Kanzeon Bosatsu rested her head on her fist. The foot of her crossed leg kicked gently at the air, with the languid movement of an enlightened one who more than welcomed a quick outcome but accepted that all events would play out in their own time.

Still though, she thought, feeling vaguely inconvenienced, one had to plan. Sighing, she uncrossed and re-crossed her long legs, training her eyes on the lotus pond. She watched the flowers drift, lightly touch, separate.

"But four of them do not move at all, rooted together in time and space." She observed in mutter. It troubled her, as far as one who could see all ends and means could be moved to feel troubled about anything.

"Have I misread? Do I task the wrong people?" Kanzeon voiced this murmur to Jiroushin, turning to him with a little smile on her face. He stood by her throne in silence, lending her his quiet strength. He was used to her sudden, seemingly meaningless questions that she tended to ask out of nowhere, and knew that words which seemed trivial spilling from Kanzeon Bosatsu's lips likely meant life-altering changes for the persons involved. He, unlike her, could not see all ends and means, but there was nothing he trusted in more than Kanzeon Bosatsu's instincts and her boundless knowledge. He had also served her long enough to know that Kanzeon never misread anything, never make a mistake. Why then did she seem reluctant to move forward here?

A light wind wafted through the chambers. Kanzeon Bosatsu closed her eyes and enjoyed the feel of the coolness on her face. When she opened her eyes again, she had made up her mind.

Heaven and Earth were not ready yet. The time was not yet ripe for her to take action, to manipulate events and people according to her will. Something, or someone, had yet to arrive. And her nephew…Kanzeon fought off her growing frustration. All things in their own time.

"I'm going to wait." She said quietly. Jiroushin, ever the loyal assistant, gave her his agreement.

The four lotuses remained still.

+ + +

When it finally happened, the timing was so sudden and unexpected that it even took Kanzeon Bosatsu by surprise.

"Kanzeon Bosatsu, Egan has returned from the world below. He brings with him a creature born from the essence of the earth, an itan with golden eyes."

"What, already?"

"He requests an audience with you."

And so in the hall she sat, with her only nephew to her right and her only confidant to her left.

"We are not running an orphanage up here, you know." Kanzeon Bosatsu spoke to Egan with coolness. She regarded Konzen and the heretic with her eyes and regarded them regarding each other with her mind.

"It's amazing…" The creature that looked so much like a harmless little boy stared up at her nephew in awe. Such boldness. And yet no one was coming forth to put a stop to it, Kanzeon noticed. Well, she certainly wasn't going to. She moved back in her seat, watching the two with new, calculated interest, her smile hidden behind her hand.

Konzen looked unimpressed with this glowing assessment. He slipped his hands into his pockets and returned the boy's adoring gaze with one of ultimate boredom. "What is?"

"Your hair…it shines like the sun."

"The sun?" Konzen asked slowly, as if unable to believe that anyone could associate any part of him with something as splendid as that. That someone could think of him as beautiful. He had certainly never thought it of himself.

It was the first time Kanzeon had ever seen her nephew's face without a frown on it. In that instant, like sparks of fire jumping off two stones rubbing together, the building blocks of change suddenly started to converge. Possibilities surged and whispered their names, and a future, barely even the scraps of a dream a few days before, started to shape itself in Kanzeon Bosatsu's mind.

So it begins. She must keep the boy here. Keep the boy with Konzen.

This was going to fun, while it lasted.

"Oi, Egan." She commanded. All eyes turned to her. Konzen stopped hitting the boy, immediately looking suspicious. "You say you want me to take charge of the boy?" She smiled. "Well, leave him here."

+ + +

Kanzeon fingered the flower wreath around her neck which Goku had originally meant for Nataku. A good name, she thought to herself, toying with buds idly. One who sees what the eyes cannot see. An image of her nephew came to her mind. He was like thawing ice.

Who was the sun to whom, really? And how much harder would Konzen's softening make it for either of them to let go if the sun was taken away?

How much harder would it become for her?

Konzen. My nephew.

"How much longer are you going to keep that wreath for, Kanzeon Bosatsu?"

