A Bitter Pill to Swallow
Ushiromiya Eva's condition had worsened. She was now so frail and weak she looked like a skeleton. The skin around her face was sunken, her cheeks hollow, as though her skin were just a few cells thick, wrapped tightly around her skull like Clingfilm. Her hair was prematurely white, like snow, and her wrinkles had been carved into her face at a premature age.
Well, Fran thought with a sigh, that was just the cold, hard truth about what happened to people who lived miserable lives. After surviving the 'Rokkenjima Witch Mass Murders', or whatever ridiculous, over-the-top, sounds-like-it-came-from-a-shounen-manga title the case had been given, Eva's honorable title as an 'Ushiromiya' had been slandered relentlessly by the press. They were convinced she was the murderer- and even though there was no evidence to point towards that conclusion, save the fact she was the sole survivor on the island, they refused to let go of this notion, even after her name had been officially cleared.
Even after she cried in such a horrible, heart-breaking manner at her family's funeral- especially over George and her husband- they still refused to believe her.
The talk shows had mocked her tears, saying they were 'just as fake as her hair color'.
It was probably the guilt of being the only survivor, mixed with the hateful opinions of the general public, that had ruined Ushiromiya Eva.
From Fran's perspective, Eva had been incredibly lucky. Not only had she solved the mystery of the witch's epitaph, obtained the gold and become the head of the family, but she'd also survived a mass murder in a closed circle on a small, contained island. Surely the odds stacked against her had been astronomical.
An angel must have been on her side, to guide her through all that.
Fran smiled, as she remembered taking tea in the company of the Golden Witch, Beatrice, and her demon servants.
Maybe it hadn't been an 'angel' who 'blessed' her.
More like, a cruel, blonde-haired witch who placed a curse upon her from a fairytale.
Fran had always told Eva, during her medical check-ups (the number of which had been increasing as Eva drew closer and closer to her early grave), that she should be happy. Happy that she had survived- because Fran rarely met people that were so lucky.
...Well, that was something of a lie. Fran had been acquainted with a very lucky convict, who survived a variety of cruel punishments- and then got struck by lightening.
But Eva was different.
Even after all the hardships she'd faced, she still hadn't died. It was amazing she could survive, and continue to do so, even when probability was stacked so highly against her life it seemed impossible Eva could keep her heart beating and oxygen flowing through her lungs.
Her continued survival must have been a 'miracle'.
But Eva had always laughed when Fran said this. Although, it hadn't been a 'laugh'- not really. More like a tired, self-deprecating snort.
Eva didn't want gold.
She didn't want the family headship.
She only wanted her family back.
And... for a few brief seconds, that wish had come true. Fran had already tried to fulfill that wish- to relieve this woman's suffering. And look what had happened then. She'd been even more miserable.
You should be careful what you wish for. Humans say reckless things all the time- 'I wish X was still alive', or 'I wish I was good at Y', or 'I wish I could make Z have a crush on me', truly believing it'll be for the best, and they'll be happier if their trivial hopes and dreams are granted.
And in practice it never seems to work out that way, no matter how I try to help.
Short of going back in time and preventing the murders before they occurred, Fran saw very little she could do to cure Eva of her ailment.
Eva's only real medical condition was 'misery'- a misery so severe and acute it was like being tortured every second of the day.
Once upon a time, Fran hadn't understood 'misery' at all. She'd thought it was just another human 'quirk'- another amusing foible she could giggle at over a cup of tea with Okita.
But now, maybe... just maybe... she could sympathize... a little.
The organs she'd taken from Beatrice and her servants had dissolved into dust upon her arrival to the human world, as though they'd never existed at all. And, Fran supposed, they hadn't- not really. The 'metaworld' seemed to exist in a different dimension to the human world, and Fran was sure the two places should never meet. Was that why time froze in the human world and everything turned black and white when the inhabitants of the metaworld descended upon it? Maybe it prevented their bodies from dissolving into horribile piles of foul-smelling sludge, too.
But Fran couldn't stop time, and she hadn't been able to preserve those organs before they'd completely dissolved.
As the organs'- Fran's compensation- turned into grit and sludge inside Adorea's body (Adorea had been taken quite seriously ill after that unpleasant incident, her zippers leaking dark black fluid and her body slowly crumpling in on itself), Fran decided her excursion to the 'metaworld' really had been useless.
She'd tried so hard operating on the Ushiromiyas, knowing both of the future Eva's misery and the present (at that time) Battler's despair.
But, even though she'd succeeded in 'saving them', neither parties had been happy.
They'd treated her as a monster.
And, in the end, all that work had been for nothing, because in the current time frame Eva's relatives were still dead and Eva herself was still unhappy. And all the payment Fran received had been useless- completely useless.
Then again, Fran supposed Beatrice must have known that already.
She'd... truly come away empty-handed.
But... ... maybe that wasn't the case.
