A/N: Weird fic. Really weird fic. Semi-bizarre one-sided pairing, possibly slashy. Or then again, possibly not. Point of view is a marvelous thing.
She was never good with ki.
Puar tried to teach her, but there was only so much a shape-changing cat could demonstrate. Roshi could have taught her, maybe, but the old man stayed on his island and hadn't taken on students for years. Besides, she was the most singularly untalented ki-user anyone had ever met. Quite simply, she had no affinity for it.
So she began to use guns instead, and then knives. Lengths of wood. Well-aimed rocks. Anything that kept a scrappy girl and her strange, floating companion alive for a few more days. She stole, called herself the Bandit, and her smirk inevitably faded when Puar looked away. Sometimes she got the feeling her friend was remembering someone else, but questions just elicited a tired smile, and there was survival to worry about first.
That was the one thing she could claim to be good at. Surviving. She had a knack for it. She would climb out of the rubble, Puar sheltered in her arms, and on days like that she couldn't even bring herself to loot the bodies. Sometimes she buried them, if there weren't too many. Sometimes she only buried the little ones, and threw stones at the wild dogs. Sometimes there wasn't even time for that, because there were other survivors and they were too loud and the cyborgs liked to pick off the ones they missed.
She never tried to warn the others. It wouldn't have done any good.
Puar would tell her stories as they drifted from one ravaged city to another, about grand battles and heroic adventures and might-have-beens. On days like that she would understand why the cat had followed her around when she had shown up on Roshi's island demanding to be trained. Chasing a would-be queen of thieves in a rickety little boat was better than nothing. She didn't mind being a replacement. On days like that, she didn't care.
It should have been silent in the newest city, the way it always was when she picked her way through the ruins. Not this time. There were men and women dancing in the streets. Someone was playing music, and the cacophony set her teeth on edge. She moved away from the celebration, dragging Puar with her, and didn't bother to ask why the little cat was trembling. There was squat building far from the noise, with a roof and four walls and not too many rats, and she spread her blanket there. She didn't take anything else out of her pack. She didn't sleep, because she had to be ready to run when the cyborgs came.
They never did, and the celebration continued through the night. Puar was still perched on her shoulder at dawn.
The woman came the next day, walking through the door as if she owned the place, and she couldn't make herself throw a knife or a stone, much less flee. She didn't stop Puar when the little cat flew into the stranger's arms and began babbling about finding him, finding him, finding him. She watched from her corner, too-long bangs falling in front of her eyes like a brown curtain. Maybe she shouldn't have felt betrayed, but she did. Puar was her friend. What did the woman know?
Startled blue eyes locked on her face. She didn't look away.
You're Puar's friend? The question was loud in the small makeshift shelter, even over the noise of dancing in the streets, but the woman had a nice voice and that made it okay. When she just nodded, the woman took a step closer. More than twice her age. Very pretty, although she didn't think she was the type to like women. Hell, maybe she was. She'd never stopped to check.
She climbed to her feet and waved a hand toward the noise. Why the music? Why the dancing? Why now, after so long, were people so stupid?
Because the cyborgs were gone, the woman said. Her son had destroyed them.
It was ludicrous and she believed every word. Her knees gave and suddenly she was on the filthy floor, hands splayed to catch her balance, and all she could do was look at Puar for confirmation as her heart hammered against her ribs, itstrueitstrueitstrue. No more stones and wild dogs. No more running and hiding.
Did she have a name? the woman asked, although she had the strangest feeling that she already knew. The question was a formality.
She almost answered with Bandit, but that wasn't true. She remembered a woman and a man from a long time ago, and the word they used. Her name.
Yancy. Her name was Yancy.
The woman smiled, a dazzling smile that lit up the world, and a jubilant roar from the crowd drowned out her reply. She didn't hear the woman's name.
She didn't need to.