Some quick introductory notes: Firstly, I apologize to anybody who got weird messages from Raichu. I can't do a thing with her. Secondly, thanks to Patches for pointing out my mistake last chapter, which I swear I'll get around to fixing.
The promised 'alternate ending' is at the end of the chapter, in all its questionable glory. Credit also goes to Raichu for suggesting the actual ending.
Thanks for reading, it's been fun. Thanks for all the support, I am only an insecure cubone, after all. And thank you, all of you who edited or helped me at any point. Now I must go and reacquaint myself with legitimate literature.
Chapter 10: Cursed
She looked for him in the morning, but he did not appear. Jaken delivered her food and sulkily saw to her health, but there was no sign of his master. She stayed awake that night waiting for him, but eventually her ill body betrayed her to sleep. The darkness pressed on her worse than it ever had before, and for the first time she feared she would never be free of it.
Sesshoumaru must be displeased with her, she could only reason. He had not wanted to speak or even look at her last night, after all. She had tried so hard to control and channel her power for him, but obviously she had failed. Perhaps her failing body had interfered with her efforts, but she was, in the end, only human. She had done all she could, and she had truly believed that would be enough. Just once, she had faith that she could control her power to a good end. Her confidence came crashing down, and with it her hope. She would never be free; she could not accomplish what Sesshoumaru wanted of her. She had given everything this time, if she tried again, she thought she would waste away.
She feared he would follow through with his intent to try again. If only he would come to her, perhaps he could at least ease her anxiety. Her illness further dampened her spirits, though her uninterrupted night of healing seemed to improve her condition.
When appeared the next morning, she found herself frightened and uncertain in his presence again. Her fate rested in his hands alone.
She noticed with dismay that his arm had indeed failed to regenerate, but Sesshoumaru seemed cool and outwardly collected again. She waited for her adjudication silently, wringing her sleeves nervously. Her eyes darted from the floor to his face and back again, trying to read him. His face gave away nothing, golden eyes deep and impenetrable. He stoically stared at her, holding her in reverent silence.
"Kagome..." he said softly, with the tone of one delivering bad news.
"I'm sorry," she interrupted before he could finish speaking. He frowned at her. She blushed at her feet. "I don't know what happened, but I'm really sorry." He was silent for a long moment, and when she looked up he was standing beside her, looking down at her softly. He gently grasped her arm and led her from the room.
She blinked as the cold air kissed her skin and the sunlight hazily reflected all about her. The first snow of the season floated lazily from the pale sky. The snowflakes began to cling like white spiders in her midnight hair.
She watched her breath condense into rolling white clouds. "Sesshoumaru?"
He looked at her as if sizing her up. He beckoned to her, wordlessly bending down slightly to approach her height.
She recognized the gesture and slid her hands underneath his platinum hair and clasped them behind his neck. He scooped her up and she tightened herself against him to keep herself warm. She was trying to work up the nerve to ask where they were going. But she wasn't even sure she wanted to know.
Sesshoumaru took to the air, holding her sheltered from the cold. The snow fell steadily now, changing the scenery into a blur of white. The diffused light mad judging the time difficult, but she surmised they had been traveling for some time. It was late afternoon when he lightly settled to the snow-covered ground.
Kagome looked around, not recognizing the landscape. They were in the middle of a wood, as far as she could tell, miles from anywhere. The snow floated down through the cathedral of trees in tumultuous silence. "Where are we?" she breathed.
Sesshoumaru lowered her back to her feet and helped her steady herself.
She hugged her arms tightly around her body, bouncing lightly on her toes, missing his warmth. "Please..." she pleaded with wide eyes. "Sesshoumaru, please say something."
He stood immovably in front of the apprehensive girl, nothing revealed in his stony posture and neutral expression. He was deliberately keeping her in the dark, but she wasn't sure why.
"You're not going to say anything, are you?"
There was a small shift on his ivory face. It might have been a smile and it might have been frown. In either case it was gone as quickly as it came.
He reached out and lifted her chin, tilting her head up towards him. Her pulse was faintly visible to him on the long pale line of her throat. She obediently stayed as he positioned her as he took his hand away.
He stepped closer, and her breathing stilled as his clawed fingers slipped under her bangs. With a slow deliberateness, he leaned down to her. She felt a hint of warm breath against her cool skin. He brushed aside her bangs and his lips landed softly on her forehead. The air rushed from her lungs and her eyes fell closed. She couldn't move, all she could feel was traces of his smooth lips pressed against her.
