through and the crimes she had done. If she left Nyu behind the wheel it would only get her killed.

All of them accumulated into one person, always inside of her and yet never struggling for control. Choosing to show themselves when needed. She had a feeling if these ghouls were really in danger, she may have to rely on Lucy more than she wanted to. She sighed heavily and gripped her hands into fists against the wall. Feeling her heart ache with sadness, the hole still never able to fully heal. So long as she carried regrets and hatred inside of her.

Kaede stepped out of the shower silently, a towel wrapped around her head. Wrapped in the warmth of a new pair of pajamas's. Pale blue and long sleeved, compared the yellow ones from before. The moonlight peaking through the curtains in a thin white beam. Like a searchlight seeking out her form and guiding her the way to the outside world. Like a calling card egging her to run away from this place.

She sighed heavily and stepped towards her bed, she knew she wouldn't be able to sleep but she could think. Working through the endless feelings rushing about inside of her like a storm. God how she hated feeling like this, her feelings overwhelming her. Allowing her fear to raise its ugly head and remind her of the sins she had committed. Eating her alive like a poison.

Though she had been able to run away from her captors on many occasions. It seems the one thing she could never escape from was her own demons. The voice inside of her that was hungry for chaos. She felt like she was trapped in an invisible cage she could never escape from. Forever trapped in her own personal hell of suffering and regret. Forever moving forward but never able to move on.

Suddenly there was a knock at her door causing her to jump in surprise. Automatically bringing out her vectors as a response. It seems whenever she was caught off guard or scared they came out automatically. "Who is it?" she replied coldly her tone filled with a fear she didn't expect from herself. Since when had she been the type of person to show her fragile side. She had always kept her feelings locked away inside.

"It's Kaneki" a voice replied timidly. He had heard her shower running and wondered what she was doing up so late. Upon sensing her power heighten just now he knew something had to be up. He had always been one to listen to his intuition and heart on matters, it had served him well and helped him in many a situation when necessary.

Kaede softened and sighed heavily. Feeling foolish for feeling so scared and believing she was in danger still, blaming the dreams for leaving her on edge. However she did not retain her vectors, using one to open the door. Standing in the illuminated light of the moon, hoping to look intimidating to him. Wondering if he would run away from her in fear.

Kaneki felt a sense of fear and awe wash over him as he gazed at her. Her body and hair illuminated by the light of the moon, a silver line shining upon her form. She looked so radiant. Her cold red eyes staring down like a beast, waiting for him to reply. Sensing her power heighten, it was obvious she was using her powers. But he guessed he had scared her causing her to use her power.

He swallowed nervously, wondering what happened to his courage. "Are you ok? It's a bit late to be awake" he replied. They would need plenty of sleep for the day they had ahead of them tomorrow. Training took a lot out of you and tested your stamina, leaving them to feed afterward to retain their strength. But it paid off in the end and helped protect them from doves.

Kaede didn't retract her vectors or pulled them away, feeling a sense of comfort and yet still feeling weak. "I… I just had a bad dream" she replied in a reserved manner. She couldn't exactly say she had a dream of the abuse she endured. She had never sought the sympathy or pity of anyone growing up, carrying it on her own back to saddle by herself.

Kaneki softened and gave her a sympathetic look, there were times when he had dreams of the day Rize had attacked him. But also the painful memories of his childhood that had plagued him for years. "Do you, would you like to talk about it?" he asked hesitantly. He always found that talking to others about his problems always made him feel better about it. Perhaps it would work for her too.

Kaede hesitated, she had never really spoken openly about her past to anyone. Hell it had been hard enough to talk about it earlier over coffee. But perhaps it wouldn't be so bad to vent a little. She then nodded to which Kaneki entered the room shyly, Kaede then closing it with her vector surprising him. Given he couldn't see them, he probably assumed she was telekinetic or something.

"So, as a child you were bullied at the orphanage" Kaneki replied. It had to have been severe for her to hate people altogether. But what was more concerning was that the staff never did anything about it. It was their job at such establishments to care of every child no matter what issues or deformities they have. So the fact that they allowed it to happen worried him.

Kaede nodded, those days had been the darkest ones of her earlier life. Knowing nothing but torment and abuse from her peers. Constantly lonely and pining for a friend, yet never able to find what she longed for. The brief happiness she had was stolen from her when the kids there had beaten the puppy she had fostered to death with a vase. Making her watch in horror as she heard its whimpers of pain.

The first real friend she had ever made was Kouta but even he was taken from her in the end. It seemed the two of them had never meant to be to begin with, though it hurt her to know this. But then, someone as pure and kind as him would only suffer further by her being part of his life. So in the end it really was for the best, even at the dispense of her own heartbreak.

"They called me names, pushed me around and made fun of my horns. Because I was different. It even cost me the first friend I ever made" she replied stiffly. Even now she still carried a love of dogs, but could never bring herself to have one. As much as she craved to develop relationships with others, the lingering fear of loss and betrayal still remained. Scared of what may happen if she grew close to another person and opened her heart to them.

Kaneki didn't know what to say, as a kid his childhood hadn't been the easiest either. But he had never known what it was like to not have a family. At the very least to lose your best friend. "Do you have dreams about it often?" he asked. Why had she not said something about it earlier? She could ask for some sleeping pills from Yoshimura to help her mind unwind and get her a good night's sleep.

Kaede shifted, though they came and went in waves as of late they had been rather strong. "Sometimes, mostly I'm able to repress it. But every now and again something happens and they come back again" she replied. Her mind kept wondering back to that time, but she didn't know why. She had thought by leaving Maple house she would have left them behind.

Kaneki blinked, it was clear she had suffered badly in her past. She had more courage than him to be able to continue on and fight while he still had trouble adapting to his new life sometimes. He then reached out quietly to take her hand again, he didn't know why but he felt the need to protect her. His feelings were not the same as they were towards Touka, he never felt jealous when others showed an interest in Kaede.

"Gomen'nasai. We've pestered you so much since you've arrived here, it must have brought back a lot of bad memories" he apologized. No wonder she enjoyed her personal space so much. They had no idea what hell she had endured before now, what types of things she had suffered. Of course anyone would have trust issues after such experiences.

Kaede shook her head a small smile on her face "No, it's nice. I mean I'm still getting used to it and I'll never truly be able to forget the torment I was put under. But, here I feel more at home than I ever have. Because I'm around people who know what it's like to be isolated and hated" she replied. Ironic that how she was now able to hide was by blending in with a bunch of outcasts whom tried to hide their identities from humanity to survive. Something her own kind had been trying to do their whole lives.

Kaneki smiled, he could tell she truly meant it. The smile on her face was genuine and that gave him hope that she could recover, and find her own inner peace. "Will you be ok now? You should try get some sleep" he replied. They would need it for the events that would be happening tomorrow. His gut told him that training may be involved.

Kaede nodded and smiled, as restless as she had been earlier. Talking to Kaneki had somehow chased away her fears. Like her own personal therapist and comfort buddy. Something she hadn't had since she was a little girl. But she did fear what would happen when they eventually saw her vectors. The looks she would get and what they would think of her.

Chapter Text

Kaede silently followed Kaneki and Touka through the town, her head bowed low and semi staring at the floor. She had never been good with crowds and often found herself getting anxious around large groups of people. The thought that people were staring or whispering about her always came to mind. She stood out no matter where she went, and it often caused her to jump to worst case scenario's.

Because of the bullying she received as a child calling her a freak, strange and a weirdo. It had deeply impacted her mentality, self awareness and insecurities. Causing her to feel overwhelmed and on edge whenever she was in loud and crowded places, as if she could hear their voices whispering things to her. All the painful words she had been called in her existence.

She had agreed to go out today with them for whatever reason. She trusted them and knew they did not intend to harm her, but she wondered why they had asked her to join them. More so that their boss had asked such a thing of her. She hadn't made any mistakes at work, she behaved herself, she was a hard worker and minded her own business. So why had she been told to visit a certain address alongside Touka and Kaneki.

Touka quietly peered over her shoulder to see Kaede straying behind slightly. Her head bowed to the ground and her hands gripped into tight fists, she understood her concern, but she could relax. "You better stay close to us, its not good to wonder off" she replied. If a dove was nearby or trouble arose, they would have to scatter rather quickly. Which meant their plan would have to be delayed.

