I lay my head on the railroad track
Stare at the sky all painted up
Your train is gone, won't be coming back

...Can you hear what I see in the sky?

--They Might Be Giants

The tiles on the ceiling of the museum waiting room made random patterns behind her eyes. She stared and stared, contemplating her life's choices because she honestly had nothing better to do at this moment. Waiting had never been her forte. Not to say she wasn't patient, she'd just never much enjoyed extended periods of boredom. She cursed herself for not bringing something along with her to read. This was what she got for being so short sighted. Now she had to play connect the dots with ceiling tile which was the better of her few options. She certainly didn't want to strike up a conversation with the receptionist, because that was just sad. Though there were a few magazines she could pick up and read, she wasn't about to lower herself to do so. The selection was dreadfully lacking in the interest department. One two year old copy of National Geographic and a handful of museum published mini-mags were not Kagome's idea of a thrilling read. Not that staring at the ceiling was the most entertaining thing in the world, still, any port in a storm.

Of course, staring at the ceiling created its own problems. The foremost of which was her incessant need to reflect on her past as her eyes roved around connecting the lines in the pitted ceiling tile. She was making constellations from the holes in an attempt to abstain from thinking and it wasn't working. Her eyes darted to and fro, happily connecting several holes to create an actual constellation. Canis Major, one of the constellation Orion's hunting dogs. Fascinating. Fascinating that she'd happen to fashion Canis Major out of several holes in the ceiling of the museum she was interviewing for. What a great way to relax herself before meeting her future employer. By thinking of things that were better left swept under the rug. No, no, they were better left buried in a ten foot hole in a lead lined box with concrete poured on top of it. Then she had to go and dig them up, idiot that she was.

Kagome sighed heavily, and turned away from the fascinating aggravation she found in the ceiling. Not that the floor would be any better.

It had started out so innocently. The chain of events that led her from the past to the now had all started with simple, innocent desire. It was her vast care for everyone that had gotten her into this mess. Her stupid, kindhearted nature that called for her to try and heal every wound she came upon. She'd been warned by many that this kind of selfless selfishness would get her into trouble. That trying to solve everyone else's problems before dealing with her own would eventually lead her into a situation that she couldn't handle but she didn't listen. Didn't pay heed. She had tried to mend a broken heart with the simple desire of easing another person's pain. From this desire, another blossomed and inevitably one thing led to another. The figurative shit eventually hit the metaphorical fan, leaving all parties stinky and uncomfortable. Of course, it all had happened at the worst possible moment as well. When all was said and done, she'd been left alone and broken, her own heart rent asunder.

But she was getting ahead of herself.

Kagome blamed the somber quiet of this office. It was when everything was silent that she began to think like this. When there was nothing to distract her. Without distracting things like work, or work, she'd think and thinking led to self-reflection and self-reflection led to these pointless bouts of mental accounting. Where she'd tally the numbers and run the equation one more time to see where exactly she went wrong in the cautionary tale that was her life. No matter how hard she tried, nothing added up. Kagome sighed again. She never was any good at math.

Maybe she should write one of those self-help manuals of how not to get into crappy relationships. Then again, if one were buying such a manual...She left the thought hanging as she fidgeted in the uncomfortable waiting room chair. Why was it that all waiting rooms have the same kind of chairs? With stiff backs and high arm rests that seemed to be made to give you a backache. She wondered if it were a conspiracy, if somewhere there were chair-makers that schemed behind the scenes to permanently damage her back. It was a demonic plot. Just like the silence in this room. All set upon her to make her think about things that were best left...away...from her.

Maybe it was the museum itself. Seeing so many relics of days long past, she couldn't help but reminiscence a bit. This place was a shrine to the past, and in many ways, she felt as if she belonged here. A relic of past, of things unchangeable.

"It had started out so innocently..." She thought again, with only a tiny bit of melodramatic passion.

