an: Some Xel/Fil angst/mush. Yeah, yeah, I should be writing Fujiwara (chapter 6 just needs a bit of tweaking, I promise!) but I can't get the *yumminess* of this couple out of my head. Damn you Elf! This is all your fault! My Myuuzu-chan is just as infatuated with the pairing as I am, and she's refusing to work on Hikaru no Go stuff until I get this out of my system.

[edit: absolutely refuses to display this link, so I'm leaving it out.]

Disclaimer: They're not mine.

Readers: I like feedback. Since I'm extraordinarily new to the fandom (uh, two weeks?) and this is my first Slayers fic (first straight romance in a while, too, hmmm) I will probably screw a few things up. Let me know.
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Yin and Yang
Part one
by Cat Who
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The lump of clay beneath her hands spun around quickly, moistened with water. She applied a careful pressure with her fingers, watching with satisfaction as the clay hollowed and took shape, forming the beginnings of what would someday be a bud vase. The earthenware, once fired, would allow her to make a mold for the porcelain slip that would eventually become a fine work of art.

Filia had never really understood her fascination with pottery and china. It had started with teacups, then grown to encompass everything from exquisite treasure boxes to enormous jars. Her shop allowed her to filter through some of the better antiques of the world, keeping what she liked best and selling what she didn't, but in the end there was nothing quite as fun as creating her own works, and she was even making a name as an artisan of her own right. A piece which bore her remarque had once sold for ten times the value she had given it in another country, or so a satisfied patron had told her.

The new vase formed perfectly beneath her skilled hands. She stopped pumping the foot-peddle turntable, letting the vase slow down to a standstill, then took a small tool with which she would carve a pattern onto its sides. Her current works included vases and jars incorporating traditional symbols from around the world, and this vase would be featuring something called a "yin-yang."

"Let's see," she said to herself, wiping her hands free of the clay that had coated them. Before her was a book with collected symbols from around the world, and from this she read aloud. " 'The Yin and Yang represent the forces of light and dark' -- hmmm, Ryuzoku and Mazoku, maybe -- 'and their continous battle in the world.' Yes, definitely us and the evil ones." She read on. " 'Neither one has dominance over the other, so their struggle will continue on eternally. Yet in this struggle is balance, because one is defined by the other and without the other has no means of existance. '"

She frowned. It was true, but it didn't mean she had to like it. The Mazoku and the Ryuzoku had never quite failed to anihilate one another after thousands of years.

" 'The yin-yang also shows the most important aspect of the struggle -- that neither is complete without the other. Each half has a small hole, which is placed within the other's realm. Even in the strongest darkness there is light, and even in the brightest light there is a shadow.' Hmf, that's definitely *not* true." Peeved, she began carving the symbol carefully, tracing into the vase a three dimensional relief of the black and white circle. The clay she carved from what would represent the white half she added onto the area that would become a black half. Yet she hesitated to take a chunk out of the black area and add it to the white.

Even in the greatest good there must lurk a little knowledge of darkness, or else what would define the good in the first place?

While she pondered whether to complete the symbol or not, a familiar flash of evil drifted across her senses, followed by a soft sound as Xelloss materialized out of nowhere behind her.

Filia's eyebrow twitched. She'd never admit there was a single spark of good in that particular worthless piece of rubbish.

"Whatcha doin', Filia-chan?" Xellos asked, his voice laced with smugness. She could _hear_ the smirk as he leaned close to her ear, opening one eye to a narrow slit to study the pottery scene before them.

"Work," she answered. "And what are you doing here, Mazoku?"

"Please, Filia-chan, we've know each other for years, I can assume we're on a first name basis by now," he chided, and straightened up, leaning one hand casually on her table. He was still too close; she could feel the dark energy radiating from him, dragging across the nerves in her arm that made contact with his cape. "I will tell you this -- I'm also here for work."

Filia glared at him. "What sort of work, Xelloss?" she asked angrily, putting a stress on his name. "I assume your master must have some sort of business with me if she sent you here."

Xelloss winked. "You know me well," he said with another VERY smug grin. "Juuoh-sama sent me here for several reasons. The first, and most pressing one, is that I'm to buy that vase when you're done."

Filia's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Why doesn't she just steal it?" she said, her voice dripping sarcasm.

"That would be disrespectful to a craftsman, would it not, Filia-chan?" Xelloss studied the vase, noting the unusual circle with two swirls on it, one concave, one convex. "That looks like a yin-yang, it does. Only you haven't finished it."

"How would YOU know about the yin and yang?"

"You haven't yet realized; when you've been around for several millenia, you tend to see a lot of magical symbols." Xelloss' grin widened even further. "That is one of the most famous symbols for representing the war between the Mazoku and the Ryuzoku. But it is no longer in use, because the Ryuzoku refused to admit there was any truth in it."

Filia said nothing. The sins of her race bore down on her conscience every day, and while she did her best to atone for them, nothing she did would ever completely serve as a penance.

"If you light a single candle in the dark, everything will be slightly less dim." Xelloss' eyes opened fully, and he took her carving tool and made a perfectly circular hole on the yang half of the symbol. He pressed the clay into its proper position on the yin half. " 'And even in the brightest light there will be shadows,' " he quoted. Filia realized he was reading out of her book, and started to protest, but he covered her lips with one gloved finger, leaving a smudge of clay on them. "Where are the shadows within your heart, Filia-chan?" he asked.

Filia's heart squeezed in pain. There was the darkness of her people's past, of course, but overshadowing that was a darkness, a sin so great, that she could never fully restore the light again.

She forced a light tone into her voice as she spoke against his hand. "And where is the light in yours, Xelloss?"

His grin widened even further, beyond the normal bounds of a human mouth, and he removed his finger from her mouth to shake it scoldingly in her face. "That is a secret," he said. "Now promise me that the first vase cast from this design will be for Juuoh-sama, and I can continue with my work for the day."

"Why does the Beastmaster want a vase, anyway? So she can break it?"

Xelloss looked vaguely insulted. "Just because we seek the destruction of the world doesn't mean that we have no aesthetic senses, Filia-chan. Juuoh-sama likes your designs, and she ordered me to ask you for the first vase cast from your next mold. Ironic that it has a such a potent symbol on it, isn't it? Promise me."

Filia gave in. No sense getting angry when he was actually asking her nicely. "All right. It won't be done for at least a week, however. There's no need for you to come back before then."

"Not even for my company?"

"I don't want your company," she lied.

"I understand. I'll be here for tea tomorrow then," he said, and phased out before she had a chance to grab the nearest mace from her workroom.

Frazzled, the former dragon miko shook her fist at the air where seconds ago had been her adversary. "Argh! Why does he always have to show up and bug me?"

The darkness in her heart answered the question honestly.

"Because he knows you enjoy it as much as he does," it whispered, and she slumped back into her chair. She stared at the newly finished clay vase mold before her, and gently touched the spot of yang in the yin.

Succombing to the darkness that she could never in a thousand years admit, she leaned onto the work table and cried.

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End part 1
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Ack! Myuuzu-chan has left me for the night, I guess. Come back Myuuzu, come back! Eh. Back to editing Fujiwara . . . look for a continuation of this in the next week or so. *chases after her errant muse with a spatula*