[personal profile] imagines
Disclaimer: I don't own Yuugiou. I wrote this for fun, not for profit.
Title: Freaks
[livejournal.com profile] 30_kisses prompt: 21. extortion
Pairing: Was supposed to be Ryou/Amane, but it got out of hand. Like that's never happened before. So it's more sibling-complex, instead. :D
Summary: A collection of souls will never replace a sister, but one might as well try. (Circus-freak AU, Ryou and Amane.)
Words: ~700
Constructive criticism is welcome.

Summer's heat is choking the land, and Amane has to tie a damp cloth over her mouth and nose when she walks to market. She also wears dark sunglasses, but those are for keeping people from staring at her eyes, not for shading them. It's not the sun that causes her headaches-- if one too many people get curious and start watching her, she'll hit the ground screaming for painkillers.

She was sent to buy fish, and on the walk back, she hears a tiny miaow from a storm drain. She can see a grey kitten inside, who probably crawled in to find shelter from the heat. Its pink nose is twitching furiously, and it claws its way out of the drain to meet her. "You're a pretty creature," she says, and gets out a sliver of fish for it. It pounces on the fish as if it hasn't had a square meal for days, and by the look of its ribs, it probably hasn't. When it finishes the fish, it allows her to pick it up, and lets out a mighty purr when she bundles it into her shirt. "You're coming home with me," she tells it.


They go to the circus; say they need summer jobs. When they sign contracts, Amane whispers that her name looks like it's written in blood. Ryou sees nothing but ordinary black ink.


Ryou doesn't let her explain. "You can't keep it," he says, before she has a chance to convince him otherwise.

"It would have starved!" Amane clutches the kitten more tightly. "Maybe if we ask the boss, you know, promise to keep it out of sight--"

"The boss gets one look at it, he'll drown it. We are the freaks, you know that. We'll do what we're told until we're done working here. Get the cat out of here before you get caught."


It'll only be until the summer ends, says Ryou. You'll only have to let them stare until the leaves start turning red. Only, only!-- but all those hundreds of curious stares make her head feel like it's going to explode. (He promised her it'd only hurt a little.)


Amane has always done what her brother asks, but he has never before asked her to let a creature die. So before she sets the kitten down in front of the drain where she found it, she kisses its head and gives a little push, just enough to protect it. She hopes she didn't give it too much. Ryou will notice if her strength fails, and he'll want to know what she did. Every time she uses it for a reason besides her job, it only makes her job harder. Saving a kitten could cost someone's life, but it's a worthwhile risk to her.


Ryou's always done it easily. He can reach into a living thing and pull out whatever makes it real. Amane's always hated how the creatures look when he does it-- empty and useless, fragile as dead grass. To balance her brother, she returns what he removes.


In the end, protecting the kitten only costs Amane's life. At work the next morning, she's got just enough energy to raise a bird that Ryou killed, but not enough to keep her own heart beating in the presence of so many curious eyes. When she falls, Ryou reaches out and into her, and knows there's nothing he can do.

He killed and she saved, and now that half of the show is dead, the circus doesn't bother keeping him on. As he walks out of the circle of tents, he pushes at every person he passes, as hard as he can. As the things that made them alive rise up from their bodies, he reaches out and catches them all. He will take them home and keep them in pretty little jars, and he will never let them go. Perhaps if he collects enough of them, they'll come close to replacing his sister.
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