It is I, Jjah-Jjah! And yes, I should be working on my other stories, but what the hey? This is summer and I have time to tinker around...
Alrighty then, this is my first foray, so to speak, into the realm of Inuyasha. And just so you know, this is a Sesshoumaru/Kagome fic. To those of you who look for things to complain about, I have nothing against Inuyasha/Kagome pairings, it's just they always seem to be about the same thing. (ie boring) If you want me to, I'll write an Inu/Kag just to prove I'm not sacrilegious or anything...
That out of the way, just so you know, this story's going to be a little bit weird. It's inspired by a poem called "Terence, this is stupid stuff" by A.E. Housman. This fic's title is a line from it. It's a about a guy who is asking his friend, Terence, why he writes such depressing poetry. Terence goes on to explain that he writes it because he's trying to help people survive in the real world, which really sucks. He then goes on to cite an example, about a king who whose friends tried to poison him. However, the king was so used to the cruelties of the world, that the poison had no effect...
Moving on. Here's the disclaimer.
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, I forget who does... Oh well...
"Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet
I was I, my things were wet, And nothing more remained to do
But begin the game anew."
--- A.E. Housman
Chapter One: Walking Over Graves
She stood; she watched; she was puzzled.
It was dark; the darkest of night. All tenacious vestiges of twilight were long gone, but why then was the sky red?
Well, not the whole sky; just a small section of the horizon that clung to color. It was strange, that redness. Somehow it wasn't normal. Yet any normal person would simply say that it was some kind of phenomena caused by the sun reflecting off the moon or debris in the atmosphere that made the sunset linger longer that usual. So simple an explanation: it was at the horizon after all. That was where sunsets happened, so what else could it be but a sunset?
But if it was sunset, then why was it not in the west where the sun went down, but in the north?
Kagome sighed and shivered and wrapped her arms around herself for warmth. Though summer, it was suddenly cool, prophesizing the coming of a thunderstorm. Why was she mooning over such silly things? She should be happy: Naraku was defeated and all was well with the world. Tall grasses tapped against her bare knees as she stood on the zenith of the secluded hill. She had come for a breath of fresh air; a temporary break from all the merriment. The humble village that would be Tokyo was in the midst of a great celebration.
The Jewel of Four Souls nestled into the hollow of her throat even as she thought about it. Absently, she brushed against it with her fingertips and wondered about what would come. She would always stay with Inuyasha, of course, but what else did the future hold now that the cursed jewel was complete? Sighing, she looked once more at the strange red stain in the sky and then turned and started back to the village.
It was then that an unusually chilly wind suddenly raced down from the sky and zipped past her. Kagome's skirt blew up briefly at the wind's passing and she froze, suddenly feeling as if someone had walked over her grave.
"Oh no. Kikyo..." She hissed. She knew the feeling all to well and now that she was aware of it, the dead aura was even more oppressive. She knew that if Kikyo was so close to the village, then there was no way that Inuyasha had not already caught her scent. Bolstered by the thought, she rushed towards the aura's source, well aware that her bow and arrows were in the opposite direction. The only thought in her mind was worry for Inuyasha...
Several minutes later she came to a halt on the outskirts of a clearing in which Inuyasha and Kikyo stood facing one another.
"What's going on? Inuyasha?"
They continued to stand there looking at one another, the wind blowing their clothes, and an unidentifiable emotion on their faces that was not love, but neither was it hate. Kagome took a few more steps forward till she stood a few mere feet from them.
"Inuyasha? Are you alright?"
The Hanyou inclined his head slightly towards her and she could see by the flash of his eyes through his hair blowing across his face that he was watching her. That emotion in his eyes. Was that acceptance?
That word: her name; a word that always came so hard from his lips should have overjoyed her, but somehow she knew that there would be no happy ending.
"I can't break my promises. I don't want to hurt you, but... I must go with Kikyo... I can't just forget..."
Time seemed to stop. The wind blew more slowly, and the sounds of Miroku, Sango, and Shippo approaching seemed surreal and far, far off.
The storm broke and rain fell down so quickly that she was immediately soaked to the bone.
"I can't just pretend that it didn't happen..."
