Flame: Damn, I am a strange one. This came out of my perverted little mind. Sorry about the wait, I guess.

Disclaimer: I no own Muraki or YnM. So no sue. K?

Cigarettes

The killer in me mourned for the old days. The animal, the monster, that creature that fed off my prey's fear, regretted the advanced technology of my time. It was a tiring thing, the limitations placed onto my otherwise flawless methods. There were times I tested these limits, toyed with them as I did my prey, but not even I dared to openly challenge them.

I had- have- plans, and being questioned or arrested by the police was unacceptable. It would slow me down, force me to hide, cut significantly into my artistic designs. The police had advantages that I could only consider from afar. DNA, fingerprints, even a loose thread from a piece of clothing; everything was suddenly traceable and I could not have it lead back to me. Moving my prey after they died was the best idea- and such a waste. With all the time and effort I put into that piece of art, it would be a shame to destroy it.

Sometimes, when I have a quiet moment in which to sit and think, I question myself. There is no wondering why I chose this path; the murderer in me had tasted blood once and would never cease to demand it. No, what I brood over is how different it would be if I wasn't this way. I wonder idly if he would care about me, had I managed to silence those seductive whispers calling for his sacrifice.

I would sit for hours, with only the slow-growing pile in the ashtray to mark time. I would sit and stare at nothing, imagining one scenario after another. If Kazutaka had won the silent battle, what would he be? For I am Muraki, sometimes doctor and always monster, and he could not be me. He would not have this creature of darkness and ice woven into his soul.

I ask myself if Kazutaka- who is not me- would like him the way I do. Would they meet? Become friends? More than friends? The boy would not be dead, so he would have more opportunity. No one would be close enough to him to block Kazutaka out. They would meet, I frequently decide, and would not part ways again until his mortality took its toll. And then they would reacquaint themselves afterward, for how could Kazutaka not become shinigami? He didn't need me for his magic; it was one of the few things he and I shared.

It is in these quiet moments, with the cigarettes running low, that I would decide. They would love each other. Perhaps they do, despite my thoughts that Kazutaka was dead. And I would hate him, as I hate nothing else, and mourn the loss of that which was never mine. I would replay my memories like a normal person would replay a movie scene, and I would watch him die. I would watch him scream and bleed and be slowly, lovingly, torn apart by Muraki.

The police and their marvels bring me to this more and more. They make me doubt my work, question whether I am untouchable, and while I plan and plot the next blood moon, I would stop. I would think. I would remember Kazutaka with hints of amusement and apathy and hatred. He was dead, destroyed, gone, a part of me that I exorcized so many years ago. He would be what I never can be. He would not live with the creature that I cannot ignore.

The creature never acknowledged me. It was there simply to appease itself, to gorge its evil form upon the blood I spill for it. I did not create it, for I create little and destroy much. But I did feed it, and nurse it to health when it was sick, and killed for it when it was hungry, and enjoyed every second. It was a part of me, a part of Muraki, a pillar upon which everything I did and thought was balanced. Without it I would be lost, anchorless in a violent storm.

This creature has itself wrapped into me. It is threaded into my dead heart, my dying soul. It binds me, holds me together. If it was torn from me, I would fall to pieces, die slowly, be given a chance to whisper my thanks to whomever had cared about me enough to kill me in the kindest fashion. The person who would do this would not be him, for he cannot tell the difference between human and monster as it applies to me.

I sometimes wonder how this creature sees me. It is sightless, as evil generally is, but it certainly must know its unenviable position. Despite my inability to refuse its hungry call, I hold all the power in this game. The creature would die with me if I were killed on a hunting trip. If it were torn from me, it would starve slowly. If I honestly tried, I could ignore its hunger. It is a parasite, and as such, is at the mercy of its host. Does it fear me? Hardly, I tell myself. It is evil; it revels in other's fear, but wouldn't understand its own. Does it respect me? No. Does it care for me? In a perverse way, I suppose, the same way I care for others.

I tried to starve it once. I went almost two months without feeding it. It is so much like a snake, demanding nourishment at every available opportunity but lasting without for weeks longer than seemed possible. It sat within me, almost hibernating. And then, when I thought it dead and gone, it struck. The line became blurred, faded, and for that night it and I were one. Nothing has been the same since, but still, nothing changed too much.

No one could understand this. No one else has a monster in their soul. Certainly some people have the soul of a demon, rife with fury and hatred. Mine, however, is special. My spirit is tattered and frayed, a thin layer of weak fabric slowly being unraveled. The creature hides under it, within it, above it. It watches as I slowly and peacefully subject myself to its superiority.

