Lay Them Straight

Notes: As may be expected from anything about Legato, this story is very messed up. Please don't read if you don't like twistedness, because, in all honesty, I can't imagine Legato having a normal childhood. To those who know the manga version of Legato's past, don't worry, I'm not rewriting it or ignoring it. Legato looked maybe in his early teens in those particular manga flashbacks, or maybe a little younger. This would be placed before then.

There are no new beginnings.

Legato allowed the man to speak, not out of mercy, nor out of any sort of human compassion, but simply because of the fact that he wanted to hear every scream the vile creature uttered as he died. The man looked up, black eyes fearful and deeply buried in a repulsive, fat face. The dark orbs usually pulsed with anger or with seething, feral hatred, but now it was mostly confusion and fear.

"What are you doing, you worthless rat?" The fat man snarled, managing ferocity despite his circumstances.

The nameless child tilted his head slightly. "I'm trying to forget who you are to me."

How could a man like this be called a father? Surely fathers did not do such horrible things to their children. The indigo-haired child stared blankly at the man through the mess of hair falling over his face. "I think forgetting will be easier once you're gone," he said, large eyes filled with a blank nothingness that was more frightening than malice.

The man looked at him from his seat in the small wooden shed outside of their home. "You damn rebellious little snot! You do what I tell you to do!" He got the look on his face that he always had when he was angry and looking for a target. His eyes burned with black fire and the promise of suffering, mouth twisted with the pleasure his own words brought. "You'll regret it, I swear you will. I'll leave you on the ground in your own blood until you die. I'll beat you until you can't move." Breaking the child's mental hold on him, the man jolted forward from his seat in the shed.

The child stepped back instinctively, regaining the control he'd lost in that sudden, overwhelming storm of emotion.


It was what he felt when he was shorter and lighter than a man with a broken bottle, or a bat...a stick...a knife. It was the helplessness he'd finally decided to put an end to. It was the core of his willpower to kill. was all he wanted. Freedom to live or die as he pleased.

"What are you going to do?" asked the man.

Emotionless amber eyes met black ones, fire on fire. "I'm going to kill you." It was not malicious. It was a fact and nothing more.

"You can't do something like that!" hissed the child's captive. "You're pathetic! You're useless, boy. Where do you think you can go if I'm gone?"

"Away," the boy replied. "But don't talk anymore." He thought for a moment, recalling a rhyme cooed to him through soothing lips. His mother's lips. When he couldn't walk for the beatings, she'd sob over him even though he knew it was hard for her to move, too, and then she'd tell him Earth rhymes until he fell asleep in her arms.

She'd died one night, protecting him. She'd stumbled into the kitchen shakily, crying, "Too much! Don't hurt him anymore! I'm going to leave and I'll take him with me! You know I will!"

Leave? No. When his father had picked up the hammer, it was over for her. She'd fallen right next to him on the floor, eyes eternally open and beautifully blank, her long, slender form curled up next to his tiny one, bearing his blows even in death. His father had bashed her skull in.

Even now, he hummed her rhyme. "One, two," he whispered, "buckle your shoe."

His father smiled twistedly. "You little—" But then he bent, slowly, twisting his bloodied laces into the semblance of a knot; tying them together.

The man laughed acidly. "Playing games are we, monster? You know, if you'd done this before, your mother would still be alive, huh? Her brains. I beat her brains in. You wanna know why? Because of you. You could have helped her...and you didn't. You didn't."

Tears fell silently down the face of the boy who had no name and no mother. "Three, four," he whispered faintly, his back turned to the horrible man and the horrible words. "Close the door." I didn't know, then. Didn't know I could have saved her...

The fat man's trembling hand closed the shed's entrance, blocking him in.

The boy sniffed away his tears, closing his eyes and concentrating as his father's curses strained to him.

"Five, six...pick up sticks."

Rotten boards, broken handles of tools, bats...

"Seven, eight; lay them straight."

Legato made his father line them up ever so neatly against the wall.

No nine; no ten.

She'd been dead by then.

"Burn," Legato whispered. The only constant besides the pain was that his father carried around a pack of smokes and a flask of whiskey. Legato made his father pour the drink onto the wood. By now his screams were loud, the anger mixing with fear.

He heard the flick of his father's lighter, heard the sound like a whoosh of breath as all the rotten wood caught fire.

His father burned, and the child felt nothing, even though his tears kept flowing.

He tried to remember how the rhyme ended, and he couldn't. In the twilight that blazed with smoke and bright flames that licked away at the last thing he had, there was suddenly nothing left for him. In the light of the flames, a smile curled his lips upward.

Later, he remembered the final line. Begin again?

How foolish. There are no new beginnings, no retakes, and no way to turn back.

If only life was like the rhymes that had soothed him to sleep.

Author's Notes: Ouch. To be completely and absolutely honest, I'm supposed to be writing fluff right now. But that little rhyme got stuck in my head, and for some reason this insane story sprouted from it. Anyway...I think Legato needs some serious psychological help. Since it doesn't detail how he got his abilities in the anime, and sort of skims over it in the manga, I suppose it's possible that he could have had them as a child, honing them to precision only when he was older. That is, at least, the assumption I went on when I wrote this. Also...what's with me and nursery rhymes? (hides) I swear, they just beg to be used in the Trigun universe. Please don't kill me! And... Please Review? I would appreciate any thoughts at all!