My Hatred, My Obsession
Chapter 8: Bitter Partings
He had never been one to think of others above his affairs. To be more exact, he had never been one to think of anyone at all. Thus, it could be said with confidence that the situation at hand really wasn't his fault. Anyone with a simple mind could have called him "uncaring", but those who knew him best understood that there was nothing in the world more important to him than what he considered business. Business fueled him; it drove him step by step, day by day to his ultimate goal, and nothing bore more complexity than his thoughts during those long treks. However, when his attention was caught, it could not be shaken easily. Unless, of course, what had caught his attention displeased him; in that case, it would be gone before too much time was spent on contemplating its worth - something he believed to be a "pointless" task. Things that "moved him" into some form of response could usually be classified into two categories: alive and powerful or alive, dangerous, and about to be dead.
The woman trailing behind him, in this case, could not be shelved into either of these organized files in Sesshoumaru's complex mind. She ruled a category all her own – one simply referred to as "the woman". Into it poured all sorts of information that he stashed away for later, for he was hesitant to spend more than a few moments at a time pondering her existence and why such a clumsy, helpless, stupid, and annoying human creature had not been killed yet in a world that he knew favored only the strong. But, then he had to remind himself that not only was she not as stupid as she looked, but that she was also more powerful than he gave her credit for.
Her appearance completely contradicted every solid fact he knew about her. Her gate was not graceful, for she tripped over things much too often, and she was dull in the sensory department to an almost painfully pathetic point. But, despite these negatives, she possessed a keen sense of direction – an uncommon characteristic in a woman. She started her own fire, cooked her own sustenance, and rose earlier than the sun to make sure that everything was ready to go. She was sturdy, too; not a single complaint ever rushed from her mouth to victimize his sensitive ears. Overall, she seemed "unnatural", almost as if she was some crazy mistake of mother nature that had lived against all odds posed its way. Perhaps the strangest of all her conglomerate of qualities, however, was how much peace she brought with her.
She was quiet, to his shock – for he always imagined her as a featherbrained woman who spent much of her time wasting air on words. During their walks now, she hardly spoke a word, unless she asked – often rudely – for a brief stop. During those times, despite his hesitation, he often obliged for those occasions were rare. To be honest, he sometimes forgot that she was even there, so quiet and natural her presence. It was with a start one night that he found her reading a book under the guidance of the fire's light. He hadn't dared to come inspect the makeshift camp until he was certain that she was asleep; doing so would have proven, to his embarrassment, that he harbored the sinful thing called curiosity.
Not words, nor blank pages he suspected might have been looked at to impress him, met his eyes. Not plain letters, nor meaningless numbers greeted him, but higher mathematics! The semi-foreign letters jumped out from their place in what looked like a half-drowned, barely recognizable scroll in the form of a square. It was thick, and as he took it into his hands out of her sleep-numbed fingers, he raised a brow for it was heavier – in human standards – than he had thought. He listed through the pages well into the night, wondering how such a person – much less a woman – was intelligent enough to understand it. What use could she have for mathematics in this time, when women were allowed nowhere near places of knowledge? He briefly entertained the image of her stealing it from some merchant, but quickly dismissed it for he could not see her as a thief.
He should have known that she could not be completely independent. They were only a few days from his brother's village when she ran out of food. He was not well versed in the exercise of caring, and thus, he did not notice that she didn't eat. He merely assumed that she knew what she was doing. And after that, his mind did not stray to her that morning or that evening. He had other things to think of - other problems that he knew his absence must be causing within the walls of his home and those that had to be faced now with the appearance of a new enemy. In fact, it was this that was on his mind in the hot afternoon of the next day when she collapsed behind him.
He continued to walk, for a moment thinking that he should leave her there. But something beckoned to him, and he found himself turning to look at her. After the incident with the invisible beasts, Sesshoumaru was always on his guard. The woman's collapse stood as a sign for caution. His wary, sharp eyes scanned the area around them for any danger, and he tensed the claws of his hand in case of attack. When he sensed nothing but a passing breeze, he focused his attention on the girl. Kneeling down, he put a hand on her forehead and moved her hair away from her face. Once again, an unfamiliar feeling took root in his chest - the same feeling of "confusion" when he looked at her that he only felt sometimes with Rin. But, it was different with her. Rin was a child, and this creature was more of a woman. He himself wasn't sure how she had shed the image of a girl in his eyes, but she had, and the realization was powerful. His clawed thumb ran over her bottom lip in a caress that felt more sensual than curious, her lips feeling as soft as they looked. He barely remembered tasting them in his frenzy of rage that night, and in truth, preferred to forget it.
