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all is fair in love and war

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she stands there. staring like she might kill him. back straighter than a rod and all he could think about was how she just might. put him out of his misery and take away the one person that could truly fight against magase.

he speaks,

what is it that you want? i’m not going to buy you a drink, i’m—

—a married man. i know. she says back and he takes the time to stare and stare and stare.

her hair is shorter than the true magase’s. without its pinking effect that had the parts that should be shaded in blacks in pinks. eyes narrower than magase’s; kinder. close to her hair in shade, which is a few shades duller than magase’s.

the same skin tone put him off, but it was the tone of a normal japanese person, so he calms down after a few long seconds have passed.

i understand that you have been through a lot. it took a lot to get me here - she says, taking the seat next to him - beer - she says, to the bartender. he starts and she reaches into her coat. gray leather; pulls out a card. not an i.d. card, it is connected to a lanyard. the bartender looks at it.

his eyes pop out before descending back. she moves to put it back before remembering him.

she speaks,

it’s an i.d. for the research lab of Shiniki. i’m one of the youngest, if not the youngest one there - pushes the i.d. back into her pocket before pulling her finger down a braid that frames her face.

she does not have magase’s innate allure. she is just a person.

she speaks, reaching out her hand for a handshake even though they are both japanese,

sensou,

[war]

what do you think about the new suicide law, investigator-san?

he speaks,

it has caused a lot of problems for me, so i cannot say that i like it.

she speaks,

for me as well. many, many problems. my best friend was one of the early ones. committed suicide in the heat of it all. without a word, without a second’s breath, she had flung herself off her building because she had failed her last med tests and she believed that no place would ever accept her

[there is a pause here, as sensou’s beer comes and she grabs it and he is allowed time to think before she takes a gulp and wipes her mouth with her palm]

she continues,

anyone like that for you?

he thinks, and Kujin hits him first, like a truck or a spray of warm blood that seeps into his chest. Sekuro hits him next, like blood against a purple dress or tear tracks and then Director slips over him and he had to knock back a sip, slamming the ice against his teeth to stop his shuddering

she continues,

that is a yes, isn’t it, investigator-san?

he speaks,

how do you know my name

she speaks, 

some research, some luck

may i come with you to work tomorrow?





sensou welcomes herself into his office like she belongs there. stepping into the room so empty that it hurts his chest. several of his peers stare at her as she walks by. eyes scroll over her figure, thin, before moving somewhere else.

eyes would roam over magase’s before they roam to guns hidden in holsters

she speaks, seated on his desk like she can feel who isn’t there,

don’t you think its a bit unfair? a foreigner can walk over with a minigun and you guys are stuck with revolvers? 

her fingers trace the wood of the desk, fluttering over casefiles and stacks of unread papers. they would probably stay unread, until someone dared to read them.

not him. he wasn’t even supposed to be in the office today. he should be with his family.

he wonders what excuse he’s going to give them.

he speaks,

i suppose. might file a work order.

(but it’s dangerous. he thinks and does not say, what if Kujin had a gun? walked up to him, shot him, died. at least, at the very least, he is alive)

there are many at leasts for him, many instances of at least he did not die

she speaks, 

hmm.

she opens the bag that she has on her side and pull out an entire laptop. a newer version, but still choppy like it had some implements that didn’t fully take. she balances it on her crossed legs

she speaks, after a few seconds of him staring.

new software. had it designed especially. guesses some formulas for me to try, i can confirm them, or improve them. not much without my full equipment, but i can— 

can i call you Zen-san? Seizaki-san is too informal for me.

he speaks,

i would rather you not.

he presses his fingers against the bridge of his nose and stares down at an off computer.

she speaks,

Seizaki-kun?

he speaks,

no.

she speaks,

fine, Seizaki.

he does not give her permission to use that name, but he knows that she will use it with or without his permission.

she speaks again,

i heard about the magase thing. heard about the mass suicides

[there is a moment’s pause as Seizaki’s eyes widen and his vision dips in and out and magase is sitting on his desk, legs crossed and gaze pointed right at him]

he speaks,

how?

she speaks,

one of my friends. an officer was their sister.

his heart bends in his chest and he cannot start to wonder how they would learn that news, have a funeral, grief when their sister’s body cannot be found, and its chunks are not worth finding.

she continues,

they want to know more about the case. as much as they can. for closure. 

her fingers fly across the keys as she speaks and she does not look at him.

she continues,

this seems like the best way to help them.

he speaks,

it is confidential

she speaks,

am i supposed to be here.

