A/N: I'll try to keep my note short ;) There's a lot of inaccuracies in this, I know. Some are intentional, but I'm sure there are others are well, from my lack of knowledge. I've only seen the first few episodes of the anime, and though the story and characters definitely captured my interest, I didn't really watch any further. I know the ending, I know what happens. This fic deviates from that. Sort of a 'what if' situation, you could say. In this fic, 'Phantom' as a murderer is a title that Ein has taken up, but countless others have had before her. Zwei is her shadow, to learn from her. The situation is the same, I just changed that tiny detail (unless it is actually that way, but I don't know for sure). I hope you read and enjoy :) Written from Zwei's PoV. T to be safe, as this is a little dark. I gave up on the fancy formatting. It looked cool, but it didn't work with FF.
How can someone do this? How can one person murder countless others and so much as pretend to hold even the most remote shred of normalcy? It's routine for her, at least that's how it appears.
She trains me, because she's told. She fulfills her missions heartlessly, because she is told. Not a single glimpse of emotion passes her face, not a single smile, nor hint of emotion.
Is that how, then; to revoke your own feelings and humanity in order tobecome the weapon they need? Sometimes I think her inhuman, coming and going as her occupation calls her, not caring an ounce for morality or the sacredness of life. The more I notice her, though, the more I see it: the subdued touch of melancholy in her grey eyes, the miasma of despair that follows her, the myriad of glances she offers me.
It's so subtle, at first I didn't realize it, but there is a person behind the façade.
What cost has she - unwillingly? - paid? Why was such a dark fate bestowed upon her shoulders?
Whatever force it is, is unforgiving, but I refuse to let it take ahold of me. Come what may, I will not go against my own humanity, I will not take another's life.
She is ruthless in training. I am driven to run under the orange sun, feet endlessly pounding into the ground and kicking up dry hot sand.
My lungs ache and sting in my heaving chest, skin slick with sweat, parched throat pulling desiccated air, in and out, in and out.
A foul taste pricks at the back of my throat: clench teeth, fight down the bubbling heave threatening to rise.
Above all else, keep running. I don't even remember how or why; a film of red tints my vision - yet, out of my sweat blurred sight, is a blurred black expanse emerging from the sand and distance: the goal, the momentary reprieve of hardship.
There is a point beyond conscious thought, that you can only attain when both mental and physical counterparts have been tested past their limits. That point is when you must let go of everything but the primal instinct to survive at all costs.
How strong your will is after that point distinguishes the predator from the prey.
This is somehow important to me, but the unforgiving sun seeps my energy for thought, drains everything but the burning need to keep going. Keep running.
Even when I don't know why I am anymore.
It's not about acquiring a new skill or following her instructions verbatim. It's about what you become when your life is in danger;
it's about how clever, fast, and lethal of a weapon your own body is in that single critical moment.
That's what made me the surviver; the one they chose to mold into the Phantom's perfect shadow.
I finally realize this as I stand beneath the torrents of rain and slate sky, a gun clutched in my hands.
How naturally they fit around the familiar handle, the rain-slicked metal almost a friendly comfort,
because when you practice something again and again with the faithful perseverance of a religious devotee,
it becomes ingrained in your mind, becomes part of you.
My skin, like metal; my heart, like steel; my instinct, like the bullet.
I close my eyes, arc a finger over the trigger.
Sightless, I depend only upon the intuitive senses of one who had mastered their art: I hear each separate drop of rain, slowed a thousand times,
resonate with waves of motion as they strike the dirt, my skin, and the tin cans. I feel the very strength of my tensed muscles,
the tiny bullets incased within the gun, and how they wait only for my order to eliminate a target.
Six times the shots fire in the heavy air, my arms expertly making the slightest adjustments between each crack of the gun.
Before I open my eyes, I know each and every can has been precisely hit and demolished. When it really comes down to it...
It's about who can pull the trigger first.
How easily she smiles, when we are acting. She's so good at pretending; the perfect wolf in the clothes of the lamb. Her guise
is so convincing, that I can almost deceive myself and believe we are just a normal couple. Her false emotions are open
and change so freely; there is a small dog, and she squeals in delight,tugging on my arm and gushing about how cute it is.
There is a woman hitting her child, and Ein's face falls.
"How horrible," she sighs, shaking her head.
"Don't look," I murmur numbly, pulling her closer and covering her eyes.
As if she is so innocent that she can't witness a single slap without cringing. I can almost deceive myself.
Between us, I feel the cold barrel of the gun hidden in my jacket, and I notice how she peers through my fingers to remain alert to our surroundings.
She leans up to my face, her breath ghosting past my ear, "That is him, in the blue jacket." Then with a giggle she draws away and smiles easily,
teasing me about being flirty. I return the laugh and jest right back at her, but my eyes curve to the man: our target.
The dead man living.
Only when we are stalking him, along and out of sight like phantoms, does the diguise drop, and her face becomes
apathetic and emotionless once more. She becomes Ein, the killer.
She is the weapon they need, and now, raising the gun again, so am I.
It's strange: so many times I've broken down, screamed, cried, all while she sat and watched me silently, not a trace of emotion
passing her face. I wondered at her monstrous ability to do and feel nothing while those around her suffered.
I wanted to scream at her for being so indifferent, for being so unfeeling.
There's the slightest tremble in her frame; her spine curved in an arc from invisible weight, a suppressed gasp - she is crying.
Quietly, withdrawn, but still a tear slips through her hands, so she is crying. I don't really know why or how it so suddenly happened.
Despite the bounds of our odd relationship, I've found a strange sort of affection for her. It's a little funny, in an entirely mirthless way:
while once I considered her a monster, she is now my last link to my own fading humanity.
Her presence and strength, always beside me, constitutes the only feelings that keep me sane. I've grown to love her small, brief smiles; strained and faint,
but the only true smiles I've ever known from her. The kind of smile where I remember what it's like to be normal, not the killer,
not the hunter that stalks among blissfully ignorant sheep. Though I have no true memories of life before Inferno, I know once I led a sheep's life.
There's a great sense of familiarity and companionship when I'm in crowds; at least, there used to be. Now Ein is my final link to feeling like a belong.
I thought I loved her.
Yet as I watch her break down at last, my demeanor is cold and stoic. It's not that I don't feel.
Part of me - a weak and rapidly dwindling part - can still experience love, happiness, sadness. I just can't reach that part of myself anymore.
When I try to search for it, all that is dredged up from the ravaged wasteland is the smallest twinge of regret that I must be this demon.
Not regret asking why I'm doing this. No, a regret that knows exactly why, knows how horrible it is, but can conjure no will to do something about it.
It's like when you pass a dead dog on the side of the road, and see its lifeless body. You shake your head and muster pity,
but in a few days time, you won't remember the stranger's beloved pet. I can't offer Ein comfort.
Was this my predetermined Fate; every step I've taken ripped of any meaning but to further nurture the perfect killer,
to further shape the nameless sin whom will fluidly step into its role: a role taken and given up without the slightest ripple?
If so, then Fate has guided me with a sickening precision.
Regardless of anything else I could be in a different situation, here and now I am the Phantom. As the Phantom, I turn from a broken soul, my face a wall of apathy.
What will I do, whom will I mar, whom will never take another step because of me?
I wonder what sort of devil has replaced me.