Ojii-san:Grandfather, polite and respectful.
Stunned disbelief colored Kagome's features. Sesshoumaru's tone oozed finality, indisputable proof that this was the chance that would not come again. Whatever fate, whatever role, she was destined to play in Mitsukai's life would be resolved now.
The weight of his ancient eyes bore into her back as she brushed to stand before the Goshinboku. The tree was sacred, divine, the place where the truths of the heart lay bare. It was here, beneath its gnarled boughs her love for Inuyasha was made clear.
Disjointedly hand rose to caress the scar left by his fifty-year imprisonment. Scalding tears, barely muted by drizzling rain and frigid air stung her eyes. A lump too large to swallow formed in her throat. Shaking hands scrubbed at her face, brushing away traitorous tears. "Why are you doing this?"
Her words were met with pregnant silence. Though perhaps for the best for she was uncertain to whom the question had been addressed. Rain fell in a baptizing font, drowning her tears in shimmer of ice and pain. Tears were endless, a constant fixture in her life. They were as normal to her as breathing.
Months after Inuyasha's death Sesshoumaru's elegant beauty had continued haunted her. She could remember the ghostly touch of his hand, slightly callused from countless battles, as it caressed her flesh and chased her pain into obscurity. Long after their parting she continued to pray for the escape his touched offered. Now after finding him after seventeen years the circle spiraled anew. It did not matter that was wrong, that it was degrading, that ever time her touched her, she lost another piece of herself. It was time for it to end.
Impatience loomed as Sesshoumaru pressed her question worded demand. "It is a simple question-" he paused to rake his fingers through his hair. "One you should able to answer without doubt."
Kagome looked stricken though could not deny his words. Questions, guilty thoughts she entertained over the years sliced at her soul. What sort of mother would consider abandoning her child? What kind of being could wish for her child's demise?
She turned staring long into face of her child's father. His expression was sympathetic or perhaps merely derisive. It was impossible to be certain for he remained as unreadable as the moon. Timeless, ethereal, beautiful, unfettered from the course of man, his eyes seemed to peer into darkest recesses of the soul. Without words the pain-induced darkness of her heart spoke an awful truth.
She resented Sesshoumaru and the child he had unwittingly left in her womb. Umbrage like bile in the pit of her soul rose and soured on her tongue. The pendulum of her heart swung in captive arch over a churning pool of hate-tainted love.
She hugged herself, a bitter chuckle, caustic to her ears, escaped her lips. "I know." Her lips quivered as her small form shook. "The choice should be so easy," she whispered, her voice cracking. "But it's not. I…"
He spoke now though she did not hear. His succinct tone was far too frail to shatter the turmoil of her thoughts. She half turned refusing to meet his gaze. "Could I see her before I decide?"
Though it was expected, the word was surreal, almost inaudible as if plucked from a dream. Defeated she numbly slid to her knees. Mud and rain soaked her legs and the hem of shirt. Her head lolled back, her eyes fixed on his dispassionate face.
Her heart lay wracked in agony since the separation from her child. Every waking moment, in every dream, unforgotten memories haunted her thoughts. Her mind knew answers her heart could never fathom. Her heart was a fickle organ one not bound by the laws of reason. Its purity, once great enough to protect her from relentless foes had putrefied. And for the reason solely her decision was clear.
For the love of her daughter, for the affection she held for Sesshoumaru there but one choice to be had. She inhaled swiftly, gathered her resolve. Only to have it falter. "I can't do this now."
A sneer cut across Sesshoumaru's elegant features. "Is that your decision?" He all but scowled. "You lack the time to consider?"
She laughed once more, agitation for the moment overwhelming her cloak of guilt. "No, you bastard!"
Sesshoumaru snorted and crossed his arms over his chest. He had been called worse in his time. Impatience rolled off his willowy form. "Then what is your dilemma?" He took a step forward to stand directly before her kneeling form. Lips curling in disgust, he glared into her limpid eyes. "Again I ask," his words were harsh, almost a growl. "Do you wish to remain to part of Mitsukai's life?"
Kagome's eyes hardened. Rather than answer, she countered his question with one of her own. "Why did you revive me?"
