Author Note: This got started as a songfic to Bleed Black by AFI then I changed the plot then I changed the song to Hall Of Mirrors by The Distillers, then I changed the plot again then I changed the song back to Bleed Black cuz that made more sense. So it was *never* an Elliott Smith songfic, BUT the second part is a songfic to Between The Bars by Elliott Smith, and the name Ballad of Big Nothing is the name of an Elliott Smith song but no part of this was ever a songfic to that and. . .

Okay. . . .

Whatever. . .

Disclaimer: Shadow Hearts is owned by Sacnoth, Bleed Black and my brain are owned by AFI, Between The Bars and Ballad Of Big Nothing are owned by Elliott Smith, R.I.P. ;_;

I don't know how much of an explanation this fic needs, let's see how much sense we can make of it without one, as Beta Reader (thank you Feem!) says that having one might make it seem too pointless. I was worried it seemed pointless without one and it is kind of random.

However, Leels, SHUT UP before you even start. If you want to know what anything is about in here I will tell you, do not make it up. Thank you for not flaming on the subject of anything to do with The People's Story.

Anyone else feel free to flame about anything else. Lyrics are in bold, thoughts are in italics, so are dates, and the emergency exit is just over there. I haven't put both parts of this up at once so anyone who feels it is too random can request an explanation in the second part.

Tonight

Sunset shines on the mahogany of the inn's furniture. Alice Elliott is worried, and she looks at the blotchy pattern of red and dull orange and beige on the carpet. The inspiration was taken from flowers, but it's been distorted. The flowers look mutated. And they're bleeding. What a thing to carpet a room with, mutant bleeding flowers. The bedclothes are flowers as well, but more benevolent ones. What is it with places like this and everything having to have flowers on it? Her mother liked flowers. She would have liked this room. She wouldn't have liked the battle scarred young man lying unconscious on one of the room's two single beds.
Where does he go when he's asleep. . . .?

I am exploring the inside.
I find it desolate.
I do implore these confines
Now as they penetrate,
recreate me.


Nowhere very much, nowhere very much. This place is nothing, cuz it doesn't even really exist. it's just some thing in his head. Yuri wishes that all the crap in his head, and all the stuff he dreams, he wishes it wouldn't have to come out and seep into his life. He wishes his childhood fear would stay in his fucking childhood where it belongs. he wishes he wouldn't forget things, and then remember them again, but forget he was remembering them and think that he was imagining them. Then he became terrified that his dreams had been real. Things like childhood fears. . . Things that he'd been dreaming about, a monster in a graveyard. And then it has to be real, it has to be in his head every single fucking second of every single fucking day and it would NOT fucking leave him the fuck alone. He thought he was dreaming it all the time, but then it forced itself into his life. It was waiting for him in a dusty little corner of his brain, and it had a different name to it than the one he'd imagined. But Death Emperor was a stupid name anyway, and it was the same fucking thing! Oh, no, and of course there'd have to be more of them. All in a graveyard. In the graveyard. He hates the graveyard, and loves it, for two halves of the same reason. He loves it because it's something so unbelievable that it can't be real and it gave him somewhere to shove all his childhood fear. Shove it all away at the back of a tomb, and just only cope with it in the graveyard. If it's in the graveyard that isn't real then it can't be real and it can't hurt you either if it isn't real. He's only imagining it anyway.

He hates that fucking graveyard.

It's real.

He's remembering Death Emperor and all that other stuff, he hates it all, because it's real and you can't leave it behind when you leave the fucking graveyard.

And all of this other stuff, he can't even have made up because why would he even invent something like that? Something like that blank fake face with no eyes. No real eyes just black slits. And the way it looks like it might just move, the mask might move as if it has muscles. But it never does. But it talks. How come it fucking talks? It has someone behind it. It has his father behind it. He hates the fucking mask. It isn't his father talking it's the fucking mask talking. it's his father behind it but all the words get filtered through EVIL every time he tries to talk through the mask. Yuri just knows it. His father wouldn't be like that but the mask is. The mask is cold, and dead, and evil. it's got a glossy surface of hate. He was afraid of foxes when he was very young, but he got a fox mask at a fair and he thought that it was about time he wasn't afraid of foxes any more, because they couldn't hurt him now. He was a brave boy and they couldn't hurt him. And he didn't want his father to think that he was afraid of foxes because he was brave. He was. So he wore the mask, to prove it, but only on the back of his head so he didn't have to see it. . .

. . . There was a fox outside the bedroom that night, the night he got the mask. He saw it in the moonlight. And it didn't have eyes it had black slits. Nothing for eyes.

Was he imagining it or was he remembering it?

It's just the same thing isn't it? If you imagine it clearly enough then you might as well be remembering it because it'll affect you the exact same way.

That fox mask that stole his father now lives in the graveyard. It sits at the back of the mausoleum playing marbles with his childhood fear.

I'm hovering throughout time.
I crumble in these days.
I crumble, I cannot find
reflection in these days.

