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The Quiet Lives Of Baron Saturday; Private Thread between Naoko Raidon and Mizore Soryu
Topic Started: Sep 11 2010, 12:52 AM (1,908 Views)
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(Mizore Soryu continued from Ten Shades Of Grey)

Mizore was drawing death and the dead.

Not the Grim Reaper Death of yore—not him, at least, without a few adjustments. The man with the scythe was too old-fashioned for her taste. Mizore was drawing new Deaths, pop-culture Deaths, Death from Sandman in all her goth-girl glory, Death from The Book Thief holding hands with Leisel, and the undead teeming from the walls: Moka from Rosario + Vampire, Emily from The Corpse Bride and her cheery, debauched undeath blending into Baron Saturday and his drunken kin.
A man could never die, the voudoun said, unless Baron Saturday would bury him. Mizore looked around the camera-infested townhouse. Baron Saturday had always loved a show.

She didn’t know how many deaths she would have to draw until she was okay with this.

Something interrupted her peripheral vision. Another student was approaching. A Japanese boy with the standard pistol used by the Chinese police and armed forces.

This felt like, back in real life, the times she had been caught graffiting; Radio Asuka, artist outlaw extraordinaire, defacing the walls of a townhouse on a damp evening. Mizore lifted her hands to show that she came in peace, bearing nothing but a bloody ace bandage and a smashed wax pencil. The familiarity of the situation almost made her laugh; instead, she smiled at the home invader.

Some unkilled remnants of the self-preservation instinct made her voice soft.

“Hey, have you got any paint?”
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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(Naoko Raidon continued from Bats & Rats & Blind Cave Salamanders)


Mizore Soryu was one of the few people at Bayview Raidon could identify on sight. This might, he conceded, have been entirely due to the fact she was the only other Japanese student he knew or paid any attention to; this might, equally, have had to do with the fact that he had always nursed a small crush on her. Something about the way she looked--slightly off-kilter with the rest of the world, as though she'd just stepped out of a manga.

But then, Naoko Raidon didn't leave much room in his life for personal concerns, save the occasional outing with Simon or his fellow debaters, so he'd never exchanged more than a few words with her. Bit of a hippie, by all accounts; prone to defy authority. Vegetarian or something? Maybe vegan--vegetarian wasn't such a big deal.

She was standing here. He had a gun in one hand. He could kill her.

He had left the tunnels with his hands clean--too many people crowding about, he tried to tell himself, couldn't kill there, his odds of getting away weren't good enough. He knew it was only empty justification, knew that they'd both been essentially unarmed and he could easily have taken them both out, but it had sufficed. He'd escaped the tunnels, in the end--wandered in the darkness for only a little while, before finding his way out--and, after inspected his map, made his way to this clustered, noisy center of houses. It seemed he and Mizore had had similar ideas--find a quiet place to hide out, think about their next moves.

Or, in Mizore's case, paint.

"Uh, no," Raidon said, after a moment. "No, I don't have any paint." He was studying the mural she'd been drawing; it was a peculiar construct, almost light-hearted in its treatment of death. He didn't understand it, to be honest. How...how...

He had a gun in his hand, and the girl didn't seem to think he was a danger.

Raidon was thrown by this, just as he had been thrown by Charles. He couldn't fathom how anyone could be so calm in the face of what could so easily be their killer. This place...this place was...

"Looking for paint?" Raidon asked. "Shouldn't you be...shouldn't you be looking out? Not that this isn't good work," he said hastily, nodding towards the painting. "But..." He glanced back the way he'd come, gun still in one hand. "People on this island are out to kill."

I'm out to kill, aren't I?

If I kill, I lose everything I am. If I kill I'm no better than him.

And if you're not? What then?
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“I’m a pacifist.” Mizore said. The words echoed in the high-ceilinged townhouse. “Plus, I’d be bloody rubbish in combat anyway. Too recognizable. No experience, and once I’m out of a place with houses, I’m screwed.” She added a stroke to Lestat de Lioncourt’s nose. “Plus, I have a reputation to protect.” she said, poking her elbow at the “Radio Asuka” signature.

