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In the race of life, you get to the finishing line...
... And you're dead!
She’d made her choice. “Let Aoko go.” She’d made her choice and… 
1st-Mar-2008 04:15 am


She’d made her choice.

“Let Aoko go.”

She’d made her choice and she didn’t want to take it back.

“Kuroba, you can be serious!”

No, only joking. She really, really wanted to take it back.

“I’m serious.”

Only heroes made stupid sacrifices. Only heroes made stupid choices.

And heroes never lived long.

The ropes were loose behind her back by this point, had been for the past five minutes. But she still couldn’t move.

“That’s what you want, Kuroba Kaito? Your little girlfriend? Very well.”

Her ribs hurt from laughing so hard, and then from being kicked. Stupid jerk, stupid murderer, he couldn’t take a joke. Her poor ribs-- she’d felt them fracture, and she’d bit her tongue to stop herself from doing anything more than yelp.

But she was laughing again now, because she’d been joking, really. Really!

And she was biting her tongue again now, because she could not take it back.

“I told you to let Aoko go, Snake!”

“You’ll get her back later. I’ll just hold her as… ah, insurance, now that you’ve made your decision. I told you I’m being kind, and, well, here’s another gift for you… You can say goodbye to your sister.”

Aoko wasn’t by her side anymore. She was dangling, still unconscious, in the crook of Snake’s arm, a gun to her head.

The look on her brother’s face was something she’d never seen before. His poker face was like a broken mirror held together with super glue. Super glue, Yuffie knew, wasn’t very good for Poker Faces, but Kaito had always been good at fixing things.

Couldn’t he fix this? She’d made her choice and now she couldn’t move. She’d done what she could and kept blood off her hands, but could Kaito keep it off his?

“Kudo. Hattori.” Kaito took a deep breath, and she could feel him holding it. “Will you two wait outside for me?”

The two detectives in the room looked at him, then looked at each other.

Snake wouldn’t stop them. He was safe, as long as he had Aoko. Even if the detectives called the police (-they already had, taking the opportunity she’d given them. Her poor ribs-), the murdering bastard was still going to get away, free as a bloody butterfly.

“No way, man--” Hattori started to say, but Kudo grabbed him by the arm and hauled him away before he could finish the sentence.

“Bye!” Yuffie called out, with more manic cheer than she felt. She tried to wave with her foot, but she stopped when her rib tried to tear a hole in her lung for the trouble.

Kudo paused, looking back at her. It was only a half step, a half beat, but for once in her life Yuffie got an idea what it might be like to be in his position. She didn’t like it.

Then he disappeared around the corner with his comrade, stepping carefully over a puddle of blood in the entranceway, and Yuffie could go back to pretending to ignore the things that mattered. Hattori slipped in the puddle.

With silence now prevailing where she was, she could hear him cursing all the way down the corridor. He was good, she decided, but he had a long way to go if he wanted to rival old man Highwind or Nakamori-keibu.

The sound of footsteps was fading away.

The sound of her heartbeat was getting louder.

“This is what’s going to happen. If the police come, I’ll shoot this one-” Snake jostled Aoko, who whimpered and twitched and frowned, but didn’t wake up.

Yuffie started to ask what would happen to her, but Snake’s smile turned nasty and cruel, and her rib started poking at her lung again. She shut her mouth.

She’d made her choice and she didn’t want to take it back. She knew what would happen.

(-she hoped-)

Kaito said nothing, and the silence grew again until Snake began to laugh. “You have two minutes.”

Two minutes. And counting.

One second. She smiled, watching Kaito walk forwards; he was treating the ground as though it was made of the same glass shards as that stupid poker face.

Four seconds.

They stared at each other for a moment, before he dropped for his knees and reached for her, pulling her close for the third time since their father’s death.

Twelve seconds.

“This sucks,” She whispered into the shoulder of his suit jacket.

“I can’t do this,” he whispered back, “I can’t make this choice. Yuffie-”

Snake could probably hear them anyway, so there was no point in whispering, but she couldn’t make her voice work properly. And from the hitch in Kaito‘s, neither could he. “Shut up,” she replied, breath rasping at the pressure on her ribs.

