Praying for Visions from God
Nice and high and far apart, Just like they said
I built this place with broken parts, Just like they said
I'm safe in here
Irrelevant, Just like they said
He is mocking everything I have ever lived for. I cannot tell how many hours or days have passed since the first time Stampede offered me sustenance; I still refuse the food he holds against my mouth. I try to avoid the water he brings, but Stampede has been too clever in that regard. Exploiting my body's damnable reflexes, he'll pry my mouth open, tilt my head back and pour the water into my mouth, giving no choice but to swallow or choke. But, truly I have no choice as my body betrays me, automatically drinking the liquid, even if I wish otherwise. My traitorous filth of a body that got me into this predicament, that survived yet left me worse than useless, cost me everything and ruined the only hope I had left. I can't speak. I can't hear. My voice just echoes off these walls.
I see it all
The many ways you can't get to me
I see it all
I see the hell you put yourself through
Vash sits me up in the bed, holding a cube of apple to my lips and staring me down as if he might actually find something, like he'll win this. Nothing. Given enough time Vash goes on to that dreadful water. I wish to choke, terrified of facing Master now. Now, the only thing he'll remember of me now is what a spectacular failure I've been, butchering my purpose to the point of ending as a deadweight for His brother. Stampede uses his sleeve to wipe some droplets off my chin. My plan was a fool proof: Vash would kill the spider, or I would kill the village, his friends, myself. The perfect binary for Vash: kill or save none. Either path would show him the necessity in, the mercy of granting death; and so the brothers' argument would finally have been settled in Masters' favor. Then Master could remember me fondly... None of that matters anymore.
My voice just echoes off these walls
My body betrayed me, so I betrayed Master. Even if it was against my will, I still see survival for what it is: worse than failure, it is treason. How is it that I went from Master's most faithful to destroying His plans? Now, now he will never believe me, that I was devoted to Him completely. Not that Master should care, especially now that I've stolen his brother. Certainly, if Vash is here trying to shove food down my throat, then he delayed his meeting with Master. Master's plan ought to have reached completion by now; humanity, we should be extinct. Yet I live, and I don't see Vash mourning, so Their battle cannot have taken place, because Master would not lose. Vash delayed, because of me. And now I am like this. Captive, again. And I just slowly fade away. Master never did say what to do if I was captured. Would he want that I kill myself? I can't even accomplish that. Besides, I can't let myself die while disappointing Him. My mission, there must be a way to salvage it. At the least, I owe it to Master to face him and apologize. I can't just hide... I will return to Master, he will correct my error. Maybe Vash will follow, I owe master that much. I'll escape soon, even if I'm powerless, can't move my body beyond a twitch of the wrist and am watched over by Vash. I must return: I belong to Master Knives, not Vash, even if Vash keeps me here. You will never, ever get to me in here.
This isn't any good. Legato won't eat, no matter how much I coax him. It's not that he can't. I see the resolve in his eyes. This is the last act of defiance and loyalty that Legato can muster: starvation. It's sad, really. Knives, why do this to someone? It's so obvious how much you mean to him. Why do this? A human can last a month, at most, without food. I'll have to put Legato back on the IV before that time's up. I don't want to, because that's forcing Legato, and he's probably been through enough of that already. I don't want to take away the last scraps of will he has left, yet he insists on using that will to harm himself. I don't think I'll get much of a choice. A human can only last a few days without water, probably much less in Gunsmoke's heat. I'm sorry, Legato. I carefully pour the cool water down his throat, knowing how much he'll hate me for it.
