Bad Blood and Good Friends
SETTING: Canon, after the events of both the Planet DC Titans Annual 2000 and Bushido's other appearance in Titans 80 Page Giant. Reference is made to both of these, so beware of spoilers (No, not Spoiler.) I wish Bushido would show up in more stuff. His character is just too cool.
There is, as the Americans say, 'bad blood' between us. A strange expression, but in this case, an apt one. It is not surprising that the tensions build and flow as they do; the American took it personally. And really, who can blame him? When someone you've never met hunts you down with the express purpose of slitting your throat, it tends to cause some ill will. When that person succeeds, it causes more than just ill will. It causes bad blood.
The others seem to accept me, though none are openly welcoming. I can live with that and would feel uncomfortable any other way. But he he treats me warily. This is understandable, however I feel it will affect how this group works together. And I for one need this group to work.
The blonde American said I needed help. It took me a lot of soul-searching to agree with her, and even more to figure out how to get that help.
Help for what?
I do not want to kill anymore.
How to go about it, ne?
So. I find myself on a foreign shore, asking a person I very nearly killed to accept me into his newly formed team. I must admit I was surprised when this occurred right away, when one of their ranks handed me a broom, and another muttered something about every team needing a brooding ninja type. Yes. A broom.
Americans are strange, desu-ne?
What did I do?
I started cleaning up, of course.
But it is easier to wipe away the dust of a wrecked wall (hn?), the shattered parts of a window frame (how did that happen?), than it is to wipe away the blood on my hands. A euphemism, another Americanism even. Rarely is my killing so untidily done that there's blood on my hands. However, his blood, amongst others, I have spilled. It was thick, dark, jugular blood that gushed over my kodachi. And then the throat healed, healed so very quickly once he was back in control of his body. Benefits of being a shape shifter, I imagine. A benefit to him, for he still lives. A benefit to me, for there is one less that I have killed. That, and I have hope again. A chance to change this legacy. To change myself.
And I want it to work. Very badly.
Because I do not want to kill anymore.
There is no longer any scar. I saw him wearing a T-shirt and jeans earlier, and his throat was smooth, clear. That is false. There is no scar on his body, but there is a deep wound between the two of us. And it will fester - eat away at both of us until one or the other snaps. And then I will lose my chance.
So. I must do something about it, and quickly, before the divide is so great it cannot be bridged. The Americans talk of 'closure'. Perhaps this, then, is what is needed.
My mind made up, I move from my meditative pose, and walk out to find him. I leave my weapons behind, feeling naked but knowing it must be so. The reasons are twofold; I do not want to appear to threaten him, remind him of the flashing steel that nearly took his life, and I do not want my ancestors to interfere. After all, sometimes it is easier to beg for pardon than to beg for permission. A thin smile slices across my lips as realize I am hoping this is true for both my ancestors, and the one named Beastboy.
I find him in a tree in the garden, alighting there from flight and my breath catches. A raven. He is a raven, and his wings can beat at the sky like my heart used to when Okaasan 1 tried to teach me. Teaching I never heard so busily was I dreaming of flight. Back then, back when I had my sense of wonder still. There was no blood then. No death.
He's got a real hard face to read, that guy. Then again, I'm not surprised. He's one weird flavor, that's for sure. But when I came back from my little practice flight, he was looking at me like, I dunno, I was the luckiest guy in the world. Or something. I wonder if he's got a thing for flying, or shape shifting.
Sheesh. Envy? From that guy? Get real, Gar. He tried to kill you, remember?
Well, okay, not me, but that Tengu thing which hijacked the cockpit for a while there. It was pretty hairy actually. I guess that's why I feel kinda weird around him. Like, I dunno, he's checking to make sure I don't go nutso or something from it.
Or maybe that's not it at all. Maybe it's me. I mean, it's not like I treat him like he's just one of the guys. Every time I look at him it reminds me of that Tengu thing. Taking over, reaching into every corner of my mind to take control. Imprisoning me in my own body. Making me see everything he was doing, but leaving me unable to do anything about it.
Geez, man, get a grip on yourself. You're starting to shake.
He saw me, and he started to shake. Maybe it is not obvious when he is in human form, but as a bird it is readily apparent. I felt the bitterness rise in my throat. I've lost. Before I even begin, I've lost. This is worse than I thought. He has such deep fear and revulsion for me that he can no longer control his body's reactions. I should go. The wound is too deep, too festering to ever heal. I am a fool. I will wreak the team for everyone if this continues, if the team leader
I should go. I will find some other way to change my destiny. Somehow.
But first, there is something I must do.
