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Warning: Character Death, Angst, Slight slashy action (In the form of a kiss)
Confessions of a Western Lord
Episode 5: Delivered
Three months have passed since the demon slayer's death. And since then, I have not seen or heard from Miroku. Neither have I felt his presence or smelled his unique scent. I have not actively looked for him, this strange feeling that courses through me for some reason giving me cause to balk and wait. I have taken to wandering, even as I search for the elusive Naraku on the side. Yet, there is not much left in me to even care anymore.
Rin and Jaken remain with me; the child seems to know that something is off with her lord. She continuously chatters with me and refuses to leave, sticking close to me and occasionally clinging to my clothing. I allow it as her presence is a comfort. I do not feel regret for my choice to kill the demon slayer. As I said before, she was just one human in a myriad of others, meaning nothing to me. Her death was a necessity, for both the settling of my youkai and the return of my lost control.
Yet, now that I have not been near to Miroku, I can feel that control seeping through my fingers and fading like dust in the wind. I crave him as if he were some form of opium, my body shaking and my usually dreamless sleep haunted my memories of our times together. This normally unflappable demeanor and cold exterior has been pierced by violet eyes and a ningen's touch.
It is entirely disgraceful.
But I cannot stop myself from falling deeper into this pit of endless misery. On the outside, I seem the same as always, calm, cold, collected. Nothing can shake my impassivity. Every demon that crosses my path I slay without thought; every human that irritates me falls to my blade. I have nearly forgotten about that foul hanyou Naraku, and furthermore, I have stopped seeking my brother as well.
I have not tried to take the Tetsusaiga since I killed that girl, nor have I even seen nor scented Inuyasha. It is strange how just one event, just one relationship and with a human no less, can seemingly stop time, stop all sense of purpose.
It makes me wonder what I have being doing with my existence, what I have accomplished. I've lived for centuries, my only deeds being the most feared youkai assassin. My father's lands have wasted away because I take no care in ruling them. His castle, my home, stands an empty and silent building, slowly rotting away into ignominy. All because of my own choices, my own actions. Jealousy over a hanyou that does not beget it to begin with and pain over losing a father, who never cared either way.
What have I to show for my life other than being feared? What will I leave behind… what legacy?
Everyone knows of the Great Inu no Taisho… he and his three blades, his strength, his assassin son, his half-breed child, his love for a human female so much so that he would give his life. His lands had prospered; he was a great warrior, a superb spirit living for thousands of years.
And yet, in my meager centuries, I have nearly destroyed all that he has built… in the name of emotions that I am claimed not to have. Not the Lord Sesshoumaru, not the ice prince of the west. It is strangely ironic, that it should be a human that is my downfall, much like it was my father's and my brother's. It seems that some things do run in the family after all.
My thoughts turn to my mother, someone I barely ever think about out. I am not sure what calamity befell her and father, but it was not long after I was born that she left the castle and returned to her home. Perhaps there was never any emotion between them, often the case in arranged marriages, which might explain why father disregarded all sense of pride for the human woman he had learned to care for. Now, I have done the same. It seems father did leave a legacy for his children.
"Sesshoumaru-sama." The child speaks yet again, perhaps sensing my dire thoughts. I can feel her small hand clutching at my empty sleeve. Yet, I do not turn my gaze to her.
She smiles at the use of her name, this I can sense. It seems any sort of attention I give her, any sort of praise causes her great happiness. Such devotion for a child… and human at that. I have always considered ningen fickle creatures, never able to stay in one place or with one purpose. But Rin has proved me wrong with her loyalty time and again, both I and Jaken, whom she considers her family.
I await her response, knowing that she is searching for the right words. "You are sad," she commented after a moment. "And it makes Rin sad, too." From the mouths of babes, they often say, comes the truth in all its ugliness.
Am I sad? Is that this unidentified emotion roaming through me? This feeling of emptiness, of being incomplete? I crave the monk, his touch, and his words… just his being near to me. He had invaded my body and soul, and without him I feel strangely bereft. Could sorrow be this feeling?