Kaede stopped, she wanted to know what was going on and why she had been asked to spend the day with them. The boss obviously knew something about it and this was obviously not a casual thing. They were taking her somewhere and had hidden motives, though she sensed no aura of betrayal. She wanted to know what the hell was going on and where they were headed to.

"What is this? Are you guys fucking with me or something?" she snapped abruptly. If this was some kind of game on their behalf she would not be happy. Especially after she had come to trust them a little. She was more than used to being the butt of someone else's jokes, which often led to her misery. She wouldn't be fooled again, and she wanted to know what the hell was going on here.

She didn't like being in the dark because her instincts kept eating away at her, telling her that something was wrong. Though she tried hard to push the voices to the back of her mind, they still kept bothering her. Telling her they were lying, telling her that they were betraying her, that they were going to hand her in and she would be captured again.

Touka stared at her, she had simply not told her to make it a surprise like she did with Kaneki. She had never thought such a thing would make her so suspicious. But it was a ritual they all had to go through. "We're just taking you to an old friend. He's going to make you a present" she replied. She had one, Kaneki had one, all ghouls at Anteiku got one. It helped to hide their identity when fighting doves.

Kaede clicked her teeth, present? She had gotten enough of those in the past, her dog being killed as a child, Kohta lying to her about the sex of his cousin. Finding out that Kohta's cousin had the hots for him. She had been lied to enough times to trust her instincts, she had only just begun to adapt to her new life. To start to consider it a home, so they better not be trying to prank her or something.

Kaneki sighed, he had thought that not giving her a hint would end badly. Kaede was still new to them, so suspicions were still expected. But they would never do anything to hurt her or humiliate her. "Listen Kaede, I get the feeling you've been lied to before. Though we can't really make that memory go away. I promise you, neither me nor Touka are lying to you. All we can ask for is your trust" he replied.

It was indeed a present and one she would be able to design herself. One that would help staple her identity, one that she would wear in battle when fighting. One that would prevent her being found by ghouls. He himself had acted similarly to her when he had been given his, it was natural to feel nervous when you had little information to go on.

Kaede frowned, she wanted to be mad, but she could tell in his eyes that he was being genuine. But doubt still lingered, yet she wanted to believe he was telling the truth and it really was a surprise. "Fine, but if you do anything weird I'll kick your ass" she muttered. She liked Kaneki and she was starting to develop friendly terms with Touka. But if they made fun of her in any way or humiliated her, they would pay dearly.

Kaede followed Touka and Kaneki down some stairs into a dimly lit shop, the walls were reddish black with low lighting. She had to say it seemed rather creepy, like something out of a horror movie. But they seemed calm, like they had done this before. But what kind of place had they brought her to for this so-called surprise. Part of her wondered if she should run and just leave them here.

Touka opened a metal door to which she and Kaneki followed obediently. Inside the walls were still reddish black with the same lighting. But the walls were covered in masks, of every form. Some placed on mannequins sitting on stools, some in glass shelves and others hung to the wall itself. Was this some form of museum or something? What the hell was even going on?

"Uta? Uta? Hey, we have a new face for you, so quit hiding already" Touka called wearily. She already had to plan training schedules for her with Nishiki and herself. So, she needed to get this over with. Though she knew it amused him, now really wasn't the time as they had a lot to do. But she appreciated the fact he liked to keep himself entertained.

Kaede raised an eyebrow. Uta? They were here to see someone? From what she could interpret this must have been the name of the person who owned this shop. He was skilled at his job that was for sure. She peered around the shop quietly, she could sense someone hiding and watching them. So, he was playing hide and seek. Seems she would have to find him in order to get this so-called gift.

She released one of her hands slowly, winding it out across the store. Maybe by causing a little mishap he would show himself and thus allow her to meet the person whom she had been led to. She then pulled the legs of one of the stools, leading it to fall and knock over a bunch of stools. Loud clatters and thumps as mannequins fell to the ground causing a mess.

Touka turned to Kaede with an annoyed look, while Kaede just huffed. "What the hell was that for?" she snapped in a displeasure. They were doing her a favour so why make a mess like this? She really was hard to understand, one minute she was able to feel sympathy for her and the next she was annoying her. What was this girls deal?

"So he'll stop hiding already, and just come out" Kaede retorted defiantly. She had already been led on a wild goose chase, so she wanted to get to the bottom of why she had been led here. She didn't really appreciate the main person behind it all was playing hide and seek, she wanted explanations to why she had been brought to this place.

Touka looked confused, she could sense other ghouls? But it hadn't been confirmed yet whether or not she was even one herself. Did she share traits of their kind as whatever it was she identified as? She really hoped that at some point she knew just what the hell Kaede even was or what her powers were, as it would help understand her more.

There was a noise in the background and footsteps were heard, eventually Uta appeared from his hiding place. "Huh, I wanted to surprise you, but it seems that my fun has been denied" he sighed. This girl wasn't as fun as Kaneki, but she was indeed powerful if she could sense him. He had never seen her around before, but she certainly stood out. But how did she know Kaneki and Touka.

Touka softened and a small smile spread across her face "You can't always goof off Uta. We have a job for you" she replied. Though she had no idea of what kind of face would suit Kaede. There was still a lot they didn't know about her or where she even came from. So creating a mask based on a deeper part of her personality would be tricky.

Uta perked up a little, so this was a business visit was it. He didn't really get many customers nowadays so he was always glad to have the company. "You want another mask? So, you have a new face at Anteiku" he replied nodding at Kaede. He wondered where they had found this one, she certainly was a looker. They sure had a habit of picking up strays lately.

Touka nodded,though Kaede's mask would be a little harder to consider given they didn't have much to go on yet. All they knew was that she had some great hidden power inside of her that they couldn't see. "Yeah, she hasn't been with us very long. But she shows potential and she has nowhere to go. So, we've added another member to the family" she replied casually.

Kaede felt her cheeks heat a little, did Touka just call her family? Was she being serious or joking? Honestly it was really hard to tell, but somehow she felt happy to hear such a thing. The only place she felt she had ever belonged was maple house, and these people thought her as family already? She didn't know she had made that much of an impact.

Uta approached, staring at her curiously. He had never seen anyone with such red eyes, she didn't smell like a ghoul. But she didn't smell like a human either. But her scent was nothing like Kaneki's. "She's a pretty one. What's her name?" he asked curiously. He could see she was hiding something under the purple hair ribbons either side of her head. But he felt it rude to remove them without her consent.

"Its Kaede" Kaede replied abruptly in an awkward tone. Honestly, what was with these people? Did this guy really just call her cute? Why did all of these people act like she was some form of Aphrodite amongst swine in their community. She thought Touka was very pretty. But he seemed more laid back compared to that weird French guy.

Uta hummed, so her name was Kaede like the maple leaf. How cute, but how had she come to stay at Anteiku? Seems there was a lot going on that he didn't know about. But she didn't seem to be a ghoul. He then turned to Touka "So, you want a mask for her right? Though, I don't really have anything to go with here. So, I may need to ask a few things while I sketch" he replied in a thoughtful tone.

With Touka it was because she was quick, fearless and wild like a rabbit. As well as the fact she hid her loneliness deep inside herself to which Rabbits were known to die from. With Kaneki it was because he was a half ghoul. But he had no idea of what the mask for this girl would look like. I mean, she had bright hair and intimidating eyes but what else could he go on?

He got up and headed around back to get a few things "Make yourself comfortable, I'll make coffee" he offered. They would be here a while and they had come all this way. He may as well be hospitable. Besides, he wanted to know what was going on in their ward and if doves were causing any form of trouble. He liked to clarify a lot of rumours he heard.

As Uta left, Touka softened and sighed heavily. Well the cat was out of the bag and they may as well let her know what was going on. I mean it would clear the air, stop her from being so suspicious. "Sorry for being so hush-hush. But since your one of us now, you need a mask. As you've guessed it's to hide your face, but also your identity. So, doves don't recognize you should you face off with one" she explained firmly.

If she was one of them, she needed to know how to fight. She had a fire about her and knew how to defend herself, but in their world that wasn't enough. To protect herself against the doves. To protect her own, she needed to harness her abilities to become stronger, so she wouldn't be killed. So she wouldn't be hunted down and her powers used for a weapon.

