Just A Starving Writer
Disclaimer: nope, not mine.
Author's Plea: This should be rather short and pointless.
Part 1: April, May, June, July
It had taken three days this time to turn in all her homework, make up a few tests, and relieve all her old friends that she was still alive, not to mention borrow notes from an overly sensitive Hojo. Three days of complete and utter hell.
Therefore, it came as no surprise that she was happy when she climbed out of the well and into the Feudal Era. Happy beyond measurement...until she noticed no one was waiting for her.
However, her disappoint faded in light of the pure beauty of the land around her. The moonlight, the flowers, the clean air...it was temptation in the form of a serene landscape, a temptation near impossible to resist. Though Kagome was by no means weak, this was simply not something she could pass up. After all, it was completely innocent to want to enjoy such a simple thing.
Having convinced herself that there was absolutely no possible way for this simple pleasure to cause any harm, she dropped her bag to the ground beside the well and took off at a run.
The scenery rushed by in darkened green blur as the cool evening air breathed life into lungs that were tired of the pollution of the modern world. As her muscles fell into a most welcome rhythm, she felt more alive than she had in a long time and, in fact, more in love with life than ever before.
Kagome was well aware of her location. After traveling all over Feudal Japan for years, she had learnt some measure of navigation and the lands surrounding the well were second nature to her. Thus, she was expert when it came to avoiding all the pitfalls and low tree branches. Ducking speedily and jumping over stumps added to the odd sight she surely made, had there been any to see her.
She was worried for a split second when the thought of stray youkai crossed her mind, but she let it slide by her with the wind to flutter into nonexistence. After all, this close to the village it was rare to see a dangerous youkai. As well, there was simply no way something bad could happen on a night as alive as this. This kind of night only allowed positive encounters or, at the very least, promising moonlit fields of flowers.
And thus it was that she burst through the trees into what must have been her destination: a rather large clearing amidst the forest, covered in pale blooms as the white light of the moon lit them to an eerily beautiful brilliance. Skirting the site without allowing her pace to slow, she almost missed the being she shared the night with.
The uncomfortable feeling of eyes watching her finally brought her to a rather sudden stand still. Frozen in mid stride, she turned her panting head slowly to the side to spot her spectator. A perfect match to the location, the taiyoukai glowed with the moon, frosted by the pale light on his shoulders and the pale flowers at his feet.
Surprise ruled supreme. While fear may have been more welcome, Kagome simply couldn't force the emotion to the surface, not with the beauty of the night. For his part, the youkai lord remained still, carefully blank eyes watching every breath of the girl who had now turned to face him.
Whatever he had been expecting, it was doubtful her reaction was it. Giggling with exhausted lungs, she let her sparkling eyes roam the field once more before she turned and ran back the direction she had come. She felt his eyes on her long after she re-entered the forest.
Tomorrow, at dawn, they would begin the search again. Tomorrow, at dawn, they would once again leave the safety of the village and seek their destiny...or their death.
But tonight...o, tonight belonged to them. The drizzle had not ceased since the afternoon, when Kagome had once again lugged herself out of the well and into her second life. While it seemed to put everyone else into a rather dreary frame of mind, the miko could not help but smile as she watched the drips collect on the soggy ground.
"Why the hell are you smiling?" the hanyou asked, his attitude not much improved since his hastily eaten bowl of ramen.
"It's just such a nice day," she replied, her smile widening as she took a deep breath of the humid air.
"Feh, it's raining, idiot."
"So? That doesn't mean it's not beautiful."
Sighing in resignation, she decided perhaps her good cheer was best shared with the landscape. Excusing herself, much to the dismal protests of the shard hunters, she left the security of the dry hut in exchange for the cool wetness of the soft rain.
The longer she walked, the farther away the village grew, and the more she became surrounded by untouched nature, the lighter her step became. Before long, on a particularly dark stretch of road, she felt all the stress that had accumulated from a long week in the present fade into nothing. Giggling like the school girl she was, she extended her arms to the sides and spun, reveling in the purity of the world around her. Without another sound, she took off, no more than an animal in the night, seeking in her speed some source of bliss that she had not yet contained.
