Author: Celyia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Note: I don't know where the hell this story came from. Call it temporary insanity. Also, this may be a bit depressing. I hate writing stuff like this, so I may end up writing another chapter. But at this point, I'm just gonna say this is a one-shot.
Thanks for reading!
Mailing List: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/celyia
Vines, twisted and gnarled from eighty years of unceasing growth, had long ago wrapped their coarse limbs around his aching body, strangling all movement even as he struggled and fought to free himself from their clutches.
"You have no heart," the woman wrinkled her nose, her heart-shaped face crestfallen even as she placed a warm hand on his bound chest. Those wide brown eyes, so full of life and more than a bit of compassion, stared up at him. "I don't mean to be cruel, but you really don't have a heart."
Whether it was weariness from being bound to the tree, or perhaps it was from the constant pain in his chest from the purified arrow that pierced it, Sesshoumaru actually shook his head. "Release me, human."
"Don't you know? Can't you see?" Sighing, she pressed her head against his chest, snuggling in between the thick vines that trapped him so. "I cannot do a damn thing for you. I would, you know, but the only one who can do anything right now is you."
"Woman," Sesshoumaru growled, his hands flexing as he tried to break free of the brown vines. "Do you not think if I were capable of moving, I would have? I have spent too long here. Release me."
"It's amazing, really. You are not dead," she spoke softly, a slender hand pushing away the stray lock of wavy, black hair as she continued to listen to his chest. "Yet, I don't hear your heart beat... hence why I don't think you possess one."
Sesshoumaru closed his eyes, the intense frustration of the last few minutes making him wish he could break free even just long enough to kill the annoying girl. Yet, no matter how much of the poisonous acid he allowed to drip from his overgrown claws, not a single drop strayed from its descent to the ivy-smothered ground.
"How long have you been here for?"
"How long will you remain?"
"Forever," he admitted ruefully, a part of him wishing for the strength to keep up the guise of indifference, yet too exhausted to continue.
"That's really so sad. For the both of us, you know," the young woman sighed, a hand raising up to tenderly cup his cheek. "It's just pointless to say this without you having a heart, but I'll say it anyway- I could have loved you. I know I could have."
The frown inched across his thin lips as he nodded once, refusing to allow himself to hear the hopeless regret in her words. He was not quite sure why her soft voice filled him with a certain sadness, but he was honest enough to realize that he couldn't continue to listen to her if he wished to preserve what little of his sanity that remained.
"Release me," he demanded, hoping the strength of his voice would coerce the woman into action.
"Sesshoumaru, I would love to, but I can't. You know that."
"Please. Release me. I am so tired. I do not wish to ... " he broke off, his teeth grinding as he attempted to regain his rapidly vanishing control.
"Do not lie to me, woman! You saved my brother. Why do you refuse to assist me?"
Silently, she stroked her hand across his shoulders, the realization only coming to him at that moment that he possessed both hands. Still, he shrugged the discovery off as Kagome slipped her hand beneath the cloth gathered in a wrinkled bunch at his neck.
"Your brother didn't crucify himself," she said matter-of-factly, her fingers rubbing in soft, hot circles over his clavicle. "You've been like this before I was born and if you don't break free, you'll be like this even after I die."
The frown intensified as he attempted to banish the thought of her annoying and yet strangely alluring smile gone forever.
"Oh, no faces like that!" Kagome suddenly laughed, the sound sweet if a bit high-pitched. Impulsively, she bent forward and pressed her lips briefly against his cheek, the pressure teasing his skin with the oddest tingling sensation even after she pulled away. "You know I will die. I will never be a youkai. I can never turn into a hanyou. I have every intention of leading a full life, but it will not be a long one. Well, not in your terms, anyway."
No. It would not be a long one.
It was so easy to stand there, his head lolled against the reassuring strength of the tree as he suddenly decided it was a mistake to even think about leaving the security of his bonds. No. While the tight way the vines burrowed into his skin and stifled movement was uncomfortable in the extreme, he...
He closed his eyes, refusing to look at the woman who was currently trying to usurp his attention with one of her easy smiles.
No, he preferred it this way. There was positively no reason to put himself through the inevitable discomfort for only a good - he opened his eyes momentarily to gauge the woman's age - fifty years of contentment.