Kaede blinked, so they had already accepted her? She knew that these people were isolated in a sense from society. But what was this about doves and having to fight them? She needed to know more. "Tell me everything, about your cafe and about what's going to happen to me" she replied sternly. She wouldn't reveal anything more until they had done so too.

"Anteiku is part of a ward. We're part of a peaceful group of ghouls who want to blend in with society and live normal lives. However, that doesn't mean we aren't wary of danger. So, to protect ourselves we have to fight, but to prevent ourselves from being found out we wear masks" Touka explained. Those ghouls who didn't want to kill humans, who didn't want to hunt, those who wanted to live normally. They came to the 20th ward for a better life, a better chance at survival. Where they could live in freedom.

However, despite laying low and keeping up appearances, that didn't mean they never faced trouble. Doves still came sniffing around and other members would sometimes get into trouble. They would attack ghouls no matter how harmless or quiet they were, even if they hadn't harmed any humans. To doves, all ghouls were exactly the same, no argument needed.

Kaneki had been taken into Anteiku after he was forcefully turned into a half ghoul through experimentation. He had tried to repress his nature which had only caused him to lose control a few times and suffer mentally. He was slowly becoming more ghoul than human so in order to fight and learn how to eat, he lived at Anteiku. But due to that, he had come to accept himself more.

Touka had no home, she didn't want to kill humans. She had no family, she had a strained relationship with her little brother. She had lost loved ones to humans and fought for the life she had built for herself. Anteiku was like her home, Yoshimura was like her father, Hinami was like her little sister. She was happy there and she loved every minute.

Now Kaede had come into their group. An orphan, an outsider, a lost soul with a traumatic past who could not fit into either side like Kaneki. She had come to them for sanctuary which she had found. Just like them, humanity had turned their back on her and they had welcomed her into their lives for a second chance at what she had been denied.

Kaede stared at her, now it all made sense. They meant her no harm, but they had to prepare her for any dangers that may raise their ugly head. But it was nothing she had never faced before. She scoffed in amusement "I don't know if you recall, but when you found me I was worse for wear. You saw the state I was in, I was more dead than alive" she replied sarcastically. Pain, suffering and fighting was not something she wasn't used to.

She had killed a lot of people in her 18 years of life, having to kill people to live and protect herself was natural to her. If she was to protect the life she had made for herself, ugly choices had to be made. She had known that from the day she was born that humans hated her kind. But at least now she was around people who knew what that felt like.

Touka smiled and laughed under her breath, somehow feeling better. "Yeah, gotta admit your quite the fighter. I've never seen anyone recover from wounds so quickly" she teased. She saw parts of herself in Kaede and like Kaneki felt a strange connection to her. Like she was looking at a darker part of what could have been her. But she was starting to feel more like one of them.

"Well, looks like your all chatty. I never thought anyone could make Touka smile like that" Uta interrupted casually. But he was glad that Touka had made a friend, she didn't have many of them these days. He placed the coffee in front of them, to which the three teens took them gratefully. The smell of hot coffee wafting up their noses. He placed the sugar capsules in front of them, in case they wanted sweetener.

"So, Kaede. What kind of mask do you have in mind. Touka has a rabbit, Kaneki has his Frankenstein mask. So what kind of creation shall I make for you?" he asked curiously. The mask was supposed to symbolize something about the wearer. Her mask was a personal part of her, so what did he need to capture to represent her true nature. Something that would help identify her.

Kaede shifted, the mask was something important to these people. Something they wore in battle when facing an enemy. It stemmed from a deeper part of themselves that struck fear into these doves. There was only one thing about herself that was most personal, a part of herself that she had hated since the day she was born. That was now becoming something she would take pride in.

She hesitantly moved her hands upwards, removing the ribbons she wore to hide her horns. She had never shown anyone these, not since she was a small girl. Not since her days with Kohta. She felt so naked. Kaneki and Touka's eyes widened, atop her head were two horns. Almost catlike, but clearly part of her. Not hidden like their Kagune, from what they could guess they were part of her head. Pure bone.

Kaede saw them staring, her inner voice screaming at her that they would call her a freak. That it was over and that her happiness was over. That now they could see her for what she truly was. "These… my horns. I… like your Kagune I was born with these since I was a child. Back at the orphanage they caused me a great deal of grief. I was but a child when they first awoke, my powers. I was called the queen by my captors, because I was the first of my kind. But more so, I have powers others like me don't" she replied halfheartedly.

Her own parents had thrown her away the minute she was born because of them. She had been tormented by other children on a nearly regular basis. These horns were the cause of her eternal loneliness. But now they were going to help her become stronger, to become something that would allow her to fight alongside these people whom had taken her in.

Touka's expression hardened, so she hadn't been kidding when she said she wasn't like them. No ghoul had ever been born with horns, their Kagune's were something inside their bodies. "Why… what was the reason the people who captured you as a child. Why did they call you the queen?" she asked hesitantly. I mean other than the fact she was the first documented of her kind.

Kaede smiled sadly "Because I'm the only Diclonius who can infect humans to procreate more of my kind" she replied painfully. She had infected so many in the past, in hopes of more of her kind being born. But many, except Nana. They had been murdered before they could even have a life. Those who lived were subjected to inhuman torture in hopes of learning more about their powers.

Touka and Kaneki stared at her in awe, she could procreate and infect humans with her powers? She really was different, for whatever she was. She really was powerful, more than they had first realized. No wonder they couldn't see what her weapon was, but at least they knew she was born with it. That her weapon was built in as a natural defense like their Kagune.

Kaede sighed, she had expected such reactions from them. But now it made her feel more vulnerable than she expected. "You must think me terrifying. I wouldn't blame you, in the past all I wanted was for more of my kind to be born. But only a select few made it past infancy. Due to us showing our powers at a young age. Many infants of my kind were slaughtered at birth" she replied in a pained tone.

Kaneki felt sick, did she just say slaughtered? "W… what are you talking about? Are you saying you were used for breeding while captured?" he asked in a perplexed manner. A sickening feeling filling him. He knew she had been bullied as a child, but he had no idea she had been abused. Just what kind of hell had she experienced on her own growing up?

Kaede gave him a pained smile "They would take small amounts of babies born from infected males who procreated with their partners. They would kill many before they got big enough to be a threat. Others were kept alive and subjected to inhuman torture on a daily basis. Every nightmare you can imagine, my kind have had inflicted upon them" she replied.

The world was a cruel place to anyone who was different, she knew that better than anyone. Her kind knew that better than anyone. It was something they had known from the day they were born. That anyone with horns was not welcome in the world, that they were monsters. That was all she had ever known, that she would never belong somewhere.

Touka didn't know what to say, all of the ghouls at anteiku had suffered in some way. All carrying trauma and pain of some kind. But she wondered if any of them could compare to what Kaede had been through. Being abandoned at birth, being abused at the orphanage where she found sanctuary as a child and then being captured at god knows how old and being used as a guinea pig for who knows how many years.

Kaneki took Kaede's hand kindly, a warm smile on his face "Aren't you one of us now? Isn't Anteiku your home now?" he reassured her. Whatever she had been through, of all the demon's she had faced. That was now in her past. Her donning a mask and working at their cafe, that was her future. A new step into her new life, leaving her past behind her.

Touka hummed, Kaneki really had a way of cheering people up. "He's right. Your horns, our Kagune. Your just like us. You never have to feel lonely again. Anteiku is your home now isn't it" she reassured her. They could never take away what she had been through, but they would never allow her to experience such a thing ever again. Not as long as they were around.

Kaede wanted to cry, they weren't disgusted, and they didn't hate her. They didn't push her away like the voices had said they would. She was slowly moving on from the darkness that had once consumed her. Into a better world, where she felt accepted. "Family, they called me family. Does this mean I belong there? That I've found my home" she thought to herself hopefully.

Uta hummed, scribbling away on his pad. After some information from Kaede about the lab she had been held in. He had gotten an idea after she explained the helmet they used to make her wear. It had a helmet like appearance, having a pointy tooth like front in the shape of triangles but breathable. There were bullet shapes on the corners by the cheekbones, kept in place by a tight strap that would fasten around the back of her head. Which would be partially hidden by her hair.

