Pairing(s): Sesshoumaru/Kikyou, Sesshoumaru/OC
Genre(s): Romance, Angst, Adventure, AU
Warning(s): Battle scenes, betrayal, over-anger (if there is such a word), fluff... What more can I say?
Disclaimer: None of the characters, except perhaps some, are mine. They are owned by Rumiko Takahashi.
Summary: Kikyou, being saved from peril by Sesshoumaru, joins him in a quest against Naraku and one of his allies, who happened to share a past one-sided relationship with the Demon Lord. SesshKik!
A/N: /Sobs/ I can't believe it, this is the ending! I read through my fic, and I could hardly believe I had actually gone this far! And now I would have to let go... /Sniffles/ Well, I indeed felt some sort of 'emptiness' when Kikumo died; she's after all, a character of mine. Now, off to Sesshy and Kiky...
"Are you sure you're not coming with us, Kikyou?" Inuyasha asked of the beautiful maiden, as though he was unsure of what the answer will be.
Kikyou, her mahogany eyes shining with the fire of life, nodded as she bade the half-demon and his friends farewell after their victory over Naraku and the death of the Demon Princess Kikumo. The land was now cleansed of the evil hanyou's works and the Shikon no Tama had been purified; they are now free to do as they pleased.
"I am sure of my decisions," she said, thinking of her pact with her lover that they will follow each other to the very end. Naraku's banishment to Hell was not the end of everything; there was still a life to be lived, especially now that Kikyou had a living body of her own and Sesshoumaru had regained full use of his limbs.
The dog-eared hanyou shrugged, but did not further attempt to dissuade Kikyou from her choice. A younger raven-haired girl's hand was looped around his arm, and Kagome exchanged friendly smiles with Kikyou, knowing the 'responsibility' the modern schoolgirl now had over Inuyasha.
"Make sure he does not get himself in trouble," Kikyou said half-warningly, half-humorously, her long raven hair glinting in the gentle light of the spring sun.
"Of course," Kagome replied with a good-humored laugh, and in a swift motion, she got hold of the rosary which hung around Inuyasha's neck for the purpose of making him sit in place if the need arose. To the complete surprise of everyone present, the younger miko slipped it off the half-demon's neck. "I suppose you have learned to behave yourself, Inuyasha?"
Inuyasha could only blink and stare at the beads of the rosary, which was now dangling from Kagome's free hand. At last, she had finally decided to free him from that loathsome curse!
"Ah, Kagome, do you really mean what you're doing?" little Shippou, who was sitting on Miroku's shoulder, dubiously queried of the girl. Inuyasha would have gone off and planted a lump on the fox demon's head if not Kagome held on to his arm and dangled the detested rosary forbiddingly before his eyes.
"Um, don't forget I still have this," Kagome said craftily, her eyebrow raised. "And I can slip it around your neck anytime."
Laughter soon overwhelmed Kagome's threat, and Kikyou shifted her gaze from the silver-haired hanyou and her reincarnation to their other companions. Miroku had his arm around Sango's waist, and they sat on Kirara's fighting form. Kikyou smiled at them, thinking of how they loved each other. Now that the monk is freed from the curse of the Kazaana, he could live normally; and fortunately by his beloved's side.
"My best wishes go with you," Kikyou told them.
"Thank you, Kikyou-sama," Sango said humbly, bowing her head slightly in the other woman's direction. She then stole a warning glance at Miroku, whose hand was groping lower and lower behind her. "I will manage to discipline this stubborn man soon enough."
"I suppose we can take our leave, then?" Kagome said, pulling Inuyasha towards Kirara. At that very moment, an energetic form of Rin came running from across the end of the field with her arms full of white chrysanthemums.
"Flowers for Kagome-sama and her friends!" Rin excitedly held up the chrysanthemums to the girl clad in a school uniform. Kagome let go of her grasp on Inuyasha's arm to accept the armful of flowers from the young child.
