Title: Melt Me
Second summary: It's been twelve years since Jing left and Cassis has iced her heart over. But after being caught in a theift, can the kindness of an old man melt her heart or will she remain forever frozen?
Coupling: Eventual Jing/Cassis, but not really any
Disclaimer: I own what is not in the anime/manga, nothing more.
A/N: Cassis is a real Jing Girl! She's in the OVA and the fourth manga! Okay, now that THAT's out of the way. This is going to be something very different from any Jing Girl fic, much less my other JCs. One day I got tired of writing/reading stories where the Jing Girls are head over heels in love with Jing and search for him for years and years and blah blah blah. As sweet as they can be, they're not totally believeable. Granted, the story isn't exactly real either, but the characters are still humans (for the most part) and humans do get hurt and do loose hope. I wanted to write something where a Cassis realized how much pain she's suffering trying to find a boy that she hasn't seen in years. I wanted to write something where you see that sometimes a person can only handle so much before they break, before they loose all hope and freeze their hearts over. But als I wanted to write something that shows that something as simple as kindness can melt that frozen heart. Edit: I have added quotes from the actual Lies song to the start of the story. It is NOT a song-fic but rather a song-BASED fic.
The young, slender blonde tucked the tiny, lavender velvet bag into the folds of her gown as she casually swept past the unsuspecting guardsmen. Banishing the disgust that roiled in her when one had the gall to flash her a flirty smile, she giggled sweetly and returned with a smile of her own. Taking this as an invitation, the guard puffed out his chest and started to approach her. A piercing shriek halted him in his tracks as the panicking Queen reached out to the King. The lovely blonde repressed her smirk as hushed gossip of the missing artifact echoed through the room.
But within seconds, any pride in her mesmerizing eyes descended into raw fury as whispers of the appearance of the Bandit King spread.
It took every last bit of her willpower to not scream at the idiotic masses. Were they all too stupid to understand that there were other bandits, bandits that were just as good as the King?
Her irritation grew in leaps and bounds as the King ordered for the castle to be secured. No one was permitted to leave, no matter what reason they offered. Her lips formed an annoyed scowl even as she knew that he could not restrain them forever. Eventually, after every man was searched, the Royals would have no choice but to release them. Beyond that, the guards were being given the orders to search the men, not the women. She smirked.
Perhaps his popularity wasn't as bad as she had thought.
Quickly as it had appeared, her smug countenance vanished when she realized that the guard from before was standing behind her. A mock expression of terror contorted her face as she begged him to inform her of what was happening. He hesitated only a moment before falling prey to the depths of her turquoise eyes. Slightly dazed, he explained that the Queen's treasured diamond bracelet was missing. With little prompting, he also offered the details of its legend to her.
Her lips parted to coo in pleasure, but she stiffened when she heard an almost unintelligible sound. Unwittingly, she glanced down. The guard followed her gaze a split second before she smoothly kicked the lavender pouch beneath the edge of her violet gown.
Before the guard could even process what he had seen, the blonde had disappeared into the milling crowd. Cursing as she heard him give a shout to alert his comrades, she kicked her heels off in hopes of being able to move faster. Unfortunately, as she removed her second shoe, the heel caught in the hem of her gown and she tripped with a yelp.
She landed square in front of the chief guard.
I'll never be
I'll struggle on and on to feed this hunger
Burning deep inside of me
But through my tears breaks a blinding light
Birthing a dawn to this endless night
Arms outstretched, awaiting me
An open embrace upon a bleeding tree
Melt Me - Song-based fic to Lies
Cassis absolutely refused to give the guard the satisfaction of hearing her scream as he cruelly shoved her into the cell. She could imagine the cocky smirk on his face as she landed harshly on the floor, her bound hands preventing her from cushioning her fall. Gritting her teeth, she shifted onto her knees and shot a venomous glare at him through the haze that came from her head having struck the ground. The guard merely continued to smirk at her.
"All this commotion over a woman," he sneered, "I can't believe they thought it was the Bandit King when it was just another measly imitation." His laugh reverberated through the hall as he slammed the cell door shut, locked it and left.
Rage brimmed over and she leapt to her feet, stumbling against the iron bars. Her voice became a piping howl as she bade him to return and repeat his words when her arms were not bound. But no matter what she cried, he did not return, and her anger grew so great that she struck out at the wall with her foot.
A great pain spiraled up her leg and she flinched, remaining still for a moment. Eventually she sank back from the bars and fell against the opposite wall. She slipped to the ground, her eyes partially closed, her foot burning with pain. A single tear trickled down her cheek.