Her upper face would still be seen, uncovered giving her an ominous look. Scarily, it resembled the mask she was forced to wear at the labs rather perfectly. But what had once been for torture was now her strength. "Now, what colour would you like it. Touka's is white, Kaneki has a black mask. So, what can I do for you?" he asked curiously. Like he said, he had to make it personal, so it would suit the wearer better.

Kaede had no idea of what to say, part of her was scared and upset as it brought back unpleasant memories. But the idea of people being afraid of her, using something that had once been painful would become something people would fear. "I… silver-ish grey is fine. The first was metal anyway" she replied awkwardly. She never thought she would have to ever speak in depth about an item she once wore for torture methods before.

Uta hummed, now that would be a little difficult to work with "It would be a bit heavy, but if I use plastic mould it should make it lighter. As long as its durable and protects you" he replied. He could make the base from plastic and then make the rest of it metal. Though compared to many others, it would take a lot longer to make and shape.

Kaede shifted, even if her mouth was covered what about her eyes. What if they recognized her eyes even with the mask. Then she was done for, worse than that her new friends would be in danger. She could never live with herself if she put more innocent lives at risk, not after the pain and suffering she had put Kohta through as a child.

Uta then approached her, gazing at her thoughtfully "Given how long your bangs are, I would use one side to cover your eye, then at least you can see. Then they won't be able to recognize you. Though, given your new around here I doubt that would be a problem" he replied casually. Unregistered ghouls tended to have it easier as doves had no data background on them.

"Huh, good thinking there Uta. Hell, she may even give off some horror vibes" she joked. Though she had been stunned at how Kaede had been forced to wear something like that 24/7. She was proud of her for turning into her strength. If she ever happened to bump into any of the people that had put her through that hell, she would make them pay.

Kaede smiled, somehow Touka's jokes were making her feel better. The previous tension in the air was now gone, feeling as though she could breathe again. Neither of them even seemed to mind about her horns, they had even labelled her as one of them. Hell, in the past people used to stare at her and whisper or even make fun of them.

"Hey, what if you don't wear your ribbons. So, people can see your horns when you fight. Then maybe you can finally feel proud of them. So, people can remember you" Kaneki suggested. When you wore your mask as a ghoul, you were undercover. You could be a completely different person than who you used to be. So, when she was in battle, she could show all of herself.

Kaede was stunned, so now she was going to be wearing a mask and showing her horns too. She had no idea of how to feel about this, it was just all so overwhelming. But she was not upset about any of it. In the past she would have been enraged at such a thought, confronting her on treating her like a freak. But now... she felt happy.

Uta hummed, he certainly had more information to work with now. But he had a feeling this one would take even longer to make than the last one had. "Well, I'll take all of this information and start preparation work. I'll mail it to Anteiku when I'm done" he replied. He hadn't been this excited about creating a mask since Kaneki.

Touka thanked him and then led the two out of the room with her. Uta had a lot of work to do now and it was best he get started right away. They had gotten their job done and should think about heading back in case Yoshimura worried about them. Doves liked to patrol at night too. Wouldn't be a good idea to bump into them in case they had heard about Kaede.

"So, your mask is being made. Your training should start soon enough too. Your, on your way to becoming a fully-fledged member of Anteiku" Touka replied casually. Though she had her doubts at first, she was warming up to Kaede. She already slightly won her over at her disgust over Tsukiyama. But though she was similar to her in personality. She was starting to take a liking to Kaede, though not friends yet. She was on good terms with her.

Kaneki smiled. When he first became a ghoul his only friend was Hide. Now his friendship circle was slowly starting to grow into something bigger. "Seems like only yesterday you came to us" he replied in a playful tone. It was hard to imagine what life would be like without her. She had just so naturally blended in with them. Like it had always mean to be.

Kaede blushed, but she had to agree it didn't feel like she had been there a couple of weeks. That day when they found her in the rain and brought her back to their cafe and patched her up. She never thought she could find herself feeling so at home in the past. Though she knew her days at Maple house would come to an end, she felt like she could stay at Anteiku forever. Turning her pain into her shield.

"You want another tea party back at my place? We do have something to celebrate" Touka offered. Though it had been annoying to hide, she had rather enjoyed learning about Kaede. As awful as her past was. She had fared well today despite having to reveal very painful parts about herself and her identity. But now she was closer to becoming one of them.

Kaede hummed, in the past she had hated any form of socializing. Having avoided people like the plague so she could remain undetected. Never had she seen herself bonding over coffee. "Sure" she replied in amusement. She was relieved Touka hadn't said anything about earlier. She had never had a female friend before, and she was starting to warm up to Touka.

She had understood why Touka had said nothing when she revealed her identity, honestly she had expected such a reaction. But how she had used humour and distracted any negativity was very helpful. She felt like she could rely on Touka, they both understood what it was like to be lonely. It felt nice to have a female friend whom she could relate to.

Kaede, Touka and Kaneki entered the café, in lighter spirits and feeling content. Having had some conversations on the way back allowing them to bond. Feeling like a group of friends in college."Ah, belle femme, Touka and Kaneki dear. You have all returned safe and sound" a familiar playful tone replied. They had obviously been hard at work, no doubt keeping away those pesky doves.

Kaede froze, what was this guy doing here? What was he? Her newfound stalker, why the hell was he so interested in her? Hell, the tone of his voice sent chills down her spine. "You" Kaede hissed under her breath, couldn't this guy take a hint that she had no interest in whatever he had planned. She has thought her attitude in their past meeting had been enough to reveal that.

Tsukiyama smiled, he was so glad she remembered him. He would have been deeply saddened if she had ignored him after coming all this way to see her again. "It has been far too long since our last encounter, you all look so well" he replied playfully. They had been up to something, but he knew there was no chance of them telling him. He did so hate being left out of the fun.

Touka scowled, great now the shop would smell like him for hours. So much for that coffee, at least she could escape by taking a long soak in the tub. Allowing her to calm herself down a little. She stormed past him, shooting him a glare before heading upstairs. Tsukiyama was nothing but trouble and she wanted nothing more to do with him. She could already tell he was up to no good.

Kaneki shivered, he felt like Tsukiyama's gaze could see right through him. He knew better than to trust him after their past encounters. Hell, he couldn't even look him in the eye without feeling creeped out. He turned to Kaede awkwardly, trying to hide the fear in his eyes. "I'll see you later Kaede. I hope Touka is still up for that coffee" he replied nervously. Then headed upstairs to escape Tsukiyama. Leaving the two of them alone.

Tsukiyama sighed, but he had to admit he loved how lively Anteiku was. Though he would never understand their lifestyle and desire not to eat their food fresh. But he would not question their choices. "Mon dieu, it seems I cannot earn back the trust of Touka and Kaneki dear" he replied in a weary tone. He knew he had acted rashly, but he had to prove he meant them no harm.

Kaede glared, this guy couldn't take a damn hint. She had no interest in whatever it was he had to offer, she knew that this guy was trouble. "What are you doing here? Can't you take a hint that people hate you?" she asked coldly. He was like a snake, sneaking in when nobody wanted him. Both Kaneki and Touka didn't like this guy, which meant he was no friend of theirs.

Tsukiyama smiled, what a fire she had. So much like Touka when she was younger, her gaze cutting him like knives. He then got up and handed her an envelope "An invitation, to you. I would like to get to know you, maybe for coffee" he replied. He would not allow this one to get away like Kaneki, he wanted to see what she was made of. What with her sweet scent, nothing like a ghoul or a human. And he had to know what it was.

Kaede gripped the envelope, not shifting her cold glare from him "Get out" she growled. The minute he was gone, she would be able to breathe easier. She felt like he was peering into her very soul. This guy reminded her of the people who had kept her captive, watching her from her cage like she was some form of animal. It made her uncomfortable.

Tsukiyama chuckled, what an interesting girl she was. He could feel her power, but just what was she capable of? He couldn't wait to find out. "Au revoir, I hope to see you soon mon érable" he replied playfully. He loved that cold look in her eyes, it reminded him of miss Kirishima when she was younger. He couldn't wait to see her full potential.

Kaede stared at the envelope, wondering what could be inside. Part of her wanted to rip it up, another wanted to show Touka and Kaneki, and the last wanted to open it to see what was inside. Everything in her gut told her that this guy was trouble. Now she knew why Touka and Kaneki didn't like this guy, he was really suspicious.

