"Demons or Devils?" by Hakkyou Kaosu

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Me: not my usual, but I couldn’t resist.
Zen: where’d ya get this idea? (Shifty eyes) Or do I want to know?
Me: I was gonna put it in a scene of a chapter update, but couldn’t fit it in.
Mouretsu: so you make it its own story.
Me: yep. I think it deserves it. ^-^ now, no more waiting.

SUMMARY: ONE-SHOT A sudden blizzard has locked four travelers in a small town. Restless to continue, but unable to do so, the men are forced to do what they would rather not: wait. However, idle minds wander. Driven by the peculiar influence of the swirling flakes, one young man cannot help but lose himself in the haunting magic that is the snow’s fall.
-X- Winter Challenge Series 2005 — Opt. 2: Falling Snow. (I'm givin' it a shot ^-^)

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Saiyuki or its characters.
Demons or Devils?

Falling, falling, ever falling; that’s all they did: fall. And yet, it was almost hypnotic, the elegant twirl and twist of white flecks. Almost, indeed, but that was enough. The golden eyes that beheld the majestic dance of floating snow slowly unfocused, seeing not the flakes themselves anymore but the truth they represented. Thought, action, emotion; all weaved in unison with the snow as it descended in lazy whirls to the blanketed earth.

The sounds around him faded. His mind drifted away from the inn in which his physical body rested. He could no longer hear his companions, grumbling and scoffing at one another as they played various card games–mostly poker. He no longer felt the chill emanating from the window, the cold pane fading into nothing beneath him.

Blood, it ran so thickly through his veins. It kept his life within him. And yet…And yet it also separated him, made him different. The crimson elixir flowing in his body stamped upon him a mark of exile.

He fought so hard, gave everything he had. He was protecting them. Even if, more often than not, he didn’t wholly mean to, he was defending them. How many would have died had he not taken action? How many would have perished if he had not fought? More than he cared to ponder.

Yet he was an outcast to them; an outsider; and thus he would ever remain. People could change. This he knew. But he was also painfully aware of how rare and unlikely such a prospect could be. And so he would remain on the outskirts, never allowed within, but never thrown quite far enough away.

Even his own kind wished for his death. They would ban him to Hell for his deeds if they only possessed the ability. He was unsure if it was fortunate that they did not. Perhaps he truly deserved such a fate. Regardless, however, it was not his choice to make; neither was it theirs.

Acceptance; such a deceptively simple word, a word that entails so much more, though it wouldn’t seem so. Striving to this end, to accomplish this goal, how many wasted their lives? In the end, if they had managed to achieve this ‘glorious’ state, was it truly worth it? Was it worth the pain and struggle, the agony and strife suffered to attain it? Of this, too, he was not sure.

They called him ‘monster.’ Many times, they knew not it was he they were calling it; knew not that he applied. Still, the title struck and clung to him fiercely. Even now, he could feel it, itching on his flesh as if it had truly become bonded to his skin. But he could not remove it. How could he, when not even he knew why it was there? When he didn’t know how it had become so deeply entrenched?

The slander and insults thrown at his kind were not meant for him. He was aware of this, but it did not ease the sting of the words. Despite his efforts, the names had taken root. He told himself countless times, he was not that beast. But the labels remained; an invisible brand upon his very soul.

They had begun to define him. He wished desperately it was not so, but he knew it was a futile desire. He truly was a fiend. Had he not proved that truth innumerable times before? He had. And it pained him, however true he knew it to be.

It was the cruel reality of what he was, a monster. He did not wish for it, but nor could he ever hope to change it. They had full reason to fear him, to hate him as they did. His hand reached up, fingers brushing the coronet that rested on his brow. It was an unconscious action, not registered by his far away mind.

This was what kept him sane, a piece of hard, cold metal. Without it, he truly was what they accused him to be. He had attacked his own allies, nearly killed them. But they did not turn away from him. They did not reject him, did not leave him at the wayside. It would be better if they did, he could not harm them then. Yet they did not entertain such thoughts. He doubted it had ever even come to mind.

The memories he possessed of the few incidences were scattered at best. They were vague, but held a certain horrific clarity that frightened him. He may not know completely what he had done, but he knew he had committed dreadful acts. It was instinctive, a terrible ache in his heart. It told him. It told him how heartless and vicious he was in that form.

The cruelty that existed in his own heart, the dark side of his soul; such were things he was chillingly uncertain of in his awareness. It was as if he awoke from a vivid nightmare, the exact events blurred and indistinct, but the fear and panic all too clear. His hand trembled against the bullion circlet, before it fell silently away. Once more, his mind was ignorant to the actions of its own body, lost still in the ever circling gloom that encompassed it, entrapped in the loop and flutter of the snowfall.

He existed, but belonged no where. He had no place where he would be truly and wholly accepted. To every person, he was but a dark omen. They feared him, saw him as a terrible beast that would wreak havoc and consume them all.

And in the darkest part of his soul, he feared they were right. He feared his own power, feared the destruction he could cause without care or concern. It frightened him like no other thing could. In his heart of hearts, he felt like no more than a quivering child, weeping silently in quaking panic.

He had little solace, little proof to comfort him. For all he knew, he was indeed the ogre he was accused of being. He had this, though, however trivial it may seem to others. His friends, dearest comrades; they did not consider him a freak, did not whisper and close the shutters against his presence. They did not treat him as a shadow of evil.

But…would he ever truly be home? Could such a place even exist for one such as him? The only place he had ever considered such was filled with spiteful souls. They hated him beyond compare. The curses and hurtful words thrown at his race there were plainly and firmly directed at him. Outside, in the vast world he currently wandered, the cruel things said were not truly meant for him; his kind, yes most definitely, but not him in specific.

They were unaware of his breeding. If they became educated of it, they sent him away. He was banished from their presence like a disease, a plague. It cut him deeply, but he would never show it. He blindly put his trust in them, having faith in the humanity they held. In return, they struck out at him, verbally abusing his existence.

He knew they didn’t mean it. They were generalizing, assuming, blaming all by the actions of so few. He knew this, but it was cold comfort. It did nothing to cushion the weight of the heavy verbal blows.

He was strong, yes. But his strength did not know how to shield him against such assaults. Physical blows he handled well and could return without a second thought. The spoken warfare, however, was an underhanded form of conflict with which he was most unfamiliar.

He would not return such malice, however much of it was heaped upon him. He knew more than most how wounding such simple words could be. They held great power, despite the ease with which they were used.

It hurt all the more knowing it to be true. Without his protection, countless would have been slaughtered. Yet without the chilled metal pressing against his scalp, it was they who would be unprotected from him. Without that safeguard, it was he who would be the one massacring them. It would be he who walked soaked in their blood. It was he who would be punished with the wrath of vengeful justice.

But he never stopped. Always did he question his own persistence, his own perseverance. How did he endure it? How could he live on under the stones and whips of their scorn? He did not know. He only knew that he had not stopped. In truth, it had not occurred to him to give up.

Perhaps that was selfish of him, but he did not care. It was his life, despite the disdain it received; his blood, despite the hate that was held for it. He was not a devil; a monster, perhaps; a demon most definitely; but not a devil, not ever.

Was he the only one to see that distinction? Did it even exist? Or was he merely creating fairy tales to save himself?

No, it had to be true. He could not consider himself such an evil creature. He made mistakes, but that was a flaw carried by both demons and humans. There were such similarities, yet such blind abhorrence. And he knew he would always be cast out for his blood, always rejected for his actions. To protect the ones that despised him was to betray the blood of his born race.

Yet if he switched his current stance, joined his brethren in their bloody rampage, he would be destroying his own heart. He could not do it, even if they would accept him after all he had already done. He would not do it anyway. He could not nor would not do it. To do so would be to betray his friends and the people he had shed so much of his blood to protect. It would be betraying his own existence.

He saw so little differences between them, yet the few that existed were glaring. Humans and demons alike magnified those tiny dissimilarities and morphed them into horrendous impossibilities. He had wished to see the two races together, in peace. And there still may be hope for it, but it waned a bit more every day, every second.

But hope did not leave him. He doubted it ever could. Cast out he would remain. Ever more would he be maimed and marred by spoken barbs. He was wanted by neither side, exiled by both. There was no place for him no matter which direction he turned. Giving up, however, could never be an option.

The snow fell, peaceful and quiet; the opposite of his troubled thoughts. If such was his fate, to be pariah to both the race he protected and the race to which he was born, what then was left for him? Had he anything at all?

His head shook softly, though he was oblivious of the action. He had plenty. He had the few he could call his friends. But beyond that…what? It was a tiny voice, a suspiciously soft voice, that whispered these words in his mind. What did he have? What did he possess beyond the companions who would deny the friendship he held so dear?

What did it matter? He had them. That was plenty. He would not be alone. The entire world could shun him–if it had not already. But just the same, he would not be alone. A small smile tilted his somber lips.

What was he doing, sitting here and brooding? Worrying about the slammed doors and locked windows of his life? There was one door that was always open, one window that was never closed. Through those openings poured a wonderful light, never wavering, never dimming. Eternal in its strength, it could support him. It would never leave him in the darkness of the world, the darkness of his own soul.

He would never be alone again.

“Hey!” Goku called, both tone and visage filled with bright hope. “Can we get somethin’ to eat? I’m starving!”

=====End Demons or Devils?=====
Me: the end.
Zen: …okay, that’s unusually deep for you.
Me: -.-U oh come on…
Mouretsu: actually, I think he has a point.
Me: they’re both against me. ‘Til next time.

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