For Disclaimer: Um, please see the other chapters. If you haven't been reading and this is your first chapter, then go back to chapter one where the disclaimer starts. Yup, I've had another change of heart concerning these chapters. Lol. I go through more of those than anyone else in the world. I'm so indecisive and bubbleheaded that I sometimes scare myself. Lol. Anyway, here's the next chapter.
Humans need their sleep and you are human...aren't you?
Chapter Twenty-Two: Unforgettable
Yes, I'm human...
Bottle green eyes opened with a snap, the cloudy orbs shocked as the cold steel tile rushed to greet him. He grunted and fell heavily, his breath leaving him in a mighty woosh as his forehead knocked against the floor. The floor banked forward and he struggled to grasp the tiny ventilation holes to stop his descent.
"That bastard!" Inuyasha snarled as he too was ripped from his slumber. "Just what's he tryin' to do anyway, death roll us into the ocean!" He winced and rubbed his sore backside, his amber eyes flashing angrily before gazing at Shippou. "How's Kagome?" he asked with a quick jerk of his chin.
Shippou rolled from underneath a group of chairs into the aisle, then grasped the back of the nearest chair and struggled to his feet. He peered down at Kagome and sighed when he found her undisturbed. "She's still sleeping," he told Inuyasha. Inuyasha nodded and growled when the airship lurched again. His irritation woke Sango and Miroku, who slept huddled together at the back of the Passenger's Deck. Sango yawned and watched in confusion as Inuyasha stormed from the room, his curses trailing behind him like a waving red banner. "There he goes," Sango griped as the door slid closed behind him. The plane jerked again and again they found themselves struggling to keep their balance.
"Just what is Sesshoumaru doing up there?" Miroku wondered out loud as those that managed to stay asleep through the ruckus. Kouga and Ayame left the room quickly, as did Miroku and Sango, leaving Shippou and Souten to watch over Kagome.
"How is she?" Souten asked as Shippou sat down and gently placed Kagome's head on his lap. Shippou sighed and shook his head.
"I don't know," he answered honestly. "She didn't say a word to us back at Deling's Palace and she hasn't awakened. We...I don't know what to do."
"I'm sure she'll wake up soon," Souten reassured him with a soft pat on his shoulder. Shippou looked up gratefully, then sighed again and brushed his finger along Kagome's brow.
"She means so much to me," he whispered somberly. "I don't know what I'd do without her..." Souten watched as he caressed his arm, the scar that once adorned his forearm now smooth, unblemished skin. Kagome's arm held the remains of the scar, the skin now smooth but a dark line traced from her wrist to her elbow.
"I'm sure," Souten began softly, her voice feather light to mask her pain. "I'm sure she knows you're here Shippou, and that you mean a lot to her too."
"Of course I do," Shippou huffed tearfully. "I'm just like a younger brother to her. She and I have protected each other for years." His thoughts bent back to his first battle in Esthar and the bright purple flash of light that sheltered he and Souten from the onslaught of the New Galbadian soldiers. He felt that Kagome had been responsible but wasn't sure until that same purple light purified the youkai standing between them and Deling back at the Desert Prison.
'I...I don't know what I'll do if you don't wake up,' he thought before brushing his lips against her forehead. 'Please, come back to us.'
Souten watched this sadly, her brown eyes wet with tears as Shippou continued to cradle his young friend. She looked up when the doors opened and watched as Sesshoumaru strolled into the room with the rest of the team quickly following behind him. He leaned against a console stationed at the opposite end of the aisle and waited for everyone to settle into their seats, his arms folded against his chest and his denim-clad legs shoulder length apart.
"As you all are aware," Sesshoumaru began once he had their attention. "Our supply situation is the same as it was when we started. I have spoken to the headmaster and he is informed of Deling's termination."
"What about Kagome?" Shippou interrupted earnestly. "What did he say about her?"
"Headmaster said nothing about her," Sesshoumaru assured him. "He stated that he would rendevous with us on the Esthar continent near the Lunar Gate. We are twenty minutes from our scheduled meeting point now. Are there any questions?"
"Are we taking Kagome's home?" Sango asked from her place at the back of the room. Sesshoumaru shrugged his shoulders.
"I do not know Almasy," he admitted with a deep sigh. "I have not received orders confirming nor denying that intention."
"What are they going to do about her anyway?" wondered Kouga aloud. "I mean, did the headmaster say anything at all about a medic waiting for us when we landed."
"No, he did-"
"Would it have killed you to ask?" Shippou demanded hotly. "You're normally Mr. I Know Everything about Everything but now you're clueless! I'm not buying it Sesshoumaru."
"I don't care if you 'buy it' or not kitsune," retorted Sesshoumaru cooly. "I am sure that even your paltry nose can tell you if I'm deceiving you. Now if you'll excuse me, I must prepare to land." Sesshoumaru quit the room without another word, his eyes forward and his head high. He gracefully walked through the Passenger's Deck doors and through the hallway leading to the cockpit lift. He waited until he was in the privacy and safety of the vacant control room to sigh, his head and shoulders sagging with defeat and worry.
Kagome's state of consciousness worried him more than he cared to admit. The questions the others asked him were the exact same questions he asked the headmaster, and it was no surprise that his answers were the same too. Sesshoumaru abandoned his inner thoughts and sat down behind the pilot's console, his hands grasping the controls and flipping off the auto-pilot before scanning the ground below for the Lunar Gate.
Little more than red desert lay below them, but the iridescent blues of the Lunar Gate twinkled in the afternoon twilight. The gate resembled a giant blue slide with a gentle upward slope. Sesshoumaru set the airship down a few feet away from the Lunar Gate's northern terminal where a small green military Jeep waited.
Sesshoumaru lowered the Black Dragon's landing ramp and the SeeD team soon brought themselves at the foot of the ramp in frong of Headmaster Leonheart.
"Team, how was your mission," Headmaster Leonheart asked as he began to pace in front of them
"Successful Headmaster sir!"