She looked up again from the painting. She wasn’t sure if she should meet the boy’s eyes. But she needed someone to talk to, and her arm was sore from maneuvering the broken wax pencil. If his plan was to lull her into a false sense of security and then shoot her, it was a more or less unnecessary plan. She’d been sketching all night, and was way too exhausted to move.

So she put the wax pencil down, and looked the boy straight in the eye. Raidon, Naoko—she remembered his name. If he were a wolf, staring would be a sign of aggression. Right now it was---not? No. It was a challenge. To Naoko Raidon, boy with the army gun.

His eyes were dark, troubled. They locked onto hers quickly—a hunter. She forced herself to keep contact with him.

“While I’m here on earth, I’d rather spend my time making something pretty. This island’s going to be covered with corpses soon, and they’re not all going to be buried with a drawing and a stone.” She smiled, dryly. “So I’m going to leave something good here.”

Still, he had a gun in his hand. His face was stony. She flicked a sty of wax off Death the Kid. Kept her eyes on his. Playful, slightly. “I’m assuming you’re not a player, Raidon Naoko, otherwise you'd have figured out I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security a long time ago, and shot me dead. My weapon is caltrops. I’ll gladly trade them for paint. “

She started scraping finger-smudges off Death the Kid’s striped hair, keeping an eye, still, on Raidon. Her next question might sound smug, Might make him shoot her out of spite. She took the risk.

“And if I am mistaken, and you are a player—are you morally prepared to kill me, Naoko Raidon? I’m no serious threat to anyone. If you want to hold me up for my bread and water, I’ll give them. So don’t use anger, or panic as an excuse. Kill me and face up to it, or stay here and rest.”

She’d forgotten an option.

“Or go, I guess. I probably sound slightly askance, this time of night.”

Turned back to the drawing. Apprehensive. Insolence to a kid with a gun might be a death penalty offense on this island. Felt her hair flop over her face.

“Until then, I’ll be doing art.”

--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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"You're Radio Asuka!" he exclaimed, stepping forwards and his ice, for a moment, banished. "My God, I..." He trailed off. To say he was a fan of her work would be a lie, but he did like it. There was something almost palpably edgy about it, slightly off-kilter, something...alive.

As he stepped forwards, however, examining her grand painting--examining each little death, each tribute, most of which he didn't recognize--his eyes slid towards her. She was staring at him intently; there eyes locked, and neither looked away. Raidon's breath caught in the back of his throat.

“While I’m here on earth, I’d rather spend my time making something pretty. This island’s going to be covered with corpses soon, and they’re not all going to be buried with a drawing and a stone.” She smiled, a sad, somber, almost cynical smile that would have been a lot harder if there wasn't the faintest touch of sweetness to it. “So I’m going to leave something good here.”

"A noble notion," Raidon conceded, smiling a little in return. "I'm impressed."

And then she started to talk. And as she talked, his smile died; as she talked, the ice in him returned, insistent. So what if he had some small affection for this girl, way in the past? So what if she was Radio Asuka? So what if she were a fellow human being?

She was not Naoko Raidon; she was a fellow player, and she was a threat, one way or the other.

"Are you morally prepared to kill me, Naoko Raidon? I’m no serious threat to anyone. If you want to hold me up for my bread and water, I’ll give them. So don’t use anger, or panic as an excuse. Kill me and face up to it, or stay here and rest."

She continued on, after that; he heard none of it. His grip had tightened on his gun, his face had hardened, and the momentary resurgence of normality had been extinguished. What he saw before him now was not Mizore Soryu but Naoko Ichiro, sitting on the floor with his blood pouring out of him.

"You're like him, Raidon. You don't question your right to live."

She finished talking to him, turned back to her painting. Before Raidon could speak he'd lifted his gun and cocked it, keeping it trained on her head.

"Mizore," he said slowly. "I want you to rest assured on one account. If I kill you, I will not rationalize it; I will not pretend it to be anything but an act of violent malice. And that will not make you any less dead."

He couldn't pull the trigger, though. Not yet. "You're a pacifist," he started, unable to properly gather his thoughts. "That means you're a fighter, you know. It means you oppose violence with non-violence, but you still practice a form of opposition. You have never been victimized." His eyes narrowed. "You don't understand what it is to truly undergo violence. You only know what it means to try and fight it."

