Legato learns a lesson, and loses the privilege of having limbs. Takes place btwn final volume of Trigun and 2nd volume of TriMax.
Legato awoke. He wasn't dead after all. Damn it. He was lying down in a dark room somewhere. He couldn't stand up. It wasn't that anything was wrong with his body. He was just tied down was all. Craning his neck, he tried to get a good look at his surroundings.
"Oh. So it's awake." A cold voice came from the darkness. "Finally."
Knives. Legato remembered. He felt a cold sweat break out on his face and his heart seemed to pause briefly, only to then resume its beating in double time. Knives continued his speech as he stepped out of the shadows and into Legato's field of vision.
"You were out for a very long time, you know. Simply further proof of your human weakness. How pathetic. But I fixed you." Knives reached down and laid his hand over Legato's. The gesture was uncharacteristically gentle. "And do you know why?"
Legato's throat felt unbearably dry, and for a moment, he couldn't breathe, much less try to answer his master. His mind spun. What answer was the truth? More importantly, what answer was required of him? A mounting sense of anticipation tightened his muscles. Finally, he managed to croak, "You still have use for me, my lord."
"Perhaps," Without removing his hand from Legato's, Knives leaned in closer. His face was mere inches away from Legato's. "But that's not why." Legato heard it clearly when Knives snapped the bones in two of his fingers, and he almost gasped from pain. He stayed silent, though, and kept his eyes open. Knives was glorious in his anger, but Legato carefully averted his eyes no matter how much he would have liked to look at his God.
"You make me sick, you worthless piece of trash. You've forgotten your place, Legato. I might use you, but I don't need you. I could have snuffed you out at any moment, and do you know why?"
"Because I'm only human."
"And yet you dare try to kill my brother! How could you possibly presume to be his executioner? Like you ever had the slightest fucking chance of killing him. You aren't fit to lick his boots!" This time, instead of just ruining fingers, Knives jerked Legato's whole hand roughly backwards, breaking his wrist easily. Legato's breath caught in his throat and he panted slightly from the pain. He gritted his teeth. He had known worse. He had done worse.
"I thought -" But the naked contempt on Knives' face stopped him before he could even get out one sentence. It was stupid to even try to explain. Knives knew exactly what Legato thought, and that was why he looked disgusted. He knew about all of Legato's unspoken desires, his hatred and jealousy of Vash the Stampede, his impotent longing to be something more, to be worthy. Knives knew also that Legato was well aware of the pointlessness of all these feelings. Knives knew absolutely everything about Legato, and that was exactly why his lip was curled in disgust.
Legato knew a moment of overpowering frustration. Never, he would never be anything to Knives, anything at all. Was he even useful? Did he have even that value? If he was completely without value why wouldn't Knives just have done with it and put him out of his misery? Instead he just stood there, gazing coldly down at Legato. Knives' face was so terribly beautiful that, even twisted with revulsion, it lost none of its mesmerizing power. Legato remembered his first glimpse of Knives, that day among all the human wreckage. Knives had seemed to him to be an angel, a demon, and Legato had known with certainty beyond certainty that he would give anything just to be near this perfect being. He had given everything; his time, his strength, his sweat, his blood. And it had only brought him here, to this dark room, to this cold steel table, where he lay agonized under the piercing stare of his idol. Back then, he had earned a place at Knives' side by surrendering himself, body and soul, to Knives' whims, and, in spilling Legato's blood, Knives had accepted that devotion. But over the years, if Legato had learned anything at all about Knives, it was that he had a volatile and unpredictable temper. Given that, it was impossible to say whether this new torment signaled that the hour of Legato's termination. On the one hand, he yearned for death so badly. But not like this. And so Legato silently wept of frustration. More than anything, he wanted for Knives either to kill him or to love him or, ideally, both. And yet he was rewarded with neither. Going against his normal instincts, Legato looked his master straight in the eyes, wordlessly pleading for his own death.
His wish was not granted.