Mon érable-My maple

Chapter Text

Lucy stared at the note on her desk silently, a dark look, on her face. Her nails digging sharply into her skin like knives. She knew that Tsukiyama guy was up to something, but as of what she had no idea yet. But given his past obsession with Kaneki, she was obviously his new interest. His new obsession, a pretty face to appease his boredom when nothing else seemed interesting to him.

Due to a build up of curiosity, she had decided to read it and immediately regretted it. He was no different than the people who had kept her locked in a lab since she was ten years old. Seeing her as something new and interesting that needed to be inspected. She had tried to avoid it for as long as possible pretending that she had never gotten it. A few times she had been tempted to burn it or rip it to pieces and be done with it. But eventually she had given into her weakness and decided to give into her curiosity.

However, upon doing so she immediately regretted it and wished she had ripped it up. Never bothering to look at it and just move on from the whole event entirely. The letter was as bad as she imagined it to be. Talking about her like a stalker. Like he owned her, like she belonged to him. It made her sick and she tried to block it out with memories with Kohta.

My dearest Kaede

How wonderful to meet a new face at Anteiku, with your powerful aura and cold look I felt an immediate connection. I have never met such an enticing creature with such a strange scent.

You are like a goddess amongst your army of fallen angels. Your glare as cold as Miss Kirishima when she was but a youngster, truly birds of a feather.

I would very much like to get to know you. I ask that we have a rendezvous and casual expression of friendship. I will eagerly await for you to contact me in hopes of seeing you again.

Yours sincerely

Shuu Tsukiyama

She felt her skin shiver just at the mental thought, he spoke about her like she was some kind of toy. Like an exhibition in a museum, something to entertain him and keep him from getting bored. In her mind he was no different than those damn scientists who captured her when she was a child and kept her prisoner. Wanting to lock her away and observe her like she was some kind of pet or animal in an exhibition.

Whenever she heard his voice or sensed his presence, her skin began to crawl and a sense of discomfort filling her whenever he was around. Its like his eyes could see right through her, like she was translucent, and he was peering into her very soul. He spoke about her distaste of him and abrupt way of speaking to him as if she was being a tease. Was this guy some kind of masochist or pervert? He really was strange and made her uncomfortable.

Whenever she was around all she wanted to do was scream at him to leave and never bother her again. Going as far as she could to scare him so he would never come near her again. But he was an associate of Anteiku and obviously another ghoul, so sending him away was not an option. So, she just had to tolerate it. Ignoring him and avoiding him as much as possible. From what she could understand he had a strong interest in younger ghouls, as shown by Kaneki and Touka, due to them having unique personalities that would allure him. Was that why he was interested in her? Because she was unique. Most people would take that as a compliment, but in this case, it was a bad thing. Because it was due to her genetics, rather than her personality. He too was able to sense her power and drawn to her personality.

Tsukiyama still had no idea of her mutant nature as a diclonius, not like the rest of Anteiku did. However, it was best kept a secret from him, if he knew god knows what he would attempt to do. He was what was called a Gourmet, who had unique and terrifying ways of eating their prey. The reason why humans and doves were so scared of ghouls, people like him being the darker side of the ghoul world. Ever since she had told them of her past and what happened to her, many of the members of Anteiku including Touka and Kaneki in particular. They had been softer towards her and much more protective. But that made her happy, to know that these outcasts like her accepted her. They were her new family and they had let her into their world. For the first time in a long time, she had a home in which she truly felt she could belong to.

But this Tsukiyama guy, he was going to ruin that. He kept butting into her life and annoying her, why couldn't he just leave her alone? It was like being in that damn orphanage all over again. She was the new toy, a new way to distract himself from boredom and entertain himself. She had learned from Yoshimura that not all ghouls were good like the members of Anteiku, which in her mind made Tsukiyama her enemy.

She rested her head in her lap, her arms wrapped around them protectively. Her mind a mess and swirling with a million different thoughts, just wishing her life could go back to a sense of peacefulness. But after everything, the mental stress had brought back unpleasant memories. Things she had long since repressed and almost forgotten due to her more peaceful life living with Touka and Kaneki.

"Freak! You look like a monster! I bet that's why you have horns, horned girl freak!"

"Monster girl, monster girl! Kaede the ogre girl!"

"No wonder her parents didn't want her"

Kaede gripped the edges of her knees tightly, a sickening feeling filling her stomach. Why now? Why were these memories coming back to her now? She hadn't been thinking about that for a while. Her mind had finally been able to stay quiet, she hadn't felt endangered whatsoever. She was finally able to fins some people she could trust and relate to. A home she had longed for nearly all her life. She had been able to enjoy quiet, her voice had been quiet for a while. But now that stupid purple haired bastard had showed up, she had gotten all riled up again. It was all his fault, this was because of him. Just when she had started to feel happy again, her world was tipping into darkness again. Trouble was showing its ugly head just when she had thought she would be able to regain her freedom.

"Nobody wants you, you don't belong here. FREAK!"

The voices in her head were wrong, she knew that now. They had all been wrong, meeting Kaneki and the others had made her realize that. If only she had met them sooner, back when she was younger than her childhood would have been different.

"Damare!" Kaede yelled loudly her voice filled with fierceness. She wasn't the freak, there was nothing wrong with her. They were the monsters because they couldn't accept her. Because they were scared of what was different. All she had ever wanted was to belong, to have a home. Her own parents had abandoned her, the kids and staff had been scared of her. She had been all alone in the world except for Kohta.

She had loved Kohta with all her heart, but their life together was never meant to be. To put him in harm's way, that was something she would never be able to forgive herself for. She had already caused him enough harm. As dear as he was to her and how much she loved him, they were never meant to be. As long as they were together they would only ever suffer and be surrounded by sadness. Now she had finally found a home again, amongst people who understood her. Who weren't scared of her, who were also ostracised by humanity. Who could see her for the person she was and accepted her. She wouldn't allow her happiness to be stolen from her a second time. She would not run away again and allow someone to ruin her peaceful life. She was sick of being a toy for other people.

She sat on her bed, panting heavily and gripping herself. Burying her face into her lap, tears threatening to fall. She wouldn't listen, she refused to listen. She wasn't the one who was evil, they were. She had never wanted to hurt anyone, but the world had turned its back on her and led her to become the monster they knew her to be. Nobody had cared or helped her, so she relied on her instincts to get by and survive. The reason she killed, the reason she hurt was because people had attacked her first. They had pushed her to the edge and then she snapped. Then she became the monster that they thought her to be. But she knew she was more than that, she knew she could be better. She was more than her killer instincts, she had never deserved any of the things that had happened to her. The abandonment, the bullying and the torture she endured.

Her arms wanted to come out, but she refused to let them, she wasn't going to fight. She wasn't in danger, she needed to calm down and regain her control again. She needed to find her happy place. She needed to think of happier times, playing with Kohta, Kaneki's smile and Nishiki's sarcasm. Hell even Kaneki's annoying friend flirting with her at work.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door snapping her train of thought. Her red eyes wide with shock and fear, gasping in shock as she pulled herself back to reality. Her arms pulling out and dancing around her, ready to attack at any point. The room swirling and closing in on her, now becoming dark and small like a cage. Wondering if she was really awake or actually asleep.

"Kaede? Your mask from Uta has arrived. Would you like to look at it alone, or maybe coffee?" Kaneki asked hesitantly from the other side of the door. He had been able to sense her power from the other side of the door and it scared him. She had been so angry since Tsukiyama came to visit, despite his worry of facing her wrath he couldn't ignore her. Knowing just how uncomfortable it could be to become the interest of that guy. He had his own bad experiences with Tuskiyama in the past and knew how far he would go to get what he wanted. Because of this, he knew what to protect Kaede from and what to expect from him. They all hated seeing her suffer because of him. God knows what that letter had written in it and what she had done with it. Hopefully burned it in a fire.

Kaede softened, feeling bad for attempting to attack him. In fact, she had completely forgotten about her mask up until now. She had been so pissed about Tsukiyama she had been utterly distracted. She had probably made everyone worry about her. Though she doubted any of them felt the courage or desire to approach her when angry due to her high-power levels. Which they were probably afraid of. She reverted her arms back into herself, lowering her guard. Knowing she was safe and that nothing would happen. Though she felt bad that she came close to attacking Kaneki again because she was lost inside of her own head. She slowly slid off the bed and approached her door quietly. She was exhausted from overthinking and the whole experience with that damn rich boy ghoul. Having a familiar face come to check up on her was a breath of fresh air.

