|Fuyu No Kokoro
Author: Kanna37 PM
Sequel to Fuyu. Sesshoumaru wreaks vengeance on Inuyasha and Kikyou for Kagome's death. Rated for Language. 2nd Best Angst Fiction March 2012 FA.Rated: Fiction M - English - Angst/Tragedy - Sesshomaru & Kagome H. - Words: 9,181 - Reviews: 45 - Favs: 218 - Follows: 27 - Published: 06-17-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5146386
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Fuyu No Kokoro
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha and it's trademark characters, only the following storyline.
A/N: This is a companion piece to Fuyu. It is set a few months after Kagome's death, about the beginning of spring. I recommend you read it first, as this one will make much more sense if you do.
Some people might argue that Sesshoumaru is OOC in this piece, but since I am not Rumiko Takahashi, and neither are any of the people reading this fic, or writing any others, none of us can truly be totally in character with it, since Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha, Kikyou, Kagome, and all the other characters spring from her mind, and can only truly be called in character, if they are being written by her hand. That being the case, I would argue that, while Sesshoumaru seems to be cold and emotionless in the manga, he really isn't. He is a highly passionate being, who just happens to have a great deal of control. If you look at the expressions he is drawn with, many times you will see signs of that.
All of that not withstanding, I wrote this piece the way I wanted it. It is called creative license... and I am good at taking advantage of any excuse to warp and/or otherwise torture Takahashi-sensei's works. So please keep that in mind as you read this fic, and adjust any reviews you might feel you need to leave to take all this into account. I will not respond to reviews or flames screaming about the same points I have just addressed.
Also, there are going to be some points left open at the end of this fic. That is deliberate. I want some things left up in the air, since art mimics life, and writing is an art, I would like to point out that never, in life, are we given all the answers.
With all that said, I still think this is a good story, (of course, being the author, I would) and hopefully, at least some people will agree.
So, without further ado, on with the story!
Sesshoumaru was rather annoyed when a knock came at his study door - he had much to do and had been hoping to be left alone with his work. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to be happening, and he sighed, then straightened his face into its normal calm mask.
He watched in stoic silence as one of the servants bowed themselves into the room. "My Lord, there is a human samurai here, claiming to have news of some import to you. He said to tell you he brings word of the miko Kagome."
Sesshoumaru stiffened slightly. So, she has finally let go. I wondered how long she would hold on. "Send him in."
The servant bowed again and turned, motioning to someone standing outside the door, then bowed again and left. The sound of the door sliding shut was loud in the silent room.
He studied the man in front of him. Definitely samurai, although he seemed a bit young.
"My Lord, I come to fulfill the Lady Kagome's last wishes. She instructed that you be told of her passing."
"When did she go?"
"At winter's heart, my Lord - Midwinter's night."
Sesshoumaru closed his eyes for a moment, considering the young man's words. He was not surprised by the date... he found it rather appropriate, actually. The miko had always had an - interesting - sense of timing.
"She was buried with honor?"
"No my Lord," the man looked slightly awed at this point, and Sesshoumaru wondered why, "the Lady's body does not decay, as would normally happen. She looks like she is merely sleeping. The village has made her hut into a shrine, and her body has been laid out there. We were not sure what you would want to do with her under the circumstances... so we have hired someone to care for her shrine until you could be contacted."
He sat back in surprise. Did this miko never do the expected? Even in death she seemed determined to hold her dignity, and Sesshoumaru could not help the surge of respect that rolled through him. Truly, she had been unique... and his brother a fool for choosing the lesser incarnate as his mate - a mistake he would pay dearly for.
Clearing his face of all expression, he looked back at the young man. "Your village has done well. I will come, and bring the miko's body back here to my shiro. Here she can be displayed with all honor, and lay in death under my protection. Make the return trip to your village after you have eaten and slept. I will come in one moon cycle for her."
"Your will, Lord Sesshoumaru." The man bowed, then turned and left the room.
Sesshoumaru wondered what her last thoughts had been about... he would have been surprised to know that they had been of him.
The month that he had deemed enough time for the village to receive word of his arrival and prepare had almost passed, and he was now setting out on the journey to retrieve the miko's body. It would only take him two days of travel to reach the village, and no more than that to return, even with Ah-Uhn along to carry her body back.
He was eager to get this trip over and done... because he had plans once her body was resting at his shiro. Plans that included dealing out a great deal of hurt to his fool of a half-brother.
When I am done with you, Inuyasha, there will be no true happiness in this life left for you. It is abominable that you have had any happiness at all, when it came all at her expense. I will leave you feeling too much regret at the harm you caused her to ever find joy again. Sadness and envy is all you deserve.
Sesshoumaru was well aware that Kagome would not have approved of what he was planning to do, after all, making Inuyasha happy had been her life's goal. However, he could not, would not, allow that to change his mind. He had left the fool alone while she was alive, living his life at her expense, but now, the protection the half-breed had enjoyed because of her wishes was over, and he would make sure that the idiot knew it.
