----- Color -----


"We are, above all, eternal spectators looking upon, never from the place itself. We are the essence of it. We construct it. It falls apart. We reconstruct it and fall apart ourselves."

- Ranier Maria Rilke: The Duino elegies, Eighth elegy, trans. by Robert Hunter


White is the color of snow and he hates it.

The snow falls in Shanghai, glistening pure white in the air. It floats and dances, alive in the cold winter breezes, flitting back and forth in the sky.

When it touches the ground, it dies, the sullied earth leeching into it.

The snow dies, and that is fitting. He hates the snowfall, because he can't stop it. It was falling when she fell, and she's still falling. Sometimes, he wakes up -although he never really sleeps- in the snowy nights, cold and shaking, that long fall burned into his mind. Those dreams, those memories, only come during the snowfall. So, he sleeps less in the winter months, less when the snow falls.

He remembers falling asleep once when the snow fell, remembers the memory that surfaced.

Tomoe was leaving then. Now she has already left. But then, she was still leaving, and he was younger and had heard of her departure and ran out to find her - half blind and crazed - stumbling through the snow fall.

The kimono she wore was white, and the snow fell on her hair. It covered her in whiteness and he yelled for her to come back, to stay, to not go.

She turned back and looked at him once, and then she fragmented into the whiteness, the snow swallowing her so that, try as he might, he couldn't find her. In that moment, Enishi knew that white is not the presence of all colors, but the absence of them.

The snow is falling and he does not sleep. Instead he practices, in the empty house, in a room with no windows.

His sword dances and he dances with it. Together, with his white hair and the silvery sword, he looks like falling snow on steel. He hates the comparison but loves the power, his mind jumping and leaping to the past and the future.

He thinks of those he has killed, and how it felt to drive this steel into their hot flesh.

He thinks of sliding his sword into the Battousai, and how sweet the shock and pain in his eyes will be when he twists the hilt. Of how beautiful the blood will be, shining red and wet on his blade.


All of red he knows he hates.

Red is the color of her blood, of the stretched cut in her front and down her side and of her falling, in that long, clean unstoppable arc. Falling, she's falling and he can't stop it. Her blood is falling and pooling on the grounds and on the Battousai.

Red is pain and blood and loss in the snow.

Red is the Battousai's hair, streaming around him as he rocks back with her weight, the red of his hair drinking the red of her blood. He leans over her and Enishi wants to run and grab that hair, to rip that mass of bleeding brightly red and take his sister back.

She ran out to him. The snow is falling and she ran out to him. There was the slightest pause as the door opened, a moment when her eyes met his and he could see the apology in them, the goodbye. He knew then, but still he hoped, and every step she took drove pain and terror into his heart.

Step. The snow is slowing her down, and perhaps she won't make it, perhaps she'll stumble and trip and fall and won't make it in time. Then he can go to her and hold her and convince her that the matted and bleeding mass of red that was once a man and is still a monster was for the best after all.

Step. The Battousai's eyes are closed. They are closed and he's rushing forward and he can't see her and he won't stop in time.

Step, and his sister grabs the tanto, her tanto, and a small trickle of red runs through her fingers and down her hand.

Then the Battousai hits and everything is red and bleeding, so sharp and bright onto the snow. The pain hits him, and the grief, and the anger. He wants them, wants the feelings they hold and the wishes in them.

He wants the blood to fade. He wants the burly man's attack to connect and the Battousai to be cut open, to be split and bleeding, red hair and red blood on the snow.

He wants the dead to walk. He wants the past to change. He wants to rewrite history.

He wants so much and yet so little and he knows the deep black despair when he realizes he can't have any of it.


Black he knows as many things.

Black is the darkest night near a quiet cabin in the mountain woods when the snow is falling. There is a boy, and he is small and makes no noise as he crouches in the darkness, watching the light in the cabin.

He cannot see into the cabin and does not want to. The boy is removed from the action here, recalling shifting fragments of moments.

One is brighter than the rest.

His sister's hair was black. It is the deepest, darkest black, with hints of purple where the light could not reach and shining white reflections where the brightness hit. It is one of the most beautiful things he knows: the shining darkness and silky black.

He watches her as she combs her hair. She is sitting, and it reaches down: a long expanse of dark that hangs above the floor. The strands part easily to the comb, silken soft and strong. She is calm, her motions rhythmic and measured.