Those thoughts chill me, right to the core, so I am quick to change my line of thought. Better not to think about the ticking time bomb if it can't be removed. I had so many more things to worry about, like those police- and isn't it amazing, the way a human mind thinks in circles when it desires a straight line. My mind is still human, untouched as of yet by the creature. I wonder how long that will last.

Every so often, a tree will catch my eye as I sit there. It is a special tree, a sacred tree, a cherry tree, and during the right time of the year, its beautiful sakura will fall silent as snow to the ground below. In these moments I think about the boy, my doll, my puppet. He still bears my gift, I know, trails of blood and fire and artfully torn flesh. I know he still remembers me. He knew, even with my spell modifying his memory, he knew he had met with something evil. The creature was devouring him slowly. He was my sacrifice.

My memories of that night became suddenly fogged one morning. For three years, before his death, I would spare him a thought in the morning. It was the least I could do, a respectful nod towards the invisible strength he possessed. Eventually I won, as I always knew I would. I stopped thinking of him, stopped imagining his golden hair and ivory skin and beautifully wide and fearful emerald eyes. When he returned, shinigami and his partner, I found I could not clearly remember that night. Not until I removed the spell and reminded him of it.

Of course, he is now guarded by a surprisingly fierce keeper. He takes care of what is his, treasures them and loves them, and the boy is highly regarded despite my visible claim. He defends everything he holds dear zealously; ironically, he is weak and unguarded because nothing is allowed to guard him. He would rather shatter under me than permit someone else to get in my way. It is amusing, in a way, and disgusting in another. I care for him myself, not the creature, and I want him not only because I always have, but because the creature doesn't care. I need a sacrifice that is wholly and entirely mine.

These times, when my mind wanders and my hands move of their own accord, they used to be few and far between. Now I find myself doing this at least once a day. I do not have time to sit and ask pointless questions. I have a creature to feed, an obsession to satisfy, an alibi to be made and maintained. And, of course, I have patients- what doctor would I be if I only spent my time killing? But still, some random thing captures my attention, and I sit and I stare and I smoke- an average of four cigarettes an hour.

In the last moments, the precious few minutes I have as I burn the last cigarette in the pack, I often think about what I never dared to before this point. I wonder, as I absentmindedly watch the smoke curl over my head, what I can do to free myself. I could remove the creature any time I wanted to. It would be a painful, timely, bloody project, but I could do it. After all, it is Doctor Muraki who is master of the waiting game, no matter what has to be suffered through.

This creature was easily introduced to me. I wonder how I could get rid of it. Starving it would take time and patience and a perfect plan. I could do it, I know. Remove myself to some remote place with no human contact. I could return in a year, a different man. No longer would I be Muraki, heartless predator. There would be no burden on my soul, no creature winding through my hollow heart. I would heal, given time.

But what would I be then? I wouldn't be Muraki. Kazutaka was long gone and dead; there would be no reviving him. Whoever, whatever I would become would be scarred. He would be a mix of the two, myself and who I used to be, a dangerous cocktail set to self-destruct with the most careless of touches. He would bear the guilt of hundreds of deaths, and with no creature in his soul to devour his despair, he would slowly but surely cave in.

No, I decided. I am too far gone to be reached again. Once Kazutaka was completely dead, I was beyond help. Now I am what I am, and there is no looking back. Perhaps turning around would bring him to me, which brought about the question of which is more important to me- him, or myself? I could have him, could hold and love him, but I would die soon enough - and no one wanted me on that side of the line.

The creature is part of me. No use hiding from it, or shying away when it is presented to me. And, to be honest, I like my life. I have very little to my name, despite all appearances, but I have power, and I have control. I control everything I touch- a bonus for housing the creature. I sink my claws into anybody I so desire, tie strings to them and wrap the ends around my finger. I am a puppet master.

Once, during the throes of a string of serial killings, someone told me something which struck me as being amusing. Blood is a drug, they said, and true killers are addicted. I am amused because it is either all too true or not true at all; I haven't decided yet. I know for certain that, if blood is the drug, then power is the liquor which killers get happily drunk on. A drug addict is a strange creature- its happiness is only a needle shot away, no matter how flimsy or short-lived that happiness is.

I break free of the spell often when my questing hand finds only an empty box. I will scoff at the offending piece of cardboard, crumple it into a ball. I will stand and slowly ease out all the kinks and catches, enjoying my own pain almost as much as another's. I will brush off my impeccable white clothes and stride away, leaving the empty box as a reminder.

I will make a mental note to buy more cigarettes. After all, with the police so thorough nowadays, the thrill of the hunt is substantially less than it used to be, and I need something to do with my spare time.