She'd never meant to hurt anyone. In fact, all that she'd ever wanted was to take away pain. The problem she'd caused was quite inadvertent. She hadn't meant for it to turn out this way, at all. But it had. She'd seen another person in pain, okay, not a person but a demon. In her eyes, it had always been the same. The blood in your veins didn't matter. Every living being was deserving of comfort and respect, regardless of the circumstances of their birth. All she had done was reach out and at first, nothing was wrong with that. It had all gone according to what little plan she had. She'd reached out to comfort a broken heart. That's all she'd done but then...things abruptly changed and her normal caring and healing plan went dreadfully awry. It was frustrating to her, even now, because most of the time this tactic had worked out just fine. With the exception of that one horrible incident.

She shook her head and made a little grunting sound, "Lying to yourself again, Kagome..." She mumbled as she toed the floor with a boot.

The museum secretary heard her half-mumbled reprimand to herself and looked up, gazing at her as if she were quite strange. It wasn't the first time she'd been given that look since she'd come back from the feudal era. She'd gone down that well a normal teenage girl and when she'd come back at the end of the tour, she was a rather strange young adult. Kagome ignored the woman, who continued to stare at her through lowered glasses as she was whispering on the phone. No doubt telling whoever was on the other line about the weird young woman waiting in the front office. Kagome shrugged it off, mentally berating the idiocy of other people's children.

It had been six and a half years since she'd left the feudal era behind. When she'd finally left, she was nineteen. Her entire high school career had been frittered away and she was left with basically nothing. She'd scratched her way out of that well, literally as well as metaphorically. The last six and a half years she'd spent rebuilding a life left behind. Her future in the modern era had been nearly forgotten and it had been left to gather a voluminous pile of dust and filth. She was forced to pick it back up, dust it off and start all over again. It had been anything but easy and she had that one lovely instant of kindness gone wrong to blame for everything.

Ah, but she was getting ahead of herself...again.

She closed her eyes and behind them she could clearly envision the night that started everything. The first domino in the chain and with a flick of a mental finger, she pushed and remembered.

It had been another clear night in the feudal era. The moon was waning, diminishing into just a tiny silver sliver, a gloriously glowing crescent. She'd been noting the waxing and waning of the moon as Kaede had instructed her. The older priestess had taken Kagome under her wing and had taught her a few spells here and there, as well as some potion work. She'd cited the need for every priestess to know the cycles of the moon, as sometimes it would influence the success of a given enchantment. Kagome had always thought of it as supernatural bupkis but who was she to question thousands of years of wisdom? She'd also believed that demons weren't real, but she was sure wrong about that one.

So, she'd been watching the night sky, reciting Kaede's little rhyme about the moon to see if were waning or waxing. She'd asked her because they were trying to brew a particular healing potion and...well...really now was a good time for her to learn such things. They'd had a recent and rather nasty fight with Naraku, in which they were all very lucky to be living. Inuyasha had given them all two weeks off as his sword needed to be sharpened and repaired, which necessitated a trip to Totosai's. Sango had also required repairs on her Hiraikotsu, so she'd gone home. That left Miroku, Shippou and herself to cool their heels in the village for a bit. It was a welcome respite from the non-stop activity of shard hunting. Kagome could have gone home. She could have entered the well and spent those two weeks studying and giggling with her friends. Ah, but that would make all sorts of sense. That would be the appropriate action of a responsible person with half a brain. If there was anything Kagome could say about herself, it was that she had a blatant lack of common sense. There were times she appreciated her inborn capriciousness because being lighthearted and carefree could be fun.

But life isn't always sunshine and roses, and even with all the suffering she'd encountered, she'd yet to have that really sink in. For her, the feudal era was a vacation. At the time, she hadn't seen how obscenely selfish she'd been. She'd thought she was helping people but what she was really doing was avoiding her own problems and replacing them with everyone else's. Back then, she thought she was doing so much good. She hadn't realized how foolish she'd been until it was too late. If she'd had any sense at all, she'd have gone back through that well and never come back. But she didn't. She was too wrapped up in the romance of the era and the existential angst of being in love and out of love all at once. Stupid, foolish Kagome.

She'd been gazing at the moon, recounting that silly rhyme.

