Tales from the House
of the Moon
The Miko and the King of the Moon
Once upon a time there lived a miko in the eastern lands who shone as bright as the sun. She was beautiful and kind and loved unconditionally, and yet she labored under a terrible curse, a curse that anchored her to the world and would not allow her to move on. Always behind her, the curse followed, shadowing her days and weighing her heart.
So across the land she traveled, searching for a way to seal the curse that followed behind her on poison feet. As she searched she met many people, and as her duty she faced down and killed many monsters, but always she glanced back over her shoulder, unable to defeat the beast that loomed behind her.
It so happened that one day the miko met a demon king, pale and luminous as the moon who ruled the lands in the west. However, the king had been betrayed and broken sent into exile, his lands in ruin, his family and household murdered before his eyes. When the miko happened upon him in the forest, he was bent beneath a tree with the weight of his great sorrow.
The traveling priestess could not help but see his suffering and be moved. "My lord," she said, bowing before him, "tell me what troubles you, so that I may give you what assistance I can."
The king was very cold and very proud and refused to even look at her, but she tried again.
"My lord, please allow me to be of service to you."
This time the king opened his eyes to see her there, but still he refused to speak.
For the third time, the miko bowed low. "My lord," she said, "let me be of use to you."
"Miko," the king said, "if you would help me, take away my sorrow."
Sadly, the priestess bowed her head. "My lord, if I could lift such a ghostly thing, I would not be cursed as I am. My curse follows me as does your sorrow. I, too, am searching for a way to lift it. Perhaps together we may find one."
Normally the king would not agree to such a lowly thing, but something about the priestess moved him, and he agreed, and so the king of the moon arose from his place and followed the priestess of the sun across the land. Together they befriended many demons and humans alike, fought many creatures and traversed many countries, and found many valuable things, until the day when they finally climbed the highest mountain in the north together.
At the top, the priestess looked down behind them and saw the two shadows of their curses falling against the mountainside, and she understood.
"My lord," she said, "come here and take my hand. Embrace me."
And when the king did so, the shadows of their curses mingled and shrank together until they were one, for shadows that fall behind are impossible to lift, but easy to share.
So together they stayed.
When the miko died, the king of the moon mourned her passing bitterly, and wandered the land once again bereft until he reach the lands of the west. There he stood on the shore of the sea and watched as the sun - so like the priestess he had lost - sank beneath the waves. Then he stepped into the surf, walking through the waters until they closed over his head, as he followed his beloved down to the bottom of the sea.
His personal space was about to be breached.
Tiny, sticky fingers stretched towards his well-kept hair, but Sesshoumaru found himself disinclined to move away. Not that he could have moved far, even if he had been so inclined; the cramped seats of the airplane offered little chance of escape from his fellow passengers, and since the flight time from London to New York was longer than most flights, keeping his hair entirely free from curious, sticky children would require constant vigilance, and he was tired. They were still in the middle of take-off, so he might as well get the defilement over with.
With vague, gloomy disinterest Sesshoumaru watched from the corner of his eye as the little hand drew closer and closer...
The sound of scolding from another seat over arrested the sticky fingers in mid-trespass. They retreated.
Sesshoumaru sighed, feeling disappointed that the momentary excitement had been so thoroughly headed off at the pass and cast about for something else to engage his attention. His ears perked at the furious whispers coming from all around him - the disciplining of the child next to him, a married couple arguing over who forgot to pack what, an older man remarking to his daughter on the decline of standards in personal appearance, two men discussing the conquests planned to relieve the tedium of their business trip - but nothing held his interest for long.
Nevertheless, he still found it slightly difficult to understand English and so Sesshoumaru did his best to concentrate on the conversations in the plane even though each one bored him, even though all he wanted to do was sleep the flight away and wake up in his new life, which would hopefully turn out better than the last.
It was his second time ripping up roots and moving across the world to avoid the inevitable questions that would arise from his lack of aging. He had fallen out of touch with the Suzuki family while living in Moscow, but it was for the best, he was sure; after all, if he were human he would probably be dead by now. Nevertheless, their absence in his life left behind strange, hollow pangs that haunted him during the long winters he spent alone in Russia, though those pangs were just irritations compared to the sadness that had smothered him in solitude ever since Kagome had died.
Perhaps, he thought, another change of scenery might lighten his constant melancholy mood.
He wondered how long it would take for him to end up in Japan again.
Without warning the plane lurched as they hit a pocket of air, and Sesshoumaru found himself annoyed at the sudden bump. It was bad enough that he had to be packed in with so many humans like cattle - at the very least the ride could be as smooth as possible. Determined to ignore his discomfort he leaned back in his seat, shut his eyes and waited for sleep to come.
