|Disclaimer||Everything belongs to Watsuki sensei, not me!! (Well, except the silly concept, I suppose- he has full rights to it cuz it’s based on his ideas, but I doubt he’d want it!)|
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Know Thy Enemy
by Inarae ::: 12.May.2003
Saitoh Hajime’s narrowed eyes trailed over the yard in habitual, unconscious caution as he stood in the long shadows cast by the setting sun, the tip of his cigarette pulsing a fiery red with the exhaled oxygen from each breath before it faded into a powdery gray and crumbled, dead white flakes drifting to the ground. At last he let the tiny stub remaining drop from his fingers. The expensive leaves had burned to their destined conclusion, but his thoughts remained as muddled as before. Indecision was a rare emotion for him, and it irritated him, even more so because the issue was far too ridiculous to merit even a moment of his time, much less an hour. More than an hour, he amended, the irritation sliding into anger at himself. Not only was he wasting time, but he was lying to himself about it, an action as inherently stupid and dangerous as that backwards sword the battosai carried these days. More dangerous in fact, for those who lied to themselves could never trust themselves again; any observation they had could be false, and they would never know the difference. A good warrior could fight with an inferior weapon, but no one could live their life in a dream world. Well, the battosai seemed to be doing that at the moment without difficulty, a small portion of his mind pointed out, and he squelched it as mercilessly as he would run his sword through a traitor. Too bad the traitor seemed to be his own mind lately, the little voice chirped cheerfully in his mind, having apparently reincarnated in milliseconds. He ignored it.
How had his mental conversation returned to the battosai anyhow? Admittedly, there were aspects to the tiny red head that completely baffled the wolf, and it was true that it was important to understand one’s opponent in order to predict his movements, but Saitoh was sure that he understood the basic pattern of the battosai’s actions well enough that the small bits that baffled him wouldn’t matter. The battosai followed a very logical and simple ethical system, and for all that Saitoh disagreed completely with the underlying premises, it was logical and strict enough that there was rarely more than one possible course for the battosai to take, and Saitoh could discern that course without difficulty. He’d had years of practice at forecasting the battosai’s thoughts, and doubted he would mistake it in anything important.
So why was this one little stupid habit of the battosai irritating him so much? It was probably just stupidity on the battosai’s part, for all the logic of the rest of his actions. After all, accepting the underlying premises to the battosai’s logic required a massive dose of stupidity, so he knew that the battosai was an idiot in some ways, just not with his sword. It wasn’t a far stretch to assume that this was just another aspect of that little piece of insanity.
Still, there was something in the battosai’s expression . . . Like he had finally found what he had dedicated his life to searching for. But that was ridiculous. Still, it bothered him. He wasn’t too proud to accept that there were things that others were more skilled than he at, truths that others knew and he was blind to. A warrior who was not always prepared to meet his better found only death.
God, what was he thinking now?? The entire concept was simply impossible. Of course, that’s what he had thought about the Tokugawa shogunate being overthrown by a group of idealistic fools three decades ago.
No. He was absolutely NOT going to do it! He needed to go do something productive before his apparently too idle mind did something terrible.
Still, what could it hurt? It was almost dark, and no one could see in through the walls surrounding his property anyhow. Tokio wouldn’t be home tonight; a friend of hers was sick, and she was spending the night there. And when the maid came tomorrow, she would simply assume that Tokio had done it and been unable to finish, and therefore put it away herself as soon as it was possible. There would be nothing odd to raise suspicions.
He was going to do it, wasn’t he? Just to try it, to see if he could understand anything from it. He mentally promised to draw out the battosai’s death a few minutes longer for putting him through such humiliation. He sighed and went back in the house to get supplies. Anyone who knew him would have scurried off a couple hundred miles if they had seen the calm deliberation that followed the decision, the eyes narrowed in irritation- a deadly combination that sent even spiders scuttling away in terror. Still, his mind was more relaxed now that he’d made a decision. It did bother him greatly not to understand, had bothered him for months now, and although unlikely, it was conceivable that not understanding this aspect of the other man could place him in danger when they eventually finished their duel, as they inevitably someday would. Their ways of thinking were too opposite, for all that at the basic level they both sought the best path for the land they both served. The battosai thought that the country could evolve into a better, happier existence by convincing everyone to become nicer. Saitoh knew that there would always be evil, and that in order to become strong enough to defeat evil, one must be willing to sacrifice personal freedoms and happiness. And evil had to be defeated, or it would overpower good. It wasn’t a question of evolving, but of simple survival. The battosai’s ideas were good, and he could see the draw behind them, but they could only end in death and destruction for everyone. The only reason the battosai had survived so long was due to the skills he had gained by breaking those lofty ideals. Someone without that experience would be easy prey, torn apart by the ravaging mouths of those without honor. And such criminals would always exist to destroy those who tried to be saints, for the drive to do evil was an inherent mind set for mankind, and most people simply did not have the self control to defeat it.
The sun had finally set. The supplies were ready. Saitoh tied a handkerchief over his head and knelt in front of the washbasin, dipping his hands into the warm, sudsy water to awkwardly begin to scrub the stains from the shirt he had worn yesterday.
|Endnotes||^_^ I am insane and this fic proves it!! I ended up staying at a hotel a day longer than I had planned, and as I washed clothes in the sink so I’d have something to wear the next day, this silliness popped into my head.|
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