"Good," Headmaster Leonheart nodded in approval. "And I understand that your target was eliminated, yes?"
"Yes Headmaster sir!" was h is immediate response. Headmaster Leonheart nodded again and waved his hand. "At ease people. You've done well." He watched as they shook themselves off, grinned and congratulated each other. Only one person remained still, golden eyes piercing Squall's form as they watched him.
"There is more, isn't there Headmaster?"
The others stopped, the depth and unexpectedness of Sesshoumaru's announcement. Sango and the others turned to Squall as he sighed, glacier blue eyes glancing past them to the west.
"Yes," he admitted. "There is more."
"What is it?" Miroku asked urgently. "Is there something we forgot? Something we're missing?"
"It's Kagome isn't it?" Shippou guessed. "Where are the medics for her? Do they think they're something seriously wrong with her?"
"No, it's not that," Squall shook his head. "It is about Kagome, but it's not about her condition. I've spoke to the medical team about her and they believe she's merely sleeping."
"Then what is it?" Inuyasha was the next to ask. "Stop all this suspense business and tell us!"
"It's..." He stepped back and to the side, revealing a pair of Esthar guards. The others watched in wide eyed surprise as the doors to the military Jeep opened and more guards, fifteen in all, surrounded them.
"What's going on?" Inuyasha demanded as he unsheathed his gunblade and pointed it toward the guards. "Hey Headmaster, what's this?"
"They are Esthar's Elite Guardsmen," Headmaster Leonheart replied with a defeated sigh. "They're here...for Kagome."
"WHAT!" Inuyasha, Shippou and Kouga shouted as the others gripped their weapons. "What do they want her for?"
"She's wanted for treason, and for being a Sorceress," Squall tried to explain as the youkai growled around him. "The Esthar government has already tried her and sentenced her to ostracize her."
"How in the hell are they gonna do that!" Shippou asked and tossed a Thunder spell at a guard trying to get past him. "Leaver her on one of the Centra continents."
Sesshoumaru shook his head. The others turned to him and waited, his weaponless hands not missed by the rest of is team as they glared at him. "They will treat her like the last sorceress and send her into space, correct headmaster?"
"Yes," Squall whispered guiltily. "That's exactly what they'll do."
"No way!" Inuyasha exploded suddenly. "No way in hell are they gonna send her away for something she couldn't even stop! She couldn't even do anything Headmaster! Tell him Sesshoumaru, damn it, and stop standing there like some dumbass statue!"
"He's told me already," Headmaster Leonheart assured them. "I've received Sesshoumaru's full report and I in turn gave it to the Esthar government. Kagome is an Esthar citizen and they in turn have the right to judge her as they see fit."
"Well I don't give a damn," Shippou assured him and cracked his knuckles in anticipation. "I'm not going to let them take her. We just got her back for God's sake!"
"Then you all will be tried for treason," one of the guards assured them as he and the rest of his people prepared to fight. "You will spend the rest of your lives in prison."
"That's fine with me," Inuyasha snarled with Kouga, Sango and the others in full agreement. "Let's go-"
They froze instantly, then turned around and watched as Kagome leaned against the wall opposite of the cargo bay ramp. She lifted her head, her dark hair shifting over her shoulder to rest behind her. Tears pooled in her teal eyes and streamed down her pale cheeks to fall at her bare feet. "Just stop," she pleaded and stumbled toward them. "Please..."
"But Kagome," Inuyasha began and reached out when she looked to fall. She looked up at him gratefully, her claw-less fingers gripping his sleeve tightly while she regained her footing. She turned to the guards around them and bowed, her hair once again shifting around her before she stood up again.
"I understand why you're here," Kagome evenly replied as she wiped her face clean. "And I'll gladly go with you-"
"Kagome, you can't!"
"If you'll give me a moment or so to say goodbye to my friends."
The lead guardsman considered this, then gestured for her to proceed. Kagome walked up to Sango and hugged her friend for the first time. Sango gasped in surprise before her tears began, her forehead coming to rest on Kagome's shoulder as she wept bitterly. Kagome whispered something the others couldn't hear and Sango quickly nodded before Kagome moved on. She hugged each of them in turn, including Ayame and Souten. She whispered words of encouragement, of advice and of her love for that person, the smile she left them with happy despite the tears that shimmered like diamonds in her eyes.
She turned away from Shippou, her gaze only turning back when his hand remained clamped to her wrist. She smiled again, patted his hand and gave him the will to let go. She turned toward the last person and walked toward him gingerly, her tears coursing down her face again as she wrapped her arms around Sesshoumaru's waist. He paused, unsure of what to do, before returning the gesture wholeheartedly. She sighed against his chest and nuzzled against him, using her newfound senses to memorize everything about him. His scent was a storm of the emotions he'd never show, including sadness and a sense of loss. She whispered an apology inside his shirt and was surprised when his grief only strengthened.
Sesshoumaru ignored the shock and gasps of the others when his tail wrapped around them, shrouding them beneath it's white fluffiness until it resembled a caterpillar's's cocoon. Kagome looked up at him, her blue green orbs silently questioning him as he gazed down at her. He drank in as much as he could of her and coded her scent, her eyes and her face to memory. He caressed her cheek softly, his touch reverent as she closed her eyes. Her arms left his waist to rest at his neck, the small weight that suddenly settled at his throat unnoticed as she brushed her lips against his cheek.
"I have to go now Sesshoumaru," Kagome whispered sadly. "They're...waiting for me. I'm-" The cocoon burst around them and Sesshoumaru released her quickly, his eyes suddenly guarded as he stepped away from her. Kagome stumbled back, her hand over her heart to steady herself as she gazed up at him.
"I understand," she assured him. She nodded toward the guards and held out her hands and the others sadly watched as the guards quickly clamped a special set of steel sleeves over her hands. The sleeves weighed her arms down, leaving Kagome slumped over as they shackled her ankles together and led her toward the Jeep. The guards loaded her inside and quickly sped off, leaving the headmaster and his SeeD to stand alone in the burning desert. The dust cloud from the Jeep disappeared and the SeeD began to make their way toward the Black Dragon and the Passenger Deck within.