After a while it all started to blend together into a soothing background noise; the thrum of the engines roared dully in his ears, while around him the tide of whispers still flowed and ebbed, soft and sibilant and each as banal as the last. As he drifted between wakefulness and dreams, Sesshoumaru wished Kagome were sitting next to him.
Slowly he let his mind conjure her scent, and thought that if she were next to him, he would turn to her, and he would say, "That woman in orange is cheating on her husband with the man sitting next to her."
And Kagome might turn to him and say, "That's terrible... hey, don't listen to other people's conversations! It's rude."
"But how else will I entertain myself?" he would ask, deadpan.
"You could try talking to me, you know," she might retort, feigning offense, drawing him in playfully.
And then, before he thought twice about it: "But I talk to you all the time."
There was a quiet pause as the conversation around them swelled slightly and then fell again. He imagined Kagome giving him a sad look at this. "Not any more," she said.
Sesshoumaru sank down into the darkness of his head a little further. "...I know," he replied.
He was violently yanked out of his small fantasy when the plane lurched again, and next to him the small child let out a small squeal of fright. Sesshoumaru kept his eyes closed, tried to imagine the child out of existence and replace him with Kagome again, but it was no use; the illusion was gone.
He inhaled deeply, trying to loosen the knot in his chest.
And then something tickled his nose. Sharp, pungent. Dangerous.
What the - ?
He'd smelled it many times before, and like always it turned his stomach, but he shouldn't be smelling it here, it didn't belong here, and he was suddenly ill.
"Kagome - " he thought, reaching out blindly for her comforting presence, but she wasn't there, and the pungent scent was strong, so strong -
- Sesshoumaru opened his eyes, his brain screaming at him to run, but there was nowhere to go, even if he escaped the metal prison of the plane, and there was no time anyway, no time at all, and something was going terribly, terribly wrong -
The gas ignited.
Sesshoumaru hung in the moment; around him, people were still laughing and talking, playing games or eating food, not knowing what he knew, unable to smell the future on the air. Each whisper was a shout, each scent beneath the scent of danger seared indelibly into his brain, and he knew he was going to remember this moment for the rest of his life, like so many other tiny moments, though this moment was not one he wanted to live in. He should do something, but even he couldn't stop the universe from rolling forwards, and the moment was so soft and ordinary that he thought, so irrationally, there could be no way that it would all change so quickly, no way it could be so thoroughly destroyed, surely it wouldn't be allowed -
- and then it's all over, no more breath, no more heartbeat, just heat, just searing, burning heat, immolation, rolling over and out, melting him to the fabric to the plastic to the metal to himself and inferno and conflagration and holocaust and pain, pain, pain, pain, pain -
And now there is memory.
...not a memory of how he came to be standing here on the shady bank of the burbling stream, for he has always been here, but a memory of before.
And then the memory of before that.
Sesshoumaru stares at nothing, all the memories flooding down, threatening to sweep him away, the memory of death, and then the memory of life, and then the memory of before, and -
He shakes his head, disbelief looming over him. He is certain there is some mistake. It must be a mistake, because -
"That," he says slowly, announcing to no one in particular, "was not how it was supposed to go at all."
"Well," Kagome replies, "it never does."
His eyes are drawn to the edge of the water where she sits in green hakama and her favorite tank top. From her boulder, she dangles her toes in the stream.
Sesshoumaru forgets how to breathe.
The stream babbles in the quiet that falls between them.
Kagome gives him a nervous little smile, and inside him something heals so rapidly that it feels exactly like breaking.
"Hi," she says softly, the quiet tremble of tears in her voice, that sweet voice that he hasn't heard in so long...
Sesshoumaru clears the bank in the blink of an eye, and then she is cradled awkwardly in his arms as she sobs with relief, as he bends his face to hers and kisses her desperately, messily, they are a tangle of limbs, a lover's knot, and in the heat of the moment they overbalance until they are molded to the rock beneath them, pressed together. His mouth is at her throat, tasting her, when he feels her voice dance over his tongue.
"Ow," Kagome declares. "That was my spine."
It takes a moment for her objection to trigger the proper response in his brain, but when it does he almost smiles before picking her up and lowering himself to sit on the damp, mossy ground, tucking her legs around his waist. "Hn," he murmurs as he nibbles on her ear, the scent of sunrise all around him, "you complain too much."
"I complain too much?" she says indignantly, if not breathlessly. "You were the one all, 'that wasn't supposed to happen!' You're like that every time." She rocks back on his lap, rubbing provocatively over him and sending his vision skating as she leans in to suck lightly on his hammering pulse.
