A Double Arts fanfiction by Tobu Ishi
The weather is beautiful, which is the weird part.
Sui hangs back a little, since she knows what's coming, so she has a great view of the whole thing. The waving yellow grass in this meadow, dried out by the long days of summer, and the way the sun blazes on Kiri's hair as he strides across the field. He won't let her help anymore, which is as much of a relief as it's annoying. Sui likes fighting, and she likes winning, but not...this.
She knows why this is important. But still.
Zezu is a thin streak of shadow, sitting almost casually on the slab of stone and absently tracing the fresh names carved there with one gloved fingertip. He looks up as Kiri approaches him, with the oddest expression on his face; and that's when Sui realizes that Zezu knows what's coming, too.
"Have I mentioned," he says, dryly, "how sorry I am for your loss?"
She can't see Kiri's face, but she sees the way his shoulders tighten and his knuckles go white on the blades in his hands.
"You killed her." Her friend's voice has an empty sound to it, these days, like a hollow stone.
Zezu smirks, and stands gracefully, unfolding his long limbs from their lazy sprawl and arranging them into a poised and waiting stance. "Troi killed her," he reminds Kiri, with an expressive shrug. As if any of them need reminding.
Standing in the shade of the trees, Sui is ready to step in if necessary, with her hoop locked together and slung over one shoulder. She glances at Kiri's face. His jaw is clenched tight, and the light in his eye is like a blazing sun. She remembers seeing that same weird fire in Kiri's eyes when he first told her to stop, to let him finish it. Remembers standing by, unsure what to do, while he threw up after. And being kinda worried all over again, the first time he didn't.
"You killed her," he repeats, dropping into a crouch. "All of you. Troi was just the weapon."
One of Zezu's eyebrows inches up.
"All right," he allows. "In that sense, I guess you could say we killed your pretty little Sister." He licks his lips; they look dry. There are lines on his face that weren't there when they first met, and faint shadows forming under his eyes. "And now we're all dead."
Kiri's fingers shift on the handles of his knives. "All but one," he points out.
"And does that make you happy, Kiri Luchile?" Zezu asks, and for the first time today he looks angry. A little regret, for the loss of the other Gazelles, or the death of their goals? Has Zezu still got that much blood left in his burning veins? "Does that satisfy your broken heart?"
"No," Kiri snaps, and lunges for Zezu with his teeth bared in a grimace.
The late summer sun beats down oppressive heat on them all. Sui waits and watches, sweat dripping down the small of her back, hoop at the ready in her hand. The dry grass around her bends softly in the breeze, and broken fragments of it fly into the air around the raging duel, like golden sparks from a fire, as the combatants lunge and parry, lock together and break apart, pounding a flattened circle in the long grass with their booted feet. Kiri's knives are flashing like scissors in the sunlight.
There comes a cry, and a splash of blood.
Sui holds her breath until she sees Zezu hit the ground.
Kiri crosses to where his opponent is sprawled and kicks him hard, rolling him over. Zezu looks up at him with eyes narrowed by pain. His hands are clutching at the wet wound in his ribcage, and when he speaks, blood bubbles from his nose.
"...What are you?" His voice is a hoarse whisper, and Sui can't tell if it's because of a collapsed lung or just a rare flash of fear in his final moments.
"I was the messiah," Kiri says, bleakly. He kneels, flips the knife in his hand into an overhand grip, and stabs down, hard and precise. "But not anymore."
There is a faint gurgle from Zezu, and then, nothing.
Kiri braces his hands on his knees and stands. He looks at the blood on his blades and sways slightly, then flings them away as if they could bite him. One of them clatters to a stop on the gravestone, scattering drops of blood across the ten carved names. Kiri presses his empty hand over his eyes. His shoulders have lost their tension, and now he just looks wilted. Exhausted.
Sui swallows, hard. This is the fifth time she's watched Kiri kill someone, and it never gets any easier. With any luck, she won't have to watch it again. It doesn't feel right. It feels like something she ought to stop, but Sui can't even say no to herself.
"Hey," she says, stepping into the trampled circle of grass. Her long hair ripples slightly in the wind. "That's the last of 'em."
Kiri looks up. There's a bloody fingerprint on his temple and another on his cheek, and the fire is gone from his eyes.
"They're safe," he says. He sounds like a sleepwalker, like he's reciting words he memorized so long ago that they've become meaningless noises. "The Gazelles...are never gonna kill a Sister again."
"Yeah," Sui agrees. She slings an arm around his shoulders and leans her dark head against his. For a moment, she just looks out across the field, ignoring the body at their feet and the way Kiri is trembling and just thinking about the last three years. The familiar surge of Flare through her muscles. The fighting and the training under Fallan, no more dancing, no defense, just the harsh lunge for the throat.
She's a fighter, not a killer. Kiri is neither, but he always became what he had to be, for Elraine's sake.
"So," she says, finally. "What now?"
She knows the answer - they go back to the Sisters, so they can finally figure out what makes Kiri tick and put an end to this whole mess. Maybe get back to real fighting, the kind where somebody wins and nobody dies. Maybe someday they'll even go home. She knows all of that, but Kiri is staring at his own empty hands again, so she isn't surprised when a tear runs down his cheek as he softly answers:
"I don't know."