Soon only Squall and Sesshoumaru remained.
"When," Sesshoumaru began, then cleared his throat and tried again when his voice threatened to crack. "When will they Send her?"
"Tomorrow afternoon at 1300 hours."
Sesshoumaru nodded thoughtfully, his eyes distant and unaware as Squall turned toward him. "Sesshoumaru?"
"There is...or there might be a way to keep her here."
Cool sunkissed orbs turned to him instantly, his attention riveted to the human beside him. "Go on."
"Well I'm not sure exactly," Squall told him before he could get his hopes up. "But maybe there's something your father can do. Perhaps you should go and see him."
Sesshoumaru considered this for a moment, then turned and boarded the ship, leaving the headmaster to trail along behind him.
Sesshoumaru sat patiently on his father's couch, his fingertips tapping lightly against each other as he awaited the older youkai's appearance. His flight from Lunar Gate to the recently repaired Airstation had been remarkably short and he'd quit the ship and run from the airstation toward where he knew his father's apartment would be. He caught the older youkai just as he stepped into the apartment and, after a brief greeting, found himself waiting on his couch. He glanced down at his watch and frowned at how late it was becoming, a slight growl escaping his lips before the bedroom doorway nearest him slid open.
"Now that was a shower," a youkai that resembled Sesshoumaru purred in contentment as he dried his hair with a navy blue towel. The youkai's jet black robe dragged along behind him as he walked across the living room and opened the curtains.
"Isn't it beautiful my son," he asked as he gestured toward the city outside. "Esthar has always been a monument to fine architecture. Don't you agree?"
"Yes Father but I-"
"And just look at the sparkling lights," Ambassador Endo mused as he wistfully watched the twinkling below. "There is a sense of awe here that just leaves you breathless."
"I do believe you're making less sense than usual Father," Sesshoumaru determined as he stood up. "I don't have time for this. I must ask you-"
"I cannot wait until I retire," Ambassador Endo pushed ahead in spite of Sesshoumaru's urgency. "Then I'll be able to move here and resume my engineering career. Perhaps I'll be able to find a new bride as well."
"You only call me Father, pup, whenever you have a problem." Ambassador Endo sighed heavily and sank down into a nearby recliner. "What is it Pup? What may I do for you?"
"A...friend of mine has been arrested by the Esthar Elite. What can you do to have them released?"
"Well, I don't know." Ambassador Endo frowned thoughtfully, his right hand raised to gently scratch his chin. "It depends. What have they been arrested for?"
"Well that's different," the elder youkai laughed, fully under the impression that Sesshoumaru was joking. He glanced back and his mirth soured at Sesshoumaru's seriousness, cool golden eyes so much like his own glaring at him scornfully.
"This is far from funny," Sesshoumaru growled irritably. "I need your help and you laugh at me. How typical."
"Now Sesshoumaru," Ambassador Endo said before Sesshoumaru could walk out the door. "I don't fully understand what's going on. What has your friend done to earn the scorn of the Esthar Elite?" Ambassador Endo sat back and listened patiently as Sesshoumaru explained, his only reaction being toward the end when he frowned.
"That is quite complicated," he admitted with a shake of his head. "The answers you want are not a as cut and dry as you think they are."
"Then what must be done?" Sesshoumaru demanded coldly. "Is there anything you can do or not?"
"Well, there would be if this summoner were mine," Ambassador Endo explained. "But seeing as she's not, the foreign powers might think I want to use her for a military advantage. You could petition for her release, since you say she's like a Guardian Force."
"How would I do that?" asked Sesshoumaru.
"Well, you would have to wait until the Esthar Court Offices opened tomorrow morning, then file a complaint about her being taken from you. Then you wait until your case comes up-"
"How long would that take?" Sesshoumaru asked, his right eye ticking slightly at his father's round about way of answering him.
"Oh, at least a couple of months," Ambassador Endo proposed, then smiled helpfully. "I would be willing to use my influence to speed it up to a couple of weeks."
"That is too long," Sesshoumaru determined with a shake of his head. "Isn't there anything else that would take less time?"
Sesshoumaru stopped, the sudden calculating look in Ambassador Endo's amber eyes unnerving. "What is it Father? Spit it out already."
"Well, President Loire could give her to you...as a welcoming gift."
"Welcoming me to what?" Sesshoumaru asked, and growled at the look in his father's eye. "No, I've already told you this. I am not ready to replace you and that will not change."
"They won't give her to me Sesshoumaru," Ambassador Endo reminded him with a heavy exhale. "But they would give her to the new Ambassador as a show of good faith. They would give you almost anything to ensure good will between the nations and youkai/human relations. Sesshoumaru-"
"I know you do not like this-"
"I'm glad. This way I do not have to explain it to you."
"But you must understand," Ambassador Endo sighed. "There are laws to get a GF back, but it takes months and months for the courts of this land to even begin a case like yours. By the time they rule, whether in your favor or not, it will be a few years from now. You want results now, and that's the only way to gain them."
"I am not willing to-"
"You say you want this friend of yours freed, yes?" Ambassador Endo began before Sesshoumaru could finish. "Then what are you willing to do? If you can accept waiting, and risk the chance that the courts will deny you, then be my guest. I assure you Sesshoumaru, you will get what you ask for if you become the ambassador. It is not as if you don't know what the position holds."
"Yes but-" Sesshoumaru sighed then, his head hanging slightly as he turned to windows and the Esthar horizon. "Is there really no other way?"
Ambassador Endo clamped a gentle, understanding hand on Sesshoumaru's shoulder. "You have to ask yourself," he said as he watched the first bursts of orange appear on the city's background. "What is more precious to you? You're career and life as a SeeD, or this 'friend' of yours? Is she truly worth it?"
"I...am not sure."
