Summary: He looks at her neck and sees lines that are meant to be cut, feels a force that he can't withstand for long. Written for 31 days at lj, February 22, 2007: a ribbon around her throat.
Note: If you don't know who Nanaya (the alter ego) is, the parenthesis won't make any sense. And if you don't, just think of them as thoughts from a killer alter ego.
A Ribbon Runs Through It
Red on a woman is unnerving, he thinks the first time around.
Shiki had never felt very close to his mother. He thought it odd, because Akiha was closest to Father and little boys were supposed to be closer to their mothers –
(your brother was closer to her, your brother, remember him?)
But he didn't like to think about familiar bonds much; it never felt right. And so he just let it go, laid the whole matter to rest. It didn't matter, anyway. He loved his family, all three (four) of them. Would always love them.
(remember the grim satisfaction of his blood on your hands – you will, won't you, I know you will - )
Until the accident. Until the blood.
He didn't understand, felt like something was missing, felt his head wasn't whole, felt the world was going to change -
And then he opened his eyes, and saw the lines. Like spider webs, they spanned everything. Everyone.
He couldn't blame himself for screaming.
The doctors thought he was crazy, attributed his "hallucinations" to the aftershock of the accident and losing so much blood, and said they'd go away soon.
But they had no idea what to attribute the pieces of furniture broken along fine lines to.
His mother also thought he was crazy.
"You'll be living with your aunt and uncle from now on."
She left him at the end of the manor's winding road with the black car waiting at the curb. All he could see were the jagged lines crisscrossing the back of her neck as she turned away; all he could think about was what it'd be like if, could he hug her goodbye, his fingers slipped through the cracks.
His father never saw him off. Never saw him again after the accident.
It left him with a lot of lines to think about.
The first time he sees her, he knows something is different.
He picked that hill as his haunting grounds because he thought no one (covered in lines of death) would come while he was there. But he hadn't thought about what he'd do if anyone actually appeared.
She was beautiful, with hair so long and red that at first glance, the dark bloody lines mixed and mingled with the strands, almost indiscernible. It had been morbidly comforting, in a way.
She came out of nowhere and sat next to him as if there was nothing unusual about it.
"It's no coincidence that we met each other out here. Can you keep me company for a while?"
She talked to him as if he was a friend.
"The name's Aozaki Aoko. What's yours?"
That was why he had wanted to impress her so badly, why he whipped out his knife and slashed at the hideous ribbon wrapped around the tree and let it fall –
"See, isn't it amazing? I can cut anything as easily as I can slice butter, as long as I can see the scribbles. No one else can do something like this, can they?"
But what he hadn't been prepared for was the slap. The look in her eyes that burned.
"You just did something reckless and terrible. That tree was a living being."
(How dare she – how dare she - )
It was the first time he realized that maybe it was a wrong thing to do.
The other voice (person thing) inside of him snarled, thrashed.
And then she drew him into a hug, said his action deserved punishment but that he himself wasn't at fault. Said he could hate her for doing that if he wanted to.
No, no, he didn't hate her. He could never hate her.
(I could hate her - )
He could never hate her.
"I won't tell you to be a saint. Just work at growing up to be the best adult you can be."
He wouldn't quite remember it afterwards, but the pressure (the voice) that had been in his head disappeared after she had left, after she had left him a goodbye and those glasses.
He wasn't sure which one of those gifts he treasured the most.
The first time he sees her is also the first time he really sees her.
"Uhm, yes, Yumizuka-san?"
"I just wanted to, uhm. Thank you, for, uhm, helping me yesterday. For helping me and my friends."
"…N…No, it's nothing. See you tomorrow!"
He'd stared at her retreating figure, puzzled, but it wasn't until years later when they walked home together that one fateful time that she explained.
"That winter night…we knew that the door to the PE storage room got stuck easily, but we didn't think we'd end up locked in there." She stared at the ground, letting her steps match with his. "We thought that surely, someone would help us soon, but…I know it's going to sound extreme, but at the time, we thought we'd freeze to death. It was just so cold."
Shiki's mouth set into a line, but he kept on walking with her.
"And then…the door that we never thought would open just did so easily. And you started talking to us so calmly. I was so relieved…and then, I realized at that moment that there were all these people around me who seemed reliable, but the one who had actually helped me at that time, when I needed it, was someone like you." She reddened, but kept her eyes fixed on the road.
He wasn't sure what to say –
(Because it's all a lie, isn't it? You're not reliable at all. You're so weak -
"But…you're just overestimating me, Yumizuka-san. I just happened to be there at the right time."
