Prompt 186-Useful Tool

What is the most useful tool you own?

Pain.

From her earliest memories of him, there had been pain. Back then, she hadn’t made the connection to him, but he was there the first time they had lost people, the first time she had truly understood the pain of loss. She had run to his arms for comfort then, and many times after, but now those arms were vipers. They would bind her and draw her blood.

Ali stepped onto the trail beneath the blood-red sky. “You’ve made the smart decision,” Hitokiri said in a low, amused tone. He had hoped, expected even, that she would try to flee. If he was disappointed in her choice it was only because he was denied the pleasure of immediately killing someone else she loved. “I think, in time, you’ll come to see it was the right decision as well.”

She struggled not to ball her fists at her sides. “They are not to be touched,” she snarled. “That was the arrangement.”

The wolfhunter joined her on the trail, eliminating the distance between them. He towered over her.  “The only arrangement we have is the one where you return wholly to me and I forget your betrayal.” He took her chin harshly into his hand and jerked her head up to look directly into his black eyes. “It remains to be seen if you will be mine once more, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Her jaw ached from his grip, but Ali did not allow herself to look away even after he released her. “I cannot be yours again unless you swear to me that you will not harm my family.”

Hitokiri narrowed his eyes at her, and then pain coursed through her body. Her limbs were aflame as she sank to the ground, writhing. She flopped onto her back and brought her hands to her own neck and squeezed with her demon strength. Hitokiri knelt next to her head, shaking his long, black hair as she gasped for air. His lips curled in a rictus grin as he let his control over her fade, allowing her to stop choking herself. “My dearest, I’m not the one that will bring them harm.”

The futility of her struggle nearly smothered her with its weight. This man was not the same monster she had fought on a rooftop in the human realm with Hiei and the others. This man was the true monster of the nightmares that had followed that encounter. This man was the one person she could never win against. “Why don’t you just kill me?” she rasped.

He clicked his tongue. “You are far too important to dispose of so carelessly.” Ali gasped as cold washed over her skin and seeped into her bones. Warmth followed immediately after and her self-inflicted wound disappeared. “After all, you are my most reliable tool.”

Was this what she was to be reduced to? Nothing more than a tool for a madman to wreak havoc upon the worlds? What was the point of her fight with Sayuri then? The Prophecy said the war would be over when she took her sister’s power and the worlds would be saved. She had devoured her twin for nothing.

Hitokiri turned his back on her and began to stalk away. No one was safe as long as she lived. Not her family, not the three realms. But what could she do against the one who could control her? A puppet master with razor wires tied to her limbs.

“Come along now, Rin,” he called, then halted in his stride. “Ah, but you go by a new name these days don’t you?” He turned a sneer back on her. “Either way, we have work to do. Get up.” He didn’t watch to make sure she did as she was told. He knew she would.

Ali dug her nails into the dusty path as she pushed herself back to her feet. She spared one final look behind her, towards her love, her daughter, her home. She would never be going back. And if they met again, she would be their enemy. With each step she took away from them, Ali shed a part of herself. With each step toward him, Rin replaced the part that was lost. Rin could endure Hitokiri’s cruelty. Rin had no family to leave behind. Rin would be his weapon.

She hurried to him and fell in step alongside him, “Yes, sir.”

Notes: As soon as I read this prompt I knew I would be writing about Ali’s captivity/indentured servitude at the hands of her greatest nemesis. To this point, I don’t believe I’ve actually written him here on the blog, but he is a Very Bad Dude™. His power is the perfect counter to her own and therefore the most troublesome for all our heroes when he makes a resurgence in the second part of Ali’s story. He was also a key part of the same Prophecy that foretold Ali’s birth (i.e. the same Prophecy that foretold the fall of her race). Their fates have been tied from the very beginning and they’ve been chasing after each other for centuries.

A minor plot hole I encountered in my rewrite as I got further and further along in the later stories was the idea that when Ali fled to the human realm and hid as a human, she had no memories of her life as a demon. She was “born” and raised by a human couple. Why would they have known her original name? Ali was clearly her human name. She must have been known by something else when she was a demon. (There was precedent for this in the show itself; another character was a demon who fled to the human realm and lived under a human guise with a name given him by his human mother.) So I came up with a new name for her demon personality from before and incorporated it into my rewrite.

Another aspect of this is that Rin and Ali, while being one person, do have slightly different personalities. When her memories start to resurface in the original story, Ali is actually terrified of that “other” her. Ali would never go to Hitokiri so willingly. But Rin would. And to protect her family, Ali gives herself back over to Rin. This obviously causes some problems in the third act of the second story, but it’s a fun dynamic to play with.

Anyway. Characters manipulating other characters as tools is a fun trope. For myself, the most useful tool I own is probably my cell phone. Cliché? Probably. But I literally have all the knowledge I could ever need right in my pocket. When my cat got herself wrapped up in a fly trap and we thought we would have to shave her to get the glue off, I pulled out my phone and just asked the internet how to get it out of fur/skin. She ended up with a weird bath of cooking oil followed by a bath with dish soap, but she didn’t have to lose her fur.

And now it’s your turn! What tool is the most useful to you? Have a great night! See you tomorrow!

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