Beautiful Boy

SPOILER WARNING

(If you’ve read The Sundered, you’re good to go. Otherwise, head back to the short stories for safer fare.)

Rage was fire, and fire was beauty, and beauty was rage, and everything was mad and joyful and furious and right for the first time in hundreds of years.

(Four-hundred and twelve, supplied Quimby.)

Screw that. They were free now, and one now, and it was all about perfect fiery rage forever.

Time for the game of crash into Motherwater as Underwater, he laughed, and Motherwater’s affection and passion and pride in/for/around him surged through his spirit so hard he hard as you can. Bakura whooped like a train engine and adapted into an enormous wrecking-ball shape (though still with green scales, because damn, those things were great) to make as big a splash as possible. nearly exploded from her love.

Ah, to be second-born: always angry, always fighting, but not because of hate, which humans assumed. No: it was because of joy. They were one! The Sundered were one, even though they hadn’t been born at the same time, and hate was impossible between them. Fighting was joy, that’s all.

It was Aakesh’s fault they were all angry, anyway. Aakesh was first, and that was that was that was that.

Motherwater’s joy was his joy was the Sundered Ones’ joy. Bakura rose out of her in the inelegant shape of a hammer’s head specifically for the purpose of ramming straight into another second-born. They made a sound like thunder clapping, and all that joy immediately doubled.

Echoes of it rippled through the brethren, though each reacted to happiness differently. Third-born got sappy over the human babies they’d saved (yuck) and fourth and fifth-born got all excited about the palace they were building at Motherwater’s request.

How the hell had humans come up with “tier,” anyway? That shit was just dumb. Second-born, second-emerged from the water, second to show up and breathe the air. Not second in worth. Not second in power.

Bakura and Beetle (hey, the name made him happy) flew apart and crashed together again, ripping the air because that blow was the best sound they’d made all day. Then they played hard.

Fists, claws, tails, horns, and clubs made of bone, attacking and flailing and laughter broke the air in a perfect roaring harmony. Happiness was playful rage and funny anger and temper tantrums of raw joy.

Stupid humans, assuming this was all about violence and bloodshed. It was for the joy of the fight! How much more obvious could it be?

Beetle (like bombardier because that word was fantastic) dropped down out of sight, then rose up behind and ripped off Bakura’s tail.

Ripped. It off. And that was so funny that Bakura lost his airborne balance and fell into the water laughing.

His brother splashed in with him, rocked with hilarity, and they lost form entirely and merged, merged – joined for a moment like drops of water coming together. Wild furious happiness rocked the Sundered brethren, and those who still had throats laughed like fools. Even Gorish did, rolling around on the island where Harry sat.

The sundered tail (Bakura enjoyed some word games) dissolved in the water, and because Bakura liked it, he grew it back, thick and meaty and heavy with muscle. No harm. No injury. All funny as hell. And then because scaring Harry was also funny, he swam through Motherwater at top speed and burst out of her four feet in front of Harry’s face.

Bakura roared as he came out. All those classic movies the humans (the original invaders, that is; somehow, impossibly, new humans carried none of their predecessors memories) had seen provided glorious inspiration, and he reformed as he came: limbs different lengths, the bone structure suddenly elongated, arms and legs way too stretchy with sharp elbows and knees sticking out like bug-legs, still muscled because muscles were cool and scaled because scales were beautiful, and he charged at Harry with rows and rows of teeth and spikes as if to eat him.

Harry ducked down, screaming, arms over his head.

Bakura meant no harm, Aakesh didn’t stop him (nobody was allowed to harm Harry, and because of Gorish, they didn’t want to, but because of Bakura, they did, and it was a constant bizarre eternal argument with one mind). Bakura hovered in the air above Harry and laughed. Funny! So funny!

Harry peeked up slowly, shaking, his pupils like gaping holes. “What the HELL… how are you… what is your problem with me?”

Oh, he wanted an answer, did he? Did he, really? Bakura landed hard, sending up clouds of dust because he’d seen a remembered monster movie do it once and it was great. “I hate you,” he hissed, his tongue cutting the air. “I hate everything about you. I hate your skin. I hate your eyes. I hate your heart. I hate what you are, your breath, your blood, your seed. If I could spread you across my lovely world in torn, ruined gristled chunks, I would.”

Harry looked green. “I never did anything to you,” he lied, and it was a lie, but no, not a lie because he’d never owned Bakura but others had, and humans made no sense with their completely disparate realities.

Other humans had owned Bakura, other humans had done things to Bakura, and that was that was that. Bakura crouched, lashing the air with his tongue, which was bright cherry red because he loved the color of human blood.

Aakesh had mercy on the claimed human. “His ire is not directed at you,” said Aakesh.

“He’s sure making it look like it is!” Harry cried.

It wasn’t fun anymore. Aakesh was going to teach the boy now, teach him things, and that was dull. That wasn’t what Bakura liked to do in the evening.

One with us, claimed, said Aakesh to him, to them all, and they all said it to him and Bakura said it back.

I don’t care, Bakura replied, or they replied, or Aakesh replied. It was all one.

I care, said Aakesh.

If they had been human, there would have been a warning, a threat, an “if you disobey me” connotation.

They were not human, and so there was no threat.

Gorish loved him. Quimby pitied him. Bakura hated him. Aakesh owned him. It was all true at once.

And to think: Harry still believed he was alone.

Bakura flew away in cloud of exploding dirt (just because) to go leer at the human babies on the other side of the world. They wouldn’t be afraid of him. They laughed when he made faces.

See? They got it. Scary was funny as hell.

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