Grey Eyes And Golden Nightmares
Kagome watched with a bizarre sense of helplessness as Naraku threw Inuyasha with blurring force against the cliffs surrounding his latest hiding place. Her heart was in her throat as she watched the impact, her mind distant and filled with the compelling pulse of something that she couldn't see. All she knew was the steady, undeniable force resting on her soul and holding her in place.
She watched mouths moving, but heard nothing. She could feel the ground trembling beneath her, but she still remained still and impassive, completely unmoved at the edge of the violent fighting. They were all there in front of her, fighting a desperate, but losing battle as Naraku held the completed Shikon tauntingly before them.
Kagome wanted to look away from the sight, to follow her friends, but her eyes were drawn and held to the smoky orb whirling above his palm as though an invisible band held them connected. She followed the jewel hypnotically, not noticing the stray ripples of energy tearing at her clothing and causing welts and gashes to rise along her almost colorless flesh.
'You know what happens next, miko.'
Her eyes widened at the whisper, the only sound penetrating the haze that seemed to surround her mind. She opened her mouth to deny it, but the words wouldn't make the journey from her thought to her lips.
She COULD see it.
Kagome gasped and fell back a step in horror as everything in front of her split and smeared, separate images overlapping what was already before her. Inuyasha had screamed angrily and launched himself at Naraku again, but abruptly changed course when Kagura attacked the remnant soul of Kikyou he had recalled to a new temporary body. Only to have the copycat Kikyou fire a shot that pierced his shoulder and sent him reeling into Naraku's restricting hold. Miroku was on his knees, sweating under the debilitating effects of the poisoned bees while Sango valiantly pushed her exhausted body to defend them.
She could see them dying.
Kagome raised her hands and screamed.
It may have been denial, or a warning, or even something as simple as pure rage at the thought of their deaths, not even Kagome was certain at that moment. But with the wordless cry, the scene in front of her gave a crystalline "chink" and instantly froze.
Kagome blinked in surprise, staring down at her hands and back up to the suspended battle in front of her. Naraku was frozen with a look of sadistic glee on his borrowed face, a tentacle poised over each of her friends and fed with steady waves of black energy from the corrupted power of the jewel. There was denial and regret in Miroku's eyes, the point scant inches from his face. Sango's eyes were hard and determined, but sad all at the same time with the razor point at her throat.
He was making one last desperate swing with the Tetsusaiga, aiming for the hand with the spinning Shikon Jewel while the tentacle pierced his robes on its path into the flesh over his heart.
'They all die, Kagome.'
"No," Kagome whispered, shaking her head in denial as she stumbled into the macabre scene frozen in time to her unblinking, disbelieving eyes. "This isn't real. It can't be!" she stumbled to her knees below Inuyasha's bleeding form, her eyes trying frantically to memorize the lines of his face.
'But it is.'
"I won't let it end this way," her hands fisted and she turned to the source of the voice, focusing on the only thing free of the suspension.
Kagome pushed herself to her feet, facing the spinning jewel determinedly, "I won't let Inuyasha die."
'There will be death, miko.'
"It won't be his," she shook her head viciously, her eyes dark with feeling and her voice miraculously unwavering.
'Will you stop time? Alter destiny? Do you truly think you are powerful enough for that? One little woman?'
Kagome stared at the jewel as it pulsed and melted down through Naraku's palm, sinking until it hovered just in front of her face. It continued to spin there, every pulse echoing through her aching chest as she lifted her hands to cup around it grimly, "I'll have to be."
'Why do you even care? He is only a hanyou.'
"I won't let him die. No matter what it takes."
'Not even you will be able to hold off Death when it comes,' the frozen landscape trembled as the jewel flashed, slamming through her chest. Kagome let out a choked, startled gasp, stumbling back and pressing her hand up to her heart in pure reflex. It was shaking as she drew it back and stared down at her stained palm.
"Gray…?" Why was the blood on her hand gray?
'Everything fades to gray, little miko, when the life dies.'
"Am I dead?"
'Were you ever really alive?'
Kagome shook her head in confusion as her legs began to go numb, sliding to her knees as she continued to gape at the gray blood staining the front of her white kimono. Morbidly facinated at the dark liquid trailing along paler gray flesh, she whispered, "I don't… understand…"
'Will you live after your purpose is served? Do you know? Do you even want to…?'
Kagome squeezed her eyes shut, shaking her head in denial of the words and obeying some unspoken directive, reached up to the wound again. She paused, her fingers pulling back in instinctive horror when she could feel the tips brush against something inside her chest that she should have never felt.