Coming back to reality from foggy memories, he searched her body for any sign of injury. Remembering the incident in the Oasis, he moved her hair away from her ears to check for any more bleeding. There was none. He knew that she could not have dropped down in exhaustion for their pace had been slow. His hand traveled down her chest to her ribs, and he attempted to feel for any damage to her bones. Once again, his search yielded nothing. He tried to think back to the past several days to pinpoint the source of her illness, absentmindedly running his hand through her hair. Then he remembere the absence of the smell of what she told him was called "ramen". Everything clicked, and he felt annoyance at her for not mentioning the fact that she had run out of food.
She had probably thought that he would not care.
That – for reasons unknown – angered him. He turned her face and inspected the shadows beneath her eyes, the sunburned nose, and the face that was thinner than it had been when he first found her lying feverish upon the shore. It perturbed him to think that he took no measures to prevent the deterioration of her health. It felt somehow dishonorable that she had fallen ill within his care – if being in his company could be known by such a term. He told himself that such a thing would not be allowed to pass again, this time not because he was pestered at having to carry her, but because she had somehow fallen under the temporary title of his charge.
His claw ran along her ear gently, its owner reveling in the softness and fragileness of the appendage. He wondered why he never felt such an engrossment in Rin as he did in this woman. He supposed the answer was simple - unlike this human, he hadn't nearly killed Rin and he certainly never felt the pleasure of kissing her. Suddenly, it occurred to him that he never referred to her by name. He vaguely remembered it -
It was a pleasant name, and he felt the desire to taste it like he'd tasted her lips.
Somehow, saying it, feeling it, tasting it, sent a feeling of revulsion descending down into his gut. A single thought circulated in his head –
He was repulsed – disgusted and angry. His hand clenched in her hair, his eyes narrowing and his eyebrows clashing into waves of frustration. He felt like a fool; like all the world was his enemy. His surroundings spun, his mind caving in; he knew what was wrong. All of his actions with her had turned out to be mistakes wrapped in the deceptively glittering ribbons of success. He'd tried to keep her at a distance, to destroy her uninvited prowling in his mind, but all his efforts gained him nothing but a feeling of self-hatred. He only served to make himself even more angry. Yet despite everything, he still could feel no animosity towards the fragile creature beneath his hand.
He heard her breathing returning to normal and felt a small thrill go through him. Should he move away from her? He could not let her see that he cared even in the least about her health. He stood, his mind protesting that this would only be confirming her suspicions about him, and hesitated for a moment. Her eyes opened right at that second, and her confused look met his serious one. There was a pregnant silence, the two individuals trapped each within their own womb of pride. She was embarrassed, he was arrogant; neither would ever admit of a weakness. She warily sat up, looking away from his face and closing her eyes. Her cheeks were pink with the self-conscious thoughts that hurried the blood in her face.
"What happened?" A gentle breeze blew by, ruffling the girl's hair and making her shiver. If he noticed, he gave no sign. A light rustling as he stood. His clothing flowed to accommodate his actions.
The sun was setting now, its brightness parting with the world for another night. When she looked at her companion, Kagome realized that she had never heard him use such a tone of voice. It was a gentle vibration, low and soothing, a pitch that could be called "comforting" if it had been someone other than Sesshoumaru that uttered it. The moonlight tossed handfuls of silver shards into his eyes to mix with the gold already there. She breathed in a silent gasp, her heart throbbing for a moment as she witnessed something she had never thought to see. His hair, animated by the slender, gentle fingers of the chilly evening breeze, moved like liquid mercury, strands of it framing his cheeks. His eyes never left hers, making her body feel numb and unresponsive, as if some sort of spell had been cast upon her limbs. He was still crouching down - apparently unsure of whether to get up or not - but none of her hypothesized indicisiveness lingered on his outer surface. He was sure as ever, completely confident and self-asserting as he always remained. She would have believed him, if it hadn't been for the exotic quality of his voice.
She still marveled how such a simple thing as a word could completely end a perfect moment. That was exactly what happened in this case. He tore his eyes away from her, his legs pushing him upwards to his full height, and turned away from her, taking away her glimpse to an enigma. His back turned to her, but she didn't have to see his face to feel his mood. It radiated around him, pulsing with his aura and making her shiver.
Sesshoumaru was annoyed…
"Why did you not inform me of such a hindrance? Your lack of intelligence has caused a delay that this Sesshoumaru cannot afford."
Perhaps in this situation, it wasn't exactly her words that ruined everything. She felt the hairs on her nape standing up in irritation.