The truth was, Sesshoumaru had developed strong feelings towards the tiny miko, even though she was human, he had honored her as one of the few beings, youkai or human, that he felt deserved respect. It simply galled him that she had suffered for the sake of an ignorant half-breed with no honor.
He was honest enough with himself to admit that, had she ever gotten over his brother, he would have courted her and then taken her as a mate. Even with the undeniable fact of her humanity, she had been one whose entire being radiated a purity and beauty - so much so that it really erased the sad fact of the human taint she had carried. She would have made a fitting Lady... but it was not to be, for she had never let go of the love she had held for his half-brother, and he would not be second best for anybody.
Maybe someday... I will meet her again, in another lifetime.. Then it might be possible to sway her heart to me. He smiled at that thought. If I do, I will be sure to bring it to Inuyasha's attention - providing he still lives, of course.
The deadly daiyoukai, immersed in his thoughts and plans, formed his youki cloud under his feet and lifted into the air, pulling Ah-Uhn behind him. He had many hours of travel ahead to gloat about how he would torture the hanyou.
And torture him he would.
Sesshoumaru nodded to himself in satisfaction. He had returned with her body just this morning, and settled her in the shrine that he had ordered built. The building was beautiful, and he was pleased that it was a suitable backdrop for the woman who in death, was just as lovely as in life.
The samurai messenger had been correct. There was no taint on her flesh, no scent of decay, only her own, unique scent, the same as it had been in life. She indeed looked as though she were merely sleeping, and he felt an ache pierce his heart for a moment at the sight.
Sighing, he shook his head at his melancholy thoughts. They would not help her now... she was beyond him, and everyone else. He smiled for a moment, almost a cruel smile. Yes, she is beyond me - for now. Someday, however... another incarnation of her will appear before me, of that I have no doubt. With one last look, he turned and left the shrine, heading for his study. It was time to set his plans for the half-breed in motion.
I want you to suffer, Inuyasha. You did not deserve her, and it is galling to this Sesshoumaru that you had so much devotion... and yet you squandered it.
Inuyasha sighed, looking back over his shoulder, he hoped no one had spotted his hiding place. He just felt the need to be alone right now. He didn't want Kikyou finding him, or any of the others, either. Looking back once more at the walled slayer's village, and seeing no signs of pursuit, he leaned back against the trunk of the tree he was hiding in and let his thoughts wander.
Lately, the only place his thoughts had wandered was into the past, as memories of a bright, shining smile, and sparkling brown eyes flashed through his mind. She had always been there, but he had kept her in the back of his mind, not right out in front as she had been for the last few months.
He wondered where she was, and what she was doing. As loving as she was, he was sure she had married and had children, and he wished that he could see her one more time... that he could see what her children looked like, and hear about her life, tell her all about his. He hadn't realized just how much he missed her, until lately. It saddened him almost unbearably that he would never see her again.
A smile crossed his face for a moment. It was funny... if he had made a slightly different choice all those years ago, her children would have been his, and suddenly, an ache crept into his heart at the thought. He knew she had loved him, and he couldn't help the regret that passed through him at the knowledge of the loss he had been too stupid to understand that he would one day feel.
It wasn't that he was particularly unhappy with Kikyou, but it certainly wasn't what he had thought it was all those years ago. Privately, and only to himself, would he acknowledge that he had chosen wrong. He should have chosen to stay by her side... because as surely as night follows day, she would never have willingly left his, and he knew it.
He sighed again, regret twining hauntingly through the sound. I'm so sorry, Kagome. I knew I loved you, even then, I just didn't understand my heart enough to realize that I loved you as a mate, and Kikyou as a friend. I got it all mixed up... and now I have to live with that mistake forever. I just wish... that you didn't have to. I hurt you - badly - and I can never make it up to you.
A melancholy air settled around him, and anyone approaching the slayer's village and setting eyes on him at that moment would have been pierced by sadness without ever really realizing why. He looked almost otherworldly in his sorrow.
Slouching down against the tree limb a little more, he allowed his thoughts to wander even more as he glanced once again at the village behind him. After Kagome had gone home, he and Kikyou had decided to follow Sango and Miroku back to her old village. She was determined to rebuild it, and he was unwilling to lose the two friends he had left. Kikyou hadn't wanted to leave Kaede, and he understood that, but they weren't that far away, and there really hadn't been anywhere for them to live in her village.
They had spent the last forty years here, and he had been content enough. But like all things, the life he had built here had changed in the last year, and he was, he supposed, still grieving for that. Maybe that's why thoughts of Kagome had been so strong lately.
Last year, Sango had finally passed on at the age of sixty, and it was obvious to all around them that Miroku wouldn't be much longer in following her. He just couldn't adjust to the loss of his beloved taijiya... and he didn't see why he should have to. Their children were all grown, and his responsibilities as headman of the village had been passed on to their eldest son. There was nothing to hold him back except his love for his oldest friend. But while Inuyasha didn't want to lose him, he also didn't want Miroku to suffer anymore, either. He knew it was past time to let go.