"Why, thank you Rin!" Kagome said in gratitude. However, her expression, along with Kikyou's and Inuyasha's, took on a somber look. They witnessed Kikumo in her time of death, and the chrysanthemums are her living memory, having been born from her ashes. They had seen her as their other companions could never envision her. "Where is Sesshoumaru?" It was only then that they, with the exception of Kikyou and Rin, realized that the Demon Lord and his retainer are not with them.
"He's probably on a stroll," Kikyou replied, not so perturbed by her lover's absence. "He could be reflecting on the turn of events." Specifically Kikumo's death, she added to herself.
The members of Inuyasha's company, with the exception of Inuyasha himself, let out deceptively low sighs. Sesshoumaru had joined them in a temporary allegiance against Naraku, but now that their common fiend was gone, he would not have any more to do with them.
"Oh well, may heaven's blessings be with you both," Miroku said to Kikyou. He then turned to the eager-eyed figure of Rin. "Maybe you can watch over Jaken now."
Rin and Kikyou laughed at the young man's little joke. By this time, Inuyasha and Kagome had mounted Kirara on her rear end. It was time to say goodbye.
"Goodbye, until we meet again!" Kagome said joyfully as Kirara went up the air in flight. Kikyou and Rin waved at them from the field and them from the cat demon's back.
"Rin will never forget Inuyasha-sama and his friends!" Rin called out to them just before they disappeared in the sky.
Now that they were alone once more, Kikyou took Rin's hand and they gently trod among the fresh grasses and blooming chrysanthemums, off to find Sesshoumaru and Jaken.
"They were such fun people to be with, Kikyou-sama!" Rin chattered.
"Yes, indeed," Kikyou replied, smiling at the child.
Rin skipped lightly over the grass and swung her hand that Kikyou was holding on to. She was in high spirits, for she was still a child, untroubled by the trials and battles her older companions underwent for reasons she was untroubled of as well.
"Sesshoumaru-sama seems sad," Rin remarked softly, slowing down her steps and looking intently up at the maiden's gentle features. "Why is Sesshoumaru-sama sad, Kikyou-sama?" Apparently, she had seen the taiyoukai earlier, his normally cold features laced with melancholy.
"He will tell you when the time is right," Kikyou replied, squeezing the little girl's hand affectionately. "But for now, we must not bother Sesshoumaru-sama about it." She sighed inwardly to herself. Kikyou knew that Sesshoumaru loved her more than he had ever loved Kikumo, but the manner of her death was enough to touch even the heart of the normally cold Demon Lord. And the fact that Kikumo once shared a past one-sided relationship with him doubled the sentiment.
'Sesshoumaru, what grief you feel, I feel as well...'
Sesshoumaru stood still and silent before the grave marker they had erected for the Deer youkai. A fresh spring breeze was blowing, making his platinum hair dance in its unheard cadence. Jaken stood beside him, though the greater Demon knew that his retainer was only there because of his master's presence. He had not seen Kikumo dying, and for that he could not feel the sympathy Sesshoumaru and Kikyou felt for her.
The Lord of the West sighed inwardly. He knew that she loved him; she loved him enough to put forth the last powers of the Hiroko Kama to restore his left arm. But more than that, she loved him enough to let him go. Such a fair and powerful daughter of the Deer Clan, whose heart given to someone who could not return such love... That mere thought is enough to make his heart clench.
Sesshoumaru ran a hand over the handle of the Tenseiga, which now hung from his sash beside the Toukijin. Though he did not so much miss the sword when it was taken from him, he regarded his father's heirloom with more respect. The renewal of Kikyou's soul and Kikumo's death had emphasized the ever-changing wheel of life, and he knew that even a powerful Demon Lord as he is subject to nature's higher laws. He was providential to have the Sword of Life to protect him.
'In any case, you are now free to play your koto whenever you wish,' he thought, remembering how the Hiroko Kama dissolved into ashes along with her body. A fraction of Sesshoumaru's heart will always remember Kikumo, but he could never love her as strongly as he once did, for his heart had already been given to a certain miko. 'Farewell, my first love.'
