Title: Untitled until I can think of something
Pairing: none; Chikusa-centric
Disclaimer: Belongs to Amano.
S l e e p e r
The lenses of his glasses reflect the light, two tiny mirrors hiding his thoughts and reflecting back your own. He’s worn them all his life.
It’s Christmas when he gets his first pair of glasses. He is seven, not an orphan yet. His mother, a warm blur, bundles him up in too many layers of clothing and pulls a hat down on his head. She takes his small hand in hers and walks with him down to the optometrist. The glasses aren’t anything special: plain black frames with oval lenses. Still, he knows they’re expensive. He’s careful with them.
The world is in sharper detail now. The new weight across the bridge of his nose is uncomfortable, but that is a small price to pay.
His mother takes him home again, promising to be home by dinnertime. She gives him the usual precautions: don’t answer the door, don’t answer the phone, don’t turn on the stove. A long list of obligatory “don’ts”. She kisses him on the cheek hurriedly as one hand reaches blindly for the keys on the counter. She begins to leave, but turns suddenly and gives a small package to him. “Merry Christmas.” She smiles and leaves finally. The door closes on the chilly draft that predicts winter.
Opening the package, he sees it is a plastic yo-yo.
The loop of string at the end fits perfectly on his finger. The toy has a strange weight. He lets it fall from his hand. The yo-yo catches gently at the bottom, and bounces up. A steady rhythm, a pattern as predictable as a heartbeat. The hiss of the string as soft as a slowly exhaled breath. He catches it, the toy a little too big for his small hand. Letting go again, he waits for the toy to bounce back up.
It hovers at the bottom, twitching up and down slightly but not moving back up. He wonders if it will keep spinning there. But at the tender age of six, he has already learned that perpetual motion machines don’t exist. His wrist moves slightly, childishly clumsy, and the yo-yo comes back up and hits his palm with a stinging thwack. He puts it down on the coffee table quickly, as if it might bite him, given the opportunity. Instead, he takes down a book, sits down on the couch and reads.
Sometime during the night, he falls asleep.
The sound of a key turning in the lock wakes him up. The book he was reading last night has slipped from his fingers and landed on the floor somewhere. His glasses have slipped off his face and onto the couch. Miraculously, they are unbroken. He pushes them back on his face and slides off the couch.
“Mom?” He asks.
It isn’t his mother.
The long list of “don’ts” rush through his head again, first and foremost, don’t open the door. He hasn’t opened the door, but even as he considers this, he is being lifted roughly and carried away.
“Your parents are dead. I’ve been sent to bring you to the Famiglia.”
At some point in time, his glasses slide off his face again and land on the concrete sidewalk. The man doesn’t stop to retrieve them, merely continues taking long strides away. He is brought underground to a dark place, cramped with children. The others cry openly. He pulls his knees close to his chest and waits.
W a r p D r i v e
It’s ironic, he thinks. No one can say the Estraneo don’t take care of their own. He’s alive still. They can’t expect to remember that this child has asthma, or that child has vision problems. He gets used to a blurry world again.
It’s Christmas again, when he finally gets a replacement pair of glasses. They are the same as last time: plain black frames with oval lenses. He’s grateful.
It’s Christmas, and there is no warfare for one day. It is an unforgivable sin, in the eyes Lord above and the lords below. They rest in the calm of the storm, as reality whirls away behind them and threatens to shatter them in the all too near future.
It’s Christmas, but you almost can’t tell unless you look carefully. There isn’t a soft glowing light suffusing smiling faces and spilling out the window onto the street. There isn’t even a window for light to spill out of. They are underground, much too paranoid to emerge. Even if it is Christmas. Only two things would tell you that it is a special day. For one thing, the hallways are quiet; not even the echo of a child’s scream can be heard. For another, there is a pile of toys on the floor.
The Famiglia gives.
