Spinning on the Edge
For the 30 ANGSTS challenge
By DarkenedSakura
Themes #1-5 (you're cynical you're beautiful/your love is such a tease)

1. Broken (killing for the sake of killing)

"…And so, I will protect you, Kirara-dono. I'll protect you all."

She stares at him, at the gleam in his eyes, at the way his fingers flex towards his sheathed katana. She suddenly grabs his arm and holds onto it so that he looks at her fully. The lethal light in his eyes is still there.

"Please, Katsushirou-sama, please don't break and lose yourself in killing…in this," she says with a certain desperation in her voice. "Don't kill for the sake of it."

"I don't," he says, a catch in his voice. "I kill for you. To protect you. To protect everyone."

Do you really? Have you lost yourself already? What proof do I have that you haven't turned into a monster? her eyes ask, voicing everything that she does not – cannot – say.

I'm not, I'm not, why can't you trust me, when did you stop believing in me, when did you believe in me? he replies in the same way, silently, disbelievingly, failingly.

Another fear to fall between them, like all the others.

It would never change, and they both knew it.

2. Toys (for when you die I'll be there for you)

Sometimes he wondered if he was just a pawn in a game of the gods, to be moved around on a board, to capture and take and call check and retreat. Sometimes he wondered if he was a plaything, a toy of the forces above, a hand puppet to be used in mocking, scathing plays to satisfy their sadistic view of entertainment.

Sometimes he wondered if they maneuvered the pieces around him so that everyone would be sacrificed and nobody else would be left when he died, to be there with his final breath, to provide support when he fell, to be there so that he wasn't the only one still standing.

Sometimes he wondered, believed, wanted to believe that he was dreaming and he was dreaming and he was still dreaming and hadn't woken up yet because that would explain the haunting feeling that he was so aware of.

Then he would look at her and realize that it was all too true.

3. Hand phone; cell phone; mobile phone (a call from heaven)

In his excitement, Heihachi nearly toppled over as he ran down the hill towards everyone. He barely stopped in time, holding his hands out to avoid smashing the object he grasped while trying to move his legs farther faster than his arms.

He mostly failed, falling into an ungainly heap at the group's feet, but at least the device was saved by rolling out of his now outstretched hands.

Katsushirou bent down and picked it up. "Eh? What's this?"

Heihachi sprang up on his feet, dusting himself off and laughing nervously. "Ahahaha…oh, I made it when I was tinkering with some of the leftover parts over there and from some gadgets left behind by the enemy. It's slightly primitive, but it should work."

The other samurai looked quizzically at the object. A long cord coiled from two dome-shaped pieces into a box with several knobs and things on it. "What am I supposed to do with it?"

"Talk into it! No, not that one, the other one. You should be able to hear everyone from the other side of the village in that one, and they should be able to hear you too."

"Huh?" He tapped the piece he was speaking into. "Hmm…it's not working."

"That's strange," the orange-haired man frowned. "I left the other one with the villagers…" A second passed, and then Heihachi started to fiddle with the object. "Hmm, that's not right…" he muttered to himself as he turned several knobs on the box.

After watching him for a few moments, Katsushirou blinked before furtively picking up the device and holding it to his ear.

"…zzhrgrckurCHZRR – "

"Euh!" he yelped, nearly dropping it.

"Ohh!" Heihachi rushed to it like a mother separated from her newborn child. "It's not broken after all!" After a moment of jubilation, he went back to fiddling with the box.

"…hello? Hello?" a faint voice chirruped from the receiver.

"Wow, it really works…I can hear someone!" Katsushirou exclaimed.

"Hello? Katsushirou-sama, is that you?" the other voice flowed out, less staticky than before and far clearer in quality.

"K-Kirara-dono?" he stuttered in a flush.

"Wow, I can really hear you! This is amazing!"

"A…Aa, yes," he managed to say, focusing entirely too much on how her voice sang out without her actually being here next to him, while every single beautiful note remained perfectly intact. Like the sound of chimes.

She had continued to babble on; her excitement would not ease. "This could be so useful! I'm sure Kambei-sama will be able to use it. Where is he? We should tell him!"

Katsushirou lowered the hand holding the receiver, letting it fall to his side. The sound of chimes was far off in the distance now, fading quickly.

"…and then we could…hello? Hello?"

He turned around. Kambei was standing behind him, an unreadable expression on his face.

There was a pause, broken only by the crackles and the "Hello?"s from the receiver dangling in Katsushirou's hand. Stoically, the young samurai held out the phone to Kambei.

"She's calling for you."

