The Marching Dragons
Chapter Nineteen: Finale
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, not the songs, not the characters, nothing.
Author's Note: Well, I'm a dick. I have picked up this story hundreds of times through the years, and just couldn't do it. Much of the problem was life itself. For the first time in years I have been happy and inspired enough to write again. It is slow going, but I thought I would start with this. I had originally meant this to be a few different chapters, but unfortunately all of my notes for this story are on a floppy disk and I no long have a computer that can read those. I'm sorry to everyone that has waited so long for this, and even sorrier for those that won't see the update since it's been so long. Without further ado, the long awaited final chapter of The Marching Dragons!
"Uncle Maru!" The excited shout of my niece reached my ears a split second before my office door hit the wall. I smiled a little and continued my paperwork, almost as if I didn't hear the child. "Uncle Maru!" She shouted once more, closer. With a flourish, I signed my name at the bottom of the form I had been working on and looked up at the small girl. She was about six now, with chocolate hair and eyes of her mother but the spirit of her father.
"Why Rin, when did you get here?" I feigned ignorance and was rewarded with the giggles of the child.
"You're silly, Uncle Maru." She walked up to my desk with a big smile on her face. "Guess what?" Before I could guess, Inuyasha entered my office with a huff. He was carrying two duffle bags on his arms and a worried look on his face.
"Rin, what have I told you about running off like that?" My brother dropped the duffle bags with a thud next to the door and flopped in one of the chairs in front of the desk.
"I'm sorry." Rin lowered her head and frowned. "I was just excited to show Uncle Maru my new DVD." Inuyahsa ruffled the hair on the top of her head and suggested that she set it up to show me in a few minutes. While she was distracted, he tuned to me and I knew this wasn't just a normal visit.
"I need a favor." Years ago I would have sent him out of my office with a scowl, without bothering to hear what he needed. That was before Rin come about. Watching that child grow was one of the few joys in my life and if I could help make her home life easier I would.
"I gathered." Inuyasha signed and rubbed his face. Kikyou must have done something again. Once Kagome had returned to Japan, Inuyasha was planning on breaking up with the wench. She must have known that was coming. She ended up becoming pregnant with Rin before Inuyasha could break up with her. They never married, Kikyou refused and used Rin as a bargaining chip to keep Inuyasha around and at her beck and call. If he wanted to see his daughter, he needed to do what she said.
"Kikyou, she's sick." That has been known for a long while. I didn't think he meant mentally though. I gestured for him to continue. "She was traveling with one of her boyfriends and caught something. The doctor's aren't sure what it is yet, but she's waiting away fast. I need you to take care of Rin for a while. I don't want her to remember Kikyou that way if…" He trailed off and I nodded. She may be a horrid woman, but she was a decent mother when she was around Rin. She let Inuyasha have the majority of the custody in return for not having to pay child support.
"I understand. It would be a pleasure to have Rin here." He smiled and stood.
"Thanks." He clapped me on the shoulder before saying good bye to Rin. I spent the time cleaning off my desk and preparing to leave. I made a point never to work late when I was watching Rin. Inuyasha left one of the duffle bags with me, which was no doubt filled with some of Rin's things. It was unnecessary since I have things for her at my home.
"So." I stood next to Rin as she smiled up at me. "What is this DVD you wished to show me?" We ended up sitting on the small couch against the wall in my office with a portable DVD player. Rin was sitting in my lap with a big smile on her face and hit the play button.
"Auntie Gome sent this to me!" A shot of pain ripped through my heart at the name. It has been years since I had last heard from Kagome. We kept in touch the first few months after graduation, but once my first semester at Princeton started and Kagome's band started getting serious we lost touch. I knew that Inuyasha made sure that she kept in touch with Rin, but he was kind enough not to speak of her in my presence. Rin had no idea the history between us. I knew that she idolized her Auntie Gome, but she has never shared something that she sent her before.
The DVD started and we watched a darkened stage come to life. Kagome's band had changed since I have first met them, the only original members being Kagome and Kirara. The others must have moved on, or in Kouga's case probably kicked out. Kagome herself wasn't on stage yet, and I tried to rack my brain for a way to avoid watching this without hurting Rin's feelings.
I couldn't think fast enough.