Upon opening the door, she saw Kaneki standing there in the hallway holding the box containing her mask. A shy and timid expression on his face, obviously aware that she was in a bad mood. Kaneki smiled nervously handing it to her "Here, you probably want to look at it. Though Uta is really skilled so I think you'll like it" he replied encouragingly. He got the feeling she wanted to be alone, so he didn't want to bother her for too long.

Kaede softened and took the box from him gratefully. This was the first time she had ever received a present from anyone. Turning something that had once been a form of torture into her new identity. "Arigato Kaneki, I'm sorry for scaring you. I've been on edge since that Tsukiyama guy sent me that letter" she growled. It had been a long time since a person had given her the chills so badly before. But she had no right to take it out on her co-worker's and new friends. They had done nothing wrong and after everything they had done it made her feel worse and pissed off at herself. They had done so much for her and she was acting very ungrateful and bitchy, taking out her own problems on someone else who didn't deserve any of her actions.

Kaneki softened and smiled, sensing she was genuinely sorry about her actions "Its ok, Tsukiyama can be a bit much. But its best to not let him get to you" he reassured her. He was nuts and somewhat of a sadist, as well as gourmet so he was bound to freak her out and rub her the wrong way. The way he ate his prey was similar to that of a serial killer.

Kaede smiled gently, his words always made her feel better. He knew exactly what to say to make her feel better, just like Kohta used to. They were all obviously worried about her and pushing them away wasn't helping. "Kaneki, I was hoping…. This mask. It used to be something I was forced to wear, it was meant to humiliate me. But now its been turned into part of my identity, a weapon. But… I don't know how I'll look. If… If I can do it" she replied awkwardly. Part of her was scared she would be reminded of her past, of being bound and locked away in the dark. She knew it was to hide her identity when she fought as a member of Anteiku, but she couldn't help but remember. That while wearing the mask she would have a breakdown and accidentally hurt them, or worse go on a killing spree while blacking out.

Kaneki smiled, he knew this was a big step, but it was part of who she was. Just like his mask represented that he was a half ghoul, her mark represented who she was and her past. How far she had come since then. "I'll go talk to Touka and Nishiki-senpai. Maybe we can have a tea party or something" he replied in a reassuring manner. He knew she was under a lot of stress and pressure and he wanted to do something about it.

She nodded in agreement, having her new companions around her to give her support and advice on the mask would be helpful. Making her feel less conflicted about having to wear it in the future. "Kaneki, I know it's a bit much to ask but…. Can you wear your masks too? I… It's just… it would be comforting" she begged. They were used to hiding their identity, it protected them. But to her, it was a form of denying hers.

Kaneki blinked, rather surprised by her request but agreed. But then again if they were ever in a fight it would help them identify one another should they be in danger and need back up at all. Kaede had also come from a dark and painful background, she had suffered greatly, and the mask would remind her of her time as a prisoner. Using it as a tool or turning into her strength would not be easy. But they were alike in that sense, they all had secrets, they all carried pain. The world hated and feared them, turning their backs on them. Blending them all into the same category of killer. He smiled warmly "Sure, I'll speak to Touka. Maybe we can talk about them" he suggested. They all meant something, they were all here for a reason, opening up to one another would help them grow closer.

Kaede smiled in relief, she knew it was a lot to ask but it would help distract her from Tsukiyama. God knows if she ever saw him again she would punch his pretty face in. To have some fun with her new friends and colleagues, forgetting about his damn letter or the fact he ever existed. Anything to clear her mind and stop the voices in her head from coming back.

Touka stared at Kaneki in shock, her expression one of awe and confusion. Though she was not against having another evening of drinking coffee with Kaede again. She had never shown her mask to anyone. "She… she wants us to show our masks?" she asked in surprise. She would already know who they were, but then again it would be hard to tell unless they spoke to one another. Their masks did hide their appearance after all.

Kaneki nodded, he knew how odd this sounded "She has some hesitations about looking at it. I think it's because of its past use, you know from her being held prisoner" Kaneki explained. She was returning to a darker part of her history, one she had repressed for years. God knows how she had survived that life, he could only wonder how old she had been when she was first found.

Touka softened, all of their masks represented something about themselves as a Ghoul and an individual. However, hers was a lot darker than the rest of them. It was only natural she would have some issues about wearing it. Hearing about Kaede's background had almost brought tears to her eyes, it seemed humans were capable of hunting things aside from ghouls. As long as they were different and non-human, they were in danger.

Nishiki hummed, she was an unusual girl, but he had nothing to hide. All masks were different after all, he was intrigued to see what she would look like. He then shrugged in a casual manner. "Sure, whatever I don't have anything to hide" he replied casually. Honestly he was interested to see what the creation Uta made for her would be. Given her personality, if it was anything girly he would laugh.

Touka sighed, guess it was happening whether she wanted to or not. "I'll make some coffee, but I'll need to eat before we do anything. It's been a long day and I don't want to be too cranky" she replied. She had been forced to wear a smile all day around customers. She was tired, sore and hungry, she needed to relax a little and eat some food. Then she would happily have this little get together with Kaede. She needed to fill her aching belly and put on some more comfortable clothes. Her uniform was anything but comfortable and it smelled badly. Eager to take a shower and get the smell of sweat and coffee off of her skin. There were few things in this life that made her happy and showers were one of her happy places. The silence and feeling of water pattering on her skin calming her.

Kaneki smiled, he knew Touka had her hesitations, but he was glad she was trying to bond with Kaede. They were more alike than they knew and maybe that would allow them to become friends. Both had suffered loneliness and attempted to balance dual lives. As had they all, they were like a family.

Nishiki smirked, oh this was hilarious. Touka was quite obviously jealous of Kaede, though they got along well it was clear she felt Kaede to be competition. He had no idea of how Kaneki was so popular, but he was. But then again, he had to admit Kaede was cute, she had a more mature air than Kaede. She was sure as hell stronger than any other Ghoul he had faced in a long time. Whenever he was around her his instincts screamed.

Everyone was yet to see the full extent of her powers and what she was capable of. A feeling of fear and curiosity on their mind, after all. She had no Kagune, I mean they weren't capable of being invisible. She was certainly a power to be feared, given the amount of power contained in her body. But just what kind she was withholding was yet to be revealed, they could only be glad she was on their side. "Well, we best get ready for our little party" he chuckled. This ought to be interesting, not how he expected his work to end. But he was interested to see what mask Kaede chose and her reasons behind it. He had told Kimi about the new face at work, but hadn't gone into much detail about her given how little he knew about her aside from her temper.

Kaede, Touka, Kaneki and Nishiki sat around the table in Kaede's room quietly. For once wanting to be polite and host coffee in her room. Though now that they were all here, she was feeling more nervous than before. Wondering if this was a good idea or if she was even ready, but then she would feel rude and frustrated at causing trouble for everyone.

Touka hummed, leaning back a little and tilting her head "So, Kaede. You want us to show our masks? As our dutiful host do you want to go first? Or one of us?" she asked. How exactly did she want to go about this? This was a big deal after all. They would be working as a team in the future when it came to fighting and taking down doves. Trust was a necessary tool for them.

Kaede shifted, she had agreed to this, but she still felt a little nervous. It had been a long time since she had worn this mask, since she escaped her captors and gained her current freedom. She gripped her hands on her lap and took a deep breath "You, please Touka. You can go first" she asked nervously. She didn't want to seem rude and Touka seemed the most comfortable with this.

Touka blinked, staring at her silently. She could see that Kaede's worry was genuine and was uncomfortable. But compared to the background with their masks, hers was a lot darker and much crueler. She then sighed heavily and pulled out her mask, pulling out her white rabbit mask with pink hair. She then placed it over her face quietly, "Here ya go, I know it doesn't match my personality" she replied bluntly. It was round like a circle with a rabbit face on the front, pink hair adorning it from the side. Fixed around the back with fastenings which she could wrap around the back of her ears to prevent it from coming off. It was white like snow and blank faced, due to the fact it lacked an expression it had a haunting and slight creepy appearance in the dark.

