Chapter Five: Dreams of White and Red

She sat, alone in a white field sparsely dotted with red. Idly, she fingered the tiny white blossoms in numerous clumps in front of her. They were so small, so fragile, and she handled them with the utmost delicacy, lovingly.

"Why do you chase after me when I am already gone?" She asked quietly.

He stood behind her, watching her movements, drinking in her appearance with his eyes. He wanted to touch her, but found that he could not move. "I had not realized your true value until you had already gone." He replied.

"Is that your only reason?" Her fingers stilled around a single blossom on the outermost fringe of the clump.

"Yes."

"Then, you will never find me." Her fingers crushed the blossom, and the image vanished in a flurry of white petals stained red.

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Sesshoumaru awoke with a start. He stared at his surroundings in surprise. He was in his quarters at his domain. He couldn't even remember returning home, much less falling asleep. He brought a clawed hand to his head. His heart was pounding and his mind was telling him something was amiss, but he couldn't remember. He had dreamed of something…but he couldn't recall it. But whatever it had been, he knew it had been important.

There was a soft knock at his door.

He threw the covers from him, sitting up and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. He summoned his haori to him and slipped it on. "Enter." He said tersely.

Two white triangles emerged first, poking around the edge of the door. They were followed by a face he hadn't seen in over ten years. The child was garbed in his standard white youkai attire, but it was undoubtedly a hanyou. His breath caught in his throat. "Shin."

The hanyou seemed uncertain, and teetered on the edge of the doorway for a moment before fully entering and shutting the door behind him. He bowed his head. "Chichiue."

For a while, neither moved, unsure how to begin. Shin was nervous about something.

Sesshoumaru swallowed hard. What did this mean? Had…had Kagome…? He hardly dared to hope that she had returned, but Shin was their son again. That meant more to him than he had ever realized. There was proof that once he had mated a most beautiful, powerful, and pure miko woman.

Then he noticed how Shin's arms were behind his back, he seemed to be twisting something in his hands. Before Sesshoumaru could ask, Shin pulled out a pure white kimono and held it in front of him. Flower petals were faintly outlined in red on the otherwise blank kimono. "Okaa-san said for you to watch over this." He said quietly, before walking over and placing the kimono on the edge of the bed. Then he moved to scuttle out the door.

"Is she here?" The Taiyoukai's voice rang out before he could stop it.

Shin stilled, his hand on the side of the door. "No." He said simply, but there was a meaning in his son's intonation that he couldn't quite understand. Then Shin bowed his head and hurried from the room.

Sesshoumaru studied the kimono Shin had left. Shin knew more than he had let on, but for now, Sesshoumaru would let it go. As much as he would hate to admit it, he was clueless about how to proceed. This situation was unlike one he had ever been in before, but he had only a single goal in mind; return Kagome to her rightful place by his side.

At their last encounter, she seemed to understand something about him. But she also said that she could no longer return to them. Perhaps the kimono was a clue about where she was entrapped.

The kimono was abysmally plain. It was a standard garb worn by the middle-class. The only thing that made it unique was its coloring. He had never before seen anything so pure white. It made newly fallen snow appear grey in comparison. The faint red outlining of flower buds, the lines were so delicate and small. It stirred a memory within him, one he could not quite grasp. And the scent, it was slight, barely noticeable, but it was there. Instead of carrying the scent of those who had handled it, the cloth was tinged with the scent of flowers and the most subtle metallic smell. It was strange.

He took the kimono to another room. He stood in the room for a moment, noticing how empty it felt. All of the furniture and objects that had always been in the room were there, and there was not the barest hint of dust, but it still gave off an almost ghostly aura. This had been Kagome's room, untouched in the ten years since she had left. He made it over to her bed and carefully laid the kimono onto it. He would watch over the kimono, and no one else but his eyes alone would watch over it. The room was under express orders to never be disturbed. Only Sesshoumaru could enter.

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The light scent danced just in front of his nose, enough to be entranced by it, but not enough to be able to tell what it was. No matter which way he walked, the scent neither strengthened nor weakened. He could not trace the source of it, no matter how much he wanted to. It was important…but he couldn't recall why.

"You still search for me?" The gentle voice trilled through the air, disembodied.

"I do." He replied honestly.

"Why?"

"Because I want you."

He felt the very air seem to hesitate, hovering. The breeze still blew, still soft, still gentle, but the atmosphere had changed somehow.

She appeared, walking slowly. She crested the top of a nearby hill. If he had wanted he could have met her in a half a dozen steps, yet he remained where he was. He noted that this was the field he had been in before, but this time, there were significantly many more red flowers.

She sat down, immersing her fingers in the field of white. She looked at him curiously. "Why?" She asked.

"Because you belong to me."

Her hands pulled upward, hard, yanking out a large clump of the white flowers. She looked at them sadly, her fingers tightening around the bundle. Her eyes turned to him apologetically.

His eyes widened as the spot from where they had been unearthed began to fill with red, only not flowers. Crimson liquid emerged in a small pool, staining her white kimono as she kneeled. The wind began to blow harder, dispersing the petals of the flowers that she held. White butterflies sprouted from the bundle, flying in a mass of white until the flowers disappeared.

She sighed heavily. "The red butterflies will come soon." She said quietly. Then she too vanished in a burst of white wings.