"My faculties are in perfect working order, Sesshoumaru." Why did she suddenly feel like she was spitting against the wind? In all the time that she spent with this impossible person, she must have realized that getting angry served no purpose. He simply didn't care. She put a hand on her forehead, trying to think of a way to tell him "nicely" that she hadn't "informed" him of running out of food because she thought him an arrogant asshole. Running her hands through her hair, she cringed when her stomach churned.
Just do it Kagome…insult him…make him feel bad for a change…
And there it was again - proof that she was too forgiving. Maybe that was why she couldn't let go of Inuyasha. He threw her a careless look over his shoulder, seeming to say "I told you you were stupid". She decided that she wasn't in the mood for another spat with him and stood up. After a moment of wavering dizzily, she crossed her arms on her chest and huffed.
"You didn't have to worry, you know." For a moment, she believed – idiotically – that that had been the reason he stopped. Upon awakening and seeing his gentle eyes, she actually wanted to believe that he cared, that there was something more to him that just a cruel chill. She had to be right…no being could be so cold and alone forever…
"You flatter yourself, woman. I stopped because you were stupid enough to allow your body to cease functioning." Somehow, him saying it in such a commanding tone of voice, his back to her the entire time, made the last straw of her reserve snap. To hell with trying to get along! He was impossible!
"Then why didn't you leave me?!" He felt something within him jump at her scream. His own temper clawed at the sides of his thoracic cavity, roaring and screaming to be set free. He wanted to lash out at her, to put her in her place so that she could - once and for all - know who was in charge. She was infuriating, horribly and thoroughly unbearable. The tension between them had been building ever since the Oasis, and he realized that they had not gone through a single argument in several days. He didn't want to waste his time, he just wanted to throw her aside and move on with his life as if her lips had never touched his, as if her arms had never held him, and as if her voice had never broken the lonely silence that defined his life. His urge to hit her was too strong, and he made the decision to get away from her before he killed her.
"If I'm so stupid, then why didn't you just let me die on the riverbank? Why did you bring me along with you if I'm so useless?!" She made everything entirely too difficult, too impossible to deal with. What did she want of him? Why ask all these useless questions? Didn't she realize that he could not…would not…explain himself to her? His feet were already moving without command in an attempt to keep himself away from her. He would hit her if she said another thing; he didn't believe that he could control himself enough to abstain from silencing her. But, he successfully learned one thing about her in the past few days - she was stubborn. He continued walking, turning out everything that shouted at him. Everything was fine until he heard her demand his attention. Then the sound of her small feet got closer; the thump thump tump of her running footsteps reaching his ears. He could have moved away; he should have; but, he didn't. Blame it all on his weariness of her, on his inability to push away something he hated ever since his birth…
He had been alone for too long.
The feel of her pulling on his sleeve, his turning, and her fists grabbing his robes didn't register at first. He saw her mouth moving, but didn't pay attention to what ranted. Her lips mesmerized him, her eyes flaming in their fury. The skin on her cheeks flushed red with her excitement, and suddenly - in that poignant moment - Sesshoumaru knew only that he wanted her silent. His fight with himself was brief, ending right when she succeeded at pulling him by the front of his robes down to look at her. His hands moved forward, entangling in her hair; the air rushed by his face as he pushed her down roughly yet gently, landing on top of her.
Midnight black tresses tumbled and rolled away from her head when she hit the earth. His hand firmly shielded the back of her head from the full force of the fall. He saw her shocked eyes, heard her heart rate explode, and felt the little drop in temperature against his mouth when she gasped in shock. His lips were on hers before she could let out any sort of protest. He tasted her as he had wanted to do for some time now, and he couldn't help but feel the wonder of satisfaction. She freed one of her hands from beneath his weight and tried to push him off. He could sense her fear, and he assumed that their earlier encounter stood as the cause. Her small fist hit him on his arm, the blows registering as much pain as a fly would cause. He growled in warning and trapped the offending limb in his hand, returning to fully focus on ravaging her mouth.
Eventually, she quieted and relaxed in his hold; she responded to him, her throat vibrating with a small sound that could be interpreted as either fear or pleasure. His mind was foggy, his vision hazy and unfocussed. The beast in him was taking over, and his rational side was too powerless to do anything about it. He loosened her hand and she dug her fingers into his hair, his own sliding down her body to move her into a more comfortable position beneath him. With a quick movement, he wrapped her right leg around his waist while he held the other in place in much the same fashion. It was difficult not to hurt her, for she was much smaller than him; too much of his concentration was delegated towards not crushing her. She pushed weakly against him, and he broke the kiss when he felt that she was in distress. Her breathing was heavy, her eyes half-lidded and languid, but even through her dark red blush and dazed look, he could see the shadows that carved muddy dirt tracks beneath her eyes.