Was he asking a question or just stalling?
Edited by Grim Wolf, Sep 13 2010, 03:56 AM.
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Mizore Soryu had always had one thing going for her: her preternatural coolness. She could be apprehensive, she could even be scared, she could talk for a really really long time, even, in hopes that something, anything she said would click in Naoko Raidon’s head, so he wouldn’t shoot her. But she wouldn’t cry. She wouldn’t beg. And before anything else, she wouldn’t panic.

"Mizore," he said slowly. "I want you to rest assured on one account. If I kill you, I will not rationalize it; I will not pretend it to be anything but an act of violent malice. And that will not make you any less dead."

She had failed. He was pointing a gun at her, and this time it was cocked. She raised her hands instinctively; so many years of don’t-let-the-police-think-you-have-a-weapon training were failing her now. She should not be raising her hands. The thing she wanted to be doing was redrawing the robe of Santa Muerte. Or cleaning up the hair of Death the Kid.

"You're a pacifist.” He said. “That means you're a fighter, you know. It means you oppose violence with non-violence, but you still practice a form of opposition. You have never been victimized." His eyes narrowed. "You don't understand what it is to truly undergo violence. You only know what it means to try and fight it."

He was pointing a gun at her but wasn’t shooting. That was something. Maybe at some point she’d get the nerve to go back to fixing Death the Kid’s hair.

But now he had a question, or at least a statement that looked an awful lot like a question on closer examination, and she was going to answer it.

She faced him again, and propped herself up away from the mural. If she was going to die, she was not going to bleed all over Shinigami Rem. Looking in the eyes of a guy carrying a gun was hard. The instinct was not to do it.

“I have never been victimized. Unless you count fairly frequent one-day arrests by the police as victimization, which I don’t. Some of my friends have horrible parents. My parents have their ups and downs, but at the end of the day, my mother is a saint and this planet hardly deserves her, and my father is pretty close to that. If you shoot me, I guess for the first time in my life, I’ll understand what it is to truly undergo violence—violent malice that I’m more or less helpless against. Given that this would happen to me anyway, within some number of days, I’d rather put it off.”

That was too much talking. She should continue to the next subject. Sort of.

“So yes. I am a pacifist, and that means I am a fighter. I oppose violence, whatever its form, in the only way I know how—and in the only way I’m pragmatically and morally inclined to do. If you shoot me, Raidon Naoko, that won’t make me any more of a victim; it’ll just make me a pacifist you shot and killed.”

Insolence to the guy with the gun. This was clearly a terrible idea. But he had admitted--if I kill you, I will not rationalize it; I will not pretend it to be anything but an act of violent malice. She was not being killed by a coward. It was about the best death she could hope for.

Still.

And that will not make you any less dead.

All things considered, she would really rather live.

But that wasn’t up to her anymore.
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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He listened to her in complete silence, giving her his full attention. He owed her that much, he knew; if he killed her, he would have to remember the girl he killed. He had seen the killers of other games--Rizzolo came to mind at once, as did last season's finale. He didn't want to lose himself, whatever that meant.

"Parents," he mused, as she continued to watch him. "It all comes back to parents." He had hoped she would keep her eyes on the painting, that she wouldn't turn her eyes to watch him. There was something disconcerting there, even through the anxiety and worry he could see. She'd read him as someone relatively safe, and she'd been wrong; he could hardly blame her for being shaken.

"Victimization is a matter of choice, is it?" he went on, as though ignoring his previous words. "I...I admit, I haven't considered it in that light." What did that say about his relationship to Hayashida? But no, no; Raidon had shown his father that he didn't belong to him, that he was his own creature. At the end, he had proven it; he knew he was himself.

But what about Ichi? What about his mother?

Their eyes were still locked, and Raidon felt his grip on the gun trembling. Was she trembling, too? He wasn't sure, but he thought so; thought that, if he'd dared look down towards her fingers, he would have seen them shaking. "I tried my hand at pacifism," he said. "I tried my hand at it, but it..." He looked to the gun he was holding. "It appears not to have taken."

