"I've crossed the
from where I can't return
where every step I took in faith
and led me from my home"
- Sweet Surrender, Sarah McLachlan
He tensed showing no outward sign of change. He soon grew accustomed to reacting this way to the simple sight of a human. These long years were exacting a change in him.
She emerged from the doorway, head down, smoothing her school clothes. She paused and even though no physical sign of grief was upon her he could smell the salt of her tears. She quickly shook it off and snapped her head to the front, sights on the path she had taken too many days to count on her way to school. Starting off with determined steps she soon found herself in front of the well house; the part of the shrine that had took her into a fairytale only to seal her again on this side in this time, away from her friends, away from…
She could feel the knot in her stomach begin to tighten. After the final battle and after the jewel had been completed in a fleeting and breathless moment she clutched the jewel to herself remembering their secret discussion.
"Kagome, when this is all over and we have the jewel, I want to…" His golden eyes shining she gave him a quick nod and passed the jewel into his waiting hand.
With a wish he began to change before her eyes. Gold fading to brown, silver fading to black. Something was wrong. She could feel a tug in her gut and a pull coming from deep inside her body.
As the jewel's power diminished she began to fade from the past.
That last kiss, that last desperate embrace left a wound in her soul. He began melting from her grasp and blending into light. Being pulled through the well had always brought butterflies to her stomach time out of mind but this feeling of being ripped away was like a knife in her gut. Her love was like a golden thread so intense it cut her spirit with every aching hour since she appeared back at the mouth of the well, looking down into lifeless darkness.
She fought back the bile rising in her throat. It had been three months. Time to heal, time to reflect. She couldn't wish it had been different. A great evil is gone but where is the peace one should feel in it's place?
"I have to let him go," she said to herself. How many times would she have to say it until it became true? Slowly she placed one foot in front of the other. School was her life now. She would focus everything on studies and friends. Time to be a normal teenager now.
With only the remainder of this semester left until graduation she would have to work extra hard to have decent marks for the end all exam. Four years had almost passed. Somehow she would have to try and live her entire high school experience in five months.
"At least I have something important to do," she smiled slightly for first time in three months and actually meant it before slipping back into melancholy.
He watched intently. Her sadness was still overwhelming his senses as it had since the portal was sealed yet he could sense the grief slowly diminishing and was that a smile? Again he found himself very interested if not pleased with the resilience of the human heart. Many many years ago he experienced this strong will with his own little human.
'Rin,' he kept a small sigh from escaping his lips.
He had watched Rin grow and blossom; she had an uncanny effect on him. When the time came he left her to her own life with her own family. She had fell in love with the young Kohaku that had been brought back from the edge of death when the final shard of the jewel was removed. He left her with the human Sango and strange Houshi that had taken the exterminator for his wife.
'Humans and their strange pairings,' he sneered silently. He had not taken a mate however, feeling content after the final escapade that brought the world to a temporary peace to watch over Rin, and after the fates took her, her family.
Kagome rounded a corner and was on her way to school. Being left alone to his contemplation, he looked down at his hands. Every attempt to file and humanize them were useless. The claws where still there, fierce and hard as diamonds. He had realized as the centuries wore on that humanizing himself would have many advantages. In this age only very few and very old youkai survived.
There was a purifying war not even a century after the shikon had been destroyed. Before the humans started ridding the earth of youkai, the youkai had almost completely vanquished themselves. Bickering, land disputes, and cross breeding with humans had thinned and almost destroyed all youkai blood. Yet many ageless ghosts of the past lingered. For what reason it was almost unknown to him. He had accepted a purpose to continue and leave the Inu race untainted.
He was the last full InuYoukai on this earth. With him the nobility would die.
"Hmph…" he allowed a cruel laugh now in solitude. Utterly despising humans in the past, he had surrounded himself with them in his loneliness. It all started with his daughter Rin. Yes, he could now look back and call her that. A wave of emotion erupted and he let it wash over him, standing alone like a rock on an ancient shoreline.
'Why couldn't I tell her that in life?' the question echoed inside. Like a stone's toss it stirred the deep ageless pool of his soul.
Lately he had succumbed to this nonsense. Not only had he grown to look like his father but to act like him as well. His appearance was subdued. No longer were the markings of his birthright gracing his pristine face. However the markings on the forearms were another matter completely.
