So Hand In Hand, Twin-Leafed Despair
Everything you saw, you saw through me; I was your lens to look out at the world. I gave you colour, light, form. You gave me yourself, and if that was less, then I would never have hurt you by telling you so, and if it was more, then I would never have told you that either, because it might have darkened the joy which you had found.

But just as I was where the light came in, so I was where the darkness crept through.

To be with you felt right, right in more ways than I have words for. We thought the same things, smiled the same smile, cared for the children together . . . I remember walking with you in the sunlight, and even later, even when I was there, I could still close my eyes and remember the heat of the sun on my face, the clasp of hands, the absolute security of knowing you were there and that I could hold on to you and you would hold on to me and neither of us would ever let go of the other. My brother. My lover. My life.

This is the space between when a drop of blood falls from the knife, and when it touches the floor. I've been listening to the screams from upstairs. I know what has happened.

I've spent two months knowing what would happen.

After all, I'd do the same thing.

I do not weep for the creatures who lived here, who raped me. I am not crying even for the women and the children. I do not care that babies may have been slaughtered in their cradles. Everyone who lived here owns guilt for what was done in this place. I am not the first woman to have sat in this cell and waited for death. Let the Bodhisattvas show mercy if they so desire. That may be in their nature. It is not in mine. I never claimed to be a kind woman, only a loving one.

I am crying because of what has happened to Gonou, what he has become through me. He is the only one whom I have ever truly loved, the only person between heaven and earth for whom I would give my life or damn my soul.

What does he see in my eyes, when I look at him and see him now? Does the black and white of anger and hatred suddenly repaint itself in colour, now that we are reunited, and let him know himself through my eyes once again?

The drop of blood falls through the air in a slow thread of crimson. In sunlight it might have been scarlet, but down here we have only the torches to give us light, and the shadows wait around them, pressing close as they count the minutes till the torches gutter out and darkness sweeps in.

All I want is what we once had. I have never wanted anything else.

The drop of blood touches the ground, and Gonou looks into my eyes, and he doesn't see what I see. It's gone. We're parted. He walks towards me, smiling, the blood on his hands and arms and splashed across him in differing drying shades of red and brown, and he doesn't see, he doesn't see, what is in my eyes. He just sees Kanan.

It's not that I hate him. He only did what I would have done. It's not that I'm angry with him. I love him far too much to ever be angry with him. It's none of these things.

But we're already parted. They've done that to us; the villagers who tied my hands behind my back and gave me to the Centipede King's tribe, the youkai who used me like an animal and were going to butcher me like an animal, the gods who allowed it to happen, the Bodhisattvas who showed no mercy. We are not what we were. I realise it now. You will realise it in time, Gonou, and you will wonder why you killed a thousand people for a woman who will not and cannot ever again be who she was.

Look, this is Gonou. Look, this is Kanan. Two separate people who spent two months apart and who have each lost half of their soul in the process. You've waded in blood for the person who I was. I waited in the dark for the person who you were. I could have killed myself, but I chose to wait, just as you could have found some other way, but you chose to kill.

And what did this to each of us? Why, we did. The bitterness is growing inside me like a cancer, knowing that it is for love of me, or love of the Kanan-who-was, that you have now become the man who smiles so beautifully and so happily and who cannot see the blood upon his hands. This is the true monster's child, this is what I cannot live with; that we have done this to each other, and all for love. I pray that you will never bear it, never know its face, and that it will sleep in you silently. May the gods keep enlightenment from you and leave you love.

I have one thing left to do; one piece of work to put my house in order, one final bit of tidiness before I go. I cannot let this happen again. Forgive me, Gonou, for my selfishness; forgive me for my lack of mercy, forgive me for leaving you, but just as you are the crack that let hatred and anger into me, that let me smile as I heard the screams from upstairs, so I am the hole that allows the insanity into your soul. For your sake I must cut us apart forever.

We are damned if we love each other. We are damned if we both have each other. I never used to believe it, but now I know that it is true.

Yes, let me take your knife.

I'm sorry, Gonou.

I didn't expect that it would still be so sharp.


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