I do not return any words to her because I have nothing to say. Nor does she add anything further to her statement.
What have I for a legacy indeed? This expressive fear at the mere utterance of my name? A vow to reclaim a blade that was not given to me? A human child and a toad youkai ward? The name of one with a heart of stone and ice? Why do I feel the need to define myself by the feelings I have for a cursed monk?
And why, by all the gods, do I seek his presence even now, if only unconsciously. I suppose one might say that I… miss him. Yes, that must be it. Deep within my "cold" heart, I miss Miroku. His touch, his words, the look in his eyes when I am being pleasured so much that my body quakes.
Three months… it is not a long time altogether for a youkai, but for me it seems exceptionally lengthy. Every minute measured as if it were the length of a year, days passing by in monotony. It is strange… this craving that passes through my body, as if I cannot function without his touch.
Without realizing it, my body starts to turn on a new path, unconsciously beginning to seek him out. While three months is nothing in the life of a youkai, for a human it is significant. Perhaps it is time to find him once more. I cannot continue anymore… not in this way.
Then, as if summoned, the wind shifts directions, bringing a most familiar scent my way. Familiar and yet not… it is changed somehow. I recognize it as Miroku's. Yet, it smells weaker, almost sick, like he had contracted one of the ningen plagues that seem prevalent in this area. It is almost like the smell of death, though I can detect no blood. It is an unsettling feeling that begins to pervade through me, and I am not sure I like it.
I pause in my walk.
"Wait here with Jaken."
As if sensing what I am about to do, the toad protests. "But, my lord, I do not think-"
"Thinking is not a part of your purpose, Jaken. Do as I say." My tone leaves no room for argument. I do not know if Miroku plans to attempt and kill me like he claimed when we last parted. I will not endanger Rin's life. The child has crawled into my heart, and I am loathe to put her in danger. I have saved her life countless times, and no matter what may happen to me, I want her to continue living.
His mouth hangs open, a strange look passing through his eyes before he closes his mouth and nods his head. "Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama." He turned towards Rin, who holds the reins of Ah-Un. "Come, Rin."
She gives me a look, as if she might protest, her lips seeming to quiver. Big, brown eyes look up at me hopeful, pleading with me, though for what I am not sure. Then, Jaken tugs on her arm, gently because I am watching, and she turns, heading away from the direction I plan to journey. I don't think I will ever forget that strange look, almost like she was saying goodbye.
I watch Rin and Jaken depart for another moment, a strange feeling settling in the pit of my stomach as I do so. Narrowing my eyes in irritation at my own sentimentality, I turn and head deeper into the forest toward Miroku's scent. As I walk, I realize, albeit belatedly, that the monk must be alone. Other than the unfamiliar scent alike to sickness, no other smells accompany that of his.
Had he completely distanced himself from my brother's pack? Or has he come looking for me, perhaps detecting my youkai?
Judging from his scent, it's been quite some time since he has left my brother's pack. I am curious as to why. Humans have this incessant need to place guilt and blame, stacking upon layers and layers of self-hatred and pity. Perhaps Miroku feels a sense of remorse for what I have done.
Such foolish creatures.
The closer I get to Miroku's location, the more a small tremble of excitement begins in my body. The once thick apathy that coated every movement begins to slowly melt away at the prospect of seeing him again. My body seems eager, anxious for him and his touch, and I find that my heart has picked up its pace, beating like a mad drum within my chest. It is no small wonder why I have been driven to this when he has invaded my very being. Just the scent of him has me unconsciously moving faster in his direction.
I cannot help but wonder where along the way I have stopped bothering to care. I have become addicted to the taste of a human, killed to prove my ownership, and abided by his wishes by keeping my distance. Once married to my pride, I am now merely passing acquaintances with it. All for the sake of a cursed monk.
Father would be proud.
My nose twitches, and I realize that any moment Miroku and I will meet. I decide to pause and wait his approach. It isn't long before he comes into sight, seemingly unchanged since we last parted. I intake a breath sharply without second thought, my traitorous organ nearly skipping a beat and angering me by doing so.