"Ah, then perhaps she's not," the ambassador mused as he turned away from the window. "But remember son, there are different types of women in the world, but only one will make you feel complete. Does she make you feel weak, yet strong at the same time? Does her smile bring out the best in you? Do her tears make you ill? Is her heartbreak yours too?"
The answer came without warning, without bidding and without contradiction...
"Then what are we doing standing here?" Ambassador Endo happily said as he shoved Sesshoumaru toward the bathroom. "We need to hurry and get you ready. You have a meeting to go to in a couple of hours."
Sesshoumaru stood in front of the Presidential Conference Room door, his eyes crisp and over alert as he waited for the president's secretary to page him inside the room. He tugged on the sleeve of his black pinstripe suit nervously, his claws whisking away an insignificant piece of imaginary lint. His hair was pulled back in a low ponytail and he felt he looked no different, except for the small pin now attached to his lapel. The tiny blue crescent moon shone like a star against it's dark canvas, yet the little jewel symbolized so much to himself, his family and the world around him. He was no longer Commander Sesshoumaru Endo, that life now left at on the floor of his father's apartment.
Sesshoumaru glanced up from his inspection of his sleeve to the bulbous face of the toad-like secretary bowing to him.
"President Loire has been informed of your presence." The little green man bowed then, the tip of his sharp thin beak tapping against the cold marble floor of the waiting room. "If you would follow me please."
Sesshoumaru nodded and proceeded after the little man, his thoughts still back at the Black Dragon where Inuyasha and the others at first refused to allow him to leave their sights. Nothing had been explained to them, or at least nothing on his part in the whole affair of things, but the team managed to accept what he did tell them including his resignation from the SeeD military forces. Sesshoumaru inwardly sighed before squaring his shoulders, knowing that the next couple of minutes would require his full and undivided attention.
"Here we are sir," said the toad as he stopped at the end of a dimly lit hallway made entirely of glass. The newborn rays of the sun cast shadows over the large silver door ahead of them. The toad opened the door for him and stood aside, his head once again bowed as Sesshoumaru stepped into the conference room. His ears twitched at the heavy sound of the door closing. To Sesshoumaru, the sound more final than it should have been.
'There is no time for this,' he scolded himself as he straightened his tie and proceeded toward the large circular table in the center of the room. 'My decision has been made and now is not the time for unfounded nervousness.' A human male, perhaps in his late fifties or early sixties, paced along the opposite side of the table. He moved from a file cabinet hidden deep within the metallic wall behind him to the table where he placed folders at seven of the nine seats around the table. He looked up in surprise when Sesshoumaru finally stepped into the light, familiar icy blue eyes widening in surprise at the younger version of Galbadia's ambassador.
"Um," the man began as he stopped to scratch his head. Hair that had once been light in his youth had darkened to a near black before the iridescent streaks of gray that now peppered within. "Who are you? You're not Ambassador Endo."
"I am the ambassador," Sesshomaru corrected as he gestured toward his pin. "But no, I am not Sugimi. He is my father."
"Oh, you must be the young prince then," the man laughed suddenly, the coldness and suspension in his orbs melting into welcome and mirth. "Well of course you are! Who else would you be? I'm terribly sorry."
"About what?" Sesshoumaru asked and sat down when one of the conference chairs was offered to him.
"About not having the proper reception for you, that's what," the man said, then reached out his hand. "I'm the president, Laguna Loire. My apologies for not introducing myself earlier but you surprised me and there is only so much this old heart of mine can handle."
Sesshoumaru nodded in acceptance and watched with dwindling patience as the president continued sorting through folders. "Mr. President, if I may-"
"I only wish I knew you were coming," President Loire muttered more to himself than to Sesshoumaru as he sorted through another file before putting it away. "Then I could have had the other ambassadors come and welcome you."
"That is not necessary," Sesshoumaru assured him. "The decision for my father to retire was a sudden one and I only assumed the role this morning."
"Is Sugimi sick or something?" the president interjected worriedly. "I saw no signs of it in our last meeting."
"No, Father is quite well," Sesshoumaru replied calmly, though inside he was literally seething at how long it was taking to get to his reason for being there. "I thank you for his concern though."
"Whew, that's a relief," President Loire breathed aloud. "I am confused though. Sugimi knew that we had a meeting later this afternoon about funding and relief efforts to the countries devastated by President Deling. I'm sure you know all about his demise."
Sesshoumaru nodded patiently. "Yes, I witnessed it shortly before I retired from SeeD."
"Yes, that's right," the president reminded himself as he sat down in a chair opposite of Sesshoumaru. "You were a SeeD weren't you? You made it all the way to Commander, right?"
"Yes, but that is a different lifetime."
"Yes, I suppose it is," President Loire sighed wistfully, his glacier blue eyes thoughtful for a few moments. He turned back to the present, and Sesshoumaru, when Sesshoumaru cleared his throat. "Well, I suppose there is a reason for you being extremely early for this meeting."
"There is, but it has nothing to do with the meeting."
"Then what is it?" asked President Loire as he made himself comfortable. It was then that Sesshoumaru noticed the president's state of attire, his white pyjamas and lounge robe suggesting that the elder gentleman hadn't long been out of bed. "I can tell that something important is bothering you, so please, let's hear it."
Sesshoumaru took a deep breath and steadied himself, his earlier preparation quickly coming to mind before he began. "You are aware of the existence of GFs, or Guardian Forces, correct Mr. President?"
"Please, call me Laguna," the president replied before nodding solemnly. "Yes, I'm vaguely aware of the creatures. They helped quite a deal in the Second Sorceress War."
Sesshoumaru nodded in appeasement. "I used many GFs during my time as a SeeD. During this time, one GF was stolen from me and used to cause considerable harm to others."
"My word," the president audibly gasped. "That is unfortunate. Surely you know who took it from you?"
"I do and I am glad to say that I was able to retrieve her back and punish the thief. However..."
"However what?" President Loire asked when Sesshoumaru suddenly stopped talking. "What is it?"
