Disclaimer: The Big O is copyright Sunrise, Bandai, Kodansha, and Viz. This story is a fanwork and not for profit.
Readers are also hereby warned that the following contents deal with graphic violence, foul language, attempted rape, and incestuous themes and may not be suitable for those under the age of thirteen or those with weak constitutions. *I* find it disturbing. Read at your own risk.
Catch . . .
-you're not an angel-
. . . it.
She stumbled and fell and the long white feather tumbled down through the air and came to rest gently in her outstretched hand.
He laughed and she choked back the murderous thoughts springing to the forefront of her mind.
He was her brother and no more than that. No, she corrected herself savagely, he was her half-brother, and thus, barely related to her at all.
Blood splattered onto her fingers, staining the pure color of the feather. Or perhaps it had been the other way around? She stared at it strangely fascinated, and everything fell away from her . . .
The pain . . .
The fear . . .
Everything . . .
. . . fell away.
by Fushigi Kismet
They filed out, ten researchers, lab-coated and be-clipboarded, their coats starched painfully white.
Her arm ached from where the needle of the syringe had been ruthlessly and efficiently jabbed but she ignored the sensation. It hardly mattered, after all. A liter of blood today and again the same time next week. Sometimes she wondered why her blood was red, and not some other color, after all that had been done to her. But that, too, did not matter and she was not one to dwell on meaningless things.
One wing lazily swept at the air and she felt and tasted the currents and eddies of the gentle breeze it caused.
The last researcher paused at the door and looked at her coldly over the rim of her spectacles before stepping through and shutting the door. The lights dimmed and turned off automatically.
The wing gently came to a rest against her and the breeze subsided. She sat a moment, staring out at nothing, feeling the rise and fall of her chest. Yes, it was true, last time she had stretched out her wings and had not only knocked over several beakers but some stacks of paperwork as well. No one had been pleased.
She, least of all. They were harsh when they dealt out punishment.
She ran a finger over the edge of one wing, shining white.
I didn't have to be warned.
Pushing herself off the cold countertop, she walked to a nearby window and looked through it at one of the operating rooms, currently as darkened and empty as the room she occupied.
Sinking to the floor, she sat, arms wrapped around her legs, wings folded awkwardly against her back and sides. Her reflection gleamed back at her from the bottom of the tinted glass. A light glowed suddenly against the glass and she saw the reflection of the laboratory door opening and letting in the artificial lighting of the hallway as a familiar pair of reflected legs strode inside.
The lights flickered on in the lab and a voice called in irritation, "Alice, where are you?"
She got to her feet and turned to face him. "Here."
The lights went off again.
"Don't hide, Alice. Now's not the time for hide-and-go-seek." There was something altogether nasty about the laugh of the teenage boy.
She wondered if he was high again. His eyes looked bloodshot in the hallway light.
The door shut behind him and was followed by the solid click of the lock as he turned it deliberately, his eyes fixed on her with either a touch of madness or merely malevolence; she couldn't decide.
"What are you doing, Alex?" she asked quietly. Her fear was tangible and he paused as though to savor its sharp and distinct flavor on the surface of his tongue.
"They've left you alone again, have they?" he said in a tone of solicitousness unmarred but for the underlying sneer.
"I'm always alone, Alex." Her eyes were following his every movement. He was dangerous when he was like this, crazed and high. Once he had broken her right hand, casually, when she had tried to pull away from him when he had been enjoying a little game of wrenching out clumps of her long blonde hair.
He had been disappointed afterwards, when she had fallen to her knees, her hand cradled against her, blood dripping down her temples. 'Really,' he had said, 'you're so useless. You think you're special, but you're not. You're just a freak, with those wings.'
-you're not an angel-
There was nothing he enjoyed more than tormenting her. Nothing he garnered more delight from than seeing the fear in her eyes.
"So you are," he responded. His teeth showed in something that was more threat than smile.
"What do you want? You know no one's allowed here after hours."
"No one but you," he said, pausing by a countertop and idly examining a scalpel, "and me."
He let it drop with a clatter back into the tray. "I learned a new game. Do you want to play?"
She shook her head. "Alex, you'll get in trouble if the researchers find you. Someone might come in any minute! They're-they're fixing part of the lab."
His eyes swept the room where part of the wall was open, exposing its innards of wire and pipe. Tools and parts lay stacked neatly on the ground. "So they are. What fun. Come, Alice, let's play a game, you and I."