But that was all she heard. It was then that she realized that time really was stopping. The ground beneath her feet fell apart like drying leaves. She fell slowly and in the silence things began to fade. She swung her head around to see her friends looking at her in horror; then she looked back to see the terror stricken face of Inuyasha as he dove forward in a last ditch effort to save her. His transparent hand passed right through her own and then he was gone; faded to gray.
She was in the well, sounds of the city loud in her ears after the complete silence. She looked up and saw the roof of the well house above and let out an earsplitting wail that carried and echoed in her ears...
Blinking rapidly to dispel the tears, Kagome shot up off the couch where she had dozed off. The movie she had been watching had ended long ago and the static screen emitted the only light in the room. She had been having the nightmares for so long now, reliving that night she disappeared from the Feudal Era. From that day on, the well had stopped working and everything went on as normal. The only proof she had that it was all not some crazy dream, was the Shikon no Tama, which still hung round her neck. It whispered to her of days long gone and fantastic marvels that no longer existed.
Kagome pulled herself into an upright position and stared at the snowy TV screen for a moment before she realized that the sensation of being wet from her dream was quite real.
The entire living room floor was covered in about an inch of water. She fumbled, trying to find the light switch and once the lights were on, she followed the trail into the kitchen. The new dishwasher was spewing out water like a surfacing whale. Bravely, she dove towards the contraption, alternating between frantically pushing buttons and swearing furiously. Inuyasha would have been proud. Finally, fifteen minutes or so later, after completely soaking herself and slipping and falling several times, Kagome managed to confirm that there was indeed a way to turn the water off. She plopped down in the standing water with a squish and brandished the wrench she had used to turn the water valve absently.
"This sucks." She murmured. Then she smiled and stood.
She opened the door that led outside and with a mop, managed to push a great deal of the water out. It looked as if the kitchen was mostly unharmed, but she was more worried about the living room. The carpet was more than likely ruined. Methodically she went through the motions of cleaning up all the water. She mopped for quite some time. Her shoulders began to ache and she became mesmerized by the mop's motion. She began to muse silently over her situation.
The past. Everything she said and did was somehow dogged by it. She could not let go. Even as she got used to the ins and outs of modern life again, something was always strange... It would have made more sense for something to be missing: a gaping hole in her soul that would consume her, but no such thing was there. Instead of the rending pain she expected, the feeling of dissociation, she instead felt simply that she had fallen into a niche different from what she had once occupied. It wasn't that she longer had a place, it was that she had changed and so had the world... Now when she walked down the street, she no longer saw things as others did. She did not see merely the waste, the buildings, the thousands of people, all the urban wonders... Now she saw the trees, the little bits of green nature that dotted the concrete landscape like rays of light in darkness. She saw the buildings that were truly ancient, the tantalizing glimpses of the old world, the hints that what was once there was not completely gone. She had become a part of that. She could see it.
Grandpa had been overjoyed when she expressed the desire to be a miko. It seemed right to continue what had made her so important back in the Feudal Era. Of course, it had been nearly impossible to convince him that she already was a miko and didn't need any useless lessons, but some of the "rules of etiquette" were nice to know... However, not wanting to halt her education, she had also begun taking some classes at the local university. Her goal was to get a degree in mythology and Feudal Era Japanese culture. For once in her life, she didn't have to struggle with school work.
Kagome halted her thoughts to move the couch and all the furniture out of the living room so that she could roll up the soaking carpet.
She really was stuck in the past... Often she though of her friends, and how they might have ended up. Had Miroku and Sango finally admitted to their obvious feelings for one another? What ever had happened to Shippo? Had Kouga given it a rest and married Ayame? And Inuyasha.
She could not help but wonder about Inuyasha. He had looked so panic stricken when she had gone. Had he gone to hell with Kikyo after she left? Or had he come to his senses once she was gone and declared that he had always loved her, that he would never rest till they were together again? The thought had entered her head many times, and she knew that it wasn't true. She just knew.
It was summer and she had no classes. Despite the season, it was unusually cold. Irony was a nearly living thing. A storm was coming, just as one had been in her dream. Kagome shivered in her wet clothes as she tried to drag the heavy carpet out the back door. If anyone else had been there she would have had some help, but she was alone. Her mother was on a well deserved vacation in Hawaii. After all the crap she had had to put up with during the entire Feudal Era ordeal, the woman certainly needed the rest. In a last ditch effort to pry him away from his video games, Souta had been shipped off to camp. (She had secretly enjoyed that.) Grandpa had been going to stick around, but as soon as her mother left, he started going on about how he was going to do sacred shrine-keeper stuff with some old buddies while mumbling something about Vegas and disappeared...