He hadn't fired yet. He still felt revulsion towards the winter's breath in him, a breath that clung like mist to his every effort to try and walk away from this. She was a player, she was a player, even if she was a pacifist she was a player, and he'd already left his security--already left Simon as his last resort, should he go too far, should whatever God there was need to stop him.

A pacifist couldn't stop him. A pacifist, come to think of it, had only two choices in a place like this; stick with her principles and die, or surrender her principles and become...like him.

The silence was stretching, he realized, and still he couldn't tear his eyes from hers. She'd called her mother a saint, and said her dad wasn't much less of one. Well. "Parents," he repeated. "Tell me, Mizore, do you think we echo them? Our parents, I mean."
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“No.” Mizore had a fairly straightforward answer to that one. She was almost calm enough to start working on Death the Kid again, but she didn’t want to take her eyes off the boy. If he was going to shoot her, she was going to be looking for it. “My parents are aeronautical engineers. More relevantly, some of the people I live with—in the commune I’m in—“ This was going to be hard to explain, so she decided not to, “—have incredibly shitty parents.” She didn’t want to get too specific about the problems of Radio Enceladus members on live TV, so she stayed general. “Mad neglect, locked in closets, physically, sexually abused, the lot.”

She was still too close to the mural. If she died, she would bleed all over it. Sigh. She put her hands up slightly. “I’m going to move to the left about one foot, so if I die, I don’t bleed all over the mural. Not doing anything else. Okay?”

He nodded, ever so slightly. She moved. Leaned back against the wall. Her body reacted in weird ways to near-death. It was hard to hold herself up. Her muscles felt like jelly.

“Everyone,” she continued. “Thinks that people are like iron. Kids are like hot iron, impressionable. You can shape them into anything. But once you hit a certain age, no more shaping—you’re like a statue, stuck. The biggest secret is that people aren’t at all like iron. We’re quicksilver. People stick us in certain molds, and we conform to them, because we’re good kids. But there’s very little like iron in us. Most of what we are, we can change at will—we’re liquid. Once upon a time, I wasn’t like this.” She drew a hand slowly around herself, striped hair, patchwork coat and anime-green eyes. “I was some shy kid who did what her parents told her, and was kind of spacey and quiet. I liked art, and didn’t pay attention to much else. One day when I was thirteen, my Mom had three more kids and she and Dad nearly divorced, and I decided that I was going to be someone who people noticed, and who noticed the world. So I became myself.”

She didn’t need to draw a hand around her body this time.

His words fluttered through her mind.

…You don't understand what it is to truly undergo violence…

…Victimization is a matter of choice, is it?

….I tried my hand at it, but it, but appears not to have taken…


“So,” She said. “What are you, Naoko Raidon?”
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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She shifted. Raidon allowed it--it was a fair request. He honestly had not considered the impact his killing her might have on her work. A dark bit of humor suggested that it might actually enhance the piece, but he quieted it; gallows humor was suddenly much less funny when he was actually standing on the gallows.

Much less preparing to operate them.

"What am I?" he brooded, as her ridiculously-bright eyes stayed on his, daring him to decide, to (not) act. "A fair question, Mizore, and one you already did me the courtesy of answering." But Raidon knew--knew through years long debating on his own, trying to prove not only that his value was superior to his opponents but also that his argument coincided more with said superior value--that it was not always best to approach a subject directly. If he wanted to convince this girl--and he did, for whatever reason, want to convince this girl, felt a maddening compulsion to do so--then he would go about this as methodically as he could.

"Do you honestly believe what you're saying?" he asked. "That children have so much say over who they are?" He shook his head. "I don't think so. I can't think so. That we are a willful metal I will grant you--that we can, if we so choose, find a permutation more suited to what we are than the mold into which our parents chose to pour us. But it is still a mold and we are still a metal, and when all is said and done we will bear the mark of the mold into which they poured us." He paused, perhaps for effect, and his gaze intensified.