He doesn't appear to notice me at first, his gaze concentrated on the ground before him. His complexion seems normal, his gait even. He does appear weary, like he has not received a clear night of rest in quite some time, dark circles of fatigue deeply etched into the underpinnings of his violet eyes. He clutches at his ever present staff with the uncursed hand, the rhythmic thumping of it striking the ground, a welcome and familiar sound.
I take a step forward, directly into his path with the intention of announcing my presence. However, before I can even open my mouth, he speaks. Apparently, he is more aware than I realized.
"I've been wondering which of you I would find first," he commented quietly as he came directly to a halt in front of my person, bringing his gaze slowly up from the ground to lock with mine. Even the tone of his voice is unchanged, a familiar lilt that croons to my ears, bringing memories of whispered seduction and endless praise as orgasm washes over the both of us.
But most of all, I am struck by the swirling emotion I see in those violet eyes. By nature, humans are more passionate, a product of their short lives. What I see flashing so quickly through him, these strange and unknown emotions, are so much more than that. I can not even begin to identify them, too quickly do they swirl… save for the determination that seems to overwhelm them all. A determination that leaves me confused.
I raise a brow in question of both his enigmatic statement and the whirling emotions. He has been searching for me… and another?
He laughs lightly, though it is a hollow sound, thick with more of these unidentified feelings. "The bane of my existence…or the bane of my heart," he responds to my unvoiced question, tone still soft. "In a way, this is far more fitting."
"You are speaking in riddles, monk," I reply, eyeing him with some confusion. I have to resist the urge to reach for him, every nerve in my body straining to make contact with him. This traitorous flesh of mine is betraying both me and my pride. "Speak plainly. I've no patience to sift through conundrums of prose."
Miroku smiles faintly, stepping closer so that we are barely a handbreadth apart. He looks at me through long dark lashes and raises one hand to trail his finger down the front of my armor. Even though I can't feel the motion or even the heat from the touch, it makes my entire body shiver. This close, the scent of him envelopes me… along with that strange scent that baffles me. It remains difficult to maintain my impassive mask.
"Three months," the monk comments, as if musing aloud. "I think it's safe to say that I missed you, Sesshoumaru, though it raged against me to do so." Even this much later, he still speaks with familiarity, dropping my title without thought. It once made me angry, and irritated my pride. Now, I just accept it.
How the mighty have fallen.
I narrow my eyes slightly, perplexed by his behavior. I recognize the beginnings of lust glimmering in his violet orbs, as well as other nameless emotions, so complex I cannot read them all at once.
"You're confused," he assumes before I can speak. Indeed, it seems he is the one doing most of the talking, reading my expressions like they were words. In our short time together, he has learned how to read my careful blank face, my mask of indifference. It is strange how such a simple thing can manage to strike me as important.
He continues speaking, "Because of my last words… and my anger."
"Humans are not always practical creatures," I say by way of response.
My veins are thrumming with his nearness. Yet, I feel frozen in place, as if I fear to move. My breath comes short in my throat, and that mad organ continues to thump wildly. Still, I am strangely calm and… relieved. Yes, that is another emotion that courses through me. The odd restlessness that had pervaded my youkai seems to have settled down, calmed just by his presence.
Perhaps I missed him as well.
There is another light laugh, but it is without the usual charm and wit. I cannot tell if he is mocking or truly amused. "I can see that nothing has changed, even for a youkai lord. I have realized some things, and I think that I understand now."
It is a curious response. My brow furrows of its own accord as I try to comprehend his strange words. I feel the sudden need to affirm my feelings, to say aloud what I have killed to prove. The words tumble from my lips before I can stop them, again the sensation of control slipping through my claws.
"You are mine."
He nods nearly imperceptibly, gaze shifting to the side. "Yes, I belong to you." He pauses, repositioning his weight before sliding his eyes back on me. "And you, to me. It is fitting that it would end this way. Almost romantic."