The soggy carpet tumbled to a halt a few feet from the backdoor and lay there like a dead crocodile. Kagome glared at her foe while breathing heavily as thunder rumbled in the distance.
"You'd better stay right there!" She admonished the floor covering and slammed the door. The rain started.
She had most of the water up, so she went over everything with a towel. Finally everything was dry. She looked down at her clothes. Well, everything but herself... Yawning, Kagome trudged upstairs to take a quick shower before she went to bed. Tomorrow she had a lot to do. She would need to tidy up the shrine, as there likely would be leaves everywhere after the storm, she needed to return the movies she had rented, and she needed to call up the place they had bought that dishwasher from and get them to bring a new one. Luckily it was till under warranty. She also needed to go grocery shopping at some point, but that could wait.
Lightning illuminated the hallway for a brief moment. Everything seemed surreal in her tired state and in that moment she had never felt so alone. She stood dripping all over the floor and mutely wondered about that far flung past and what she wouldn't give to have the briefest glimpse of its wonders again. She would give anything; she was drawn to the concept like an addict to a drug. If only she could touch on that glorious time again, maybe her heart would stop aching...
If only, if only, if only...
The acrid sound of the alarm clock going off pierced the serenity of the morning. Groggily, Kagome slapped at the snooze button for several minutes before realizing that she had been hitting the button all the time with no result. With a vicious snarl she batted the clock off her bedside table, making it smack against the wall leaving a small dent. The sleepy miko then dragged herself out of bed and headed to the bathroom.
A while later, Kagome emerged towel drying her hair. She trudged over to the window and looked out over the shrine grounds. Just as she had predicted leaves were everywhere. It took only a few moments to find her priestesses outfit. She had started wearing it ever since she began working at the shrine. The traditional colors, of course, were red and white, but she refused to wear something so similar to Kikyo's garb. She instead had opted for the same colors her grandfather wore, a white haori and pale blue hakama. She got dressed and brushed out her hair a bit before going downstairs and finding some breakfast.
Deciding on some frozen waffles, she popped them into the toaster and took the time to call up the dishwasher people and rant until they popped out. She drank a glass of orange juice with the waffles, and then headed outside when she was done, slipping her plain geta sandals on by the door.
The day began with more abuse of the rug. After the previous night's rain of course, it was ten times soggier and heavier than before. Thus, Kagome set out lugging the thing towards the stairs. Once she arrived, the rug moved a quite satisfying distance with a good kick. If anyone was watching it was probably an odd sight: a miko, in modern-day Japan, gleefully kicking a rolled up tan rug down the stairs of her shrine... When the rug finally ended up on the curb, ready for the garbage man, Kagome stood there for a moment catching her breath. An elderly couple passed by and bowed respectfully once they saw her traditional miko clothing.
"It's awfully strange." She said aloud to herself once they had gone. "That they probably all think that I'm some kind of strict traditionalist when the exact opposite is true..." They didn't know that she was stuck in the past. They also didn't know that underneath her traditional socks her toenails were painted bright green. With a amused sigh, Kagome went back up the stairs and began sweeping.
Fortunately, the grounds were tidied up enough for her liking around lunch-time. Unfortunately, the sky was darkening up again and it looked as if another storm was on its way to mock her by throwing all the evil leaves back... Indeed these were trying times. She had taken the time to call up the dishwasher people again and they were going to install a new dishwasher tomorrow.
Kagome sat at the kitchen table and picked at the leftover udon she had found in the refrigerator. She still needed to go return the damn videos she had rented before the store closed. For a moment, she rested her head on the table and heard the strange noises she had been hearing for quite a while. She had decided that they were probably mice.
"Hey, almighty hunter!" She yelled towards the furry blob that was curled up on the counter a small distance away. "If the mice carry you off to perform a pagan sacrifice, do you think you'll notice?"
Buyo made no reply.