4. Angels and Devils; Disguise (wings stain with blood)

Katsushirou wondered, was he really evolving, or was he just changing what he revealed of himself to the world? So many things were happening and he knew he was growing, adapting to everything; yet every time he thought about it, it felt…unnatural. It was as though he was growing a mask, little by little, something that made him seem and act and sound older, more mature. Bolder, less emotional, more cautious, less compassionate. More like the others. Less like himself. He hid in his growing mask, keeping the remaining fragments of himself behind it. He hid behind his sword as the blood splattered all over him, keeping it between himself and the rest of his fears.

But she was drawn to it, to this new him, to the fusion of the paradoxes in him – or was it just that one side of him was slowly fading away, being taken over and usurped? – to the element in him that made him seem so much more…more like…Kambei-sama.

Yet, while she followed Katsushirou and stayed by his side, her eyes followed Kambei. And when her eyes started to follow the younger samurai as well, her heart – or was it her not nearly rational enough mind? – followed the other one instead. One was becoming more and more like the other, and the other grew more and more distant, continuing to drift away.

Still, she couldn't choose between them. Or rather, she knew what her decision was, had made it a long time ago, but couldn't think about it. Couldn't remember it. Didn't really know it anyway.

She was heading down a path of self-destruction, but she couldn't bring herself to stray from it at all.

5. True Love (seeking for you)

"Ne, nee-chan?"

"What is it, Komachi?" she replied, her attention on the fresh flowers she was transferring to glazed vases.

"How do you know if you've fallen in love?"

Her hand stilled, holding several daisies. "…Why would you ask me that, Komachi?"

"Because you're in love with somebody, right?" She grinned at the red spreading across her sister's cheeks.

"K…Komachi…why would you want to ask that, anyway?"

Her sister's face took on a more petulant look. "I'm just curious. I wanna know what to look out for…when it happens to me."

"Well…" The mikumari maiden placed the flowers into the last of the vases and then straightened. "It just happens. You're with him and you walk with him and you get just a little bit nervous before you try to say anything, sometimes. And then you just think about him, and it just happens little by little and you end up thinking about him so much, and then…" she blushed. "You'll know when it happens."

"What about if you're really happy whenever you're with that person? As in, really REALLY really happy?" her sister questioned, waving her arms around a bit. "What about then?"

"Then..." She glanced back at her younger sister's face and she just had to say something. "Yes, maybe you're in love with him then. It's not love if it doesn't make you happy, right?"

"And how do you know if that person loves you back?" Komachi asked.

A pause.

"I…wouldn't really know," she wanted to say. But again, after seeing her sister waiting in such anticipation, she couldn't help but lie. "Well…if that person looks just as happy being with you, and if that person likes talking to you and…well, if you believe he does, then I'm sure he does."

A light like nothing other shone from the young girl's face. "Really? Really really, nee-chan?"

Kirara smiled, and bent down to look her sister in the eyes. "If you love this someone, I'm sure he'll love you back, Komachi."

"Waaai…thank you, nee-chan!" she exclaimed joyously before running outside.

Kirara smiled again, though now it was a rueful smile. Nothing she said applied to herself; love was magical, promising, and would never let you down, according to this version.

She knew she didn't know if she was in love with someone, because there were two.

"He'll love you if you love him, Komachi, because you're so pure." And you know what you want, and you understand and you know what you have. And you understand.

She probably didn't even know what love was herself. It was the only way to explain how she felt, to explain the answers that she gave.

She would give anything to learn what true love was, just to stop the agony ripping herself apart.

Vocab notes: -sama is a very respectful way to address someone, and -dono even more so, though it's somewhat archaic now. Nee-chan is an endearing way/one of the ways to say "big sister".

Yes, I'm aware at this point that #3 (hand phone) is slightly AU, as transmitters and the like apparently did exist in the series and therefore Heihachi could not have invented even a primitive phone, but hey. I liked it.

So, I've been out of the writing game for ages…and then I discovered these things called themes communities and amazingly, I started getting inspiration like whoa that wouldn't leave me. So I wrote. The 30angsts challenge was screaming for someone to write Katsushirou/Kirara as they are the perfect example of an angsty romance…thing, so yes. Er, I can't believe I'm doing romance, though. First time it's a fic that doesn't go under "general" or "drama". Yeah, I'm scaring myself now.

Each piece might be on any of the optional themes or the alternate themes (the ones in parenthesis), so yes. Feedback is loved, and oh yeah, disclaimer…S7 doesn't belong to me.

Many thanks to xuemei (rasetsunyo) and malinear, two awesome betas that put up with me going "arrrrrgh this sounds bad argh no this sucks ergh what do I do?" with most of the themes and helping me out with that. You guys rock so much.