He does not remember – his past, his present, his future – his mind is a clean slate. Tabula rasa. He thinks he knows, thinks he has heard the phrase before, but the thought is a spider web, and his memory a moonless night, so he allows the shining thread to fade into the blackness of the sky.
The clothing isn't right – too confining, the fabric too stiff. His body half-remembers clothes that breathed the air and shifted against his skin, but the cloth pressing into his skin is as familiar, and he thinks he is more confined than free, so he wears the clothes and tries not to think, to grasp at spider webs in the dark.
The scars are tight and ugly. Imperfection marring imperfection, he thinks, and he smiles because it is unnerving to stare into a mirror and only see one eye looking back. There are streaks of silver running through his hair, and his skin is worn and leathery, but he doesn't mind. Age doesn’t frighten him, not the way it does others. He has made his peace with life and death and what comes in between, because he isn't quite alive, but he isn't remotely dead. His heart still beats in his chest, and he still gulps air greedily to feed his lungs.
Sometimes, he wonders if there is more than existence, if there is more to being, because he is dreadfully bored and this maybe-life is dull. The guns in his hands trail smoke and death behind him, but it doesn't bother him; he is simply an instrument, one that is neither dead nor alive, but somewhere in between the two, and all the better for its scars and age.
Things are different, now. The true master is gone, and the man with no memory has taken hold of them all, promised them riches beyond imagining, free of themselves and bothersome emotions. One cannot truly guard with a heart, when thinking about the family of the person skewered at the end of his lance or the circumstances that led to the altercation. No, it is best to be detached, to not care, to reach for something more, an existence beyond this and death and nothing.
Things are different, now, with the shadows and corpses and hearts and the light that won't leave, despite what they try, how he fights and fights and fights.
The world is a composite of micro-organisms that feed off of each other and multiply at a rate that cannot be tracked by the human eye. Everything stems from a cell, and the cell grows and mutates and gives life and then dies. It is all cold and emotionless and predictable. If he tries, he can break down the light and the dark, everything.
He is dispassionate, cold, predictable. There is a method for everything and deviations are unacceptable; everything must follow a pattern. The girl huddling in her cell is simply a lesser organism, flesh and blood and thoughts – it is what lies inside of her that holds value, that breaks the pattern and fills the dim room with light. It is unexpected and expected at the same time, and as her whimpers fall from her lips, he smiles.
The dark does not bother him, nor does the light sway him. He has a purpose, and the light and the dark are tools meant to be used, nothing more, nothing less. Whatever happens, whatever they try, the risks and the challenges and the failures and the triumphs – it does not move him the way it does the others. It does not fill his eyes or his heart or his mind; he is not searching, not the way they are, never the way they want him to be.
He waits. He waits for the end and the beginning and whatever happens in between, because life – even the kind of life that they are searching for – has something to fill the pages. There has to be more substance than Once upon a time and They lived happily ever after because there has to be an impetus, something that propels them forward to fight the wicked queen and rescue the princess.
So he waits. He waits for the story to unfold and life to begin, to grow and be consumed and be selfish and be selfless. The story has to be written and told, so he plays his part and watches, watches, watches. Watches until there is nothing to see but night and worlds like stars glittering in the sky, far away and so close he can almost read their stories.