Deep meditations on suppressing youki where spent uselessly on them. But easily enough, and to his regal distaste, these were accepted as tattoos. He was now as old as his father when he met his untimely death.
"So many centuries left to go…" his voice trailed into a westbound breeze.
The years of this world began to roll by like days for him. He watched the land change around him as he remained almost changeless. The village disappeared, a town sprang up after the war, and a small city soon flourished. Ages swept by. Only he and the mountains remained the same. The shrine was erected and the Higurashi heir to the priesthood began.
He watched her forebears marry, birth, and die. The simple beauty of life was played out on humans so delicately. Between Kagome's ancestors and the blooming family tree of Rin his days were spent in reflection. As he witnessed life he began to realize his mistake of taking it so freely. That thought brought him abruptly back to Inuyasha, a subject that haunted his mind in shadow of the current events.
'My brother, I had wronged you.'
Slowly he stalked down the streets of the city in the gentle dance of awakening spring. The school girls making their weary way would always stop and stare. This was almost a daily routine. He had expected to see them as much as they hoped he would be taking his usual morning route.
They drank in his visage. Long almost white hair? No matter. It was pulled back to expose such a hansom and coldly beautiful face. How many of their nights were spent dreaming of this prince making his way down a busy street? Casually dressed, slacks and white shirt, trying to look for the entire world as if he weren't a god sent for the pleasure of fifteen year old girls.
"Ah! Kami! My prayers are answered every time he walks that street!"
"Stop talking so loud Baka! He will hear you!"
"I don't care, every year this turns into more torture! I have to talk to him!"
"No, you can't, he's very clearly a university student, he would laugh at you like an ugly puppy! Think of all the university girls practically worshiping him, you have no chance…"
"Heh, ugly puppy," he said mostly to himself but very audible to his audience of now silent schoolgirls. He kept his head straight as he passed paying no more attention to them than every morning for years now.
"Kami, what a voice…" their chatter filled the street once more. Starry-eyed little schoolgirls. After years of hiding in shadows he finally came to the conclusion that to blend in, he must mix. Apparently not mixing as well as he would have liked. Being ogled in such an awkward way a century ago would have left those whelps cowering before him. Things always change.
Humans have a funny way of melting an icy heart.
He was soon enough hidden among the trees in a small park at the heart of the city, his city. Like the back of his hand every line and swell of street were all too familiar. Testing the air and finding himself alone he took to flight. Fast enough to escape the eyes of humans he made his way home.
Kagome found it hard to focus on the algebra book opened in front of her. "Math is my weakness, damn I hate numbers…" she said under her breath. A quick check of the clock told her it was six minutes until she could go. A painful and torturous six minutes. She strangely enjoyed this feeling as the minutes ticked away. How long had she missed moments like this on the other side? An electronic bell sounded and students began the end of day dance that could only be this happy on a Friday.
"Kagome, we're going out for a treat wanna join?" her friends bounded to her desk. For a month now she had been attending regularly but her sickness must have drained her badly. She didn't spend time with the group like she used to, even before when her maladies were the worst.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm not…" Kagome searched her mind for a good excuse this time.
"It's okay Kagome-chan. We just hope you regain your strength and stop being so afraid to go out into public soon, we miss you!"
Blushing slightly she realized how much she'd neglected her friends. "Yes, it's just going to take some time. All this homework will take me the entire weekend anyway. I'm still so far behind!"
She plodded slowly down the halls and out the door. How long would she put the world off to pity herself alone? The sun was warm and it almost felt like spring had finally taken over. She wished the same for her heart. The old path that took her to school every morning welcomed her journey home. A strange conversation found it's way into her brain even through the usual waves of sorrow that hit her anew at the end of a busy day.
"It's about time for him to show."
"What a way to end the week, stalking such a beautiful man."
"That hair of his is to die for, long and silky. So blond it's almost white…"
"What did you say?" Kagome spat at the seventh grader, maybe a little harshly but manners were far at the back of her mind now.
"Uh... " the girl stammered. Why was this senior being so rude? The girl had seen her before and even knew her name.
"On our way home we wait for a man to walk by. He's usually here by now, and he's very…" the girl blushed deeply, "very attractive, words escape me…" her starry eyes now with a faraway look.
