Title: Strip My Mind
Summary: "Please don't strip my mind… Leave something behind." Lavi does not want to be erased.
Content: Angst, identity crisis, mind rape.
Author's Note: Listening way too much to Stadium Arcadium and this was born. Something short to hopefully get my creative juices flowing for Bookman again…
SPOILER WARNING: Up to date with the manga, just to let you all know…
"Please don't strip my mind.
Leave something behind."
-"Strip My Mind" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
There dawned a day, like any other
But I was crying
And I didn't know why until I realized…
"You will not switch to the crystallization type, Lavi," Bookman said. "There is no need to involve yourself with the Innocence that much."
"Yeah, I know, Gramps," I muttered, my arms resting on the railing, my expression hidden from his gaze with my blind side facing him.
"If there is any indication that suggests a transformation might be approaching, you must tell me immediately," Bookman continued, as if I hadn't spoken. "Then we will finally have to leave this place."
"Yeah, I know, Gramps," I replied again with a long-suffering sigh.
After he left, my right hand instinctively went to my thigh, where Odzuchi Kodzuchi normally was strapped. But there was no holster there for my Innocence; the Innocence that I had wielded for over three years. The thought of it suddenly not being there was strange to me. Strange to Lavi, anyway, whose entire persona was built upon the life of an Exorcist. I shrugged the feeling off, rubbing my chest where an ache had settled as I began to walk, letting my feet carry me through the already memorized hallways and staircases.
My chest hurt. This always happened when Bookman told me the life of yet another persona would be deleted and I would move on to another. It wasn't sadness, per say, but more like loneliness of abandoning something that had become such a main part of myself.
Bookman would hate me for saying it, but I liked this "me". I liked this persona of Lavi, maybe too much. He made me feel things I never felt before. He made me a friend. He made me a brother. He made me a comrade. He made me an Exorcist.
He made me something other than a Bookman.
And I liked it.
I never felt more of a part of something in my entire life. I never felt emotions like love, hope, friendship. Even the negative emotions such as fear, anguish, and longing I had never had first-hand experience with. And he made me experience them, so that the love and hope and friendship were even stronger and more intense than before.
I came to the room I shared with Bookman. He wasn't there, thankfully, so I was left to my traitorous thoughts on my own. A good thing too, because I'm sure my face had slipped from the usual mask I wore. I didn't want him to see my troubled expression, just like all my other emotions, in fear that he would believe me to really have become too attached to this life. He would make me leave all the sooner if that were true.
I sat down on the bed and leaned back against the pillows. Home. I had a home. A place that no matter where I wandered, I could always come back to. I had a home. And I had people here who cared for me…
I pulled the headband down over my eye to try and hide myself from my thoughts. When had I gotten so spoiled? When had I gotten so spoiled as to want such trivial things such as a bed and a room and a home and friends and family? I never had those things. I never needed those things.
Until I finally had them. Now it was hard to give them up.
To become someone else; someone else other than "Lavi". Why was it like the heart I'm not supposed to have felt like it was breaking inside of me? When had I stepped over the line and become Lavi the person and not "Lavi" the persona? I don't remember. I guessed that maybe Lavi somehow bled into my main personality. His movements, actions, words, had all been a challenge at first, but now it was second nature, almost as if I had been made to be Lavi; like I had been born Lavi.
But I wasn't. I couldn't be Lavi. I couldn't. I had to be Bookman Junior. The apprentice and successor to the current Bookman. That's all I was. I had no name. I had no emotions. I had no friends.
My chest hurt.
I'm sure that if any of my other persona were still with me, they would laugh. All of them were vague inside of me, except for the name that I carried with me before coming to the Black Order. But even then, Deak was silent. Just another black door in the long white hallway of my mind. It was locked, just like all the others. He did not exist anymore. He had been deleted. Just like all the others.
There was only one door out of all forty-nine that opened. The only one that had any color and no locks.
The thought of it being closed for forever hurt me. I gripped my shirt over my chest, wishing the ache there would stop. Lavi apparently did not want to be deleted either.
I did not want to be deleted.
I sat up in bed and leaned against the wall, pulling the blankets around me in a cocoon of warmth and safety. I had a blanket and a bed and a room…I tried not to think about it.
Please. Please don't let me be deleted.
"I don't want you to."
I don't want to leave.
"I don't want you to."
I don't want to be forgotten.
"I don't want you to."
I want to stay.
"I want you to."
I want to be the last persona you ever have.
"I want you to."
I want…all of this…
"I want it too."
I don't want to be the successor to the Bookman.
I want to be an Exorcist.
I want to stay here with everyone!
Friends! I want my friends! My family….!
My chest hurt.
"I don't know what I want."
My chest hurt even more. I curled up on the bed and pulled the blanket up over my head into blissful darkness.
You want what I want! I know that!
"No…no matter what I want…I must walk the path that I chose a long time ago."
You were a child! You didn't know. You shouldn't have to—
"I made my choice. I must follow through. I…owe him."
Is that the only reason? Is that the only reason you've obediently sat through it forty-eight other times? The reason you won't ask, the reason you won't tell him what you want?
"I am a Bookman. I don't have wants. I don't have anything. I don't need anything."
That's a lie. It's all a lie. You want to stay. You want your home, your friends, your family…
"It doesn't matter. When Bookman finds it to be appropriate, 'Lavi' will be erased. Forever."
I thought my chest might burst with the sheer amount of pain that coursed through my body at the thought. That beautiful door being locked and turning black like all the others; no home to come home to; no one to welcome me home when I turned weary. God, it felt like I was dying just thinking about having to leave it behind. Lavi was dying thinking about leaving it behind.
"This place is a prison. You fight in a war. You might die. You will die here. There's no reason to stay for some fate like that."