It comes out sometimes. It comes out just to taunt him. It comes out tonight, door of the mausoleum screams open and when Fox Face comes out, Yuri ignores him because he learned long ago that if you try to confront your fears it just encourages them to make up new things for you to be afraid of. New knives to twist and new things to silently imply through nothing eyes. Eyes that aren't real. . . eyes that don't see. . . eyes that can't cry. . . eyes that do cry, for the sheer fun of making him more afraid than ever of their owner. If dead eyes cry then you can't help but do what they ask. If dead eyes cry the way his mother's do, every night he stays away from the graveyard. Then he sees her instead. Sometimes only for a second but it's enough. He sees her and she's crying. She is crying and asking him to do what his says. What his father says would be so different from what Fox Face says. But his mother seems not to see this. She cries and says that it will be better if he does. But her dead eyes can't be crying because SHE'S NOT REAL. She's not she's not she's not. He imagined her. He remembered her. He didn't. She was put there by the mask. The Fox Mask. She's not real. Dead eyes cry all the time. It's not just her. It's everyone he helped to kill. Sometimes it's even his father. Sometimes it's even Alice crying. Then he is scared. Then he cries himself out of guilt for killing her. He cries like he hasn't done since he was a baby. Then he wakes up with his pillow soaked with tears and remembers she isn't dead. Then he wonders if he imagined her. Then he wonders if he remembered her. He thinks that it could all be something done by the Fox Mask just to torture him. It was wasn't it. Because if she's not dead then he can't be seeing her crying and asking him through her tears why he killed her when he promised to protect her. Days after nights like that he's paranoid, all the time, he's jumping at his reflection in things . He's scared because once he saw his reflection in a mirror and saw that really his eyes were like black holes in his face. And his face to him looked like a mask, like it wasn't real, like it couldn't move. But that was only one second cuz he blinked and then he was him again. And he wasn't sure, some days, if he was imagining himself. And some days, he thought he'd died the night before and he was remembering himself. Most days he just blamed Fox Face because this was all just a cruel trick on him by Fox Face and he wishes Fox Face would just fuck off and die.

But he wouldn't, he never would. Tonight Fox Face is coming out of the tomb, and even though Yuri tried not to be there tonight, he just wouldn't go away. He stands behind Yuri, breathing, breathing, breathing, saying nothing but he's there, breathing, breathing, saying nothing, nothing, silence silence silence. . . breathing, breathing. . .

Yuri can't stand it any more. He always gives in so easily but he hates feeling its nothing eyes looking at him, when he can't see it.

So he turns around. The mask isn't doing anything because it's dead and it can't do anything. If it could it would look smug. He can feel it thinking at him.

Yuri looks at the ground to avoid looking at it. What do you fucking want,' he mutters, and all the little blades of grass in the graveyard seem so real and. . . he's realising now. . . it all means nothing. . .

I just wanted to say. . .' it replies, so calm and confident, sounds like a cat purring. But foxes aren't cats, they're dogs.

I just wanted to say

Tomorrow Morning

It stops there and it all goes away like he was listening to something on the radio and someone turned it off. Yuri is glad because he doesn't give a shit what it just wanted to say.

. . . Yuri,' Alice was calling him awake. It didn't feel like morning but it looked light. As Yuri wakes up he realises that the only light is from an orangey lamp, not the orange of a sunrise.

'. . .not even light yet,' Yuri says blearily, not feeling as if he's slept at all.

Still,' says Alice, we need to get an early start today. We can be in Wuhan by tonight if we go quickly. . .'

As he gets up and slouches over to the bathroom to splash cold water on his face, he could have sworn he saw a fox outside hiding in the shadows but the second he realises it's there it's gone. Maybe he's remembering imagining that nothing-eyed fox from all these years ago, but did he imagine that or was it real? Maybe he isn't remembering any of his memories, maybe they're all; Yuri stops thinking when he feels the icy liquid on his skin. He rubs his face with an already damp towel, then wipes his wet hands on his coat seen as how the towel isn't going to be any more use, and smiles unconvincingly to Alice.

Right,' he says. Ready to go.'

Alice follows him out of the door, still worried.

All they do that day is travelling and Yuri can't help wondering through it all. Why is he even here? He will. . . maybe. . . maybe Fox Face is right. Maybe he is bound to go insane one day and maybe Alice really will be dead, and asking him why. He's only here because of the stupid voice. I bet the voice is just another fucking thing set up by Fox Face, he thinks, he is making me do this. . . Could I disobey, could I? Wouldn't it be better? Wouldn't it be safer for everyone if I could just. . . not do this? Do I have the choice to just not do this?

If you listen,
Listen close,
Beat-by-beat,
You can hear when the heart stops.
I saved the pieces
When it broke
And ground them all to dust.

Tomorrow Night

I'm not really free to do anything am I? He can always keep me coming back here because. . .

The malice. Red, it shines red, and it hurts. Of course it would today. He's getting malice just by thinking.

Of course you're free,' smirks Fox Face. Free to go whenever you want, if you're strong enough to. . .'

don't want to not be here. . . not if you say i can. . .

You are pathetic. You never got over your childhood, did you? So now you're acting like some sulky teenager.'

you're not my father. you killed him really didn't you? it was you all along.

