Broken On The Wheel

Sohma tries to move in straight lines, but everything keeps on coming back to curves. The way that a crescent piece of metal quivers between her fingers, the slenderness of Kendappa-ou's waist between her hands, the arc of Kendappa-ou's harp, the particular way that the other woman's lips pause when she smiles, and her own earring dangling in Kendappa-ou's ear. And look, here she is again, reaching towards around Kendappa-ou in the silence which goes on forever, ready to close her eyes and wait a little while till morning.

The sun rises in the East; she met the Eastern General, Jikokuten. The sun sets in the West; together they go down into darkness.

This was not how it was meant to have been. Sohma is quite clear on that point. Someone has disordered reality to make things be this way; someone has dressed Kendappa-ou in armour, and however much the plated finery may suit her, however much it reveals her strength and shows her beauty, to Sohma Kendappa-ou has always been the musician in a simple white robe, whose hair falls like a stroke of ink to brush the ground.

I would have stayed with you if you had asked, she thinks. I would have wound your hair around my hands and chained my wrists and bowed my head and given my life's blood for you. And you would have hated me for it. And so I wouldn't . . . Curves again, thoughts that go round in spirals till they reach an answer which folds in on itself and is gone.

And if all this was circular, and they were turning on a wheel together, then perhaps this was the only way that it could have ended. Taishakuten slew her parents and her family; she tried to slay Taishakuten. Taishakuten put down rebellion with a heavy hand; rebellion rose to meet him and steeped him to the wrists in blood. She loved Kendappa-ou, Kendappa-ou loved her; they would be each other's deaths.

It had been like holding a living star in her arms, making love to Kendappa-ou; light burned beneath the other woman's flesh, ran in her blood, glittered behind her eyes, and when she lay limp afterwards, Sohma would curl up against her, as if she could shelter her beautiful musician from the night sky.

As if she was the one who needed protection.

All the straight lines are ended now; vengeance against Taishakuten is lost, her companions are dying or dead (and can Yasha-ou truly hope to stop Ashura-ou? She couldn't stop the wheel, so why should he be able to, why should he be allowed to?) and even love has met with something that it cannot alter. Even her own blood, the most fixed surety in her life, has been refused and now spills out worthless on the ground.

Please drink my blood.

Please, she says pitifully, a crawling thing that has only this one hope left. Please.

Please.

But she wouldn't. The line is drawn, and silence takes Kendappa-ou's face and stills her fingers and turns her eyes to mirrors.

Curves do come to an end -- see?

Destruction is all around the two of them, as fire rocks the foundations of Tenkai. Perhaps, Sohma thinks with the last of her breath, if I could look at it from above, from where the stars move in unchallenged simplicity, it would all make sense. I would be able to see the lines of death and the explosions and the ruins like some vast sigil patterned on what lay below, and it would curve inwards to where she and I lie at the heart of it, and all the paths of destiny would lead to the two of us here, met today to die.

I let you go, Kendappa-ou had said. So she had to let Kendappa-ou go as well, and both their choices were made. That simple.

Sohma breathes out.

I woke that morning all those years ago, lying in your bed, and you brought me food and wine with your own hands, and you smiled at me.

The sky is full of fire. "Taishakuten," she whispers, and tries to reach Kendappa-ou one last time, to curve her body round her and protect her till the morning.

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