[she turns to look at him, fingers finally stopping their flight. she stares at him, eyes purpled and wondering and he is stabbing with an impression of Kujin’s spirit, twisted amongst itself like a pretzel ‘i don’t like being in control. too much to think about’ Kujin had said, and here is this woman that looks like him, walking into his office and sitting on his desk and asking him these questions like she has a line of people following her]

he speaks,

that is correct. why are you still here?

she speaks,

because you have not told me to leave.

she has not gone back to ignoring him, staring him right in the face.

she continues,

i know that you are implying that i should leave, but you have not told me straightforward. 

besides, it feels like you have a story that you want to tell. i am ready to listen to any story right now

.

.

.

because right now, i am on the edge of a cliffhanger and i am both the writer and a character and even though my story is on the side and the writer cares little, i am a person and part of the story and thus i need my story to continue -

but i am a writer and so i need to make the continuation myself

[he turns to look at her, really look at her. eyes rolling up and down her form, taking in the tiny hairs on her legs, the dalmation spotted dress that covers the area of her knees up, before being replaced by the gray leather jacket that contains her chemist employee card. stray hairs leap from her head, her braid rewoven from last night, but it twists on itself and her hair is not straightened. her eyes are rimmed with purple, darker than her eyes and tells of nights without sleep.

she has been searching for two weeks and has not found a continuation to her story so she comes to him]

he speaks,

and tells her almost the whole story [excepting parts that just aren’t necessary, like how Fumio’s body hit the moonlight and the way Kujin’s blood splattered and Sekuro trusting him enough with her actual name before he showed her that she should have not bothered with the trust]

it is a complete security breach, with his loose lips, but his hairs are also loose and he has been searching for a woman who can kill with just her words and he is scared and he is angry and he is terrified and he is furious.

And at the end, she sums everything up with a single sentence.

She is the most evil person in the world.

he speaks,

i have to find a way to take down itsuki. i just have to.

[for everyone that has died, for the few people who have yet to die, for the people that were murdered]




they end up going out for dinner together. he introduces sensou to hanta and he stares oddly, back and forth, back and forth until -

she speaks,

i know that he’s a married man. i’m not looking for a boyfriend either.

hanta flushes a deep red and sputters, turning away from her gaze. she does not bother to refocus her gaze, and lets it stab hanta through the chest and run him through. 

her finger traces the line of her glass, presses down her ice as it bobs over and over, the only sound between the three of them.

hanta speaks,

hanta ariyoshi.

he says with a slight bow of his head and she speaks in reply,

sensou.

she outstretches her hand, and hanta takes it. their handshake is stiff, a single shake of hands.

hanta speaks, to him, 

i thought that you shouldn’t be at work. didn’t they put you on leave until they said so?

he speaks,

yeah, they did. sensou wanted answers—

she speaks, cutting him off as she stares down at her glass,

a friend of mine was killed by magase—

hanta speaks, cutting her off and earning himself a piercing gaze,

sensou, huh? written like—

she cuts him off, fingers curling around her chopsticks like it was a weapon,

war, i know. could you stop cutting me off.

[he lets out a small huff at this, tossing a chunk of salmon into his mouth as the two of them speak around him]

hanta speaks,

so i don’t know much about you, but what do you think about the suicide law?

her face curls inwards with her disgust and his best friend chokes out a laugh.

he continues,

not in favor of it?

she speaks,

it has hurt too many in general, and hurt me in particular too much for my support.



hanta leaves with a small wave before he dips into his car and sensou is left there standing next to him as they watch him go.

he speaks, 

what do you want?

she speaks,

you have a family. [at this point, she turns a single finger to his ring] let me explain to them why you haven’t been with them today. they will need something to tide them over. you’ve been out night drinking and then you come home smelling like sake and then you leave in the morning though you shouldn’t have and they are going to think bad of you even if you are not doing what most people would jump to -

i am going to come home with you and i will tell your family why i have been keeping you.

they both slide into his car, her in the passenger while he drives and her eyes never once stray to him. they watch the world obsessively; she is watching for something and will not allow herself the chance to breathe.

they walk up the steps to his apartment together and she knocks as he fumbles for his keys and she holds her hand out as he stares at his wife, who stares back at sensou, who has her hand held out like this is normal

sensou speaks,

hello, seizaki-san. i have been with your husband today because i wanted answers. i am sorry for keeping him from you. if you wish to find me, search the Shinki lab employee list and search for sensou.