'Do you even know what your purpose is?'
At the taunt, her eyes narrowed, "I'm not the little girl that fell through the well anymore. I haven't been that girl for a long time. My purpose is to destroy Naraku and give Inuyasha the Shikon-no-Tama."
'Even in death?'
"Inuyasha will not die," Kagome's voice hardened, her hand steadying and reaching into her chest to where she could feel the steady pulse of the jewel within her. Her body lurched when she closed her fingers around it, but she still felt nothing but the odd texture of the ruined flesh against her skin. She let out a shuddering breath, her mind rebelling at the very idea even as the compulsion inside grew stronger. Her entire frame shook as she drew it out of her body with her eyes clenched shut and her stomach turning.
When she convinced her eyes to open, she stared with disconnected confusion at her heart in her palm, eyes wide and glassy. With each pulse it changed from her heart to the jewel and back again, cold in her hand and just as gray as the blood had been. The sound was deafening in her ears, but the beat was unnatural, the heart perfectly still until the jewel took its place and pulsed on its own. The longer she stared, the more the color around her was slowly draining from her sight until everything was in the same cold, feelingless gray to her eyes.
'Do you not see its beauty, miko? The life that beats within the jewel? The soul?'
"Four souls," Kagome corrected, closing her eyes again when she felt her hands grow cold, the feeling slowly seeping up her arms.
'The jewel that brings to life the darkest desires of the heart.'
"Unless it's used for a pure wish," she repeated the words that had been drilled into her for seven years, since she had first been forced to open her eyes to the legend of the Shikon jewel.
'And you think a hanyou can make such a wish?'
"I can feel the difference between an evil soul and a good one after so long," her brows drew together, but no matter how angry she knew she should be she felt only emptiness. Her feelings just as dulled as the world around her. "Maybe once I could have made the mistake… before I understood the game I was playing."
'Life has a way of breaking us, miko.'
"Inuyasha has been broken enough."
'You cannot stop Death. I thought you had learned that lesson already.'
"I was weak before," Kagome denied, forcing her eyes to open at look at her numb hands as she lifted her other to cup the heart/jewel in between them both. "This time will be different."
'You already know you will watch them be killed.'
She looked up in alarm at the change in the voice echoing from the jewel. The inhabitants of the frozen world around her twitching for just a moment before the scene abruptly jolted to motion. Kagome's eyes were already closing when Naraku followed his attacks through in a blinding rush.
Kagome shot up, panting hard and clutching her hand over her racing heart as her gaze swept around the quiet grove with blurry disorientation. Shaking so hard she could feel her muscles protesting, she brushed her hand over her face, only mildly surprised when her hand came away cold and covered with her own tears.
It was hard, much harder than the other nights as she pressed her palms to the soft grass, sliding out of her sleeping bag and backing up to brace herself up against the thick tree at her back. She tucked her legs up to her chest, wrapping her arms around her knees with painstaking care and burying her face in the cradle of limbs as she tried to soothe her own trembling, 'A nightmare… just another nightmare…'
"Kagome-sama," the quiet, soothing cadence of the voice so close beside her made her jump, slamming her back hard into the unyielding wood as her glassy eyes shot up to find the owner kneeling at her side.
Miroku frowned in concern at the momentary, almost blind panic in her eyes… There was something different in her eyes tonight, wrong… They were almost flat, emotionless, with a thick rim of gray around the normal blue. In all the nights he'd witnessed her late aswakenings, this was the first time she had looked like this. Or felt so very cold… "Kagome-sama, are you all right? What happened?"
Kagome blinked, trying to clear they grayish haze from the edges of her vision as she swallowed hard and shook her head, "I'm fine, Miroku-sama… Just …just a nightmare. It's stupid really."
The monk sat down, shaking his head as he reached out and pressed his bare palm to her forehead, "Kagome-sama, it's not stupid if it has caused you such distress, nor if it has caused such an unhealthy aura to surround you."
She reached up, her eyes somber and searching as she took his wrist, "Is it unhealthy? What do you feel in me now?"
Miroku's brows drew together sharply at the sharp edge coloring her voice, an edge of almost frightened desperation that chilled his own heart. He carefully set his staff aside, reaching out to take her hands and slowly pull her upwards into his lap. Kagome squirmed briefly, half-heartedly, but he just sat back, folding his legs and arms around her to pin her against him. He was physically stronger than she was, and the past had taught her that he wouldn't release her until he was certain she was calmed and answering his questions.
"Miroku-sama, please…" Kagome's eyes clenched shut, but her fingers curled in his robes as she felt his warmth seep into her.
