Author's Note: This began as a reaction to the "Tragic Love Song" episode, part I of which played on adult swim the other night. Basically, Kikyo episodes always depress me, so I figured I'd do a little cathartic free-writing. It ended up being in first person POV – which is odd, actually, because I never write in first person, so it's strange that it just sort of happened that way.
Anyway, it really has very little (if anything) to do with "Tragic Love Song," and may not even be really consistent with the events of that episode (it's filler, so I consider it more speculation than hard and fast canon…). So…yeah. Enjoy!
Day to Day
I've lived two lives.
The first time I was born, it was into a world that hated me. My father was dead before I took my first breath, and my mother was dead not long after. Seemed like it, anyway. I remember her, but not much. She's just a shadow somewhere in the back of my mind, more of a feeling than a person. She felt like home.
When she died, my home died with her. I didn't belong anywhere anymore.
I got used to it. I learned to keep my guard up and my back to the wall – because after all, there was no one there to watch it for me. It only takes a few slip-ups for you to take that lesson to heart. There are only so many times you can get stabbed in the back before you learn that no one can be trusted as far as you can throw them. Especially if you can throw people as far as I can.
The first time I met the love of my life, she had an arrow aimed straight at my heart. Another woman once told me – years later – that the ancient Romans worshipped a god named Cupid who shot his victims with arrows of love. Well, this woman was no Cupid – but at least she wasn't aiming at my back, so I figured that was something.
And when she failed to fire, that was something too. I probably should have just killed her right then and there and taken what I'd come for in the first place – but I didn't. I would have, normally, but something stopped me that day. Maybe it was because she had spared me first; maybe I was startled that she'd turned away; maybe it was because she reminded me of my mother; maybe I was just having an off day or something, I don't know. All I really remember is the look in her eyes. They were brown and calm, but strong somehow. And she didn't bat one eyelid at my appearance, the way most people did when they first saw me. Maybe that was why I didn't kill her.
She wasn't afraid of me.
She made me an offer I couldn't refuse. It wasn't exactly what I'd come looking for, but somehow I didn't care. It solved the problem one way or another – and it seemed worth the price if it meant that I could stay with her, and that I wouldn't have to watch my back at every turn anymore. For that, I would have given anything.
But of course, I should have known that the second you stop watching your back, someone's bound to put a knife in it again. That's the way the world works – or my world, anyway. She shot me from behind this time, but I managed to turn just in time for the arrow to pierce my chest. I looked her in the eyes as my vision blurred and my life, which had seemed so close to perfect for a moment, slipped through my fingers.
The second time I was born, it was into a world I hated. My parents were long gone, and so was the only other person I had ever considered trusting – she had died right at my feet only moments after I had died myself, a half-century before.
The second time I met the love of my life, I did try to kill her. People still ask me if I'd really intended to do it, and I usually just smile smugly until they give up and go away – but the truth is, hell yeah I did. Why shouldn't I have? I'd let her go the last time around, and look how well that decision had turned out. If I had had any lingering illusions about people being trustworthy, they had all been sufficiently extinguished by then. I was going to get what I wanted, and no one was going to stand in my way this time. No one.
Of course, her amazing resemblance to the woman who had killed me might have had a little bit to do with that decision. But only a little.
Either way, it didn't matter: the old bat took me down with the beads of subjugation and gave the girl the power to slam me face-first into the ground at will. That didn't exactly help to restore my faith in the human race – especially when she proved to be not the least bit apologetic about using them every other second – but it did shut me up long enough for me to realize that she was my ticket out of this cursed existence, and that brute strength and stubbornness, for the first time in my life, would not be enough to get me what I wanted.
So I played along. Not happily, but luckily she needed me as much as I needed her, so I didn't have to worry about scaring her off. And that was another thing I began to notice about her – she didn't scare easily. Despite the fact that, as I soon learned, her world and her life up to that point had been absolutely nothing at all like mine, she still hadn't so much as flinched when she first saw me – and when I snapped at her, she snapped right back.
I don't know when it was that I began to trust her. It sort of snuck up on me, and before I knew it she was a part of my life, whether I liked it or not. I didn't have to watch my back because she was always riding on it – and it's tough to stab someone when there's another person in the way. When she aimed an arrow at me, it was either by accident (clumsy bitch), by magical suggestion, or with reluctance, at my own request.
As time went on, I found out things about my past life that I hadn't known before, and soon it became harder and harder to keep my two lives apart. If there's one thing to be said for loneliness, it's that at least a lonely life is a simple one. Now each new person in my once lonely life brought with him or her another set of complications and decisions to be made. I suppose I could have just turned away, washed my hands of the whole mess and told them to sort it out themselves – that's what I probably would have done once. But somehow that never seemed to be an option.
Yeah, there were a few decisions I put off for awhile – mostly the really important ones. But I could never bring myself to just walk away.
I've never really understood change. It doesn't make sense. You don't just wake up one day and feel that you're a different person than you were the day before. It doesn't just wash over you in a pulse of light the way my transformation does on the night of the New Moon. It happens gradually, bit by bit, in pieces so small that even my heightened senses can't detect them.
My quest began long before I ever heard of the Jewel of Four Souls. Throughout both of my lives I have been searching for a way to fit in to this world; a way to adapt and find my place. But every time it seemed that I had come close to a solution, something inevitably ripped it away again. For a long time I chalked it up to the cruelty of fate, dooming me for all eternity. I believed that I was somehow cursed to be alone and unhappy forever.
It took me a long time to understand the truth – and even then the realization only came to me slowly, bit by bit. All this time I had been looking for the quick fix – the climactic battle, the momentous encounter, the magical object that would solve all of my problems in an instant. It wasn't until after that battle had occurred and my old life had finally been laid to rest that I realized I had had everything I needed right there beside me since long before. The lasting changes don't come from wishes or battles or promises – they come from living, day to day. They're the things we allow to happen to us when we aren't paying attention.
All this time I had been looking for a way to fit, for the home I'd lost so many years before: but she had been standing right beside me all along.
A/N: To be honest, this is the sort of fic that I imagine I would probably end up skipping past if I came across it myself – it's more about style and presentation than about story action, and often fics like this can get dull and hackneyed (hopefully this one isn't, but I'm not willing to bet money on that…). But anyway, it's short, and it was fun to write, and I'd be interested to hear your comments – particularly with regards to the narrative voice. I tried to preserve some of his bluntness and cynicism, though of course, since these are his thoughts and not his words, he's much more open than he would be aloud. I wanted to strike a balance between the demands of his character and the demands of the piece. I hate it when authors make him sound too eloquent…
I probably did. Meh.
Also, as you've probably noticed, I was playing around with a few other style elements as well – like the fact that I never once mentioned anyone by name (well, except Cupid…but he doesn't count). That one actually happened half by accident – I realized about halfway through that I hadn't used any names, and decided to keep it that way. I like the sort of intimate, natural feeling it creates. After all, when you think back on your life, do you usually think of the people close to you by name, or by faces, actions, personality? As Shakespeare once wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet."
Okay, when I start to quote Shakespeare that means it's bedtime. I'll shut up now…