The fact she lived whilst her friends lost their lives weighed on her conscience. They were slaughtered not an enemy, but an ally cloaked in his flesh. Consigning to fate and cruel circumstance was a concept she could never accept. Her eyes seemed to loose focus. "It wasn't for the love of your brother," she stated nastily. "And certainly wasn't for any mercy you held for human kind." Her face crumpled, her rage exhausted as once again the source of her suffering bled into her being. "I don't deserve to live."
Sesshoumaru's claws clicked along her face traced her jaw, to hover over her jugular. Hers was a question he had asked himself countless times. Lesser creature that she was should never been allowed to hold such weight in his heart. Never should she have occupied his thoughts, his feelings, and his very soul. Countless times he had reiterated she meant nothing, was nothing. And the more he thought it, the more he gave the sentiment pause, the less he believed.
He pressed gently, barely enough to puncture her delicate skin. His molten eyes fixed upon her pleading ones. "Your life is mine miko-" his fingers slid across her neck leaving stinging scratches in their wake- "never forget that."
"I want it back," she hissed. In that instant a trace of her old fire burst from her long worn despair.
Sesshoumaru, "hmphed," as he withdrew his hand. "Then earn it back."
Kagome's head dropped, her dark hair obscuring her face from view. "At least tell me why," she uttered in a voice beyond hollow. Then she tensed, her entire frame shaking as anger; pure hate erupted from her soul.
"Why me and not them!" Agitation ruled her as she scampered to her feet. "Sango. Miroku. Shippou," she spat each name as if it were a curse. "You could have saved them, but…"
"What do you wish to hear Kagome?" he snapped. The words were cold, threading on cruelty, and overwhelming derision. He snorted and flicked his hair behind his shoulder.
Accusing eyes met his. "The truth."
His brows shot up to his hairline. "And which truth would that be?" he asked almost tauntingly. Any compassion he may have once held for her seemingly evaporated. An idea, perhaps a passing thought tempered in cruelty flowed over his face. "That your friends barely fought as he ripped them to pieces-" he paused as if measuring his words- "or that he consumed them afterward."
Horror mixed justification for those long dead, tore itself from her throat. "They were his friends." 'And he killed them.'
She put back of her hand on her mouth stifling the moan that threatened to tear from her throat. Eyelashes fluttered as tears that, after this moment would cease to fall, evaporated. His words, though filled with cold and calculated cruelty, had exonerated him. Her mind worked in endless circles her offensives, her misjudgments forming a morbid litany. If grief were a prison only hope could unlock, her sentence would remain eternal.
"Our friends," she corrected herself. "We should have all died together."
He was suddenly before her, impossibly close. "That can be arranged."
Kagome smile softly, almost knowingly as she placed her hand on his cheek. "You don't have it in you to kill someone you love." Though his expression did not change she could feel the muscles beneath her fingertips tighten. She withdrew her hand knowing without question the validity of her words. "That's why you could never kill Inuyasha all those times you tried."
His eyes bled red, his hand wound around her throat, claws just nicking the fragile flesh. "I could kill you," he insisted. Though it was uncertain as to whom he was truly attempting to convince.
"Yeah," she agreed. She removed his hand from her neck and pressed a kiss into him palm. "But, your heart won't let you."
"It's why I can do this," Kagome murmured enigmatically, ignoring his seething, silent outrage. She smiled, a quick humorless quirk of lips. "I can leave her with you and know-" her voice cracked- "and know that you won't anything happen to her."
Peace long forgotten filled the tattered fabric of her being. "I love her. But, Mitsukai deserves so much more than I could ever hope to provide." She searched his face earnestly. "You both do."
He remained silent, unmoving. He wanted to console her, but uncertain how. She was entitled to her pain, but her continued suffering was of her choosing. How could he save one who did not wish rescue?
Wind chapped lips brushed chastely against his. "Be happy, both of you," she whispered, her breath warm on his face. Almost reluctantly she pulled away and turned on her heel. "If things had happen differently I might have-"
Before the words finished tumbling from her lips blinding light and a surge of youki filled the shrine yard. Kagome sighed sadly, knowing he was gone, likely forever. "-loved you."