As for he and Kikyou? Well, they were an established part of the village as it was now. She was the village healer, and he was an elder. Although that is a bit awkward sometimes, seeing as how I only look like I'm in my thirties, he thought, with a touch of amusement.
They had two children of their own, and girl and a boy, both who were married already and starting families of their own. Life had not been bad, it had just been lonely, because as much as he had thought he'd loved Kikyou, he had never been able to open up and share himself with her as he had with Kagome. He could honestly say that although he'd been with Kikyou now for forty years, Kagome knew him better than she ever had, or ever really would, either.
He squeezed his eyes shut, forcing back the tears that came up unbidden. He would not cry, not now. He would just live with the hope that she had gotten over the hurt he had caused her, and made a happy life for herself.
Even though he deeply regretted his own stupidity, he prayed to the kami that she had not paid for it as well.
He didn't think he could live with himself if she had.
Sesshoumaru stood in his gardens as evening fell, enjoying the almost meditative silence. He had sent a summons to his half-brother several days ago, and he knew it should have reached him today. A smirk touched the corner of his mouth. The way he had worded it almost guaranteed the idiot would come... after all, he did share the same father, and curiousity was the biggest downfall of his father's blood.
From the Lord Sesshoumaru of the Western Lands,
By blood calling I, Sesshoumaru, eldest son of the Inu no Taisho, do summon Inuyasha, youngest son of the same, and his chosen mate, to the Palace of the Moon. I have recently come across something that I know would interest you greatly, and have it within my protection here. It is something that once, in the past, belonged to you, and there is every need to discuss its... final disposition with you.
As per the blood calling, know that I, Sesshoumaru, will hold in agreement that neither you, nor your chosen mate, will be physically harmed during your stay here. For this period of time, two weeks, you and yours are free to travel within my lands and are subject to a truce for the specified period.
I await your response,
Sesshoumaru, Lord of the West
It was only a matter of time, now. Inuyasha would come, if only out of a desire to find out what was spoken of as having belonged to him "at one time". And then he would finally have the hanyou where he had always wanted him... in the palm of his hand.
The daiyoukai tilted his head and gazed up at the sky, watching as the stars came out, swathes of them at a time as the sky darkened slowly from east to west. He had always enjoyed the sight of the night sky, it was one of the few things in his duty-bound life that he actually allowed himself as a weakness.
He sighed quietly. It was something he had had in common with the tiny miko now laying on a cold stone slab in another part of his estate. She also had loved the stars, and sometimes spent hours just staring at the night sky. He hoped she would have another chance to enjoy them again... through new eyes, as it were.
He chuckled then, slight amusement at himself and the situation he found himself in breaking his iron control for just a moment. The priestess would have been shocked beyond belief if she had ever understood that he had an interest in her. She had always been oblivious, of course, so had everyone else. No one had ever known, although he thought that the monk that his brother had traveled with had at the least suspected. The man had always been extremely observant, and was also fairly intelligent - for a human, anyway.
He shook his head, his usual stoic expression washing back across his face. Turning, he walked towards his rooms... wanting nothing more at this point than for the next few days to fly. He was usually so patient, but for some reason, in this, he just couldn't be, and he wanted the time to pass quickly. He couldn't wait to sink his claws into his brother's heart - metaphorically speaking, of course.
There was also the part of him that wanted to make his bitch face her secrets, as well. That was the other thing that would help to break the half-breeds spirit. The lengths that the undead miko would go to to regain her life... up to and including letting an innocent young woman shoulder her own debts. She would be made to face the fact that she had selfishly grabbed for a life... at the expense of another.
By the time he was finished with this, Inuyasha would never be able to look at her again, and the hanyou himself wouldn't be able to find any comfort in his life: he would only know suffering from here on out.
He, Sesshoumaru, would make sure of it.
"Master Inuyasha! Master Inuyasha!"
Inuyasha turned when he heard the voice of one of the gate guards calling for him, and waited patiently for the young man to draw even with him. "Yeah, Kiyoshi? What's wrong?"
"Forgive me, master Inuyasha," the young man stammered out, trying to catch his breath. "There is a higher level youkai at the gate. He says he bears a message for you from your brother. We weren't sure what to do, so we left him outside the gate, figuring it should be your decision."
He nodded at the young man. "That's fine, I'll be there in a moment. You can go back to your post." Frowning, Inuyasha wondered what his bastard brother could possibly want after all these years. He hadn't spoken to him since the last battle with Naraku. Shaking his head perplexedly, he headed off to the gate, pretty sure that whatever it was, it wasn't going to be anything good for him.
Motioning for the guards to open the gate, he slipped through and confronted the youkai standing on the other side of it. One look was all it took to know that the messenger was indeed from his brother... he wore the insignia of the Western Lord.
"Well? I heard you have a message for me. Hand it over already."
The messenger glared at him, but handed over the parchment, watching as the hanyou broke the seal and unfurled the scroll.
Inuyasha's eyes widened in shock as he read the missive. What the hell is so important that he would not only invoke a blood calling, but offer a two week immunity to attack?! I don't like this...