Blunt, honest Jiroushin. Coming from other mouths, his question might have sounded impertinent, but her confidant's curiosity was genuine. It was because of this that she did not reprimand him, and answered.

"I like them, Jiroushin." She touched the pert blossoms lightly and looked coy. "Don't they make me look even more beautiful?"

"Kanzeon Bosatsu." Jiroushin hissed through his teeth, looking around anxiously to check if they were being overheard. She laughed.

"Worrying like a mere mortal, Jiroushin. I'd have thought gods were beyond such petty, human feelings."

"Not all feelings, Kanzeon Bosatsu."

She was about to give a teasing reply when she heard the muffled sounds of bickering along the corridor. A glance outside found a smiling, impatient Goku pulling on a glaring Konzen's hand. No doubt dragging Konzen along on another one of his endless expeditions.

The fact that bore thinking about though, was that her nephew always allowed himself to be dragged along, and that he never looked quite…unwilling. He looked awake. Alive.

No, she thought, not all.

+ + +

Turmoil was brewing in Heaven. It had always been brewing, but now it was like too much water running over the rim of a cup, or lava pulsing beneath a volcano. An eruption was inevitable.

"I have never seen a night this dark, Kanzeon Bosatsu. There are no stars in the sky." Jiroushin said grimly, searching the sky for an explanation.

"I hid them." Kanzeon Bosatsu answered quietly, staring into a lotus pond she could not see easily with her eyes. "I don't need to read them anymore. I have no need of them."

Worry was etched into every line of her assistant's face. Fear of the unknown. Unlike her down to the bone, she thought. Granted, there were a very few things she did not know, but she did not fear them. But, she reminded herself, she had guidance, and he did not.

"Kanzeon Bosatsu…"

"They are tied together, you know. They are fated."

"You have seen what will happen, then?" His voice was thick with an age that had nothing to do with years.

Kanzeon Bosatsu did not reply. There was no need to. She waited for the inevitable question that was sure to come, and knew that she owed it to Jiroushin to answer it. Blunt, honest Jiroushin, who always wanted to be ready; always disliked muddles and messes.

"And what will happen?" He asked evenly.

Her lips curved into a wry little smile. She could never quite fathom why she liked to smile during dire circumstances. Maybe it came from the human that she used to be. No matter how many times she had been reincarnated, the slightly bitter blood of a cynic still echoed in her veins.

"Are you sure you want to know?"

He paused to think, likely dreading what she would say, but not for long. "Yes."

No turning back.

"Three will die." She looked deeply into his eyes and spoke to him in a way that let him know there was no other alternative. "And the last will wish he had."

Goku's limiter will fall off, and I will not help them, and Konzen, my only nephew, will fight me, and everything will come undone.

Her loyal assistant sucked in a shocked breath. "They're going to be separated? But…but why?"

Who knows why? This is the Path that has been prepared for them. They MUST be reborn on Earth. They are needed there, five hundred years hence. I have read the stars and seen a demoness of Hell. She will wreak a devastating imbalance between the humans and the youkai in her attempt to restore a great evil which has only just been conquered. A future in which they seize the earth and millions are slaughtered will come to pass if nothing is done. I am ahead of them, I always am. It shall be prevented. I will spare the peoples of earth from death.

I am the Goddess of Mercy.

"Because they've gotten boring." She smiled at Jiroushin. "Maybe they'll be more fun on earth, hmmm?"

Jiroushin looked at her as if she'd finally lost her mind.

"But – but Kanzeon Bosatsu…"

"Fate is simple, Jiroushin." She cut in sharply. "I never said it was easy."

At this he looked slightly abashed at his protest, and she lowered her voice, seeing that he would not object again. "Now be quiet, and listen to the silence." Bitterness that should not be felt by an enlightened one flowed through her. "Learn to like it."

Will you add this to the collection of things you've always held against me, Konzen? Something like sadness made her smile again. I'm sure you will.

A single flick of her wrist, and the four lotuses, so tightly clustered together that they almost looked like one giant flower, gradually drifted apart.

"For awhile. Just for awhile, Konzen-tachi. You'll see each other again." And I will see you again.

Jiroushin bowed his head.