She wasn't like him.
She was not his imitation in any way! She had no need for him to show her how to be a bandit. Every move she made, every bit of knowledge that filled her head, all had been self taught. He did nothing for her. He was nothing to her.
She did not need him.
Despite what people had called her before and what they would call her again, she was not stupid. Everytime she was dubbed a disgrace, a psycho, said she had no chance of being a successful bandit, she heard. When they laughed in her face and claimed she had no skills, that a woman of her age should be at home raising children while a man brought home the money, she heard.
When they told her the time for adventure was over, she heard.
Cassis heard them, but she did not care.
Long ago, she had vowed that she would surpass him. It didn't matter how many times she was captured, how many times she had to break out of jail, how many people shrugged off her name. She would outdo him!
Even if it killed her…
As she rested her cheek against her knees, grimacing at the filth collecting on her gown as she did, the young bandit recalled an episode that had taken place the day before. She had run into one of the children from the town where she was born, and the two had stopped to gossip for a bit. A passing comment from her friend, that Cassis appeared far more down to earth than she had back then, had ruined the meeting for her.
Soon after, they had abruptly parted ways after she made up an appointment on the spot, leaving her friend slightly bewildered. Cassis had barely rounded the corner before she broke into uncontrollable laughter that soon became weeping. The energetic, violent, cheerful girl of her past was no more. She had died five long years ago, when she learned how truly hateful the world was, when she realized what a person had to do to survive, when she figured out that nothing came for free.
That Cassis had died five years ago, when the fact that he wasn't coming back truly set in.
Seven love-struck years of searching later, it had finally occurred to her that she was being stupid. Her youth, the years that were supposed to be the best of her life, had been wasted on chasing an image of a twelve year old that she had once thought to be her true love. Eventually, she realized that those seven years had in reality been her own personal hell, and she had resolved to reach heaven.
But after so much time, she had no other life. From before she was considered an adolescent almost to the time where she was too old to be one, all she had done was chase after him blindly while stealing the meager things she required to survive. She had known nothing apart from him and the way of thievery.
Five years ago, Cassis had promised that he would pay.
"Do you need some help in getting loose, my dear?"
Almost too quickly to be seen, Cassis used her shoulders to roughly scrape the tears from her face. Then she sharply scanned the cell, wondering at the sheer idiocy of the guards to have placed her in a cell with another criminal. However, when her aquamarine eyes alighted on the figure, understanding swept over her.
In the darkness, still as if he were a part of the shadows themselves, was a man. Her natural assumption was that he was at least three times her own age, for he stooped as if pained and used a wooden cane to support himself. His body was enshrouded in a navy cloak with the hood pulled up, casting a shadow over his eyes.
Eyes that were the color of fire ashes...
"You...!" she gasped through lungs that had frozen, unable to make the word the hiss she had originally intended.
The man blinked and cocked his head to the side. "Pardon me, young lady, do I know you?"
Her trance broken by his voice, she shook her head and sank her teeth into her lip to prevent herself from speaking before her emotions were under control. It was simply impossible. It could not be him. There were a great many people out there who had grey eyes.
"Never mind," she whispered in a hollow voice, turning her gaze away.
He chuckled softly, seeming to find her demeanor amusing. "You really should get yourself free," he chided, approaching her. "Your muscles will be very stiff if you do not." His hand had barely brushed her shoulder before she jerked away, instinctively kicking out.
Pain flashed through her leg as guilt arose in her breast when he, set off balance by her attack, stumbled backwards and tumbled to the ground.
For the second time in five minutes, Cassis bit her lip as she turned her head away. Why did she feel guilty? It was the man's own fault for butting in when she had not asked for his help. Hadn't she made it perfectly clear that she had not wanted his aid? Not only that, but what had made him believe that she required any sort of help in the first place? She was a great deal younger than he was, physically fit and intelligent – she did not need pity from an old geezer.
Mentally, she repeated this over and over so that she might start to believe it.
Footsteps of the stairs caused her to look up defensively. The same guard as before sauntered into view, a broad smile on his abundant face. She pointedly looked away from him as he stopped in front of the cell door.
The guard growled deep in his throat. "Damn, you are one cocky bitch. You're too lucky for your own good. The King has taken unnecessary pity on you and decided that since you're of the weaker sexes and thus unable to withstand much pain, you will be given a quick death. Look at me when I speak to you!" he roared the last part, causing her to jump and then wince when his fingers twined into her honey blonde locks of hair and pulled hard.
