…the earth is full of dearth…
and she makes the most of it
She is starving, so he gives her food. She is young and he is too (even for human-looking eyes). And he would say that he knows her from somewhere (some time) but that would be a lie he couldn't gather. Even though he is so good at lying.
Hurriedly she eats up her food and glances at him gratefully. And in that moment, he is hit with a raw, arching knowing. He speaks, almost, but she fades as quickly as she appeared.
Puzzled, Sesshoumaru leaves too (maybe it had been a dream—he's been dreaming a lot, a lot lately). And it is time the dreams stopped. The world is young and unforgiving, and he likes the concept of "beginning".
They tell him that she is a gutter-rat, lowly and nameless and one of the prettiest girls running around. Free.
That is an interesting paradox.
And so, he watches her as she fumbles to pick the lock. The guards lift their heads and shout and fuss around and bring her face-down to the ground. She does not wince but glares at them back with narrow slits of loathing and trampled no-dignity.
And still, Sesshoumaru watches—intrigued.
The girl, they hesitate to say much later, escaped. He shrugs. That is disappointing, that is given.
Maybe one day they will meet again.
In the summer, he travels with two others through forests and swamps. And one day, he steps off the path and onto the beaten grasses and weeds springing from an acidic soil. He creates deep marks in the dirt and walks (always east)—determined and vexing.
Sesshoumaru keeps looking over his shoulder.
In this life, she works as a maid in a tavern. And on another day, he and the other two stop by there for a drink. She smiles and serves him tea (too early for sake, the mother shakes her head). He does not smile back but takes the cup and pierces claws into her wrist.
Now, he is amused.
Because some things never change no matter how many years (and lifetimes) are stretched in between. Some things died and resurrected and became a constant annoyance.
Pesky, he thinks. But still allows her to pour the tea.
She makes an awkward confession one night, that she's never "slept with a man" (he silently laughs at the supposedly delicate phrasing).
He ignores it and pushes her down. She sighs and imagines the motions as love.
(For once, she dies accidentally.)
And more decades go by swiftly, and more and more she forgets. And soon, she can barely recall his face—the sharp, smooth lines and marks on his cheeks (those she liked best). But every time he finds her again, or she stumbles and falls, she wakes up remembering.
And the memories turn out to be painful, diluted, and unwelcome.
And still, she takes them and tries to coax them back to life again. Her life is spent and memory is insidious and livid. Demands payment for all its hard work.
She is a princess, and he is himself. She always dies (a mortal death) and he never does because he is not human and does know understand the passage of time. For him, time is still, time is now and here (never of was or of will).
When she is sixteen, he asks her father's permission to marry her. The old man agrees, afraid and bent and crippled from war and disease. She cries as he takes her away. And her home burns down to the ground.
Ashes and grim grime. There is nothing left.
And so out of infinite magnanimity, he takes her under his wing and coaches her to become a flawless lady. Demure and quiet and remarkable—so even the youkai can't find fault in her fleeing bones.
She listens and learns to serve, never raising her head or voice above the barest visible (audible) line. But she (as is her nature) flirtatious and want and want and want.
It is a brutal hit when she kisses his father. Dot. Right.
On the lips.
Force of habit, he explains lamely (his father is not amused or placated). But he does agree to let her be buried. With the other humans and their litter—
in a cemetery chained by wispy clouds.
And now he finds her as a little girl, and when she tries to revive him with mortal medicines and emotions, he pushes her away.
Sesshoumaru has had enough of being pathetic and torment and whatever futile endeavors he stakes against himself. He just wants to be left alone (and in denial) and in misery. But misery loves company.
She persists in her pestering.
Gradually, he allows her to stay by him, even went through hell and its anguishes to retrieve her tiny soul. She is grateful, more than he would have assumed. Humans are erratic, and she had been the most fickle of them all.
But when she buries her face into his shoulder, he suddenly recalls their previous lives and how they happened. And tucks it away for future reference.
Sesshoumaru despises forgetting the details.
Occasionally, he wonders why she never dies (and remembers the sword and his mother and what she did).
And that's when it shoves its disgusting wisdom and prescience into his face: tells him spitefully that her story draws into a conclusion.
It's about time, he wants to say.
Epilogue ends, and so do they. No more reincarnation and no more wilting in purgatory. It is almost like a "happily ever after" re-defined.
And for now, desires dissipate.