Rating: PG-13, for mild language
Disclaimer: I own nothing but what shreds of talent I manage to leech off other people.
Summary: In the end, maybe fighting isn't all there is to live for.
Notes: Throwing a bunch of old stuff from the past couple of years on . For dee lirious' birthday, back in 2007. Un-beta'd. Language and delivery brought on thanks to my reading of Gaiman's Stardust over the previous couple of days.
Once upon a time there was a boy.
His name was Butch. As was expected of all young boys without a proper caretaker, he was brash, reckless, delighted in acts of extreme violence, and had no problem admitting it. His hair was jet black, but not as black as the darkness that cloaked his heart, and his smile was like a sword that could slice through it, too brilliant to be anything less than sinister. His eyes were a deep, deep green, as if they'd been plucked from the shadows of the darkest forest.
He had two brothers, one of whom suffered from malicious red eyes and delusions of grandeur, and the other, who suffered from deceptively soft blue eyes and an almost girlish stupidity. They were tolerable, but he got along with neither.
In the moments he spent not arguing with them his blood itched to fight, to pump into a fist and pound in his head and spray itself from a fresh wound. He thought of these things constantly, and, when faced with such opportunities, welcomed them, the darkness in his heart flourishing into an open-armed embrace.
Fighting made his black hair shine, would widen his grin into something twisted and maniacal, and further deepen the hue of his gaze. Fighting made him live. And he lived to fight.
Once upon a time there was a girl.
Her name was Buttercup. As was expected of all young girls with a proper caretaker, her sisters were modest, well-mannered, and of nobly ingenuous tendencies overall. While she made an effort to be these things, Buttercup was none of them. She didn't feel the least bit remorseful.
Her hair was black as obsidian, like the shadows that she struggled to keep from encroaching upon her pure heart, and the tight line of her lips a severe warning to those who crossed her path and dared to irritate her. Her eyes were a pale green, the shade of sun-bleached mint in the summer. Were it not for the austerity of her gaze, she might well be mistaken for another soft-spoken little girl, the way her hair rested against her head, the ends fashioning themselves into demure little curls.
She was always at odds with her sisters, one of whom berated her constantly and shot daggers from unnatural pink eyes, and the other whose baby blues gazed dewily upon her with a hesitation that bordered on fear. She didn't pay much mind to either.
Most of her time was dedicated to curtailing the dark figures that snaked around inside her, licking like constant flames at the light of her heart. It worried her, though she would not be conscious of this worry until years had come to pass, that something so ominous could exist inside her, and every time she and her sisters were called to duty, to protect the city they called home, she could feel it spark inside her, wrestling for purchase, to be recognized, and take control.
She did not like to admit to herself that sometimes, when she fought and she did lose control, when she let go of reason and modesty and all those things that we desire little girls to have, the darkness that enveloped her felt comforting, felt real, and so like her.
And she'd turn away from her sisters so they wouldn't catch the tight line of her lips stretching into a crazed smile, the pale green of her eyes exploding like sunshine through the clouds as those shadows surged through her body to the very ends of her hair, spreading and thrashing joyously, free against the wind in her face.
Fighting made her live. But she would admit to no one else that she lived to fight.
Butch and Buttercup did not get along.
Butch thought Buttercup nothing more than a target for his sadistic proclivities, and was galled by her refusal to accept her lot in life as a bull's eye for his aggressive lashings.
Buttercup recognized Butch as an enemy, and, what's more, a boy. This seemed to serve as sufficient grounds for dislike. It also must be pointed out that she often found her lapses in control to occur particularly when immersed in battle with Butch, and that he could bring out such atrocious qualities in her character made him none the better.
Schoolyard fights erupted between them like highly active volcanoes, and did just as much damage. There was little any of their siblings could do to stop it.
Verbal exchange was limited to wordless snarls, peppered occasionally with impassioned declarations of loathing and a desire for the opposite party to "fuck" his or herself, even before either of them knew what the word actually meant.