"Tch." Knives didn't even waste a whole syllable on his utter disgust. He disappeared from Legato's field of vision. Legato went hopeless and limp. The adrenaline from his shattered hand had receded and now all that was left was a bone-deep ache that spread up through his forearm. He floated on a wave of pain, both physical and mental. He was insignificant. He'd always known that, but he hadn't always felt it like this. He didn't know where Knives was. Would he just be left, trapped here, until he pitifully starved to death? Time left him behind.
Knives was back. How long had he been gone? Knives' hands weren't empty. Out of the corner of his eye, Legato could see light from some unknown, faraway source slide across a blade. He knew he should probably brace himself.
For awhile, Knives simply amused himself, like a naughty child pulling the wings off a fly. Sweat rolled off Legato's forehead, and his blood drained away. Several times, he could feel his eyeballs rolling back in his head, but he never actually passed out. The hilt of a knife struck him in the face, breaking his nose. Fracturing his jaw. He weakly coughed blood now and then. In between that, his breath came in shallow gasps, ragged and desperate. A blade ripped his skin and muscle tissue and dragged across his ribcage. Miraculously, he was still awake and aware when the knife cut into his arm at the shoulder. He was mildly surprised that Knives had bothered to fetch a bone saw. The other arm. This time, Legato couldn't stop himself; he screamed. Knives might have chuckled a little to himself. Legato wasn't sure. He saw bright lights and dark spots. Regardless of whether he was deriving any kind of pleasure from his task, Knives moved on to the first leg, eliciting a raw shriek from the creature below his knife. Legato nearly passed out that time. Jerking roughly at a handful of Legato's hair, Knives issued one terse command: "stay awake." With a renewed devotion to pure obedience, Legato clung fiercely to consciousness as Knives divested him of his last remaining limb. From far away, Legato might have heard himself laugh hysterically. The taste of blood and sweat in his mouth. An enervating coldness that spread throughout his entire body, the outward rush of his blood. Legato felt his whole body, or what remained of it, twitch. Once, twice, three times. Silence and stillness enveloped him. It was over.
"Remember this, Legato."
As he slipped into unconsciousness, Legato knew that he wasn't going to die from this. Knives wouldn't let him. Not yet. In that final waking moment, he felt himself sublimely trapped between a wave of crushing despair and a faint glimmer of hope.
It was, Legato discovered, rather hard to eat with no arms. It was messy, as well. Leaning far enough out of his metal casket that he was able to reach his food was difficult. The edges of the opening cut painfully into his stomach, and even though he knew the straps on the back of his garment were firmly connected to the inside of the casket, there was always the feeling he could tumble out. Several of the Gung Ho Guns lingered in the hall, and he could feel their eyes on him as he snapped after his meat. Like a dog. He ignored them, as he managed capture the steak between his teeth. Once it was there, he didn't let it go, but instead chewed determinedly while the rest of the steak hung grotesquely from his mouth. The sound of his own mouth smacking as he worked at his meal seemed thunderous to him. His jaws ached with the effort. He was distantly aware of the Gauntlet and the Hornfreak discussing him. He made out their words easily, but paid no attention to them. They were stupid, not to be learning from his example. There was a lesson to be learned here. Knives was teaching it to Legato, and if the Gung Ho Guns were wise, they, too, would study it.
Midvalley clearly was not wise. He proved himself a fool by pulling a gun on Legato. One baleful look was all it took to send Midvalley crashing to the floor in an unnatural backbend that threatened to snap his spine. Not that Legato would allow that; it wouldn't do to dull his mater's tools unnecessarily.
"Our orders have changed," around a mouthful of steak, he explained to Midvalley and to the others who stood in the shadows. "We are no longer to destroy Vash the Stampede. We are to cause him ultimate suffering. That is his will. And it shall be done." His voice left no room for disagreement or even question.
Legato took his lesson to heart, and waited patiently until such time as he was finally allowed to die in the service of his lord.