She wanted to cling to him, like that one time when they‘d been fourteen- her bright idea to run away from home, from Godo and everything that had been driving her crazy, and to leave him behind- he‘d found her, though. Found her and called her an idiot; she’d left her umbrella at home.

But she couldn’t move.

“You don‘t have to, not really.” she continued, letting her mouth run as it so often did. She couldn’t take it back, but she couldn’t stop the words, either. “It was my choice more than it was yours, anywho.”

“Take it back.”

She couldn’t. Couldn’t he see that? If she did, then she’d have blood on her hands, and she’d never be able to wash it off.

One minute down.

“Can’t,” Yuffie sighed dramatically, “You’ve got lovey-dovey, mushy crap to spout to Aoko-chan, and she’s kinda gotta be awake to hear it. Awake, and, y’know, in a position to act on it. Like, on top-”

Yuffie!”

Grinning, she tilted her head a little and settled it more comfortably on his shoulder. It was starting to hurt all the more, now.

She wasn’t exactly sure how long the twin’s special kind of metaphorical superglue could hold together anymore. It hurt, feeling like the shards were starting to splinter into shards themselves, tearing everything apart at the seams. Of all the things that Snake had done so far--

Maybe this was the cruellest.

“Promise me-” She started to say, but it came out all garbled and sounded more like a mewl than a sentence starter. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Promise me… Oh, I don’t know. Don’t go all emo-tastic. Don’t do anything stupid, ‘cause trust me, I know you will if I don’t stop you now--”

“And what about you?” She couldn’t see his face, and she didn’t want to imagine, so she just listened. There was the barest hint of a tremble in his voice. He didn’t say ‘I promise’, though, but she hadn’t really expected him to.

“I’m too smart to do anything stupid.”

Thirty seconds left.

Anything to fill the silence.

“You’re-” If he was about to point out that she was crying--

“I know,” she laughed quietly. “Your shoulder is all wet.”

She paused for a moment, listening to the pain in her ribs as she breathed. Snake was silent in the background, and all was quiet except for her heart and the occasional ‘plip’ of blood dripping to the floor, from Aoko-chan’s forehead. “Are you sure?” She asked.

“No, you’re laughing.” Came the not-answer. The shards splintered a little more, and when she winced, he did as well. At least he was still making (some) sense, though, which was more than she could say for herself. “Are you sure?”

“Curiosity killed the cat,” she reminded him.

Fourteen seconds.

Twelve seconds.

She couldn‘t remember all the times that they‘d said it in the past, but she could remember most. Kaito tightened his grip just slightly before whispering, barely audible. “But satisfaction brought it back.”

Yuffie‘s snicker was watery. She wished she could move, and wished she could take it back.

Eight seconds.

She closed her eyes, pretending that they weren’t there; she wasn’t there; this wasn’t happening--

Four seconds.

Three.

Two.

“Come back and haunt me, okay?” Kaito’s voice was as choked as she’d ever heard it; he’d forced the words.

(Let me take it back. Stop time. We’re running out of superglue!)

One. (Don’t go. Please--!)

“Like I could ever leave my darling delinquent of a baby brother unsupervised!”

--I don’t want to die.

Zero.

“Time’s up, kiddies.” Snake sneered. "Get up, Kuroba Kaito. Take your girlfriend and make sure you don't come back."

There was the ‘click’ of the safety being removed on a gun, and Yuffie smiled as her brother let go. Smiled as he left her there, because he had to, and she’d told him to, but she damned if she didn’t want to yell and cry and scream for him to come back.

Everything had shattered into itty-bitty fragments that were tearing her apart from the inside. It hurt worse than her ribs hurt, and--

And she was a liar.

“You’re going to die because of him.” There was a sickening lilt to that voice-- she hated it.

“I know.” Yuffie nodded once, short and sharp, like her smile was at the moment.

“I’m going to make sure it hurts.”

“Naturally. That’s what you evil super villains do.”

Yuffie didn’t usually regret being a liar.

Only heroes made stupid sacrifices. Only heroes made stupid choices.

And heroes never lived long.

But at least the ropes were loose.

Ten: Noooo.
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