He doesn’t remember who shoves the toy at him, but he takes it anyway. The loop of string at the end fits perfectly on his finger, the same way it did before. He doesn’t let it fall from his outstretched fingers, but puts it into his pocket.
Christmas Day is only twenty-four hours, and children must close their eyes and sleep. Then everything is gone, the dream of a single night soon lost again in the nightmare web of screams.
He’s lucky. They hardly ever touch the quiet ones. Still, as more of them disappear, they have less choice.
The first time they take off his glasses and lead him to a different room. It is a whiter blur than it was before. Voices reassure him that it will not hurt. They tattoo him with a barcode on his cheek. He wonders if that means he is an object, something that can be bought and sold, its price determined by scanning it with a machine. They leave him alone for a few days. Then they bring him back. Each time it is the same. Remove the glasses. Lead him to the white room. Voices telling him it will not hurt. Waking up to find it is all a lie.
There is the reality and there is his fear. In between are two tiny panes of glass and a yo-yo.
He flicks his wrist a little, spinning it easily. Flick, retract, extend, spin. The toy traces out a circle, the string the radius. It always returns to its starting point, and nothing changes. Maybe he’s waiting for the string to break.
Flick, retract, extend, spin.
And the Famiglia takes away.
O r b i t T h e M o o n s
Eight, nine, ten. The years pass by faster than he can count.
He’s small for a ten-year-old, dressed in a T-shirt too big for his skinny malnourished body. The sleeves fall down almost past his elbows. The clothes of a dead child. He touches his head carefully. Bandages are securely tied around messy black hair. It’s too long to be a boy’s, too short to be a girl’s.
The yo-yo dangling on its lonely string is his nervous habit. The toy swings in a mesmerizing pattern. As predictable as the death of a child. As predictable as the pain that comes tomorrow, or maybe the day after, but never later than that. He finds comfort in the patterns.
“Hey! What are you doing?!” He turns to watch with dull eyes, wondering if they are here to take away the only pattern he can shape. But they aren’t. They rush past, an army of white lab coats.
He continues watching the oscillation of the yo-yo. Screams are nothing unusual. He gets used to it (not like he has a choice). There is always a moment of silence afterwards. This time, it comes far too soon.
Whir. Click. The yo-yo snaps back into his hand.
The hallway to the white room is strangely empty and quiet. He wonders what happened to the others. Walking a little faster, he pushes open the door and enters. Seeing the room for the first time with his glasses on, he wonders how he could have mistaken the room for white. The rough, patterned tiles on the opposite side are an ugly mix of cream and gray. It is now spattered and flecked with red.
They are dead. There is blood everywhere. Some has stained his bandage and clothing. It is not any of this that makes him open his eyes in shock, an emotion he thought he had forgotten.
In the center is another child, his own age.
He doesn’t hear the first words out of the other boy’s mouth. He doesn’t need to.
“Shall we go together?”
Something blond-haired darts in front, loud and raucous. He waits. For what, he doesn’t know. The boy turns to him again, smiles easily in a manner that says, I see you for what you are. “Chikusa.” He says the word with a finality that confirms his reality. There is something attractive and repellent in his mismatched eyes.
My name. The boy remembers he has a name. He moves then, uncertain of how to reply. He does not know the other boy’s name. Before he remembers to open his mouth and ask, there are more of them behind him. He reacts, his fingers on the yo-yo without noticing until afterward.
A gentle swing outward. Retract. Extend. Retract. Punch outward. Swing back in a graceful arc. Repeat.
He catches the first one in the temple when his yo-yo is going the fastest, feels bone give way. Blood and hair smears on the wooden edge. The toy slides back into his hand, warm and sticky. He cleans it off, slips it into his pocket. It would stay with him even after he receives high-end metal ones. The other boy’s name comes unbidden to his lips.
Mukuro smiles again, acknowledging the honorific. He beckons. The three of them leave.
Chikusa's settling into his new orbit.
- Current Location:@ home
- Current Mood: tired