He looked up at the messenger. "I take it since your still waiting around your expecting an answer?" He received a sharp nod in return. "Fine. Tell the asshole I'll come. Should be there within a few days." He turned on his heel and walked back through the gates, knowing the guards would automatically close them as soon as he was through.
What could he possibly have that used to be mine? I don't get it. He opened the scroll again and re-read it. ...discuss it's final disposition? Keh. That bastard better have a damn good reason for this. You don't just invoke a blood calling for nothing.
His thoughts trailed off as he walked back to his hut. He'd have to let Kikyou know now, so she could make preparations to be gone from the village for what could be a week... their daughter would take over her healer duties for a while, but as newly married as she was, they wouldn't want to leave her with the job for too long.
Shaking his head, he walked into his home, calling out to his mate. There was work to be done if they were to leave within the next two days. He wanted to get this over with... he had an uneasy feeling that he wasn't going to like what was coming.
If only he'd known how right he was.
Sesshoumaru looked up and barked out a "Come!" at the knock on his study door, knowing that it was most likely a notification of his brother's arrival.
A servant bowed his way into the room. "My Lord, your brother has arrived and is in the receiving chamber awaiting your pleasure."
Finally! He let out a steady breath, clamping down hard on the emotions rampaging through him, a fierce excitement welling up and almost overwhelming his control. It figures, he thought wryly. It would be something to do with her that would cause such feelings within me... it always was her that did. With everything else I have no problems controlling myself, but... His thoughts broke off as he waved his hand languidly at the servant, dismissing him.
He stood and moved around his desk, straightening his clothing and forcefully pushing down any and all emotion. For what he had planned, he needed to be calm, at least at first.
He moved slowly through the halls of the shiro, forcing himself to keep his unseemly excitement in check, to calm his raging youki, and appear as imperturbable as he usually was. He stopped once more as he reached his destination, taking in a deep breath and calming himself, before sliding the doors back and walking into the room.
Inuyasha felt his brother's aura approaching, and was unnerved by the excitement he could feel rampaging through it. Sesshoumaru almost never showed emotion, and it was not a good thing when he did. With him, there were only two emotions - rage, and hatred. If he was excited, then it meant that something bad was about to happen, and he was instantly on high alert. He could feel Kikyou shift nervously next to him, and knew she felt it, too.
He looked up as his brother entered the room, noting that he had clamped down on his youki hard, and now appeared as calm and stoic as he always had. He looked the same as he had the day they defeated Naraku, as well, although he wasn't wearing his armor, and carried only one sword. He narrowed his eyes as he met his older brother's gaze and noted the faint, gloating look there. What is this bastard up to?
Sesshoumaru examined his younger brother with interest. He has aged. He snorted softly. Weak hanyou blood. Pathetic. Not only do I now look the younger, but I have the Miko he lost because of his own stupidity. Even if it is just her body... if only in death, she belongs to me, and Inuyasha will hate that with all his soul, he will hate that I have her.
"Inuyasha. You look well."
"Let's cut the crap, Sesshoumaru. What the hell did you want with me? And why," he glanced at Kikyou, who'd so far been silent, "did I need to bring my mate?"
The daiyoukai raised a brow. "Still completely uncouth, I see, half-breed." He turned a mocking look in Kikyou's direction. "Have you not managed in the last four decades to teach him some manners? Or do you not have any yourself?"
Inuyasha bit back a growl, and waved Kikyou into silence as she was about to answer. She sat back with a huff. "Shut up, you bastard! I don't waste my time playing pretty boy. That's your job. Now what the fu--"
"Enough, Inuyasha." Sesshoumaru had a bored look on his face. "Be a boor on your own time. I didn't bring you here to trade childish insults with you. I have something that I am sure you," he turned a disdainful glance on Kikyou, "and you, will want to see. Follow me."
"Oi! What makes you think you've got anything I'd want anyway, Lord of Fleas?" Inuyasha stood up and folded his arms in front of him. "Why should I follow you? I don't trust you as far as I could throw you. So cut the bull and just tell me what it is already."
Sesshoumaru stopped in front of the doors, turning his head just slightly, he looked back at his brother from the corner of his eye. "You are beginning to show some intelligence, little brother. You should never trust me. However, if you don't follow me, I will merely force you to come - and I'd rather not fight inside the shiro."
Turning back and sliding the doors open, he moved through them. "As I said in my letter, the - item - that I have, is something that once belonged to you--"
"--So what is it? Why didn't you just return it already instead of this elaborate bullshit?" Inuyasha was getting more irritated by the minute with his brother's games, and wasn't sure how much longer he could keep a lid on his temper, as they followed him out of that wing of the shiro, and towards a smaller building that appeared to be seperate from the main estate. It was smaller and almost formally elaborate... like a shrine, and the closer they got to it, the more reluctant he became. He was almost positive he didn't want to know what was inside.
Sesshoumaru stopped before the doors of the shrine, and slowly turned to face his brother. He smiled, and everyone in the vicinity stepped back.
