Twist The Knife
She hadn't always been like this.
What a ridiculous statement. None of them were as they had once been. Their completeness shattered, they clung to one another in the belief that doing so would give them back what they had lost.
Most of them at any rate. Going back to how she had been was not her goal. She remembered it. She remembered being scared. She remembered being insecure. She remembered being embarrassed. She knew that remembering it now wasn't the same as remembering it before had been. None of the emotions that walked beside her memories were echoed now. Every shade of feeling she had was swept away and all she could recall was that there had been a time when specific memories had made her feel something. They didn't now, and nothing encroached on her mind from her heart that wasn't there.
She was free.
Her heart had always seemed like it had gotten in the way. Making her silent when she wanted to talk, making her nervous when she wanted to be confident, making her scared when she wanted to be brave. She wasn't brave now, but she wasn't scared either. She wasn't anything.
No heart, no blood; she was alive only by an incredible act of will. Will that was asserted because she hadn't felt alive before either. In that one moment when she felt herself slipping away, standing on the edge of the unknown, terror unlike any she had known welled in her fading heart. She hadn't been living the way she dreamed of. Every opportunity had caused her to falter, and she failed to be what she wanted. Assaulted and defeated by fear, life escaped her in a prelude to how it was leaving her now.
Unlike then, now her terror inspired her. She wasn't going to let those un-had experiences go un-lived. She wouldn't let go, as her fear pounded more strongly she only held tighter to her existence that hadn't been lived. She couldn't surrender when she hadn't won a single battle, she couldn't disappear when she had never been seen. Her fear choked her and her grip was steel. Then her heart ceased to beat, and she wasn't afraid.
When they came, their promises of restoring everything that had been lost hadn't been why she joined them. Her old self would have been terrified of joining a group that was made up solely of men. Her old self might have secretly admired their faces and forms, but her own unease and insecurity would have left her alone and shivering. Her old self wouldn't have done it. So she did.
She had been quiet, unassertive, lonely. Her name echoing her softness and vulnerability.
So she got a new name.
Every time she saw what the girl named Elaner would have done, she did the opposite. The girl with a heart would have cowered before the tall warriors who surrounded her, shaking at the thought of calling attention to herself. Now she strutted into their midst, speaking with brassiness, emphasizing the shape of her body in how she stood, standing close and directly in front of them, demanding they take notice.
Though she had been removed from any reaction a woman might have to a man, she still noticed contrast. Many of them tried to maintain the appearance of life. One of them succeeded. It made sense, lifeless as fire was it gave every indication of breathing, reacting, living. He was vibrant. Hair, eyes, and face all brilliantly giving the impression that he still had a heart.
Except she saw him when he thought no one else did. She saw the hours he practiced expression so out of habit he would still show the reactions that his heart no longer prompted him to. What she watched on his face wasn't real.
It was a face that would have made her heart race. It didn't now. Still, because she would have avoided it before, she sought it out. She paid it attention, touched it, and watched how he was unaffected. As was she. Beneath her assumed gestures she watched him as impassively as he watched her. None of them saw her as anything more than a well fitted piece of the machine. It was how she saw them.
The machine as a whole had a plan different from hers. She was not going to retrieve her old self, she was going to find something new that she was not before and was not now, and only a few pieces were needed. Some of those pieces had hearts.
They were real. Every emotion shown was genuine, and she did things and said things so that their hearts spoke through their faces. Things that no horror of being mean now stopped her from doing. She didn't flinch as they were hurt by her hand, as their faces blanched in pain or twisted in anger.
Or when they lifted in joy.
She watched what she could no longer feel. She watched and thought of the new name she would forge for herself when she had the power to do so. Different from the name of the girl who struck without remorse and laughed without delight and thought of both with indifference. Different too from the name of the girl who groveled. Her new name would be the best. She was no obstacle to herself now.
Pain was so different. It stopped on her skin instead of resonating to her core. As if her body acted as more of shield now that she was hollow than when it protected her pulsing source of life.
No breath shortened her efforts, no pounding drove her to slacken her pace. In the beginning she had pushed her body to all the speed and strength it could accomplish. No emotion heated the cavity encaged by her ribs, but at first it had seemed possible that if she went faster, hit harder, she would feel that physical beat that told how her body labored and was sustained. She felt nothing. Still, she would do all that muscle and bone could accomplish even if her empty chest was just one more target that could be aimed for, and their aim was sharp.
Without fear, without regret she knew she was breaking.
She still hadn't lived.
Once before she had kept herself from disappearing. She tried again, bent and focused her thought, but now there was no heart to motivate her will.
The world didn't fade, it pressed in around her until she began to break down before it. It peeled her away in layers to her essence.
She saw a name...
A/N: Larxene is far from being a character that I'm even mildly fond of, but I liked her fighting style so much in 358/2 it got me thinking about her. Phonics don't apply to her name pronunciation, it's supposed to be like Ella-nur. I only had so many letters to work with, y'know?