Because, as Fran looked down at the dying form of Ushiromiya Eva, pondering how to force life back into her haggard body- life that was already slipping away before her eyes- she paused...
For the first time in her life, she stopped to think.
As a doctor, she had to save everyone. That was her job.
But, as a person...
Well, she wasn't a person- not really. But what would a person do?
Ushiromiya Eva's life had been full of nothing but misery. Her relatives had all died. Everybody thought she was the true culprit, despite the fact it was so obvious, even to a girl like Fran, that she wasn't. Ushiromiya Eva simply wasn't capable of committing such a cold-blooded crime in the pursuit of gold and status. Despite her cold exterior, the love she had for her family was real- and Fran understood love.
Fran knew the power of that emotion.
But had she ever experienced it for herself?
Without love, it cannot be seen.
And maybe, just maybe... thanks to Battler...
She could see.
Just a little.
He'd opened her eyes.
Eva's life could not even be called a 'life'. It was more like one long string of pain and misery, which would culminate- eventually- in her death. Her 'liberation'.
Then she'd be free.
She'd find her family again in the 'golden land'.
And she'd be happy.
If Fran kept her alive- which would have been the right thing to do, and the just thing, because all human lives were equal and they all deserved to be saved- she knew Eva would only lay there in the hospital bed waiting for death to descend upon her again.
She looked down at that tired face, etched with lines of hatred and misery and guilt, that had been building and building over the years- but, as her life slowly slipped away, the tension in her face already seemed to be lifting...
And Fran saw somebody who was desperate to die.
"I-if you won't kill them, then I'll kill them! They don't deserve to live like this! How could you?"
Battler's words from earlier rang through her head.
Now... Fran thought she could understand what he meant.
But, Fran reasoned, what would be the point in declining to operate on Miss Eva? She'd be losing out on money, not to mention the prestige that came from forcing more and more life into the notorious Miss Ushiromiya, the 'sole survivor' of the murder mystery. Fran needed money- she always needed money, because science wasn't like magic- and she needed to keep in people's good graces.
Battler was stuck back in the world of 1986, replaying countless renditions of that 'murder mystery' which plagued the present time Eva so horribly.
In this world, Ushiromiya Battler wasn't even alive.
He was dead.
And Battler would never learn the fate of this Ushiromiya Eva, lying in the hospital bed, choking out her last breaths with Fran by her side in 1998.
Even if Fran refused to operate on Eva, Battler would never know.
And Fran's apology would be lost.
And she would end up sacrificing her principles- her one reason for existing in the world at all- for nothing.
So, in the end, wouldn't that make... refusing to operate... ... pointless?
If Fran went against her professor's wishes and let Eva die, she'd no longer have a purpose to be. She existed to save people, much like Battler continued to exist to challenge Beatrice. If either of them failed to fulfill their purposes, they'd be unneeded- cast aside like trash.
Fran couldn't allow that to happen.
She had to save people.
She wanted to save people.
What about the people who did want her help? What about them?
Just because Ushiromiya Eva would have been happier to die, it didn't mean all humans felt the same. In fact, humans were so vastly strange and complicated, what with their conflicting emotions and personalities, Fran could hardly believe they'd all been gathered into one sole species and given one label as 'human' at all.
Fran really had no choice.
She couldn't change her ways.
Even with 'love', it didn't make any difference. Fran couldn't become something she wasn't- and she certainly couldn't throw away her only reason for being alive. If she stopped helping people, she became defunct.
She existed to save lives.
It didn't matter if it would have been better to let those lives go out.
It didn't matter if she knew she was doing something wrong.
Because she couldn't stop now.
That was the way things were.
That was the way things would always be.
And Ushiromiya Battler would never change that.
Picked up her scalpel.
She would save Eva no matter what.
And she would doom her to misery again and again, without batting an eyelid, because she was a good person and she was going to save others- she was going to save everyone.
"Let's commence the operation."
And maybe that was the hardest truth to learn of all.
The knowledge she was helpless against her own personality...
Was just a bitter pill to swallow.
a/n: I love Fran. I mean, I /really/ love Fran. Her morals are so warped and twisted, but she believes she's a good person, and she'd rather die than give them up. At least, that's how I see it.
So, even though she learnt something from Battler- that sometimes, it is kinder to kill somebody in immense pain- she couldn't act upon it in the very end, and she couldn't 'repent' for hurting Battler's family after all.
Anyway. This is the end (omg I actually finished something else! And it's another Umeinko fic XDD) of this fic.
I will probably write some more Umineko multichap in the future, either for Ronove/Battler or Virgilia/Ronove or Dlanor/Erika/Bern or some more Beato/Battler, like this fic (kinda) was.
Or maybe I'll cross Umineko over with something weird again XDD
Thank you to everybody who read this fic, I hope you enjoyed it, and had as much fun reading it as I did writing it (and hopefully /more/, because I really hate proof-reading my work XDD)