Inspired by UsagiSam's The Healing Process,
though this was designed as the obverse.

So far this is four pages of semi-coherent
rambling. Enjoy!

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Unfeathered Angel
Chapter One: Children of Banishment
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He still uses it.

His gunblade.

The one that split her like a peach.

He keeps it on a wall in his office. Sheathed. Blood hidden
from most eyes. *He* can still see it. Rationally, he knows
there's nothing there: the blade shines in all lights.

But he can still see the blood.

Streaked and gore-spattered.

He knows it's there.
***

Not that they blamed him.

Dr. Odine, resident specialist on psychos and nut jobs,
reassured everyone of his sanity. She *made* him do it,
Odine said. It was her way of fighting off Ultemacia's
powers.

Making him kill her.

Making him split open her ripe body like a fruit.

Like a fruit.

There was no trial. It was never his fault.

Fuck if.

A fruit.
***

It's not like he meant to kill her.

Indifference was the only emotion he'd ever known.

Her long black hair, inexpertly highlighted by teenaged
rebellion, tangled wetly in his lean hands. Her body curled
and writhed beneath him, and her eyes, bluer than his own,
filled with unshed tears. Her skin was porcelain-pale, and
softer than seal-skin; entwined with her long limbs, his own
flesh seemed dark, of a tint more olive and brown. Her
toes curled when she laughed, and when she screamed.
He loved her. He couldn't stand to be near her.

But then, he'd never been able to bear being with *anyone*.
This was nothing special.

They gave him sympathy, told him it wasn't his fault, consigned
the stranger wearing his skin to a prison of imagination. Insisting
that the stranger did not exist, or was merely the result of *her*
meddling.

Sorceresses are not to be trusted.

Edea came for the obscure funeral, a quiet affair, and watched
him from three rows away in the near-empty auditorium, her
eyes black and sad. Her hair ran free, flowing in a quiet way
that didn't call to mind the coiffed locks of a sorceress at all.
He avoided her.

He wanted to crawl into her lap and have her tell him that
everything would be okay.

His hands were still crimson.

He couldn't touch her like this.

He couldn't touch anything. He avoided everyone these days.
He was tainted.

Tarnished.

Spoiled.

She'd spoiled him, ripped him open, torn him like an old ribbon
or an out of favor children's game. Like he didn't matter, like all
that mattered of him was his destruction.

Her eyes would glow pale when she was herself.

They went away together, after the war. He hadn't wanted to
leave, so perhaps it was more correct to say she drug him
away, spirited him away, hauled him away criminal to court
of justice. And they lived in the mountains, in a ski resort, in
her father's money, in his father's money, in a land of ice
and snow. Shiva's realm.

But he was no Ice Prince.

Shiva had been left behind. His beloved. His always, discarded
like some lower-class Ifrit, student-class, automatic junction, no!
She was the first. And he left her for *that*. For a holiday. With *her*.

And she knew everyone. Everyone there was someone she knew.

And at first it was just skiing together, in the early days after she
took his virginity -- the more usual sort, the sort not ripped away
by Seifer in a grim prison cell -- and sometimes lunch, and their
dinners were always their own.

But she liked to mingle. And he was occasionally left more than
alone, with some beautiful woman or some beautiful man, who
was inevitably invited back to their rooms for a drink, and later
for a fuck.

He'd said no.

He was sure he remembered saying no, that first time.

But her skin was satin, it was silk, and somehow he could only
taste *her* even when being fucked from behind, like some sort
of animal. She surrounded him. He was lost, and when it was
more than he could handle, when it was women and men and
occasional farm animals, she had her way.

She'd always had her way. Even in the beginning, even when
he could have said no, she'd had her way.

And if he could barely remember most of those nights, though
a few stood out in painful detail, it could hardly be blamed on
drink. Drugs he would believe, but he never drank more than
she told him to.

Was it something in her?

Was this his fault?

Would she have been normal and healthy and *sane* if he'd
never agreed to take her little Forest Owls mission in the first
place? If she'd never met him? Been possessed by Ultemacia?

Was any of this speculation even viable? He wouldn't have turned
down his first mission. Impossible. Couldn't be done.