Splinters of ice formed on the surface; time crystalized and froze. She was a statue, lost and confused and unable to open her eyes. It felt like a dream, and the longer she stood the more uncertain she became that it was really his touch and not a trick of the wind and snow.
A faint sound penetrated the crystalline air and she began to breathe again. Slowly her eyes fluttered open, meeting nothing but the empty forest.
She could see where he had stood, but there were no footprints in any other direction, as if he had simply evaporated. She was rooted to the spot as the snow fell softly around her. She brushed her face, and was surprised to find tears cooling on her fingertips.
The early darkness of winter had already settled when he reached the hills again. He went back to her prison, and was foolishly surprised when he didn't see her when he opened the door. It was empty but for the writing on the walls and the dried flowers she had hung. Her scent still lingered, filling each crevice. The empty air was stifling. Part of him wanted to destroy the place, let the ceiling fall in until there was no trace of her left. He had no desire to bring another to this place. It was her room, and forever would be. She had shed so much of herself here.
He shut the door behind him, his mood dark.
Bokusenou was waiting for him.
He stood for a long moment in front of the ancient youkai, his vow from a week before pounding in his mind. "Aren't you going to proclaim your victory?" he sneered.
Bokusenou sighed, the cold of winter making him lethargic and melancholy. "I was unaware of any victory."
"I've failed," Sesshoumaru spat, disgusted. "It was doomed from the beginning, as you claimed."
"Suffering of others brings me no happiness, Sesshoumaru. Nor does it you. I'm not your enemy. Neither is she."
"She is nothing to me anymore," Sesshoumaru said, a little softer. "She is gone."
Bokusenou's voice took on a hard edge. "Then you truly killed her in your foolish pursuit?"
The snow drifted down soothingly around the raging demon. "Her life lasted through the end of the month."
"Then what happened to her?"
Sesshoumaru's eyes drifted closed in bitter reflection.
Kagome stood alone. Sesshoumaru had disappeared without a trace, and she was beginning to realize she was cold and lost in the middle of nowhere. Something told her he wasn't going to come back for her. She shivered.
Her head snapped around when the sound of crashing branches shattered the silence. Something was moving through the forest in a tremendous hurry. She was woefully unprepared to defend herself, and was prepared to run when a frenzied yell echoed through the trees.
He was calling her name.
"Inuyasha..." she whispered.
"You let her go..." Bokusenou said softly.
Sesshoumaru nodded slightly. "I left her in the half-breed's path. She is gone."
"Then you will no longer seek this remedy?"
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes at some unseen nemesis. "I did not know..."
Inuyasha saw her, dressed in white as if she had bloomed from the snow. He would have thought her an illusion but for her scent and Sesshoumaru's drifting on the wind. When she tossed back her dark hair and her surprised brown eyes alighted on him a great weight was lifted.
A flash of red slammed into her, one warm arm enclosing her tightly as the other ripped an enormous blade from its sheath. He forced the breath from her, and unknowingly constricted her injured ribs.
"Where is he?" Inuyasha growled, pulling her tighter.
"Gone," she gasped, pushing to get him to loosen his hold. "Inuyasha... you're hurting me."
His hand immediately fell away and he pulled back as if burned.
"Kagome!" he exclaimed, half panicked as she fell to her hands and knees hugging her chest as she tried to recover her breath.
"Sesshoumaru's gone," she panted. "Don't worry, I'm ok."
He sheathed his blade, there was no sign Sesshoumaru had lingered. He rested his hands on her shoulders uncertainly, full of guilt for accidently hurting her. "I'm sorry, Kagome."
She smiled at him reassuringly. "It's alright."
"It's not all right!" He half-yelled. "You're hurt! What the hell did he do to you? I smell blood, and you're sick!"
She wasn't sure how to answer, instead lifting her hand to his worried face. Her vision blurred with the movement, but he saw her sway and she was swooped up into his arms.
It was strange being held by two arms again, she thought distantly. She returned her hand to his face, looking at him intently. "Are you ok?"
"Stupid girl," his voice broke slightly. "What kind of question is that?" His voice held a storm of pent up worry. He sniffed at her, tact momentarily set aside. "You're really sick, and there's old blood on you. What did he do?"