I use a polished tray as a mirror. It lets me get a view of my Brother and Legato without being seen, as I duck intothe alcove by the doorway. Legato doesn't deserve it when Vash strokes his bangs from his eyes or brushes his cheek. He doesn't deserve a superior being's concern for failing an easy mission. I shift the angle of the mirror to give a better view of Legato. He's damaged worse than Vash implied, yet his retina make contact and track movement as well as ever. Is there anything to salvage? Vash,my idiot brother, seems to think there is. Brother wastes his time wiping Legato's face with a damp cloth. At least then Legato won't stink if he comes out here. Then again, how long has Legato been wearing those clothes? It looks like his black turtle neck and gray slacks. Unless Vash went out and bought a new set, the answer's bound to be pretty disgusting. There's no way I'm letting my brother and my servant live that way. I nudge Vash mentally, curiously looking in the mirror to see if Legato intercepts anything: "He's disgusting, Vash. Give him a bath." "Wha? Knives, that's not right... Legato must feel vulnerable right now, a bath will be too awkward." "Listen. To. Me. Vash- Is having Legato live like a pig better?" "Just give him some time to-" "I'll open the faucet of the tub, if you don't want it to flood and ruin your floorboards, rush there to shut it off. Take Legato with you." "You're a jerk, Knives." Our entire telepathic exchange seems to have gone over Legato's head. I walk to the tub and then quickly make my way the kitchen, shutting the door so Legato won't spot me. I hear Vash open the door, his steps slow and a bit heavy. Good.
Knives might be right, that Legato should take a bath. Legato needs to learn to trust people other than Knives, to trust me, if I'm ever going to help him. I shift him a bit so I can turn the knob and open the door. He's light and soft and limp in my arms; that can't be a good sign. Legato's head just falls against my chest, without his muscles bothering to support it. His eyes have a cold edge in them. I don't blame him, but he needs to learn trust. Knives wasn't kidding when he threatened to flood the tub. I shift Legato to sit on the floor and shut the faucet before checking the temperature. Cool, tepid maybe, it's not the freezing bath I was afraid Knives would try to make me give Legato. I drain the tub a bit and add some warm water before getting back to Legato.
"Hey, Legato. I'm just going to clean you off a bit, is that alright? You'll feel better with all the grime off- just stay calm, please." I'm a thorough believer in reaching out to everyone and acknowledging them, even when it's a deaf Legato Bluesummers. I kneel down by him, putting my hands at the hem of his shirt and pulling it off. He's all soft skin and hard bone, gentle curves and sinewy muscle. But- that's not what makes my breath catch: there's an old, angry jagged tear across his throat and oh so many little scars that dance on his ribs as he hyperventilates. Is this what you don't want me to see?
Mentally, I reach out to ask: "Knives, what is this?" "What's what, Vash?" I slip off the rest of Legato's clothes, mouthing sorry and trying to push down my unease about the way he flinches. "The scars, Knives! Did you-" "Don't. Accuse. Me. Brother. He was damaged when I got him." I ease Legato into the water and wash his hair as he scrunches his eyes shut. "Sorry. Sorry, Knives. But, how did this happen?" "Do you see the big one on his throat? That was the humans who had him before me. He was just a broken, teenaged-thing left for dead on their city's outskirts when I found him-" "Why didn't you tell me this before, Knives!" Poor thing. "Hmph. Normally, you don't like stories like this: Their pustule of a city was just too close to where I wanted to live, so I leveled it. And somehow, he survived on the outskirts- doing the unthinkable and manipulating me to go to him, telepathically begging for help on a subconscious level. I didn't mean to keep him alive, honest. I'd just meant to find out what a human was doing with those abilities. But his first words to me were endearing: God , is that you? Of course, the egotistical little being actually thought I'd killed the city for him. That his god came down to avenge and mend him, some idiot starstruck spiderling fantasy. I let him believe that for a week or two." I rinse the soap off Legato, as he carefully keeps his head down, eyes shut and fists shaking. "Knives, he was an abused child... It's natural that he wanted somebody to save him." "Abused by the humans. He'll never stop hating them, he'll never accept them and he'll never accept that he's one of them. Give it up, Vash." I drain the tub of water, getting the softest towels I can find. "He's not a natural born killer... Legato could have been diffrent in another life." "That life never happened, Vash. Forget it." I wrap him in the towels and then lift him out. "That doesn't matter, your-" "Ticket to the future's always blank. I know, Vash. You say that way too much. Stop it." I smile a bit to myself. After I've dressed Legato in a white button up and faded jeans, put him to bed and turned off the lights, I run into Knives when I step out of the room.
"That whole time, Legato couldn't even sense I was right here." Knives says with his arms crossed.
"He'll get better, Knives."
AN: Well, I'll be using a slightly modified version of Legato's manga back story. Modified because I've added to it so that I can write the Angel Blades out.
Lyrics at the top are from NIN's Echoplex.