Seconds like hours passed as sickening feeling crept into the pit of belly. Her life was hers to do with as she pleased. It was what she longed for, for seventeen years. Perhaps she was deluding herself. Perhaps she was further enslaved. Another crime had been committed, another weight added to her tattered soul. 'Mitsukai, I'm so sorry. I hope you understand someday.'
Inexplicably startled Kagome jumped at the sound. "Mama," she gasped as she viewed her mother's package laden form. "I didn't know you were home."
Her mother shifted the heavy packages to one arm, balancing them on her hip. "Souta dropped me off." Confused she frowned and peered over Kagome's shoulder. "I heard voices?"
Regret laced through her as she gave the Goshinboku a sidelong glance. "It was Sesshoumaru." She bit her lip as she pondered how to explain what she had done to her mother. "He...I…"
A maternal frown marred her mother's face. "Mitsukai's father?" Her dark eyes brightened, then dimmed in disappointment. "Did I miss them?"
Kagome shook her head and her mother sighed in relief. "I wish I would have known he was coming," her mother huffed. "I bought Mitsukai a few things." She grew serious, her eyes hardening. "And I would like to have words with him."
"He won't be coming back."
"Kagome-chan?" her mother asked worriedly. With shaking hands she cupped Kagome's cheeks, forcing their eyes to meet. "What has happened?"
She covered her mother's hands with hers. "I love you Mama." Kagome allowed her hands to drop as she pulled away. "I should have told you more often."
Kagome walked passed her mother to the sliding door that led within the shrine. She paused and looked over her shoulder. "I'm sure if you ask, Sesshoumaru will allow you and Souta to visit Mitsukai." Her fingers traced the light scratches on her throat. "He may seem cruel, but really he's a good person."
The circle of guilt had been undone, but the pieces continued to burrow beneath her flesh. It was the reaffirmation that she proved unworthy of a solitary happiness. Perhaps in her next turn of the wheel, she could earn resolution for her sins. "When you see her," she murmured hollowly. "Tell Mitsukai I love her. Make her understand why I…"
The door open and shut with an audible 'whoosh,' leaving her mother alone in the icy rain.
As if blown in with the rain, Sesshoumaru drifted graceful on the steps leading to his home. He stomped his way across the porch as if punishing the painted wood for his frustration. Irritated he stripped off his jacket, almost tearing the thick denim in the process. He glared at the offending fabric for a moment before casting to the porch swing.
Moments passed as he stood statue still, vainly pondering the solution to an impossible problem. Then, in a rare display of weakness, his stony visage crumbled, his lovely features face paling from anxiety. His slender shoulders slumped as a breath he did not know he held rattled out of his chest. His hand slid up his face to rest on his brow.
His hand dropped, as he was suddenly aware of another presence. "You should be resting," he reprimanded flatly.
"I'm tired of resting," Mitsukai countered stubbornly. Her next words were softer, but nonetheless determined. "And being sick." Her expression grew hopeful as she caught a familiar scent mixed with the rain. "You went to see Mama."
Silence confirmed her statement. Opaline tresses spilled forward as she bowed her head. She shivered as a gust of wind cut across the porch, showering her with a fine mist of rain and ice. She flexed toes; clawed tips gouging the rain slicked wood. Destruction, for her, was second nature.
Golden eyes flickered through the shimmering curtain of her bangs. "She really did leave me."
The words were flat, filled with the shadow of disbelief. His claws stroked her cheek, sliding down to cup her chin. With his free hand he tenderly brushed the strands from her eyes. Their eyes locked, hers filled with awe mixed confusion, his pride and fatherly concern. "My blood and that of my father flows in your veins," he proclaimed sternly. "You need no one."
Abject terror filled her at the prospect of being abandoned entirely filled her. First her mother, now father she barely new. He had erred in his belief she needed no one. She was neither brave, nor strong enough to be alone.
Warm lips pressed against her forehead, brushing the indigo crescent they sometimes shared. "However, should you want me I am here."
Mitsukai nodded jerkily before launching herself into his arms with enough force to down a lesser youkai. She nodded into his shoulder, her fists gripping the fabric of his shirt as his arms tightened around her slender form.