"He..." She couldn't make the words come. "I've... lost some blood... and I was attacked and my ribs hurt... and then I got sick." She was having trouble making the words fit what she wanted to say.
Inuyasha's face darkened. "I'll kill that bastard. How could he do this?" He glared off into the wood, imagining his brother's smug face.
Kagome coughed in his arms and his attention immediately snapped back to her.
She snagged a lock of his hair to keep his attention. "Don't. Please... I just want to go home now."
His face softened and his eyes were filled with guilt. "Sure," he muttered. She probably wasn't up to riding on his back, he reasoned. He positioned her in his arms as best as he could. "I'm not hurting you, am I?" he asked.
"No," she lied, not wanting to worry him. There was no comfortable way to move like this, but she wasn't going to tell him that.
"You did not know...?" Bokusenou prompted.
Sesshoumaru emerged from the darkness of his thoughts, but ignored the question. "She was the wrong choice after all..."
"Sesshoumaru-sama," Bokusenou prodded gently, "what happened?"
He let out a long breath. "I was weak. I could not do it when the time came. She offered herself, and I was the one who failed. I could not do it-- no, I could... but I did not."
"You believed that she would die, didn't you?"
"I was certain of it," he said evenly. "But it shouldn't have mattered."
"It is only natural, you did not want to cause her pain. Of course it mattered." Bokusenou explained patiently.
"I could have resurrected her..." Sesshoumaru said slowly.
"Perhaps you could have." He allowed Sesshoumaru to reason for himself, only he could answer the questions eating at him.
"...but I promised her." He stood stiff, captive to his thoughts. His voice was cold and bitter. "Tenseiga is, as I've always thought, useless. It is not even a weapon, all it may do is mock an end to suffering. It resists my hand. It's will is not one of mercy, but of spite. It would rule me, undo all that I have built."
"I do not fully understand you father's intent," Bokusenou said, "but do not judge him or Tenseiga in so dark a light. Perhaps it is changing you, but do not mistake enlightenment for corruption. It is the nature of pure things-- they cannot lie, and only the disheartened and guilty would lay accusations on them."
The demon lord did not reach for his sword as he might have, yet still the words seemed foreign and confusing. There was only one thing that was clear in his mind.
"I am cursed," he said simply.
Bokusenou said nothing.
"You never told me the curse this remedy carries."
"I told you everything I knew," he answered.
"Then why has this happened?" Sesshoumaru snapped, then calmed again. "I see her eyes whenever I close mine. I hear her voice when she is no longer here. I see her on the edges of my vision, but she fades if I turn to her. If she is still alive somewhere, how can I be haunted by her ghost?"
The snow fell in static indifference, drifting like the silence.
"Perhaps, Sesshoumaru, the ghost of your failure will fade in time. But first you must decide what your failure was."
The tall demon didn't bother to argue, letting the snow settle around him as if he were part of the landscape.
"Though I believe now that I was wrong as well," Bokusenou said softly. "Perhaps the seed of some good has been planted underneath all of this ice. I feared only darkness and pain could come of this... but there is still time... and hope."
Her arms were wrapped around Inuyasha's neck as she fought off sleep. He raced through the winter landscape with inhuman grace, taking her home. She was relieved, thankful for her freedom. He had let her go, for reasons she could not fathom and he would not tell her. She still wished that she had been able to make him whole, and it tugged at her heart, this feeling that she had left him in the cold. No matter that he had been the one to choose to depart. She hoped he was alright.
In her mind's eye, she hoped he was with Rin. She hoped the little girl was watching him, filling his ears with buoyant chatter, whether or not he noticed and cared. There was a reason she was there, even if he did not admit it to himself. Yes, Rin could be trusted.
"Inuyasha..." she whispered. "While I'm gone, don't go looking for Sesshoumaru. I don't want you to fight. Please don't make me worry about you." She wasn't afraid to beg, knowing that he was willing to give her almost anything at the moment.
She heard him growl in his chest. Obviously retaliation had been on his mind. "Fine, but if that bastard shows up again I'll show him no mercy."
She snuggled into him tighter, accepting his promise for the time being. The clouds parted slightly, the light of the sliver of moon strangely comforting. She drifted into sleep, letting the word fall curiously off her tongue. "...mercy."
"Goodnight... Inu-no-Taisho," Bokusenou said seriously as the first drops of silver moonlight fell through the trees. He left the demon lord in the safe company of the night sky.
