LuCarly: Mikage is my favorite character, yet I've never written something that's purely about her.

Aki: It's because you always have to go off and pair her off with someone.

LuCarly: I know, right? I don't own Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's

Breaking Point

"Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtaxed."

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes

The scene replayed in her head over and over and over again.

That deafening, ringing noise that shattered the air like glass; the blood that fell freely from the violent wound; the light that seemed to leave the child's vigorous, emerald eyes as he died; the last, tearful cry his throat would emit; the pool of crimson that formed on the ground; the pale, lifeless face as it was covered by a white sheet.

And of course, the screaming, pained cries of the parents after she informed them of their child's death.

"You're the police, how could you let this happen!?" wailed the mother hysterically, her fingers curled into her thick, brown hair as her husband tried to comfort her, his arms wrapped around her healthy frame with tears in his own, autumn-colored eyes. In a moment when his wife gasped for breath between her sobbing, she glared at Mikage with the intensity of hellfire. "You bitch; if you had done your job right I could still be doing mine."

The woman's words cut through her heart like a knife; they murdered her spirit, her soul. Never in her life had she felt like a complete failure, like she had been the killer herself; she saw his eyes, his cold, gray eyes as he held the boy at gunpoint, threatening to shoot if she and her partner, Ushio, didn't put down their guns.

They had exchanged furtive glances; she could see in Ushio's eyes that he wanted nothing more than to kill the bastard, to shoot a hole right through his forehead. She, on the other hand, hoped to try and conciliate with the gunman; his profile alluded to a mental illness, perhaps schizophrenia. The mentally ill couldn't always grasp what they were doing, they couldn't always think clearly; she knew it on a personal level, and perhaps the kidnapper was a good man at heart in the middle of a psychotic break.

If such was the case, then she could save the lives of two people. At least, that's what she thought when she dropped the gun and told Ushio to do the same.

And then the kidnapper pulled the trigger and ran, the single ear-splitting shot stealing the life of a young boy, as well as smashing her own into a thousand tiny little fragments with pieces of her heart, pieces of her hope, and pieces of her faith, crumbling.

Mikage woke with a start, her eyes flying open as she sat up, her head nearly hitting the shelf above her bed. The blunette breathed heavily for a moment before feeling her face, cold and clammy and damp with perspiration. The woman paused and inhaled deeply before glancing over at her alarm clock; 2:39 a.m. Within a few hours, she'd have to be up and dressed and on her way to work with a smile on her face.

After all, there was no way she could show how much she was suffering, for she was the chief of Special Investigations; if she broke, then so did her team. If her team broke, then so did the rest of the city.

She let out a dry cough, and suddenly realized how thirsty she was. Mikage then pushed herself out of her bed and stumbled into her bathroom, her head still cloudy with sleep. She turned on the faucet and splashed her face with cold water before reaching for a nearby cup that she always kept by her bathroom sink for occasion such as this one, when she woke up thirsty.

Once she filled the cup to the brim, she took a quick swig and drank it all in one gulp. For a fleeting moment, the excess of water made her feel like she was drowning, suffocating at her own hand; but the feeling quickly left as soon as the cool liquid drained down her throat completely. Mikage brushed her hair behind her ear, and looked in the mirror in front of her.

However, she did not see the successful young woman everyone else saw; she saw herself as a child, still young, still naïve, still with so much more to learn, just like the boy who died at her cause. She had made a grave mistake, a massive misjudgement, all because she stupidly thought she could save both the man and the child.

But now the boy was dead, and as soon as Security caught the killer, he would be put to death too, insane or not. No matter how she looked at it, everyone lost. And what if the man abducted another child? Would he kill him or her too? She didn't want to even think about it.

At some point, she found herself crying; the thought just wouldn't leave her alone. A child was dead because of her error. That stricken look upon his pale, freckled cheeks, once full of life and love, would never leave her. Those beautiful, green eyes would remain forever engraved in her head. She would be haunted by that image of his body for the rest of her life.