"You have been doing this nearly every night, Kagome-sama," Miroku lifted his hand to gently stroke her hair, unable to hide the concern in his voice. "Why are you trying to keep this from us? 'What' are you trying to keep from us?"
Kagome shook her head, her arms slowly sliding around his waist, "They're only dreams."
Miroku reached up with his cursed hand, urging her face back enough to meet her eyes. He gently touched a fingertip to the edge of the pale scar that started at her right cheekbone and traced it all the way up across the bridge of her nose, "I think you have faced more than enough on your own, Kagome."
Kagome blushed faintly, still a bit unused to being so familiar with the monk even though it had steadily become less and less formal between them once the others were asleep or away. She shook her head as she lifted her hand to catch his and draw it away from the long-healed injury, "My problems are really stupid compared to what everyone else has gone through, Miroku."
He pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead, turning carefully to lean against the same tree she'd been using for that purpose a moment ago, "You're not any less important than any of us. As much as we all wished you would never be so direct a focus of Naraku's evil… I am sorry you had to join us in that way."
"It was no one's fault but mine," Kagome shook her head. "I should have known better."
"We should have been prepared," he gripped her chin and forced her to look up. "Is that what the nightmares are about?"
"Not so much anymore," she whispered, laying her head on his shoulder as she tried to banish the crystal clear images of her friends' faces frozen at the point of death. "They're… different now. Darker."
Miroku let her lie quietly against him, her arms tight around his waist as he continued to stroke her hair. His eyes moved thoughtfully over the young kitsune cuddled up with Sango on the other side of the grove, their faces relaxed with slumber and missing the usual grim strain that was far too frequent these days.
"You won't hurt any of us, Kagome," Miroku murmured against her hair, glaring up at the empty trees for the absent hanyou. He was leaving earlier every night, searching the surroundings until morning and apparantly only stopping for a quick nap when his energy was completely gone.
Each night it was the same, Inuyasha would wait until they had camped, pulling Kagome aside where they spoke in low tones. Sometimes it was only a few words, other times Inuyasha would glare at them and pull Kagome off into the woods for a longer conversation. He would return her before he left, Kagome always looking away from him, but catching his hand and squeezing as he walked past. Their fingers would linger until there was only the tips touching before he moved too far out of the way for them to reach.
Kagome would smile brightly at them, but her eyes were subdued as she practiced with her bow before moving on to the close-contact skills she was learning from both Miroku and Sango. Yet Kagome was always much more relaxed with him than with the exterminator… She still loved the girl, it was apparent, but there was a stilted air between them.
Ever since Kagome had sealed the well.
Since she had been scarred.
It was hard to say who tried to take the most blame for what had happened, and in four years that silent argument was still going strong. Kagome still insisted that it hadn't been anyone's fault but hers, holding her guilt inside beside her attempts to be the bright, cheerful girl they had all come to know and love. Inuyasha had been enraged, only Miroku privy to the snarling fits that leveled sections of forests when the hanyou was remembering. He would wind down, panting and swearing quietly that he should have been there for her. Miroku's own guilt was similar to Inuyasha's, but he knew it paled in comparison.
Sango blamed herself for not preventing it the way she could have a hundred times before despite Kagome's constant assurance that she didn't once think of that. Or wish that Sango had. Yet at the same time, Kagome had even more guilt over making the choice she'd never felt the right to make. She'd confided in him years ago that she felt she'd stolen something precious from the girl, and her stubbornness unfortunately carried over to taking the blame for things beyond her control.
Miroku knew that as long as he lived, he'd never forget that day Inuyasha had brought her through the well. The hanyou had been literally shaking with rage, his eyes flashing and unfocused as he held her protectively to his chest.
Kagome had been unconscious, pale and bleeding from so many wounds that for a moment he'd been afraid she was dead. It wasn't until Inuyasha had taken her to Kaede-baba's, and been certain she was treated and resting that he told them what he'd seen.
They'd all had a bad feeling, but when Inuyasha caught Naraku's scent near the well, he'd gone straight to Kagome's time as fast as his blood could take him. Only to find out he was arriving too late to be of much help.
He had found her in the largest room of her house, the wall a shattered broken mess that left the interior fully exposed to the courtyard. The entire Shrine was on fire and collapsing around her and her family.
She had been holding Souta to her chest, rocking the boy with a blank look in her eyes that had terrified him. Her brother had been as badly wounded as she was, as well as her mother beside her. It had been obvious at a glance that her grandfather was dead, his body torn and crumpled against a gashed and smoking wall behind them.