Kagome bounced on stage, a large smile on her face as she sang to the massive crowd before her. My heart stopped seeing her for the first time in seven years. She looked amazing, still the dark beauty that I remembered with a voice that would haunt my dreams. How could I let time and distance separate us the way it did. She had done so much for me; brining me out of my shell and healing old wounds. Rin sang along to a few songs with a big grin on her face. Kagome must have been sending her CDs this whole time. Rin knows more about the woman I have never forgotten than I do.
The music slowed tremendously and Kagome sat on a stool that seemed to appear out of nowhere. The stage darkened, much like the beginning of the concert. A sole spotlight shone on Kagome as she swayed gently to the music. "Wish you were here, Me, oh, my country man, Wish you were here." I blinked a little as the camera pulled in for a close up.
"This is my favorite." Rin whispered in awe. Small lights glowed on stage, mimicking lightning bugs. It was truly lovely.
"I wish you were here, don't you know, the snow is getting colder, and I miss you like hell, and I'm feeling blue." I could feel the pain in her voice as she sang. The music pick up a little, as she continued to sing her heart out. "Wish you were here, Me, oh, my country man, wish you were here. I wish you were here, Don't you know, the snow is getting colder, and I miss you like hell, and I'm feeling blue."
I didn't want to think that she was singing about our relationship, surly she has moved on by now. It has been nearly a decade. I know what we had was special to me, but for an amazing person like her, she must have had others in her life.
"I've got feelings for you, Do you still feel the same?" Deep down I was beginning to hope that is was me she was singing of. "From the first time I laid my eyes on you, I felt joy of living, I saw heaven in your eyes, in your eyes." She and her backup singers continued to the chorus for a few bars and I warred with myself. She really could be singing about anyone. Or, she could even be sinning nonsense with no tie to reality; the pain that shown in her eyes and the ache in her voice said otherwise. I knew she was singing about someone who had been and still was very close to her.
"I miss your laugh, I miss your smile, I miss everything about you. Every second's like a minute, every second's like a day, when you're far away." I zoned out as the song finished. How could I have been so stupid? Kagome has never forgotten about me, just as I have never forgotten about her. I needed to fix things. But I couldn't do it alone.
Rin was sitting in the back of my Eos humming as we drove back to my place. I always worried about having her in my car since it wasn't the most kid friendly, but I had other things on my mind today. I needed to find my old contacts from when Kagome and I lost touch. If I could contact Kirara I might be able to pull off my best plan on how to win Kagome back. Just because she missed me doesn't mean she won't jump for joy at a sudden return. Seven years without contact is a long time to stew hurt feelings. I would be surprised if she didn't hit me.
Thankfully, I didn't live far from my office. I did have to help Rin settle a bit as well as eat before I could go hunting in my storage. I placed the duffle bag Inuyasha left in Rin's room before making my way to the kitchen to cook for the little one. Not for the first time, I wished that I had a little more warning that she was coming since not everything in my kitchen was appropriate for growing children. Thankfully, I still had some frozen chicken tenders in the freezer from the last time she visited.
As the chicken was cooking, I started steaming some veggies for her to munch on. "Uncle Maru?" With a glance behind me, I saw Rin sitting on one of the bar stools at the island. "Do you think mommy will be okay?" She looked sad, and I couldn't blame her. It wasn't easy losing a parent, no matter your age.
"I don't know, little one." I sat next to her with a frown, wondering how much she knew. "But I do know that no matter what happens, she loves you very much." She nodded sadly and rested her head against her folded arms. "And your dad and I will always be here." The child nodded again and I kissed the top of her head. For her sake, I hope Kikyou makes it.
Thankfully, she wasn't too melancholy that she couldn't eat. I did have to argue with her a bit on her veggies, but those too she ate up. After dinner, Rin left to play in her room and I made my way to the attic to search through my past. There was more furniture than boxes up here, which I was thankful for. My housekeeper Ah-Un was a stickler for order and kept everything, including the attic organized. The boxes were labeled with the years they contained. Passing over the boxes from the college graduation and when I took over for my father at WIC, I found the boxes I was looking for.
I started with the box from my senior year and felt my heart clench at the prom photo of Kagome and I sitting on top. Our happy smiles were almost too much to bear, as if they were mocking me for letting the love of my life get away. Were it not for Rin I would have regressed back to the ice man I once was. Most of the box was full of junk that really didn't need to be kept. The one thing I did need was at the bottom of the box; my mother flute.
