Wedding Presents
by backfromspace

O-Ren is holding back.

She knows it, and it annoys her. She is not prone to holding back, particularly when she knows perfectly well that her opponent is quite capable of ripping her in half. Yet here she is, samurai blade in hand and the fight of her life (of the moment) working itself out in her impossibly, impeccably beautiful little yard. It's not natural, but then again nothing about O-Ren is or has ever been natural. She's like her yard; a careful, careful construction so perfect that it's nearly impossible to tell that it did not spring up naturally out of the earth. Then you see the pattern, the method, and O-Ren's weakness is revealed.

The Bride - and that is the only way O-Ren will permit herself to think of her - has found her weakness. The Black Mamba's back, and O-Ren has already broken her promise to herself not to think of her as that. But she sees no trace of the Bride in this woman.

"I was wrong to ridicule you earlier," she says. The Bride is motionless, that perfect stillness O-Ren could never quite force herself to ignore. "And for that I apologize."

The Black Mamba nods, and in that instant O-Ren knows she is going to die. She also knows that whoever the Bride was when O-Ren knew her died five years ago in the church in El Paso. She is much too used to death to feel even a momentary pang of sadness for the one woman she has actually admired. There could have been more to that, perhaps. In some other life.

She feels like this is her last chance. She feels a sudden, driving need to honor this woman, what might have been. To let her win, let her have her revenge - that would be a great gift, but a terrible dishonor. So she gives the Black Mamba the most beautiful, the most powerful gift she has ever given anyone.

"Are you ready?"

She stops holding back.

"Come on."


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