A/N: A day early! It's amazing what happens when your character talks as much as a mime. This is a seriously weird character to write, particularly in AU format where he's human. I hope everyone gets along!
Happy early birthday to Sgt Rypht!
Thank you to everyone who reviewed, faved, and followed Petals and Pens! There are so many of you and I love every single one. I'm glad you enjoyed that oneshot so much. Please enjoy this next one.
-There are casualties of war that nobody imagines. There are children who are never children. And there are monsters who only wear thick fur. He is one such monster. He knows it. They all do.
Ways of War
He was not born without a heart.
The boy might have wished he were. Of course, that would determine his ability to wish and to dream. He had never had a right towards those tings. He had never shared an inclination towards desiring them either. Not in many years, perhaps not ever at all.
Of course, that would all hinge upon the question of: was he real?
It was an age-old question for one such as himself. For Kyubey, it was always what he had asked as a child. The voices had never answered him. It was likely they never would either. What a shame. They usually had such intriguing half-truths for which to impose upon him.
For example, he is one of many. However, the importance of how many always strikes him as something of note that is never expressed. It is a mild irritation, but it factors into his plans. It always has. He just was never sure of how.
Kyubey was not born without a heart. He might have been born with a smaller conscience than most, but he was a human once.
Just like the Puella, that time was a once upon a time fairy tale, a real fairy tale without glamors over it.
It is likely he's forgotten most of it.
He was born in the slums. That is something that when asked for an interview, the little boy can answer freely.
When were you born?- Kyubey didn't remember.
How old are you? -What's in a number, he would reply.
What's your real name?- Why compromise my position?
How can you do this to little girls?- They can always back out. They just never do. Or they are like the Pleiades, the ones who tried to become more than they were. It always ends in their downfall, as he told them, but their downfalls create productivity. That is always a plus.
No, those specific things are answers to questions that he never has, but Kyubey remembered the beginning place well enough. It was a place where there was a smaller war. There were only guns and grunts and men. Oh there were lots of men. Kyubey had been born to one of them.
Yes, she had been born to a warrior's spoils, and could never forget it.
It was a difficult thing to recall, the gender you actually were. She hardly ever thought about being a girl or a boy or a thing. Being a thing was simply more useful. Worrying over gender protocols never got things done.
Regardless, she had once been a girl and when her use was over, she would probably be a girl again. It was only until they didn't need her mind. It was until her inhuman eyes were no longer necessary and she did not have to call upon the one magic she knew better than any man.
In the war she had been bathed in, she had learned quickly to watch and to wait and to run. To do those things would ensure your life, just your own. There was no way to think of others.
That was fine to her. She wasn't good at thinking of others anyway.
That was why the bomb raids missed her, but the men did not. They had been looking at her anyway. The choice was them or death. She chose their hands, their gun-toting, meaty hands and shot them where she sat in their laps. Blood decorated her hair and she didn't care.
This was the way of war.
She was a very lonely little girl, if she could recall. Or if loneliness was a thought to consider.
There was only herself and her bunny rabbit, which she had trained to bite anyone withing six feet of her. It was a very nice bunny rabbit otherwise. She never decided to eat it until it died, leaving her alone in a metal forest.
She was never going to be rescued by a prince, she remembered knowing. In a real battle, there were never any good saves. She would make her way through on brains and instincts.
They were all humans ever had, all they had ever really needed.
However, who was to say they could not need more and be more than human?
She had had time to wonder about that for a while, usually when walking, or when cutting up a dying bunny rabbit for dinner. By Tibbles the Eighth, they seemed to understand. She did not hate them, nor did she love them. Kyubey was trying to survive just as they did.
No, she was trying to prosper. To try and merely survive with these snowy features and ruined body, with red eyes that saw death, that was beneath her. Cheating death was the least that thing deserved.
It was hard after that.
Oh it had always been difficult, but it had never been hard. She knew village life. She knew farming and soldiers and violence. But she didn't know peace. She didn't know how anyone in this big place could know peace. Apparently, these people of Mitakihara could. So that left her, outcast once more.
In the same breath, Kyubey realized quickly and with a miniscule trace of glee, they could know war as well.
They knew it in quieter ways than bombs and selfish soldiers. They knew it in the ways of dying girls and glorified children. They knew it in equality and in tears.
She could use this.
But first she had to be noticed and that was a great hurdle.
A little girl shoved the plate of food into her skinny arms and scattered away. Her pink hair bounced in the wind of her skirt and Kyubey smiled a smile that never reached her eyes.
Someone had noticed her. She would repay that, someday.
Someday, when she mattered, she would repay that little notice tenfold.
It would be with power. It would be with desire.
She chewed the meat thoughtfully, smiling at the sky that was gentle blue and imagining it dyed red.
It was a nice, gentle image.
The first thing wrong with her enlistment was that she hadn't been fourteen. She didn't know her age.