Incomplete to the West

The moon will disappear and hide in its nest

Incomplete to the East

Soon it's as big as a festival feast

Truthfully, she really wasn't paying as much attention to the study portion of her gazing as she was absorbed in counting the stars. The moon was a thin crescent. She'd been watching it from a hillock a fair distance from Kaede's hut. With the benefit of hindsight, she should have just stayed inside that night but she was a silly girl. She had run out the minute Kaede had told her that stupid rhyme because she wanted to test it. Really, it was an excuse. She just wanted a moment to herself. Miroku had been unpleasantly grabby as of late, though it was terribly halfhearted. He missed Sango more than he'd liked to admit. Of the two of them, Kagome had missed her more because Sango had literally taken the pressure off her own behind ever since she'd joined the group. Shippou had also been a bit clingy. Being in a near death situation with his last living parental figure did that to a kid. She didn't blame either of them but she did need a moment just for her. Just a small space of time for her own thoughts and feelings to even out and she chose that particular night. That one moment in time of all the moments in time she could have chosen. If this were a story, she'd have begun it with what broke that incomplete vision of silent serenity.

Her attention on the moon waned and she'd turned her gaze to the stars, lazily identifying a constellation or two, noting the position of Canis Major and its brother, Canis Minor. They were hard to find this time of year. It was early March, and the best time to view either constellation was in February. Kagome thanked the gods for the early spring because star gazing was so much easier in the feudal era. If only she'd been here a bit earlier, she'd have been able to see both constellations quite clearly. Alas, there was still snow in February and hence, no shard hunting. But the snow soon cleared and the ground was visible again, if a bit frozen. It was still cold but not uncomfortably so. She'd found a rather dry rock for a perch and she'd brought one of her best down jackets, so she was kept very warm. Hugging herself, she sighed deeply, absently noting the condensation of her own breath as it left her mouth. Deep feelings of peace surrounded her and in the moment, she wished for someone to share it with. That was when she heard the shuffling footsteps of another traveler, alone on the dusty road behind her. She turned her head, a half smile on her lips for whoever it was. In those days, she was always smiling for anyone and everyone. She'd thought it was one of her friends. Her smile was for them, for Miroku or Shippou. For Kaede or Sango. Or for Inuyasha...who she'd absurdly hoped it had been.

But it wasn't one of her friends.

The shuffling figure that met her gaze that night could be considered an enemy and sometimes, a reluctant ally. It was Sesshoumaru. Inuyasha's older brother. "Half-brother", she inwardly corrected herself, staring in abject fascination at the sight that greeted her. Her normal mental picture of him had always included the words cool and collected. She'd never seen him in anything less than an absolutely pristine condition. Full of his natural arrogance that made him live up to his name, the killing perfection. The creature that limped into the village that night was anything but perfect, though quite capable of killing. He was in short...a mess. His clothes were tattered and bloodstained, his normally pin straight hair was wind blown and wild. And his eyes. His eyes were blood red instead of cool gold. It was this detail that had held her attention for the longest time. She'd stared at him, debating why his eyes were red. Inuyasha's eyes changed like that in his demon form, as did Sesshoumaru's. But Inuyasha didn't have control of his demon blood, Sesshoumaru did. So why were his eyes red? What had put him in such a state?

Then she noticed the bloodied bundle of humanity cradled in his arm. She identified the bundle as Rin, the little girl that followed him. His ward they'd only just recently seen with him. Just a few days before their battle with Naraku and as soon as she thought that, her breath caught in her throat. What had happened? Kagome felt her eyes tearing up but she didn't say a word or make a move. When Inuyasha was like this she'd spare little thought on whether or not to approach him. Intrinsically, she knew that he wouldn't hurt her. He would fight his black blood the minute she came into view because Inuyasha didn't want to hurt her. She knew how to handle him. What to do to ensure her own safety but Sesshoumaru, well...that was a whole other matter. Approaching a demon of his caliber in an uncontrolled state was stupid on a suicidal level. Kagome didn't currently feel like dying, so she held her breath and waited for him to make the first move. The realization that she'd brought no weaponry wasn't a welcome one but if he wanted to attack her, there were no amount of arrows in the world that'd stop him.