"What does he look like?" she interrupted the girl's musings.
"He's very tall, and very very light blond."
"How long has he been here?" she spoke impatiently.
"Well, since before we started high school. I don't know maybe four years?" the girl peeped.
"Do you know his name?" she barked.
"His name is Seiitsu. My brother asked him one day on a dare," another girl spoke up.
"Family name?" she asked with a softer voice now.
"He didn't say."
"Thank you girls. Good luck on your stalking," she said with a smile as she turned to continue home. Blond wasn't a match and a name like Seiitsu definitely didn't add up. "Inuyasha…" she sighed into the gentle breeze. She was thinking crazy now. He had turned human before her eyes. He was no longer silver haired and could no longer be alive in her world.
She let the tears slide freely from her cheeks onto her uniform, not attempting to control them any longer. Maybe tears would seal the gap. Maybe the healing waters would wash this pain from her heart.
"First cut huh?" she sneered sarcastically to herself.
He watched her make way to the steps of the house and into the door, the salt of her tears trailing the wind. Would she ever stop weeping? He remembered how Inuyasha had wept for her. Crouched down before the well, tears flowing freely, weak and human. Yet somehow underneath it all possessing strength that Sesshoumaru couldn't ignore or explain. His friends had gathered him up and carried him back to the village.
Sesshoumaru had felt something he couldn't put his finger on at that time, something that tugged at him. That emotion had led him to visit the village regularly under the guise of Rin's affection for Kohaku. It had eventually led him to invite Inuyasha to spend the rest of his human days at the fortress of their youth.
"Come, it is not a home without a mindless sibling to wreck the atmosphere," he questioned. Inuyasha had declined. They had many talks before that time and many afterward. He looked back on those times as freeing and quite tolerable.
Then one day the aura around Inuyasha had changed. It was the summer after Rin became Kohaku's wife and left with Inuyasha to make a new life at the exterminator's village. Sango and Miroku had taken refuge there to raise a family in peace and also in hopes of building anew.
"Hey, I have to ask you for something important," Inuyasha began almost in a whisper. His expression masked by the dark hair about his face.
Sesshoumaru's eyes turned toward Inuyasha as they traveled. "What do you ask?" he questioned still feeling that somehow he had wronged his brother yet he couldn't understand how.
"My life has been… shortened," Inuyasha said with a dry laugh "but you have a long life ahead of you," where was he going with this?
"This Sesshoumaru cannot stand your prattle brother, spit it out," he was annoyed. Why did talking to him suddenly become hard after all the time spent conversing?
"Shit, asshole, give me a minute," that was the Inuyasha he remembered and his aggravation eased slightly.
"In the future a long time from now... Kagome will be alive. I want you to… protect her while she travels here and after… she can't again. I want you to tell her how much I, well, just give her this," he reached into is haori and pulled out a necklace of teeth and smooth black beads. "This may not be the best thing to give but it connected us. I want her to have it, that is if you live that long," he said with a laugh trying to shake off the seriousness of the moment.
Sesshoumaru didn't know what to say. He hadn't thought about living that long but he supposed with the newfound peace he should be considering it. He took the beads from Inuyasha's hand.
"I will do this while I am feeling relieved that you did not ask this Sesshoumaru to mate you and extend your life," this was as close as he could get to a joke and it succeeded in brightening Inuyasha's mood.
"Feh, in your dreams bastard!" Inuyasha replied with a toothy grin and punched Sesshoumaru in the shoulder. He bared it with an icy stare and sent Inuyasha rolling up the path with a flick of his one hand. "I'm going to kill you bitch!" Inuyasha screamed as he scrambled to his feet quite to the surprise of the little group. They still couldn't grow accustomed to Sesshoumaru actually play-sparring with his brother.
Now centuries later Sesshoumaru clutched the rosary before placing back into the pocket of his slacks. He couldn't bring himself to approach now. What was he waiting for? Bad blood, bad memories, resolution, and good memories played out before timeless eyes.
Life was too short for humans but all too lonely and long for youkai. At this moment he truly felt like an unwanted ghost from a haunted past. Looking down to inhuman hands he sheltered them quickly in the pockets at his sides. He had practiced putting them there and now it even felt comforting.
Petty human habits had reason at times.