Stolen Seasons XVII
As Winter Becomes Spring
Five hundred years was a long time to wait. Or it would have been if Sesshoumaru had been the type of man to merely wait. But he had known that there would be lifetimes before he could see Kagome again--beginning with Rin's.
It had been fascinating to watch her grow from child to woman, woman to crone, and sobering to realize how quickly a human's life passed. From her, he learned the value of a cheerful spirit and of cherishing each moment that was given him. He had buried his daughter with honour on the mountainside near his den. She would later be joined by her spirit-descendants, who, one by one, joined their lives with his through the connection of the bloodstone.
Ohana, the sober young woman whose joy came from designing and dying intricate kimono. She had been his friend and taught him the value of stillness and peace. Masako, the flirtatious and sensual oiran, who was more than a friend, but less than a lover. She taught him to let go of past wrongs, to choose the important battles. Sae, busy and practical, never resting, always cooking or sewing or washing or cleaning, who treated him like her child, for all that he was hundreds of years her senior. She taught him what it was like to be cared for, to be able to let someone else take responsibility, however limited in scope. Ayame, the pampered, delicate princess, who had blossomed once he gave her the world to explore. And his protection as her husband. She taught him the full meaning of passion and the loyalty of marriage. Nari, the child found after Ayame's death, who reopened his heart as his beloved daughter. Endlessly curious and fearless herself, she taught him fear and how to let a loved one be free to live her life. Many women with the same soul, each unique, each occupying her own space in his heart, each teaching him what it meant to love. Some remained with him for decades, others for but a month or a year. Each one left, to return again in another form. All of them now lay in the field; mothers, daughters, friends, lovers equally honored with the wildflowers Rin had loved so much.
But now he was to meet the one he still thought of as the first, the woman who had opened his mind and soul, prepared him for the joy and pain of near-eternal life. Kagome.
The memory of that last night remained, perfect as the star-strewn sky they had been under. She'd led him to that dilapidated well, her eyes full of love and uncertainty. "Right here," she'd said, "on January 23, 2002, five PM. You'll understand when the time comes." He had understood more than that and watched for her--and after her--as the legend unfolded on this side of time. He took care not to interfere; the gods had made it clear that it was not his place. He watched his brother, young and hot-headed, bull his way through the streets of modern Tokyo. Tempting to bait him, but his brother, too, belonged on the other side of time, with their little band and the undead woman who would take his soul with her, though not to Hell, as they both expected. Strange, to see the half-breed wander the streets and know that his soul was still in the world. Somewhere. Just as well, he supposed. There was no place in this world for hanyou or lesser youkai. Still, he wished he could find his brother's soul. As was often said, blood is thicker than water. And spirit stronger than either.
Her spirit had shown through that night. She had not cried. She had not run, or suggest that he do so. She had been afraid, but she had not given in to that fear. Higurashi Kagome, the little woman from a distant time, had gained his honour, his respect... his love. They had had the opportunity for one kiss only, a bittersweet sharing of emotions, longing, and almost desperate resignation. After which she had gazed at him with such sadness that he returned to his customary curt behavior. They both knew that they had just said good-bye.
And now, he sat upon the steps of the shrine, waiting, for soon she would be violently cast back into this time. It was days before the date she had told him, but he could remember the timing of every trip she made in this time and every encounter they had had in the past. No, not long now...
He heard the violent clatter in the well-house; it brought him to his feet, uncertain whether to approach or remain--for he had learned uncertainty, too, over the centuries. Sesshoumaru determined to move cautiously toward the well; he did not want to frighten her, for she could very well be in shock. More thumps and bumps followed as he drew close. The crunch of skin on dirt as she collapsed to her knees. The sounds of weeping and the scent of tears. She needed him; she needed to know she was not alone.
He did not rush to her side. He approached her carefully. "Kagome." She looked up, her face streaked with dirt, blood, and tears.
"Sesshoumaru..." she breathed.
"You are home," he said quietly, kneeling at her side. "You are home, and I will never leave you alone."
She did not stop crying as she threw herself at him, her arms gripping tightly, hand grasping as though to reassure herself that he was real. He merely held her, stroking her hair, murmuring nonsense to her. Sesshoumaru did not notice the tears that escaped down his own face, thinking of the days they had to come, time to know each other again, time to remember, to heal. They had time. Not much, perhaps, but still so much more than the stolen seasons they had shared so long ago. Now, after all these years, they had the time to truly love.
- owari -
-- -- -- -- -- Author's Notes -- -- -- -- --
oiran - an archaic term for prostitute/courtesan
Thank you all for reading this story. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. For a tiny Kagome omake, please read 'Just One.' If you enjoy this fic, please look to my others, particularly 'Of Moonlight and Honour' for more Sesshoumaru. Domo arigatou gozaimashita!
Lm. Samiko, Jul. 29, 2006