So, here's the story behind this, as I'm sure you're all dying to know.

I decided, in a whimsical attempt to jumpstart my own writing and to give myself a chance to write outside of my proverbial box, to allow a few friends an opportunity to throw prompts at me. The only stipulation was that these prompts had to be of a concept they knew made me writhe in my seat, based on how much I disliked it. It ranges from tropes to pairings, though it's mostly tropes at this point.

I told them to do their worst, of course. And they did.


So, this series of one-shots will reflect what I am killing pieces of myself little by little to write about. The idea is that I will write about them my way, in a way I like a hell of a lot better than the "usual" fare. I'll leave how I did up to you guys to decide, but I tried to break away from the mold, if nothing else. Warnings will be slotted below the prompt in bold, in case they happen to be needed.

Prompt: "Jehu" is an actual character, not Yubel in Johan's body.

More than anything else, Jehu hated being alone. It was strange for someone like him, but he always tried to give himself something to do, to concentrate on. With nothing to devote his attention to, he inevitably began to think on himself, and once that happened, he tended to lose what little grip he had on humanity.

With any thought about his circumstances, he came to feel like a void of things, an empty vessel which experience and personality refused to stick to. He came to wish that someone would release his strings and let him stop moving, or thinking, when he was not needed.

But Johan Andersen certainly did not want him, and he was half of the reason for his existence in the first place.

"How horrible. Your avoidance makes me feel like a thrice-removed cousin's ghost at the family dinner."

Usually, Jehu was the one who tried to avoid Johan, although Johan had no objections to this himself. To him, this boy was only a strange gestalt that pulled at the undeniable hollow inside him, as if parts of his flesh wished to return to the time when he had been sundered from within that immaculate reserve of creation energy. More than likely, only the other half of the reason for his existence knew about it at all, and even then, only through the fact she'd had plenty of time to root through every mental and spiritual thread of his being to find out.

Johan sank to the ground, pressing his back against the stone lighthouse of the harbor and looking immensely troubled. It was lonely nowadays, especially at night; occasionally, one of the Tenjoins would come out, even more occasionally bringing a conversation partner with them. Jehu knew Johan thought it was a fitting sanctuary for them, because they both seemed to embody the gentler, nurturing side of the ocean.

Of course he did. He had that tiny little tidbit of memory, floating around in the fathomless black space that was his mind. They only presented themselves when his train of thought arrived at them on its own, and finally had something to connect them to; until then, they drifted. It was like wandering around in a dungeon level of a video game for the first time to fill out the onscreen map…

…Ah, like so.

"I don't have any cousins, anyway," Johan said, moments later. "That's not really a point against you. The only ones who even know about this whole thing are the two of us here right now…"

"So you say, but who's really the one being punished here?"

Although the doppelganger was lingering behind him and safely — dangerously — out of his line of sight, he was sure Jehu's lips had just twitched and his eyes had narrowed. If they still possessed the same supernatural brightness he'd been told, second-hand, that they'd had when… at the time, he was sure they'd have just flashed out at the ocean like two extra lighthouse beacons.

He stayed silent, so Jehu followed up. "You had the right to that intimacy from the beginning, you know. A kinship created by having been born into the world from parents, and growing through childhood as a human. I can only envy that in you, although surely you must have had your fair share of lethal jealousy by now."

The poison in his tone was palpable. Johan noted through the murky haze, or his own murky melancholy, he couldn't quite tell which, that it really had been more than just him that had lent to this person.

He couldn't help but make an expression somewhere between a grimace and a smirk at that, though. Even after everything, he still referred to Yubel as a person, too. And Jehu as well, despite being the half-extant reminder of it all on top of that, who should have been even less. But Johan was incapable of demeaning someone that way, no matter how muddled and disdainful his feelings about them might have been.

"It still bothers you," Jehu tried again when Johan failed to take what suddenly seemed less like bait than before. "Why else would you come out here to sulk? Aside from the fact you knew I'd follow you either way. You're only worried about leaving tomorrow because it means you get too much time to dwell on it all."

He glared at Johan as if daring him to argue, but Johan thought he might know a different answer to that. "Well… all people, I think they judge other people's actions by what they would or wouldn't do. Right and wrong are just personal judgments about what's most important to you."

The copy snorted inelegantly. "So, that Yubel was wrong because she wouldn't have done it your way? Well, that was obvious from the very beginning." Even in his clear attempt to distance the concept of someone like Yubel from himself, Johan picked up on the slightly distressed note in his voice. It was like listening to himself… no, more like listening to the manifestation of everything terrible about himself he tried to keep a tight lid on speaking to him in a foreign lilt of his own voice. Johan believed wholeheartedly in ghosts, duel spirits, inexplicable phenomena, and maybe even a god if he really wanted to top it all off, but until now, he was sure near-cartoony interpretations of the devil on his shoulder to whisper sweet temptations and painful truths in his ear were not anywhere on that list.

"Then, what would you have done, Johan?"

He didn't know. They both fell silent, but the answer was clear nonetheless. If the apple didn't fall far from the tree, a duplicated, synthetic apple must always land directly next to its unwilling material donor.

After a while, Jehu grew bored of watching the stars past Johan's shoulder and melted away again, with that unique half-alive ability to draw himself out of reality even further than most spirits could. That night, while Johan dreamed about moving past all the hardships and gaining his happiness through others like never before, Jehu dreamed in his metaphysical way about what it must be like to be human enough to have that kind of intimacy to lose.