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Oh, that's a wonderful place to start! Once you meet someone, you never really forget them.
- Zeniba, Spirited Away
"Just Ko, huh?" Ren stared down intently at Ko's eyes, the same shade as Ren's eyes. Geostygma? Nah, it can't be. Jenova? No, jenova doesn't exist anymore.
Ren tore her eyes away from Ko, and turned around. Cloud stood in Ren's old spot, arms crossed and sunglasses on. Ren sighed.
"Men," She looked at Ko for a split second, "This is Cloud. Cloud, you have the rest of the floor."
Cloud stepped forward regally, examining the new recruits one by one, just as Ren had done before. Cloud looked at Ren with and are-you-serious? look. Ren shrugged.
"Alright soldiers. Let's establish one thing. You all are shit. You all are at the very bottom, and you will work like hell to get even a rank higher than you are now."
Cloud stopped pacing around them, then grinned. Ren smiled.
"Very well then. Ren, wanna add something?"
Cloud turned to Ren expectantly. Ren grinned.
"No sir." She said semi-sarcastically. She gestured to the recruits. Cloud nodded.
"Alright, anyone know how to fight?"
Beep, beep, beep.
Ren felt a small vibration on her arm, and saw her gauntlet was blinking. She raised it to her face and walked away from the guys.
"Hai?" She whispered into the speaker.
"You owe me an extra shift, soldier."
Ren smiled and blushed. It was Laz.
"On my way, Leutenant." She replied, just as she had with Cloud. Laz laughed on the other line.
"Ha ha, see you in a few, soldier. You'll be taking the shift with me. Over and out."
Ren's eyes widened. The clasp closed shut.
"Oh no...." How was she going to hid it now? He'd ask to take off the helmet, he'd figure it all out, he'd kill her, the total penalty-
Unless she faked it.
"Cloud, I have a shift to cover. Good luck!" Ren started for her tent. As she turned, she and Ko locked eyes for a split second. Ko's eyes sparkled in suspicion, staring as if she knew. Yet she looked like she was hiding something as well.
"Good luck soldiers!" She called. She ran to the campground, and as soon as she step foot in, the first words in her mind were scissors, eyeliner, and a knife.
"But how could she not remember us?"
Mar toyed with a small cube of materia as Kam sat in a chair, bathing in the Kubai sun.
"Oh she remembers us, alright," Kam answered, eyes closed as her skin absorbed the heat, "Once you meet someone, you never really forget."
Mar looked up, his icy blue eyes wide with wonder, like a child. "But she always runs! It's like she doesn't know us! She's totally afraid!.....is she supposed to be afraid?"
Kam's eyes shot open.
"Maybe its not us she remembers...." Kam got up. "It's master she does."
Mulan: You shouldn't have to go! Fa Li: Mulan! Mulan: There are plenty of young men to fight for China! Fa Zhou: It is an honor to protect my family and my country. Mulan: So you'll die for honor. Fa Zhou: I will die doing what's right! Mulan: But you... Fa Zhou: I know my place! It is time you learn yours.
-Mulan/Fa Zhou, before the short hair scene, Mulan.
Ren sat in her empty tent, scared. Scissors, a knife, and eyeliner she had from Elya lay before her. She was on her knees before a mirror like piece of metal, looking at herself in hesitance.
She has to do this. She just had to.
Ren picked up the knife and flipped it open. Slowly, she pulled it close to her head, and as she did this, she grabbed her long, strawberry blonde hair to the side. She shut her eyes and counted to three.
She shut her eyes tighter.
SHING! The blade of the knife cut through her wavy hair, the strands falling to the ground. She shook her head to release the excess strands out, and looked at herself in the mirror. She flinched.
Ren grabbed the scissors and started snipping about, making her shorter than she had ever had it. She cut her bangs with the knife, to make the rugged uneven shape. Finally, she put both tools down and shook her hair with her slender hand. She flipped it downwards and flipped it back up, the little hair she had hanging. The mirror reflected what she was afraid to see.
Ren reached for the eyeliner and lined her eyes lightly, with a thin line, evenly on each eye. She smudged it, making it look smoky, but used some of her saliva to rub it off. Her eyes no longer showed the sparkle of a woman, but the rust of a man.
She took a good look at her hair on the ground, then slowly, looked at herself in the mirror.
Aishee was long gone. The lie had overtaken. This was the Ren she had to be.
She had to be the deciever.
"Master, I request your presence."
Kam sat on the cool grass of a Kubai army campground, eyes closed.
Kam hesitated, and looked up.
"Master...did you meet Ren....before you met us?"
Master stayed silent.
"I see....I see you did. Very well then. That is all."
Kam opened her eyes and stood. She had a pretty good idea of why Ren was running, and who she was running from.
It wasn't them.
Ren stared at herself in the mirror. Her eyes were bright against the new Ren, the man none had seen before. Tears began to form in her eyes suddenly.
She bent over to the ground, holding her head.
"Why?" She whispered. She looked at herself again in horror. "Why is it that the farther this-this lie gets, the more I cannot see who I really am?"
She stood regally, looking down at the metal mirror. "Because," She answered to herself, "Because you put this on yourself."
She exited the room, without her armor for the first time ever, wearing war specs, a type of goggle with no protection under the eye. Much like glasses, but with goggle-like properties.
She felt the cool breeze and walked with dignity, the little she had left. She men stopped to gawk, for they had never seen Leiutenant Ren without his helmet. Ren had her head held up high as she walked to the watchtower.
Shang: Ping, you are the craziest man I've ever met, and for that I owe youmy life. From now on, you have my trust. Ling: Let's hear it for Ping, the bravest of us all! -After the Avalanche, Mulan.
"Ok," Ren whispered, with the eyes of her fellow men staring at her, "Just...just do what you've been doing for the past few years. Forget your female necessities, be a man. Be a man."
"Hey soldier, identify yourself!"
Ren turned to the watchtower, where Laz stood atop, arms crossed. Ren laughed.
"Commander in Chief, Ren, at your service," Ren bowed sarcastically. Laz's mouth dropped open.
"Ren? The Ren? Is that really you?!"
Ren climbed up the ladder. "Yeah, it is."
"I haven't seen your face in years! Wow, its been a while!" Laz helped her up. Ren brushed the dirt off his casual uniform.
"Um, yeah." Ren scratched his/her head, not knowing what else to say. Laz took a good, long look at Ren, as if trying to remember something.
Ren cocked his/her head to the side. "What do you mean?"
"The wound," He said, walking to the wooden edge of the watchtower's room, "That's why you never showed your face."
Flashes of memory came to Ren: A lot of soldiers, the sound of drums and gongs, flags of every color....
Ren saw herself in a younger version, a brand new recruit, not even able to fit in her uniform and gear. The sword blade was large in her hands.
She had a look of fear-
SLASH! The sound of a sword tearing through skin brought flashes of her eyes and those who had died, strewn across the floor from their first skirmish.
Ren fell to the ground, clutching her face.
"The accident," She whispered gravely. She slowly ran her hand on the left side of her face, feeling the fading scar that will always be there. She never noticed it anymore, but she felt the skin that would never get healed, as the campground doctor had said.
Laz looked at her/him with a regretful look. "Hey, its not...noticeable anymore. Don't worry about it." He mustered up a goofy smile. Ren grinned.
"So...what do we do now?" He/she asked, trying to change the subject. Laz sighed and looked out at the sunset.