Peaceful, calm, serene, strong: she resembles a crane preening. To his young ten year old eyes, she is a crane, tall and slender, cloaked in white kimono and white plum.

Turning to catch some loose strands at the nape of her neck, she sees him standing in the doorway. The door jamb supports his weight as he leans heavily on it. Enishi at ten is perhaps a little more determined that other ten year olds. A little quieter, a little colder.

"Enishi!" Her voice is the soft sound of rushing wings and beating feathers. "You startled me, standing there so quietly." She does not look surprised. She is happy, vibrant in a way that he can not remember her being after the Battousai killed her for the first time.

His hair was black then, as dark as his sister's, though without the shine. It is as dark as the starless nights in summer; as dark as water lapping at the beach on clear nights with no moon.

Tomoe motioned him over to her with the hand holding the comb. She remained seated and calm, undisturbed and serene.

He padded over to her, silent and slightly unsure. Dropping to the floor with a little more grace than the casual situation required, he remained watching her. The attention did not prepare him for what came next.

The comb she throws at him hits him squarely in the face and bounces off, back in her direction. His nose stings slightly from the blow, but he is more bewildered than anything at such an action.

She reaches over to him, her actions swift and smooth - Tomoe had that grace, that ability to move quietly and surely through a room, to sneak up on someone without meaning to. As such, her actions meet no resistance from her startled younger brother.

He's pulled against her before he realizes what's happening. He's off balance and stumbling into her lap, his head resting on her folded legs, black tangled hair against white kimono.

The comb is cool against his scalp, the teeth gently puling at the knots and snarls in his hair. His sister's free hand weaves through in coordination with the comb, smoothing hair ahead of it and putting strands into place behind it.

It's soothing and calming and holds all the rhythmic power of a thousand lullabies. It's a melody she's weaving with her hands in his hair and he can't help but give in. When she speaks, her voice is low and gentle and loving, and does not disturb him.

"Things will change, but this won't." She looks ahead, at the wall, or beyond it. He does not answer her, and her fingers do not stop weaving patterns of love in his hair.

"No matter what Kiyosato becomes to me, he can't change this. He can't change us."

He can feel something close to jealously but not quite rising within him. It's a borderline emotion, something ugly and beautiful: a caterpillar with butterfly wings. He is afraid of Kiyosato, and of what this relationship with his sister means. It might destroy what he has and thus leave him alone, and that thought terrifies him more than anything he has ever known.

But Kiyosato makes her so happy, and even the joy that her delight brings him hurts, for shouldn't he be enough to keep her happy? Shouldn't he alone be sufficient for them both?

He used to be enough, this he knows. It used to be good enough for his sister and him to exist together, brother and sister and somehow also mother and son.

Somewhere along the line it changed, and Enishi knows he would give anything to have it back. The prospect of losing his sister to marriage terrifies him more than anything else he's even known, and he hates himself for the fear that would take away his sister's happiness.

He hated himself then, in that place of shadows and dark hair and darker secrets.

He hates himself now, hates himself for what he failed to protect.

Losing his sister once, when the Battousai took her lover, was almost more than he could stand.

Losing his sister twice, when the Battousai took her, was more than he could survive.

He died that day, somewhere deep inside him, where the sun can't reach. He died there, all those years ago, and yet he's been dying in degrees ever since.

So when the Battousai takes that one step, that new step that he somehow missed, he knows it is too late. The Battousai has done what he could not. He has overcome, he has lost regret, he has changed.

The full might of the Ama Kakeru Ryuu no Hirameki rips through his sword and slams into him with all the power of change and life.

His sister is alone in the blackness, and she is not smiling.

The Sakabatou feels like fire, like ice. It is wind during the high storm; it is the driving force of air and water during monsoon. It roars and rips with a power that he cannot run from. It is the dragon.

It is pain with a force that he can't quite grasp. His enlarged nerves turn on their host, ripping him apart with the pain, red and white and black.

And his sister is not smiling.

He struggles, burning and crying and screaming in his head.

The black is encroaching, edging in on his defense, reveling in his weakness, his defeat. He staves it off with tattered remnants of hatred.

He is dead or dying or dreaming. He cannot tell which.


Author's Notes

- The verb tenses in this shift frequently to (try to) create the jump between memory and the actual moment. - I used the quote in this because I like to start off my fictions with quotes, and this one, to me, describes how Enishi loses everything and tries to rebuild everything, only to lose it all, and himself, again. It should be formatted as a poem but Word hates me.