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("Transient and Eternal" progress report: 16/30 written, 10/30 partially written, 13/30 posted to livejournal)

I'm doing [livejournal.com profile] thirtyforthree for Kira Sakuya/Mudo Setsuna/Mudo Sara from Kaori Yuki's Angel Sanctuary. There will be spoilers in nearly every theme -- given the characters, it's nearly impossible to avoid them! -- and a lot of potentially objectionable content. This is because the source manga has a lot of potentially objectionable content. If incest squicks you, or you know you'll be bothered by some strange and/or negative interpretations of Judeo-Christian theology, you're probably better off not reading these stories.

With that said...

Theme: #28 - Get out
Warnings: spoilers!
Note: This ficlet is set pre-manga, and is the third in the internal continuity of my [livejournal.com profile] thirtyforthree stories, after Alone and Forbidden. It makes the same assumptions about Jibril's character and role, which are not directly supported by canon, but are not opposed by canon either, and which help balance this threesome in all incarnations.

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The Transient and the Eternal: Get out
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Eden's beauty -- a verdant garden in a marble box -- was spoiled by the pile of bloody, dismembered corpses. Birds, animals, and Sisters sprawled piecemeal over the marble paving stones, their skirts and veils torn and dyed a wet scarlet.

Jibril hesitated, wary of whoever or whatever had arranged the scene, but the island was still and silent. The relentless, rhythmic surge of blood through arteries and veins had given way to the quiet seepage of puddles spreading toward lower ground. Only one heart still beat; presumably it belonged to the person she had come to see.

She picked her way around the carnage, using a wisp of power to collect the still-fresh blood into one tidy puddle and looked past the empty throne toward the central orchard.

"Lady Alexiel?"

She got no answer, but she stepped onto the grass anyway, brushing vines aside as she sought her quarry. She followed the motion of living blood past a stand of yew, through a grove of oranges, around a tangle of raspberries, to the clearing at the heart of Eden. Alexiel sat against the Tree of Life, naked, its rough bark abrading her pale skin as she stared blankly ahead.

Her eyes were full of darkness, Jibril thought, remembering Lucifel's -- Lucifer's -- words. He had sent an unsigned message through roundabout channels, asking for details on heaven's defenses. "There are many gardens to despoil," he'd written, and Jibril knew what information he wanted most. God invited no one save Rosiel to his tower these days, but the gates of Atziluth were still open if you knew the passwords, and some of the guards could be bribed or distracted.

Normally Jibril would have disapproved of that laxity and corruption. In this case, she was grateful.

"I hear that Lady Alexiel is Lord Rosiel's equal; surely her retreat must be well-guarded," she'd said to one of the guards during his off-duty hours in Briah, as she pressed against him in a public bath house. "Does anyone dare to disturb her?"

"Only Lord Rosiel and the Sisters who feed her," the guard had said, wrapping a hand around Jibril's slender waist. "You're a treat for tired eyes, pretty lady; come care for me tonight."

"No," Jibril had told him. "Forget." She'd passed her hand before his eyes, drawing power from the surrounding water to wash away his memory.

Now, in the garden, she considered the implications. If only Rosiel visited, then he must have slaughtered the Sisters in the courtyard... or Alexiel had killed them herself. Jibril paused, her hand hovering a hair's breadth from Alexiel's shoulder. Lucifer liked this woman. Lucifer only liked battle, challenge, and slaughter. And Rosiel had become erratic of late. If he were going mad -- which he might well be -- his twin might share that insanity.

Alexiel tipped her head up to face Jibril, a mannequin come abruptly to life. "Hello, water guardian. Your hand is trembling. Am I such a fearsome creature, naked and stripped of power?"

Jibril held her breath and counted slowly to ten, trying to calm her racing heart. "That depends."

"On that, I assume?" Alexiel waved a hand over her shoulder toward the courtyard. "There were extenuating circumstances, but it's ultimately my responsibility. My choices led here, to this time and this place. My sin -- my pride -- caused those deaths, as much as my hands."