she then turns and walks back him, dress swishing softly against slightly haired legs, turns a corner and disappears like a ghost.

his wife speaks,

who was that?

he speaks,

a friend of someone who died on a recent mission. she wanted answers. i gave her everything that i had.

his wife does not speak, but her rare disappointment seems to permeate through the air as he shuffles into the apartment. he has not told her the full story of what has happened, what has gotten him staying home for several days now, has him waking up in the middle of the night more often than not.




he does not know what he was expecting from sensou; maybe he was expecting her everyday, maybe never again, but she does not come for two weeks and the sun rises and falls without her, until she comes one day, knocking at their door, right when their son is yelling out for food and when his wife opens the door, there is she.

she speaks, and he hears her from the doorway,

konnichiwa, osenzaki-san, gomenkudasai? 

[he believes this is the most formal she has ever heard her speak, not a single word unclipped]

his wife must have nodded, because she continues,

doumo arigatou.

then she is in their living room and she looks like...something that can cannot quite articulate, but her hair is up in braids and are tied around her head instead of hanging down.

she speaks,

hello seizaki, seizaki-bo, oseizaki-san [her face twists, most likely from the same name repeated three times over], i walked by seizaki’s office this morning and they gave me something for him. i decided to make something out of it.

his son has walked over to her, staring up her legs to get a closer look at the pie tin in her hand. it looks odd, like she has filled the tin with a clear gelatin and a graham cracker crust. 

his son speaks,

what is that?

she speaks,

pumpkin pie

his wife’s eyebrows raise farther than they have ever been before

she continues, to their son,

didn’t you know that i’m a chemist.

she doesn’t look at him, but he can feel her disapproving gaze. his son’s eyes widen like he’s just seen heaven.

his son speaks,

so that means you can make special cakes?

his eyes shine and thankfully, sensou does not take the chance to bring him back down to earth.

she speaks,

it means that i can make special pies

his son squeaks with his excitement and turns to his parents so quickly that he doesn’t have to open his mouth before his mother is plating the table and they are eating dessert without lunch.

the pie does really taste like pumpkin, but feels like jelly, and he can tell that now no one trusts her. not over a clear pumpkin pie.

their son is sent away to draw, leaving the three of them at the table, two of them have stopped eating, but sensou is still shoveling pieces into her mouth.

his wife speaks,

sensou-san, what is it that you came to my husband for?

her glare is hard, so unlike her that it gives him whiplash, his normally so accepting wife glaring at another woman.

she speaks,

i just needed answers. for answers that i already had and already knew, but i needed more than that. it’s like...those grade school short answers -

you could just put yes or no, but you also need to explain your answer. your husband was the reason for that. believe me. sensou stands up and bows fully, 

she speaks,

arigatou gozaimasu, oseizaki-san, seizaki. i need not bother you any more.

she stands up and they stand up to lead her to the door.

he speaks, suddenly, almost having forgotten,

what is it that they wanted you to give to me?

she stops, a figure in their doorway, her back completely to them as she ruffles through her pockets. her fingers catch on something, and she stills before they move on again and he wonders if she has lost it before she moves back to the place where her fingers still before and show a flashdrive, just a bit shorter than her middle finger.

she speaks, and turns in the same motion and her eyes are alight,

don’t you think it’s so strange, seizaki, that people can find so little to live for when they can do so much more in life? don’t you think it’s so strange that this law is led by a man with good intentions and spread by an evil woman? [in that moment, she looks like magase, eyes lit with something murderous; but they are clearly not the same] don’t you think its strange that she wants to be a hero? don’t you think that’s strange?

she flicks the flashdrive through the air and there is a hint of tears hidden within her eyes. he catches it easily.

he speaks out to her, just before she disappears through the doorway,

i’m sorry. Hiasa must have truly loved you and your friend!

she speaks, just about out of the frame,

who is Hiasa? 

nevermind. he does not say, it’s not important -

not in the end.

and she disappears through the doorway and his wife’s face turns fully to hatred, and she looks to be holding back the urge to spit and

his wife speaks,

just as fucking destructive as a horseman of apocalyspe.

she says, not noticing her husband’s unraveling until he nearly chokes on his own tongue.