I growl irritably. "More riddles."
He shakes his head. "My apologies. But when a man reaches the end of his life, his sanity departs a little as well."
The end… of his life? What is this fool talking about? And why does my heart clench and my stomach turn? An emotion I am not familiar with… something akin to fear settles within me.
"What are you blabbering on about monk? And why is your scent different?"
Miroku does not respond vocally, however. Instead, without preamble, he reaches up and tangles the uncursed hand in my hair, gently guiding our heads together, our lips crashing and coming together in a passionate kiss. My flesh parts easily, admitting his tongue as I relax into his touch. My one hand grasps for something to cling to, someway to ground my swirling emotions, and I latch onto his purple robes, fire rushing through my veins. With just one taste I am reminded of the pleasure he can bring me, and I instantly desire it once again, the same that had been haunting my sleep.
His lips move against mine, tongue eagerly caressing my own flesh. My teeth graze across his lips, but he doesn't seem to mind, just pushing our bodies together, not caring for the armor that I am sure must be aggravating. Even through our layers of clothing, I can feel his arousal pressing against me. He still desires me after all.
He pulls away for a moment, leaving me feeling slightly bereft before he speaks again. "For a time, my heart – my love – was split in two, and I tried to have it all… but I was unprepared for the jealousies of a youkai lord." He pauses, breath ghosting over my lips as he is still quite near. "In many ways, I am to blame for Sango's death, and I thought I would carry that burden until the end of my life." He chuckles darkly before his face turns abruptly serious. "I never thought it would be this soon."
Could it be that he is indeed dying? Does that explain the strange scent?
Yet, he appears so healthy. And I wonder why he is explaining this to me now. He last said he would kill me, pull me into his kazaana if I ever came near to him. Does he still plan to do so? And why did my heart nearly skip a beat when the word love was uttered, and he alluded to feelings of the heart?
I crave more from him, more than just a simple kiss. With Miroku this close, right in front of me and within my grasp, much of the turmoil that has plagued my spirit has calmed. I feel strangely at peace, like I have come home from a long, arduous journey. All because of the presence of one cursed monk.
Maybe I truly love him after all. If someone such as I could understand that fickle yet powerful emotion.
"Are you dying, Miroku?" I question softly.
He smiles then, a genuine expression of happiness so clear that it startles me. "I think that is the first time you have called me by my name," he comments a bit wistfully before sighing. "What does dying mean to one living on borrowed time? It is strange. Even after watching you slay someone near to my heart, I still want you." His words are punctuated by a slight intake of breath. He winces as if in pain. "I can't seem to let you go."
Then, I feel it, a small surge of power coming from him. A rise in his spirit as he winces again, cursed hand now clutching at my empty sleeve. Beneath the scent of him, something new arises, something familiar. It is a scent that makes my blood boil with anger.
"For her soul to rest in peace, I must wrought her vengeance," Miroku suddenly says, capturing my attention. His voice gasps as both hands tighten in their grip on my hair and clothing. "Mine own death included."
It is then that I understand, the clarity of the truth striking me so quickly that emotion forces itself onto my face before I can contain it. He always claimed his time was short, that because of Naraku, the curse would eventually take him. And in the past three months, without having found that foul half-demon, the hourglass has shattered.
The curse has come to claim Miroku.
And he plans to take me with him. In repentance for the life that was taken, the seeming innocent demon slayer whose presence was an irritant to my existence.
I know, in all sanity, that I should be angry with this knowledge. I should fight to release myself from his clinging grasp. There is nothing he can do to stop me, to restrain me. It would be as easy as slitting his throat with my claw or cutting him down with the Tokijin.
But I feel or think none of that. Instead, I simply accept his plans. A feeling of relief floods through me, a strange relaxing of my tormented youkai. My body that has craved him and his, my spirit that has yearned seems satisfied… like I have been delivered or set free.
