Oct 1- Ain

Oct. 1st, 2015 11:32 pm
magharabi: (Shakky~ that's life)
[personal profile] magharabi
Fandom: One Piece
Character(s): Ain, Binz, Zephyr
Categories: Gen, Unrequited Shipping
Warnings: None

~*~*~*~

A garish town, not exactly backwater but certainly not urban, either. The night was alight with multi-colored strung lights, fireworks, and ghastly apparitions that glowed in the dark. Moribund, they'd called it, and Ain had thought the name referred to the way the village perched between rocky beaches and the thick, shadowy forests that cover the majority of the island. Now, in the midst of faces painted as faintly gleaming death's heads and intricate costumes that can only be described as riots of color, she realized her first assessment had been wrong. It wasn't a word for the forest, but for death. A band played in the central square, their brass and percussion kept time for the fountains of colored flame being set off wherever someone managed to clear almost enough space in the crowd while couples paired off to dance and children formed up into small mobs that ran through the streets here and there and disappeared into the overgrown alleys.

Master Zed turned up his nose and snorted a time or two, in that derisive way that Ain had come to realize meant he was doing his best to ignore old memories. Binz could hardly control himself as they swept up a side street that was no less crowded than the square on their way to find lodgings. More children ran along this street, shrieking and laughing in their small gangs with partially filled bags slung over their shoulders as they darted from house to house. He always love this kind of frenetic motion, with color and sound and the smells of spiced pastries. It was hard to keep pace with Master Zed sometimes, narrowly focused as he was on his goals, as if he feared thinking of anything else would destroy him. But Binz longed to be freer than that, to revel in his speed and his ability and live in the moment as he prepared to charge the future. She could see his eyes following the children, though he kept his expression dutifully grim. Neo-Marines were not frivolous thrill seekers like pirates, nor would they turn a politically convenient blind eye to corruption. Their every step had meaning, their every breath exhaled Justice.

Still...

After Master Zed found the building he was looking for and left them with a practiced salute, Ain turned and sat on the step, pulling her cloak more tightly around her. Binz sat as well, and she reached out to touch him on the knee.

“You can join them if you'd like,” she offered, but he shook his head. He nearly buzzed inside, but she knew he'd resist.

“Master Zed-”

“Will understand more than you realize,” Ain finished for him. It was true, she could feel it in her chest. Master Zed was only ice cold and hard because his passionate heart bled. Or at least, that's what she told herself. Besides, this island was merely a stopping point, a place to sleep in a real bed and remember the feel of earth beneath their feet. She inclined her head toward a young gang running past. “What we do is for them, after all. You can help keep them safe.”

Binz nodded, and Ain took twenty-four years, leaving him a child. He quickly adjusted his clothing, wrapping and tying it with an efficiency that told Ain perhaps they'd done this a little too often, and he was off, inserting himself almost flawlessly into one of the gangs, dancing and whooping along with the others. He didn't speak much, but he loved to move. He would learn more of this village in one night of acting a hoodlum than she or Master Zed would in a week of quiet and unobtrusive observation.

It almost made her smile.

If only she could convince Master Zed to remember the living reasons why they fought, instead of only the dead. Ain closed her eyes, listening to the band in the distance, and with guilty pleasure imagined what it might be like to enter that throng in the central square, executing perfectly and beautifully the complicated dance steps. He'd realize there was more in the future than revenge, perhaps begin making plans for something quieter after... with her...

The door creaked and she berated herself for her foolishness, grateful for the tricky lighting that would conceal her blush. It would take a few seconds for it to fade, just long enough for Master Zed to step out onto the landing and pause, noting only one subordinate rather than two.

“He's doing reconnaissance,” she explained before he could ask where Binz had gone. She didn't want to hear the barely veiled anger in his voice over a post abandoned, one of his men breaking rank, though she could hear it anyway, almost feel it pressing against her back. Silly girl, Ain thought. Any pleasant emotion other than violent triumph died in him with his wife.

“I'll expect a full report in the morning then,” He didn't come to sit next to her on the step. She stood and saluted.

“Sir. Yes, sir.”

“Your quarters will be assigned by the receptionist. Dismissed.”

With the quiet scrape of boots on cement, he was gone. Ain held the salute until the door closed behind him, feeling oddly empty, drained of energy. She needed to stop doing this to herself. There were more important things than a foolish girl's crush on her teacher. She let her arm drop to her side, her eyes darting out to the street where Binz had disappeared. This was why she enabled him, gave him a way to run about and be a child again. They'd given up their lives for Master Zed and he viewed them with the same fondness he gave the tools he used to maintain his cybernetic arm. Binz could escape for a few hours, revel in his life, show off his abilities.

Ain could only feel hollow.

But this was the life she'd chosen. The life she believed in. And she didn't regret it.

Even if she hurt for something more.

Sighing, she went inside and wrote a note for Binz and checked in to her room. It was muggy, so she opened the window, surprised to find that the sound of the band came through clearer now that she was a few floors up. It played through the night, the brass and percussion invading her dreams so that she danced until morning, steps she couldn't recall with a man she loved who didn't really exist.

October 2015

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