I hadn't played in years, and hopefully I could remember how. If not, that is an easy fix. Moving on to the box of my freshman year of college I found more course work, projects, and papers than anything else. I almost missed my old contact list. It was around this time that I switched to a smart phone and printed out a list of all my old contacts just in case. The list was full of people I haven't had contact with in years; Sango, Miroku, Shippou, Hojo, and Kirara. I don't know when Hojo left Kagome's band, but I was glad that Kirara was still a member. Now I just hoped that she still had the same number.
Leaving the attic with my prizes, I mentally calculated what time it was in Japan right now. It was almost noon. I dialed the number I had for Kirara with hope that it hadn't changed. If it had than I would be stuck with Plan B. The phone rang a few times before a groggy female voice answered. I suppose the life of a musician included sleeping in.
"Hello. I am looking for Kirara."
"Who is this?" I may have the right number after all.
"My name is Sesshoumaru and-"
"You have some nerve!" She cut me off. There was no doubt that I had the right number now. "Do you have any idea what you've done?"
"What the hell do you want?" I didn't blame her for being hostile. If that song was any indication my silence has effected Kagome far worse than it affected me. Kirara may not even help me now that I think about it.
"I want to make things right." There was silence and for a second I thought she might have hung up on me; not that I would blame her.
"After all these years, why now?"
"Because." I took a breath. Now was not the time to hid things. If I wanted Kagome back I needed to be open, even to those that I don't know if I trust. "I truly thought she had moved on. If I had known how raw she was about us as I am I would have reached out a long time ago." Kirara was silent again and I hope that opening up as Kagome would have wanted was the right thing to do.
"You have a lot of groveling to do."
"I know, and I had an idea that might help." I smiled, excited for the first time in years about the future.
"Go on." Kirara listened as I explained the genius of my plan to her. It would take a lot of practice on both of our parts, but it could work. Thankfully, she agreed and we hung up the phone twenty minutes later with the perfect plan. I waited patiently by my email for the sheet music Kirara promised to send me. I wouldn't be able to start today, but first thing in the morning I was going to start playing again.
It took a little longer than I expected, but I was able to learn what I needed to within a week. I felt like Hell week returned to haunt me. Sadly for Rin, during this week Kikyou succumbed to her illness. From what Inuyasha explained she had asked forgiveness for everything in the end. Including how she had treated Kagome. I took Rin to the funeral not only to help her but also return her to Inuyasha. The two of them needed each other now more than ever. My brother may not have loved Kikyou the way she had wanted, but she was the mother of his child and there will always be some feeling there.
Once I had prepared everything on my end, I checked with Kirara to make sure everything was a go on hers. With her blessing, I boarded a plane to Japan. This was the second time I traveled for someone other than work or myself, and I couldn't help but feel nervous. The first time I had no doubts that Kagome would be pleased to see me. This time was far different. Even with my plan she can still turn me away. After all this time, I wouldn't blame her.
The flight was uneventful and I called Kirara once I got to the hotel to let her know. They have a show tomorrow night and she was going to send me a special backstage pass so I can get in. I would just have to be careful to do so without Kagome seeing me. Waiting for the next evening was the worst I have experienced in years. I couldn't focus on work and ended up spending the time practicing more. Thankfully, my time in marching band made memorizing what I needed far easier than it would.
Finally the time had arrived. I took a taxi to the venue and entered without issue. Kirara was waiting for me past the backstage door with a big smile. "She's going to be so surprised." She started leading me to a room where I could wait. "The other members are excited too."
"I hope this is the right thing to do." I promised to stay open the whole day. That way, if Kagome asks me a question there will be no hesitation to make her think I wasn't being honest. Kirara turned on a monitor once we entered the small dressing room.
"You can see the concert from here. When we normally play Wish you were here is your cue." I had memorized the set list and knew the exact moment she was talking about. "We also got you some new duds." She gestured to a garment bag hanging on the wall. "You gotta look like you belong." With one last smile, she left me alone to change and wait.
The clothes were traditional Japanese garb. Thankfully I had the time to spare. It was going to take some time since I wasn't used to wearing the hakama and duel layer haori. Once I was dressed, I waited. My flute was out and ready to go at any moment.