"I don't want to."
He snarled. "I SAID we're playing a game. The rules are very simple . . . you just do whatever I tell you."
"I always do what you tell me, Alex," she said in reply, backing away from him.
"This time it's different. This time we'll do something new."
He smirked. "Do you remember the difference between a boy and a girl, Alice?"
Her eyes widened and she took another step back. He had told her things that she hadn't wanted to hear, had even brought in a girl once after hours and did things to her that he told Alice she could never tell anyone about. He had threatened several times that he was going to "educate her."
"I was fucking someone today," he continued, advancing, oblivious to her mounting fear. "She was ugly as sin, but, boy, could she go at it. Still, looking at her made me feel SICK. I told her so to her face and she said to me," he paused, his eyes resting on Alice, "why don't you go and fuck someone better-looking?"
Alice's back hit the wall.
"You really ARE pretty. Dear. Little. Sister."
He lunged at her, pushing her back against the wall as she tried to escape, his tongue thrusting between her teeth and his hands tearing at the thin cloth smock she wore.
She screamed, biting down hard on his tongue and rending at him with teeth and nails that drew blood. But he shoved her down, violently, and hit her on the side of the head with one closed fist until it was all she could do to sob quietly, feeling the sticky red liquid drip down her temple.
"Bitch!" he snarled, wiping a trickle of blood from his mouth and pulling down his pants. "Fucking bitch! I'm going to make you regret that!"
"Alex," she sobbed, "Alex, don't! I'll do whatever you want, just don't-"
"Oh, you'll do what I want all right, bitch." He smirked. "You'll give me what I want, right now, and anytime I want it." Then he bore down on her, one hand wrapped around her throat.
Desperate, she tried to pull away, and one wing struck the ground sideways eliciting a cry of pain. She swallowed, then pushed back as hard as she could with her wings, which gave her just enough momentum to shove Alex off her, her wings beating against him.
He cursed, pushed back by the buffets of her wings, and reached out blindly, grabbing a length of unused pipe lying to one side of the room. Striking out savagely, the pipe connected with one of her wings. The first blow shattered bone and the wing crumpled in on itself and Alice felt herself falling in an explosion of pain. The next blow came across her back and she felt bone snapping in the fragile wings, felt an avalanche of pain that grew with each successive blow . . . and then she dimly saw, through barely open eyes glazed over with pain and a mist of blood, a flurry of blood-soaked white feathers drifting across her vision.
"Aren't you going to save your wings?" he hissed into her ear and she somehow managed to force her body up, managed to move a step forward and stretch out a hand for a feather.
Then he had borne her, crashing, back to the ground, his voice rasping in her ear. "Shut up and stay still, bitch."
She twisted, turned, the mangled bits of her wings slapping weakly against him, broken-off ends of bones slashing at his face, feathers trailing streamers of blood over him, over her.
She would be dead, were it not for the pain.
He snatched wildly at her wings, spewing oaths as blood streamed into his eyes and they raked over his face once again. His fingers seized hold of them and he forced her down flat against the floor as she felt more bone snap under the strength of his fingers.
"You FUCKING WHORE!" he shouted, tearing at her wings, at her clothes, at her skin and her flesh.
A half-formed thought.
-we are but flesh and blood-
Then suddenly he was gone and there was nothing left but the blinding pain. Before she could wonder at why he had stopped, she heard the harsh growl of a voice.
Weakly, she looked up . . . struggled to see. She had to know who had saved her . . . It was . . .
Yes, it was him.
It was the first time she had ever seen him as her father; the first time she had ever admitted to herself he was indeed her father. She thought that it was probably also the first time he had ever realized it, had ever really looked at her. At /her/. Alice.
And he had seen what he had not let himself see all those years before . . . what he had done to her and to what he had doomed her.
-you're not an angel-
She bit back a sob of pain but couldn't stop the tears from spilling over. Her face was splattered with blood, her arms and back and legs soaked with it.
She wondered if she was going to die.
-if you die you won't go to heaven-
She closed her eyes, trying not to /feel/ . . .
-you're an abomination - a blasphemy against the gods-
Then there was pain and darkness and blissfully, freedom from the pain and the /absence/ of feeling what was no longer there.
When she awoke she was in a small white room.
It was sterile and smelled a bit of antiseptic, like the laboratories sometimes did. She was used to this feeling. Her life was this environment.