Of course, regretting all those times he'd saved her life was another
matter.

It almost didn't matter when he'd been tied to the bed, and his
protests no longer mattered -- if they ever had. He almost felt
guilty enough to think that the pain was deserved. That the
humiliation was only his just punishment.

It was when she started killing people that he began to awaken.

*This* was keeping the sorceress under control?!

She bathed in their blood.

So he bathed in hers.

Eye for an eye, isn't that how the saying goes? Seifer got his,
imprisoned somewhere on Centra. Squall got his, imprisoned
on a mountain north of Trabia. Rinoa got hers. Split like a peach.

She'd bled crimson, like a beast, just a fucking beast, all gore
and struggle and streaks of flesh.

Fuzzy-soft skin, satiny, soft, easier than blasting Bite Bugs.

He killed them all. They'd helped. They'd held him down, and he
didn't want . . .

He didn't want any reminders.

It was a long trek down through the snow.

The Blue Dragons learned to fear his approach.

He carried her body, as proof, or souvenir, even when it froze
solid enough to use as a sled, dismembered and leaking or no.
It had proved troublesome when he reached warmer climes.
Tried to enter a town, and board a train.

He was nearly unrecognizable, he would grant. They'd liked him
thin. They'd all liked him thin, fed him on strawberries and
champagne and chicken noodle soup. He'd never washed
off her blood. It painted him black, faded to brown in the winds,
streaked pale blue and violet with the blood of monsters.

His hair had grown long. His first day out of hospital he's shaved it
off. Zell had commented that he looked like a refugee. He was. His
leathers had gone missing, for so long that he knew what it was to
miss his skin. Quistis gave him a new set as a welcome-home
present.

Sometimes he slept in them. Just to feel safe.
***

Did you ever want me?

A nation's president watched him with sad blue eyes. Like you
watch the starving children of other countries: sad, but unwilling
to expend the effort.

You left so easily then, found so many reasons to stay away.

It wasn't the hospital bed. He'd endured such before, been injured,
been torn by foreign swords and native, been crackled by a stronger
magic than his own. This was different. This was new.

Did I ever matter?

And what had he been before? She'd liked him this way, all bone
and muscle and sinew, like a racehorse ready for the Winhill Cup,
nervous and shaking and thrumming with her energy. Ready for
her to ride him into the dust.

You never came for me. Threw money at me, paid for everything I
could have wanted, but you . . .

Real food was a challenge. He staggered on his own two legs
to the Cafeteria, and decorated the central fountain with his
undigested meal. The students avoided him. His 'friends'
avoided him. He couldn't sleep, he never slept anymore, so
he had ample opportunity to watch their daily rounds. Without him.

You never wanted me.

The tests wore him into a world of needles and maybe-drugs,
drugs for things that may never happen. She'd liked drugs, but
he never . . . Glassy-eyed and smiling as never, he'd danced
through the occasional haze. Drugs were sneaky. Drugs were
to be slipped into champagne or injected after sixty-nine,
when he couldn't breathe.

So why do you care now?

His hair grew back into a dark fuzz, then a longer brush that
felt like silk, like kitten-fur beneath his fingers. Quistis would
run her fingers through it, but he dodged her questing fingers
and hesitant apologies in favor of the Training Center. He'd
killed everything else. A few beasts could not slake that
bloodlust. But they helped.

Just leave. You weren't here when I needed you. You've never
been here. You shouldn't be here.

Shiva was a comforting weight near his soul. Rescued from a
younger cadet, she purred a line down his cortex, filling his arm
with enough strength to say no. To ever say no. The weight of
regret hung heavier behind his eyes, but he'd learned to say no.
Learned irreparably.

You don't care. I don't care. Get out.

Lionheart hung on his office wall. He did paperwork in bandages,
fingers typing busily through lengths of gauze. All was normal. All
was normal. All was normal.

He killed every night instead of sleeping.

He tasted her blood in his throat.

Lionheart hung on his office wall. He didn't need a blade to kill
anymore.
***
A/N Don't think I'll continue this one. But you might convince me
to make it a prologue! ;)