A/N: Okay. This one-shot was inspired by an episode of The Pacific, HBO's miniseries. I do not own The Pacific, Fire Emblem, or any characters, settings, etc. This story and all inherent rights are mine.
This one stars Marisa. And I'm going to warn you: this one has death. So be ready.
You Don't Have To Die Alone
An opponent is merely an obstacle to overcome. The only rule is to kill or be killed. That is all I have ever known.
Marisa mused this to herself. She'd been repeatedly taught through her mercenary upbringing. She was perhaps the only member of Gerik's Mercenaries who seemed to understand that anymore. Gerik was too soft, Tethys didn't fight, and Ewan sympathized with his enemies. They never seemed to realize that fundamental rule, and one day it would be the end of them all.
Yet another battle had begun. This time, Gerik's Mercenaries were in the unpaid employ – a stupid idea, yet again, Marisa knew – of Prince Innes, of Frelia. But Marisa didn't really care who they worked for. She wouldn't admit it even to herself, but she didn't even care if she were paid. Fighting with Gerik was worth more to her than any coin. Luckily, Innes's commander, Ephraim, took care of his soldiers, and right now, that included her.
Marisa made sure her blade was honed to adequate sharpness. Caring for one's blade was just as important as caring for one's body. After all, for a truly great swordsman, a blade was as an extension of the body. And there was no doubt in Marisa's mind, she was the best swordsperson anywhere. She carefully took her whetstone to her sword, refining the edge. She also took care to polish it. Dried blood was never good for a sword either.
She checked her handiwork one last time and sheathed her sword. In good time too. The rest of the unit was ready to move out.
"Hey, Marisa." A familiar voice. Marisa knew it was Ewan.
"What do you need, Ewan?" she asked, without a rise in her emotion.
Ewan tilted his head. "You sure seem irritated. Have you let blood?" He ducked quickly, as Marisa tossed her metal canister of polishing oil at him. It made a resounding crack as it struck the side of the convoy. "Whoa, careful there! I jest, I jest, Marisa!" he spat out hurriedly, covering his head to shield from another projectile.
Marisa relented. "You know better than to speak of such things with me. Grow up. And to answer your question, no." She turned away from him, brooding her anger.
"Oh come on, Marisa," said Ewan. "You know I would never intentionally anger you. In fact, sometimes I doubt you even have anger at all, I'm shocked I got a rise out of you." He scratched his hair. "Anyway, I came here to talk to you about something." He sat beside her. "... you know of course that Ephraim had to kill Selena, right? Even though he really wanted her to join us, like Duessel had?"
Marisa looked up at Ewan, regarding him with her usual passionless stare. Combat was her only real passion anyway. "She was Prince Ephraim's enemy. They fought. She lost. It's as simple as that, Ewan." She watched to make sure he got her message, trying to abate his questioning.
But he didn't. "But it's not that simple, Marisa! She was a general of Grado, yes, and that made her his enemy... but she had hopes and dreams too. She just wanted to serve her country, and she felt--"
"She held to her side, and she raised her bolts to Ephraim. She made her position clear, Ewan. An enemy is an enemy is an enemy." She stared icily into Ewan's eyes, willing him to accept her message.
Ewan hesitated. "All right, Marisa. I suppose I can't make you understand my position. But I really wish you did. An enemy is not always an enemy. When you fight them, they're in the same boat as you, with the same goal. They're your brethren, kindred spirits with the morbid goal of ending you. And one of you has to go out of it, alone, unfulfilled. To enter the void, alone. Selena and Ephraim should never have had to fought. I'm sure as Selena lay dying, she wished Ephraim could take her with him... but if I cannot convince you, then I'll leave you be." He stood up. "I will see you later, Marisa. I look forward to it." He walked out of her tent.
Ignorant, idealistic boy. You'll understand one day that you have to look at it through this cold, two-colored lens if you're going to survive, she thought as she stood to deploy. I hope you realize it soon.
Marisa parried the enemy swordsman's blows, as best she could. She had been holding up just fine. But his blows were getting dangerously close to her, and her arms were betraying her.
Another block. This time from above and to her right. She actually gritted her teeth to block this one. This might have been avoided if she hadn't drifted away from the rest of the group. Marisa pushed hard to move the foe's sword back, and she did, by a slim margin. She angled her blade down to cut him.
He was too fast for her, placing his knee against her chest and pushing her away. Marisa's blade cut a deep gouge into the earth between the warriors.
Marisa took quick solace in the momentary reprieve. She hated to admit it, but her muscles were crying out for rest. She'd lost track of how long they'd been locked in combat. At least five minutes, by her best reckoning.
She took a deep breath, relived that her opponent had had to do the same. She took hers quickly and used the opportunity to rush at her foe, ready to deal the ending blow. She twisted her sword, ready to deliver the final cut.
Metal rending cloth and flesh. Crimson flows pooled on the ground. Marisa felt sure she had won the fight.