Ergo, she was not in heaven.
Turning her head slightly, she realized that she couldn't feel anything. Her entire body was numb like it sometimes was after they ran tests on her. Tests after tests.
So. There would be pain. Dulled and erased now . . . she would feel it in the days to come.
The disorientation. Her head swam. It was coming clear . . .
Sitting in a chair next to her. Asleep. How could it be?
Was it reality or a dream?
A child's fingers reached out and touched him.
He woke with a start, then looked at her as though he did not know what to make of her. As though he had never seen her before in all his life.
It was strange, she thought, talking to him. Strange, because they had never spoken to one another. Not even when Mother had . . . Not even then.
He had sent her away - made her wait in a cold, empty room to cry into the sheets that still smelled like her mother . . . that sickly sweet scent of death and despair.
And he had never let her into that room again. That room where he sat, holding her mother's cold hand. Crying.
All she had ever wanted was to scream at him. To cry and yell and hit him. To hurt him . . . for hurting her. For hurting her mother. But now that she was faced with him, she could not think of anything to say.
All she had ever wanted was for him to love her.
He spoke first, and his voice cracked at the first word.
"Alice. It's all right now. There's nothing to fear. Alex is gone."
"Gone?" she parroted, fascinated that her lips remembered how to shape and form words.
"I erased it. His memory. His memories of your mother, of you. He won't remember that you exist, Alice. He won't hurt you anymore. I sent him away. It was . . . all I could do."
Lies, lies, and more lies. Lies upon lies . . . No matter where he was, who he was, no matter how much or how little he remembered, Alex would always hurt her. Alex had always had his fist clasped tightly about her soul . . . was squeezing her heart through the spaces in his fingers.
All he could do . . . and what he should have done, six years before when she had been born into the world. When Alex had been ten . . . small, malleable, a child. When she had still had wings.
Remembering, she reached a hand behind her to feel for her wings, to feel
nothing at all
"They were beyond repair," came his voice and she let out a breath she had been holding, waiting for time to stop, for her world to shatter at that loss of herself, of what had always symbolized her difference to the world - had mocked her each day with its meaning.
-you're not an angel-
Lies, lies . . . you could have fixed them. You could have sewn them together with wire and air and fire.
But you don't want to remember either. What they mean. What it was you did to me.
What they mean to me.
"It's fine," she whispered. "Fine."
The word echoed dully between them.
-i don't want to remember either-
"You look like her. A little. Despite everything . . . you do."
But she didn't. She knew it as well as the next person. Knew that were she and her mother to pass each other in the street no one could ever tell them apart from strangers. That had been intentional . . . an intricate part of his revenge.
And yet, now, he was-
She wondered if her eyes looked like her mother's. Haunted, shadowed, pained, and betrayed. She thought perhaps that was what he saw when he looked at her. The child of the woman he had loved and hated, whose life he had destroyed, whose every aspiration he had ended.
-those who fall are doomed to fall forever-
He bowed his head over her hand and said the words she had never dared to dream would pass from his lips. "I'm sorry . . . Alice."
Sorry for things he could not put a name to . . . for the wrongs he had done to others, to her mother, to herself. To himself. Sorry for the things he /could/ put a name to. Sorry for everything. For her life. For her pain.
And for a moment, she was sorry for his pain too.
"It's all right, Father," she said, her hand slowly covering his. "Even you can't erase the past."
He wept into her hand and, dimly, she wondered if this was how her mother would have felt . . . if she had been alive to feel the touch of his tears on her cold hand.
"I forgive you," she said, saying the words even though she did not mean them, could no longer feel enough to mean them or to want to. But he was in her power now, in this moment of weakness she had given him what he had always wanted and never attained . . . the one thing that only she could ever grant him.
I gave it away. My revenge. My past. Myself.
-a nephilim is a fallen angel. an angel that has lost its purity and fallen to Earth. those fallen angels can never return to heaven-
I can never return.
She turned, acutely feeling the scars that marred her back where once her wings had been. There was still the absence and sometimes a phantom pain that made her feel like crying. But she suppressed it and turned her mind from it as she did about many things these days. It was all she could do to keep the past the past. Especially now.
"Are the papers ready?" a curt voice asked.
"Yes, sir," she replied calmly, smiling coldly at Alex Rosewater, who had not changed for all the span of twenty years.
-you're not an angel-
No. I can't return anymore.