"I have been victimized," Raidon said slowly. "But by now I'm sure you've figured that out. I didn't like the mark that was left on me, the mold into which I was poured. I found God, I came to abhor the violence I was sure lurked within me. I swore I wouldn't become like him." He smiled, though it didn't reach his eyes. "And here I am, pointing a gun at you. It is my fault, one way or another; it was my decision to aim this gun at you. But I am as much as product of my circumstances as these circumstances are a product of myself."

Did he want to make her despair? Why was he asking these question, explaining himself? Why, when it was so much easier to pull the trigger?

Because I don't want to lose myself.

"I cannot stand to be under any illusions about what I am," Raidon managed, as the frost within him thawed a little. "I suppose I wish you to do the same."
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Mizore was trying to figure out what the boy was saying. Everything seemed heightened now, the house settling into its walls, the wax under her fingernails, the ever-so-slightly shaking form of Naoko Raidon, and his Chinese army gun. Words were hard to hold in this sensory chaos. She got impressions instead.

But it is still a mold and we are still a metal, and when all is said and done we will bear the mark of the mold into which they poured us.

--------------

Flashback to a weekend, crashing overnight on a couch in Life On Enceladus. She slept lightly, and woke when one of the older boys, Kurt, padded into the kitchen for a glass of water.

His eyes looked hollow, this time of night. He sat down on a wooden chair in the den before he saw Mizore blinking awake at the level of his knees. He breathed sharply and stood up. Mizore shook her head.

"I'm awake anyway," She said. "No worries."

He sat back down. "Sorry for making noise."

That's when Mizore saw his hands were bloody. He'd run them under water--they were cold and dripping--but blood still leaked out of desperate streaks in the palms.

"Why are your hands bleeding?"

He tried to wipe them on his pants.

She was a little more awake now. Enough so she wouldn't get deterred. "No. Why?"

He looked at her, finally. "You really want to know?"

"I wouldn't ask otherwise."

He sighed. Turned his palms upward, to cup the blood in his hands. "My mom used to lock me in closets. When I was little. For…a while. Days sometimes. Once a week, I think. I hated it. I used to pound on the door, and claw at it. Try to get out. Now, here, I get nightmares about it. Mostly end up pulling holes in the drywall. Hands end up like this."

He held his hands up, blood dripping to the wrist. They were streaked with white and yellow scars.

But it is still a mold and we are still a metal, and when all is said and done we will bear the mark of the mold into which they poured us.

And Mizore bore the mark of her mother when she went into the filthy Enceladus kitchen that night, and soaked paper towels to wrap his hands. When she stayed up with him until his hollow eyes faded in the grey dawn light, bemusing him with extremely unfunny political cartoons, and telling him, again and again, that everything was gonna be alright.

----------

"I cannot stand to be under any illusions about what I am," Raidon said. "I suppose I wish you to do the same."

There was a pause then. Mizore tried to process what he had said, then tried to think of how to phrase a reply in the least inflammatory way possible. She didn't get very far.

"So you think you're a failed pacifist." Mizore said. Raidon, tense with his gun, didn't say anything. She took that as a yes. "And you think what you are now is…inevitable. So what do you plan to do? Go around the island, killing them before they kill you? With due respect--" This was a dangerous question-- "--what will you do when you reach your friend Simon? How will you lose yourself there? You say you don't want me to have any illusions about you now--but you think now, you know who you are, you're honorable. You're under no illusions. When you kill every idiot like me on this island, what will you be then? An echo of whoever the hell it was who abused you? A victim, because you claim yourself to be?"

Mizore couldn't believe she was getting angry at a guy with a gun. But she had always had problems with inevitability, and Naoko Raidon--Naoko Raidon, dark child of thought, with his cold admissions, his survivalist desperation, and his palpable sadness at himself, was pushing her buttons.

"Every time you point that gun, it's you who is doing it. You are no echo; there is nothing inevitable about anything you do. You have willpower--that much is obvious. Use it. Don't pretend you're an instrument of someone else's will. It never works."

Mizore was contact juggling a piece of the wax pencil now. She felt like she was taking an oral examination. Albeit a deadly one.

"So choose to shoot me. Or choose to not. You say you're a product of your circumstances? Change your circumstances. One way or another. You'll remake yourself when you do."