She sat as still as she could, willing herself to become apart of the scenery. Willing herself to be as unmovable as the rock beneath her. Once she was a rock, then maybe he'd just ignore her like he would a rock. It made little sense, even in her own head but it was her idea and she would run with it till she tripped. He continued to move forward, every step seemed difficult for him. His progress was staggering at best and he looked the part of a drunk, but for all the open wounds. She was amazed, not only because he was so grievously wounded and still walking, but because he hadn't healed himself. He was daiyoukai. A greater demon and as such there wasn't much in this world that could harm him so badly but apparently, something did.

He stopped suddenly and sniffed the air, his red eyes locking onto her with an eerie kind of precision that frightened her bone deep. Haltingly, he stumbled forward until he reached her little hillock. The daiyoukai towered over her, still an imposing presence despite his current lack of mental clarity. He said nothing for several very long and uncomfortable moments. Time spread thin and Kagome wondered when the world might start again. She could say with absolute certainty that those were the most terrifying moments of her life. Considering the kind of danger she normally found herself in that was saying a lot.

His knees suddenly buckled and he nearly collapsed in front of her. At the last moment, he caught himself, though his knees still hit the ground with an uncomfortable sounding crunch. He sat prostrate in front of her, bloodied and quite obviously broken. There was something endlessly sad about his visage that night. She'd almost call it pathetic but that would be degrading the memory. Despite all the trouble that night started, she couldn't bring herself to sully it. She wanted to remember the one time she'd seen him so unguarded. In the moment, he'd looked like a newly broken horse, still tinged with wild desire, but without the will to rebel against the choke of its harness, silently accepting its stolen freedom. Whoever had done this to him...what they'd done was unforgivable. This was all wrong. He was the Lord of the West, he shouldn't be at her feet, groveling like some common dog. Not that she felt she should be doing the groveling, but...he was proud, if nothing else and his pride and honor was something she'd always vaguely respected about him. Seeing him brought so low as to lose complete control of his own blood, it was wrong and weird. Like the universe had been upended. Up was now down. Dogs were living with cats in complete harmony, and it left her feeling confused and downright terrified.

She blinked wildly as if to confirm or deny what she was seeing. It had been a desperate hope on her part that this was all a dream or perhaps a very ridiculous nightmare. Even a rather nice hallucination brought on by hypothermia would do but it was clearly quite real.

Sesshoumaru was on his knees before her, for what reasons...for what purpose was beyond her. His breathing was harsh and labored; the curling tendrils of it condensed and spiraled upward. It eventually mingled with her own and she was preposterously reminded of a grammar school science lesson. Heat rises. It was an absent thought and to this day she wasn't sure why her mind chose that moment to dredge it up. She was broke out of this reverie by Sesshoumaru's voice which was uncharacteristically soft and devoid of all harsh arrogance.

"Priestess..." he said, the word coming out a bit cracked as if it were hard to say.

So unlike the smooth and confident tones she was used to hearing from him and it frightened her deeply. He looked up at her with eyes still burning red. They begged her for something, they spoke for him saying all the things his pride wouldn't let him. Please, help her...those eyes pleaded with heartbreaking intensity. Kagome hesitated, finding the will to keep her eyes locked with his to make absolutely sure she saw what she thought she did. There was no lie in his eyes, only the dull agony of the heart. Reluctantly, she came closer to him. She could no longer play the part of a statue, not when she saw such raw pain in the eyes of a creature she'd so often thought of as unfeeling. It was a horrible thing to find out you were wrong about something, but in this instance, the feeling was abhorrently acute. She slipped off the rock and sat down quietly in front of him, so that they were on the same level.

Without a word, he carefully set down the little girl he'd been carrying, transferring her to Kagome's arms with his normal grace, despite his numerous injuries. Kagome could already fell the tears gathering at the edge of her eyes and they threatened to fall and fall heavily. It was by will alone that she kept them away, even when she realized how light the little girl was. She barely weighed anything and she was so limp in her arms. It was the first of many worrisome signs in the road. As far as she could deduce, he'd been attacked and the girl had been caught in the crossfire. He'd traveled all this way to find her, the only priestess he knew and trusted enough to handle his ward. She'd have been flattered in any other circumstance but this. This task he brought to her was probably beyond her skill but arguing the point with a demon who wasn't in control of his faculties would do little good.