"My GF was taken from me again...and that brings me to ask your opinion on the responsibilities of a GF."
"I don't understand," the president admitted with a frown. "What responsibilities are we speaking of?"
"Of course a GF is responsible for protecting the one who carries it's summoning stone," Sesshoumaru mused thoughtfully. "But what other responsibilities does it have? Can it be charged for vandalism, or murder?"
"No, not that I know of," President Loire replied with a shake of his head. "A GF is only as responsible as the person controlling it and if the summoner has commanded it to cause harm to others, especially the innocent, it is the summoner who is responsible for the trespass, not the GF."
"And you truly believe this?" Sesshoumaru asked, his golden eyes clear as glass as he studied the president.
"Yes, yes I do," Laguna nodded eagerly, with a calm smile.
"Then why have you arrested Kagome Higurashi?"
President Loire froze then, his smile wilting like flowers on a hot, dry day. "Kagome Higurashi is a traitor and a terrorist. She conspired with President Deling to-"
"Kagome was injured during a rescue operation three months before," Sesshoumaru coldly interrupted. "She was taken from her team and pronounced dead not too long after."
"And what does that have to do with her ca-"
"Deling knew from the beginning that Kagome was a GF, something that not even her own parents were aware of. He took advantage of our ignorance, Kagome's included, and used her alter self to cause the destruction to Galbadia and Trabia."
"That is no excuse," President Loire responded as he quit his seat and walked toward a window at the opposite end of the room. "Higurashi is an Esthar citizen and as such-"
"You know as well as I do that a GF, no matter what country she may have been born in, cannot belong to either government."
"You test my patience," President Loire sighed as he glared over his shoulder. "It has been a long time since the last person was brave enough."
"And you test mine Mr. President," Sesshoumaru growled back and stood up. "You know as well as I the laws that govern over GFs and their treatment, including their misuse."
"Yes, but Higurashi isn't a GF," President Loire countered. "She cannot be Junctioned, she has no special abilities and you have no evidence of such even if it were true."
"That is where you are wrong," Sesshoumaru replied as he crossed the room toward him. "I have her Junctioned and even though she is not with me I still have access to certain...abilities." He unsheathed Shikyo and slowly waved the weapon. The sinister looking blade began to glow a deep purple and Sesshoumaru smirked when Laguna's eyes widened in shock. "I have her Holy absorbent abilities Junctioned to my defense and attack capabilities." He sheathed his gunblade, loosened his tie, unbuttoned the collar of his white dress shirt and gestured toward his throat.
"Here is her summoning stone," he said as he gestured toward the tiny silver necklace. The blue star winked merrily in the sparse light and Sesshoumaru smirked again in triumph. "She belongs to me Laguna, and I wish to have her back as soon as possible."
"What do you plan to do with her?" President Loire demanded hotly. "If I'm to believe you, then Higurashi is a powerful weapon, one the others of the council won't like you wielding over their heads. For what reason should I hand her over to you?"
"Because I am not interested in the weapon," Sesshoumaru answered truthfully, his eyes blazing just as angrily as the human in front of him. "I am interested in the woman behind it." Sesshoumaru frowned when his throat suddenly tightened, the sensation lasting for only a few moments before it passed him. He touched his neck gingerly and touched what felt to be a metallic collar. The silver metal glimmered brightly in the room with the star in the middle seated beneath his Adam's apple.
"So I see," President Loire nodded as Sesshoumaru continued his inspection of his neck. Laguna gave a deep sigh then, startling Sesshoumaru into gazing back at him as Laguna reached toward a nearby phone. "Tell me Ambassador," he asked as he picked up the phone and began to dial. "Do you plan to use her for war against the council?"
"No, not at all," Sesshoumaru shook his head. Laguna nodded. "Good. Yes, hello," he said once the other end of the connection was picked up. "There is a launch scheduled for today. Cancel it. Yes, I'm sure. No, I'll send Administrators Zabac and Seagill to see to the procedures. Thank you." He turned back to Sesshoumaru and smiled, his expression one of fatherly understanding and acceptance. "You may retrieve your GF whenever you are ready Ambassador," he said as he stood up and held out his hand. "I do hope you'll remember our meeting though."
"I shall Mr. President," Sesshoumaru stoically replied as a wave of relief washed over him. His shoulders visibly relaxed and the cold snaps of his aura diminished. "Thank you."
"It's no problem Sesshoumaru," President Loire laughed jovially. "You're not the first person to want someone released from the Sorceress Memorial and I'm sure you won't be the last. Hopefully I'll have retired by then!" He laughed as Sesshoumaru nodded, the use of Sesshoumaru's name gone unnoticed as Sesshoumaru said his goodbyes and hurriedly quit the room. Laguna shook his head in amusement before pressing the intercom button connecting to his secretary.
"Jaken, please be sure to inform Ambassadors Bravali and Ryais that our meeting is to be postponed for another time. It seems the Galbadian ambassador has something he needs to attend to and will be unable to attend the meeting."
"Of course sir," was the little toad man's reply before the intercom fell silent. Laguna leaned back in his chair and relaxed, his eyes sparking as he regarded the new day.
'Perhaps we should dismantle the Memorial's ejection laboratory,' he mused with yet another laugh. 'It seems that every time we try to isolate a young woman into one, some hero steps up and takes her away. Oh well...'
Sesshoumaru's arrival at the Sorceress Memorial was a swift one, despite Inuyasha and Shippou insisting on accompanying him. They stood waiting for him outside the Presidential Palace for him and refused to leave until he relented to their demands.
'They will be of use to me once we arrive,' Sesshoumaru determined as he straightened his tie and glanced at the pair seated opposite him. The president lent Sesshoumaru his person car as a gesture of good will, the beautiful piece of Esthar technology far more useful than it would have been to travel using the airship. 'They will distract any of the bothersome guardsmen that may be around while I extract Kagome.'
