AN: Would appreciate a little feedback to know if it is worth continuing, people. Please? Just a few words to tell me if it's still holding up in quality and interest.
Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
There, out in the darkness
A fugitive running
Fallen from god
Fallen from grace
God be my witness
I never shall yield
Till we come face to face
Till we come face to face
He knows his way in the dark
Mine is the way of the Lord
Those who follow the path of the righteous
Shall have their reward
And if they fall, as Lucifer fell
The flame, the sword!
- excerpt from 'Stars,' sung by Javert, Les Misérables
Chapter 2: Fallen From 'Grace'
His mother's name is Hina, he learns from the words of those around him (for some reason, this name echoes oddly in his ears, somehow incorrect and yet right at the same time). She is all pale moonlight and softness, frail in her beauty as a thawing icicle. Whatever her normal strength, she is weakened by the birth—too weak to protect him as the elders tear him from her arms in mere moments. His own attempts to struggle bother his captors not at all; in his mind, a voice distorted as if by distance sneers at his weakness, infuriating him.
The old women and the younger ones they order about take care never to touch him bare-skinned; they wear gloves, or, in emergency, wrap their hands in their long sleeves. It has something to do with their coldness and his heat, he supposes; young as he is, he can tell this is not his natural environment, and if any doubts were left, the way they spit out 'fire' in the same tone as 'Imiko', cursed child, settles it. Even their name for him, Hiei, Flying Shadow, speaks of their fear of him. Again, he supposes it has something to do with his heat and their ice.
They do have the courtesy to give him a diaper before wrapping him up in bandages and ofudas until he can barely breathe, let alone move. So much protection for them from his aura and power? This is laughable, how much they fear him! Him, a babe!
And yet somehow, this is as it should be, and he already knew it. It only serves to confirm his impression of them as blind fools afraid of change and difference.
He does not know the specifics of why they do this, however, until the day he is carried to a cliff. He sees his mother, struggling between two of her age mates. Like all the others, she regards him with fear—but in her eyes, there is love, too. Not fear of him, but rather for him? Foreboding clenches his gut, anger rising though he does not know why.
He listens as the most wrinkled crone of all, her mouth in a permanent scowl, proceeds to list his mother's crimes: to seek out a male - and not just any male, but a fire demon, their antithesis of the ice-women - to lie with him, to bear a boy like her paramour. In the end, all crimes are one: she has Broken the Rules (he can hear the capitals) and created a fire demon son whose very existence is apparently against nature.
This crime of existing sounds very familiar, but he does not know why. He is very certain of the punishment, however.
He refuses to fear such fools, who kill what they cannot understand, the judges who are not even brave enough to kill him themselves. Instead, they delegate another woman – Rui, who cradles him with sad eyes – to do the job. And when she hesitates on the edge of the cliff, the oldest witch of the mob sprinkles poisoned words in her ear, pretending to sympathize, understand the difficulty of killing the child of one's best friend – and still insisting that she do it, even as Hina struggles harder to get to them, as futile an effort as a fly trapped in a web, and just as progressively frantic as death creeps forward on eight legs.
And then the Elder's words become even more familiar:
"But you must do this for her own good, and yours, and ours. This imiko, this boy of fire, will slaughter us all!"
Again the words echo like something he has heard before. Rage fills him – how dare they condemn a child as a murderer already? Do they really believe they can keep their hands, their snow-white fingers, clean by justifying the unconscionable? That their choir of angels will stay pure if his 'taint' is destroyed or removed?
Maybe he will do as they say if he stays here. Maybe not; why make such an effort if not needed? And why do they actually think he'd slaughter a kid, let alone a large group of them? Where is the proof? In his red (yes, they are red – he caught a glimpse in an ice mirror as they trussed him up in bonds) eyes? In his black hair, already on his head, so unlike their white or blue or green locks? In his skin a shade more tan than the snow? These are no angels, no heavenly bodies, no stars—and their pretense as such is ridiculous.
A pause – Rui has not reacted to the words, or moved. But he can feel her fumbling in her sleeve for something, covering it by whispering an apology to him.
What a sheep. Even if logically there is nothing she can do, shouldn't she at least try?
The elder hears the half-whisper, and snaps at her, "Do not pity The Beast!" (Funny. If he's a beast, what does that make them?)
"You killed my son!"
Hina's cry cuts the wind that fills the silence. Her scream is one of agony, combining despair and desperation and defiance all at once. No one can doubt the love, though, when she names him thus—MY son. Past the curve of Rui's arms, he can somewhat glimpse his mother, still struggling in the hold of two women her own age, their faces turned away from him as if to avoid contamination, their arms never loosening even as Hina reaches out her one free hand, still trying to save him. Even now, when some sign of repentence might grant her some mercy, readmit her to this 'heaven', she hasn't given up physically, even if her words already name him dead. A rush of tenderness fills him, and he wonders why she is so different from the rest of these hags – and they are most definitely pitiless hags, no matter what their age or beauty. And his mother is most definitely different, with the boldness to create and keep and birth a being so mysterious and different to them as Hiei himself.
Rui is tucking something into his bandages. His tiny fists grasp instinctively to the shiny stone. It's the same one that fell from his mother's face as she held him, he is certain, realizing with astonishment that it is her crystallized tear.
Raising his eye to his carrier, he hears words, but not with his ears. Somehow Rui must be pushing the message to him through other means, wary of the still observing elder. The method, while curious (and, dare he say, somewhat ticklish), is less important now than the message, and he devotes his full attention to it.
- When you come back, seeking the revenge that you and - – her 'voice' breaks momentarily, before continuing – - and we, deserve – please kill me first. -
He does not blink as he accepts the tear gem, an acknowledgement of the words somehow passed straight to his mind, words she dares not speak aloud—and his own, wordless promise to fulfill the revenge she describes.
Revenge. Though less than two days old, it sounds somehow familiar, like a garment made for him. And yet, at the same time, it is like rewatching a play, but from opposite the side that he is accustomed to being on.
As she closed her eyes, the end of the message comes through, a part he is uncertain whether she means him to hear or not:
- It's the least I can offer to atone for what I'm about to do. -
And with that, his forboding becomes reality, as she extends her arms –
and drops him into the sea of clouds.
He hears one last tear choked cry, his mother naming him as hers once more, even as the rushing air around him cuts off further noise. He falls from heaven, condemned for existence, with only a starry jewel, a name, and a purpose of vengeance.
My mother's tribe called me Hiei the imiko, the cursed child of the Glacial Village.
-Hiei, YuYu Hakusho, Episode 100: The Secret of the Jagan
Bad fortune to the Korime elders, for he lands not on hard ground, but in water, in a free-flowing river, and while stunned from impact, he does not die.
AN: Remember, comments and criticisms appreciated, particularly if reasons are included!