"Coward," she giggled, her hands resting on both of his shoulders to support herself as she stood on the tips of her toes. "You are the all-powerful youkai. You are the one who is supposed to be the strong one, here. But nooooo, you had to refuse to unshelter your soul. You had to refuse to use your heart," Kagome sighed, her vivid eyes dimmed by emotion as she continued. "Well, congratulations. I think you've finally lost it."
His head fell forward, the breath escaping from his lungs at the flippancy of her words.
"I do not need a heart," he lied, his voice sounding strained and coarse even to his own ears. "Spare me your pity. Just release me."
"I'm trying, Sesshou! I'm trying! But you are being too damn stubborn to even listen to a word I'm saying," she cried out, her nails digging into his skin as she tried desperately to get him to look at her. "Don't you get it? You cannot become free until you are willing to take the risk. You will always be there, forced to watch life pass you by, forced to remain immoveable and miserable until the day you discover that it was all for nothing."
"You do not understand," he grunted, his body arching as much as the vines would allow. "You would not be the one forced to hold the pieces after this world of clay shatters. You would have me for the rest of your life, but me? I would be remain alone, even worse for having let my heart be broken."
"So, instead, you choose to break the both of us because you are too scared of knowing that after I die, you will have to mourn."
Sesshoumaru snorted, the wry smile usurping his lips as he allowed his eyes to fall upon the girl's angry visage. Somehow, seeing her flashing eyes and strained lips only filled him with the strangest feeling of affection.
"You would never break, Kagome. You know that as well as I. If you are not with me, you would be happy with another."
She turned around, her back pressed up against his chest even as her head tilted back.
"I would be," she admitted softly, the gentle humour that had long threaded through her voice finally gone. "Although, my heart lies with you ..."
"You do not even know me."
She giggled again, her head resting at the swell of his chest as she stroked her fingers along his arm absently.
"No, at this point, no more than you know me. But can we ignore the truth, though? From the moment we first met, could you deny the connection? Don't answer that, actually. I know you did. I know you still do. Still, though it would be easier to admit that this ... this draw between both our souls does not exist, it doesn't mean it's not there."
"So I am doomed to spend my night hours listening to your inane words as you lecture me."
"Yes, you are."
He nearly smiled at the petulant tone of her voice; the way her grudging sense of humour shone through even her mildly hurt feelings.
"I don't believe it. Did I just hear your heart beat?"
Kagome sighed, nuzzling her head into his chest one last time before she stepped away.
"I ... well, I suppose it was too much to hope for."
"You are leaving?" his voice broke, choked as she took another step further from him. He took a deep breath in a vain attempt to regain his control, but the sad look she gave him destroyed all hope of that.
"Sesshou, I would love to stay. I would," Kagome smiled even though he could see her eyes were filled with a heartbreaking sadness. "But life goes on and I must go with it."
"But it is too early. You normally stay all night."
The girl shrugged, nervously tugging on a straggle of black hair that had the misfortune to fall into her eyes.
"You know this has been coming for a long time, Sesshoumaru. I am kind of tired myself. I want to be loved. I want to marry. I want to have children to hug and grandchildren to tell stories to. I want ... I want so much out of life and I'm not going to get any of it if I allow it to pass me by. I don't want to hurt you. You know that. But I have an opportunity right now and ..."
"Not my brother," he interrupted, knowing his face blanched white and not giving a damn.
"No," she chuckled, her gentle eyes piercing through his sudden jealousy. "Not your brother. It is no one you know."
"So this is it, Kagome?" he couldn't stop himself from asking, hating only himself more than the unnamed competition. "I have lost you before I have even found you?"
For the first time that night, he saw the shimmering of her eyes as she fought with herself to keep back the tears.
"It's not like this is the first time we've..."
"Do not pretend you do not understand my meaning, Kagome," he growled, only to ignore the twisting in his stomach as she took a step closer to him and his prison. "Please give me that, at least."
She nodded, her hands wringing anxiously even as her beautiful face, so filled with sorrow and compassion, stared kindly at him.
"I have done all that I can do, Sesshou. It is up to you now. Meet me, please? Meet me halfway."
"What about him? Won't he...?"
Her musical laughter tinkled through the air as she came closer, only to wrap her arms around his waist the best she could.
"I've tried everything I could think of to break through that stubborn wall you have up around you and after that, after all this time, you mean the only thing I needed to do was tell you about him?" Kagome grinned, pausing only long enough drop a kiss over where his heart should have been.
"Who is he?" Sesshoumaru demanded, wishing more than anything that he could move his hands so he could force her chin up to look him in the eyes.
