I have chosen not to read this chapter again, as the story changed three times as I wrote it and it's basically just the beginning and in my mind it is the worst thing I have ever written. xD Not sure when I will be updating this, as life has been busy and it took me almost two months just to write this chapter. Hopefully it will be worth the wait. xP
Jigen crept down behind on old blown out shack, his breath labored, yet quiet. The front of his body was covered in mud, having crawled on the wet ground to his current location, the pack he wore growing heavier with every inch, his stomach growing sicker with every body he maneuvered around.
His team had been lost long ago, Jigen the lone survivor of an ambush, getting away with only a bullet graze to his left leg.
He closed his eyes tightly, inhaling deeply as the images he knew would never leave him once again appeared. He opened his eyes, the nightmares in his memory disappearing to the nightmare of reality, Jigen finding the hell that surrounded him a small relief.
Breaking the silence of the environment was the faint sounds of footsteps, Jigen tensing as his hands gripped his rifle tighter. Even out of bullets, his weapon was his only means of safety in the foreign land.
The footsteps faded, leaving Jigen alone with the quick thumps of his beating heart. Able to exhale, he did so, his fingers loosening their grip on his rifle. Taking a quick glance around he sprung from his position, turning and running away from the shack, his body freezing when a mud covered woman stood a few yards in front of him.
Jigen raised his rifle, pointing it at the woman. He watched as she lifted her right hand, a boney finger pointing towards him. At that point Jigen pulled the trigger, the woman lifting her head and smirking at the click his gun emitted.
"L-Lori?" Jigen asked, confusion and fear taking over his senses as the woman who resembled his late wife stared at him.
She wheezed, wild eyes staring at him as he slowly made his way towards her.
"Stop," she demanded, her voice filled with anger.
"Lori..." Jigen reached out, touching slightly her upper arm.
The woman let out a loud hiss, grabbing his hand and throwing it away from her. "Don't you dare touch me! Don't you dare!"
Jigen nursed his hand, small cuts on the top of it where the woman's long pointed fingernails dug in. He looked up from his injuries, staring at the woman in sadness.
"You..." the woman said as she began to sob. "You took so much from me! You took my life! My future! But worse than that, you took away..."
Jigen watched in fear as the woman stabbed her hand into her stomach, her fingers clawing around inside of her before she yanked it out, holding a crying baby out for him to see.
"You took away my child!"
Jigen woke up screaming. In his panic of trying to escape the vision he managed to roll off the bed, hitting his head on the side table on his way to the floor.
The next few seconds he flailed around, hands he tried to fight away gripping tighter his shoulders.
"Jigen! Hey!" Lupin gave Jigen a good shake, trying to rattle him back to reality.
"Let go of me," Jigen barked as he shoved Lupin away.
Lupin did as he was told, kneeling down and staring at Jigen as he lay on the floor. "You're bleeding," he said in a low and gentle voice.
"As if I care," Jigen mumbled, his breathing a little less heavier as he had almost caught his breath. Using his last bit of strength he managed to push himself up to a sit.
"Well, let me help with-" Lupin's hand was smacked away.
"I'm fine, okay? Just... just leave me the hell alone, Lupin. Please."
Lupin sighed. Feeling unwanted he raised up and walked off in silence, taking one last look back before closing the door to Jigen's room.
"Is everything okay?" Fujiko asked as Lupin crawled back into bed.
"What happened?" Lupin sighed. "He never used to be like this."
Fujiko raised up in bed, placing a gentle hand on Lupin's bare shoulder. "He just needs some time. You know what the doctor said."
"Time?" Lupin said in a raised voice. "How much time does he need? It's been over a year now, Fujiko."
Fujiko stared in concern as she stroked Lupin's arm.
"Everything was fine until that damn... until that damn phone call! Why'd that..." Lupin couldn't finish as he broke down crying, everything he had to put up with catching up to him.
The phone call came late one night, the woman on the other line asking for Jigen. At the time Lupin joked with Fujiko about Jigen having a secret girlfriend. The two had a good laugh about it until they saw Jigen's reaction to the call.
It was from the sister of Anthony Jackson, a soldier Jigen had once served with. The two didn't keep in contact much, but when they did they enjoyed reminiscing on the "good old days" of fighting in China.
Jigen was confused by the call until the woman was finally able to come out and explain how her brother was stabbed and killed in a robbery.
Jigen stared off after she said the words, finally saying 'thank you' and hanging up. He said nothing as he left, Lupin and Fujiko's questions going ignored.