"We're here Mr. Ambassador," the driver announced as he parked and turned off the car. "I think they're expecting you inside."
"Thank you," Sesshoumaru muttered absently. He opened the door and stepped out, leaving Inuyasha and Shippou to fend for themselves as Sesshoumaru began his steady assent to the top of the massive white stairs that lead to a pair of white double doors darkened by the hot desert sun. They slid open easily and the cooled air from inside brushed against his cheek as he stepped inside.
The memorial's staff stepped around him easily, their gaze rarely glancing away from whatever important work they were doing. Sesshoumaru passed through the only set of doors ahead of him and entered the laboratory inside.
"Who are you young man?" an elderly gentleman with a wreath of crisp white hair demanded angrily. "This isn't the time to interrupt us. We have very important business and-"
"It's ok Dr. Warner," one of his lab technicians interrupted quickly. "This is the ambassador the president told us about."
"Oh, right." The doctor walked away without an apology, leaving Sesshoumaru to smolder at his rudeness and his assistant to blush in embarrassment.
"Please forgive him Ambassador," she said as she gently grasped his arm. Sesshoumaru quickly pulled away and frowned, his displeasure obvious enough for the technician to blush again. "I'm so sorry sir," she quickly apologized. "I didn't know-"
"Where is she?"
"Oh, um..." The tech blinked a moment, then turned and walked toward a short passageway. "Right this way sir," she said as she gestured toward a pair of steel cobalt blue double doors. Sesshoumaru stepped forward and waited until he dismissed the technician before walking into the room. The room was massive and dimly lit, the shadows that closed in on him unnoticed as tiny pin lights lit up along the walkway below him. Wires and tubes of various colors and sizes snaked from the darkness toward a glass sphere at the opposite end of the ramp way in the center of the room. A calming white light glowed from inside. The glow was brilliant and beautiful but it blocked his view of what was inside. He glanced away after a moment's study of the sphere and finally caught sight of a pair of technicians frantically working on a console nearest the glass orb.
"Are you almost finished?" the older of the two men demanded as they frantically typed on the massive sets of keyboards. The younger man nodded. "Yes Michael, I just have a few items to type in, then it's finished."
"Well hurry up! We don't want to keep the ambassador waiting!" Michael glanced up quickly, then stopped and gave the sphere his full attention. "Who changed her clothes?"
"I um..." The younger man blushed in shame. "...well she asked for something more comfortable and I couldn't refuse her. I gave her one of my spare shirts to 'sleep' in." He sighed and gazed wistfully at the ball. "She was so sad..."
Michael stopped working and leaned against the console's side. "I felt pretty bad for her myself," he admitted as he too stared into the orb. "She wept so bitterly we examined her we thought we were hurting her. She calmed herself enough to assure us that we weren't and even attempted to calm us long enough to finish. I don't see how someone so sweet and gentle could have caused all that damage. Oh well," he sighed before returning to work. "That's not our place to decide. Hurry up Vincent."
The pair returned to work, still unaware of Sesshoumaru's presence as he ventured down the corridor to stand in front of the orb. Kagome hung suspended in the center, supported on little more than air with her hair pulled back and her arms stretched out at her sides. An oversized white dress shirt hung loosely from her hourglass figure and every button but the top three were fastened securely. Her hair was swept over her shoulder in a jet black stream. She appeared to be sleeping with the tears she recently shed still glistening on her still, angelic face.
A crow of triumph broke Sesshoumaru out of his silent musings of her and her turned cool eyes toward the technicians. "There," Michael breathed as he punched in the last command. "I'm finished. What about you?"
"I'm finished too," Vincent nodded as he stepped away from the console and glanced up. The wiring connected to the sphere burst free in a angry hiss of compressed air. Multicolored wires snaked like deflated balloons until the sphere stood alone once mor.
"Alright, let's go," Michael said finally. He turned and paled instantly, fear flooding his scent as Sesshoumaru glanced back at him. Vincent glanced at him curiously, then shrugged and gave Sesshoumaru a respectful bow.
"I trust things are in order?"
"Of course Ambassador," Vincent said while Michael struggled to regain his voice. "Forgive my mentor here. Youkai make him nervous."
"As well we should," Sesshoumaru dryly remarked. "You are dismissed."
Vincent bowed again and quit the room, dragging his silent companion with him. Sesshoumaru glanced over his shoulder when the doors slid closed, his lids downcast and his shoulders relaxed before he returned his attention to Kagome.
"I am sorry for my earlier treatment of you," he softly whispered as his clawed fingertips touched the glass between him and her face. "This Sesshoumaru was...frightened and angry and I took it out on you. It would seem that every time I manage to return you to my grasp something comes along to steal you away." He took a cleansing breath, his eyes momentarily secreted away before determination snapped them open. "That will not happen again, I assure you."
Sesshoumaru stepped back, shed his suit jacket and draped it over the walkway's high railing before unsheathing Shikyou from his left side. He weighed the weapon in his hands, the solid grip and heaviness of his gunblade a comfort to his sudden nervousness as he took aim at the glass that kept Kagome from him. He inhaled deeply and struck, the sharp edge of Shikyou's dark metal slicing through the glass as if it were butter. Sesshoumaru stepped back again and smirked at the deep gash along the glass's front but frowned when a purple light sealed it back again. In a flash the wound was healed, leaving little more than a minuscule scrap behind.
"What the he-"
Sesshoumaru blinked, his confusion for once written on his features as he glanced around him.
'Is that you? Sesshoumaru?'
'Kagome?' he questioned in disbelief. He was unused to another initiating mental contact with him so it was a shock when her soft voice caressed his mind. 'How are you doing thi-'
'What are you doing here?' she softly asked him. 'Why aren't you with the others?'
'Why else would I be here Little Gunner?' Sesshoumaru smirked as he shifted Shikyou's weight from one hand to another. 'I've come to free you.'
'You can't!' was her whispered gasp as Sesshoumaru once again struck her cage. This time the blade made contact with a purple barrier that flared from out of empty air. Sesshoumaru frowned again, this time in displeasure as the barrier expanded around her.
