A/N: Sure hope you like Sess/Kag. Please let me know what you think. Enjoy!
Kirara lifted her head, her scarlet eyes clouded with accusation as she stared at the young woman.
"Please! Kirara!" the young woman whispered frantically, shooting a wary glance at her sleeping comrades. "You know as well as I do that they can't take much more of this. I can't… I can't stay."
The lower youkai looked down at the human who was currently curled up right next to her, pained creases haunting the corner of her eyes even as she slept.
Perhaps had it not been Sango who had almost been killed earlier that day, the cat youkai would have awakened her companions. Maybe she would have even tried to stop the young miko herself.
But the scent of Sango's spilled blood, coppery and fresh, still hung in the night air, the smell so incredibly poignant, so inescapable, that Kirara could almost taste it in her dried mouth.
While she loved them all, even the woman who hovered at the edge of camp with the battered sword strapped to her hip, Sango was hers: her mother, her father, her brother and sister. The young exterminator, in her soft, silent way, had become the youkai's entire world.
And knowing that had the creature they had battled just hours before could have easily killed the girl instead of nicking her chest was enough to make Kirara restless. So, instead, the cat had remained awake, listening to the soothing cadence of Sango's heart, each pulse as beautiful as a song to her ears.
"Kirara-chan," the woman sighed, her slender calves shaking even as she kneeled by the flickering heat of the fire. "They won't stop coming, you know. It calls out to them. It draws them closer. And they won't stop until they get it, not even if they have to kill every last one of us to do it."
A muted growl escaped Kirara's furred throat, knowing the girl spoke the truth and yet, it didn't seem right to let the miko run off to face the danger alone.
"What happened to Sango-chan today… what happened…" the girl paused, taking a choked breath as her eyes fell to the leaping flames of the campfire. Lifting her head to the heavens, she struggled to regain her control. "What happened to Inuyasha last week won't stop, Kirara-chan. Not until I'm gone."
"Inuyasha is dead," Kagome bit out firmly, her head shaking from side to side as she gazed upon her beloved friends. "And I'm not gonna stand here and let them get killed, too, because I was stupid enough to shatter the damn jewel in the first place."
"Kirara, please. For Miroku and Shippo. For Sango. Don't wake them. Don't lead them to me," the girl requested, fumbling with the ancient sword awkwardly. "Hey, I'm the reincarnation of an extremely powerful miko, right? I can do this. I can find the last few shards by myself."
The youkai just stared at Kagome, wishing not for the first time that her body allowed speech.
It wasn't your fault, Kagome, Kirara wanted to say. I miss Inuyasha, too, but running off to the gods know where in the middle of the night won't do any good. Getting yourself killed won't bring him back.
"Three more shards, I think. At most, four and then the jewel will be completed. Just four more. I can do that. And once it's completed…"
Had her bone structure allowed it, Kirara would have frowned at the way Kagome refused to look at her.
She's planning something… something she doesn't want us to know about.
"Once it's completed, the jewel can finally be used and destroyed forever."
How could a phrase be so innocuous yet so ominous at the same time? Kirara shook her head as she stood up, careful not to wake the precious human at her side.
With the grace of her feline cousins, Kirara made her way over to the woman, careful not to step on the sleeping figures strewn across the forest floor. She nudged the small, white hand that dangled at Kagome's side, hoping the girl would understand.
All of us, Kirara thought as she enjoyed the way the miko's hand scratched behind her furry ear, all of us would die for you, Kagome. All of us love you. You don't need to struggle alone.
"I don't think I could live knowing I caused you guys to be hurt. Maybe even killed," Kagome whispered as she knelt upon the moist ground, her hands encircling the youkai's lean body. "You may not agree with me, Kirara-chan. I know. But please, let me do this. It's my choice. I mean, I wouldn't leave if I didn't know I could finish reassembling the shikon no tama."
Instinctively, Kagome touched the small bulge beneath her shirt, almost as if she were checking to make certain the sphere was still there. Her hand trembled even as the girl exhaled in relief.