Yes, I am your father, but I couldn't care less whether you think that or not.'

you're not even. . .

Not even what, wonders Yuri, as he finds himself in the graveyard like he'd fallen, the black he'd seen draining away, fading to grey, the gravestones, then in front of him the owner of the voice he'd already been arguing with. What was I going to finish that sentence with? But he can't remember.

Outtathaway,' he snaps at Fox Face, getting to his feet. I wanna clear my malice.'

Then you fight me,' says Fox Face like it's the most natural thing in the world.

It wasn't that high yet!' Yuri protests. Fucking Fox Face! Always has to go and-

His talisman's malice meter is empty. Not blue-empty. Nothing-at-all-there-empty.

-Why?'

Don't worry about it,' Fox Face says and Yuri nearly sees the black of is nothing eyes turn to red. That was one other thing he hated about this graveyard, any fucking weird thing could happen for whatever random reason and he'd only figure out why until it was too late. It was like living in dreams. Living in nightmares. Nightmares were real. Reality was dreaming. Dreaming was nightmares. Fox Face was real. Fox Face was a dream. Fox Face was punching him. . .

. . .

Yuri jolted back into what might have been reality- he wasn't sure. Whatever it was, the fight had already stared in it.

He took a couple of staggering steps backwards under the weight of the blows. He is swaying, he steadies himself, he prepares to attack, balance, balance, he settles his weight, draws back his arm, ready. . . ready. . . forward, he shifts his weight onto the other foot, his arm flies out almost of its own accord. he hears a satisfying crunch of metal spikes, splintering wood and going into the flesh below. Without removing his fist from where it connected with the mask, he swings his other arm back and hits again, knocking part of the mask right off to reveal some bloodied forehead and matted hair. All that, Yuri thinks as Fox Face crashes to the ground, all that damage from a few seconds. . .

It takes hardly any time for Fox Face to get back on his feet.

. . . this thing's not human, Yuri remembers. This thing's not human. It's in my mind or is it. . .

Fox Face hits him again and again and again. He feels his face get pummelled, the pain like ht metal underneath his skin, building up, building up, building up, until h can't even feel it any more. That's how he likes it to be when he fights. Then he can just throw himself right in at whatever he is fighting, without caring what it does to him. It means his face is always bruised and is eyes always bloodshot, but who cares? No one's looking at his fucking eyes!

Yuri is only fighting the mask here, not the person behind it. he's hitting and tearing at the mask, pulling bits of it away, all thick dark blood, little lumps of dislodged flesh, stained white wood, the mask crumbles. . . it was easy really, and the face underneath it. . . the bleeding, cold-eyed face. . .

Nothing eyes. . .

. . .is a mirror. Is a mirror. Is a mirror.

It's a mirror of his own.

Fox Face shoves out at him and without a shred of resistance he falls down, feeling the graveyard's damp grass underneath him. It always feels as if it has just rained in this place. That's what it's always been like. Does it rain all the time here, when he isn't there? The feeling of the ground is the same as every other time he's fallen on it. That reassures him.

I am destroyed by the inside.
I disassociate.
I hope to destroy the outside.
It will alleviate
And elevate me.

Fox Face is so pleased that Yuri is drowning in the revelation.

Really,' he grins. We're the same person.'

We are fucking well NOT!'

Oh, you're so funny when you're angry,' Fox Face remarks smoothly. You're just like me when I was a child.'

That doesn't even make any fucking SENSE! He's lying! That's just the mask talking! All this is an illusion it's fake it's fake it's fake it's fake it's fake it's FAKE! He's FAKE! He isn't me!

Yuri yells at himself and stumbles to his feet, undignified but angry enough for nobody to be noticing his dignity.

I will DESTROY him. I will destroy that fucking mask's fucking LIES!

Like water flowing into lungs
I'm flowing through these days
Like morphine tears through deadened veins
I'm numbing in these days

I know what died that night.
It can never be brought back to life once again,
I know.

Yuri throws himself at Fox Face, who wasn't ready. Yuri hadn't prepared himself to fight again either, but he can adapt quickly. he hits at his own face, Fox Face's face, all everything blurs. he hits what's closest. He uses the spikes on his gloves to jab into flesh, and gouge out. He headbutts Fox Face, certain that even he isn't crazy enough yet to be able to headbutt himself in the face. The face he's looking at has a nosebleed. The face he's looking at has spat back out a mixture of blood and phlegm into his own face. The face he's looking at looks calmer than his own must do. The person he's looking at is kicking him, punching him, biting into his face. . . over and over. . . Over his face, blood, warm, his own blood runs down, his head is burning. Blood runs over him in rivers, getting into his eyes, into the corners of his mouth. . . He didn't know his legs had given way until he found himself on the familiar ground.

I know I died that night
And I'll never be brought back to life
Once again,
I know.

If you listen, listen close,
beat-by-beat,
you can hear when the heart stops.

You're right,' Fox Face is saying, his voice echoes. We are not the same person. You're far too weak and stupid. . .'

And echo.

I saved the pieces when it broke and ground them all to dust.

And fade.