It is strange how faced with the possibility of my end, I feel more alive than in my entire existence. Not even on the battlefield, facing down hordes of foes or staking my skill against that of another, have I felt this… vindicated. Every nuance is amplified: the sensation of his hand in my hair, his scent in my nostrils, his body pressed to mine. My senses are filled with the very essence of him.
The cravings that haunt me have faded; the strange gripping of my soul has eased. I am momentarily reminded of my suffering these past few months, the sorrows that shaped the night and the longing that ruled the day. I had forgotten myself, forgotten who I was and why I was.
That a human has brought me to this should shame me. I should balk and rage, slaughter without second thought. The laughter of the other lords, surely entertaining themselves with my loss of pride, but the mere image of his blood staining my hands sickens me, as if I would be betraying something higher than my self-respect.
Father, what a legacy you have left for your sons.
Miroku seems to sense my decision as he releases my hair long enough to pull the wards from the kazaana, the curse already straining at the binding spell. I can feel it pulsing and pounding, the air seeming to take on the very aura of power. His body trembles with pain and power as he clutches at me with his free hand, gasping with the agony.
It is often said that a man's life passes before his eyes in his final moments. I am no man, far above that as a daiyoukai. Still, for the briefest of seconds, my thoughts turn to Rin. She will be my one regret. I know that even if I pass, Jaken will be sure to care for her. He pretends to hate her and claims that he loathes humans, but even he has learned to love her. Just as I. Strange that I can admit that now… the place she has inside of me.
As the wind whips around us, the sky darkening and the world dimming to just our two forms and the curse, he kisses me in what is perhaps the most passionate. The fierce kazaana grows in his hand, widening, ripping his hand open, and he bites my lip in response to the pain. I ignore the blood seeping into both our mouths, never once ending this possessive embrace.
It is ironic. After all my hatred, my mocking… every word of despite that passed from my lips… it is in the arms of one cursed ningen monk that my life would end. It is penance for a human I have no regret in killing.
And even if I live, I would still crave him. I would be forever incomplete, trapped within my impassive, icy shell, merely existing for the sake of life.
I fear nothing, not even my own death.
Our lips meld. Rushing wind, almost like screaming fills my ears. Our bodies press tight, nearly joined as one. For a moment, I feel pain like nothing I've ever experienced as every piece gets drawn into the void. Something warm, wet splashes onto my cheek and then…
It is so quiet, except for those damn birds twittering somewhere. Stupid, annoying, brainless creatures. The wind doesn't even move, barely stirring the cloth of my robe. As if everything in the forest, except those baka birds, knows to be mournful of this spot.
I sigh as my ears twitch and leap down into the small depression, flowers clutched tightly in my claws. There in the middle stands a small monument, a rather plain memorial, considering my brother. But it will do. This hole in the ground and that stone will serve as a tomb.
I hear a brief skid and know that Kagome has slid down beside me, Shippo probably on her shoulder. The child attempts to climb down a bit more awkwardly, in the end Kirara giving her a lift. Finally, we all stand here at the bottom of this depression: myself, Kagome, Shippo, Kirara, and Rin.
A year ago, I never would have thought that I would be putting flowers on the combined grave of my stupid half-brother and his even more brainless human lover. But here I am, with Sesshoumaru's adopted daughter no less, holding my hand.
"Idiot," I mutter under my breath, though I am not certain which of them I am speaking to. Maybe both. I can't but feel a little guilty. I mean, I knew about their affair, but I never said anything. I didn't think it was my place. But after what had happened, I am beginning to doubt myself in that choice. Perhaps I should have spoken. Though, I doubt it would have accomplished anything.
I don't say anything else as Rin lets go of my hand to lay flowers on the grave of the youkai lord who saved her life. She holds these bright purple and red wildflowers, ones she claims she picked for him all the time. Rin kneels for a moment, bowing to the stone in silent prayer before rising to her feet, face serene. She is such a strong kid. I don't think she's even cried once. At least, not where any of us could see.