In that moment, Inuyasha was more afraid than he had ever been, and he knew, with the clarity that sometimes comes when a life-changing moment is at hand, that whatever this shrine held, the minute he stepped through the doors of this building, he would be irrevocably changed, and probably not for the better.
His brother locked eyes with him, still with that smile on his face, and softly answered his previous question. "But, Inuyasha... who said anything about returning it to you?" His tone was deadly, promising untold pain if he challenged him. "You didn't deserve it when you had it - and now, what's left of it is mine... and will be forever. The shikon no tama made sure of that."
Inuyasha's heart stopped. The Tama...!? Fear pounded through him, and he could feel Kikyou stiffen beside him, as a shocked breath escaped her. She stank of fear... and suddenly he wondered what she was so afraid of. What does she know about this...?
Sesshoumaru's smile widened, making his face look more wicked. She knows... and she's terrified... good. You should fear, bitch. You should, because I'm about to yank your life out from under you. It's time to pay the piper!
"Come, then, Inuyasha, if you have the courage. Or are you too weakened from living amongst honorless humans for so long?" His tone was deliberately snide, knowing that anger would make sure the hanyou followed him into the building.
Inuyasha drew in a deep breath, rage and fear combining to make him reckless. "Fuck you, asshole. I ain't afraid of nothin'. And if it's something that was mine, then I ain't gonna let you keep it, I'll fucking take it right out from under you!"
He slid the doors open, then stepped to the side, gesturing for them to step through. "Enter then, little brother. See what you came all this way to see."
Inuyasha pulled in a deep breath and moved forward, cursing his brother to hell in his mind. He grabbed Kikyou's arm as he passed, pulling her in along with him. She seemed oddly resistant, and he noted that she had not said one word since this had started. She was being far too quiet... and he didn't trust her silence one bit. Whatever's going on here, she's afraid of it.
He glanced around as he stepped across the threshold. It was a beautiful shrine, but what the hell was Sesshoumaru doing with a shrine on his estate? He was a youkai Lord. Youkai weren't overly religious beings, so this whole thing stank to high heaven.
Looking towards the front of the building, he could see an enormous slab of stone, and something lying on it. From the outline, he could tell it was a body, but whoever it was escaped him at the moment, because it was hidden beneath a swathe of gold-dyed silk.
A body? He stopped, his feet refusing to move any closer. His senses were screaming at him, but he knew he didn't want to know what they were trying to say.
Kikyou looked towards the strange alter, and stopped dead in her tracks, refusing to move one step closer. She knew what was under that cloth... Kami, she knew, and she'd never known such fear as what ran through her body at that moment. After all these years! How did this bastard find her? I thought she went back to her era!
Sesshoumaru turned a gloating look on her. He was enjoying the scent of her terror. She knew what was coming, and he was deliberately drawing it out, tormenting her with his knowledge.
"Why don't you tell Inuyasha what's under that cloth, woman?" His voice was deadly, soft, yet every syllable was clear and diamond hard, as if the very air of the shrine was magnifying his words, making the atmosphere shiver with their power.
She choked, glaring at the daiyoukai as Inuyasha spun towards her with suspicion. "You know... what's under that cloth, Kikyou?" His voice was hard, angry.
"She does... although she doesn't know how I have it - or why. But she fears - because now her sins will see the light of day, and in front of you, no less." He moved with deadly intent towards the slab, reaching out to the cloth and touching it with reverence, before pulling it away from the figure it covered.
She lurched forward with a breathless cry, wanting to stop what was coming, but unable to stop the Lord's motion as he pulled the cloth from the alter. She stopped as it slithered to the ground, and sank bonelessly to the floor, her eyes glued to the alter with horror.
The sound of the silk hitting the floor echoed loudly in the sudden, shocked silence of the room. No one moved, indeed, the only one to even breathe was Sesshoumaru himself, as the other two people in the building froze, completely unable to face what they were seeing, although for very different reasons.
In the moment the person on the alter was revealed, Inuyasha died. Everything that had made him who he was up until that point, turned to dust. Helplessly locked onto the body of the woman, his soul withered, pain almost swallowing his consciousness entirely.
As reality returned to his mind with a wrench that almost felled him, he turned a shocked and enraged glare on his brother, ready to kill him. Voice guttural, hands desperately clutching Tessaiga's hilt, he spoke. "How. did. you. get. her."
Kikyou was still on the ground, and at the sound of her mate's voice, she began to tremble with fear. In all the years they'd been together, he'd never transformed, she'd only heard about it from Sango and Miroku's stories, but there was no question in her mind at that moment that that is what was about to happen, and she was frankly terrified. The only one who'd ever been able to calm his youkai rage was lying dead on the slab behind him.
Sesshoumaru watched with detached interest as his brother's youkai began to manifest. Jagged blue stripes writhed into existance on his face, and his eyes began to bleed red... He looks so much like father in his youkai form. The thought flashed idly through his mind, before being dismissed as unimportant to the moment. He was enjoying this scene more than he'd even thought possible. It had definitely been worth all the trouble to watch his brother's suffering.