"Just wait until morning. We'll see how high and mighty you act then," he snapped at her, seeming to take delight in tugging on his fistful of strands. "The King has ordered for your head to be cut off by way of sword at dawn tomorrow in front of the town." He reluctantly released her hair and retreated. "Wish I could be the one to hold the sword!" he called back.
Relieved of the painful pressure on her scalp, Cassis thankfully fell back against the wall, wondering at the strangeness that amount to pity in this city.
Who on earth would be awake at the break of dawn?
"You must have done something big for execution in front of the town."
Cassis had to fight back the urge to sigh loudly. "I'm a bandit. I stole from the Queen," she muttered reluctantly, hoping that the scant information would be enough to soothe his interest. With her right hand, she began to pry at the bodice of her dress.
"Really? How foolish of the guards to place us in the same cell. I have done some thievery myself," he bragged.
Rolling her eyes, she worked her knife free of its hiding place and began to drag it back and forth across the ropes that bound her wrists. "Sure, whatever."
"I'm quite the legend," he continued, "you've probably heard of me."
The rope snapped under the pressure from the blade and she jerked her hands free in victory. "Look," she spit out at last, having had her fill, "in case you are deaf, I'm scheduled to be murdered tomorrow morning. I don't plan on being here when they come to get me. If you keep quiet, I'll consider helping you to get out once I find a way."
"You need an escape?" he asked casually, as if he had not heard her speech. "I can help you with that, my dear."
Cassis snorted. "I don't need help from an old man like you!" As soon as the words had escaped, she clapped her hands over her mouth, as if she could stop them from reaching his ears. Hurt flickered in his eyes.
She had not meant to say that out loud.
After a minute in which she stared at him with, apologetic eyes and he regarded her with a somber gaze, she shook her head impatiently and turned away. Who cared if she had hurt "Grandpa's" feelings? It was his own fault for continuously pushing at her when she had warned him away.
In all honesty, he really was an old man, anyhow. What possible help could he be?
Victory sparked in her turquoise eyes when she caught sight of the window above. It was a bit higher than she would have liked, and the bars would be a hassle, but she would be able to fit through it and that was all that mattered. Not for the first time, she mentally thanked the gods for her slight size.
Cassis began to back up against the far side of the cell and the old man, finally coming to a private realization about something, backed off. The blonde hiked up her gown, exposing more leg than she wanted to with a man in the room, and broke out into a sprint. At the right distance, she released her gown, stretched her arms up, and sprang.
Only to stumble over the hem of her floor-length gown and fall, striking her forehead against the wall with a soft cry.
Cursing as she recoiled and leapt to her feet, she shot a poisonous look that promised pain at the laughing geezer. Huffing under her breath and gingerly massaging her bruised head, she ordered him to face the other direction. He gave her a confused look in return, but obediently did an about face.
Swiftly, she stripped off the gown and took to it with her knife. A few well aimed slashes later, Cassis slipped on her now knee-length gown and told the old man that he could turn back around.
This time when Cassis dashed across the short space, her gown did not hinder her. Her muscles carried her to the small opening easily, where she perched on the edge as she twisted the bars to loosen them.
"I would think twice about doing that if I were you, my dear."
"That's why you are still here and in two minutes, I won't be," she retorted, removing the last bar. "See ya!" She pushed herself out the window until she was hanging on with only the tips of her fingers, then she let herself drop into the greenery below.
"Oh yes, I'm on my way to a cruise. Care to join me?" she reeled off without missing a beat, inwardly cursing a blue streak.
The guard's smug grin faded. "You need to learn some manners," he hissed, forcibly propelling her back into the castle and down into the dungeon. "Makes no difference to me; you'll be out of my hair permanently by tomorrow morning." He shoved her into a different cell.
"Boss! Boss!" a second guard came flying down the stairs, practically tripping over his own two feet in his hurry. "One of the prisoners has escaped!"
"I am aware of that. I have already captured her."
"No, another one!" the new arrival cried. "He must have been in the same cell as her, because as soon as you took this one inside, he jumped out the window and took off. If I hadn't been looking straight at him, I wouldn't have seen him. He was covered in some kind of dark cloth."
Cassis' eyes widened in shock as the two guards scurried and she groaned, slapping a hand over her eyes. No doubt the old man had waited until the guards were preoccupied with her to make his escape.
Lady Luck was not on her side today.
