My hands were shaking. Sunburnt, calloused fingers marred with dripping blood. I stared at them with morbid fascination, the same essence that often forced me into silent immobility as I stood watching cold ribbons of blood splash away from a lifeless corpse. Gazing as now-sightless eyes rolled back into a worthless head, limbs limp and askew.
The blood would wash from my hands but they would remain eternally stained. In the black deeps of the night I could see it, once white, now reeking with blood. Nothing would clean it, for this was the burden I was intended to carry. As a reminder of everything I had taken, the beauty I had stolen. I didn't deserve clean hands. Why should I be the one surrounded with the beauty of countless flowers, the innocent smile of children? Who was I, bringer of death to ever take pleasure in life? I deserved nothing.
My hands continued to shake as my bloody bugnuks fell upon the floor. Crimson drops splattered upon the thick cream carpet and upon my bare feet. Some how I couldn't bring myself to clean it, so callous the action seemed. I had erased their life, could I erase their blood too? Memories broken, dying like empty embers. This is what I had done. My vision was painted red in the desolate black of my room. It was hell and I knew it. Sharp tears stung my eyes, even as mourning now was wasted.
What was I doing?
Death streaked in bloody tatters on shaking hands.
These tears I cry.
"Ken?" The light flicked on, engulfing me into dirty yellow electricity. I loathed it, this unbidden intrusion. In the dark I could hide from myself, from the blood that smirked so loudly against me. Images blurred together, roping into anonymity. Where one began and the other ended, I couldn't see, even as light should have brought some semblance of clarity.
My gaze swung from one red to another. Was there concern marking that wan face? I didn't know, I didn't care. He certainly couldn't have worried, no one did. Otherwise, how could I do what I did? Would no one stop me, telling me what I already reaffirmed in my mind?
Killing was wrong. Even a child knew that. Certainly this child had.
He was talking now, something he rarely ever did. I couldn't listen, he was in another realm from me. I was alone with my thoughts, the stark screams of tonight accompanying me as I stumbled through broken bodies. Flames were burning, dancing through viscous splatters of red. Bone marrow beckoned on jagged fingers, shadows jeering at my faltering attempts at rationalization. Red was the night, in hazy mists of ebony death. That small child cried, tears of scorching flesh. Brought about by me. I had done this. My body was falling, a thousand voices jeering. Lifeless eyes peered up at me, bubbling with scathing hatred. The child shrieked.
"Ken snap out of it!"
My cheek stung as I was jerked into the bright living room. I blinked into concentrated violet eyes. Aya. When had he come? Pale fingers grasped mine and a wet cloth roughly swept over the bleeding tracks that painted my hand.
I wretched from of his grasp. "What are you doing?"
Plum gaze widened. "There's blood all over your hands and on your clothes Ken. You're staining the carpet."
A bitter laugh escaped my mouth. The absurdity of Aya's words weren't lost on me. I chuckled inanely. "I'm staining the fucking carpet! "
A frown marked that pale face. "Yes you are. Now get cleaned up, you're a mess. How did you get your hands bloody if you were wearing your claws anyways?" He stalked towards me with that wet cloth dripping water over bloody lakes, diluting the existence I had destroyed.
That child, hers were the cries I heard the loudest. Why couldn't Aya hear it, see her innocent face vanishing as water soaked the gooey crimson puddles? "Stay away from me Aya," I warned, backing away from him. "I won't let you do it."
Aya stopped. "Do what Ken?"
"Don't be condescending!" I shrieked, seeing her face crying up at me. "You know what! You're trying to erase her again! I see what you're doing and I won't let you!"
"Ken, calm down. I'm not trying to do anything. You need to wipe your hands."
Hysteria seethed ferociously within me. He was lying! He thought I was so stupid that I couldn't even see what he was doing! "You cold hearted bastard," I hissed, watching with smug satisfaction as his expression grew stunned. "You want me to clean this? Why should I? Don't they deserve to be remembered? How can you ask me..." I trailed off, my words failing on a strangled choke. How could he not understand? My hands shook violently before me, blood spilling frantically now.
"You're bleeding!" Aya was at my side so quickly, I couldn't move away from him. His eyes bore stabbingly at mine. "Ken, you're the one bleeding. It's not someone else's blood, it's yours. And you need to bind your hands." His hands dug into my shoulders, shaking me roughly. "Do you understand what I'm saying Ken? You're loosing blood!"
I glanced down at my hands uncertainly. Were they tainted or was it my blood? Aya didn't lie, I knew that. And yet, how could I complain knowing what I had done? Her weeping didn't allow me the luxury of caring for myself. I was worthless. Faceless shadows agreed with me, jeering at my thoughts. They howled with laughter at the sight of blood; only mine in the vast pool of countless others. "It's doesn't matter! I deserve it! Why should I live when she's dead?"
"Ken people die," Aya whispered quietly, his hand catching hold of mine. The softness in his voice surprised me, as he pressed the cloth to my wound. "You must know that by now. It's our job to protect the innocent. That's all we're doing."
