Disclaimer: Bleach is © Kubo Tite, Viz, Studio Pierrot, Shueisha, etc. Inuyasha is © Rumiko Takahashi, Viz, Sunrise, Shogakukan Productions Co., Ltd., etc. Gunslinger Girl is © Yu Aida, ADV Manga, Madhouse, Media Works, Funimation, etc. This is a nonprofit fanwork.

Birds in Your Garden
by Fushigi Kismet

Rin, Yachiru thinks, is going to live forever.

She's the first, she's the oldest, she's still going when others have stopped, stopped forever, can't go on. She's the first success, sometimes when she's thinking hard Yachiru wonders if she's the only real success.

Rin doesn't get conditioning.

Well, not for her mind, not for her thoughts; for her body, of course, there's got to be conditioning for that or she'd just fall apart and then where would they be, their Division and everyone?

Yachiru gets conditioning, lots of conditioning, but it's okay, she doesn't mind. She gets it because it doesn't stick right. She laughs too much and doesn't listen and tells Ken-chan what to do. Ken-chan doesn't mind, they're fratello, he says, but the Division people see and they cluck their tongues and in she goes. More conditioning.

Sometimes she goes berserk and forgets mission parameters and kills everyone. That gets her more conditioning too.

She's been conditioned so much her memory's sort of here and there, but she doesn't mind that either. She doesn't remember who she was before, no one does, not before they rebuild your body anyway, but she remembers that Ken-chan gave her the name "Yachiru" and that's enough. She doesn't need any more than that.

Rin remembers everything. Even from before. Even who she was. Rin is her real name. Her whole family was killed, all of them, Rin was the only one left. It was Sesshoumaru who found her when she was almost dead. It was something about Rin that made him say, Okay, use her, this is the one. So Rin became the first, the first ever, and when it came time for conditioning she shook her head and he said, No, let's let her be. It's an experiment.

Rin doesn't need conditioning. Rin never does anything wrong. Anything Sesshoumaru says Rin does. It doesn't matter what it is. If Sesshoumaru says kill three men with three shots, they're dead. If Sesshoumaru says stop walking at exactly 5:13 and tie your shoelace, Rin will do it. Even if there's a truck coming at her, Rin will do it. And then at 5:14 exactly she'll straighten, pull out her gun, shoot the driver dead like the plan says, and get out of the way. Rin can do anything Sesshoumaru tells her to. Yachiru wonders how she does it.

They tried it, the no conditioning, on the next couple girls. Failures, failures, both of them. The first, she died. The second, she went crazy, and they did tests and tests until she died too. After those two they'd wasted so much money they just conditioned and conditioned and then things worked out right. Things worked out like they were supposed to.

Rin, Yachiru overheard one of the doctors saying once, is an impossible anomaly.

Yachiru thinks that's funny, really funny, that Rin is impossible and still there. It doesn't make any sense, she thinks. Doctors are stupid.

Rin works better than anyone. It doesn't matter if her adjustments are off. It doesn't matter if her legs don't work. If Sesshoumaru tells her to walk, she'll walk. If he tells her to shoot, she'll shoot. Rin, the Division Director said to the doctor, is a miracle.

Yachiru's not a miracle and she's glad. She gets the job done but she doesn't think she'd want to be Rin. She likes Ken-chan, is glad to be Ken-chan's fratello. It's fun. She laughs a lot. She couldn't stand being Sesshoumaru's fratello.

But she doesn't dislike Sesshoumaru. Sesshoumaru is not the Division Director or the guy under him but he's in charge of the fratello all the same. The guy who's almost in charge is what Ken-chan calls him. He and Ken-chan, they don't get along so good, but they respect each other. Because Ken-chan gets the job done, and Sesshoumaru's the only one who can match him. But, Yachiru thinks, it's not because Sesshoumaru is better, it's because he has Rin. If Yachiru was a miracle Ken-chan would be doing loads better than Sesshoumaru. But it's okay, Ken-chan says, because he likes Yachiru. They're more than fratello – they're partners. And this is why Yachiru doesn't dislike Sesshoumaru.

Because it's not that Sesshoumaru's mean or just uses Rin. Rin's not just a tool to him. Yachiru didn't get that at first, because there're lots of other fratello just like that. The girls don't really matter. Their fratello don't really care. But the girls have been conditioned to care too much so they don't mind, or maybe some of them mind, but they put up with it because that's just the way it is.

Rin doesn't get conditioning. Rin doesn't need it.

Rin cares because she wants to. And, Yachiru thinks, Sesshoumaru must like Rin the way Ken-chan likes Yachiru, otherwise he would make her get conditioning. Otherwise he wouldn't let her do what she wants.

Yachiru understands that now. It's a secret they share, just the two of them, Rin and her, what it's like to do what you want. What it's like to have a fratello who's not just a fratello.

But, she thinks, Rin will always be different. Because what Rin wants is something different.

Yachiru is glad about that too. She doesn't want to want what it is Rin does.

She just wants to do what she can in the time that she's got.

Rin's been at it for six years. Four others, not the experiments, stopped, just stopped. Rin won't ever stop until Sesshoumaru tells her to.

Yachiru thinks that Ken-chan can tell her not to stop, but, knowing her, she probably won't listen.

She sees them once and only once in the garden. They are sitting on a bench, Rin, facing Sesshoumaru, kneeling on the bench between his knees. She touches his face all over like a blind person. For an instant Yachiru wonders if her eyes are worn out, if they'll be replaced, but no, Rin can still see the only thing she's ever seen. She's looking at him, and, unmoving, he's looking back at her.

And Yachiru thinks, that's not how a brother looks. That's not how a sister looks. That's not how fratello look.

Yachiru thinks if Rin ever grows up, if the Division ever lets her grow up into the promise of her long legs and arms and slim body, they'll make quite the pair, the two of them, he and her.

She asked Rin once what she'd do if she lived too long, too long to be fratello. What would she be? It's not a question she bothers asking anyone else. They're all going to wear out, all of them, and die early on, still young, still with things left undone. It's only Rin she asks.

And Rin said, brown eyes steady, What do you mean? I'll be the same. The same as I ever was.

Yachiru thinks of the pair in Seventh Division. She's old, something like twenty. She's nominally from their department, built with their funds, outfitted with their equipment. She's working out all right though that pair's not as good as any of the fratello, but then, she's the guinea pig, the experiment. She's not a failure so it's okay, they haven't lost money. They probably won't commission any more.

But, Yachiru wonders, maybe they'll make an exception. One exception. Because Rin's not a failure, won't ever be a failure, not as long as they let her do what she wants and stay where she ought, rather, by who she ought. She's almost a guarantee. She can do it, and she can do it better. She can do whatever Sesshoumaru wants.

That pair in Seventh, they're not fratello. They don't pose as siblings.

Yachiru moves on, moves on quickly. Rin knows she's there, knows she's watching. Rin won't do anything but if Sesshoumaru wants and Sesshoumaru says, Rin will kill her right there, right where she stands.

Anyone else and Yachiru wouldn't care, would laugh at the very idea. But this is Rin and Rin won't miss. Rin is 100%. Yachiru doesn't want to die, not today. She still has time on her clock. She can still laugh with Ken-chan. So she goes. After all, she thinks, I'm not going to live forever.

Rin, Rin is going to live forever. Even when she's dead. Even if her body's nothing but scrap metal and shredded flesh for the crows to peck at. Even if no one in the world remembers her existence or if everyone's been conditioned not to care. It doesn't matter, Yachiru thinks, none of that means anything, none of that lasts.

Rin is going to live forever.

Because one afternoon in the garden Sesshoumaru kissed her fingers and said her name.