How long she had been running, she did not know. While she was still not too terribly far from the village, she knew she was farther than she should be. Still, that thought did not bother her as much as perhaps it should. There was no way she could make herself believe that anything bad could happen on a night as intriguing as this. No, this kind of night was meant for clandestine meetings with secret lovers and late night escapes to fairy rings.
The moon broke out from between the clouds and briefly shed light on the dark world. The sudden inflow of luminosity gave her pause and she stopped her headlong rush to gaze into its source. She was not expecting there to be a being in between the pale satellite and herself.
Once again she felt the strange rush of being watched and once again she met the eyes of the silent lord. He stood upon the cliff far above her, illuminated by the half moon at his back that shadowed his features even as it made her shine in an unearthly glow.
The ever moving clouds once again imprisoned the light, and in the darkness, the moment was lost. Still, she knew he remained but she could not bring herself to care. He hadn't killed her yet and that was in her favor.
Smiling broadly, she turned on her heel and ran back toward the village in the rain.
The demon was playing with her. Already separating her from her companions, it seemed intent upon killing her in the most gruesome way possible before stealing her shards of the jewel.
Of course, as usual, the demon was underestimating her. The bow and arrows she carried were potentially deadly when laced with miko powers, something she could surely grip onto under such dire circumstances. Still, she hesitated, and seeing this, the demon attacked.
Her hands were trembling as she released the arrow. With no one to protect but herself, the temper that usually gave her courage was not present. It threw off her aim and the demon was easily able to dodge the arrow and come at her.
She drew out another arrow but tripped in her semi-conscious backwards progress before she had the opportunity to even fit it into her bow. Confident death was upon her, she fiercely shut her eyes as the youkai towered over her. With the sudden feeling of breath upon her face, she instinctively thrust the arrow still gripped in her hand up and into her attacker.
More than anything, she sensed his demise. The additional feeling of dust covering her still shaking form was only extra proof. Still, she refused to open her eyes until a few minutes passed and she could do so without fear of surprise.
It felt like too much. Covered in the remains of a youkai that had been intent upon her bloody demise, she suddenly wanted to be free of all the responsibilities that kept her coming back to this time period. Two years of shard hunting, two years of chasing an ultimate villain, two years of ruining her future life, and now she wanted nothing more than to be free of it. Though it was beyond a doubt her that honor would never allow her to do such a thing, she could still ache for that freedom that would not be given to her until her journey was completed.
Stumbling to a nearby stream, she limply splashed water on her face before giving up and walking into the cold water. Kneeling in the middle of the stream, she wanted to cry for all the times she had come close to death.
In the back of her mind, she recognized the all too familiar sensation of someone watching her. Turning dull, teary eyes to the other bank, she spotted between the trees the all too familiar taiyoukai. He wasn't alone this time, but he might have well have been. Dimly she realized the annoying retainer was missing but the two-headed dragon labored behind him, carrying its burden of a sleeping child quite easily. Currently, both demons had stopped to look upon her.
He was closer this time and this gave her the ability to recognize the expression that formed on his face. It did not surprise her, having seen it directed at both her and Inuyasha in the past. The obvious disgust at her weakness made her ashamed and instantly she avoided his intense gaze, focusing instead on her hands as they interrupted the surface flow of the water.
The instant the realization hit her she looked up to meet once more the cold eyes of the lord.
Despite all odds, despite the danger of her quest, despite the ultimate enemy, Kagome was still alive, and that was something. There was no need to mope while she still lived. In fact, it was all the more important considering her lifestyle that she experience life as fully as possible.
Grinning broadly at the taiyoukai, she stood up, letting the water fall from her form even as she turned back towards the bank. She could vaguely hear her friends calling for her in the distance and she needed to find them before they worried themselves.
Before rushing off to her comrades to no doubt begin bandaging their injuries, she took one last look across the stream, only to see nothing. Smiling, she ran into the woods.
Kagome decided that one of these days, she was going to thank him.
The world was a soggy mess and still they toiled onward. Too far from any village to be able to seek any human habitation, they were left walking in the drenching downpour without shelter.
"Inuyasha!" she yelled over the monotonous roar of the ever falling rain. "We need to get someplace dry!"
"No! We need to keep going!"
"But Inuyasha, we're soaking!"
