Her Role, Her Role
"Hey, what's up?"
Really, put them up on a Venn diagram. There were too many similarities. More then anyone would think. The smoking, the drop outs, their one flame, raising a child on their own. Those two children who grew up to be so close.
She put a cigarette up to her mouth and the older woman handed her a lighter. The younger lit it, handing the lighter back down to her, where she was sitting on the edge of the balcony, legs hanging through the bars.
Shizuru sat down next to her, back against the railing. There they were, two similar opposites whose only difference was that one was born in a different time then the other and dealt with a different history.
Maybe she was too early and being born later would have saved her. Maybe she was born right on time and only existed for the birth of her son.
Maybe she was too late and being born early would have saved her. Maybe she was born at the right time and only existed for the care of her brother.
"Sorry 'bout the mess. I could talk them into cleaning up, if you'd like."
"It's alright. Boys will be boys."
The opposite trick – responsibility. Atsuko gave it to herself and threw it away. Shizuru had it thrust upon her and tried to embrace it.
Both succeeded on some level. The family members which now were the most important Humans from the Living World. And one of them managed to not even be Human.
Both of them loved a man who left them intentionally. One disappeared. One died. But did it really matter, once they were out of view?
"How've things been going for you, girl? Been a while since you've been around."
"Not much. With Kazuma going to a proper college and all the excitements dwindled down. You?"
Nothing happens to them anymore. It all happens to their important people. Without those people, they would not be in a story. No one would care about them or know them. They would be the nameless, walking down streets, sitting in bars, and smoking a signature cigarette.
"You must have heard, Yusuke's marrying Keiko."
"Is he really now?"
It was hard to think of the one's they raised as grown up, but there they were. It made them feel old. They were not too many years apart from each other, after all.
"My boy finally got the courage to admit those feelings to her. Who the hell was he kidding? Everyone knew about it."
"That's true. Not that Kazuma has that problem."
Their babies were all grown up. They did not need the people who had raised them anymore. They were reverting back to nobodies. Not that they knew. This was just what was happening. They were too busy watching the somebodies. It always required the dramatic love tension to become a character, after all. Their flames had died out long ago.
"Right, I remember now. What's her name... Yakino?"
"Yukina. Hiei's sister."
Who did not know by now? Both took the news with a thorough shrug. Considering what happened with their families – Hiei's secret made plenty of sense. You could not truly disappoint the person you cared about if they did not care about you. Unfortunately, Atsuko and Shizuru did not have that excuse. Neither did Hiei, for that matter.
"Yeah. She seemed kinda oblivious about it. Last I saw her."
"She is. I think Kazuma's lightening up about it now."
He had that ability neither of them did. They loved a man once. He left. Both of them waited for someone they knew could not, would not, come back to them. One thought she had a reason. The other wished she had a reason.
"He has plenty of his life to find a good girl. He's a nice boy, it won't be hard."
"Just as long as he doesn't scare them away with his devotion."
The type of man they both wished for. Completely devoted. The children they raised might have had that ability beaten into their minds just because of their caretakers' attitudes.
Atsuko dropped the butt of her cigarette and pulled out another. Sticking it in her mouth, Shizuru handed her the single lighter she had.
Neither of them had told each other they had started smoking at fifteen. Atsuko after she had given birth, a year after she had dropped out of school. Shizuru after she had practically been given entire custody of her brother, a year after she had dropped out of school.
"Pretty lighter. Where'd you get it?"
"It was a present."
It was the last and only thing she had of him. She had thought of throwing it away, but had never had the nerve.
Yusuke was the only think Atsuko had of him. She had thought of ignoring him, but his death had shocked sense back into her.
But she had an excuse.
They seemed so indifferent.
Then something would happen. A crash. A fight.
They would rush in and their concern would, in the end, turn out to be completely unnecessary. They just would have to stay out of the way.
"You sure you'll be fine here?"
"Damn, Kuwabara, you think I've never cleaned up in my life? Go home already."
"You heard 'im, little bro. Let's go."
"See you later, Kazuma, Shizuru. Don't be strangers."
Yusuke would mention something about his mother smoking in the house – long since having the habit beaten out of him by Keiko. Shizuru would wave and stick another of her own tobacco sticks in her mouth once outside of the house, just to hear the same complaint from Kazuma.
The women could never be strangers when they played the same role.
They existed solely to support their only family.