Then again, the girl could barely remember the last time she had ever been able to say that she was. She had not been present when her mother died, or when Jing left and she spent seven years looking for him, or when she came to realize that she had wasted a good portion of her life, or when she had gotten locked up countless times.
No, Lady Luck had never been on her side, and it looked as thought she wouldn't live long enough for her to be
Only then did she truly realize that it was time to meet her end. After twelve years of hunting and stealing, her crimes were going to be put to a permanent stop. Somehow, she had always thought that she would be more upset and scared, perhaps even to the point of crying.
Instead, all she felt was numb.
Cassis huddled in the corner, her legs hugged to her chest. Her head rested against her knees, causing her long blonde locks to cover the majority of her legs. All night long she had sat in this way, half-asleep, unable to gain any true rest.
"Rise and shrine!" a chirpy voice sang out. The key ground in the lock as she raised her head to find two dozen guards, each armed with a deadly weapon, clustered around her cell in case she tried to escape.
Emotionlessly, she rose and staggered over to the car. The pain in her ankle, gained from when she had kicked the wall the night before in a fit of anger, sent sparks of agony through her already throbbing head. She didn't bother to try and fight as the guard cruelly yanked her arms behind her back and tied them.
"Accepted your fate, I see," he commented. She chose not to reply, walking in silence up the stairs and outdoors. She was stunned at the amount of the people who were milling around in anticipation.
At least she knew she would be remembered by someone.
She stumbled when the guard pushed her roughly, half falling up the stairs of a wooden stage. A chill went down her spine as someone grabbed a hold of her shoulders. The guard behind her stooped and bound her ankles together, gleefully tugging on the rope with all of his strength until she cringed at the pain. Then he retied her wrist ropes even more tightly before lifting her up onto a box.
"After your little stunt last night, the King decided to withdraw his pity," he told her. "I'm gonna enjoy watching you struggle."
For a second time, she made no effort to return the comment. She lifted her chin so that the executioner could lower the rope around her neck. The guard tested the hold, then tightened it until the rope – a thin, drawn substance almost like wire – began to cut into her skin. Only then did he step away, and Cassis lowered her head. It was then that she got her first view of the executioner, who wore a heavy black cloak and a black mask that revealed only his ash grey eyes.
"You..." she whispered soundlessly.
The old man from the cell was going to be the one who released the trap door to let her feet fall through. The idea of informing the guards of his identity crossed her mind, but she rapidly banished it. He had earned his freedom, while she had taken a stupid risk that had earned her her place.
He seemed to be aware of what she was thinking, for when she looked at him next; his shoulders were shaking with restrained laughter. Fear, hot and sharp, crashed into her stomach with such force that she released all her breath in a rush. For the first time, she was glad her wrists were bound because her hands had begun to shake.
The man brushed her shoulder in a pretense of checking the rope. When their eyes met, he winked at her in reassurance. She wanted to believe in him, but found the strength to do nothing more than to face forward and fight back tears. She wished that Jing could be with her with such ferocity that her broken heart began to bleed once more and a tear fell from her brimming eyes.
While Cassis fought to keep from breaking down fully and crying out for a salvation that she knew wouldn't come, the King spoke to the crowd about the death of this bandit being a lesson. The crowd roared its approval as the head guard proudly read out the proclamation for her death, concluding with her sentence of being hung.
The guard rolled up his scroll and nodded in an important fashion to the executioner, who had moved over to the lever. She glanced at him, her sea colored eyes filled with tears. He looked back at her and very slowly, closed his eyes for a moment before opening them and giving her a hard look.
She blinked. He wanted her to close her eyes?
There was no time to ponder this strange behavior, and it only took her a second to decide that she didn't want to face the end with her eyes open, anyway. She obligingly closed her eyes and tensed, awaiting the burning pain to come.
But it didn't.
Instead, piercing screams began to ring out, and she heard the guards yelling. Before she could open her eyes to see the pandemonium occurring around her, a gloved hand covered her mouth.
"Don't open your eyes or take a breath," he hissed into her ears, "I set off a smoke bomb."
She was still trying to understand the magnitude of his words when the taut rope around her neck grew slack and she was picked up into a strong grip. She felt the rocking motion of being carried while running, but did not open her eyes as instructed. She took small, shallow breaths until the man carrying her slowed to a stop and set her down.
"You can open your eyes now," he said gently.
Her eyes fluttered open to see a glorious meadow with no sight of the town where she would have met her death. As she stared around, awed and shocked, the man brought forth a dagger from his pocket. He knelt and, after some difficulty because the ropes were so tight, cut the rope from her aching ankles. He repeated the action at her wrists and then her throat. When he came around to face her, he was shocked to see tears forming in her turquoise eyes.
