Lt. Commander Richie
Disclaimer: Through a series of mediums, I have spawned an idea. Katsura Hoshino I am not, however, though I'll try my best to write what I see in my mind. This fic would make a really great manga one-shot, though. I'd draw it, but I fail like that.
When he slept, he dreamt.
When he dreamt, he remembered.
When he remembered, he had nightmares.
He dreamt he was surrounded by mirrors. In his hands was his mallet, his Innocence, and on his body was the uniform he had grown to love. He had never loved something to trivial before… He had never loved at all before.
The mirrors reflected him, but not really.
Around the redhead stood himself dozens upon dozens upon dozens of times over. Each face was his own, though a bit younger, a bit colder. He saw himself at thirteen, a light green shirt stained with blood and a white gauze bandage stained the same way bound over a bullet hole in his shoulder. The next three of himself were the same, though the shirt, the pants, the gloves, they all changed. He grew, he shrunk.
As Lavi moved, numbers forty-eight through one moved the same way.
In a mirror, he saw himself at the tender age of ten, all wrapped in a green shawl and white scarf. The reflection gripped something unseen in front of him, his small face's cherubic features marred by the blank and cold look he gave.
Lavi dropped his hands, and numbers forty-eight through one did the same.
Out of the corner of his eye, Lavi saw himself at fifteen. He wore a tattered but thick overcoat of rough wool, and his hair was tied back with a messy bandanna. The two locked eye and eyepatch, but where Lavi furrowed his brow under his yellow and black headband the thirty-fifth remained unchanged.
They all remained unchanged. There were places in the mirrors where his past names had harder expressions, and it was with alarming clarity that Lavi remembered every war, every death that he had witnessed during those lives.
Remembering truly was a nightmare. A nightmare he couldn't wake up from.
There was the seventeenth, a bloody gash across his chest. Unconsciously as he saw it, Lavi reached up and traced where he knew the scar tissue to be on his own chest. Every one of himself did the same, but only the seventeenth seemed to be pained by the motion. It had been a day after his eleventh birthday, and he had been in India when a tiger had decided that he was a worthy dinner.
The eighteenth and nineteenth looked pale, withdrawn. Their visible green eyes were blank, moreso than all the other lives. They looked pained beyond years that they had lived.
You remember us all.
The words were unspoken, but they were so loud, so loud. Lavi grabbed at his head, sinking to his knees. His reflections didn't do the same. They stared down him, green gazes unwavering.
You remember every pain, every prick of conscience. You dwell on them. You're becoming flawed.
With a yell, Lavi doubled over. His reflections still didn't do the same. This was why he tried his best to only sleep when he absolutely had to. This was why Lenalee would bring him his coffee in the library first. This is why he had no bed in his room at the Order.
You fear sleep because you know what it brings. It brings the truth, that you're becoming a human. You care like them, you love like them, and you smile like them.
No! Lavi tried to yell, to protest, but it was like his voice didn't work and his body would not obey. I'm not flawed, I'm not human! I will be Bookman! I'm better than them! I was given this eye for a purpose!
The reflections were no longer reflections.
It was empty.
It was empty like his heart, Lavi knew, it was empty like the tundra of Siberia he had spent his twenty-second life upon.
Finally, the redhead managed to make himself look up. He met the face of the forty-eighth, his cloak stained with dirty water and blood. His shirt and duster had bloody knife and sword holes in them, one on each half of his body. The forty-eighth took Lavi's face in both his gloved hands, and made him look around at every last reflection. At every last version of himself.
Something wasn't right.
"You pride yourself on your memory." Deke spoke. It wasn't the cacophony of voices in his mind that would force the redhead to the ground; it was honest-to-God speech. Idly, Lavi realized that it was probably because of Road's mind game she had played in the Ark. "But your memory is flawed. Do you remember Hamburg on the night of June seventeenth, 1844?"
Lavi paused. There was nothing significant about that date.
"You're still wearing her earrings."
Oh. Helena Borscho, an eleven-year-old girl that was the daughter of the mayor of Hamburg. She gave him those earrings because his had been stolen.
"You had to think."
Once again, Lavi tried to speak. He tried, and he failed. No. No no no no no. I remember Helena, I remember her blond braids, I remember her cat that clawed my hand! I can remember anything and everything! I'm not flawed, I'm not human.
He tried to speak, and he failed.
"Do you remember May thirtieth of 1849?" Deke's hands were still on his cheeks, the rough fingers applying just the slightest amount of pressure. His knit gloves were scratchy wool, and idly Lavi wondered how he had managed to live with them.