And as a Bookman is your fate any better? You'll write and record until you die. No one will know you or remember you. You have no name. You don't even get to die with a name. What fate is worse than not even being able to take a name to your grave?
"I chose this life. I chose it. It is my business what I do with it."
I am present too. I will fight. I will not be erased so easily!
"You will be deleted. Permanently. No amount of fortitude can save you."
From somewhere within my mind, I felt a spark of defiance from behind Deak's door. The chain rattled ominously and I pushed back on it. No. Deak was gone. Erased. Bookman had removed him entirely, although Rhode might have brought his ghost back…
Please…you said you wanted me to stay! You said you didn't want me to be erased!
But I had better control on myself. Lavi wasn't melded in with my rational thinking self, the one known only as Bookman Junior. First, Lavi and I had been one, but I separated myself enough from him to know what I wanted and what he wanted. In the darkness under the blanket, I felt as powerful as ever. This was my body. My body and my mind and my future. Something that Lavi could not take away.
But why, why, why did my chest keep up with that stabbing, ripping, crushing feeling?
You can't just let Bookman delete me! Please fight him! Let me stay. Stay with me. Stay with our friends. Our friends need us. Our friends will always be waiting here at home…
"I don't need friends. I don't need anyone."
Then why are you crying?
I hadn't realized that there were hot tears streaming down my left cheek from my uncovered eye. I hastily wiped them away with the blanket.
"I'm not crying."
You love them as much as I do—
You can't imagine living life without—
You don't want to leave.
My heart just kept hurting and it was beating too fast, like I had been running or out fighting akuma too hard for too long.
Don't let him take me.
The door opened and I stayed still, calming my breaths almost immediately. I didn't move and didn't make a sound. Bookman's footsteps sounded loud in the small room. My room.
Don't say his name, I begged silently.
"Lavi," he said, and I broke, Lavi seeping back into every pore and muscle and bone.
"Please…" the words came unbidden from my lips.
"Are you ill?" Bookman asked, his footsteps coming closer towards the bed.
He didn't sound concerned in the slightest, merely questioning. After all, why would he feel any sort of paternal worry for the boy who was merely his apprentice? It was just an inquiry looking out for himself, because where could he be without his successor if something were to happen to him? Lavi was disgusted, but this time it was my feelings that made our heart ache. The bonds to my master were strong, the only ones I had ever created. I was loyal. I would stay that way.
"Just a headache," I managed to say, forcing Lavi from anything resembling the vocal chords. "It'll go away…"
I felt Bookman's hand on my head, warmth through my hair. Lavi wasn't sure what to make of it, but my conscience soared at the affection, no matter how brief and fleeting. I was loyal. I was his successor. I was a Bookman.
"Watch yourself, you might slip up," he said.
I went rigid under his hand.
"Lavi, you will be deleted," Bookman continued, his voice cold and unfeeling, as if he was not about to destroy an entirely functioning entity.
"Please…don't…" Lavi managed to get past my lips, in something that resembled a sob.
"I should have known. Holding onto a persona this long is unhealthy," Bookman said, mostly to himself, ignoring the plea of the forty-ninth me still pinned under his hand.
He's going to do it! He's going to erase me!
He was crying, the tears falling down my cheek. Or was I crying too? Crying for the persona that had become such a part of me? Were we both crying? I didn't know. But my heart just kept hurting to the point where I thought it might just burst out of my chest to die in front of my eyes.
"I will completely eradicate your existence," Bookman said, his hand gripping my hair tightly.
Lavi was like a frightened animal in my head, writhing and lashing about at the mere prospect of it.
"I will completely strip your mind, Junior," he said to me. "I will leave no trace of Lavi. Lavi will have never existed."
Oh, God, oh, God, why, why, why, WHY?!
Even Bookman's hand on my head that I associated loyalty and obedience toward was something I wanted to recoil from. A life. He was going to destroy a life. Forty-eight lives he had taken from me. Why were all their doors rattling now? Almost as if the ghosts of my former selves were on the other side, protesting. Lavi was breaking, throwing emotions and images at me, one after the other of his friends. My friends. Our friends. Love, worry, friendship, anger, sadness, hope, excitement, tenderness…I couldn't stop crying and Bookman's hand was like an iron rod, pinning me down to the bed with such strength that I couldn't move away…
DON'T LET HIM DO THIS! STOP HIM! STOP HIM, STOP HIM, STOP HIM…!
Then there was just darkness for the longest time that I couldn't escape from. And I was alone. So completely alone. There was no other presence besides my own and that frightened me. I had always had another person; always two inside of one. My mirror me, my persona. But there was no one else in the darkness and I was frightened. For the first time in my life, Bookman Junior felt fear grip him so tight that he could barely breathe. Me. I am Bookman Junior. I had always been Bookman Junior.
After what felt like eternity, the darkness was gone. I woke in my bed with the light streaming in from the window. But that warm glow could do nothing for my agony that only doubled.
Lavi's door was black and locked. I didn't want to seem desperate enough to go to it and try to open the door, but I couldn't help it, pulling and kicking and beating on it. There was no indication that there was anything on the other side and I slipped down to sit on the white floor inside the white hallway in my mind. Forty-nine doors were black now.
Lavi was gone.
And Bookman Junior cried.
…that something was wrong with me
Because I had forgotten something important
And because of that I'd never be whole again.
Because that was the day I woke up and didn't know who I was.
Damn. Way too much Stadium Arcadium for me. I will have to eradicate that album from my iPod, because I listen to it so much that it should be unhealthy.
Well, not my best, but something that's been nagging at me. So there you go; I shared :D I've been trying not to suck lately, but it just seems I can't help it…
Well, if you liked (or hated) drop me a review.
Thanks for reading!