ANTHOLOGY
Long live the devil.

-

Strung Together

-

-

-

Imagine for a moment that the plane of existence were a lake, a reflection of the heavens that is shaken everytime you reach for it. If you were to cast a stone into it, no matter how wide, the ripples would reach the shores.

If you make a habit of skipping stones, however, the ripples intersect and overpower each other, cancel each other out, disrupt the water and splash over the bank.

God help the ones that go swimming, because they carry it away with them.

-

I don't know of any kindness.

Rin was right, as was the rest of the world, by her own point of view. Her legs were too short to see over the hill her presence had created, to the acres of flat land beyond it, spilling out in all directions. If she had the endurance, Jaken supposed she might have been able to trek through all the flat land, turn it all into rolling hills.

But her legs were short, after all, and they had traveled only a small stretch before she turned off the path, put her legs up, and rested her feet, waving them on their way.

Kindness?

It would erode over time, become smooth and undisturbed by a barefooted girl once again.

-

Death always managed to give Sesshoumaru that last little push he needed to fall off the fence.

Inuyasha and his mortal friends were short-sighted. They saw the changes in Sesshoumaru and took them as something new, something confusing, something unheard of. Their eyes did not - could not - see far enough, could not see behind them, because mortals were always pointed forward.

Jaken supposes it would be different if they could see The-Sesshoumaru-Back-Then. When he was not hard, if a little rough, when he talked easily and often, before his voice gave out.

Sesshoumaru-Before his father's death was fundamentally different than Sesshoumaru-After his father's death. He'd been left with scraps and fragments, he'd had to sweep them up and piece them together and make them work.

When he'd been collected, he'd been able to look down on Kagura and see her in a mess without a broom. The real pity had sprung, not from her death, but from the fact she wouldn't have had enough pieces to piece herself together, even if Naraku had died and she had not.

The best defenses are not what keep everything out, but what keep everything in.

Kagura could keep nothing together.

Years after, when Rin is dead, Sesshoumaru decides the grass does in fact look greener and climbs back over.

Everyone can change.

Everyone can change back.

-

There is this Chinese proverb that Jaken knows. It is the only one, and he only knows it because of years ago, when there were storms and warring trees and myth-legends in the making. Still, whatever its origins, he finds it appropriate, and it goes: One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade. Sesshoumaru would live to see seed and stem and shade all. Jaken is sure that, if you were to cut it down and count the rings, it would equal the number of times Sesshoumaru blinked between its birth and death.

-

Sesshoumaru is not sure he believes in abstract things.

They have no substance, no definition, no conditions or constraints. How is he supposed to believe in compassion, and trust, and a million other things that he can not see, can not even prove are there?

But maybe emotions are just the exception that proves the rule, that proves existence. If he doesn't believe in them, Sesshoumaru muses, is it possible he does not exist at all?

He thinks that would be a great load off of his mind.

-

It occurs to Sesshoumaru one day, when he is travel-worn and age-torn, as he waltzes around and around his trail and Jaken scrambles to keep up because he cannot be kept away, that he does not remember a time when his servant was not around.

It is odd, because he is used to remembering times when people were around that are no longer. It is odder, because he knows he is ageless, timeless, but there must have been a time before him, and Jaken must remember him before he was how he is.

Sesshoumaru can rummage through his memory, scrape the bottom and pull them back up to the top, and he would still come to the conclusion that his earliest memory is of Jaken. He's not doing anything, really, but he's there when he is, and if you want to delve into technicalities, they are together. Sesshoumaru is sure it means nothing, nothing important.

But then, he was sure Tenseiga and Rin and Kagura and Inuyasha (all dead now, leaves that littered his path that he had stepped over/on/past, that the wind had picked up and carried away) were nothing important.

It occurs to Sesshoumaru one day, when he waltzes around and around his trail, that dancing requires a partner.

-

There is this thing about change, this trick to it, that can never be mastered through study or training but is mastered, all the time, without you even realizing it.

You can never change for someone else, because that's what's known as trying to hard, and it's much easier to find someone that prefers you the way you are, if much more time consuming. The simple fact of the matter is you can only ever change if you're doing it for yourself.

Everyone has the capacity to change. It doesn't mean everyone should.

Sometimes, being a better person isn't what's best for you.

-

Sesshoumaru has been alive for a very, very long time. He has been alive for such a long time that, sometimes, he is not sure there has ever a time before him. He can't remember it. The past only exists in recollection, so it might not have happened at all.

But then he remembers that Jaken remembers a time before him, and that is a history of small reliefs in of itself.

-

When Kagura died Sesshoumaru thought I have been here before.

When Rin died he was sure I have been here before.

No matter where you go, when you get there, you are were you started. The fastest way to go back is to keep going forward.

The longer your life the longer your circle-path, until you could swear the path did not curve at all.

-

Sesshoumaru did not get used to things, or people, because they were fleeting. Throw the ball as hard as you like; gravity will pull it back down again. Stars fell, or sizzled out of existence. Even grounded things grew too high, bent over themselves until the highest point brushed the ground.

By complete accident, Sesshoumaru got used to Jaken.

By complete luck, Jaken reached no zenith and so had nowhere to fall.

-

The short answer: Change is a tricky bastard, and sometimes you don't need it and sometimes you don't want it but it happens anyway, and there is nothing that is so well put together it can't be broken and there is nothing that is so broken it can't be repaired. Life is a weariness, when you don't do anything but live, and time is a weariness, when you have all the time in the world. You can't venture so far that you can't go home again; you can't see so much death and not die a little yourself; you can keep going forward without making any progress at all and-

Oh dear. That is a bit long, isn't it?

The short answer: There are some things you cannot do without. If we were to list them, you would be surprised.

-

They weave together, amidst a bundle of knots and stray threads and loose ends; abandoned needle point and half-finished knitting and unbundled and messily re-bundled bundles of yarn. If you were able to pick them all apart, strip off all the extra layers and abandoned leads, you would find that, somewhere along the way, their strings got tied together at both ends.

You may as well sit back, enjoy the game of cat's cradle.

Sesshoumaru leads.

Jaken follows.

And that will never change.

-

-

End