Mikage fell back against the tiled wall, sliding down until she met the floor, now sobbing. Humans were prone to mistakes, and she was no exception to that. However, it now dawned on her that being who she was, one mistake could cost the life of another, even the one of a six-year old.

After a few more minutes of wallowing in her own grief, Mikage forced herself to stand and return to the warmth of her bed, despite the fact that she felt like vomiting. She wondered for a moment if she should call someone, if she should try to share her burden with someone else before she spiraled into her own psychotic break.

The first person that came to mind was of course Jack; just to hear his voice would be comfort to her, although she morosely knew calling would only irritate him since he would probably be heading off to bed right now, even at his late hour. Then Aki, but she knew she would already be fast asleep. Then Ushio, but she couldn't for the same reason.

Mikage sighed, defeated, and laid back down on her bed, pulling the sheets over her head like a frightened child. She'd have to live out tonight without any solace, alone, or at least until the morning. Aki would be at school, and Jack would sleep in 'till noon, but at least Ushio would be there once she returned to the office.

Releasing herself of all other thoughts, Mikage closed her eyes and drifted off to a restless sleep.

Morning came too early as it always did, but Mikage was already at work, though exhausted from her private nervous collapse the previous evening. Yet, if a stranger were to see her, they would never suspect she was silently suffering with her usual cheerful smile, clean appearance, and healthy glow.

"Pleasure to see you this morning, Sagiri-sama," said a male with a teal hair as he limped over to her, still impaired by the repercussions of his last undercover case. Mikage turned and forced a bright smile, her eyes glimmering with fake vitality.

"Same to you, Kazuma-san," she said politely before continuing on her way. She passed by the elevator, decidedly refusing to take it up; if she stopped to stand quietly in the confines of it, then she had time to think, and the more time she had to think, the more she wanted to cry. Today, she was taking the stairs, and she would attribute her focus to every single step, every single movement she made upward; just to keep her mind off of things.

As soon as she reached her destined floor, she was greeted by Ushio, looking almost as tired as she felt. Although, Ushio always looked tired, so it didn't really make a difference.

"Hey," he said, sounding surprisingly calm.

"Hey yourself," she said, brushing past him and heading straight to the front of the room, where her desk was located. Ushio stared at her for a brief moment in mild surprise at how easily she disregarded him. Normally, they'd have a few minutes of playful bandinage after she arrived before they actually settled down and got to work on whatever case landed on their desk.

"Are you okay?" asked the older man, as he followed Mikage to her desk, where she was already reviewing the files from the kidnapping-turned-murder case of the previous night. The blunette barely looked up at him.

"Yes, I'm fine," she said quickly, her eyes gluing themselves to a picture of the now-deceased child, with the word "MISSING" printed in large, black letters above his head. The edges of Ushio's chocolate irises softened, suddenly realizing her place.

"Mikage... it isn't your fault."

She slammed the paper down on her desk, her eyes narrowing as she looked up at him, furious.

"Yes, it is," she said, her voice cracking, "I made the mistake of trusting the kidnapper; I allowed him the leeway to shoot the boy, I am the cause of his death." Mikage paused, feeling hot tears burn her eyes. She crumbled the missing flyer and tossed it into her trash as she tried to wipe her eyes dry. Ushio remained silent for a moment longer.

"Is... Is there anything I can get you?" he asked quietly. After Mikage managed to calm herself down a bit, she nodded.

"Yes; assemble the Special Investigations team as soon as possible," she began, rising to her feet. "I want that son-of-a-bitch in handcuffs before he can lay his hands on another child."

Everyone has a breaking point. Some can handle more than others, and some cannot. There are those with a low breaking point, who all eventually go insane; and then there are those with a high breaking point, who go insane anyway, because they burden themselves with dealing with those who are already insane.


LuCarly: I tried to shoot for some intensity, but I think I failed. Oh well, tough break. Mikage has generally been deemed a very successful woman career-wise, but that got me thinking: now that she's working at a place where the stakes are high, what would happen if she were faced with a situation in which her human error cost a life? The answer is this story: essentially, a psychotic break of her own. Mikage's always struck me as a little bit crazy, but I love her anyway.

Review because you love me, dammit.