Standard disclaimers apply


In the end, it was all very simple. Steady the hands, grip firmly, and thrust in a sharp, controlled motion with all her weight behind it – a move she could have executed with her eyes closed, really.

Thinking back on it, she probably had done it with her eyes closed.

Easier to not think about what she was doing that way, after all. Easier to block out the nauseating fear, the lead-heavy dread, Taichou's hoarse yells, and the terrible image that was burned onto the inside of her eyelids even as she wrenched them shut and stabbed with what she knew to be lethal accuracy.

Easier to pretend that she hadn't seen the moment when the thing with the empty sockets, peeling skin, and dripping tentacles had faded, leaving nothing behind but a broken man impaled on her blade.

Because then there was only the shaking of her arms to worry about, along with the silence that followed the wet gasp and the warm liquid that sluiced down her hands and splattered in burning droplets against her face. Faintly she remembered dropping to her knees under the weight pressing down on her, remembered the rough texture of black fabric against her chin and the arm that shakily encircled her as she shivered uncontrollably from the wet warmth soaking into her front.

She didn't remember his words. Barely remembered the sound of his voice. All she could recall was the discomfort of having her sword hilt digging into her ribs as her hand fisted in Kaien-dono's shirt and tried, desperately, to keep him from leaving her. That, and sobbing his name into his neck until she couldn't tell if the salt she tasted was from her tears or his blood or both.

Her memories of better times with him wouldn't come until later. She couldn't reflect upon the guilt-mixed adoration that she felt for him as Taichou inspected and cleaned his body with tired, wooden movements. She wouldn't dwell on the sharp curve of his wide smirks, or the barely-controlled recklessness that was in his every action and gesture when she asked to take his body back to his family.

And when she faced his horrified, hysterical little brother, she would absolutely refuse to think about what he meant to her.

Because when it came down to it, what had happened was really very simple.

"I killed him."