Mizore wondered, once again, why she was daring this boy to shoot her. In most circumstances, she knew, shooting had a number of ugly consequences. On the island, it had nothing but tangible rewards. Is this what she was like in her last moments of life? Trying to prove an abstract philosophical point about human nature to a boy who had the power to end her life?

This is really stupid. I should be dead.

But she wasn't. Why?
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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Oh, how he wanted to shoot her at that moment.

Oh, how every cell in him cried out for her blood, not because she'd hurt him but because she kept speaking, because she would not give in. He wondered, for a moment, if this was how Naoko Hayashida had felt, tormenting his sons, waiting for one or the other to break. It was almost maddening, like fingernails scraping against the grain inside his soul. The all-pervading irritatation actually calmed him somewhat; the gun no longer shook in his hand.

But she had said his name.

God, Simon.

"This isn't," he started, and then trailed off. What? It wasn't about him? About Hayashida? Of course it was, but perhaps not in the way the girl thought. He wasn't trying to prove himself to his dearly-departed dad, he wasn't worried about measuring up to some abstract bar he'd set. What he was worried about was this compulsion; the same one that had stayed silent and watched, the same one that had only nodded when the tattooed man had...

"You know," he started, without lowering the gun. "It's a wonder you're able to remain so calm." He was simply gazing at her, both annoyed and a tiny bit awe-struck. "But there is something I need to say."

The protest within him had gone silent. He had found a compromise, he thought. In a way, it was Mizore herself who'd suggested it; Mizore, wielding Simon's name as a shield.

"Do not mistake what I am saying for attempts to salvage my honor," he started. "And do not think I'm calling my father the source of my woes. All my father did was make me aware of my flaws." He shrugged. "As for Simon, Miss Soryu," and his anger growled, somewhere within him, making his eyes flash. "He is..." What? His salvation? "My safeguard," he continued. "In case I go too far."

His voice rose, eyes darkening with every word. "I am not an echo, Mizore, though I carry echoes within me. I have accepted this...need," he spat the word with all the virulence he possessed. "I have to live, in whatever condition. I cannot fathom anyone feeling differently. That said, I will...I will at least try to kill." He broke eye contact with her for the first time, eyes flickering to the gun in his hand. "I would as much change what I am as you would, Mizore," he said sadly. "That, I think, is the problem."

He hesitated, for just an instant. It was a good idea; every part of him agreed with it, even those parts of him that had insisted Simon be killed. If she turned, he was vindicated, and anyways the game would be well rid of him. And if she didn't, well...

Well, then he was right.

"You're a pacifist," he said. "Swear to me you won't break--not even once."

Best he could offer. He didn't have much faith in people; if she was some rare exception to the rule, it was the least he could do to let her go.
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Alex Tarquin: "No more masks."

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He broke eye contact with her for the first time, eyes flickering to the gun in his hand. "I would as much change what I am as you would, Mizore," he said sadly. "That, I think, is the problem."

It was the problem. He had been eloquent in speaking about himself. He had sounded annoyed, even, and Mizore had cursed herself for ending her life by making desperate guesses, for getting angry and jumping to conclusions, for making assumptions about the guy with the gun.

"You're a pacifist," he said. "Swear to me you won't break--not even once."

He said it seriously enough that Mizore had to think about it; think about it despite the fact that part of her wanted to promise anything to avoid getting shot.

But that was only part of her, and even backed against a wall, she had more of a mind than that.

Swear to me you won't break--not even once.

Would she break? This was clearly a more stressful situation then she'd ever been in in her life. Police were nasty, cells were claustrophobic, but none of them would kill her. Although (looking at the wax pencil) at least on this island, unlike in the jail cells, she had something to do.

She had a purpose here. And her purpose did not involve letting go of the ideals she had subscribed to when she was thirteen.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Slogans running through her head.

But she could remain calm--calm through this. Raidon Naoko pointing a gun at her. That spoke pretty well to her future not-breaking abilities.

Mizore, Mizore, you want to leave yourself an out--you want to finish your paintings, not let the first petty-minded idiot who wants to score a kill get you.

Her brain was treacherous.

The paintings are nothing if I kill people to make them.

Also stubborn.

And the niggling question can you stop yourself from breaking?