"Sesshoumaru…" Her voice was small, tired, fearful, and he thought that she had good reason to fear for her safety at the moment. Seeing him lose control in such a way must have surprised her, and he felt a cloud of something akin to "déjà vu" pass over him. This was too similar to that night. The differences were few but important; he wasn't half-crazed and injured, and she wasn't trying to escape from him. He saw her getting ready to speak, but he quickly cut her off. His teeth grazed her collarbone and he felt her shiver. His logic rushed forth, quickly trying to rescue what little was left of his control. No! He would not degrade himself in such a manner! Rutting with a human woman was disgusting; he would not repeat his father's mistake. But her smell, her taste, her touch melted away any ice he tried to build. No one had touched him this way in centuries - given him this kind of proximity, this kind of sensation. He hadn't touched a woman this intimately ever since his father's demise, and he hadn't planned on it.
Power…that was all he wanted…
Power was all and everything in his life. Who needed momentary pleasure? Who needed a satisfaction that would last a mere fragment of a second when power could make such a feeling last a lifetime? That had always been his way; he vowed upon his father's ashes that he would not be known by how he was brought down, but by how great he was in life. This woman meant nothing; she was simply a stage, a road block in the way of his attaining what he wanted. And that was how he would treat her. Her fingers stilled in his locks, seemingly frozen by the sudden cold that radiated from him. Her confused look struck a cord in him that he struggled to snap once again. He pushed away from her, standing and looking at her through the same icy mask he wore for the rest of the world. She meant nothing; he could not afford for her to mean anything.
Her voice from long ago reached his ears. In his memories, he saw her aiming an arrow at him, and relived again that fateful moment when he saw her as a potential opponent. He had known even then that she would prove to be more trouble than she was worth, but had tossed aside that notion as quickly as he conceived it. How wrong he had been… In her eyes now was the same determination that always caught his eye. Those eyes were hard – stubborn and fiery, just like the rest of her. He had been a fool to think that he could bring her with him; had been a fool to think that he could forget the flame that she ignited in him with her disobedience. Perhaps that was why he felt that he still couldn't let her go; he wanted her, but he couldn't let the world see what she had done to him, and it was this frightening understanding of their relationship that pushed him to drive her away.
There were so many meanings in that single repetition of his name; no multitude of words put together could combine to mean so much. It was a question, a denial, and a plea for understanding that he had no power to grant. He gave no mercy; he showed no compassion to anyone who begged for it; he could do nothing different here.
Had she remained silent, perhaps he could have possibly spared her, but she doomed herself the moment the air left her lips to point out to him just how confused he still was. He would not hurt her; he couldn't now, with all these things running through his mind; but he needed to be rid of her.
He heard a small gasp of surprise behind him.
"I no longer require your services. You are free to go."
There was something desolate in his release of her, something that he regretted for a moment before taking the first steps to what would become his journey away from her. No arguments, no tears, nor hateful words emerged to give him any reason to remain, and the loss of these things that he considered loathsome felt greater than the anger that festered within his chest. He heard her moving, the sounds of her packing decreasing in volume as he put more distance between them, and wondered for a moment how she would make it back to his brother.
Sesshoumaru! The next arrow goes into your heart!
Funny how ironic it was that it already had. She was deeply carved into his memory – the vision of a proud woman, a woman who feared no task, no burden, and no responsibility.
A woman whose pride was now hurt…
It had been three days since her bitter parting with Sesshoumaru.
For once in her life, she was lucky. The sun was not as terribly overbearing as it had been in the last few days, and it looked as if the skies would hold their tears for now. She lived off the land during those days, scavenging for berries and nuts and hoping beyond hope that what she ate was not poisonous. It was also sheer fortune that she stumbled onto a riverbank, where she could fill up her dwindling water supply. But then, the problem of knowing where exactly she was going still remain. She chose to follow the river, thinking that it would be better to have a continuous water supply rather than just wandering around in the middle of nowhere without any sustenance. During the day, her personal emotions had to be put aside in favor of wariness. She still had no arrows, meaning that she was pretty much defenseless. Her ears always listened though, her body tense and on the edge should anything happen to attack her. The forest stayed eerily quiet, but she eventually did get used to being alone. She kept telling herself that this was a good experience, and that it was only for her benefit to develop a sort of independence from Inuyasha and any other strong protector. In a way, she considered that this may have been what she wanted all this time…
The feeling that she could take care of herself…
Who didn't want to feel that way? After Kikyo's blunt accusation that she was a "foreigner" and did not belong in this world, Kagome had desperately wanted to somehow bind herself with this era. Inuyasha was not enough for that; she still loved him, the fool, with all her heart and soul; Kagome was sure that if she had to die for him to live, she would give her blood. But, he was still not enough. His connection was with Kikyo, and her voice always rang in Kagome's head:
You cannot be with Inuyasha!