"But it never goes the way it is supposed to..." he says through the fog of her scent, through the fog of finally having her here again, through the fog of her of her of her -
He lets the hand that is not holding her tightly brush over the place where their bodies meet. With a small cry she breaks away as he bends to her shoulder and bites lightly. "But, um - " she gasps, squirming at his touch, " - but that's the fun of it... how would we learn anything if it went the way we thought it wou-ooooh!"
Her fingers, woven into his hair, tug him away as she turns his head to trace his markings with the tip of her tongue. He swallows hard, tries to think. "But what... what is the point of choosing one's fate... if it does not turn out as expected?" he gasps beneath her assault - his markings were always particularly sensitive to her touch. His hips roll helplessly and she gives a soft moan.
"It's... what's learned... not how it's learned..." she manages to say before he pulls her down with him, rolls over, presses her into the grass with his weight.
"I should have known," he mumbles as he nuzzles her breast, causing her to inhale sharply and press up into him, "that all that nonsense about shadows was too good to be true..."
"It's called an allegory," she groans as he moves against her. "And... um, we should really stop..."
"Why?" he wonders into her softness. "I do not want to." And he doesn't - it has been so long, and he only had a handful of moments with her to live in, and he wants to make more.
She moves restlessly under him. "Yeah, well... um... me either... but we should at least cross the bridge..." She pulls one of his hands to her lips and sucks a fingertip into her mouth. "We can... finish this on the other side..." she murmurs around it.
He makes an involuntary noise as her tongue swirls, wrapping itself around his finger. "Why... wait?" he groans as she releases him.
She looks up with soft, needy eyes and locks her gaze with his. "Because," she says throatily, still gasping for air, "it's muddy... the ground is full of sharp pebbles... and I think I have a pussy willow... lodged up my - "
"Point taken" he interrupts hastily. His brain casts about for a suitable compromise, pounces on one. "Clearly," he declares, "we must relocate to that tree over there."
"Anywhere," he says. It's a pretty smooth answer if he does say so himself.
She laughs softly. "Bark hurts." Her breath curls in his ear and he shivers.
"Kagome - "
She cuts him off by pulling his face to hers and kissing him deeply, her tongue tangling with his in that old, familiar way. "You were late. Well, you're always late, but still... we should get going," she whispers against his lips as she pulls away. "We can rest on the other side."
He moves up, buries his face in her throat. "Late?" he mutters, inhaling her scent.
"Inuyasha and Kikyou were already through here," she tells him. Her voice is as gentle as the fingers she runs through his hair. "I'm sure we'll be choosing soon... If we want some time, we should go."
Reluctantly he rises and helps her to her feet. Her face rueful, Kagome brushes the moss and leaf mould from her hair and clothes. He straightens his own clothing - the indigo and white clothes of his second reign as Lord of the West, when he was growing into her - and brushes detritus from his pelt. With brisk fingers he tightens the yellow and blue obi around his waist and slants a look at her from the corner of his eye.
To his surprise she is doing the same.
He tilts his head and raises a brow in questioning.
She smiles and turns away from him, hands still moving through her hair. "Are you really so angry?" she wonders, not looking at him. "Was it really so bad?"
For a long moment he doesn't answer, merely studies the sweep of her throat, the glossy fall of her hair, the curve of her shoulders, the swell and fall of her breasts, the delicious dip and rise of her hips, and thinks of all the things he gave up and lost and sacrificed and would have died for, and when she turns to him, curious as to his silence, he sees her peering out at him. He can see her clearly in her eyes.
A soft snort escapes him as if he cannot believe that she has asked such a question. "It was not so bad, after all," he says finally.
And she smiles, reaches up, twines her warm, bare arms around his neck, and kisses him. "Good," she says when she breaks away. "Shall we go?"
"If we must," he murmurs against her mouth before scooping her up without warning, cradling her in his arms.
A tiny sound of surprise and happiness escapes her as he strides to the foot of the bridge, but when he reaches it he pauses.
Sesshoumaru looks down at her. "Are you ready?" he asks her.
For the tiniest of moments she begins to turn her head, as though to look behind them and see the light pouring down the bank, but before she can he leans down, nuzzles her cheek.
"Do not look back," he murmurs as her breath catches.
"Okay," Kagome finally whispers.
He smiles against her face, small and soft and real. "Ready?"
He feels her smile back. "Ready."
He steps onto the bridge.
And then Sesshoumaru bends his face to hers and kisses her deeply as he steps into the sky.