Lupin had caught up to Jigen, entering his room with him and asking him if anything was wrong. What answer he got surprised him.
Jigen wheeled himself to the bed and stared down at it. He then scoffed and looked back at Lupin.
Lupin stared into his friends eyes, seeing a whole range of emotions in them.
"We never asked for any of this," Jigen started, looking back at the bed as he tried to regain control of his emotions. "We got put through hell and for what? Nothing has changed. The war is still going on, people are still dying..."
Lupin was silent as he watched Jigen. He didn't know what to say. He never knew what to say when Jigen got like this.
"Did we do all of this for nothing?" Jigen wondered. "Jackson's dead. Miller's dead. Me and Aberton are fucked up. Garver's living on the streets somewhere. And Hill... I don't know what happened to him. Probably rotting in some jungle somewhere."
"A lot of people have died. But our side is winning, so no one-"
"Does it matter who wins?"
Lupin was silent as he thought about the question.
"Well?" Jigen wondered. "Isn't one side just as bad as the other?"
"No. No, they're not. Why are you even asking this?"
"I saw things... I saw the "good guys" doing horrible things. I got through those days telling myself I wasn't like them and that if there was any kind of justice that they'd end up with knives stabbed in their foreheads. And it seems like every week one of those assholes ends up getting a medal and a parade."
"Are you saying that you were fighting for someone worse than the ones you were fighting against?" Lupin asked in slight anger. "Are you saying that your side was worse than the ones who killed those fighting alongside you?"
Jigen looked up and glared at Lupin. "Yeah, you can say that shit because you weren't there! I was, Lupin! I lived in that hell!"
"And you're going to make sure you still live in it, aren't you?"
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean, huh?"
Lupin glared at Jigen and shook his head. "I don't know, Jigen. Maybe I should just give you my gun again so you can escape this so-called hell you seem to be living in."
Jigen watched in surprise as Lupin walked out, slamming the door as he left.
Lupin had hoped things would change after that night, but nothing changed. It was the same when Jigen learned Miller had died, although then it didn't seem to be that long before Jigen hit rock bottom.
This time, though, Jigen had different symptoms. The only word Lupin could come up with that perfectly described it was "moping".
The moping then changed to something else when Jigen received a letter from Lori's cousin. She wondered how Jigen was holding up and told him light-hearted stories of her and Lori's childhood. The end of the letter consisted of more serious subjects, one of which told Jigen something he had never known about, something Lori had never told him.
"I was so sorry to hear about the miscarriage. Lori was so thrilled when she found out she was pregnant. She couldn't wait to see the look on your face when you got home to the news that you were a father. She kept a smile on her face, though, when she got the bad news. She said she'd try again. She said she wouldn't let one misfortune ruin the wonderful relationship she was in. I was glad that she found someone who treated her as good as you did."
Jigen never mentioned any of this to anyone. To make sure no one, especially Lupin, would find out, he burned the letter. It was bad enough that he knew and he was pretty certain that the others knowing would just make things worse. He was already pissed off over the situation enough as it was.
The three months following, Lupin did his best to ignore his friends temper and attitude, doing what he could to help him out, his offers usually declined.
On the fourth month the two had a huge argument that bordered on full-out violence.
Unable to deal with it any longer Lupin got in touch with Goemon, hoping Goemon would set things straight with Jigen.
Lupin was disappointed, then, when he found out Goemon didn't want to involve himself in their problems. His simple advice was to talk it over, Lupin unable to argue sense into the samurai.
Lupin chose not to talk to Jigen. He chose to ignore him, living his life as if the man didn't exist.
Jigen didn't seemed bothered by this, doing everything by himself, no matter how hard it was and how long it took him.
Hearing him struggling one night, Fujiko knocked on Jigen's door and asked if she could help. A long pause later she got her answer, opening the door and helping the very drunk Jigen get on his bed.
Jigen thanked her, but said nothing else as she left him in the dark room, where he laid in bed and stared off into the darkness.
As the days and weeks passed Fujiko was finding herself helping Jigen more and more, filling Lupin's shoes as an assistant, but not as a friend.
Jigen was thankful for her help, but chose not to get any closer to her than he had before, knowing the two would just argue like they did in the past.
Lupin would watch the two in the background, finally deciding one day to offer his assistance when he saw Fujiko was struggling.
That move would break the ice, but never again was Lupin's and Jigen's friendship ever the same.