Then she felt her own cloth moistening. She looked down. A deep gash had torn through her. Her black tunic was darkened even more with blood.
It was a fatal wound.
An anguished cry from behind her informed her that her opponent had been rent nearly as badly as her. She turned around to face him. She wiped blood that had been trickling from her mouth. She started to walk to him when she suddenly felt ill.
Marisa fell to her knees, and retched blood and bile onto the ground, staining her hands. She kept herself on her hands and knees, refusing to fall all the way down. Her opponent had fallen over completely, lying face up on the ground, sanguine pouring from his stomach.
Marisa recalled what Ewan had said earlier that day. An enemy is not always an enemy. When you fight them, they're in the same boat as you, with the same goal. They're your brethren, kindred spirits with the morbid goal of ending you. And one of you has to go out of it, alone, unfulfilled. To enter the void, alone.
To enter the void. Alone. Marisa had never feared that before. But now that it was an inevitability, she suddenly realized the order and nature of combat.
She struggled to her opponent. He grabbed at his blade, to fight her off.
"Stay your blade," she said weakly. "The fight is done."
He looked back at her. His hand stopped its mad search.
"Wh... why don't you want to... to fight? You seemed ready enough earlier..." he coughed.
"Earlier I wasn't lying on the ground bleeding my entrails out," she said, with as much snide as she could manage. She struggled closer to him. "We're both done for. That much is... ob-obvious." She coughed another spatter of blood. Her vision was starting to fade. "If we're going to die... we may as well die together."
"Wh... what?" asked the soldier. "We're mercenaries, we die if we fight, we... die if we don't. What does it matter that we're both dying?"
Marisa wiped her mouth, smearing it with her own ejected blood. "Because we're dying... together." She got all the way up to him, the ground behind her a red path. "I don't even know you. But that doesn't matter," she continued, though she could no longer see her adversary. "What matters now, is... that we're two humans... who were maimed on the battlefield. Right?"
"I... guess," said the soldier, with the last vestiges of his strength. His head slumped backwards.
Marisa now lay part of her body on the warrior. "Because we're... going out... of this world... togeth..." She heard a cry, distant, as to be metallic and hollow in her ears. She could not hear it clearly, and her last thought was of Ewan, ruminating on his unheeded message.
"Marisa!!!" cried Ewan, frantic as he discovered the scene of the battle. Blood, coughed, dropped, and dragged lay upon the ground. Two bloodied blades, lay where they had fallen. And Marisa, laying upon the enemy swordsman.
She was saying something to the dead fighter, and Ewan could see that she was bleeding badly.
"Marisa, no!" He rushed to her, and turned her over, to examine her wound and see if he could do anything. No good. The gash was beyond healing, and even if he had the necessary skill or salves, it would only further damage her in the healing process. "Marisa, you can't die..." He didn't want her to go out this way, and he lay his head upon her bloodied belly and cried. He cried, and didn't care how exposed he left himself.
In fact, two soldiers happened upon him. The sight of the boy crying stayed their lances, and they decided they had not seen an enemy. They quickly hurried on their way to another part of the conflict.
Ewan weeped until he couldn't anymore. He looked up, at Marisa's face. It was an expression of genuine, if lifeless, serenity, and happiness. That baffled Ewan so much he was convinced he hadn't seen it, until he rubbed his eyes and looked again. It was the same face.
Putting that matter aside, Ewan took it upon himself to guard Marisa's body until the fighting was done. Hours later, when the sounds of conflict ceased, he set himself to burying his fallen friend. He dug a grave, and carefully as he could manage, set Marisa inside it.
As he looked at her, he thought carefully about her mysterious expression. Surely dying in battle was honorable to one like her, but not a reason to be happy... He looked at the swordsman she had been laying on. He had died before she was talking to her, Ewan was sure. But why would Marisa be happy, talking to a dead enemy?
Enemy. It hit him. She had been listening to him earlier. But that knowledge didn't make it any easier. Understanding, he widened the grave, and lay the swordsman in the grave with her. He carefully replaced the earth on top of them.
He gradually became aware that the rest of Gerik's Mercenaries (including his sister), and Ephraim watching him. He took no heed and buried the blades in the earth so that they stood at the head of the grave. He hoped that would be enough to honor Marisa and her newfound companion.
An enemy is an enemy is an enemy, he thought. At least until it doesn't matter who your enemies are. I'm sorry, Marisa. This is my fault, I just know it. Ewan stared at the grave. I didn't mean to bother you with my thoughts. He backed up. But if it's any consolation... at least you didn't have to realize it on your own.
Ewan wasn't sure if he had meant himself or the swordsman.
To Ewan's own grave, he still didn't know.
A/N: Yeah, experimenting with death. I... feel like it kind of got rough when Marisa and the other guy were dying. But they were dying! So.
Anyways, there you go.