"Just a boy I know," she mumbled, her fingers dancing over the silky texture of his hair as if it were truly the flowing ice it resembled.
She shook her head, the movement abrupt and vehement.
"Do we have to go through this, Sesshou?" she asked, the quiet tone floating to him on the breeze, almost as if were too exhausted to make it to him itself.
"I have the right..."
"No," the woman interrupted, her palm shoved towards him as if that simple gesture could stay his words. "No, you don't. You gave that up the moment you decided to remain here."
"Have you not been listening? You have the power: I have seen it myself. So why will you not free me? I do not wish to be bound here," he snarled, the anger in his voice complemented by the frustrated flush on his normally pale face. The words came out in a rush, almost as if the rickety dam that had held them back for so many years finally burst, flooding his entire soul with emotion. "Do you need me to tell you that I am powerless? Do you want me to beg you, to lay prostrate at your feet until you decide that you can help me? I will. I will hate you for it, but I will."
"Is your pride really worth that?" Kagome sighed, the beauty of her dark eyes tainted by her pity.
"My pride is all I have."
She chuckled, the sound brutal in its sheer frustration.
"As long as you see it that way, you will always remain there, Sesshou." Her hand splayed across her face, hiding those beautifully expressive eyes from his hungry consumption.
"The heartless thing... I said it before only to rile you. To help you," she admitted, the tears finally loosed from their bonds only to be trapped upon the smooth satin of her cheeks. "But you haven't broken free. You still will not let go. You still will not let yourself love me."
He turned his head towards the sky, unwilling to see the sheer anguish on her face.
"I cannot, Kagome. I am sorry, but I cannot."
"I know. I think I've always known, but I had to try anyway," the goodbye came in a voice choked with emotion, raw and hurt with possibilities of what should have been and what would now never be. His head snapped up, just in time to watch as her formerly solid body became translucent.
"Kagome! Don't!" he panted, his voice rising as she started to slowly fade into oblivion. For a moment, he thought he saw a slight smile part her lips, but he couldn't say for certain. "Please! I will change. Give me time to change. Please."
"No. You aren't. If you were, you would be here, holding me right now instead of bound to the tree."
"I love you, Sesshoumaru," she whispered, her voice surprisingly strong even as her body was hardly visible. "I love you for what we could have had."
With that, the love of his life vanished.
He sat up, his head automatically falling forward to his hands as he tried to ignore the unsettling way his blood rushed through his tensed body. He hated that. Sesshoumaru had long convinced himself there was nothing more disturbing than these frequent dreams that he could never remember and yet, always had such a profound effect on both his body and mind. But he was wrong.
His single hand clutched over his rapidly pounding heart as his mind screamed at him, revolting at the empty sensation in his chest, with the sudden knowledge that he just lost something he never had the opportunity to know, something more important and more precious than life itself.
And that realization alone scared the hell out of him.
He blinked uncertainly as Rin's sleepy voice escaped her throat, the words spoken with affection and concern.
"Sleep now, Rin."
"You okay, Sesshoumaru-sama? You look really sad," she yawned as she scooted in closer to his warm body, oblivious to his discomfort at her words.
"For me, Rin. Just sleep."
The girl nodded, her head suddenly nuzzled into his chest in an achingly familiar way. Why it touched him, why it made him unable to push her away, he didn't know and he didn't want to question. So, unwilling to stop himself, he ran his fingers through her soft, messy hair.
If she felt surprise at the unfamiliar sign of affection, she did not show it at all.
"I like this, Sesshoumaru-sama," she sighed contentedly, her chubby hands clasped together in a rather endearing manner at his neck. "I like listening to the way your heart beats."
Instinctively, he closed his eyes, curiosity forcing him to listen to the elusive sound he had never before considered in the past. The smile was sudden - stubborn - as he listened to the innocent thudding of Rin's pure heart as it melded with his own, stable beat.
At one point in time, he would have never touched a child with such affection. At one point, he would have just dropped her at the closest village and pushed the fact of her existence out of his mind.
At one time, he had been absolutely heartless.
The corners of his golden eyes crinkled as he looked at the sleeping child resting so peacefully next to him. Somewhere along the line, life had changed so drastically and he had changed along with it.
And as he listened to the steady rhythm of their beating hearts, Sesshoumaru knew he was changing still.
Hope you liked that! :-) If you have a minute, could you let me know what you think? Thanks!