The second thing was that she was obviously a girl and yet the nurse continued to call her a boy with the coldest eyes, the coldest eyes like her own. She didn't care, so Kyubey would not either.
Therefore, the first thing she did was shoot a gun and say the metal was rusted. They punched and she did not punch back. She simply stared at them with a bloody nose and smiled.
Her first real name was Joker. It was also the time she stopped being a girl, if she ever had been.
"What do you want me for?"
"Your mind, of course."
What else would we want you for?
He heard these words and smiled at them. "What do you want it for? Minds can do a lot of things."
They tittered as one, their monotones beautiful and tragic. All of them looked different, but they all had the same eyes. They all had eyes red as blood and as uncaring as the sun to the rest of the stars. It was comforting in the perverse sense that it was his own. It was a sign.
A sign that things could be changed.
He recognized these voices, he realized. He recognized them because all through his life, from the beginning until the deaths, they had always been there. They were in his heart, in his knife.
They were his.
Something blossomed, something that he could confuse for the hope of the universe, in his chest like a desperate flower. He was happy... as much as he could ever be happy.
"You have an idea, do you not, Kyubey?" His lips curled at the word. It satisfied him, yes, that was it. These people, these current moments, they were satisfying. "You know how we can win this war."
Did he? Did he know?
The meat in his hands had never been so warm until now...
So warm and once living...
"Oh yes," he agreed. "I do know. I just have little ways of testing my theories."
"We will give you that."
(While he was putting thoughts to paper, he learned of a building collapse caused by terrorism.
His little savior was dying on the television screen.
Despite the odd haze running through his mind, Kyubey smiled.
It was time to repay his debt. Live a little longer, little pink girl. Then you will be saved.)
The first few were utter failures.
The girls didn't last more than a week after the injections.
He didn't quite understand why. He tried it on himself first and there had been no wrongs.
Was it another sign there was something special?
And could that special thing be exploited?
He dripped his blood into a vial and started again, not looking back at the screaming children in the next room.
Perhaps age was a factor as well.
"People are noticing the missing ones."
"People always notice greatness."
The little girl stood next to him in a silence that he acknowledged as similar to his.
"Are you certain of this choice Chitose Yuma?"
"Mm." The little girl tugged at her green hair and removed yellow hair ties. Plopping them into his hands, she gave him a nod. "I want those back, sir." She knew she would survive. That was why Kyubey selected her. She was young, but she was strong. She was young, but she had eyes like his. They weren't red, but they were tragic.
They wanted more from this world.
So she would be given more.
Her tiny body, so still on the operating table, reminded Kyubey of his own and of the little savior.
This is for you, he thought with his trademark smile. This is for the war.
"Let us begin, shall we, Albertine?"
It was a natural thing by the time she was there for him to repay.
The girls became Witches. It was as simple as that.
Oh, to them it was complex and hard to grasp, of course. They still considered it human cruelty and monstrous. The idea of war itself was monstrous to them. That was because they did not know as he knew. Would it comfort them if they realized their powers came from him?
Would it glorify their world is they knew the hell was at an end?
If it would, it was hardly his concern. He had not been doing this for them.
He had been waiting for this.
"Are you certain of your choice, Kaname Madoka?"
His little, pink-haired savior. She was so broken, so fragile now. Look at her crushed limbs, look at the fear in her eyes, the resignation. He could change that. He would make her whole again.
It had been his dream for almost seven years, if those like him were truly capable of dreaming.
She looked at him with concern, as if there could be any other thing for her to do now that she was all the way here. Her mouth did not move, but she smiled anyway.
"You always have a choice, Kaname Madoka. Is this your true decision?"
Ah, he had done this for so long, so long that he had almost forgotten what it was he was actually doing. It was for the good of this long, long war to come to an end. It was for peace.
It was also for her.
Think of what someone like her could do.
Someone who acted without thought for others. The person could be capable of great feats in the middle of a dying world. Reviving the soldiers to fight again, bringing their own back to turn the tide of this civil hell.
Those were the words of the propaganda posters. Those were the dreams he was meant to realize.
Now, with Kaname Madoka, he could.
He saw the surprise ripple on her face, the confusion, and then the resignation rose. She stripped, not with the modesty of others before her, or the brazen fury of a little child, but with a distinct lack of concern if he looked or didn't. She likely believed there was nothing about her to be ashamed of.
Kyubey agreed with her. Porcelain prosthetic for half of her body, bandages to cover the thing that was her throat, they were beautiful war scars of their own. They were the mark of a survivor, a powerful survivor.
With this Operation, she would only grow stronger.
"It is time, Kreimheld Gretchen," he heard himself hum, smiling all the while. "Rest now and wake as a Witch, ready to work with the ways of war."
The pink eyes looked at him until she passed out. His savior did not scream, nor did the world. She simply watched until her end, as he would do.
She was a good girl, his Savior.