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"Okaasan." Shin stared down at his hands mournfully. She had gifted him with the knowledge to find her, but he held back. She didn't want to be found, at least, not by him.

She was a pure, pure heart, but within each heart there held a desire. He couldn't love her the way she wanted to be loved. But, Sesshoumaru could. Sesshoumaru could save her, if only he could see how. There was no way for Shin to tell him, much less show him, what he needed to do. Sesshoumaru had to realize it on his own. But, the manner in which the Western Lord had been raised, and the way he had chosen to live his life, conflicted with the realization. The longer it took, the faster Kagome would fade from their grasps forever.

Contrary to what he had believed, Kagome was not in some limbo. She had a physical form, but in order to house Shin's humanity for all those years, her own spirit had been ejected from her body. When she had given back his humanity, she had been too weakened to return to her own form. She now wandered, trapped in a different realm. Too much longer, and she would die.

His fists clenched and he closed his eyes in frustration. So useless. He couldn't save his own mother, no matter how hard he wished it. He didn't have the power. The one who had the power…

Shin bowed his head. Sesshoumaru was…a very stubborn demon. And despite himself, he doubted that Sesshoumaru could save her. He knew as much as Kagome understood. The demon never hated her, but at the same time, he was unable to come to terms with the alien emotion he had attached to her. Too young to understand Sesshoumaru's short-comings, she had acted too rashly. She had only tried to protect her son, never fully realizing how precious she had actually become to the demon lord.

If Sesshoumaru didn't realize it soon…Shin didn't want to think about it. He sat in his room, staring out the window, as he did every year, his hands clasped in his lap. Sesshoumaru had to realize it…he didn't want to think of the consequences if he never learned…

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Red.

Everything was red.

He couldn't see past the red or through it. The color obscured his vision in a crimson veil. The gentle flowery aroma was gone, replaced by the scent of ice and the tang of blood. Yet, his eyes scanned fruitlessly for a patch of white, a glimpse of purity in the blood stained world.

There was none.

"Kagome?" He called tentatively.

Then at his feet, he saw it. A curtain of midnight hair, pale arms outstretched. Kagome lay at his feet, sprawled in a crimson kimono. Her body was splayed, face down, her hair shrouding her face in black silk. He knelt hurriedly, running a clawed hand over her back. Her body was warm, and he could feel her heart beat, but she lay so quiet, so still.

It was so violently different from the dreams before. His fingers brushed her hair from her face.

She looked so peaceful asleep. Yet he wanted to see her expressive eyes, those clear blue orbs, looking back at him. Kagome being asleep here seemed…wrong.

Gingerly, he lifted her, rotating her body so she lay half on his lap. He continued to brush her silky locks from her face, pausing when he spotted something on her neck. From the back of her neck, twin stripes sprouted. He moved her to get a better look.

The black stripes slid downward, spreading out into a complex pattern onto her back. The were symmetrical to each other and even penetrated through the back of her kimono. However, the pattern was incomplete, some sections missing. It was for the most part, just an outline.

Wings, he realized. Butterfly wings…

Then he knew. The wings were slowly drawing on her back, once they were fully formed she would disappear. He wouldn't allow it. Even if he had to clip her wings, never allow them to spread, he would keep her with him. It sounded like a losing battle, even to him. If some things were never meant to be, he could hardly change them, but he was willing to do what it took to try.

He couldn't allow her to leave him. Not even in this dream world. Kagome was a precious thing, a lovely thing. She was strong-willed and powerful, and in her own right, untamable. But she was still a young human girl, prone to mistakes as he was prone to fault. She was as delicate as a butterfly. And the most beautiful of butterflies had a lifespan of only one day.

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Golden eyes snapped open. It seemed he was unable to sleep for very long, no matter how tired he was. He rarely chose to sleep nowadays, more intent on discovering the mystery of that white kimono, and Kagome's location. There had to be some way to reach her, as she had been able to reach them. If only he could find her, he could bring her back, even if she couldn't come back on her own. His eyes slid over to the kimono he had hung on the dresser. It had changed.

The faint red buds had filled in and had bloomed, spreading the crimson stain across the pure white cloth. As beautiful as it looked, it gave him a terrible sense of foreboding. It was…wrong somehow. He stood and walked over to the kimono, fingering the material.

It was unexpectedly soft, the material so light. It weighed nothing in his hands, but flowed across his fingers like water. It was like nothing he had ever come across. The kimono was almost unnatural in its beauty and simplicity. He had no mind to ask Shin where he had gotten the kimono from though. He just knew that it had something to do with Kagome. If it could help, he would ask nothing of the boy as it seemed that he was intent on remaining silent.

Sesshoumaru knew that Shin wished for Kagome's return as well though. Every fiber of that boy's body screamed it. He closed his eyes. He never should have tried to deprive him of her presence. In the end, it had only hurt them all the more. That had never been his intent.

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SM: Geez, another short chapter. This fic is filled with them. At least it's an update right? Weird thing is that this fic took some wild turn somewhere along the lines. The personalities are all screwy and repetitive. Oh well. This chappie is rough, and unbeta'd. When I'm less lazy (like that's ever gonna happen) I'll fix it up then. 'Til then, enjoy.