I don't know where Jaken has gone. Once he learned of Sesshoumaru's death, he dropped Rin off in my care and vanished, taking the two-headed staff with him. The little toad was a nuisance, but I'm certain that he served my brother well.
Kagome moves to lay her flowers down next. She doesn't cry either. After Sango was killed, she cried a lot. But now it's like she has numbed to death. Or maybe she's grown up, matured, ya know? I can't really say. I don't even know if I have.
He beat me so easily, Sesshoumaru did. When he attacked us, intent on killing Sango, I was as helpless as a baby with the poison in my eyes. I could hear it, smell the blood, but there was nothing I could do. I regret being so weak. I should have been able to save her.
As Kagome moves, the sun catches the newly rejoined Shikon no Tama, sending rainbow sparkles across the plain grey marker.
Yeah, Naraku's dead.
But too little, too late.
It's been three months since Miroku's kazaana consumed him and Sesshoumaru. I still don't understand it. Lord Sesshoumaru: the icy, ruthless, human-hating assassin… falling for a lecherous monk? It seems more likely for swine to fly or, Kami-help-us, Naraku to suddenly become a good guy! I can't comprehend it at all. He is such a hypocrite, my brother.
Yet, the greatest tragedy of it all was Sango's death. She was an innocent in the midst of their affair. And still, Sesshoumaru killed her.
Now, I'm Lord of the Western Lands, and honestly, I don't want to be. I never expected to have this fall on me. Being a hanyou, I thought Sesshoumaru would long outlive me. And I figured that eventually my icy brother would marry and reproduce, Kami help the poor wench roped into that one. I've seen the empty and dark castle that should be my home. I prefer the forest.
Shippo leaps down from Kagome's shoulder to lay one of his toys at the base of the marker, just as he did when we visited Sango's gravesite yesterday. I still can't believe Sesshoumaru killed her. I mean, my brother's an assassin and heartless, but I never thought that he would slay over jealousy and certainly not over jealousy for a human. It is baffling.
Kagome steps to the side as I move forward to lay my wrinkled and bedraggled flowers down. Feh. I don't know why I bothered. She insisted, however, and I didn't feel like getting "sat."
"Idiots," I say again, this time a bit louder. "You're both damn fools." Kagome stays quiet, not even reprimanding me. I don't have anything better to say, after all. Not to them. All of my sorrows have been replaced by anger.
Not even centuries from now will I understand their relationship. A western lord and a cursed monk? Was it love? Was it lust? Obsession?
I wish I knew.
The wind picks up, the scent of the coming storm along with it. I'm sure it's going to rain soon. A fitting end to such a dreary day. I snort in annoyance and turn from the marker, urging everyone to climb out of the pit Miroku's wind tunnel left behind.
I stop just at the top and stare down into the gravesite. Multi-colored flowers dot the plain stone marker, a child's wooden top and a bronze metal staff thrust sharply into the ground… the only thing left behind.
The irony of it all… it would be laughable if I could force the emotion out of me.
"Inuyasha-sama, where are we going now?" Rin questions from astride Kirara. Even after Sango's death, the fire cat stayed with us. I think she takes comfort from Kagome's presence. As for Rin, she and Kagome both find it amusing to call me by that title. I suppose it is because it irritates me.
I'm no damn lord.
I frown and sigh before turning back to my waiting pack. "I dunno, Rin." The jewel is whole, Naraku defeated… There isn't much left to us but peace.
"Let's go see Lady Kaede," suggests Kagome softly, laying her hand on my arm. "We still have to decide what to do about the jewel."
I shrug as my gaze shifts to the darkening sky, a water droplet falling on my forehead in the process. Feh. I scowl.
"Yeah," I grumble. "Let's get out of this storm before we all get soaked."
I don't even look back once as we begin the trek towards Kaede's village. The world still moves on, after all, never minding the loss of one arrogant western lord and his cursed, lecherous monk lover.
A/N: Well, that has got to be the hardest fanfiction I have ever written. Thanks to everyone who reviewed. Your support is appreciated. I hope to see you again whenever I post my new fic. Til then!