But he didn't remember May thirtieth.
"We and Gramps got lost on the way to the Order, to the forty-ninth name. To you. We asked for directions from a pretty blond while Gramps bought a map. Turns out she was a lady of the evening and we ended up in an alley shoved against a brick wall because she was the dominant type?"
Oh yeah, how could he forget that one?
"You forgot because you're becoming human. You've let yourself become attached." The hands on his face became cruel, and Lavi felt his face twisted to the right. He faced a shadowed figure he hadn't noticed before, but his attention was on the little red-headed boy that held the hand of the figure.
It was him, but it wasn't. The little redheaded boy wore a white shirt and pressed black waistcoat, his pants creased carefully and his shoes shined impeccably. He smiled, both green eyes like little specks of ideal-cut Emerald. This was before he began to remember everything he ever saw with his right eye. This was him before he cast off his name, before he donned an eyepatch and gained a title so prestigious that nobody knew about it.
But he didn't remember a single thing before his first new life. Bookman gave him the name Jared and they had gone to France to watch the fall of the last of the Napoleonic Empire.
He couldn't remember the name, the face, anything about the woman that held his hand when he was five years old and dressed to go see an Opera.
"Was she really so unimportant?" The forty eighth's green eye was narrowed to a venomous slit.
I remember her. I miss her! The voice was small and high-pitched, and Lavi broke free of his captor's grip on his face to look at the little boy that had spoken without moving. It was the first.
I remember her too! The second looked just like the first, he even sounded the same, but the second carried a heavy book bag over one shoulder.
I do too! I want her back. The third was a bit tanner than the first and second, a bit taller too. It continued on down the line for several more versions of him, but each time it got a little fuzzier. Each time he could remember less and less of the woman.
I don't remember her face. I don't remember what it was like with her there. The twelfth looked upset wrapped in his black blanket with a hand-knit hat over his bright red hair. I only remember history.
"It's human to forget. You were never a good apprentice to begin with." Deke's hands were on his face again, and Lavi was looking back at him with a narrowed eye.
Bookman told me to forget everything that didn't have to do with history. Lavi tried to speak, but he seemed to be drowned out by the nonexistent voices of all his other lives. Why are you so angry with me?
"Because I'm angry. Angry because I never broke the rules, never kept the memories important to me. But you've been doing that, you've been making friends that will remember you. You threw everything out the window, risked life and limb for your friends. You got to fall in love, and it's not fair." Deke pushed Lavi down to the ground, and he stood. "I suppose you could say I'm jealous. But I'm mostly just angry."
Because I forgot one woman, but I'm not forgetting my new friends? Lavi decided, as he lay there, that he didn't really want to get back up. It was defeatist, but he knew that memory had control here.
"She wasn't just a woman!" Deke lost his temper. It seemed almost like if he could heft the Innocence that lay on the ground, he would use it to destroy his future life.
She was our mother. One through thirteen, though they sounded almost the same, spoke loudly and clearly in a single voice. And you forgot her!
"How can you be so happy, how can you make memories and plan to keep them, when your very nature is to forget everything that is important to you and only you?"
Lavi wasn't listening.
He was too busy trying to remember.
He was too busy failing.
With a yell that startled the other people in the train compartment, the four Finders and Lenalee, Lavi started awake suddenly and flailed wildly. Lenalee grabbed his hands and pushed him back into his seat, and two of the Finders left the compartment to make room. The redhead looked tired when his green eye reopened, and he leaned his head against the wall of the compartment again.
"Lavi, are you alright?" He gave a small sad smile to the girl across from him, worry on her features. Inside, he berated himself for making her worry.
"We're going to Dublin, right?" Lenalee nodded, unsure as to what her comrade was getting at.
"I need to find someone when we get there." Lavi undid the collar of his red and black uniform as he spoke, yawning and then splaying himself across his part of the seat in his typical fashion. "You wanna come with?"
"We have to find the Broker first." One of the Finders, an older woman with bluish gray hair and a slightly hunched back, said.
"Whatever. I'm not leaving Dublin without finding her."
Lavi was his forty ninth name.
Bookman Jr. had lived forty nine times.
But as a person, as a human, this was his fiftieth name.
He just didn't remember the first one.
Aaaaaah, a nice dose of Lavi aaaaaaaaaaangst. Because he totally does.
No idea where this came from, actually. Wait, no, I do have an idea. My wandering mind, combined with a few pieces of fanart I saw once.