The plea in her tone gave the hanyou a moment of pause and, relenting, he told them to find what cover they could while he looked for more adequate housing for the night. Before long, he returned and led them to the safety of a small rocky overhang. It wasn't much, but it was all they needed.
However, the miko could not sleep. The water that fell from the overhang was thunderous to her ears and she ached for silence after the loud day.
Long after her companions had drifted into exhausted sleep, she remained awake. It wasn't until the rain slowed and stopped that any amount of peace washed over her soul. Wishing to experience the water's relent personally, she silently removed herself from her sleeping bag and walked out into the night.
Everything was still, patiently waiting the next rush of drowning rain. In respect for the land, she willed herself to be as quiet as possible so as to not disturb the peace. Water glistened on every leaf and blade of grass, pooled in every shallow. The saturated ground accepted her careful steps with a traditional soggy squish as she ventured further.
She felt the eyes on her but was unable to locate the source. Though reason told her to return, she could not force herself to turn away from this quiet landscape. Nothing bad could happen on a night as tranquil as this. Nights such as this were made for writing poetry or sipping tea in a cozy robe.
However, before she could continue her thoughts, the clouds grew angry at the reprieve and bust open once again, practically drowning the miko without warning. Turning back towards her companions, she ran. She had gone very little distance, only getting up to half speed, when the surface she was so dependent on moved without her consent. Kagome slid a good meter before tipping backwards into the muddy ground.
The rain poured. The puddle grew bigger. Her hair hung haphazardly across her face as the mud seeped into her clothing. It could have been quite the uncomfortable position, but it only made the young woman happy. She laughed, hard and long, an arm across her stomach to hold back the peals of humor.
Lightning that had held back until now ripped through the sky, bringing sudden daylight onto the scene, and even through the veil of wet hair and rain, the miko could see the distant, partially hidden form of her spectator. Pushing the strangled locks behind her ears, she smiled at the darkness that had once again obscured him from her sight. Still, she had seen him and knew he was there.
She laughed again, the roaring thunder covering the sounds even as she struggled to regain her feet. With a smile, she took off at a much safer jog back to the safety of her friends.
The suffocating heat stole the energy straight from their drained limbs. Even though they had only journeyed for half a day, the group knew it was time to take a break before their bodies forced them to.
As the men remained and prepared a quick meal, the women excused themselves to a nearby pond. Though its size left something to be desired, it was deep, cool, and shadowed by a well placed ledge. It was all they needed.
The bath with Sango was a relaxing affair of cleaning and modified girl talk. However, the slayer was quick to excuse herself while the miko was left to find her own devices. As it was, the ledge was tempting her. The pond was plenty deep and the rock didn't appear to be un-jumpable.
With a determined grin, she changed quickly into a bathing suit just in case the worst should happen. She wasn't stupid. She knew very well her intended plan was dangerous, perhaps not as dangerous as her daily life, but she would be risking injury. To ensure the preservation of her modesty if such was the case, the swimming suit would be donned.
The climb up to the top of the precipice was easier than she expected and soon she was looking into the pool from up high. Stepping back a good few yards from the edge, she tensed into a runner's stance. A snapped twig shocked her into action and suddenly she was mid air, laughing with all the frightened enthusiasm of a child doing the forbidden. As she submerged into the cool water, she felt rejuvenated beyond belief. Resurfacing, she wiped slick hair her from her face before looking up to the cliff from which she had just been airborne.
There, looking upon her with a hardened mix of slight confusion and careful blankness, was the taiyoukai, his white attire shining in the bright light of the sun.
The miko was in awe. He looked so regal, as he always had, but now he seemed to be emitting an odd combination of pale emotions that only made him all the more formidable. As an enemy, he had never been more frightening, but as a being, he had never been more beautiful.
She wanted to curse herself for her stupidity but found those negative feelings strangely lacking. Instead, she reminded herself that in the months she had been running, literally, into this specific demon, he had yet to kill her. If anything, he did her a favor. She took it as a good sign.
Releasing a rather brilliant smile quite easily, she dove underwater and swam back to the edge of the small pond where her towel was calling for her attention. When she reemerged from the water, she risked a glance back at the ledge.
Her spectator was gone.