"I've been thinking about this since… for a week now, Kirara. I know I'm doing the right thing. It's the only chance I have. It's the only chance he has."
Kirara blinked as she took a step back, the golden fur on her back spiking as she finally deduced the reasons that lay beneath the woman's softly spoken urgency.
No. You can't. It won't be the same, Kagome-chan. It can't be the same, Kirara thought, shaking her head as she watched the way the flames shadowed the girl's face.
"I'm leaving, Kirara," the miko stated, her lithe form straightening proudly as she stood up. "For everything we've gone through together, I'm asking you now: don't wake them. Please. Let me just do this, Kirara. Just give me two months. That's all I ask."
The youkai sighed, the sound weary and hopeless.
Taking that as a sign of agreement, Kagome smiled brightly as she fingered the jewel that rested so innocently around her neck.
"Yes, two months. That's all I need. That gives me two to three weeks per shard. That's plenty of time," the miko murmured, almost as if she didn't even remember that the cat youkai was still there.
Even if you succeed, Kagome-chan, it won't be as you imagine. Once life changes like this, you can never change it back. You can wish upon the shikon no tama… you could even wish on a thousand of them, but it will not change what has happened, Kirara reflected as the sheer hope in the girl's pretty features turned so brilliant that it was painful to even look at her.
"Just two months," Kagome whispered as she slowly walked out into the foreign night. "Just two months and I can use the shikon no tama to bring Inuyasha back."
"I can't come?" the child asked, her cherubic face tightened by disappointment as she gazed up at the tall youkai.
He looked down at her, the look in her trusting brown eyes hitting a chord deep within. Perhaps her eyes were a little too dark for the comparison, but at times, they looked so much alike.
But then, since he found out just an hour before, the lord Sesshoumaru had been seeing his deceased brother's face everywhere he looked. Especially, though, in the eyes of the child who stood before him.
It wasn't a mere arrow that had done the deed to the hanyou this time, something that could be easily plucked from the chest and tossed into the fire, only to be forgotten. It wasn't a spell or a potion.
No. According to the flea, the hanyou… his brother… had been torn to pieces in the defense of his friends.
He flexed his single hand, his golden eyes resting on the white skin in almost wonder. How many times had he lashed this very same hand out at his younger sibling in anger? How many times had these sharpened claws drew his brother's blood?
"Rin, remain here and finish your studies."
He knew he should discipline the girl for her lack of easy obedience, but for some reason, he was unable to. It was almost as if a demonic leech had settled over his entire being and sucked out every ounce of his energy, leaving him with nothing but this strange need to visit the place where his brother had fallen.
"For me, Rin. Remain here," he said, only to feel slightly amused by the girl's eager nod.
"Remain with Rin," he commanded as he walked towards the door, his head held high. "See to it that she learns how to write my name before my return."
"Sesshoumaru-sama?" the toad squeaked.
Ignoring Jaken's crestfallen face at the realization he would be left behind as well, Sesshoumaru walked out from within the castle and out into the world beyond.
The last member of his family was now dead, Sesshoumaru thought, a frown upon his lips as he looked up into the moonlit sky. Inuyasha. Didn't he hate the hanyou? Hadn't he hoped to cause his brother's death for years now? Now that it actually happened, he could claim Tetsusaiga for his own without having to worry about the hanyou's fragile mental state. Now, the way to power was free and clear.
But all Sesshoumaru could think of was the young child with the piercing golden eyes that had once dogged his every step- the same child who had declared at the precocious age of six that he wanted to grow up to be exactly like his big brother.
Inuyasha was gone. Dead to the coward in the baboon suit.
The ironic thing was, though, that only two hours before, Sesshoumaru had thought that there was no way in the world that he could be more alone than he already was.
Who would have ever known that he had been wrong?
A/N: Sorry if Sesshoumaru is a little out of character. He'll get better. Really.