"She was innocent!" I shrilled vehemently, jolting free from his grasp. My chest heaved with heavy anguish, as I gasped for air. "Why can't you see that? We're supposed to protect people like her not kill them! You just finished saying that! She was only a child Aya!" Tears splashed down my cheeks, blurring Aya into avid distortion. "Just a child," I whispered brokenly. Her hair had been tied with pink ribbons, a blond doll clutched tightly to her small chest. She stood knee deep in blood, crying for me to help her. Even now, after I killed her. No one believed me. They only laughed and it grated in my mind, gnawing on the pink tissue of my brain. I ached so poignantly, as though I would break. I couldn't even complain, knowing what I knew. What I had done.
"Don't look at me like that! You don't care and I know it!" I loathed the mock sympathy on his face, as if it really mattered to him. He wasn't fooling me, I knew he didn't care. He was just like every other sneering voice, only he hid behind illusory compassion. I knew it.
"The girl's death was an accident. You couldn't have known that she was there." He held out one slender, ivory hand. Such long fingers beckoning to me. "I'm not going to hurt you. I-I'm your friend, aren't I?"
His words puzzled me. "Aya?" He couldn't have thought...couldn't have wanted...he considered me a friend? The faint blush that marked high, ashen cheeks spoke volumes. "You just want...you're trying to...I thought..." I was confused now, feeling suddenly flustered. His actions were so unlike him. Surely he was concealing his real thoughts and was attempting to lure me into false complacency?
And even though I understood it, despite the diluted blood that wavered with her sobbing visage upon the floor, even as my hands were marked in painful streaks and shadows ridiculed me, dancing on the shattered recesses of my intellect, I couldn't help myself.
My hands still shook as I reached towards that elegant hand. My fingers clutched desperately at Aya's, my blood staining those colorless fingers.
A strangled choke forced its way from my throat. I was doing it again! Blemishing what was white. Images skittered through my mind, pigtails darkened with blood, faces drenched in blood, hands dipping with blood, vision strewn with blood. What kind of person was I? What was I doing? And now to Aya, who said I was his friend!
Maybe he knew, for his hand tightened around mine, long fingers intertwining through my own. "I'm staining you," I cried frantically, struggling to free my hand. "Just like everything I touch!" Hot tears spilled down my face, crying for everything I had done, for everything I was about to do.
"Ken, that isn't true." He forced my chin up to look into those hauntingly plum orbs. His voice was serene. "If you want to know the truth," Thin fingers soothingly wiped away my tears. "I...I admire you."
I forgot everything as he gently led me to the sofa, where he began to bandage my hands. I barely recognized the action. "You admire me?" I was in disbelief. Admiration for me, from Aya? How was that possible? "Why?" I asked, unjustified dread welling up within me.
"Because you care." He paused in his ministrations to look at me. His dark eyes dominated his face at that instant. "You keep giving to us, to those children you teach soccer to, to the world, even when it hurts." He caressed my bandaged hand, stroking the spaces between my fingers. "You sacrifice yourself for others. You never worry about yourself."
"How can I?" I whispered out, my thoughts in mindless disarray. Everything he was saying, his compassionate actions, it was so unlike him. Why wasn't he scowling at me, snapping at me, lecturing me? Wasn't that what I deserved? To be taunted and in constant misery for what I had done? The entire purpose of Weiss was to bring justice to those who sinned. Than what was I and where was this justice? How come Aya couldn't see that I wasn't admirable? "What you're feeling is misplaced Aya. I'm not worth it...you shouldn't - "
My words were silenced by a kiss. Aya's kiss.
Lips that were both cool and soft brushed against mine, gently at first and then slightly harder. He took me in his arms, pulling me into the sweet intensity of his kiss, of his embrace. And then he parted from me, one slender hand coming up to curve against my cheek. "Never doubt your worth Ken. Not for one moment."
I could only stare at him in mute silence, all the words I wanted to say swirling around me. I couldn't catch even one long enough to express what I was feeling. My mouth tingled from his.
"I can't stand to see you blaming yourself for something that's not your fault," he continued quietly. "I don't want you to break Ken. Not you." His arms enfolded me once more, holding me close to him.
"Aya," I whispered. I felt his heart beating against and it felt serene. Laying my head against his shoulder, I felt tears splash down my cheeks and onto the black fabric of his shirt.
I was tired, so weary. I didn't want to stand with blood splattering the path before and behind me, those faceless shadows taunting me. I just wanted that little girl back, to see her smile. This guilt was weighting my soul down
Aya's hand slid into my tangled hair as he made soothing noises to my senseless, weeping babble. He was only kindness now, showing me compassion when I deserved none. Then it became clear, as he stepped through the hazy red mist and rotting flesh, holding his hand out towards me. For one moment I was no longer drained, feeling only calming tranquility shroud me.
The moment lasted, so long as I was in his arms.