"Kagome," he called out when the barrier began to push outward. "What are you doing?"
'You can't stay,' she pleaded as the barrier inched closer to him. 'You have to go and leave me here. I won't go with you.'
"Why?" he asked and glanced down once the purple wall reached him. The wall pushed him back instead of purifying him like he expected. "Kagome, you will answer me."
'Hm,' she huffed good naturedly. 'Still so demanding...I'm going to miss that.'
'Miss what and why? Why do you not you want to come with me? Do you not you wish to be free?'
'Free?' was her dismayed bark of laughter. 'I can never be free. I don't deserve to be free. I'm a monster.' A tear slid down her passive features, her visage appeared for all the world to be deep in slumber.
'That is ridiculous,' countered Sesshoumaru. 'Do you consider me a monster?'
'I'm not like you.'
'You are. You are like Inuyasha and your precious kitsune as well. You are-'
'I AM NOT LIKE YOU!'
Sesshoumaru winced, the blossoming headache from her outburst growing behind his eyes as she sobbed in his mind.
'I'm nothing like you, or anyone else on Spira!' she despaired desperately. 'You all were born the way you are now. I...I don't know what I am.'
'Then we will find out together,' Sesshoumaru offered calmly, Shikyou sheathed for now as he reached out and touched the barrier. 'But we can learn nothing if you do not allow me to release you.'
'I don't deserve to be released,' Kagome whimpered pitifully. 'Don't you get it Sesshoumaru? I'm dangerous. There isn't a city in the world that would accept me...not that I blame them. And what if Seraphim is called out again? Who'll control her and keep her from hurting others?
'I will, of that you can be assured. What Seraphim did isn't your fault. It is not even the GF's fault. Kagome, come with me.'
'I'm tired of fighting,' she whispered instead. 'I'm tired of the blood, of the tears, of the pain. And I don't want to be feared. That's something you might get a kick out of, but not me.'
"Kagome," Sesshoumaru chose to say out loud. His instincts roared at the finality in her 'voice', his inner beast howling at her distress as she seemed to shrink away from him. "Kagome what are you-"
'When Esthar sends me into space I'll sleep,' she mused dreamily, her voice choked with tears. 'I'll sleep forever, sleep long after I'm forgotten by my friends...my family...by you-'
'Never!' he snarled defiantly, his eyes briefly flashing red at the thought.
'I'll sleep and dream of all of you,' she promised. The barrier began to push him down the hallway, his unmoving feet sliding along the slick metal floor as she pushed him toward the doorway. 'I'll dream of Inuyasha's stubbornness, of the children Sango and Miroku are bound to have, of Shippou's first love and you...I'll dream of you most of all.' Another tear graced her cheeks, and Sesshoumaru growled and struck the barrier.
'I won't put you in danger,' Kagome sobbed brokenly. 'I care about you too much for that! I'm sorry Sesshoumaru...Goodbye...'
All ties with her were severed. Sesshoumaru felt alone, truly alone for the first time in his life and he quickly found that he didn't like the feeling. He already knew that Kagome had managed to fill the dark hole that was once in his heart, yet he never really understood how much she meant to him until now. 'I could actually lose her,' he finally realized as the sound rubber scrapping of his shoes filled the room. He rebelled at the idea and attacked the barrier, he and his inner youkai of one mind as his lightening whip lashed against the purple wall.
"You will not do this," he growled at her silent form as he continued his attack. "You will not deny me. Kagome, you will answer me." 'Answer me!' he thundered toward her, his tight restraints on his control slipping under her silence.
'Kagome please,' he relented, his attacks ceasing as he rested his hands against the barrier and closed his eyes. 'You cannot do this. You cannot leave me. I...need you. Please, don't leave me again.' He inwardly searched for ways to get her to respond to him, any scrap piece of information about her from over the years quickly flipping through his mental files as he searched for an answer. His memories of her smiles, her laughter and her constant defiance only made him more desperate. He slammed his fist against the barrier in despair, his heart, newly found, now sinking the further the barrier pushed him away from her.
"I will do anything," Sesshoumaru whispered somberly. "Anything for you. Simply say it and it shall be done. Just stay with me...please."
He felt her then, her tiny caress on his senses and her lily fragrance along the recycled air around him, but didn't feel her surrender. She knew of his wishes, of his feelings, and was touched but not touched enough for her to risk the lives of others.
"I'll..." Sesshoumaru began, his mind still flipping over pages and pages of information as he struggled to strengthen the link between them. "I'll build a house..."
He felt it, her mental Huh at his blurted words, but he felt it and knew that he had her attention again.
"I will build it high in the cliffs above Winhill," he said and allowed his imagination to create a mental picture of his plans. "It will be a place buried deep inside the cliff face. There will be a massive garden with any manner of tree I can get my hands on. I'll even plant them if you want."
He smiled when she laughed. The sound was watery but alive and it gave him some hope. She laughed again at his mental picture of him knee deep in red earth, his claws and face caked with a thick layer of dirt with a hole and a young sapling waiting to be planted.
"You'll be able to look down on Winhill and the wildlife that you love so much. Your family could visit you and in a few years, after the world's forgotten Deling's madness, you'll be able to visit them too.
The barrier stilled, the insistent shoving paused as a single question floated toward him.
'Because,' Sesshoumaru began before he laid his soul bare to her. He kept nothing from her, taking her back to her first impression of him:
You're a royal dick. Later Sesshoumaru
To the first signs of the fire in her spirit, the same spirit that haunted him for years afterward:
I don't need you Sesshoumaru! You'll see..I don't need you to save me. From now on, I'm going to save myself.
Her gratitude inside the Emergency Shelter and that first real tug at his cold heart:
Thank you for looking after me. I know I've been a perfect pest but you stuck with me. I totally appreciate it so, you know, thanks.
