Chapter 1: I'm "Lighthearted!"

Sorry about the long wait between updates, end of school decided to throw Presentations of Learning at my face. Anyway, this idea just occurred to me as I was reading fanfiction. I, uh … I hope you like it …

CAUTION: SELF-HARM, STUFF LIKE THAT.

Jay couldn't sleep. It wasn't like he had insomnia or anything, just that his sleep schedule drastically changed; falling asleep early in the morning, only to oversleep later. This wasn't new to him at all. In fact, this routine had been going on for years. About the same time Jay grew out of being the shy kid in the corner of class to the kid always cracking jokes and finding the best in any situation.

Honestly, it was the only thing Jay could think of that would make people believe he was okay.

Spoiler alert: he wasn't.

Truth is, Jay had been bullied all his life. Freak, waste of space, failure … all those words had become routine. Being shoved around, poked and prodded at to see when his breaking point was, it made him weaker. Not stronger, like the rest of the team believed. Weaker. What's even the point of a weak ninja?

Jay replayed the memories in his mind as he reached under his mattress. Kids in class would take turns firing insults at his face, seeing when he would snap. They really stung, some of them. Some of them were repeated, and Jay had grown used to them. The new ones, however, stung like fresh cuts.

"Aww, shortass still can't impress his father with his flying invention? Oh, wait a minute. His father doesn't even care!"

"Shut up! Shut UP!" Jay chucked his pudding spoon at the girl, only adding her hatred towards him.

Jay was forced from his thoughts by his head colliding with something cold and hard. 'Ow.' The rest of Jay tumbled to the floor, knocking over the lamp on his bedside table with his foot. Something cold and sharp sliced Jay's right hand, before clattering to the ground. A bright light shone in Jay's face. He brought a hand up to shield his eyes from Kai's phone's flashlight. "Ugh, Jay, what the hell!? It's nearly midnight!" Kai whisper-yelled. Exactly. Jay cast a quick glance at the remaining beds, to find that no one else was awake, except him and Kai.

"Sorry," Jay apologized while rubbing the back of his head. A bump was already beginning to form where it had collided with the hardwood. "I zapped myself in my sleep." Jay then proceeded to set the lamp upright, kicking the knife under his bed in the process.

"Jay."

"Hey, I said sorry!"

"You're bleeding."

Jay shot a glance at his arms, thankful for his long sleeves. His eyes then turned to his right hand, which was indeed bleeding. A deep gash cut across most of his palm, and a dark red liquid was oozing out. Jay didn't even flinch. He mentally beat himself up. Of course, when he fell, his knife cut him. "Jay, where did that come from?" Kai asked, worried for his friend.

"How am I supposed to know?" Jay snapped. Kai flinched, startled that someone like Jay could say something like that. It just was that sudden jump from the happy, lighthearted Jay to the unfamiliar one. Jay saw the worry in Kai's face grow. "Sorry," Jay tugged at his blue pajama sleeve. "Let's head back to bed."

Before he could crawl into the warmth of his blankets, however, a firm hand was grabbing Jay's. Kai then proceeded to push up Jay's sleeve. "Stop!" Jay said in protest and attempted to shove Kai's hands away. However, he was too late. The skin on Jay's arm was exposed, revealing scars running up and down his arm, as well as across his wrist. Some were healed, others only a day old, most in that delicate state in between. Kai's grip loosened, before returning to his side. His phone fell into his red blanket, only allowing a small beam of light to get through.

Jay took this chance to crawl back into bed. He pulled the covers over his head and turned away from the Fire ninja.

"Why?" Kai's voice wasn't mad, upset … heck, he didn't even sound disappointed. Instead, he almost sounded … understanding?

"I don't need to tell you," Jay curled into a ball, "And I don't intend to."

Surprisingly, tonight Jay fell asleep earlier than he had for years.


In the morning, Jay woke to the sound of his alarm clock. "DON'T KILL THE BUNNY!" He screamed. It's been so long since Jay heard an alarm clock, he had almost forgotten what they sounded like. Jay rarely ever woke up at six.

Someone snickered to Jay's right. "Out of all the things to say when you wake up," Cole was still laughing, "You went with 'Don't kill the bunny'?!"

"Seriously, you're already forgetting what happened yesterday?" Lloyd asked incredulously. Jay instinctively leaned in a little closer. Lloyd got ready to imitate Cole. "NOO, NOT CAKEY! CAKEY DESERVES TO LIVE!" The group exploded into laughter. Cole flushed a red to rival Kai's old gi. Sputtering a few nonsense words, he fell back on his bed and under the pillow. Why are you laughing? Isn't he your best friend? This is no better than what happened to you!

"Hey! To be fair, Kai was about to torch a Double Chocolate Heaven!"

"Fine, I'm with you." Lloyd smiled at the thought of cake.

"Why wasn't I awake to hear that?" Jay kept with his facade of cheerfulness.

Kai raised his hand, as if he was a student in class. "I know why," he stated simply. The group's attention turned to him. While the others were curious, Jays wide eyes held a look of fear. Don't. But Kai didn't roll up Jay's sleeve. Instead, he proceeded to crawl under Jays bed. No. Kai returned a second later holding a steak knife. The air in the room seemed to grow tense, or was it just Jay?

"Hah, that." Jay quickly snatched the knife from Kai's hands, careful not to make eye contact. "Thaaat is for self-defense!" The weight of the air seemed to loosen a little.

"Jay's idea is logical," Zane piped in. "Should anyone attack during the night, we shall not be completely defenseless." Sighing with relief, Jay nodded.

The Fire Master moved to sit on Jay's bed. "Except he doesn't use it for self-defense at all." Jay wriggled a few inches away from him. "In fact," Kai grabbed Jay's hand, much like last night. Except this time, Jay didn't fight. He knew he lost. "It's quite the opposite." In one quick motion, Kai shoved Jay's sleeve up. If the room could be any tenser than before, it was.

"Holy shit," Lloyd stated, before he took a seat right next to Jay. No one bothered to smack him for swearing. Cole, who was watching the scene from under his pillow, got up without saying a word and hugged Jay from behind. Jay's heart … fluttered? No, that couldn't be right.

Cole released from the hug and did something no one expected. He took off his shirt. And while there was some muscle on his shoulders and arms, not much could be said about his torso. The only thing separating ribs from air was a thin layer of skin and blood. "Ever since the Tournament, I wasn't really hungry."

Kai took his shirt off next. Burns were scattered all over his body. Some on his arms, some his back, others on his chest. Most were scars, long healed, although a couple were still fresh. "Don't worry," Kai spoke, "They heal fast when you're the Master of Fire."

Lloyd rolled up his sleeves and revealed smooth skin. "Clean!" He said with pride. Jay didn't trust his smile.

"Legs."

Lloyd smile vanished. "Fine." He rolled up his right pant leg. Similar to Jay, knife scars ran up and down, side to side. "I wasn't strong enough, and my dad had to pay the price. It should be me in the Cursed Realm."

"LLOYD!" Kai yelled at the kid. "You're eleven!"

Zane stood in the corner. "This does not compute. Why do you all harm yourselves?" The room was silent for a moment, until Zane continued. "Pixal is crying."

"It's different for each of us," Kai explained. "I guess I'll go first."

The fifth of two

Will go by so fast

Add itself again

That will be my last

Since it's now summer *cue thunderous applause* I'm just gonna update whenever I finish a chapter.