Sesshoumaru looked up at the sliver of luminance, the sight triggering a tumult of strange visions and memories. A dark-haired young girl with pale light shining around her, the white crescent reflected in her midnight eyes. He blinked and the vision faded.
He walked until he came to a fireside, a small girl curled up alongside in trustful sleep. A temporary shelter from the darkness... A temporary shelter from the moonlight...
Did this ethereal silver light still hold Kagome captive? Forever trapped in her unwavering hope... waiting for a myth of salvation. Hope was a cage made of moonlight, a tauntingly beautiful beacon in the darkness, holding the faithful captive in eternal despair. How long would she wait for redemption?
If only she had not drawn him into this prison of hope with her, taunted by faint light and visions. Perhaps he would not be cursed to cling to the recondite wisps of silver light, wishing for sunrise.
A sunrise which would leave him yearning for moonlight.
Ok, as promised, here's Raichu's alternate ending, for those of you who don't like mine.
OK, I really shouldn't have to say this, but apparently I do. This is a joke... a parody if you will.
The white snow of the clearing fell softly on the pale skin of the emaciated girl and the icy skin of her captor, obscuring them in the snow.
The shocking cold brought back memories that Kagome had forgotten. Due to her weakened state in Sesshoumaru's cave, she had forgotten that Inuyasha betrayed her, that she was the heir of midoriko, that she had sold herself into slavery last week's episode, and a bunch of other dark stuff. Not to mention that she had just spent the last year training with some OC character to become a warlord…or something.
Are you still with me, cause we're changing pov. good.++++++++++++++++
Sesshoumaru, thanks to the visits of three spirits the night before, was now a changed youkai. He decided to give in to his emotions, and in some cases...desire ^__- as the spirits from the department of Morals and Common Sense Dealing with Cold Snowy Forests were not due for a fortnight.
(Authoress giggles and inserts herself into the story)
+++++Changing back, hold on!!++++++ I'd like to take this moment to introduce you to a new OC whom I swear is not an "I wish I were cool" idealized manifestation of myself, Sesshoumaru and Kagome's child from the future…soon to make an appearance here ^_-. On with the page break!!!!+++++++++++
Kagome, through all of her illness, injury, power drains, and massive blood loss, summed the strength for the forthcoming long lemon. She suddenly found herself wearing a black leather combat bodysuit the looked a lot like sharkskin. And her wrists and cheeks were marked with stripes similar to Sesshoumaru's, but they were bright pink and glowed green when she was turned on. Sesshoumara was now wearing a black beater and hip hugging jeans that revealed doggy bone boxers underneath. (Isn't that just uber cute?!?!?) A pair of soft bunny ears had also sprouted just above where his pointed ones had been.
BREAK+++++ In case you haven't noticed yet, this is a break. +++++++++See, cause I'm gonna change scenes or speakers, or have someone think in direct quotes+++++ Just to remind you, this has been a page break+++++++++
What the hell she thought, because everything will be all right in he end. I'll adopt Shippou for some reason, and call him a pup, though that makes no sense no matter how you spin it between the Japanese, English, and the supposed mannerisms of youkai. Sure, Sesshoumaru will it first think of me just as an sex object, and delightful romps will ensue, but as after a couple of times he will come to realize that he truly cares for me for some reason. Though I should probably hook Inuyasha up with Kikyou or something, so we can pretend this whole scenario is plausible. (Authoress remebers that a few paragrapsh back she controdicted the previous statement. Sweatdrops. Decides no one will notice.) However, if I'm going to have enough strength to get through this week of lemons, I should probably stop sitting in the snow.
"Chikushou!" exclaimed Kagome. "Samukutetamaranaiyo! Hora! Shippo ha moeteirukedo keshitometemokeshimonakutemoiida.
Sesshoumaru, who didn't understand Japanese, but had taken this time to develop telepathic abilities and brush his hair, growled in agreement, and promptly attempted to put out his tail, which had caught a passing flame.
*Authoress hits head on table and hopes she's laid it on thick enough*
*Sesshoumaru runs about in circles shouting about the state of his tail*
*Curtain closes on bad fanfiction forever*
Samukutetamaranai: It's unbearably cold
Shippo ha moeteirukedo keshitometemokeshimonakutemoiida- Your tail is on fire but it doesn't matter if you extinguish it or not.
This chapter last modified: Tuesday, December 2, 2003
Story Completed: Tuesday, December 2, 2003