Kagome sighed. Buyo was getting on in years. He was taking medicine for arthritis now. Maybe she needed to get another cat to take care of the rodent problem... She could just buy a lot of traps, but something about squishing poor little mice didn't set well with her. There was just something about the entire predator-prey relationship between cat and mouse that seemed somehow more... fair... She shrugged, saluted the obese feline, and went to go retrieve the videos.
Her sandals clicked against the concrete as she walked. She hadn't bothered to change clothes before she went out. After all, it didn't really matter in a place where you could see a fully decked out geisha walk by at any given moment. It wasn't that unusual. It actually was kind of ironic, Kagome mused as walked. When she had been in Feudal Japan, she had clung to her modern clothing. Now that she was in modern Japan, she clung to old clothing. The though brought a smile to her lips.
Luckily it wasn't too far a walk from the shrine to the video store. Still, in respect for the darkening clouds, her umbrella swayed on the crook of her arm. Early afternoon and already so dark... It was almost like an omen. It was just barely beginning to sprinkle when Kagome pushed the movies through the return slot. In light of the weather, few people were out on the streets. Turning around, she decided to follow their example. She was so caught up in trying to get home before the rain got any harder, she failed to notice the movement in the alley until it was too late.
Colliding with something solid, Kagome hit the ground hard. Her umbrella clattered against the pavement and for a moment, she lay there, the wind knocked out of her. Then, regaining her senses she cautiously sat up and looked to see what it was that had made her fall down.
It wasn't a what, it was who. A very tall who. A who, who was currently sprawled out on the ground beside her, unmoving. Kagome pulled herself up into a kneeling position and looked at the stranger curiously. She knew immediately from his appearance alone that he was homeless. She knew the look. He was absolutely filthy, had probably been caught in the storm last night, and was covered in mud. A long, worn, camping backpack that seemed mostly empty was slung lopsidedly across his back. She couldn't see his face; it was pressed down into the sidewalk where he fell. His hair was rather strange, though. It was unusually long and pulled back into a tail. Although it was as filthy as he was, there was a strange kind of sheen that showed up through the grime. For some reason, she felt a wave of nostalgia.
Common sense told her that messing with strange people who are a lot bigger than you are wasn't the most intelligent thing in the world, but her compassionate nature got the best of her as it always did. He still wasn't moving.
"Sir, are you ok?" So, it was a stupid question. At least it was a decent conversation opener. She reached over and gave his shoulder a little shake and was shocked as to how bony it felt. "Sir?" She began again, more concerned. He still hadn't moved. She decided to try and roll him over, as lying face down on concrete probably wasn't very comfortable. He was very heavy; she managed to pull him up so she was holding his face, more or less, off the ground. "Maybe I should go get help." She said, more to herself than to him. He needed to go to a hospital. She pulled his face to the side, and was suddenly struck by the familiarity of it. The miko blinked looked more closely. Something about him was just so strange... The rain was coming down steadily now and she absently wiped at some of the dirt on his forehead.
And went numb when she uncovered the blue crescent moon.
Time seemed to stop and nothing else mattered. Unconsciously, she pulled away and stood up. She looked down at him and the sudden recognition grew. The tallness, the slender build, the claws, the hair, the pointed ears...
"Sesshoumaru?!" She whispered in shock, hardly daring to speak the name aloud. How could this be? What was he doing here? She stared at him lying there and slowly, she calmed. For some reason, she was not afraid. Well, not very... She bent back down and slowly tried to pull him up.
She realized then that her prayers had been answered, though certainly not as she had thought they would be. Here was a living bit of that past that she so craved. She felt a strange kinship and as she lugged him up and felt his ribs, she felt tears. What had happened to him? Sesshoumaru was the most unlikely person she could think of to be caught in this position. She couldn't leave him and she couldn't take him to a hospital, so...
Kagome slung the unconscious Taiyoukai's arm over her shoulder, noticing how damaged his hands were, and tried mightily to drag him back to the shrine. The rain picked up and Kagome cursed loudly.
Here she was, dragging a frikken heavy inu youkai that looked like a passed-out bum, down the middle of the street, in the rain, with the all too real possibility that he might wake up at any time and rip off her head. How did she get herself into situations like this? More importantly, how the hell was she going to get him up all those steps?!!
Muahahahahahaha. Don't get mad at me for hurting Sesshou. I'll make him all better, promise! R&R. How fast the next chapter is up depends on the number of reviews!