[he no longer knows who he has been seeing, who he has been helping, who he has been talking to. he thought it was a friend of Sekuro’s, but that couldn’t be right -

because Hiasa is Sekuro’s first name and if sensou does not know that, then who is she?]

he goes to bed shivering.

 

he wakes up when his wife shakes his shoulder viciously.

she speaks, almost screaming in his ear, but there is a child in the room adjacent,

please , tell me that she came back and you didn’t bother to wake me up!

he speaks, half-asleep and half-panicked,

no! what are you talking abo—

she speaks, cutting him off so quickly that it slices his words into ashes,

she was supposed to give you a gun!

[there is a pause there, the both of them taking a second to shiver in their fear, seeing it reflected in the others eyes]

she puts a phone in his hand which is good because he had not put it together before that. he raises it to his ear and the tinny voice becomes suddenly audible and -

what do you mean that she didn’t give him the gun? 

the operator screams and he speaks,

i was not given any gun by sensou, no.

the operator screams, 

do you have a name to identify her by?

he spea—stutters,

only sensou. i think that is her family name, but i cannot tell you for sure—

his phone rings again and the operator snaps at him to change calls, so he does and hanta screeches into his ear.

all the newpapers and i think everything single fucking station got connected to a live video and the main network is going to start playing it in minutes, and it’s fucking insane because - are you off your ass already [seizaki gives his affirmation] get your fucking tv on and put on the news because it’s - it’s-

he interrupts, mouth slack,

magase and sensou.

he stares and stares because he is not sure what he is seeing and hanta is saying something in his ear that he cannot hear because his hand has fallen to the side, and then the call cuts off  which does matter to him because he cannot hear it, his focus cut to the two women standing in a room. sensou holds a gun and he sees that she is not shorter than magase, in fact, she is quite a bit taller, by about a dozen centimeters. so her arm bends down and she is consistently, but not constantly, shifting her hands around an automatic gun that looks brand new and is. her hands are moving, getting a new hold, but never moving her finger off the trigger.

she speaks and her voice wavers,

magase ai.

magase ai, you are a psychopath

magase speaks, quietly, bending forward and forcing her breasts and entire self forward,

oh, do you really belief that? or did you just want to get some time alone with me? maybe you heard about some of the services that i used to give out. i'm so sorry for you, but i cannot help you with that anyone. it's too bad, i am sure that it would have been—

you also call yourself Itsuki's wife, don't you? how long has that lasted? long enough for a young son. long enough for a young, scared son. long enough for him to justify you? does he know you? does he know what you have done?

sensou snaps, putting both hands on the gun and pointing it right at magase. maybe not right at her head, more toward her neck, but her hands no longer waver.

magase speaks, slow and calm stepping forward until her forehead is right against the barrel,

sensou-chan, what will it take you to—

sensou's body springs forward, and everything seems to still and rush forward as magase falls to the floor, handgun slammed against her head as sensou scrambles to the other side of the room, and then she speaks,

if you are going to sully my name, use the name of the man that you killed instead. whispered in his ear and made him fall in love with death. fall deeper than i ever had because...because you wanted to, i guess

maybe i don't know yet. maybe i won't ever know. not me, at least. maybe no one else

but if you are going to sully my name, use the name of the man you killed,

Kujin. Call me Kujin, for the man that you killed with the same name!

[there is a gasp that spills into his air. the hair, the height, the skin, the eyes. did he not see it before? purple hair, like magase's, but shades different. a brother on the force, kujin had taken the time through his euphoria to make it to him, to tell him of his pleasure. he did not take their phones, did he? stop them from telling family about the danger. (he could not imagine, getting a call about a man who now lived to die)]

magase speaks, splayed against the floor like a model, with her legs spread and neck tilted back,

Kujin...i'm sorry, but i do not recognize the name. maybe we have just never met.

oh no. you have meet. you two met and you whispered in his ear and made him love death and he called me. called me to tell me that i was right to think about it so much, to fall in love with it from time to time because someone had whispered in his ear and suddenly he saw! He saw the beauty in death that i have been seeing for years and then he fell to its beauty.

what is the harm in that? [magase smiles and it is saccharine] you have seen the beauty in death and it is fair to say that he had seen its beauty as well

i have seen the beauty in death and i have rejected it because there is beauty in life! if i were to go, everyone would still be left behind! they would grief and there would be nothing for them to do except wallow in it! and i will not subject anyone to wallowing in the beauty of death!