Despite one key difference, that being that Buttercup repressed her dark side while Butch embraced it, they were so like one another. Which, one might argue, was precisely why they did not get along.
Years piled on, one atop the other, and in that span of time their siblings improved their efforts at keeping the two separated, thus decreasing the amount of warfare that ensued and giving the city's buildings and streets a chance to lick their wounds.
The boyish insistence of spontaneous, cruel activity came to pass as Butch's siblings matured, though his red-eyed brother spent copious hours brooding and, Butch suspected, scheming. Butch was of dissimilar inclinations. The dark beast inside him raged and thrashed, desperate for release, but thanks to his moody brother's disciplinary actions, Butch subdued his urge to free it.
He was going crazy. And if he couldn't fight, he might as well be dying.
Buttercup, finding her shadows much easier to maintain when Butch wasn't aggravating them, settled into the progression of her age with renewed dedication to subjugating those demons. Eventually what once had been flames dancing in her chest were reduced to feeble flickers, easily stamped out with a mere thought.
And yet, somehow, her chest felt heavy; she herself felt caged. Nonetheless, with time, she convinced herself that she did not, in fact, need to fight to live.
Years piled on, one atop the other, and in that span of time they reached puberty, surpassed it, and found themselves teetering on the edge of adulthood.
But adulthood, however close in proximity it existed, proved to be of little importance when one cloudy day, by chance, they happened upon each other once again, with nary a sibling standing by to intervene when the shadows inside them suddenly flared, hers reawakening while his rejoiced at the familiar wrath that speared their hearts.
As always, they were well-matched opponents, each the other's equal in swiftness and power. Time and time again they clashed, one overpowering the other until the other bested the one, and back and forth it went. The curses they threw at each other felt almost like conversations with old friends, so familiar they seemed.
Butch could not keep that delirious wickedness out of his smile, and it irritated Buttercup to no end. Her inner demons sang as she propelled an exceptionally terrible blast of energy from her fists, and, without waiting to see if it connected, shot off after it, preparing herself for a final blow.
He threw up a shield of green light, deflecting her blast, and so was ready for her when she flew toward him, their hands locking around each other's throats at the same time.
He used the momentum of her flight speed to twist them towards the ground, and they hit the asphalt hard, a deep concrete trench forming in their wake. Amidst the flying debris, gravity pulled a chunk of it back to Earth, and on its journey back it took a brief detour by connecting with Butch's back.
He buckled, briefly, and in doing so, slipped his hands from her neck. Her own hands jerked and braced against his chest, because while the thought of wringing his neck brought her much internal joy, the thought of his body being shoved closer than necessity dictated brought her much internal pain, and so she ceased her strangling in an effort to keep him away.
The sun emerged from behind a cloud then, suddenly, and they both paused, the grimaces and sneers disappearing from their faces.
One of Butch's hands was lost in the black mass of her hair, dark as obsidian and drenched with sweat. The dim, ghostly light of the sun was bright enough to illuminate the delicate line of her neck, the hint of a curve that was her breasts, and he blinked, suddenly aware that what had, for years, served as target practice for him, was very much a young woman, panting for breath beneath him. Dim as the sun was, all the world's light suddenly seemed to reflect in her eyes, the pale green of them brightening and shimmering.
The shadows in his chest stilled.
Buttercup felt something stir against her hands as she stared up at him, no trace of a smile, wicked or no, on his face, and yet the line of teeth she glimpsed felt as if it cut into her. The forest green of his eyes deepened, the darkest hue she'd ever seen them take on, and she wasn't sure if it was because he was backlit by the sun or her eyes were just going or she'd never paid any attention to the color of his eyes.
Neither dared announced their loathing for each other, nor were they inclined to mention any manner of fucking, having long since learned what the word meant. Given the sudden nature of the situation, it seemed highly inappropriate besides.
Whether they resumed battle after this fleeting interlude, neither could remember. All they could later recall was the brilliance of the other's eyes, and the way Buttercup's hands had shifted against Butch's chest, slightly, uneasily, as his heartbeat thundered into irregularity.