Lucy hated the Facility. She'd said it once, she'd said it a thousand times. She hated being a prisoner within it, she hated most of the people within it, and she hated the thought that even if she died, that damnable AI would just bring her back. She couldn't have any peace, not even through death. Whatever sweet relief dying would bring would be meaningless the second she woke up in the medical bay with a gold collar instead of the blue one that had become the standard for her. Though now, she hated it for more than that. Looking over at the apparition of her past self, she hated being in the space station even more than ever. Just when it seemed she could finally put her past troubles behind her and move on, just when she thought she could heal from the wounds left by those she loved and hated in the past, this hellish little world of hers put her own past in front of her.
The girl was quite the sight. Her clothes were stained with dirt, sweat, and blood, but the blood didn't belong to her. No, it belonged to the humans she'd slaughtered after her heart-breaking epiphany, and she hadn't cleaned it off herself just yet. The look on her face was one that had no place on a girl her age. A child of nine or ten was supposed to smile, laugh, and impishly smirk as her mind filled with pranks. For her, though, there were no smiles, no laughter. Her eyes were dull and almost lifeless, and the way she looked at everything suggested she was looking through them rather than at them. Dull, lifeless, cold, a vibrant red turned instead into dry blood. Even her hair seemed to lack any luster, crammed under that woolen cap. No vivid cerise, just a muted color that seemed more gray than pink.
"There are so many of them here...why haven't you killed them yet?" she asked in a subdued voice. "Their stench is disgusting. How can you stand it?"
The book in Lucy's lap closed with a soft thump, and she kept her eyes forward so she wouldn't have to look at the girl she used to be. She, of course, knew what "them" referred to. There were many other prisoners on the station, and a good majority of them were human. Humans with superpowers in some cases, but humans all the same. The question didn't so much surprise her as it annoyed her, as it was one she often asked herself when she had enough time alone to spend in her own thoughts.
"It isn't worth it anymore."
That wasn't the answer the girl was expecting, and it showed plain as day on her face. Her eyes were nearly the size of saucers, and her brows furrowed down; she looked at Lucy as if she'd sprouted another head, prompting her to add more explanation to her answer.
"When they die here, they just come back. And if they have friends I can't kill anyway, it just makes it more troublesome than it needs to be."
Well, at the very least, her expression went neutral again instead of angry, but there were still hints of anger in the occasional twitch of her lip. For a moment, it seemed she lacked a response to that, or she fumbled over the words in her mind.
"Just kill them anyway. You need to. They deserve it...anyone who can't see that is blind."
The more she spoke, the more the girl appeared to grow agitated. Lucy wasn't agreeing with her, and she couldn't fathom why. Slowly her expression began to darken, and her voice continued to grow louder and louder.
"You know what they did. You know why they need to...you're a coward."
"A coward runs away from a fight without even trying. I'm not being a coward if I just don't see the point in killing everyone I see."
"But they're human. Sinners from birth."
"Why should I risk dying from a mistake I can avoid? Just killing them all at once would give them reason to gang up on me when they get back." Lucy felt herself growing incensed from the conversation's path as well. As much as she wanted to get rid of the humans here she hated, she wasn't stupid. She knew how to pick her battles, especially when the Facility's collars made it harder for her to hack off limbs than she was used to. When the battles got tougher, she had to grow smarter. Not only that, but there were humans, a handful at most, whom she did care for. Killing them would hurt her worse than letting the rest of them live. Those precious few made it all worth it. She couldn't just throw them out with the rest like her instincts demanded of her.
The cool facade the ghostly child wore shattered, and in her tantrum, she stamped her foot against the ground.
"'Why?!' You know what they can do! You know what they did to you! Why?! Why won't you kill them?! All of them! They deserve it! Every last one of them deserves it!" cried the pale diclonius child. Her hands curled up into fists at her sides, and they were shaking as she continued her shrieking. "They never cared about you! About me! They always hated me even though I didn't do anything! I was always a good girl, always being quiet, never making trouble, but they...!"
As she turned to look at her, Lucy was surprised at the sight that greeted her. The girl was shaking worse than before, but this time, it wasn't from anger. She shook like a leaf in the midst of a hurricane because she was doing her damnedest not to cry. She tried her best, but water shook and wavered in her eyes, just about ready to spill onto her cheeks.
"It's not fair! You know it's not!" she screeched. "Human kids get lots of love and attention! They get it even if they're mean to other people! They get mommies and daddies and brothers and sisters, and friends!"
Her voice cracked, and again she stomped her foot down as if to give herself better ground to stand on.
"I don't have friends, a family, I don't have a home! I have nothing!"
Following that last outburst, the pale girl simply stood there, and in Lucy's eyes, she appeared to shrink as her waterfall of angry words left her deflated. She was panting, nostrils flaring, as the tears trickled down her cheeks, and her lower lip quivered before she bit it to keep it still. Lucy likened her to a mouse, especially with the squeaking way her words came out.
"I have nothing...no one. I'm completely alone."
Lucy wasn't one to feel sympathy for children. The ones she met were usually terrible little creatures that lived only to bully those around them. As an adult, she couldn't understand them anymore, nor did she want to. Instead, she only wanted to avoid them the best she could. So her next actions stunned her. They stunned both her and the smaller version of herself. Yet crouching down and enveloping the blood-spattered girl felt like the natural thing to do. She knew very well what it was like to be alone, to have no one beside her. Knowing how it felt let her reach out to Homura, to Mary, to Alex, to Minako, to Harry; they knew what it was like too, and they were there for her whether she wanted them or not. As comforting as they were to her now, her past self didn't have the luxury of loved ones. She only knew loneliness, fear, and the constant hope that some day she would wake up to a mother and father saying "It's okay Kaede, it was just a bad dream." How often had she wished for that! How many times had she gone to sleep in the bed of a child she'd killed, in the home of a murdered family, wishing that in the morning, her parents would stroke her hair and brush away the nightmares? It always hurt, it always stung, and when she was alone, she cried about it despite telling herself over and over it was stupid to cry over something she'd always known. It was stupid to cry, but she cried anyway. Even as an adult, she wished everything in her life had just been a bad dream.
It was strange; she could swear she felt an actual body under her fingers. She swore she could feel the fabric of her shirt and the slight tickling of cerise locks against her face and her forearm, but that couldn't be. The girl was just an illusion, and when Sunday rolled around, she would vanish into vapor and become nothing more than a distant memory. Lucy was better off ignoring her until then, she knew that.
She should have said more. She should have done more. There were plenty of words she could say to herself, but nothing came. They stopped before they reached her tongue, leaving her lips to move silently without audible substance. She was the only one who knew the pain of this ghostly girl in front of her, she was the only one who could comfort herself and say she understood, but she could say nothing. Instead, she could only tighten her arms around the specter and hope the warmth of her flesh could soak through to her. It suited her well enough. She had never really been one for words, not when actions spoke the loudest. People could lie through their words, but their actions always told the truth.
The vision of her past merely stood, stunned, staring at the sky above, with tears still streaming down her flushed face. She didn't reply, but the silence between them was too awkward for Lucy to let it continue as it was. Her voice was notably softer, gentler, as she spoke again in a voice just a step above a whisper: