Chapter Title: Malkhut
Rating: PG! ...ish
Summary: He is a vessel, a shell made only to hold the Word.
A/N: If something doesn't quite make sense yet, don't worry, it will. This is brainbendy anyway, so don't worry about it at all--I wrote this first anyway, after all. And besides, anything based off Kabbalistic imagery shouldn't completely make sense at first anyway. If it does, you're doing it wrong.
*puts on Joudama Explains It All hat* The title of this fic comes from the sephira Malkhut, which is the lowest point on the Tree of Life, and is according to some Kabbalistic thinking, the point above the Qliphoth (The Tree of Death, or the "shadow" of the Tree of Life, formed when the first imperfect vessels shattered because they couldn't contain the Word of God.) Highest above Malkhut in the Tree of Life is the highest of all the sephirot, Keter, which is only below the source of the sephirot, Ein Sof. Keter is pure consciousness, and is the point that crystallizes out of the Ein Sof, and commences the process of emanation of the Word.
But the funny thing of it is, Keter may be the highest sephira, but everything from the world below--namely, our reality--has to be filtered up through Malkhut to reach Keter, and anything coming from Keter can only be felt by those on the planes below when filtered and interpreted through Malkhut (which is why Malkhut is associated with the mouth and the power of speech.) *takes off Joudama Explains It All hat and sets it on fire*
The vessel remembers. He remembers a feeling of wholeness, of wholeness inside a state of nothingness, of a state before he was he. He knows there was a time when he did not exist as whatever and whoever he was; when he was not he but was a part of Him. And he feels that he is separate, cut off from the wholeness, and that he is incomplete.
He has no memory, he realizes, before the moment when something, somewhere, went wrong. When He tried to create a space and it shattered, when the original, imperfect vessel that was supposed to become Him shattered because it was unable to hold. And so instead, he knew, on some deep level he couldn't quite put into words but knew simply was, He had split aspects off, instead of replicating had split and that was why he was incomplete. He was only part; only an aspect, and he knew, from the first moment of consciousness, that he was the vessel, one to replace that which had broken.
But he was incomplete.
He wakes, after that first shattering, knowing something catastrophic has happened, but it is not a full awakening. He simply exists, waiting, an empty vessel should the need arise for Him and for something else, something that whispers at him through Him, something He calls Mother and so it is his Mother as well. He is empty and he waits.
He was used to waiting, to existing silent and floating in this incomplete and unfinished state, a state seeming inifinitely long and like it was always so, even though he knows that it was not, and that seems, in a way that terrifies the spark of him, will always be so, when suddenly, there is a moment of something catastrophic again, this time of the unthinkable; He has lost and now...and now...
"And now I have use for you," a low voice says, as everything goes into a space of pure white, and the vessel is suddenly aware. He doesn't know where he is or even who he is, he has nothing at that point that is a name, that is anything other than an empty shell with nothing of its own.
"Yes," He said, lips curving in a slow, deliberate smirk, chin tilting up in a jerk as silver lashes, so long as to seem unreal to the vessel, close over green eyes in a way that makes the vessel's throat dry, and all he can think is that He is incomparable, unparalleled, and the vessel himself is only a poor, broken imitation of his, and he wonders what the first vessel must have been like; the one who shattered. He feels his body--or rather, his self, since he knows on some level that this place is not real--is small and unfinished, and that He is beautiful, far closer to perfect than the vessel, far closer to Mother, and in His presence, he can feel the difference between them like a yawning ache.
And He comes forward until He is standing right before the vessel, and before he can speak, He reaches out a hand and touches the vessel's cheek, and now he can almost hear Mother, can hear the faintest whisper of her rage.
"You are only a poor shadow of me, a fragment. You are barely more than nothing, but you can be used," He said, His voice low and cold and calculating, and yet somehow something twisted in him with a kind of heat at it, and he turns his face to that hand, trying to get closer to it, to get closer to Mother, his lips pressing against His palm in a kind of supplication.
And He smiles at that, something dangerous and cold, and He brushes His fingers against the vessel's lips. And the vessel opens his mouth against the fingers, strains in some way to be closer, to have Him as close as he can have Him, to bring him back into wholeness. He feels his incompleteness more now, feels it now that he is close to what he was formed from, and he wants that completeness, wants to return to it, and that he can not is unendurable. He wants to reach for Him, to grasp Him in his weak hands and pull himself into Him and Him into himself, until there is no more separate and he is finally whole, finally a part once again of what he had been before being forced away and separate as he was formed.
He feels His fingers press into his mouth, and he lets out a faint, whimpering noise at it, at both the feeling of those fingers and the feeling of presence, both of Him and of Her. He feels both of them now, a little, Her presence filtered through His, Her chosen son. And he leans closer, as if if he is physically closer to Him then he will be closer to Her, able to hear Her voice as more than a faint buzzing in his ears. She is calling, he thinks, but he can't hear, he must be closer to Him to be closer to Her, and fingers are not enough.
And then, in a moment of cruelty, He pulls away, withdrawing His fingers and severing their connection, and he whimpers, draws in at the sudden lack of both His and of Her presence and of the crushing realization of being only a poor and incomplete fragment of the whole.
He strains his body without realizing towards Him, seeking to touch, to have that connection again, and sudden He is there, moving forward, and His mouth is hot against his, and the connection is there, is louder, and Her voice is almost words, almost something he can hear.
Suddenly he is pushed away, pushed away when he dares to try and put himself into Him, to move his tongue into His mouth to be somehow inside of it, of Him, of Them.
"So that's it, then," He says, something burning in His vibrant green eyes, as if He as suddenly seen what before was hidden, and the vessel despaired at being pushed away again, when a reunion was so close. "You seek completion, then. You think if you are close enough, you won't be what you are," He said, his voice mocking. "A pale copy of me, unable even to wake." The next sound He makes is one of disgust. "That I have come to this, then. But no matter. Because I will succeed," He says, and leans in again, grasping his arm and pulling him close to Him in a fast, hard motion so fast he jarred, jerked all but off his feet and forced to lean into Him for support.
"But that's how it is," He whispers, His mouth against his ear, His breath hot and causing him to shiver and his eyes to slide shut. "You are nothing without me. You are nothing save a body for me to one day use; a mind that will offer no resistance and would be unable to even if it tried."
His hands touched him, one smooth and hot against his neck, pulling him in such a way that his face was close to His in a way that made him aware of His perfection and beauty, and his eyes slid shut when He kissed him, harsh and possessive and dismissive, and he welcomed the feel of His tongue in his mouth, entering him. He had no right to push into Him, he was incomplete and could only be filled; there wasn't enough of him and he knew that, so close to what was complete, with His voice ringing in his head showing beyond all doubt what he is in this, and Her voice roaring on the outskirts. The vessel does not resist when He begins pulling away all the layers between them, only feels as they become closer, as She becomes easier to hear, and he moans in the ecstasy of it.
"You are only a vessel, imperfect and incomplete. You will be my vessel, to bring me back so I can fulfill Mother's plans," He says. "You are unable to hold Mother and unable to contain me. And when I will it, when you have done all that Mother commands, I will supplant all that you are." And with that, he arches sharply, feeling Him now inside him, pushing His way into him, into his body and mind both.
He can see, now how the first would have shattered, at that first moment of connection; at the moment when he was opened and opened and Mother could flood into him, now that he was so close to Him. The first must have had what the vessel did not; an urge to fight, to stay separate, to assert himself over Him and thus Mother.
But that would not do; if one fought, He would destroy it, burning too bright and expansive to be contained. So he would not contain Him. He would instead reflect Him, would allow Him to pour through and not overwhelm the vessel but sublimate him. And by sublimating himself, exalt himself by becoming Him, becoming whole, becoming all that he lacked. Becoming more than a vessel. He would take his as his holy duty, be the vessel for both Him and Mother; do Mother's will as He bade him to do, and would be exalted, would be whole for it, because it was through him, Kadaj, he thought, suddenly knowing who he was and that he was separate and would thus be named, because he realized it was only through him that He--Sephiroth, a voice whispered inside him, the same voice that had given Kadaj his name--could touch the world so Mother's bidding could be done. Kadaj couldn't do what Mother wanted; couldn't be what She needed, but he was the vessel that would allow Sephiroth to serve Her once more. Sephiroth was outside of physically, outside of what Kadaj was, and thus, without Kadaj, the only one of the three vessels who remained--and Kadaj knew suddenly then that there were others, they were part as well, and he would find them--and the only one able to commune directly; that without him Sephiroth was thwarted, was helpless.
And Kadaj smiled, knowing that he was weak, knowing he was infinitely weaker than Sephiroth...but Sephiroth was also infinitely weaker than Kadaj himself because he was now only mind, only spirit, and this could do nothing without Kadaj allowing it, that force would shatter him as it had the first vessel and then Sephiroth would have no way to reach the world again...and both of them were aware of it. Kadaj could taste Sephiroth's rage at it and he savored it, let Sephiroth hate that he was so dependent on one so weak, and he accepted this as it elevated him. His weakness was his strength and it alone would keep him whole; Kadaj would control the moment when he released himself and his body to Sephiroth in the physical realm even as Sephiroth so ruthlessly controlled him here. Here was Sephiroth's space, but out there, out there would be Kadaj's, and even Sephiroth would be unable to make Kadaj unwillingly submit out there. Kadaj would chose the moment, the moment when he was sublimated, and he could taste Sephiroth's rage as he arched into Sephiroth's hands. In here, Sephiroth could force him to his will, but out there, the moment when Kadaj submitted all, that would be his decision, that he would be the one to spark Reunion.
And he knew that when he found the other vessels, the other two, split and on different branches; not direct in the same way as Kadaj and so they couldn't feel Sephiroth like Kadaj did, but Kadaj could feel both of them; a thin connection between him and them that surely they must be aware of too, now, because he could feel them stirring awake, they would know this as well--they would defend him, Kadaj, and in the end, they would be the ones to do what even He could not, and Kadaj suddenly in his mind dismissed Sephiroth as anything more than another vessel, another channel to Mother. Kadaj was too weak and too far from Her to feel Her directly, but he felt Her through Sephiroth, and knew She used Sephiroth as Sephiroth would use him, and thus it was all right, it was proper, because Sephiroth was his connection to Mother.
And with a gasp, his body shuddering hard from the force of release from all that Sephiroth was doing and had done, the white world of nothing exploded into something else, into reality, into the world, and Kadaj knew what he had to do.
For Mother. And for himself.