His First Kill
Cleaning the knife automatically, the killer's eyes never left the target. Completely and quite thoroughly dead, the target's wound had long since bled in the sluggish flow of a non-beating heart. The concrete beneath the body stained red in a spreading pool as gravity drew the thick liquid away. A lifeless hand lay near the weapon drawn at the last second and dropped as the sharp metal bit through the soft tender skin of his throat.
The assassin turned from the body, sheathing his weapon as he walked. Giving the silent hand signal, he was joined by his partners for this mission, and, now that he could no longer see the results of his work, he moved his thoughts onto the next target.
The hesitation was minute, but enough of one to stop his companions. Both crouched low to the ground and waited expectantly, looking to their leader. When nothing came, they rose and exchanged a glance. The braided long-haired one touched a bare arm and asked the silent question with his eyes. With the shake of his head and a glare, the other boy moved forward heading for the next kill.
Though his mind was focused on the upcoming task, a small part locked away and rarely ever opened played with a memory -- his first kill.
He might have been four or possibly five, and couldn't remember life outside the facility. Somewhere, from the faint recesses of some former life, he dreamed of a tender voice and gentle hugs. None were apparent or forthcoming now. His life consisted of the training.
He learned early to respond to the voice; the voice in his room, the voice coming through the ear-piece he wore constantly, the voice at his side most every waking hour. To not respond to the voice meant pain, sometimes a lot of pain. From the moment the voice woke him in the morning to the moment the lights went out in his room at night, his life, his mind, and his body was not his own. Once the room was dark, there was no voice and he could be who he was.
In the quiet of the dark, where none were there to see or hear, he would talk, he would tell all he was thinking and all he was feeling to the one who would listen and not cause him pain. For long minutes stretching into hours, he would pour out his heart, always keeping his voice low. Crying was not an option; crying had been pained out of him almost from the start.
His nighttime confessions continued for some months. He didn't know the expanse of time; it was all the same to him. That small measure of comfort gave him a respite from the pain, from the loneliness that threatened his every waking hour. It gave him the hope that one day his dream would be true, that he would hear a tender voice, and possibly receive a gentle hug.
And then the knife came.
After his morning meal, his schedule would find him in the classroom working through the complexities of algebra and liner equations. His teacher, though kind, soft-spoken and a woman, had long taught him to not reach out to her. Her job consisted of only imparting her knowledge of the lower math skills to him, teaching him the logic and basic formulas he'd need for the more advanced calculus and physics courses.
He had been working his way through plotting an equation when the door to the room opened. Immediately at attention, he watched as the Doctor approached his teacher. They held a brief quiet discussion before both pairs of eyes turned to him. Without a word, the gray-haired scarred faced man gestured and proceeded out the door, not looking to see if the boy followed.
Jumping up immediately, the boy swallowed and hurried without running behind the man. Using the training he'd received to date, he hid the trembling in his legs and squashed the churning threads of dread in his stomach. Schooling his face into the mask expected he followed without thought, without curiosity. Interruptions to his training schedule were rare, and though he wanted to dwell on why he had been removed from his training, he didn't dare.
The Doctor stopped at one of the small isolation rooms they used infrequently, and punched in the lock code to open the door. He waved the boy through and stepping in behind him, he closed and locked it
In the room two chairs sat on either side of a square table and a small case sat on the floor nearby. Nothing else could be seen.
The boy stood waiting for instructions. He had learned not to assume what was expected of him and refrained from automatically taking a seat.
Pulling out the chair next to the case, the Doctor said in his nasally but neutral voice, "Sit down, Heero."
He took the other chair, sitting as he'd been trained; back straight, hands in lap, head facing forward and legs held still - though they dangled far from the floor. His eyes watched his bushy-browed custodian as he regarded him steadily. A flicker of fear found its way through his non-existent thoughts; he didn't know exactly what was going to happen, but he knew it involved pain. The Doctor's look told him so.
"Your training is the most important aspect of this facility," the Doctor began. "Many people have worked long and hard to bring you to this point. A lot of resources have been instated in making you perfect." His voice stopped and leaning forward, he glared at the boy before demanding harshly, "What gives you the right to sabotage what has been invested in this program?"
The boy's mouth opened, his mind a total blank as to what the Doctor could be referring to. "Sir?" he asked uncertainly.
Settling back in his chair, his expression cleared of the malice he had directed to the boy. "Hmmp," he grunted. "It appears you have no idea what you've done." His hand dipped into one of his lab-coat pockets and, bringing it out again, he sat a sheathed knife on the table between them.
The boy stared at it with some trepidation. Though he was certain the pain sure to come would not be from the knife, he knew that it was about to cause him even more torment than that of any training received to date had.
"Pick it up," he was instructed.
Willing his hand to remain steady, the young boy reached for the knife.
He pulled the short blade free from its leather confine and held it in his small fist. Looking up from the gleaming metal, he raised his eyes back to the Doctor.
"Your program consist of removing your personal feelings and desires to be the best you can be. These feelings, these emotions are detrimental to your training, and will only work against our ultimate goal." The Doctor reached for the case at his side. "This day you will cut from you the last visage of your childhood; the last connection to those emotions you've hidden from me."
The boy licked his lips and waited; his mind scrambling on what exactly the Doctor meant. He believed that a part of himself, his flesh, would not be cut, for physical harm usually meant a loss in training, and nothing interfered with the training.
As the object was removed from the case, the color drained from the boy's face, his eyes grew wide, and he couldn't stop the little cry from escaping his lips. He turned pleading eyes to the Doctor's hard face, suddenly knowing exactly what was expected of him.
"Kill it," he was commanded. "Use the knife and kill this… token of your former life."
Shaking his head, the boy whispered, "No."
"Heero," the voice became rough, demanding. "Do as you are instructed. Kill it."
His arm moving at the command, his hand unsteady in grasping the object, the boy still whispered faintly, "No."
"You will or do you need additional training in what happens when you refuse to obey?"
Staring at his friend, the boy wasn't aware of the tears leaking from his eyes. Taking one soft fuzzy ear in hand, his other drew the knife back and plunged it deeply into the stuffing. A muffled whimper sounded, and the boy nearly dropped the knife.
"Again. Destroy it."
His eyes never leaving the bear's, his hands worked automatically eviscerating its being. The fluff flew and gently floated in the air, and the steady sound of fabric ripping continued. When at last he was done, and nothing remained but the head, the boy sat the knife down, his eyes remaining locked in the dead stare.
"Good," the Doctor said softly. "I think for the next couple of hours your training will be suspended. You have done well, Heero. You will become perfect yet."
The hand touched the bare arm again and the Perfect Soldier was drawn back to his companions. Glaring at the grinning youth, he cleaned his blade once more, suddenly aware he had killed another. The blood flowed weakly and he stepped back to keep it from drifting on his shoes. Looking down at the body, he stifled a shudder.
If he was so perfect, why was it that whenever he used his knife in a kill did he see glassy beaded eyes, and smell a hint of spring-fresh fabric softner?