Kaede stared at the mask, rather shocked at how cute Touka's mask looked. So different from her personality, something so cute compared to how tough Touka was as a person. She wondered why she chose a rabbit of all things. "Why a rabbit? I know Uta designs them based on that person, but I never saw you of all people having something so cute for a mask" she asked curiously.

Touka blushed, had Kaede just called her cute? She had only ever had one friend and that was Yoriko. Though the backstory was a lot deeper than it looked, and one she could relate to even more than when she was young. She then bowed her head quietly, so her bangs hid her face "They say rabbits can die from loneliness" she explained shyly. Ever since she was young, due to her life growing up loneliness was one of the strongest feelings she had ever experienced.

Kaede's eyes widened, she had never expected Touka to give such an honest reply. Like Kaneki, she was now finding more similarities with Touka too. Learning something new about the younger girl every day. She was a stronger girl than she let on and she could respect that. She too was used to putting up a tough front to protect herself. "It suits you, making something perceived to be cute into something dangerous" she replied reassuringly.

Touka shifted, but Kaede's words touched her. Truth be told she had never really thought about it that way before, like a breath of fresh air. Her mask personified the true face of her personality, the one she hid from those around her to protect herself. The pain and anguish she had felt due to her kind being hunted by the doves and seeking a world of peace.

Nishiki then sighed and held up his mask, revealing the serpent shaped one he always wore. It was funny how his mask matched his personality, making him not only look intimidating but also creepy. "It matches my Kagune, which is more like a tail. But I'm known for being pretty fast with my attacks and quick to get away, as well as sly and sneaky like a snake. So, it just kind of fits" he replied casually. He wasn't a very sociable person and threw away people when he was done gaining information from them. He had learned better due to the childhood he had experienced growing up. Thus, the snake nickname had kind of stuck with him. The only person he had ever opened up to was Kimi, because they understood one another, because they had lost their family and we all one another had.

Kaede chuckled, a teasing look on her face "Aren't serpent's seen as monsters in most stories due to being influential and powerful. Is this your way of making yourself the monster people make you out to be?" she replied. He was turning something used against him into something strong, she had expected something more hard or tough looking. But somehow the mask worked, it suited him perfectly.

Nishiki tilted his head and smirked, this girl was certainly perceptive "Huh, I never thought about it that way. Not bad maple" he replied in a teasing manner. I mean her name pretty much meant maple leaf anyway. She was stubborn and short tempered usually, but would she eventually show a sweet side like her namesake? Wasn't maple supposed to be sweet?

Kaede blushed, was he making fun of her? Weren't names usually made out to be mean? But somehow it felt and sounded better than the names the kids had called her growing up. Maple, like her name. That didn't sound so bad. She had never been given a nickname before, and she could tell there was no hatred in Nishiki's tone when he spoke to her. In fact, it was more affectionate teasing like that of a sibling.

Kaneki blushed, feeling awkward at now showing his mask to Kaede even though they had agreed to do so in turn. He was still getting used to wearing it, I mean aside from fighting Amon he hadn't really worn it since. Nothing had really come up that would cause a confrontation, everything was calm and there was no scent of danger in the air allowing them to take things easy.

Touka waited patiently, there was nothing to be ashamed of as they were all friends here. They had revealed theirs despite their own hesitation so now it was Kaneki's turn to show his mask off. It wasn't that he was ashamed, but his mask looked a lot scarier than the others. Touka's was cute, Nishiki's was cool and his, well his was just scary. Though easier to use, it was part of the darker side of his identity.

He then smiled nervously, it was the first time he was talking about this to someone outside of the ghoul circle. "Well, before I became a ghoul I was once human. But somehow, I ended up with a Kagune inside my body, Rize's kagune. But that makes me a half ghoul, but from unusual circumstances. The mask kind of makes me like Frankenstein's monster" Kaneki explained. The way he had become what he was, in a way was like an experiment. Someone else's creation that led to his rebirth as a half ghoul. So, the mask fit and represented his identity as a half breed. He was a rare species of ghoul, usually born of artificial means or the intimate relationship between a ghoul and a human. But still incredibly powerful.

Kaede blinked, so Kaneki was once human. Like her he had no place in the world until now, the mask was also a dark part of him. But he was happy here like she was, he had found a place where he could belong. She then smiled in amusement "So you're like a horror movie monster?" she teased trying to distract the tension. It was obvious this situation had been forced upon him and Kaneki had no say in the matter at all.

Nishiki stifled a laugh, compared to what she had said about his mask. Kaneki's sounded like an insult. There had to be a better way of wording what she meant than the words she actually chose. She probably meant no harm with that she said, but it hadn't come out the way she probably meant. It seemed she and Kaneki had a sense of awkwardness in common.

Touka sensed the tension, she was sure that Kaede didn't mean it to sound so hurtful. Like a child who lacked a filter and said whatever came to mind. "I think self-acceptance of new identities or darkness sounds better" she replied. Kaneki had never wanted to be a half ghoul, looking back she had been rather cruel towards him when scared. But now she understood how conflicting and frightening that situation must have been.

Kaneki blushed "Yeah. That's right, what Touka said" he babbled awkwardly. Why was it he couldn't be as cool or confident as them when it came to their masks? He knew she hadn't mean anything bad by it. She was definitely one to speak her mind, but like Touka she tended to lack a filter. However, she lacked the cockiness of Nishiki, but was just as blunt.

Kaede didn't know what to say, these people were way stronger on an emotional level than she was. They wore their masks with pride and she was still scared to wear hers due to it being used to restrain her. Being trapped in the darkness, being forced to be restrained on a daily basis and wearing a helmet that blocked out her ability to see. Able to see the world for what she believed it to be, dark and lonely.

Now it was her turn to show hers, but she wasn't quite ready to show hers yet. She needed to get a bit more off her chest than this before she felt brave enough to put on something she had once hated. The memory of being trapped in metal, forced to cover herself with a mask on a daily basis. Trapped in a straight jacket but stripped of her clothes. Treated less than an dog.

She didn't want to have to remember that yet, she didn't want to have to relive that yet. Just a little bit longer, she had to distract them just a little bit longer until they forgot, or she had no other choice but to confront it. she didn't want to face the darkness yet, she didn't want to talk about that yet. "So, do you have nicknames? I mean how else would you keep your civilian identities hidden?" she asked curiously. If they had people after them, then surely using their real names would put them in danger. Though she did find it a little funny, like they were superheroes or something.

There was a long silence in the room, there were a few sighs of relief and exhaustion. But then again Kaede couldn't help but he curious, this was a whole new world for her to enter. Eager to know everything she could. The people she was involved in and what difference this species had compared to her own. I mean obviously they were both born with their weapons, but what were the differences between their mechanisms.

Touka sighed "Obviously I'm rabbit, Nishiki is serpent or Orochi. And Kaneki is eye-patch due to having to wear an eye-patch to hide his kakugan…" she trailed off. She then looked up at Kaede quietly, her bangs falling in front of her eye."… But then that leaves you, we don't know anything about your name yet. Or what you want to be called. But it should have to do with your power or the life you told us about from your past" she suggested.

Kaede went quiet, with her past? Her nickname had to be something important? About her identity? Well, she couldn't use something to do with her arms, not her horns, and obviously not her eyes. Ogre? Not a chance, Tentacle? Sounded too stupid, but then the only names she had ever known as freak or monster. But those names had been made to hurt her instead of empowering. She needed something that represented her new life, redemption. Turning something she hated into something she could call herself proudly. One that people would fear and respect. One that related to her so people would be able to call her and feel fear, respect and whatever other emotion when they came into contact with her. She needed to think long and hard about the correct name for her.

Then it came to her, something random. How ironic that her captors would be the one to give her the idea of what to call herself as a new member of Anteiku when she was in battle. Seems her darkest memories were helping to fuel her new life. "Dākukuīn" Kaede mumbled under her breath quietly. She was hated by humanity and treated like a monster her entire life. But she was also the first of her kind to ever exist, before more were born.

Touka blinked, not quite being able to hear Kaede due to how quiet she was speaking. Raising her eyebrow curiously, wanting to hear what Kaede would be calling herself from now on in battle. She had made out what she thought was the word queen, but it was hard to make out. "You wanna try raising your voice a little? Its kinda hard to hear you" she asked.

Kaede sighed heavily, aware they couldn't hear her. But she had never thought of the labels she was given at the lab could be used for something positive instead of being able to separate her from others of her kind. "Dākukuīn" she replied sharply her tone a little more impatient. Feeling more awkward that she was having to talk about her old names from the days when she was locked away like an animal in a cage.

Nishiki blinked curiously, before he realized what she was trying to say, "Dark Queen?" he replied. Had to say that sounded pretty bad ass, but why that name? What memories did that name have to do with? Was she a secret lover of chess? I mean she rarely ever slept so maybe it was her love of the night that came with the dark part? He could only assume.

Kaede nodded quietly, fingering her hair as she did so. The box with her mask inside still sat on her lap. "Back when I was a kid, I was the first of my kind. I was the first Diclonius to ever exist. Because I was the only diclinous capable of reproducing using my powers. I was labelled the queen. Because of my past I felt darkness was only appropriate" she replied.

Kaneki smiled, she has really thought well and hard about her name. He had to say he was rather impressed by how strong a meaning it had to her. "That's pretty cool Kaede, I mean it sounds much cooler than mine anyway" he replied bashfully. It wound sound far more intimidating than his in his opinion, but then he wasn't very infamous as a ghoul yet anyway.

"Then that makes you the leader of your kind in a way, damn that's pretty impressive" Touka replied in a slight hint of surprise in her tone. No wonder her power was so intimidating, she was the top of the food chain as a diclonius. Most ghouls wished they were that strong, yet she had simply been born with that kind of power. Talk about lucky.

Nishiki spoke up, now intrigued with the background of Kaede. Seems there really was more to her than met the eye, hard to believe she was the strongest of her kind. "So what does your mask look like if you're a queen? It's not something like a crown is it? Or if you were the first of your kind than is it something more primal?" he abruptly commented.

Kaede went quiet, despite having it designed especially. It had been a long time since she had worn it. Due to how uncomfortable it had been, as a form of shaming her. Irremovable and fastened on with screws. But, her new mask was like a form of acceptance into their group. A member of their team, one of their army against the enemy. To protect other ghouls and those who sought to ruin their peaceful lives.

She then gripped her hands into fists, opening the box with her mask in it. Her eyes widening when she finally opened the cardboard box. Not expecting this much detail into her new mask. The style had been changed from fully body into one that ended above her nose and at the start of her jawline. It covered her entire mouth only showing her face from the eyes up. Giving her an intimidating look. If she lowered her head, her bangs would hide her face.

There was a sharp jagged pointy tooth design around the mouth like her old one. Only with bolts on the sides at the edge of the mouth as well as above it. It was metallic grey like her old one had been too. There were also buckled fastenings that were tight but elasticated meaning pulling it on and off would be easier. However, the mask itself was made from metal giving it a heavy weight to it.

Upon seeing mask, everyone eyes widened. Sure, theirs were intimidating but hers really gave away a really intimidating and dangerous aura. Like an escaped lab experiment, or an alien. Or worse, an insane asylum restraint. Something like what Hannibal Lecter would have worn. She then held up the mask to her face to show them what he would look like, her eyes calm but filled with concern. It felt strange to be wearing this mask again, after all this time of being on the run.

Kaneki shivered, with that blank look she always gave Kaede looked intimidating. A cold glare, like a hunter about to attack their prey. Her mask was designed perfectly for her, how was it something so cruel could look so good on her? Was that really what she had worn by force, day after day without removal. How had she even been able to breathe in it?

Touka was impressed, if her mask was supposed to be cute and dangerous. Then did that mean that that Kaede was supposed to be intimidating and menacing? Like something from people's nightmares? Cause she had to say, even she was a little creeped out by the eerie appearance of the mask. Uta had once again done well and made an impressive peace of art.

Nishiki said nothing but raised an eyebrow, now understanding a bit better why Kaneki would be attracted to Kaede. With that mask she had a seriously sexy and dominant aura about her. Her new name really did suit her. It seemed he could see a pattern in his type of woman, strong willed, mysterious and beautiful. He wondered if Kaneki was aware of this.

"So, your new mask has arrived? I can only assume you have chosen your new alias too" Yoshimura asked kindly. He was glad she was getting along well with Kaneki and the others. Given this place would become her new home. Though she obviously knew how to defend herself, her fighting skills were yet to be revealed. Training would have to be something to begin in the future. To see how skilled she was and strengthen any skills she already had.

Kaede nodded shyly, if not for his offer to let her stay with them. She never would have made this place her new home, for that she was very grateful. "Hai, we decided on Dākukuīn. It means queen of darkness" she replied abruptly. She had become used to seeing Yoshimura as a kindly grandpa figure. But she was still awkward around him.

Yoshimura smiled, Kaede reminded him so much of Eto sometimes. Eto was childishly evil but Kaede was distant but craved love and affection. But both were lonely girls seeking their place in the world. He then raised his hand and placed it atop her head to ruffle it. He gave her a warm smile that made her feel safe. "I'm glad, your slowly but surely becoming more of a member at Anteiku. It's a relief to know that Touka and the others are making you feel welcome" he replied.

Kaede blushed but smiled warmly, she never thought she could feel so at home than she did with these people. That she could see her diclonius nature as something good for once instead of hating it. She had new sibling relationships with Touka and Nishiki, she had a friendly relationship with Hide; but did want to get to know him better. And she felt a connection towards Kaneki that she couldn't put into words.

"Arigato, if not for you and the others. I would be alone and still on the streets" she replied gratefully. She was glad that she decided to stay, otherwise she would have never known a happiness like this. She would have never found people that could understand her. That she could finally find a place where she belonged. Amongst outcasts, people who had been turned on by others because nobody cared.

She never would have been able to blend into society, she never would have been able to find sanctuary and protection. She would be all on her own, still badly injured and relying on her own skin to get by. But now, all of that was behind her and she finally had something to look forward to; a future. One with people just like her, so she no longer had to hide.

Mado sat quietly at his desk, a leery grin on his face as he went over new paperwork. This was something new, not registered as a ghoul, not registered as a human either. That made it all the more interesting. A girl, with pink hair and red eyes with white horns or cat ears erupting from her head. She was supposedly terribly injured and bleeding very badly. She had no known family background in Tokyo, nothing on what school or college she attended. If she had any living family members in Tokyo or any part of Japan. Where she came from etc. No information on this girl could be found, which raised a lot of questions. Raising suspicions amongst the team. But as to where she was currently located nobody knew.

Either she was in a hospital somewhere and still recovering. Or she was in cahoots with ghouls or something much worse. Whatever she was, he was intrigued and wanted to know more about her. No doubt she would be showing up sometime in the future. He couldn't wait, things had gotten rather boring around here and ghouls had gotten smarter. Leaving them out of the job.

Amon walked into the office, it was not uncommon for Mado to be working late. However, there was no warning of new ghouls or attacks lately. So, what on earth would he be researching? "Mr Mado? Shouldn't you be going home soon? I respect your diligence, but we've had no warnings lately" he replied. Mado was still human and needed rest and recovery to keep at the top of his game. Didn't he have family waiting for him?

Mado turned to look at Amon with an eerie smile "Oh Amon, sorry. There's some juicy new news that I couldn't resist reading about" he replied in a playful tone. Ghouls all had separate powers and ratings for a reason. But this new baby was not a ghoul, but she was not a human either. She was something new and different. He couldn't wait to meet her and see what she was capable of. But then again, she may be no harm at all.

Amon raised his eyebrow, as long as he was Mr Mado's partner it was his duty to help him out with whatever work came their way. If he needed any form of new information on her, he would work endlessly to get him a lead. "A new ghoul? Should we be concerned?" he asked worriedly. He knew better after meeting apple head. That a ghoul could look like anyone.

Mado grinned, he was glad that Amon was more diligent after his first experience with a Ghoul. However, his eagerness was a bit much and he needed to tone it down just a little. This was something new after all. "No, not that I know if. She's pretty new and I have no idea if she has any powers at all. But I am excited to meet her" he replied in an almost manic tone. He wondered what kind of quinque she would make. What kind of power would she have, what kind of person was the owner. God, he felt himself getting excited at the very thought. Oh, how much fun it was to be after a mystery enemy. He wondered how much time it would be before she showed her face. He hadn't been this excited for an enemy in a long time. It seemed a completely new game had started.