Disclaimer: I don't own Chikane or Himeko.

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Toy Soldiers

It's a never ending cycle, and you're sick of it.

You are the Solar priestess, the happier of the two, the kinder and more naïve, more innocent. But time has worn you down, the memories of multiple deaths and rebirths, the multiples times of killing the one you love and being killed by her in return. You want it to end, but it's like a spinning top; when it stops, it just totters before crashing onto its side, only to be picked up and spun around again.

You're tired. You're tired of the blood, the sweat, the tears. You're tired of the pain, of plunging your sword through her flesh and losing her again and again, having her do the same to you (it always varies in lifetimes) to save a world that will never understand your sacrifice.

All you get in return for your sacrifice is perhaps a lifetime or two with her that is peaceful, where you stay together until the day you both die a natural death, a gift from the gods when they feel merciful. But they don't feel merciful often, and these lifetimes of life-long love are short and far between.

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It happens sometimes that when both of you are reborn, one of you might fully recall your memories, your true existence. In this lifetime you are born with the memory of your past, and though you act the way you always have it ages you quickly on the inside.

You are suddenly reminded of those little toy soldiers your brother in this life loves so much; pretty little metal figures, standing straight and painted brightly as they salute in a perfect line.

Knock one over with just the lightest touch, and they all fall down.

It makes you shudder, and you politely turn down your brother's offer to play with them.

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You are drawn to her immediately; you know her face, her voice, her touch. Love wins against logic, and you run into her arms again.

She doesn't remember you the way you remember her, but she is drawn to you; she embraces you, her arms tight around your petite form like she never ever wants to let you go again, like she's done so before in a past life. When you both part, she apologizes for holding on to you so tightly and asks if you would like to have lunch with her.

You say yes.

Somewhere you feel the gods are laughing at you, but you ignore it. You are reunited again, for a short time at least.

You know it still isn't enough.

Back at your house, a toy soldier quietly falls.

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Chikane-chan is the way you remember her, noble and kind and gentle; but she also has a wicked, wicked sense of humor that you never recall her having in any of her past lives. You remember that she was reborn into a family with five older brothers, distant cousins of the Himemiya family (how ironic). Her brothers tease her mercilessly, but it is in a loving way and she responds to it accordingly, playing pranks and laughing and making jokes with them.

She seems so happy, and it makes your heart ache to think of what will happen.

The day goes without a hitch until her brother, the one who is the youngest of them but still older than her, makes a pass at you and tries to stroke your hair. You try to discreetly shift away, but before you can do so Chikane-chan's fingers close on her brother's wrist, stopping him in his tracks.

"Don't make me put you on a leash, idiot."

There's humor in her tone and her brother laughs, but as she releases his wrist and settles back beside you you can't help but glimpse the protective, slightly possessive gleam in her eyes.

In her mind you are already hers; you smile slightly and rest your hand over hers, gently stroking it with your fingers to soothe her.

In the gleaming sunlight of your brother's window, another soldier falls, its paint beginning to crack at the edges.

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Fate comes knocking faster than you could have ever imagined, and now you both have a choice to make.

You beg her to kill you; you remind her of all the times she's done it before, all the times you've done it to her as well. You swear you'll find her again, no matter what happens, even if you aren't reborn with your memory. "I'll find you, and I swear we'll be together forever next time."

You both know it's a lie. There are no guarantees.

You've never seen Chikane-chan cry before, and she's crying now; not great, heaving sobs that shake her body but silent tears that stream down her cheeks and drip from her chin as she bows her head, her dark hair spilling along her face so you can't see her clearly anymore.

You've known the truth all along, and it's a truth Chikane-chan herself is just beginning to realize, now that she knows who she truly is and what she must do.

You are both toy soldiers. You stand quietly in line, waiting to be played with, and eventually the day will come when one of you knocks the other over, causes her to fall. It is a never ending cycle. You are the toy soldiers, and the gods are the children who play with you, never pausing to think about how much it hurts to fall down.

Suddenly you jolt, sitting up straight and your eyes widening; Chikane-chan looks at you. "Himeko?"

You forgot something about toy soldiers.

In time, they wear down—the paint fades and they lose their gloss. And that is when the children lose interest in them. While you do not wish for your fate to pass on to another unsuspecting soul, the small knowledge makes you rejoice. If you both are indeed toy soldiers of the gods, then sooner or later they will lose interest in you.

You grip Chikane-chan's shoulders and pull her close, speaking softly into your ear. "Toy soldiers," you whisper raggedly as you lower one hand and grope for her sword hand, grip it tightly in your own, twine your fingers with hers and tighten her hold on the hilt. "Remember what happens to toy soldiers after they fall down, Chikane-chan."

You kiss her just as you pull her hand forward and force the blade of her sword to drive home, right through your stomach like it did to her so long ago. Chikane-chan cries out in horror and shock, realizing what she's done, but it is muffled against your lips and you hold the side of her face so she can't pull away, can't see the blood spilling onto the floor between you.

You don't want her to see the red, you don't want her to see the truth of what she's done, of what you've forced her to do. You want her to remember the toy soldiers, and the only hope you both might have at freedom someday.

Even toy soldiers get tired of falling down.

The End

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This was inspired by something I read where apparently every reincarnation the Priestesses are switched when they have to kill, so I figured in the next life Chikane would probably have to kill Himeko. The actual idea of one/both of them remembering their purpose was something I came up with for the sake of the story.

Read and review, please!