Title: Contractual Immortality

Summary: She didn't stop falling when she hit the ground; now Carly begins to learn what it means to fall forever.

Rating: T (borderline M)

Genre: Angst/Drama

Notes/Warnings: Set during the Dark Signer arc, between the battles at the Arcadia Movement and Carly drawing Prophecy of a Future King. Rated for themes of suicide.

Disclaimer: Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's is the property of Kazuki Takahashi, NAS, Konami, etc. This is a fan-derivative work not intended for profit, merely written for personal enjoyment. The opening lines are from Cannonball, (c) Damien Rice and covered by Vienna Teng.


and it's not hard to fall

when you float like a cannonball

"Cannonball"—Damien Rice / Vienna Teng

There was a twisted poetry in the idea, one she almost appreciated. A sense of fulfilment, of coming full circle. Ending the nightmare the same way it began. She smiled through her terror. The act of smiling felt foreign, as though the last few days had stripped away any sense of joy she might once have possessed.

Dawn smouldered on a horizon choked by smog. Even that faint glow was enough to sting her eyes, yet the thought of averting her gaze… She dared not. If this was to be her last memory, she wanted it to be somewhat pleasant. If this attempt failed too, well, at least it was a nice sunrise by Satellite standards. It felt like too long since she'd last seen the sun, or any light at all.

The world was cold, dark, silent. Nobody came out here. Nobody would, save for her and – and eventually Jack. She stiffened at that errant thought. Her grip on the control tower's spire tightened until old, half-rusted metal bit through her glove into the palm of her hand. Ignoring the tug of wind through her hair, she half turned to regard the union of iron and flesh, and the slow seep of blood through torn fabric. She almost let go. Almost, but not quite. It was hard to explain the reason why. This simply felt like the wrong time.

So instead she crouched and perched on the edge, legs dangling into empty space. She peeled the glove away. The cold sting of dawn air lapped at the edges of the wound, stinging, as though the wind's keen edge was tempered by salt. Already the faintest glimmer of purple tickled torn skin, stitching her hand back together. Her attention drifted away, up past her wrist to the pale expanse of her forearm. She rotated her wrist until it faced down – beads of blood scattered into dust like precious, worthless rubies. The tranquil peace of her smile shattered as she looked upon the mark staining her arm.

In the corners of her mind, the Hummingbird stirred.

Carly…

Her eyes shut out the approaching dawn. Carly Nagisa took refuge in the darkness behind closed eyelids, wrapping it around her like a shroud.

Go away. The thought rippled across the blank of her mind. I won't be used by you.

The sooner you stop this foolishness, Aslla piscu warned, the sooner you will adapt. I care neither way! I can always take another host, but you? You wanted to live, did you not? You were afraid of death. You called to me, fledgling, and you would do well to remember that!

She shivered. The shroud wavered. That was all the opening the dark god needed to slip echoes past—

the pills rattle against the sides of the little white pot, rattle against each other when she tips a small mound into her hand, rattle against the inside of her teeth as she swallows them one by one—

(She had woken up six hours later, despite taking enough to induce coma if not death in any living person; the drugs never even made it into her bloodstream; she wandered through the day in a numb haze.)

"Stop it," Carly said – begged? – even as the echoes continued to whirl past.

the slice of a glass shard – Misty has taken care to keep any and all sharp implements away from her, so Carly breaks a window instead – across her wrists, just above her knees on the inside of her thighs, hesitation before she starts to drag the now-slick edge into her neck; she can't take the risk this time, even though there's no spurt of blood, only a slow seep; but before she gets deeper than a millimetre a flicker of anger what are you doing girl and the blood starts to hiss and you dare resist me 'please,' she whispers faintly, 'don't do this'—

(She had watched, defeated, as the self-inflicted wounds begin to seal themselves and fade, leaving only red stains on her hands and on her thighs and her neck; she sat in a pool of her own blood and cried until the point of exhaustion; then she stood and searched for another plan.)

"Stop it!" she repeated, trying to fight against its focus on her past failures. She reached out and grasped hold of memories which made her soul lift with gladness: starting on the path of her dreams; her first successes as a journalist; dueling alongside Jack; the warm glow of sunset atop another tower, a lifetime ago, where she learned the shape of his heart.

dipping down, casting shadows across the figures stooped in their fields so that they looked up – 'only a passing cloud, don't be silly' – as the thrill of the sun on feathers bathes thoughts in delight; then a needle of pain in her breast and the shrill whistle of distress as her essence coagulates and twists her into a shadow of her former self—

...Stop? The Hummingbird piped a high, shrill warble of mirth, or disgust. Carly realised that that last echo was never intended to reach her – of course not! and oh, why did the thought that the god itself was a victim fill her dead veins with pity? – and Aslla piscu had yet to acknowledge what it had let slip. Not until you understand the folly of yo—

Opening her eyes to the glare of a reborn sun, Carly pitched herself off the edge of the tower.

...So foolish.

Her falling body struck one of the control tower's lower spires. Consciousness fled her a second before she hit the ground. The last thing she heard was an echo through her mind, an echo of breathy whistles and laughter…

...Carly…

...

...Carly…

She woke to a blaze of pain—sunlight's rays pierced the smog and set the corners of her mind on fire. Carly whimpered and curled into a ball. The darkness behind closed eyes was like a mother and the Satellite dust was the womb from which she never wanted to emerge.

Stand.

"I can't."

The sunlight hurts you, does it not? Come inside. There was a measured patience to the Hummingbird's words now, as though each was carefully chosen and slotted into place. I shall not seek to harm you again – you have my word.

Carly shuddered and shook as she pushed herself to her knees. Her right arm was bent at a strange angle and her ankle would barely support her, but even as she stood, the bones and tissue knitted themselves together. She had achieved nothing. She wondered if there was any way of setting her twisted world right again.

Instead of entering the tower as Aslla piscu suggested, she turned her gaze north and began the slow hobble back to Old Momentum.


~*~A/N: The Hummingbird tower is either north or south of Old Momentum. In fact I shall proclaim it Schrödinger's Tower henceforth. (Neo Domino City, why so difficult to locate?) Also, the Aslla piscu section (well it isn't Carly who has feathers!) draws once again on syntheticpoetic/The Mad Poet's meta-rants, and conversations with Heleentje after which I have a habit of seeing the Hummingbird as predominantly female. There is also a reference to my previous work, Matters of the Heart. (Everything is inter-related – except for when it isn't.)