American Gods is by Neil Gaiman and is possibly the best book of all time. Go read it. Now. After you've read this fic. Sometime in the future. Never mind.

Do I believe in redemption?

That's the question. Not whether it exists. Whether redemption exists or not is irrelevant. If I believe in it, it exists. Like American Gods. It exists because I believe in it.

It exists if I believe in it, rather.

Do I? I've done some bad things in my life. I'm talking haunt your dreams, ruin your life, sitting-in-front-of-a-TV-in-a-tiny-apartment-smelling-like-beer-swilling-whiskey-and-anti-depressants-for-dinner-level psychological trauma things. If I talked to a shrink, it's doubtful they'd believe me. If they did, it might be even worse; at least I'd be able to see how long doctor-patient confidentiality lasts when the patient is a mass-murder. The shrink would probably call the police, pack their bags, change their name and dye their hair to get away from me.

I've killed people… oh boy, have I killed people. I'm in a lot of databases, and none of them have nice things to say. I was on a couple of Most Wanted Lists… still am, probably. Probably? Of course I am.

My life has become a smoking wasteland, one covered in rubble and broken dreams and twisted memories and paths that I can no longer remember stepping onto or off, and I'm lost in the middle of it all with no notion of which way is north. I'd like to blame my family, but the truth is, I didn't help myself a lot. One bad decision led to another, and then they just snowballed, until I was running ahead trying to stay in front of the avalanche.

Do I believe in spring?

If I did, I might cherish dreams of flowers growing over the darker of those paths. I might be able to find a spark of light to follow, some noble cause, and make something worthwhile out of what's left of my life. I might be able to find some sunlight.

The problem is, that would mean moving on, and I'm the type to hold grudges. The more sunlight I found, the more the rubble would cast long shadows, until I wake up one day and find I'm back in the darkness.

So, no noble cause. At least not one that would require me to move on while I still have unfinished business. I can't leave rubble behind. I have to deal with what's left, to rebuild first before leaving town, not to just traipse on and find a new psychological landscape.

A new one… or an old one?

I was a ninja before I was ever a soldier, but I did more to help other people as a soldier than in the rest of my life. I used to mock my friend for believing so firmly in what we were doing, but he could turn the joke back on me with a simple sentence:

"Why are you here, then?"

Why was I there? 'To test my abilities,' they said. My abilities didn't need testing. I was officially the biggest bad-ass in the clan by that point. 'Young Master' more or less translated to 'Dude who was so accomplished keeping him as an average agent would be a crime.' I'm modest too.

I wasn't there to test my abilities.

It was my idea to go to war. I had no good reason. My friend would say that he did it to protect his country, his family, because it was the right thing to do. I didn't feel the same way, but I wanted to. I wanted to feel like I was a part of something greater than myself, working towards an aim that included more people than me and my clan.

Maybe that's why I went to war. Not because I did believe, but so I could learn to.

How did I lose my way so badly? I never wanted to become a monster. Is there any holy-water cure, or is my only way out a silver bullet?

That train of thought leads me back to redemption.

I've seen people recover from bad stuff. My friend's family died, and he survived. He even found a new one, from the sounds of it: a red-head girlfriend who breaks your bones, a couple of dozen brothers he can beat up, even a father-figure general (and goddamn, but that Wolverine-driver… I really hope my friend didn't think of her as a sister, 'cause that would lead straight to thoughts that could only be classified as 'incest'. Then again, maybe not… the red-head is pretty spectacular…)

I'm getting distracted. Or trying to distract myself. Point is, he made a new life. Can I?

I would need help. He was my family once. Maybe he'll forgive me, at least enough to put me out of my misery. Perhaps I'd even be able to make some kind of deal, information for a lesser jail sentence. I deserve some form of punishment, and he's the only person in the world who can make me take it meekly. Can I honestly, truly accept his help, though? He believes in what he's doing. I'd be going to him for myself, for my own benefit.

God, I'm selfish.

On the other hand…Maybe this is just another war. I don't believe in it, but I go so that by the end I will.

And of course, if they accept me, it would go a long way to repairing those ruins in my mind.

You know what? To hell with repairing. I'll C4 the bastards.

That's more my style.