She cut him off. "No, I don't think so. I believed in you. Regardless of time or place, I know you'll still help me, as if it's nothing."
"I'm…really not that reliable…"
She turned on her heel and bent forward so that they were face-to-face. "That's what I believe, so let me believe it."
He blinked. "Uhm."
She quickly spun back around again.
He sweat profusely. "Well, that is your choice, but…"
"So if I'm in trouble again, then you'll come to my aid, right?"
She looked at him, and what was he supposed to say to that?
"…Yeah, I guess…if it's something I can do, then I will."
He hadn't expected to break that promise only a day later, he grimaced to himself as he watched the names scroll down on the TV screen. All of those people missing from the Century Hotel. All of those people…he could have saved her, if only he hadn't been so afraid. If only he'd done something. If only he'd done something.
One of the few people he knew who had nothing to do with the lines, nothing at all, and she was dead because of him.
(poetic justice, Shiki, poetic justice.)
And maybe he was weak, and maybe he was unreliable, and maybe he couldn't do more than flinch at the sight of those lines, but he never wanted to let that happen again.
Let her be the only sacrifice for my mistakes, he thought. Don't take anyone else.
But the first time he sees her, all he knows is that he wants to kill her, wants to see her bleed red, red, and red.
They had always talked, a lot. About many things and many subjects, her death included. She had always asked questions about it before, such as all the hows, since they'd been the most important.
But never the whys.
It came out of the blue one day as they walked through the outskirts of the town in the middle of the night.
"Why did you do it, Shiki?"
"Why did you kill me the first time?"
That was a good question.
His thoughts froze. "I…"
(because I wanted to)
(because I wanted to see your blood run red on the street, princess)
(because I wanted to see your blood run red, Arcueid Brunestud)
"I. I don't…know. I mean…" He paused. "Once, when I'd first found out I could see the lines, there was this…"
"This voice," he murmured, putting a hand to his forehead.
He grinned mirthlessly, wearily through his fingers. "I sound crazy, don't I."
She smiled, genuinely. "It's okay. Besides, every time I ask you these things, you never know why anyway, right?"
"It makes me strangely happy when you say my name. Shiki, do you know why?"
"You know, I don't know why I cooked that meal for you either. Do you know why?"
"Why did you try to kill me?"
"Do you know why, know why, know why?"
"…I guess that's true."
She smiled again and skipped ahead, and he suddenly remembered that she was a vampire who had lived through many, many years. "Well, it doesn't matter anyway."
"I guess you're right," he murmured to himself.
"Did you say something, Shiki?"
"…No. Nothing. Why?"
(I see red on her and it makes me want to cut across that color, yes it does. I've done it once, and I can do it again.
And Shiki, one of these days, you won't be able to stop me.)
He's afraid that one day he will simply cut her into seventeen pieces again, slash her across the throat and leave it dripping like a ribbon all tied up in a bow. And yet, he must continue to fight alongside her, to see those lines. He has to protect her, he made promises to her, and he's a man of his word. Besides, he had even killed and dismembered her, yet she continues to save his life time and again. After that, he owes her everything and more.
Shiki walks behind her, and tries to allay his fears and subdue that other force – that killer – inside of him. Because he refuses to succumb to it. He won't.
He owes her so much more than that, but there's not much else he can do.
He pushes his glasses further up the bridge of his nose, sees the little lines streaking across her back and around her neck as he tries to keep the glass between his eyes and the truth, and shivers.
One of these days, he's going to succumb. He's going to do something stupid again. He's going to cut across those lines –
(like cutting off a ribbon and opening a present, Shiki, it's a present)
One of these days, he's going to lose, whether it's to an outer force or an inner one.
Every day, he hopes it's not that day.
But usually, hoping is nowhere near enough. And at the very least, it'll never be enough to cover up the lines.
Shiki keeps walking behind her, and refuses to think about the inevitability of the scribbles or of that force inside of him.
After all, he knows, it's only a matter of time.
Seriously, when I saw that theme at 31 days, there was nothing else I could think of except that it was freaking awesome and that it was a perfect fit for Tsukihime. Not sure about Nanaya's voice, again. Okay, it's probably way off the mark. But I hope it fits the killer!alter ego mold well enough, 'cause that was my only goal.
I'm feeling rather nervous about this one since it has, well, kinda not been read over by anyone. My usual betas are all gone and stuff, and. Stuff. Uhm so if there are any mistakes please tell me and I'll zoom away to fix them.
Comments and crit, especially on a Tsukihime fic, are absolutely adored.