Kagome took a deep, calming breath and gently laid the girl on the grass. Slowly, she pulled off the knitted gloves she wore on her hands and stuffed them in her pockets. She then proceeded to examine the little girl, moving the torn bits of fabric aside to assess the damage. She was injured badly; her small body was a mass of cuts and abrasions. The worst was a large gash gouged into her chest. It ran from her collar bone to just past her sixth rib and it was very deep. Blood no longer oozed from it but she could tell at one time it had. Most of it was now congealed around the wound itself, turned moist and sticky by the cold. She spared at glance to regard Sesshoumaru, noting that more than half the blood staining the pristine white of his haori was the girl's.

Kagome looked away, gazing back down at Rin's face. She was so still, so silent. Too silent. She should be moaning, making sounds of discomfort but there was nothing. She could have just passed out, which wouldn't be a good sign but it would explain things. Carefully, she pushed Rin's bangs back, stroking her forehead gently before she opened the little girl's eyelid with a thumb. Her irises had rolled back up into her head so far that not even a speck of brown was visible. She was unconscious or worse. Kagome shook her head, not wanting to think that way just yet. She couldn't hear the girl breathing. Her small chest didn't show the slightest movement which made Kagome worry all the more. With a chest wound as bad as that, she should be able to hear the girl's breathing. More correctly, she should be able to hear the girl struggling for breath. It'd be an awful gurgling sound that she didn't really want to hear coming from Rin, of all people. At the same time, if she heard that sound it'd be a small sign of life, and that would be good. It'd mean she'd have half a chance but to hear nothing...was not good. Delicately, she placed her hand over the girl's nose, hoping to feel air coming through but there was nothing.

"Idiot." She berated herself mentally, "If she were breathing, you'd be able to see it..."

She'd forgotten about the cold. Kagome licked her lips and fought her rising fear. It boiled in her stomach with every move she made. Things didn't look good and with every preliminary ministration, she began to realize the futility of the whole affair. Stroking the girl's cheek, she tried hard to hold back the waiting tears. There was still a chance...she kept repeating that to herself even though she knew it was a lie. She pressed two trembling fingers to the girl's neck and searched for a pulse. She searched and she found nothing.

"No." She whispered deep inside herself, denying the undeniable.

Her hands were numb from the cold; she just wasn't able to feel it, that's all. She held her hands up to her mouth and blew on them, rubbing them together to stimulate blood flow back into them. Kagome tried again, this time taking the reading from Rin's wrist. She'd never been good at finding a pulse at the neck. Carefully, she pressed a thumb to the thin skin on Rin's wrist and held it there for several minutes. When the thumb didn't work, she switched to using two fingers. She moved her fingers up and down the girl's forearm, searching desperately for some sign that her heart was beating. But there was nothing. She felt the first of her tears as they fell from underneath bowed lashes. They hit her hand as she pressed Rin's wrist a bit harder. She was willing there to be a heartbeat but nothing was there, nothing ever would be. If the little girl was still alive, she'd have left a bruise. But she wasn't alive and the dead don't bruise.

Kagome felt steely cold subsume every limb from head to toe. The girl was dead. The flowers of the world could rest easy this night. There'd be no one to enjoy their beauty again. She looked down at the lifeless little body in the grass and gently, she picked her up and held her tight. Gods, she was so small. Her cheeks were too pale, her lips had gone blue. It hadn't been long, an hour maybe two. Rigor Mortis hadn't set in yet but it would. What kind of world was this that one sweet little girl could die so horribly? Should she blame the guardian or the bastard who attacked her? Maybe it was neither. Mostly, it didn't matter.