He held her closely as if imparting his infallible strength unto her as she trembled. She clung to him as if he were the last solid, sane thing in her world. She buried her face into his shoulder and wept. It was as if something deep within her had shattered, broken and spilled from her soul.
Words, too tender from one deemed cruel, were whispered into her hair as he rubbed small useless circles into the small of her back. They remained as such until she had no more tears. Until she was felt feeling empty and numb. "Don't leave me," she begged. "Please."
Sesshoumaru smoothed the tear-plastered hair from her cheeks. He pressed his lips against the moon shaped birthmark on her brow. "Never."
Abruptly he stiffened, pulled away, placing distance between them. Confusion replaced by hurt flowed over Mitsukai face. Affectionately he ran his hands down her arms and gazed upon her with rarely seen warmth.
The front door opened to reveal a rather annoyed Kagura. "Brat," she snapped and jabbed her thumb backward. "Get back in bed."
"It is fine Kagura," Sesshoumaru replied dismissively. "You may leave."
Mitsukai frowned at her father's rude tone. There was more history between the two adults that she understood, but nevertheless there was no need to be uncivil. "Kagura-san?"
Kagura halted in her tracks. Her eyes narrowed, an unspoken insult hanging on lips twisted in a near sneer. "Yeah."
Mitsukai hesitated then smiled politely. "Thank you."
Surprised laced gratitude chased over Kagura's features followed by a snort. "Whatever."
"So," Mitsukai began sardonically as she watched Kagura stalk down the street. "Every youkai over a century is a complete jerk." An arm looped around her middle lifting her off her feet. "Hey!"
"You are going back to bed," Sesshoumaru stated in a tone that brooked no argument. Unfortunately, Mitsukai, as both her parents, was argumentative by nature.
"But I'm feeling better," she whined as he carried to back to her room.
He pulled back the comforter and laid her gently on the bed. Almost as an afterthought he pulled the blankets up to her chin. "Did you eat?"
She wilted slightly. "I..no."
Sesshoumaru nodded and breathed a sigh. "Alright." The bed shift as he sat on the edge of the bed prepared to begin their daily battle anew. Though he knew it was futile he was hopeful Mitsukai's sudden improvement was herald to a recovery. However as the days marched on it became more evident that she long ago had passed the point of no return. He had not told Kagome, for was unable to voice the words he knew as fact.
Blue-flecked golden eyes examined his face earnestly. Eyes so similar though slightly different than his. Their shape, color and the near invisible flecks of blue were identical to the eyes of one who had died long ago. He feared once again he would see those eyes close forever. Cold fingers touched his cheek. "What are you thinking?"
"You have my father's eyes."
His tone was mournful, solemn, as if he had imparted a great personal secret. Mitsukai fell silent, awestruck for a moment. Then her scarlet streaked eyelid narrowed in fake menace. "If he wants them back," she stated dryly. "There's gonna be a fight."
Sesshoumaru sagged, his face falling to rest in his palm. In hindsight perhaps he should have known. "And his sense of humor."
Mitsukai cracked a grin and quipped. "Ojii-san was funny huh?"
He looked at her levelly. "No." He straightened her blankets, tucking thick coverings around her and placed another pillow beneath her head. He bit back a slight smile as she cutely pouted. "Father was," Sesshoumaru began thoughtfully, silently amused by her almost hopeful expression. "He was, as your mother would say, a smart ass."
Mitsukai sighed and faked pouted. "You say smart-" her eyes shifted under playfully lowered lids- "ass. Like it's a bad thing."
He looked at her blankly. Mitsukai rolled her eyes, then grimaced and rubbed her stomach. She met his concerned gaze with the wave of a slender hand. "I'm hungry."
His eyes widened marginally, relief swept through him, but still did not dare hope. He rose swiftly from the bed. "I will fix you something."
He eyed her for a moment; frowned inwardly at the realization her recovery was little more than an act. Perhaps she truly tired of her illness, not that he could blame her. Or perhaps she felt if she denied her sickness it would cease to exist. One lesson he learned over the centuries: Denial earned one nothing.