She didn't know. She didn't know.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Anger took over, directed at herself this time. The things she had said to Naoko Raidon.

I am an instrument of my own will. If I break, it is because I decide to do so. And I will not break.

And that was the end of it.

"I swear." She said.

And--oh God, oh God--he put the gun down.

Mizore breathed. She hadn't been aware she was breathing shallowly before this.

"Thank you." She said. Cold sweat was pouring down her back.

Now what did she do?

Her wax pencil was broken, and she didn't want to reconstruct another one. She was exhausted. It was night. She had scouted out the townhouse earlier. There was a small guest bedroom, decorated in beige and gold, and a larger master bedroom, tasseled and crimson.

"I need--" She stood up, slowly. Nothing in her hands. "I need to sleep. There's a small guest bedroom upstairs." She picked up her bag in one hand. Kept the other hand up. "There's a master bedroom too."

She could use some cuddles tonight, but asking the annoyed boy with the gun if he wanted to sleep in a bed with her was probably an unwise plan.

She kept her eyes on him. "Good night, Naoko Raidon."

First name and last name. Terms of respect.
Edited by storyspoiler, Sep 15 2010, 09:51 PM.
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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She stayed silent for a long time, her eyes at last breaking off their endless, heart-scathing gaze as she considered. Raidon kept the gun trained on her, wating, wondering. She will lie. She has no choice but to lie.

She won't lie.


Nearly unshakable conviction. Where had it come from? He didn't like other people, but Mizore...

Mizore was like Simon. If anyone would stand by her principles--if anyone would refuse to bend to the madness that would soon grip the whole island--it was her.

Here, on the edge of death, everything seems simpler.

"I swear," she said.

A moment's hesitation, but he had already decided she wasn't lying to him, and so, with both a sense of foreboding and gladness, he lowered the gun. The ice in him did not protest, and he allowed himself a fleeting moment of hope; perhaps he was better than he thought, perhaps...

"Thank you," Mizore said, getting to her feet. She was shaking, he saw, and he felt a pang of guilt--he had done that, he had inflicted such fear on another human being. How different was he from his father, really? Hadn't that been the whole thrust of his argument with Mizore?

"I need-" she started, then broke off. "I need to sleep. There's a small guest bedroom upstairs." A moment of hesitation--did he imagine it? Involuntarily he felt his pulse quicken, though he passed it off only as adrenaline from his moment of indecision. "There's a master bedroom too." She examined him for a moment. "Good night, Naoko Raidon."

She went upstairs. He did not say a word in reply; only looked at the gun in his hands.

He wished he felt confused.

He knew exactly why he'd done what he'd done. It was no last line for redemption, no offering of hope. Had he killed already, he would have ended her without a second thought. No, this was different; this was the same hard line in him that hadn't killed in the Tunnels, when he'd met Charles and learned how willing he was to die, if only to avoid fear; when he'd let Simon go, unconscious as he was. Mizore was a sign of what he was losing, not what he'd lost; she was a sign of the part of him that still feared violence.

But he would kill, wouldn't he?

Why this awful certainty?

They were fighting.

The crashing had woken Raidon up and he'd crept downstairs, down to the toppled chairs and furniture in disarray, to the shredded couch ripe with blood. His father and the man--elaborate tattoo on his face, did Raidon recognize the pattern?--were on the floor, struggling. The tattooed man had a knife in his leg, blood leaking onto the ground at his side; his hands were around Hayashida's neck, as thick-necked, bulldog Hayashida slammed his fists into him over and over again.

Forgotten in their struggle, a discarded gun lay at the foot of the stairs, just out of Raidon's reach.


Raidon was holding a gun for the second time in his life, and he did not intend to throw this one away. Was it only that he saw no hope here? That he had faith in only a scattered set of fools here and there around the Island, and the rest as only sure and certain dangers to himself.

Kill him. Please.

He closed his eyes.

When he went upstairs, there were two doors. One was wide open, and led to a bed of tasseled crimson. The other was open just a crack, no small he could barely see. He hesitated, hands still on the gun, then slipped it into his pocket and moved after her.

She'd already promised him, and he'd already trusted her. If she was going to turn on him, the world would probably be better for it.