It was really freaky watching this guy. I mean, the dude got down on his knees in that sitting position that you always see in the old Kurosawa samurai flicks. You know, the one they make look so easy and can do for hours, but when you tried it yourself when you got home after the movie your foot went to sleep in, like, twenty seconds. Sitting like that, I noticed he was unarmed. For the first time in, like, ever I think. At least, it was the first time I'd seen him that way.
I thought that was the creepiest thing, until he started to talk. What he said weirded me out completely.
"I thought you should know a few things, Beastboy-dono. I am sorry about what happened in Japan. But I am not sorry I cut your throat. If I had not, the Tengu would have won and the demons returned to Japan, destroying vastly more than one person. I know this is a small consolation to you, that one person. I wish I could have come up with an alternative. I now realize that your forgiveness in this matter is impossible, so I shall allow my presence to cause you no further distress."
With that he bowed low over his knees, and stood with a grace I could only gape at. Guess he's got that Kurosawa knack, too. And then what he said started to sink in. First the language; I mean, man, his English isn't perfect, and he must have spent, like, hours with a dictionary to get that right. Then, as he was nearly at the door to go back inside, what he meant also sank in.
He blamed himself. And he thought I hated him for it. Him, not the Tengu. And now he was leaving. Probably for good.
Like heck he was!
Almost before I knew what I was doing, I'd shifted into a griffin and grabbed him in my foreclaws, lifting him into the sky. He struggled a bit when I first got hold of him, almost reflexively, but then went limp. It seemed as if he felt this was to be my vengeance, a punishment he could not in honour avoid.
Sheesh. I had to think very carefully what I was going to say here. No jokes, no puns. He probably wouldn't get them. Not the type I guess, and his language wouldn't help. Heh. Me. Being serious. Bette'd choke. Enough woolgathering, I started talking.
"Bushido, you sealed the Tengu."
"I was I was possessed by the Tengu at the time." There. It was out. I'd said it, I had to face it.
"To seal it, you had to decapitate the body it was in. That body was mine."
"You tried to kill my body."
"Bushido, domo arigato.3"
We flew some more in silence. I got the impression he was gathering his nerve to speak, so I kept us airborne.
"I did not think you would see it that way, Beastboy-dono."
"What's to see? You weren't trying to kill me, you were sealing the Tengu. And I think, if I'd stayed possessed, I'd have " The hurt from the possession was still too raw. "I wouldn't have wanted to keep living as a prisoner in my own body, forced to watch as that freak hurt my friends using me!"
It was too intense. The way I felt was still I couldn't leave it like this, couldn't be so serious, no matter what I'd decided earlier. So, to, like, lighten the mood, y'know, I added one of my signature quips.
"But, man, we need to work on your people skills!"
I could practically hear the smirk. He'd gotten the joke! But my claws were getting tired so
"Hang on a sec, okay? Just gotta change position."
With that I flicked him up, folded my wings and dropped myself down beneath him. Gotta hand it to him, he caught on quick. By the time I was under him he'd tightened his body into a flip and landed neatly on my back. Riding the griffon. Flying.
It was then I heard it. At first it was a strange sound, creaky and rusted from disuse. Then it mellowed into a bell-like tone. His laughter. Bushido was laughing! A sound of pure, unadulterated joy. I guess he did have a thing for flying. I had to wonder what he'd been like before this whole Bushido bit had started, I guess he'd almost certainly been someone worth knowing. With a bit of lightening up, he would be again.
"Arigato gozaimasu, Beastboy-dono. 4" The thank you was layered, I could tell. Thanks for the flight, for the reprieve. All that. But the formality was getting real old, real fast.
"Ah, call me Gar, Bushido."
"Hai! And, my name is " his voice dropped to an almost-whisper, like he was, I dunno, giving me trust of a vulnerable part of himself. Who knows, maybe he was.
"My name is Ryuko."
I have a chance to change, to alter my future, though my past sins are legion and beyond redemption. That chance was all I asked for when I came. That was my gossamer-thin hope. Now the hope is more, and that is both frightening and freeing. Now, maybe, if I dare, I even have a chance to have friends? Flying in a brilliant blue sky atop a griffin, I feel anything is possible!
1Okaasan = Mother
2Hai = yes
3Arigato, Domo arigato, Arigato gozaimasu = variants on thank you, thank you very much etc. in varying degrees of politeness.
4-dono = suffix used to indicate respect. Like saying "Mr." Slightly less respectful than "-san", a lot less respectful than "-sama". I would have used "sempai", but I'm unsure of the age differentials of the two characters.
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