"Why?" she choked out, struggling to her feet as one hand gingerly rubbed her neck. "Why?"
It was clear that he had not been expecting her to question his generosity. "I don't want anything in return if that's what you are wondering."
"Then why? Why would you help me?" Tears began to stream down her cheeks to rain on the soft grass below. "Why, after all the horrible things I said and did to you? Why help me?" she looked into his eyes. "You were so kind and all I gave you in return was cruelty. Why did you stop them from killing me?"
He remained silent.
"Why?" the sound of her voice lashed out, growing louder with each word. "Why would you waste your time helping someone like me? What did I do to deserve it? Why are you so kind?" In the fact of her hysteria, her abused legs gave out on her, and she fell to her knees. She leaned forward, supporting herself on her aching wrists as she sobbed. "Why... why... why are you like... him...?"
"Like Jing." She closed her eyes, her tears momentarily halted at the thought of the man she loved so dearly. "We... we grew up together. When I was a child, I used to go to his house everyday and he would pick out an activity for us to do. Sometimes he would tease me just because he thought it was amusing when I lashed out with my baseball bat. I knew I could never hurt him, because he could always best me. I thought..." she trailed off for a moment. "I love him so much... Everything about him, I cherished. When he left me, I wanted to die."
He continued to remain silent.
A mocking, pained laugh escaped from her lips.
"So, I packed up my bags and like the foolish child I was, I set out after him. I never thought about how I was going to survive because I had always been taken care of. It was a rude awakening, trust me. But I searched and searched for him for the next seven years until some sense finally came over me." The tears began again, sliding down her smooth skin silently. "I'm never going to see him again. I left everything for a fantasy.
"Somehow, I convinced myself that I wasn't really in love with him. I told myself that because I was only twelve, it was just a silly crush. Deep down, I knew I loved him more than anything. When you're in love, age is nothing. I know that now.
"But I didn't then, so I vowed to myself that I would make him suffer. I wanted to find him and show him what it felt like. For five years I became an icicle, not allowing myself to care about anyone or anything. I was convinced that I didn't need him. But I did…I do...
"I need to see him, to know that he is alright. I've always loved him, and now I realize that I still do. Everything I do is done in hopes of finding him somehow. I thought I never would. That's why I was so shocked when I saw you in the cell before. It's your eyes, his eyes were the same shade. I thought you were him. On the holding block, when I was crying, it was because I thought I would die without seeing him again.
"But you know what? Even though I've searched for twelve long years, and even though I still cherish thoughts of him far more than any material treasure, I am glad that it was you I met in that awful place. Because if there's ever been a chance that Jing would return my feelings, it would be love for a little girl that doesn't exist anymore. When I lost hope five years ago, I killed that Cassis. I might be alive now, but I'm not the Cassis that I want to be."
Finally, she summoned the inner strength to rise. For the first time in five years, she wept freely on the inside, allowing her heart to begin the process of healing. Although it would not heal fully until she saw him again, it was a start.
Cassis reached over and gently kissed the old man's forehead through the mask that he still wore. "Thank you," she whispered, "for your kindness, for saving me, and for listening. Thank you for everything.
"I wish I could do more for you, but I have to leave now. I'm making a new vow, here and now, that I really am going to carry out. I will revive the old Cassis, even if it takes me another twelve years. If you will agree to do me one more favor? If you ever see Jing, please tell him to wait for her."
He nodded once, and was rewarded with a dazzling smile and shining aquamarine eyes. Cassis bowed to him slightly before she whirled and took off across the meadow, a streak of violet and gold against the emerald grass.
Had she thought to look back over her shoulder, she would have seen the black mask being pulled off to reveal a rather young man in his early twenties instead of an elderly soul. She would have seen a healthy breeze blowing through messy raven hair and eyes the color of fire ashes twinkling with painful hope. Perhaps she would even have heard the whisper into the wind.
"I'll be waiting for you... Cassis..."
A/N: There will both a sequel and a prequel to this. I've already started work on both, the sequel more so than the prequel. I originally intended to have the sequel out first, but we'll have to see which intrests me more. I may have a fourth part to this story (you can thank Sailor Chibi for that) but it will be different from the other three. Love Me, Melt Me, Save Me, (Leave Me) those will be the three (or four) in the series. But in order for me to be inspired I need reviews, so click the little blue button, you know you want to.