Rin was dead and her protector had brought her to the only help he could think of. The only human he'd trust with her because he knew the girl needed help that only her own kind could give. But she couldn't help her. The girl was dead and there was nothing she could do. Had this been her own time and if he'd been a bit faster, maybe, just maybe. Even then, her recovery would have been touch and go. What should she tell him? How to break the news? The situation wouldn't have been any easier had the girl's human father sat in front of her. She wasn't faced with a human; she was faced with a demon, a demon that wasn't in control at the moment. Kagome wasn't sure how he'd react and was more than just a little frightened. He'd come for help and she'd tried, but would that matter to him in the state he was in? Any words she tried to form evaporated before they even left her throat. What could she say that he'd accept?

She didn't want to die but the truth couldn't be avoided.

Looking down at the little girl, Kagome lost it. She held her tiny hand, so absurdly fragile in comparison with her own. Her hands had always been small, so much so that her friends frequently teased her about it. You have the hands of a five year old, Kagome. Yet, when she looked at the hand in her palm, she couldn't help but feel how large and clumsy she was. Her hands, Rin's hands were so cold. She held the girl's hands as if she were still alive before gathering the courage to speak. With a shaky sigh, she lifted her gaze. Any tears she hoped to prevent had already fallen and it seemed they might never stop. The night had gone eerily silent, as if the entire world had stopped to regard this one moment in time. Her tears flooded her thoughts and poured down her face as her gaze locked with his.

"I-I...I'm...I..." She began, her lips trembling so hard she found it hard to speak, "I-I'm sah-sah-sorry...She's..S-she's gone...I can't help her..." Kagome whispered, her voice trailing off into the darkness.

If it were possible, his eyes became duller than before. A haze of some unreadable emotion clouded them as he stood shakily. Kagome watched with languid horror, not knowing what this action might portend. The girl had meant more to him than he'd liked to admit. Somehow, she'd wormed her way into his world. The one bright, innocent light in a life mired in now perpetual dark. He drew the one of the swords hanging at his hip. Kagome didn't have an idea of which one he was drawing. She'd never been able to tell the difference, all she saw was the motion towards the weapon. Her eyes widened and she cringed, waiting for a blow that never came. She felt as the sword swung against the air above her head. He'd missed. She cautiously opened one eye and stared up at the demon that stood over her. His blood red eyes narrowed and he swiped again. She let out a little squeak until it registered that he was trying to use Tenseiga, the healing sword. He was trying to bring the girl back and she gasped audibly at the realization. She looked down, hope springing in her heart as the tears she shed stilled. There was a chance...and she waited with baited breath. Nothing. He swiped again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Again. Nothing. Again and again and again. Still nothing.

The proud daiyoukai above her paused, swiping the sword one last time and when nothing happened he began to shake with palpable rage. The sword he held behind him was flung swiftly aside with a startling amount of viciousness. It embedded itself in a nearby tree with a neat tang. Kagome followed the motion, staring at the sword sticking out of the tree for a moment before turning back to Sesshoumaru. He stood there and trembled as his anger cooled. Soon, he was still as a statue again and she wasn't quite sure which reaction she feared more. Minutes passed and he stood there still, breathing in and out with angrily labored gasps. Without warning, he fell to his knees for the second time in one night, a strange keening sound coming from his throat. It rose in volume slowly, like the distant rumble of a coming avalanche. That strangled sound became an inhuman howl of pure rage and fatal grief. It shook the foundation of the earth, letting the whole world know of the daiyoukai's loss as he threw his head back to gaze at the moon. His blood red eyes stared numbly at the sky and he blinked languorously, letting the howl in his throat taper off to nothing.

The sudden quiet alarmed Kagome. With one arm still around the little girl's body, she uncovered her ears and looked over at Sesshoumaru's still form. He was a tragic statue silhouetted in burnished moonlight. She realized then that she'd witnessed the death of something beautiful. That howl was like the dying light of a flaming phoenix, so bright and yet so sorrowful. The sound had woken the village. She could hear the dim sounds of them searching for the source of that howl. But all she could focus on was Sesshoumaru and what he might do. Right now he was still, immobile, but he could be up in moments and after what had happened, she wasn't sure what he'd do.

"Kagome?" Miroku asked, his fluid voice skimming the surface of the night with its usual softness.