i do not think that you think well of my husband's suicide law then? a shame, it would have done you good—

good like what? killing me so that i couldn't do this?

you know what? my parents took your suggestion. they learned of my brother after they were told by the police and decided to go the same way he did. 

donated their bodies to those who needed it.

left me a note to do the same.

the one time in my life in as long as i could remember that i didn't want to die and there was nothing concrete holding me back! [tears are rolling down her face down, heavy and full, but that does not make her unaware of magase as her body wavers, twisting on itself as it feeds on her distress] nothing concrete. 

but you are not completely concrete, are you? 

you are hatred and desire and evil—you are no more concrete than a beam of sunlight. the idea of justice.

and what do you think justice is? [magase has her hands crossed under her chin, like she would look angelic]

i mean, you have taken it upon yourself to get a gun and threaten me to this room. if the police were to ever get a hold of the footage on that camera [magase looks right at the camera then, the room is empty except for one wall being a window] then they would try you and kill you for murder.

does my meaning of justice matter to anyone that watches? i am not an authority; i am not a group; i am not a country; i am not a collective. my justice and my actions define me and me alone.

because everyone else that it might have defined is dead [magase giggles, body swaying hypnotically]

his wife breaks through his single-minded attention,

fuck, fuck, fuck.

sensou continues on,

yes. that is why. because of that law that you helped pass.

but you said yourself, there is beauty in death—

i am still standing here, am i not? i am still standing because i have seen the beauty in death and had my tethers to life. you strolled up and cut those tethers on so many people with words alone. and you cut more tethers by letting that law get passed. by supporting itsuki—

it would not affect you if you did not let it.

.

.

.

did you know that this room is slowly filling with poison gas. [magase freezes, and for once, he cannot discern her expression]. the gas will corrode your skin and burn your lungs and you will die in horrific, horrific pain.

but i am here, am i not?

think about things this way—                                                                                                                                                                                        —and what if i refuse to? 

then you die ignorant. you think that in what state you die matters to me?                                                                                                                you are giving me a slow, painful death. 

think about things this way. 

i am itsuki. i pass a law, i do what i want.

i am going to die in this room, with you, from the same poison in the same air.

i could have done this alone.

i could have left the world out of this.

but no, i had to involve everyone else.

you did not want to die when you entered the room—which used to be just shiniki, but is now the entire world (maybe)—but before you die, you will most certainly want me to end things faster, make it easier?

am i to blame for your death? 

  yes!

i am to blame for your death!                                                                                                                                                                                                   

you are to blame for my death! 

see, i have got to stop this somehow. whether it be a room full of gases, or a bullet to the head.

wait,                                                                                                                                                         

— 

what?

i don't think that my metaphor covers everything. well, [kujin sensou sighs like nothing in the world is wrong] you are a confounding variable which cannot be accounted for and thus needs to be taken out the experiment. no one else is murdering people for this law, so i will do it myself. 

[there is a heavy thud from outside the room and both women smile grimly as they both sway on their feet, magase's twisting seeming more ill now]

i guess that i did not make it in time                                                                                         no, you did not. the police should be coming soon. why do you still smile like you have won?

there is probably a better quote to use here, but i can't remember it right now. [kunjin sensou raises the gun, and points the sight right in front in her eye. it is a direct shot to magase's chest]

ai, did you watch anime as a child?

what would make you think that?

oh, nothing.                                                                                               [there is another violent thud at the only entrance]    

the character said it, and they were backed up against a wall. against police, grenade in hand. 

i believe the quote went,

follow my lead to hell.

the door bursts open as the same time gunfire rings through the room.

magase, for all her power, for all her terror, crumples before he even has the chance for seeing the blood that must have bloomed through her dress, seeing from the puddle that is forming rapidly on the floor.

he almost misses the second shot. 

the handgun is small, just about good enough for a police officer. better for a rookie with guns, with a small sight, but also small enough to fit in the space between a neck and chin. the shot glows, lighting up her neck before droplets upon droplets (not droplets, gallons) of blood spray from the back of her neck and kujin sensou collapses a second later.

his wife screams and it brings him back.

they are both dead.

war killed love and then killed war.

it was not nice, it was not fair.

[the incoming squad has stopped dead, faced with two dead bodies and questions to what they must not have known]

maybe they will get answers.

he cannot reconcile the bodies with the people that had been standing there seconds prior, so he shuts off the tv and ends the call.