My eyes were glued on the monitor that showed the concert. Kagome was bouncing around in a yukata. I was so close, was this really what I wanted to do? What if I read into that song wrong? What if it was about someone else? What if I was too late? I growled and slammed my fist into the wall. All these questions won't solve anything. It's too late to change the plan now. I have to live with what I've chosen. If this doesn't work, I will just have to try harder to forget about her. After a few more minutes, I caught the lyrics to the song before I needed to go on stage.
Grabbing my flute, I took a deep breath. No more stalling, no more second guessing. Leaving the room, I quietly walked to the edge of the stage. Kagome's back was turned to me and I closed my eyes and relished the sound of her voice. It was so very different hearing it in person compared to on Rin's DVD. The song faded and the lights darkened. Putting my flute to my lips, I waited for my cue.
Kirara started the song and the other band mates followed. Kagome looked very confused and near panic stricken at the ancient sound they started playing. Taking a breath, I started playing with them, and walked out onto the stage. All of Kagome's confusion turned to shock as she saw me. She was ever the performer though, and did not miss her cue. "Ðajia Lai La Iya Sakae, utsukushiki sanga arishi kuni minoru daichi yutata na umi, hokorashii inochi yo tokoshie ni." As she sang I walked closer to her. I could see the question in her eyes as she sang.
"kuni ga ayaui toki, miko to shichi seishi, Suzaku shin wo yande, horobi wo sukuu, kore ga Kounan oukoku no iitsutae." I started playing again, not as nervous as I once was. Kagome's eyes never left me as I finished my solo. Kagome's fans loved the new song. Kirara had mentioned that since they never replaced Ayame from years ago and though Akai Iitsutae was one of Kagome's favorite songs, they have never performed it before. This plan was a win-win for everyone.
Kagome finished singing and I played my last solo with my eyes shut. When this was finished there was going to be no hiding from whatever wrath Kagome showed me. Thankfully, they had one more song to play before the end of the concert. I left the stage, but I made a point to stay off to the side where I could be easily seen by those on stage. I wasn't going to run.
The last song was beautiful and Kagome put her whole heart into it. The shouts from the crowd showed how much they loved the show. I was so proud that she was following her dream. When the song ended, the other band members patted me on the shoulder as they passed. Kagome was the last the leave the stage, almost as though she was afraid.
"Sesshoumaru, is that really you?" I nodded and stood still, not wanting to scare her. Tears filled her eyes and before I could blink she was pounding on my chest with her fists, crying and mumbling. I rubbed her back and let her hit me until she calmed. "Why?" She shouted, pain and betrayal in her eyes.
"I thought it was the best thing at the time." I started leading her to the room Kirara showed me earlier so we could have some privacy. "My freshmen year was more than I expected. And time past by before I knew it. Every time I tried to call it was either too late on my end or too early on yours. By the time I graduated, I figured that you had moved on."
"You're such a jerk." I sat on the couch in the dressing room as she started pacing. "You didn't bother to ask me." I nodded sadly. "What makes you think that you can just waltz in here and expect everything to be like it was?"
"I don't." No matter how badly I wanted to look away, I locked eyes with Kagome. "Rin showed me the DVD you sent her. I realized that I wasn't the only one I hurt by my negligence." Kagome signed and sat next to me on the couch. She knew what song I was thinking of.
"What makes you think that song was about you?" I winced a little, but part of me expected that.
"Hope." I did look away at that point. "I've been miserable for so long. If it weren't for having to watch Rin periodically, I would have reverted back to the way I was before we met." I focused on a spot on the wall. "When I heard you sing, I hoped that maybe I could fix things."
"So you crashed our concert?" I glanced at her and was surprised to see amusement on her face. "I can't believe the others were in on this." We chuckled a bit, and I reached out and held Kagome's hand in my own.
"Should I have had hope?" It was heavenly to be able to touch her again. I don't know how I survived this long without her. She just squeezed my hand in reply and smiled. "Kagome, will you be my girlfriend, again?" She laughed and tears came to her eyes once again.
"I would love to, Shou." I smiled and embraced her, happier than I had been in years. It was a good thing that we had acquired ECI not long ago. I can easily move to Japan and lead the company from here.
Now that I have everything I could have ever wanted I wasn't going to let it go. Not again.