His sharp sense of hearing made out the sound of soft footfalls, and Sesshoumaru looked over his right shoulder to hear his name called softly by a tender voice.
Golden eyes meet mahogany, and a gentle hand reached out to grasp his as Kikyou bridged the distance between them.
"Kikyou..." Sesshoumaru whispered, rubbing the back of her delicate hand with his thumb, his eyes never leaving hers. There was so much that he wanted to tell her, but he couldn't find the right words to express his thoughts.
Kikyou, fortunately, knew his feelings deep enough to accept his silence, and she rested her head against his furry pelt. She had come to be with him, to pay their last respect to their deceased friend before they leave. Leave to where? Kikyou ask Sesshoumaru about that later; what are his plans now that Naraku's vanquished? But for now, she simply gave him her companionship, to tell him that he was not alone in his silent grieving.
Rin, childish though she was, decided that she and Jaken-sama ought not to disturb Kikyou-sama and Sesshoumaru-sama in their quiet moment. As silently as she could, the little girl tapped Jaken on the shoulder and pulled him out to the field once more.
"Hey, Rin; what are you doing!" the toady demon nearly demanded, but Rin immediately silenced him by placing a hand over his mouth.
"Let us play among the flowers, Jaken-sama!" Rin whispered. "Sesshoumaru-sama and Kikyou-sama deserve to be together for a moment."
Though Jaken wanted to protest, he looked back to where their Lord and the Priestess stood. Sesshoumaru had wrapped an arm around the woman's shoulders, and Jaken knew that he only has to accept the fact that their master had indeed fallen for the miko. Reluctantly, the lesser Demon followed Rin to the other end of the field and sat himself among some soft grasses to wait for Sesshoumaru's orders.
But the taiyoukai chose to take his time with his beloved, and for long they just stood there, gazing at the three good-sized stones marking where Kikumo died, breathing in the slightly bitter scent of the white chrysanthemums in the field. Chrysanthemums are autumn flowers, like the bellflower. But endowed by magic, the field's flowers bloomed even if the season was way past fall.
Kikyou smiled slightly at this new similarity between her and the deceased Demoness. They were two different flowers, yet they bloomed in the same season. They were of two different races, two different personalities, yet they fell for the same man. In the end, it was the bellflower that came out as the victorious one. Though the chrysanthemum was battered and her petals thrown in the wind of suffering, she had become one with the soil and provided the loam more nourishment for new plants to grow.
"Kikyou," Sesshoumaru whispered her name once more, and she diverted her gaze from the stones to look up at her beloved.
"Darling?" Kikyou said in the same whispery tone. Sesshoumaru smiled ever so slightly to hear her call him by a term of endearment, and he turned himself a little to completely face his beloved. He affectionately cupped her cheeks, rejoicing in the lovely smoothness of her skin and the glorious shine of her eyes.
"My bellflower," he said, touching their foreheads together in an affectionate gesture. "Peace has now been restored in these lands. Come with me to the West; be with me for eternity."
"To the West?" Kikyou asked, reaching out to stroke his platinum hair. The untamed West...where Demons thrive in abundance, a stranger place to humans...the place where Sesshoumaru inherited his father's position as its ruler. He was inviting her to come with him to that Land, to leave everything behind.
Sesshoumaru parted his head slightly from Kikyou. Undoubtedly, she had heard notorious stories of the Western Lands, but will she let that come between them? He took her hands in his and brought them to his lips, kissing them softly.
"I will not let anyone, be it human or youkai, inflict harm on you for as long as I live," Sesshoumaru promised her, his amber eyes shining. "I love you, Kikyou. I love you more than the three worlds put together..." He broke off, his voice thick with emotions.
Kikyou, her eyes becoming misty, kissed Sesshoumaru soothingly on the lips to drive away whatever doubts he might have. He need not tell her how much he loved her, for she could feel the intensity of his love in her heart. She will follow him to the ends of the earth, if it was asked of her.