Kagome had been surrounded by violent, visible arcs of power, those arcs stroking over the wood and furniture and leaving even more flames in their wake. He'd taken enough time to dodge the wild energy, grab the three living Higurashis, and get them out of the house before it collapsed. She'd latched onto his robes when he tried to set her down, awkwardly fumbling with one hand and pressing something sharp into his palm with amazing force for a human.
A shikon shard.
Inuyasha had been glaring at that shard as he told them what he'd seen, going on to say that Kagome begged him to bring her back to the past when they heard the shrill whine of something she called sirens. But she'd amended that and told him that she wanted to make certain the healers took her mother and brother away.
He'd been afraid to argue, hiding in the deep shadows of the well house while silent tears tracked down her cheeks and she murmured her family members' names like a mantra. He'd been close to dragging her back to Kaede's despite her desires, completely conscious of the blood sliding over his skin and dampening his clothing when the humans came into view. Kagome had gone silent while they watched men in identical white costumes strap both mother and son onto long stretchers, using all sorts of things Inuyasha had never seen before. When they were out of sight, leaving only the odd shaped figures fighting the fire, Kagome had buried her face against his chest and whispered for him to go. Only telling him who had attacked her just as he dropped into the well with her.
"I'm sorry I keep waking you, Miroku," Kagome's quiet whisper snapped him out of the grim reverie that replayed through all their heads far too often.
Miroku dropped his head down onto the top of her head, wrapping his arms around her more securely and rocking her gently, "I am already awake keeping watch while Inuyasha searches for rumors. It's my pleasure to give you comfort."
She smiled in affectionate amusement at the particularly debonair affectation he'd put into his voice, leaning up and brushing a light kiss over his lips, "You are the most wonderful friend, hentai."
His eyes were still sad even as his lips quirked and his slid a hand down to rub the curve of her backside, "You could always agree to bear me a child as reward for being such a wonderful friend, Kagome."
He was smiling warmly when she actually giggled, snuggling against him and shaking her head, "I love you, Miroku, not that kind of love, but I do love you. Maybe… maybe if things don't work the way… we hope."
Miroku closed his eyes, bringing his hand up to her chin to tilt her face up, "If things don't work out the way we hope, better with a friend than alone?"
Kagome lifted her hand to his cheek, "At least we both understand rejection."
The monk gave an exaggerated sigh of mock sadness, rubbing his cheek into her palm, "Aa, but your rejection does not leave bruises or have the potential to break bones."
The giggle bubbled up and over again, some of the gray leaving her eyes as she covered her lips with her hand, "Maybe if you would take my advice once in a while it would be less painful."
"Or maybe I should have fallen in love with a less violent woman," he sighed, gazing with unabashed longing across the fire to Sango's sleeping face.
Kagome let her arms fall back around his waist, tucking up in his lap as he spread his robes over her with extra care, "The way I fell in love with a cocky, anti-social hanyou who loved my previous incarnation?"
"We have horrible taste, Kagome," Miroku teased, kissing her cheek.
"No arguement," she wrinkled her nose, a yawn easing free as his warmth and teasing finally reached the ice-cold core left behind by her nightmares. It was the only way she ever got back to sleep, surrounded by strong, warm arms and feeling protected. With Inuyasha gone at night, she'd grown used to taking comfort from the monk, and always with the same promise, "Don't forget to move before sunrise. Inuyasha wouldn't undertand."
And always the same response, "Tell him about the nightmares, Kagome."
Kagome shook her head, "It wouldn't be fair to him. I will not be an obligation just because I can't control my own mind when I'm sleeping."
"It's unhealthy to hide this from the others," he scolded lightly, reaching out to make sure his staff was within arm's reach before he settled himself more comfortably. "The aura that surrounds you when you wake is painful to feel. You don't deserve that kind of misery."
"I'm just on edge, Miroku," she assured him, her eyes half open and graying again as she stared off into the dark woods. The grayscale haze dancing at the edges of her peripheral vision wider than she remembered, "We can all feel the end getting closer."
"That doesn't mean we want you to put aside your own health," Miroku shook his head, looking at his cursed hand somberly.
Kagome's hand slid over his, ignoring the bite of the prayer beads as she tugged his hand down into her lap and gave it a squeeze, "I will not take the chance that something I do or say could will lose any time when we aren't sure how much we have left."
"Not sure how much longer you can hold back the void, Kagome?" he forced his voice to remain steady and light, but the sound fell flat. They were both well aware that if her powers hadn't been so startlingly, massively awakened, he would have been out of time years ago. It wasn't an event that either of them would be able to forget.
A girl could never forget her first kiss.