The door swung open to his touch, and he peered into the darkness. Vague impressions of tan and beige; a thin lump under the covers. Had the lump stiffened when he'd walked in?

"Mizore?" he called softly.
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There had been an alien time, when Mizore had thought she was going on a camping trip. She had packed a matching pajama shirt and pants, painted with bright hibiscus, toothpaste, and a soft toothbrush. As she brushed her teeth now, she still felt that way, a little bit--this was, at once, more comfortable and more nerve wracking than a camping trip. More comfortable, because she wasn't in the forest, in a sticky tent, but instead in a large, abandoned townhouse with one other person who, for all of the preceding drama, she couldn't help but like. More nerve wracking because, well, there were crazy gun-toting maniacs running around the island and she was probably going to die in a few days.

The luxury of running water almost made up for that. Almost.

She spat, splashed her face, changed into comfy pajamas, and entered the beige-and-gold guest room. She didn't want to stand anymore. Adrenaline from the standoff had leeched her bones. The mattress was soft. She untucked the covers, and pulled them over her head.

Her heartbeat ticked.

The fear that she'd pushed away during the standoff had hollowed her out. She was shivering now, watching her trembling hands with something approaching fascination. She had never been this scared before.

She wanted to go home.

She curled her knees beneath her, hoarding her own warmth. This house was drafty. No heating. She was cold.

She was cold.

Footsteps approaching. Someone--Raidon--at the door. She stiffened.

"Mizore?" He called softly.

He wasn't going to shoot her. He already said he wasn't going to do that.

She sat up and pulled the covers around her pajamas. "Yeah?"
--------


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Liz Polanski played with fire.

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He didn't know what to say.

This rarely happened to Raidon. Long years of debate had honed his tongue to speak quickly, so that the flow of this thoughts moved quickly over logical ground and his words reflected this collected state. But here, on Survival of the Fittest, these skills availed Raidon nothing. Here he was as numb-tongued and dull-witted as every man before him had ever been.

Well.

Mizore Soryu.

He didn't know what to say.

"I'm sorry," he started, but then broke off as soon as he realized he didn't know what he was apologizing for. He was no longer cognizant of the dangerous weight of the gun in his hand, no longer cognizant of how close he'd close to killing her, how close...

Close to what?

He took a few steps into the room, moving towards the little endtable set next to the bed. She didn't draw away; only watched him with her eyes. Mizore Soryu; quite a reputation around the school. They said she tangled with police, that she'd been locked up more than once, that she lived in some free-love hippie commune downtown. He'd never investigated the rumors--people, in Raidon's opinion, should be free to live how they pleased, regardless of where that took them--and only known this; from what he saw from afar, Mizore was quite unlike anything he'd ever seen.

Having just spoken with her, Raidon could now confirm that.

He set the gun down on the endtable, and sat on the bed.
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He sat on the edge of the bed. Put the gun on the end table. Mizore found that she had stopped trembling. She wanted to touch Raidon. He gave off heat. But she couldn't touch Raidon. He probably didn't trust her.

No. But the gun was on the end table. Closer to her than it was to him. He was making a mistake. She could take the gun now and shoot him, shoot him through the head for all the fear he gave her.

But she had agreed not to do that when she had sworn. And it didn't take much to convince herself not to make the effort. Right now, exhaustion had left her powerless.

He looked tired.

She knew how she looked, too. Curled up under an embroidered coverlet, in bare feet and hibiscus pajamas. Like a kid. She wanted her Mommy. She wanted to go home.

She didn't want to never see home again.

She put her hand up flat, to show Raidon, then put it slowly down on top of his hand. He stiffened, then relaxed. But he didn't pull away.

Mizore had always had a soft voice--she could never do performance, but she could carry a tune prettily. Once upon a time, her Mom had sung her lullabies. If this was her last night on earth, and a scared boy was in the room with her, she was going to have one.

"Hush little baby, don't say a word
Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird..."


She looked at his hand now. No good to leave him out.

"D'you know the rest?"
--------


Alice Boucher was a liar.
Liz Polanski played with fire.

And who the hell is Radio Asuka?
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