"My Sesshoumaru...you know that I love you more than life itself. You followed me almost to the point of death in Naraku's lair; now, I will follow you in your journeys for the rest of my life. I will come with you to the Western Lands. I will give up my powers if you ask it of me."
At her words, Sesshoumaru swept Kikyou up in his arms and twirled her for several times around the field of chrysanthemums in his intense elation. The young maiden's eyes widened for a moment in surprise before she laughed merrily, letting her raven hair flow freely in the wind as her partner spun her around in a blissful dance among the white chrysanthemums.
Kikyou entangled her fingers in his platinum locks as she captured his lips in an equally overjoyed kiss, and finally Sesshoumaru stopped twirling her around. He, however, still held her close as they locked their lips together, their teeth clashing in a passionate frenzy.
Eventually, they broke their lip-lock in their lungs' plea for fresh air. They gazed into one another's eyes as they clung on to each other, obviously taken breathless by their previous actions.
"Sesshoumaru-sama and Kikyou-sama really love each other," Rin remarked dreamily as she sat beside Jaken, observing the antics of their Lord and the human Priestess from across the field. Jaken, however, chose not to look. He was not as naive as she.
Sesshoumaru and Kikyou heard Rin's remark even from the distance, and they flustered for a moment. Of course, how could they forget that they have a child in their company? Reluctantly, they pulled apart, quite embarrassed to find out that Rin had been watching them.
"I guess we'd better get going, ourselves," Kikyou muttered, hastily running her hands over a lock of her raven hair and sparing him an apologetic smile. "We must not taint this field with our presence. This is, after all, Kikumo's final resting place."
Sesshoumaru sighed and gazed at the chrysanthemums strewn in abundance about their feet. Inhaling their slightly bitter odor, he felt his senses clearing. "Kikumo...chrysanthemum field...I feel her presence around us, and I can almost hear the music of her koto in the wind."
Kikyou comfortingly placed a hand on his shoulder. "In the end, she had no more sorrow when she became one with the earth. I am sure that wherever she may be now, she is in peace, and she will continue to watch over us."
Rin excitedly mounted Ah-Un, whom Jaken had summoned out of nowhere moments ago. She was excited by the prospect of going to the Western Lands, where Sesshoumaru-sama ruled. There would be plenty of new things to see, and what made her even more ecstatic was that Kikyou-sama told her that she was now going with them all the time. They can really live happily ever after now.
"Are we going to walk to the West, Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin inquired of the Demon Lord, who had just finished giving several instructions to Jaken.
Sesshoumaru's lips curved up slightly at Rin's innocence. "No, Rin. It will take us a very long time," Jaken answered for their master, mounting Ah-Un and sitting himself in front of the little girl. "Sesshoumaru-sama insists that we fly."
"Fly?" Kikyou repeated, hardly believing her ears. She had, in the past, used her shinidamachuu to transport her to places if enough souls are not available for her clay body. The white demons would wrap their snakelike bodies around her and they would float away with her clay body, but she had never experienced real flight.
Sesshoumaru made his way towards her, amused at her dumbfounded look.
"Rin and Jaken will fly on Ah-Un," he told her. "You will fly with me."
Kikyou still looked confused, and the Demon Lord sighed. So, the miko still does not know the extent of his abilities? Even though she was completely living now, she had retained much of the stubborn Kikyou that Sesshoumaru grew to love. This would be very interesting...
"Let us show this doubting miko what we mean, Jaken," Sesshoumaru ordered his retainer, a knowing smirk on his face. Kikyou crossed her arms over her chest and pretended to frown, but she was laughing inwardly. Sesshoumaru is resorting to his old teasing tricks again.
Having received the order, Jaken took hold of Ah-Un's reins and sent the two-headed dragon up the air in flight. Before Kikyou could recover from the shock, Sesshoumaru swept her off her feet once more and leaped up the air with aristocratic grace, carrying her bridal style.
"Sesshoumaru, what are you doing...?" Kikyou muttered, her eyes tightly shut and her arms wrapped around his neck in a nearly death grip.
