Only Because It's You

It was a wolf, and it was a knife, and it was a storm front, and it was hatred made manifest. Its passing blasted debris from the road, its claws left deep rents, and its every footfall covered more distance than the last. Street lights guttered out for fear that it might see them, and stop signs bent lest it take offense. That thing which barreled down the road was primal, it was might, and it had a purpose. A light was on on the third floor of the Koyobara building, it could clearly see. The man it would kill had lit it, and by its light his lifeblood would spill out thick and dark and red.


The call from behind phased the beast not at all. It was too close to its goal to be delayed dealing with whatever irritant lacked the good sense to flee before it.

"Please stop!"

The voice was closer, now, but not close enough. It would be too close still, when the deed was done, to not regret the foolishness. Its legs bunched up and the great pressure wave of it rose, driving into the window, which cried out its torment even as a massive spiderweb of cracks formed. It could see that man, could the knife pointed at his heart, and he could see his window buckling toward him, just a metre away.

Then the knife and the storm front and the wolf were scraping along the wall beside the window, then tumbling toward the ground. The voice that had called out was back, and it was shrieking in pain and fear. The voice was attached to a human girl of no more than eight years, and the girl of no more than eight years was somehow, impossibly, attached to the beast and had knocked it from its path. The landing knocked the child free, that child in a cheap plastic tiara covered in poorly glued-on glitter and wearing a too-small yellow dress and too-big pink apron, that child that had just given itself dozens of cuts and bruises. Somehow, the child got to its feet every bit as quickly as did the wolf.

"I will kill that man!" the storm front exclaimed at the child, and the pressure of its explosive declaration bent a street sign that hadn't already leaned far enough away from the conflict. But the girl fell to her hands and knees right away, and was only pushed a short ways along the pavement before she rose once more, tiara at least lost to the wind. Hands scraped and bleeding and shaking, the child unwound a ribbon that had been holding her apron close to her body, and it exploded with a life of its own, a mighty red bow far too large for a girl her size to hold. And yet that is what she did.

The child sobbed, and drew the bow, whose strings reached far and wide past the ends of the ribbon to which they attached. Some of the string shot straight into the office on the other side of the cracked window, and something in the beast knew fear.

"I know," the girl choked out through her tears, "but momma still needs you."

"Oh! But mom didn't ever kill dad, really," Satonaka Michi explained. She then waved her hands and clarified. "I didn't know she wouldn't then, because I was almost more scared of that thing than of what it wanted to do to dad."

"But what I mean to say is, that's why everyone thinks magical girls are clumsy. I had been one for less than two hours and I had to explain away all of those cuts and scrapes and bruises and glass shards as tripping, and stuff."

"I hope the angel wins," the girl had said, where she hid from the monster that had only minutes ago taken her apart flesh from bone from ligament from blood from nerves from organs. And, too, she hid from the angel that had descended from the sky in fire and screaming metal, that had wrapped a ribbon about the girl's hard and made her whole once more. She hid because the two forces of nature were colliding too dangerously. Even the construction equipment knew better than to stick around after one back loader was flung as a stalling tactic. The child was fairly sure her mother would never forgive her for getting hurt because she was dumber than construction equipment. She hid and watched in rapture, twisting that ribbon between her fingers as the tension rose.

They fought so well! One of them was too beautiful to be real, the other too awful, and still there they were, striving against one-another and bringing ruin to everything that came near or especially between them. When at last a victor had been determined, when the angel in her tattered and ruined dress had wrapped a ribbon pulled from the crater of her chest about the atrocious left hand of the monster, sending him into the sky, the girl's joy at surviving was tempered. "I'll never see anything like that again," she mourned, even as the angel dragged herself up to see her, the bones in one of her legs having been reduced to dust.

The angel looked at her happily. The child had no idea how she knew that, or how someone whose face had been broken, stabbed, shredded, and torn could possibly be happy, but there it was. "Th- thank you!" It surely wasn't enough. All the same, the angel propped herself up on one arm and tousled the young girl's hair. Like magic, the action brought the world back to her.

"Oh no! You're bleeding a lot. Don't worry, I'll run home and tell mommy and she'll call doctors and they'll know what to do!" And she was off like a shot.

"Mom sure was mad," Michi continued. "She yelled a lot, and cried. Dad hadn't come home, yet, again. He didn't do that a lot, because that's not what salarymen do. She had been drinking a lot, though, and that wasn't as normal."

The young woman rubbed at her right cheek, and frowned. "It was the only time she ever hit me, but I didn't let go of the phone. I couldn't. That girl - I don't know how she was alive in the first place- needed someone to take care of her. So mom eventually caved and faked an emergency phone call while I was sobbing there, face covered in tears and snot and mud.

"I know the call was fake, now, but I didn't then. I really hope someone noticed her and did something for her." Michi trailed off at the end of the sentence, worry for someone probably long dead resurfacing.

"When I got to my room, I couldn't sleep. I opened the window and kept an ear out for the sound of emergency vehicles. Zephyr flew in through the window almost right away, but mom was too busy apologizing to angry neighbours to hear me scream, probably. He was kind of brusque. He said that I was a magical girl, now, as proven by the ribbon I was still playing with, and that the girl I had thought was an angel was one too. He said it was my responsibility to protect people from the things that would leave them hollow and bring ruin on all they cared about through their darkest fantasies."

Michi burst out laughing and waited until even the giggling fit that followed came to an end before continuing her story. "I told him that I wanted a new talking magical girl animal. I explained that no one had ever heard of a magical pigeon and my mother wouldn't let him in the apartment besides, so I'd wait for a prettier animal. He pecked my head and otherwise terrorized me until I gave in to his way of thinking.

"I really shouldn't be doing this. I think I'm supposed to wait until some great tragedy, or victory to do this. Or at least until I'm old enough to get completely smashed and talk about it even when I'm not being asked. Ahh, well. It's you, so I'll make an exception this once."

Michi turns to face a window, and reaches her hand out to block the setting sun. "When I finished complaining about the pigeon, I asked him if that meant I could become like that girl. He said yes, and my decision was made for me." Her hand clenched, as though grasping the ball of flame. "I had known from the moment I saw her that my life wouldn't be complete if I couldn't become a thing like her. That I would always be too ashamed of not trying for it to really be happy, or proud, or good.

"I doubt, for all the phenomenal cosmic power I've been invested with, that I could even touch her still. But I'm closer, so I can be happy. I'm trying, so I can be proud. And one day, when I become something sufficiently like her, I will know that I am good. Who knows what comes after? Maybe that's not the end, but an end I invented for myself, but that's enough for me right now."

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