And suffering he was, as a nearly youkai Inuyasha turned his enraged gaze on the woman still sitting on the floor. "What part in this abomination did you play, Kikyou? You're too afraid to be innocent. I want answers now!"
Her wide-eyed gaze fixated on his, she just shook her head, too frightened to even begin to be able to speak, and he howled in rage, turning his burning gaze on his brother. "Answer me, Sesshoumaru. The time for your games is over! What the hell are you doing with her? She isn't yours! How dare you have her!"
Sesshoumaru smirked, moving past the enraged youkai calmly, and reached out to Kagome. He ran his hand gently down her peaceful face, before looking back at his brother. "Why do you care, Inuyasha? You threw her away for a life with a tainted, deceitful bitch that had to steal souls to survive. Didn't anyone ever tell you, you fool, that once you throw something away, it is no longer yours? So what right do you have to question me?"
Inuyasha clenched his jaw, straining to hold onto his sanity, the enraged youkai side of him wanting nothing more than to kill the two people in the room with him, grab Kagome's body, and run, but the rational side of his mind wanted answers, and he knew the only way to get them was to play his brother's game. After he had them, though... all bets were off. He knew he couldn't kill Kikyou, she was his mate, and the mother of his children, but any caring he had had for her was now gone, only a soul-deep sense of betrayal left in it's place.
Because he knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that whatever reason Kagome's body was here, was because of her. And it was time to find out exactly what was going on.
"Out with it, bastard," he snarled. "Start gloating. I know that's what you want, you want me to suffer, but the only way I'll do that is if you tell me what's going on, so get to it."
Sesshoumaru turned his head away from Kagome, glancing back at his brother, nodding slowly. "You are correct. I want you to suffer... you and that bitch you mated. So I will tell you why you are here, and why," he looked back down at Kagome's body, "she is here." He ignored his brother's growled demand to back away and stop touching her completely, continueing to run his fingers over her cheeks for a full minute, before sighing and turning to face the two other people in the room.
A disgusted look washed across his face at the sight of Kikyou. She had started to cry, and Sesshoumaru was well aware that it wasn't from any feeling of guilt for her part in the whole thing... it was only because she felt sorry for herself. Selfish bitch, he thought, hatred for the woman seething through him.
Raising his gaze back up to the hanyou, he began. "I first ran across her thirty-five years ago, in the far northern mountains. She was the miko for a tiny village there, and I happened to be traveling through. She was gathering herbs in a small field, I remember." He shook his head, obviously lost in the memories, and Inuyasha was enraged that the smug bastard had shared moments with Kagome that he had had no part of. She was mine, damn him!
He continued on, in an almost dreamy manner, fully aware of the direction of Inuyasha's thoughts. He knew that his tone of intimacy towards the young miko would further enrage his brother, and deliberately exaggerated it.
"I was, of course, astounded, having thought that she had returned to her own time, just like everyone else, so I questioned her as to her continued presence here. This is what she told me."
His gaze sharpened then, and he locked eyes with his brother. "When you requested that she wish for the return of your dead bitch, she agreed, for love of you," he spat out, as if the thought of that left a bad taste in his mouth. "However, she knew that the moment she made the wish, the well would close, and she would be trapped here." He narrowed his eyes, hatred finally bleeding into his gaze and making his brother flinch.
"You see, that abomination you call a mate," he smirked as she flinched, "had accrued quite the karmic debt for her evil actions after she was revived. Siding with Naraku, trying to kill her own re-incarnation, stealing the souls of innocents, even her attempts to drag you to hell... all of those actions were deemed wrong, and she was supposed to die again, and work off her debt through her next several incarnations." He broke off, staring hard at the woman on the floor, eyes narrowed and finger-tips beginning to glow as his anger began to bleed through his control.
"But she is selfish, and wanted to live again, whatever the cost," he lowered his voice, grating out the next part, "since she had no intention of paying for any of her actions." He snapped his gaze back to Inuyasha, who was also glaring down at Kikyou, consciously making an effort to calm himself, bleeding his acid whip back into his fingertips. "Oh, no... she knew that Kagome would end up paying, because she knew that the miko loved you enough to pay any price for your happiness!"
His lip curled with disdain. "Look at me, Inuyasha! I want to see your face as I bring your world down around your ears! For forty years, you had happiness, and life, all at the expense of the woman whose body lies behind me on that slab!"
"What the fuck did she do, Sesshoumaru?" Inuyasha's will was eroding fast, and he didn't know how much longer he could hold back the youkai within. "Just tell me!"
"She made that wish, knowing full well that the price for this filthy bitch's crimes would be shouldered by her, since she was her re-incarnation, Inuyasha. She paid for your happiness with her own!"
His youkai half rejoiced at his brother's pained howl fiercely. He could feel the fool's pain in his aura, which was flaring wildly, completely overwhelmed with the knowledge of what he had done when he'd asked for the unnatural return of someone who should rightfully have been sent back to her grave.
Inuyasha's thoughts rang with the voice of Kaede, who had many times over the years after her sister's original resurrection, voiced that very belief, and now, he knew that she should have been... but it was far, far too late for the young woman who lay before him, beautiful in death even as she had been in life.
