The Ballad Of Go Go Yubari
by Gale

Go Go is six when her parents die.

It is quick and relatively painless, all things considered. A few years from now, Go Go will look back on this and feel regret - not because they are dead, but because they did not suffer.

She will never tell anyone exactly why she killed her parents. For most people, it is enough that she was orphaned at so young an age; politness will keep them from asking more.

Go Go, of course, is not the name she was born with. She will never tell anyone that, either.


Go Go spends the next several years being shuttled from distant family member to distant family member. She does not kill any of them, though she is tempted on more than one occasion. There is crazy, and then there is careless. She might be mad, but she is not stupid; if something were to happen to another family she was staying with, the authorities might start making gentle inquiries about her. That cannot happen.

When she is ten, she meets her Mistress.

Her Mistress is beautiful and small, and if the shape of her face and eyes, the freckles on her cheeks, mark her as partly American, what of it? She is as dangerous as a blade, this short-haired half-gaijin, and when she smiles Go Go feels something in her chest blossom.

This is her Mistress, her Lady. She is still a child, but already she knows she is foresworn.


Her Mistress leaves for a while. Go Go does not cry or wail, like someone in mourning. She is not dead, after all, only travelling. Making her fortune.

"Be still," her Mistress told her, "and quiet, and do not attract attention to yourself. I will come back."

Go Go listens. She does not mind when her aunt and uncle move from Tokyo to Hokkaido. Her Mistress will find her.

She will find her, and bring her home.


Her Mistress returns for her when she is thirteen. She returns home from school one afternoon to find the police waiting for her. A terrible accident, one of them explains, but she knows he is just mouthing the words. He is owned by the Yakuza, and thus, owned by her Lady.

She stays in an orphanage for less than a day before the woman with the tight dark hair - Sophie, Go Go remembers; she works for her Mistress - arrives to collect her. All of the papers are in order, making her the ward of O-ren Ishii, a friend of her aunt and uncle's.

Go Go leaves with Sophie. Less than an hour later, she is headed back to Tokyo.

She does not leave again.


"This is for you," her Mistress tells her one day, giving her a box. Go Go opens it carefully - not because she does not trust her Mistress, but because she does not like surprises. Not unless they are her own.

Inside is a stainless steel mace. There is a button at the end of the length of chain; when Go Go presses it, small blades ring the mace. It is beautiful, and elegant, and deadly.

Like her Mistress.

"I cannot-" Go Go says, and stops. Her words are clumsy. "Gomen," she says, bowing her head.

There is weight against her head, suddenly, and a cool touch. "It's a gift, Go Go," her Mistress says, smiling. She kisses Go Go's forehead, the only sign of tenderness she will allow outside of her rooms, and Go Go feels her face flush. "Use it well."

Go Go stares down at the length of chain, at the metal sphere at the other end, and smiles.


She and her Mistress are not lovers, in the strictest sense. Go Go loves her Mistress dearly, and she knows her Mistress loves her, but it is not love in the sense of storybooks and fairy tales. Her Mistress has never said it aloud, but Go Go thinks her heart is elsewhere.

Over the years, O-ren tells Go Go about the people she once worked with - Elle, who only has one eye, and Vernita, who was as deadly with a short blade as O-ren is with a sword; Budd, who O-ren speaks very little of, and Bill, who found O-ren in Tokyo and named her Cottonmouth.

There is another woman, an American, who O-ren will only call Black Mamba. She speaks of her very rarely, and when she does, her eyes narrow and her voice is cool.

Black Mamba hurt her Mistress, Go Go can tell, but her Mistress never says this aloud, so she can say nothing, offer no words of comfort. She practices with her short blade and the mace instead, and waits for the day Black Mamba will come.

Black Mamba is sleeping, her Mistress says the one time Go Go asks. She is dead and dreaming half a world away.

Go Go knows this is true. But she has seen her Mistress's eyes, and the way they look when she talks about the tall American woman. Dreaming, yes, but not dead.

She is waiting.

Go Go will wait, too.


One year passes, and two, and three. Boss Tanaka's head rests in O-ren's office. It is just a skull now, but no less potent for that. Go Go wrote his name across the plate of his forehead in bright pink lipstick. It made her Mistress smile.

Go Go still goes to school. Her grades are impeccable. She does not murder anyone from her school unless she cannot help it, and when she does, she makes sure it is no one in her grade, no one she knows. She is young, and sane enough to know she is crazy, but she is not stupid or careless.

One night, as Go Go is finishing her English lessons, Sophie knocks on her door and waits to be acknowledged. Sophie is not stupid, either. She knows how dangerous Go Go is. Go Go likes her. She likes it even more than Sophie is a little afraid of her.

"We're going out," Sophie says. "O-ren wants to go out tonight. The House of Blue Leaves, I think."

Go Go is on her feet before Sophie can finish speaking. She is already looking for her shoes and her blazer.

She makes sure to bring her mace, too. One cannot be too careful.


Black Mamba is awake. She looks very little like Go Go imagined her to. She had had to imagine before, since her Lady does not carry photographs.

"I know you think you must protect your Mistress, Go Go-"

She wraps lengths of chain around her wrist as she cocks her head and listens to this stranger, this foreign woman who broke her Mistress's heart so long ago.

"-but I beg you - walk away."

And then, the strangest thing happens: Go Go finds herself giggling.

Actually giggling. She hasn't done that in years, not since her Lady brushed a kiss across her cheek, hair soft as a raven's wing, and told her she was proud of her.

"You call that begging?" Go Go calls out. "I think you can beg better than that."

Black Mamba has a sword, yes. A very fine one, to Go Go's untrained eye. But Go Go has her mace, and her Lady to protect, and this is just a silly American woman with a samurai sword.

This will be over soon, she thinks, and lets the mace fly.


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