"I once told you that I will give you a taste on how it feels to really fly," Sesshoumaru's deep voice answered, a comfort to her ears. "Open your eyes, darling; you are perfectly safe with me."
Kikyou gradually fluttered her mahogany eyes open, and what her sight beheld was enough to take her breath away. A sparkling red cloud had appeared beneath his feet, and bore them aloft in the high breezes. Kikyou looked around her in awe. The blue sky was above them, and the emerald forests of the land spread out beneath them like a blanket of velvet. She loosened her grip around his neck, enthralled.
Sesshoumaru smiled at his lover's delight, and he whispered, "How does it feel to fly, Kikyou?"
"Oh, Sesshoumaru, it's wonderful!" Kikyou said, caressing his neck with her cheek. "The spring landscape is so beautiful..."
"It's not nearly as beautiful as you are," Sesshoumaru replied, smiling tenderly as Kikyou blushed. "It's all right for you to stand on the cloud; I am right here, beside you."
Buoyed by his assurance, Kikyou allowed her feet to be lowered on the red flowing cloud, and she rejoiced in the breeze that ran through her hair and caressed her face. Sesshoumaru's arms went around her waist, and she tilted her head back to his chest and absorbed his warmth.
Unconsciously, she reached inside her kimono and pulled out a blue hair stick, the one that Kikumo had given her, with a green tassel and a glass chrysanthemum embedded on top. Kikyou smiled as she felt Sesshoumaru's warm breath on her ear, and as one, they looked back at the field. That space of light green with white splotches was disappearing swiftly from their view as they flew farther and farther away.
Sesshoumaru closed Kikyou's fist over the hair ornament, and they returned their gaze back to the landscape ahead. The spring sun was directly overhead them, but its heat was not something they could not endure. There was a new life ahead, and even more challenges lay in wait for them, but it's all right. They are together now.
The platinum-haired Demon Prince kissed Kikyou tenderly on her lips, reliving all the joy they felt when their lips first met in the touch winter sunrise. They had gone a long way since their fateful first meeting, when he rescued her from Naraku's red shinidamachuu. They went through betrayals, heartbreak, and even came before death's door, but now that she was in his arms, he will never let her be parted from him for eternity.
Far behind them, white chrysanthemums continued to bloom in the field of the Princess that carried their name, filling the air with their bracing fragrance. And there they would stay among the rippling grass, as living memories of an era long passed, until the end of time.
.:The End...or the Beginning:.
Some interesting facts revolving around In Memory of the Chrysanthemum (IMotC):
1) The character Kikumo was actually inspired by Sesshoumaru's 'admirers' in the series: Kagura and Sara-hime (Eps. 133-134).
2) The chrysanthemum is a blossom revered in Japan, a flower whose scent is believed to increase longevity and endowed with healing abilities. (Hence Kikumo's healing abilities emphasized in 'The Battle For the Shikon Shards'.) Furthermore, it's an autumnal bloom, hereby emphasizing its relationship with the bellflower (Kikyou).
3) I came across SesshKik by chance. I was daydreaming about the song Fukai Mori one summer afternoon, and I became interested in the character Sesshoumaru. (I didn't even know how to spell his name back then. -.-'') Soon, I decided to pair him off with someone from the series. We all know who that is! ;)
4) This fic will have a real chaptered sequel under the title 'The Unseen Side of the Moon' (TUSotM). Sad to say, I might only be able to write again next March because our school curriculum is rather /demanding/. Hope you'll check out my works again by then. Want a hint? Go back to 'A Promise of the Stars' and read carefully Sesshy's description on how his parents met.
5) If you're eager to read about Sesshy and Kiky's lemony 'victory party', go and read the sub-sequel (or Interlude between IMotC and TUSotM), 'Voices of the Mist'. Beware the rating! DON'T. YOU. DARE. FLAME. ME!
Anyway, thanks very much to all my reviewers for helping me continue this story when I had severe writer's blocks and for staying with me from the Prologue to the very end. I don't know how I would have made it without you!