His voice low and broken, he asked, "How was she punished, Sesshoumaru? You've told me everything else, you may as well finish." He glanced disinterestedly at Kikyou. "You, I'll deal with after I know everything."
Sesshoumaru turned back to Kagome's body, voice and expression once again calm. "The first thing she suffered was the loss of her family, her way home. The well closed, trapping her here, five hundred years away from them. Unable to bear the thought of sticking around there and watching your happy life with that abomination, she chose to leave and find a new place. That's how she ended up at the village I eventually found her at."
"The second thing she suffered was the loss of her future." His voice was low, venomous. "She was a social creature, Inuyasha, was she not? She wanted nothing more in her life than a mate, and children, and the love of her friends. Guess what she never got? She spent the last forty years alone, you fool, and it hurt her in a way that you will never understand... that none of us can ever truly understand. Her aura spoke of nothing but pain every time I saw her."
Shaking his head, he flicked a golden gaze at his brother, hate the only remaining emotion in his eyes. "You never deserved her, Inuyasha, but she loved you till the day she died... and she paid a price for that that no one should ever have to pay. She suffered, for forty years." He looked back down at the bier, his eyes softening as he looked at her. "Finally, on Mid-winter's night, she decided she no longer wished to hurt, and willed herself to death."
A pleased expression crossed his face as he noted the tears running down the anguished face of the hanyou brother he mortally despised. Good, Inuyasha... I want to see you suffer! You deserve every ounce of pain that I can give you.
"Do you know why she still looks as young, as beautiful as she did the last time you saw her, why she had to will herself to death?"
"No." A whisper of sound, nothing more, anguish laced liberally through it.
"Because, as the Shikon Miko, she became immortal. But in her pain, she could not face eternity, so she willed herself to death, with the hope that maybe in her next incarnation, she would be able to find happiness."
Sesshoumaru sighed with contentment, knowing that his vengeance was complete. He could see the hatred running through his brother's aura, hatred for himself, and hatred for the female still cowering on the floor. She hadn't moved or spoken once in all this time, fear for her life evident in her face. He watched as the final moments of the drama he had orchestrated played out with satisfaction humming through his body.
Inuyasha lowered his head, refusing to even dignify Kikyou with eye contact as he spoke. "Leave, wench. Go home, and live your life, the life you bought at the expense of another... but live the rest of it without me, because I never want to see you again."
She gasped, reaching out to him in shock. "But, Inuyasha... what about our children? Our lives, everything we've worked towards--"
He cut her off. "I will return once to the village, Kikyou, where I will tell our children what you did... and say my goodbyes. I have no interest in sharing a life with you any longer. The only thing I care to share is her death... and I will. Once I have settled my affairs, I will leave."
His face showed nothing but hate for her, and she shrank back, tears running down her face as she realised that fate had finally caught up with her - and it's name was Sesshoumaru. She turned a hateful gaze on the daiyoukai, at that moment not caring that she could be staring death in the face.
"Why do you care so much about that useless bitch," she spat out. "I thought you hated humans, and yet, it seems that you show a great deal of emotion for a simple-minded little wretch!"
Sesshoumaru moved in a blur of white, grabbing her off the floor by the throat. "You will not speak of her in that tone, filth, or I will wrench your head off your shoulders and watch you die with pleasure." He dropped her, disgust crossing his face, the touch of her flesh on his hands making him feel soiled.
"Leave, Kikyou. I won't tell you again." Inuyasha had not moved to defend her in any way as his brother choked her, merely watching with a dead expression. Turning an empty gaze on Sesshoumaru, he asked, "The question she asked still begs to be answered, bastard. Why do you care about Kagome and what happened to her?"
Sesshoumaru smiled again, a wicked, gleaming smile. "I intend to find her in her next incarnation. And when I do... I will mate her." His eyes gleamed in the rather dim lighting inside the shrine, a flash of red clearly visible. "She will be mine, Inuyasha, mine for the rest of eternity, and you.... you will be left with nothing." He turned his back on a shocked hanyou, once again caressing her face.
"That is as it should always be. You didn't deserve her back then, and you never will deserve her. All you have ever done is cause her pain. Your loss... will be my gain."
Sesshoumaru's words hit him with all the force of an explosion, and Inuyasha felt the last of his heart spasm and die at the realization that his brother was right. He didn't deserve her, and he never would. He had forfeited his right to her for all eternity, and in that moment of realization, he wished that his very soul could be destroyed - because he could not face the thought of an eternal cycle of birth and re-birth with no chance of ever being with her again.
Moving slowly, as if he were thousands of years old instead of only a few centuries, he walked past Kikyou as if she weren't even there, eyes locked on the beautiful woman lying cold and still in front of him. Kagome...
Kikyou pulled herself to her feet, hand around her throat as the pain of the grip the daiyoukai had had on her began to manifest. Glaring at the two males, then casting a poisonous, hateful glance at Kagome's body, she spun on her heel and began to leave.