To her hopeful inquiry to become his first real friend, unaware that she'd already become something much more precious to him:
Do you promise? Promise that we'll stay friends no matter what?
And her dying confession, her pained attempts at a goodbye, her sacrifice for his good and the sudden agony of the months spent without her scarred on his heart:
If I could do everything over again, I'd tell you how I feel about you. I'd tell you that I think of you as more than just a friend, that I care about you more than words could ever say even when you piss me off. If I could do things over again I'd tell you that and you'd just have to deal with it. Just remember Sesshoumaru, this wasn't your fault. You did the best you could...
I will never, ever forget it...
'I don't understand. Sesshoumaru, why are you showing me this?'
'You do too understand,' he smirked wryly as a mental picture of himself stood on her mental plain of existence. 'You are no where near as simple as you are pretending to be.'
'But that would mean that-' she stammered in confusion. 'But you can't-not me! Maybe someone else but-oh Sesshoumaru, I don't understand! Not with me!'
'I have not been perfect,' he admitted and fought the urge to frown at her shocked gasp at his confession. 'I have lied to myself and in turn pushed you away. You have every right to not believe me but I would gladly show you...for the rest of my life
'If you will allow it. Please Kagome, stand by my side. There is no one that could take your place.'
Sesshoumaru waited for her response, his forehead still pressed against the coolness of the purple wall and his breath held. He had not meant to tell her so much, but now that it was said he would not retract it. She belonged to him, with him, just as much as he belonged to her.
The collar around his neck told them so.
Sesshoumaru opened his mind to speak again when the barrier shattered, the sound of gently ringing bells fluttering around him as the purple wall crumbled and faded before him. He stood back, his impassive face belying the shock he felt as the remains of it drifted toward the darkness above him like snow. He watched it leave and quickly looked back at the gentle ahhh coming from the glass sphere. The front of the dome shifted out, then slowly swivelled upward. He darted forward when Kagome began to droop, her shoulders and head the first to sag forward before she fell. Sesshoumaru caught her easily and they both tumbled to the ice cold floor.
Sesshoumaru absorbed the brunt of the fall and wrapped his tail around her to protect her. He sat up with his legs crossed and situated Kagome until she rested in his lap, her head against his right shoulder and her legs bent over his left knee. He cradled her gently, burnished orbs set intently on her face as she struggled to the waking world.
"Sesshoumaru?" she called out as she blinked at the darkness around her.
"I am here."
She inhaled deeply, her eyes closed again as she grasped the clawed hand at her side. She squeezed and smiled when he squeezed back. "Did you mean what you said?" she asked before she gazed up at him. "Are you sure you want me?"
"I am," he nodded with a smirk. "Though I'm sure to wonder why in a few months."
"Hmnh!" she angrily huffed and gave his arm a weak swat. "You're such a charmer!"
You know, not every female thinks you're the stuff...
"But what about the others," Kagome asked worriedly, her fingers nervously twirling in her hair and her gaze anywhere but Sesshoumaru's intense gaze. "Won't the governments and Gardens get mad at you?"
"It would not matter if they were," he replied softly. "There is little they can do to one such as me."
Kagome glanced up, confused, and it was then she noticed the pin. "Oh no," she whispered brokenly, guilty tears rising in her eyes as she traced the simple piece that signified so much. "I'm so sorry Sesshoumaru," she wept then. "I've been so much trouble for you and now look. You've thrown everything you've wanted away."
"Nonsense." He purred soothingly as he wiped away her tears, waiting patiently for her to calm herself before brushing his thumb against her chin and gracing her with one of his rare smiles. "There is nothing to be sorry for. This was my choice and I have no regret." Kagome sat up, wrapped her arms around his neck, and brushed her nose against his neck
'Not a single one,' he said to himself as his grasp on her tightened. His hands grasped the hair that fell at her waist and he closed his eyes, his mind and aura content for the first time.
'Nor will I ever so long as I have you...'
Two gunblades sat in the desert heat, their tips buried deep within the compacted earth of the cliffside and their handles pointed toward the heavens.
The sunlight beaming down on them reflected gaily off of the stirring blue of one gunblade while it soaked within the onyx of the other.
Two weapons, both as contradictory as the masters that wielded them; and yet they were joined together...forever...
With a flash of light...
A glimmer of hope...
A cross of blades...
SF: Yay! It's over! Somebody give this girl a beer!
Kagome: Eww, you drink beer!
SF :Um, no! Gross! I just want to toss it around.
Miroku: Weird girl! Oh well. No use wasting good brew. (Grabs a beer and sits on the couch)
Sango: Miroku, I don't think that's a good idea!
Inu-chan: Hey, I've got a question!
SF: Shoot-and it'd better be a good one! I'll fry you if it's something stupid.
(Sesshou moves further across the stage and sits down)
Inu-chan: Is it just me, or did Sesshoumaru fall in love with Kagome all of a sudden? I mean, that was real quick SF. You're gonna get flamed.
SF: No I won't. Let's go back to the first chapter, when she first saw you guys. Didn't you wonder why he let Kagome get away with that crack against him?
Sango: Yeah, that was weird.
SF: And when she and Souta were running from the T-rexaur; why in the world did he even care, no less go help her?
Kagome: She's got a point too.
SF: And the list goes on and on, to the bet he made with her when she became a Seed, and his concern for her after the massacre in Bika Snowfield during one of New Galbadia's first attacks. I could go on and on, but I won't. But you see my point, don't you Inu-chan.
Inu-chan: yeah, I get ya. (Grabs a beer and sits down)
SF: Well if that's it then this is it! Thanks so much to everyone who supported this fic and waited so patiently for it to finish. You guys were cool and your encouragement was just what I needed to finally finish this fic. Thanks to those who voted it BEST ALTERNATIVE FICTION 2006 on A Single Spark! You guys thought I forgot about that huh! Lol. Oh, and thanks to all the new people, the people who put this story on their favorite's list and to everyone who passed this story along to their friends. You guys are so cool!
Tuesday, July 11th 2006