“Goodbye, Daichi,” Madoka said and gave her brother-in-law a quick hug. She let go of him, side-stepping a bit and wrapping her arms around her sister. “Have a safe trip, Hitomi.”

From behind them, Haruna leaned herself against a wall. Her arms were crossed over her chest and she glared at the four adults in front of her. The teenager was desperately trying to ignore the rapid beating in her chest. She didn’t want to admit it but her fear was spiraling out of control. Her parents were really leaving. They were truly leaving her alone with those two for an entire month. Haruna had no idea how she was going to handle this. The teenager had an idea on how to handle everything… Everything but this.

“We’ll be back soon, keep a good eye on things around here,” her mother said. Haruna scoffed and rolled her eyes, she knew that was a dig at her. Her mother would always make such petty insults towards her daughter; Haruna had gotten awfully used to them.

“It won’t be a problem. You’ll come home to a spotless house and a wonderful daughter,” Madoka said with a small laugh and waving her hand at the air. Haruna could see the pointed look her mother had shot her after Madoka’s words. The look made a chill go through Haruna’s spine. She had always thought her parents didn’t know what her aunt and uncle had done to her but now after that look… Haruna was beginning to wonder if she’d always been wrong about that.

The four adults said their last goodbyes before Haruna’s parents finally left, the teenager’s heart sinking lower as they did so. She hated this and she hated them. She hated them for the hell they had put her through and she hated them for making her feel these stupid feelings again. This fear that ran through her wasn’t supposed to be here. She had trained herself and grown stronger than that. At least, she thought she had.

Once Madoka closed the front door, she spun around on her heels, smiling at her niece. Haruna rolled her eyes and pushed herself off of the wall before making her way into the living room. She knew that her aunt and uncle were following behind her, as much as she didn’t want them to. She wanted them to leave her alone but she had a gut feeling that now that they were alone, they were just going to get started with her.

“Haruna, stop this instant.”

There it was. The words Haruna had dreaded hearing. Against her better judgment, Haruna did stop. Her hands clenched at her sides and her body became tense. She rigidly turned to face her aunt and uncle. Her uncle was seated on the couch now while Madoka stood behind Haruna, her arms crossed over her chest and a pointed glare directed at Haruna.

“Can I help you?” Haruna asked. She knew she was going to be in for it because of all her mouthy talk but she didn’t want to stop. She was scared that if she stopped, she’d revert back to a cowering mess. It was this or that, and she’d rather be this. In Haruna’s mind, there were two types of people in this world. The dominant type who could demand control and the weak type who would let people push them around. Haruna was not going to be the latter type ever again.

“Now that your parents are gone, I think it’s time we had a talk about your behavior.”

“My behavior? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.” Madoka scoffed and laughed at Haruna’s comeback. This teenager was really begging to be punished. She had become so unruly in the eight years that Madoka and her husband had been away, she knew they were going to have to re-break Haruna if they wanted her obedience again. It wouldn’t be a problem though. Haruna might be physically strong but Madoka knew she was mentally weak. Haruna could talk big all she wanted but Madoka knew she would be easily broken after a few punishments.

Madoka shook her head as she reached into her back pocket, fishing out her carton of cigarettes and a lighter. She pulled one out and glanced up at Haruna, noticing the way the teenager grimaced from the sight of the cigarettes. Madoka let out a bitter chuckle, lighting the end of the cigarette. She took a long drag before blowing the smoke out towards Haruna, the teenager recoiling backward.

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