Jibril had no idea what Alexiel meant, but she nodded as if in agreement. "So long as you didn't kill them in a fit of insanity, it's not my concern." She ached at the senseless waste, but she wasn't Raphael; she couldn't turn back death.

Alexiel tilted her head and gave Jibril a long, considering look. "Why should you care about my sanity? For that matter, why are you here? I rarely receive guests, and unannounced visitors are even less common. In fact, you're only the second surprise visitor I remember." A tiny smile curved her lips, fey and wild, and something sparked to life deep behind her eyes -- something dark and hopeless, pitifully alone, yet defiant and laughing in the face of despair.

Jibril's lips parted on a sigh. "Oh. That's what he meant about your eyes."

No wonder Lucifer couldn't forget Alexiel. She had held up a mirror and shown him an isolation, a lack of choices, and an unyielding will equal to his own. And she could wield a sword.

To keep someone like this locked up and powerless was hideous.

"You know that he was here," Alexiel said, standing and tearing a branch from the Tree; the wood parted with a sound like snapping bone. "That should be a secret, water guardian. How do you know? Who sent you? Whose game are you playing?" She held the branch like a sword.

Just like Lucifer. With luck, Jibril's methods for calming one would work equally well on the other. "War is no game," she said, spreading her hands to show that she carried no weapon, "and I take orders from no one. I'm here at the request of a friend. He's interested in gardens, particularly in transplanting rare flowers, and I thought Eden would catch his attention."

Alexiel lowered the branch a handspan. "Transplanting?"

"Yes. While some flowers grow best in captivity, he thinks wildflowers do best without constraints. He wishes to transplant a hothouse blossom, to return it to its native environment." Jibril shrugged. "Of course, not all flowers thrive in the wild. You live in a garden, Lady Alexiel. What's your opinion of my friend's quest?"

After a moment, Alexiel laughed and rested the branch on her shoulder. "I see you're a politician; you must cause endless frustration at the councils in Briah. Tell your friend that his flower has reasons for accepting garden walls, and as long as even a breath of hope remains, she won't break her half of the bargain. The blossom will wither away from her chosen ground."

What reasons could Alexiel have for staying in Eden? What could she gain from imprisonment?

Jibril almost asked, but she decided to leave that to Lucifer. He was trapped in hell at the moment -- she'd heard rumors that he'd unraveled his body to stabilize the lowest level -- but his letter had said that he knew a way to enter heaven without anyone suspecting his presence. When the army's paranoia subsided a notch, probably within a decade or two, Jibril was sure he'd knock on Eden's door and argue with Alexiel himself.

"I'll pass on your message," Jibril said. "Will you mind if I visit again? I'm sure he'll send an answer, and I'd like to talk to you at a-- a better time." She waved a hand toward the bloody courtyard. "Would you like me to clean that up?"

"The next shift of Sisters can deal with that. It will be good for them," Alexiel said, with another fey smile. Then some of the assurance seeped from her posture as she let her branch fall to the grass. "You would visit me again? I wouldn't mind. I'll look forward to that." She smiled, tentatively, warmly, and Jibril felt her heart skip a beat.

Lucifer wasn't the only person Alexiel's eyes could catch.

"Until we meet again," Jibril said, and darted forward to wrap her arms around Alexiel in a brief hug.

Then she stepped back, snapped her wings open, and leaped into the air. Clearly Lucifer had claimed Alexiel's attention as much as she had claimed his, and whatever God's intentions might be, Jibril knew better than to step between an obviously fated pair.

The least she could do was smooth their way.

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End of Story

Cross-posted here on [livejournal.com profile] thirtyforthree

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I will further cross-post this to the Insane Journal version of the community on Sunday, if I remember... but don't hold your breath.

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edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Elizabeth Culmer

March 2019

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