Go back to your own time!
At the time, she'd listened. Had it not been for Inuyasha's calling, she would have remained in her era, mourning for the loss of a love that was hopeless from the beginning. But love couldn't be hopeless, could it? Wasn't it considered strife and suffering if it was? No - Kagome was sure that she loved him. Inuyasha was everything to her, along with Sango, Shippo, and Miroku. Kaede and her village became a second home and family for her, but even they were not enough to anchor her here. Every time they fought a demon, every time they got in trouble, wasn't she the one that always got kidnapped? Wasn't she the one that always hid behind their backs while they took the brunt of the attacks? Well, she was tired of that, had been tired of it for three long years out of the four that she spent here. The desire to become stronger for her own sake grew day by day.
An image suddenly popped into her head - a picture memory from long ago…
I just…I feel so helpless…I'm useless…all I do is hurt you all the time…
So you ran away?
Inuyasha's voice had been convicting, the echo within the realm of the God Tree stabbing into her a question that that plagued her for a long while.
"I was simply…afraid…"
Afraid that her doubts would manifest themselves into reality; afraid of herself; afraid of her confusion…
By the end of the day, the sun slipped into its daily slumber, allowing the moon to dominate the sky. Its blue light shone off of the water brightly, creating a breathtaking effect. The sight was so brilliant, that for a moment, Kagome felt compelled to stop and marvel at how such a simple scene could be so beautiful. She urged herself into movement reluctantly, knowing that she couldn't last much longer on her own. The stars confused her; they were hard to make out and vague in their direction, and Kagome felt her hope of ever reaching Inuyasha falling further with each night.
Her feet missed a step, stumbling…
She felt a churning in her abdomen and sat down, hoping that resting for a moment would calm her sudden nausea. A searing pain tore through her, a feeling that was different from hunger. She put her hand to her mouth, slipping her bag off her shoulder and running to the nearest thicket. The bile was burning, sickening, and foul. It singed her throat as she emptied the contents of her stomach onto the forest floor. The heaving wouldn't stop. Even when she was sure that she had nothing left inside her, the painful contractions continued. When it was over, she fell limply to the floor, her head spinning crazily. Up and down were words that made no sense in those moments; colors flooded her vision: red, green, blue, white, purple – until she wasn't sure who she was or where she lay. The colors eventually faded into dark blots in her eyes, and she forced herself into a sitting position. Her hands trembled, the muscles weak from what she assumed to be poison.
"I knew those things didn't look right…"
But what choice did she have? She tripped over herself, making a clumsy path towards the riverbank. The cold water on her face felt good, the illness dissipating temporarily. She interpreted the headache that followed as a sign to make camp. She didn't think that she could go on today. A search of her bag yielded a box of matches; she wasted four before a feeble flame flickered to life. The warmth of the fire, coupled with her returning nausea wiped all traces of rational thought from her mind. She didn't even bother to untie her sleeping bag, dropping, instead, to the forest flood in exhaustion.
He watched her, knowing fate was too kind. The priestess lay completely defenseless now, a perfectly clean slate upon which he could carve out his desires. She would be even more receptive to him now, and he crept closer to her. Reaching out his scaly, misshapen fingers, he summoned the energy from around him, focusing it into his palms. The small flame of her fire chaotically fought for a moment before giving in to its inevitable death. In the wake of it, a cold settled into his body that he welcomed with glee. The beast watched as the heated energy from his hands wiggled and writhed around the girl's aura, hitting and biting into it in an attempt to enter. If it wasn't for her illness, perhaps the job would have been harder, but sick as she was, everything went all too easily. Her body glowed for a moment before her eyes opened. As if a she was a puppet strung up in tight coils of a fishing line. Her body moved without will into a kneeling position. He chuckled and walked to her, putting his fingers on his chin.
"So nice to see you bowing to me, priestess…now we shall see how useful you can be." He was helpless to stop the laughter that bubbled from his chest, imagining already the thousands of ways in which he could kill her comrades – one by one by one…