She turned her tearful gaze on him, her eyes pleading with him to stay still and silent. The effort was unnecessary because shortly after Miroku showed up, the daiyoukai passed out from his own injuries and the inescapable cloud of grief that tore his heart to pieces. There was a pregnant pause where neither human was quite sure what to do. Then Kagome remembered the little girl in her arms.

"Miroku...S-suh-something terrible huh-has happened..." She stuttered, tears overflowing.

"That it has." He replied quietly, approaching the girl with a steady gait despite the sinking feeling in his heart.

The monk knelt next to the trembling teenager and held her close until the rest of the villagers caught up with him. He let her cry quietly into his shoulder. As she wept, she couldn't help but envy his eternal calm. It wasn't the stoic cold that someone like Sesshoumaru exhibited. Miroku's calm was one that was borne of great wisdom. What she didn't understand at the time that with great wisdom comes great suffering, and that was the reason the monk could be so calm. Because he had seen such things many times over, and had accepted death as an inevitability of life.

Kagome didn't understand this at the time. All she could do was wail like the child she was, wishing for all the world that there was a way, any way to bring the little girl back. It wasn't fair.

"She's in a better place, Kagome." He whispered to her softly as her sobs died down.

Kagome nodded numbly, resting her head on his shoulder as she stared emptily into space. Eventually the villagers had found Miroku and Kagome, as well as the unconscious daiyoukai. The monk immediately took charge of the situation, as no one else was in the position to. He ordered several men to take Sesshoumaru to Kaede's hut. There were objections to this particular plan but no one was about to disagree with him once his order was given. He was a monk and they were but simple villagers. Miroku then helped Kagome to her feet, grabbing her by an elbow and she stood. Gently, he took Rin's battered body from her arms, giving her over to one of the village women to prepare for burial. Another woman was ordered to stay with Shippou and keep him from knowing what had happened, at least until he could explain things. This was something the little kit didn't need to see, especially after the battle they'd had with Naraku. Kagome was also led away by an older village woman, whose name she'd forgotten. The events that had happened directly after her initial meeting with Sesshoumaru were a blur. She remembered the older woman had been very kind. At the time, she'd barely registered the almost motherly way she'd been treated that night. The woman had seen to it that she had a hot bath, a rarity in these times. She'd also provided a change of clothes for Kagome. Her clothes she wore that night had been burned, too full of memories and blood to be kept. The old woman had given Kagome a sleeping potion that night, by order of Kaede.

While Kagome slept, Miroku saw to it that Rin's body was prepared for her funeral. He saw to it that she was cleaned and properly dressed. Made sure that all the correct rituals were observed and all the right sutras were read. The little girl had no real relatives. He had questioned Kagome briefly about what had happened and he inferred that Sesshoumaru seemed to be her caretaker. However, he was hardly in a state to perform the normal duties as next of kin. It was traditional for someone to stay awake with the deceased until the day of burial. So, Miroku dutifully took this task as his own.

Death didn't bother him normally. It was apart of life, the endless cycle that had turned since the earth began. He'd officiated many funerals in his short life, too many actually. Death was always a devastating event, no matter the age but he'd always felt a bit better when it was an adult he was burying. An adult had lived their life; they'd experienced much of what it had to offer. They'd seen more than one season, but a child hadn't. When a child died, it was like they hadn't lived at all. They'd only just begun and to have it ripped away before they could even experience it was beyond tragic. It was dreadfully unfair, and he'd found it hard to keep his normal cool in such a situation. He took a long calming breath before beginning his meditations once more. It would be a very long night.


Well. Here's a little short story. Only gonna be around four chapters. Mostly done because I don't want my few and relatively new Inuyasha based reviewers to get mad at me. See, I'm gonna have La Vie go on hiatus for about a month so I can update my other stories. Tranquility needs to be finished, so I'll be focusing on that but I'll also be working on updates for In the Eye and of course, my personal favorite bowl of ansty goodness, Purgatory.

So this little ficlet is my way of saying...sorry for the wait. I'm gonna try to finish it as fast as I can. So everyone...bear with me.

Anyhoot. I love you all. Thanks bunches and loads for the support, really it means a lot! Oh, and sorry about killing Rin off. I await the doom of fruit pelty...go on, throw 'em. I know you want to...