"Woman." She paused, turning angrily to face the tall, silver-haired youkai standing so close to her reincarnation's body.
"For your part in this, I will make sure the lands and all those within them know of your dishonor. You will be shunned - I guarantee it. It is time you learn what it is to be alone."
She laughed disgustedly, glaring at both males, rage strengthening her backbone. "Do you really think I care what anyone else thinks? My children, and the people in my home will not turn against me, so what do I care if people I never see hate me? I will not be alone, Lord of the West," her tone scathing, "no matter what you do."
Sesshoumaru glanced up at her, speaking in a soft, deadly, satisfied voice. "Oh but they will, wench. Because if they do not, I will destroy their village and kill everyone within it."
She drew in a shocked, disbelieving breath. "Kagome would never have approved of what you have done, nor what you are threatening to do! So how can you say you are doing this in her name?"
There was a blur of movement again, and she suddenly found herself flung through the open door of the shrine, landing hard several yards away. "You have no right to question anything I do, bitch, or claim any mercy from me in her name! I am well aware she would not approve... but I am not doing this for her approval."
He snorted with disgust. "I am doing this to see justice served. This Sesshoumaru is well aware that she would not have wanted, nor asked for it, not because you don't deserve it, but because she had too much mercy, too much love in her heart. That is why I am extracting justice... because I have no mercy for you, or the fool I call a brother." He turned away from her, dismissing her callously. "Leave now."
Inuyasha was still standing in front of Kagome, simply staring at her, unable to even bring himself to touch her. My beautiful Kagome... why did you allow yourself all this pain, for my sake? I wasn't worth it, his heart cried out, I was never worth it!
He glanced flatly at his brother. The daiyoukai's bolts of poison had made direct hits on the hanyou's soul, so much so that he could not even find it in himself to hate him for what he had done. He actually agreed with his brother... he did deserve to suffer for his stupidity.
"What do you want from me, Sesshoumaru?"
"Nothing more, Inuyasha. I have all that I wanted from this meeting... your suffering, and her damnation." He smirked at his brother. "I have no doubt she will eventually take her own life. It may take a while, but sooner or later, the hatred I will make sure follows her around will tear her apart, and even that, as far as I am concerned, will never be enough."
"And why aren't you threatening me with the same?"
"Because your crime was lesser. You were merely guilty of stupidity. She, on the other hand, was guilty of deliberate maliciousness, greed, and hatefulness towards Kagome, all triggered by jealousy of the better incarnation. That is why."
He looked at his brother, still with a smirk on his face. "Besides, Inuyasha. You will punish yourself far better than I ever could, and for a much longer period of time, as well. I have no doubt you will continue to suffer... so I have no further need of your presence. Take one last, long look, brother - because you will never see her again. Burn her image into your heart, into your soul... then leave. And may the Kami have mercy on you someday, you fool - because I never will."
Inuyasha's ears flattened to his head. His youkai side screamed at him to grab her body and run - but he knew that his brother was right. He didn't deserve her... and he couldn't bring himself to touch her because of that. He deserved to suffer, and so, following Sesshoumaru's words to the letter, he took one long, last look at her... then turned and walked away, a broken man. Tears ran down his face, but he didn't even notice, nor would he have cared if he had.
Sesshoumaru reached down and grabbed the gold cloth from where it had fallen at the beginning, and folding it gently, place it back over her, pulling it up under her chin, leaving only her face uncovered. "It is finished, Kagome. I know you would be angry with me... but I could not fathom seeing them live lifetimes of happiness at the expense of your own. For every action, Kagome... you know the saying, and it's intrinsic truth." He sighed then, calm filtering through him, and turned away.
The proud daiyoukai walked out of the shrine, sliding the doors closed, he stayed that way for a moment... hands still, and mind calm.
Vengeance is a dish best served cold, as the saying goes. But I have found that it works hot just as well. And that justice oftentimes wears the same face. Sleep well, Kagome. One day, I will find you again.
He finally moved away from the building, and walked back to his study. He knew he didn't need to pay any heed to his brother, or his brother's wench, ever again, fully confident in the damage he had inflicted, and his predictions as to their fate.
Besides... it really matters not exactly what happens to them - since the only thing I cared for was to destroy the lives they have now, and I surely did that.
Face once again expressionless, he moved through the doors to his study, and walked to the window behind his desk. Hands folded neatly behind his back, he stared outside for several minutes, allowing an almost meditative calm to permeate his mind. A memory came to him... something Kagome herself had once told him.
"Two wrongs don't make a right, Lord Sesshoumaru. But you know, sometimes justice isn't fair. Sometimes what it takes to balance the scales is worse than the actual crime itself... and only breeds more hatred in the long run. If you seek justice for something, be sure that it truly is worth the price."
He smiled slightly. It was worth the price, Kagome, I promise you it was. Funny enough, I find that I have no further interest in the two of them anymore. Let them dig the rest of their graves themselves... I've already done most of the work.
He turned from the window and closed the door on his vengeance. It was time to move on to other things.
Winter was, after all, now over, and spring was well underway.