Title: Open Your Eyes
Authoress: Ladya C. Maxine
Summary: Inutaisho is dead. Izayoi and Inuyasha are all alone in a hateful world with only one chance…
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of its characters. Any and all unrecognizable characters belong solely to me and are not to be touched. I am not making any money off of this and I write with the sole intention to entertain.
A/N: Another Aw-heck-I-just-wanna-write-this-fic. Don't know what to make of it, really. You decide.
Open Your Eyes
Ladya C. Maxine
We knew that this would happen. How could we not? All those disapproving stares. Those snide whispers. Those disgusted scowls. It would all amount to nothing. A bond such as ours was just too unnatural. We foolishly challenged Fate and it has made us pay for our crime.
How could something as pure as love be wrong?
But it was our own fault. Male and female from two species so different that Fate would do its worst to break us. Separating us wouldn't have been enough. No. This was the only way. We would have never left each other otherwise. Now look at what has become of our love. Our union, our child, is destined to be one of the most hated beings. Our lives, our love, was destined to come to this.
And as I stand here, my bare feet going numb in the biting snow, I am reminded why things happened the way they have. Here I am, alive and cold, and below me you lie, burnt to death in the fiery inferno that was once our home.
Alive and dead. Ice and fire. Human and youkai.
How could we have been so blind?
The bundle in my arms stirs, crying pitifully as I clutch it to my chest to share the warmth of my body with all that remains of our love: the child on whom you used your final breath.
"His name will be Inuyasha."
A name I myself would have never thought of, but it is so befitting. And you had spoken it with such determination and pride, even though you had known him for a few short minutes. Even though you knew that they were to be the last few minutes of your life.
Is Fate really so cruel or were we just so foolish?
"Hush, little one," I try to soothe him, stroking a soft cheek with a trembling finger. "Mother is here. I'll take care of you."
I can not recall having ever been so brave. To speak such words even when I am now alone in a world that is in the fell grasp of Fate. I suppose the pain and sorrow of my loss have left me too drained to think clearly. My lover and husband has just died, fighting for our lives; our home has been demolished; I am alone and helpless. Do I stay where I am? Should I stand here until the snow robs me of my life like the fire robbed Inutaisho of his? What is my fate?
"You must live. You and Inuyasha must survive."
I do not want your sacrifice to be in vain… Your death, the demise of the most powerful youkai and most compassionate companion, is too selfless for me to render useless your final desire. But that means that I must leave. How can I walk away? The palace is nothing more but smoke and ashes, but you are down there. Buried somewhere beneath the debris, you are there. I cannot find it in me to leave you. What should I do? Find your body? Attempt to give you as fitting a farewell as you deserve?
A sudden rush of icy air along the back of my neck makes me shudder. Looking over my shoulder, sensing that I am not alone, I gasp to find something approaching me from behind. I cannot make out any features, but it is getting nearer and nearer. I hold Inuyasha tighter.
What does this thing want of me?
I want to hide and hope that it'll continue on its way, but I'm too late. If it hasn't seen me Inuyasha's soft cries has certainly drawn its attention.
It stops some feet away, its face still concealed by the falling snow. A tall being. Human or youkai? Ally or enemy? I feel chilled to the bone when eyes gleam at me.
It doesn't move. The air is the coldest I've ever felt. This thing cannot be human.
"Please go away…I have nothing…"
Those haunting eyes flicker as they look away to the ruined palace. Then a voice, deep and aloof, speaks.
"So he's dead."
It is a statement, but I feel inclined to answer.
"Yes, he is."
There is something about this individual. He is a youkai, there is no longer a doubt in my mind. No mortal man could dream to possess this being's aura. This unmistakable aura only the purest of youkai can contain. Inutaisho was one of them. I feel power… Determination… Ability… Wisdom… Experience… Independence… Immortality…
This stranger, this youkai, possesses everything I knew and loved about Inutaisho, except the most important traits: Compassion… Love… Kindness… Tolerance…
"Who are you?" I whisper, clutching Inuyasha close.
Inuyasha squirms in my too tight embrace and whimpers.
The stranger moves forward and I instinctively back away. He leaves the sanctuary of the shadows and steps into the orange glow of the dying fires behind me. And for a moment, one cruelly hopeful moment, I feel the urge to cry with relief.
No. It isn't. We've both confirmed that the Lord of the Western Lands is dead. But the resemblance… This youkai is of similar height and built, though wears considerable less armor than my beloved. His hair, as brilliantly white as Inutaisho's, is loose, reaching him till his knees, and a blue crescent moon adorns his brow. He is younger too, if my time with Inutaisho taught me anything about the ages of the youkai.
I know who this is. I have never met him, but Inutaisho has mentioned him before, along with strict warnings that I should never seek him out. Him, who is infamous in his remoteness and hatred for humans, yet hailed by all youkai for representing everything that was considered perfect to youkai. Him, whose very name always made a dangerous yet deadly proud light gleam in his father's eyes. Him, my beloved's first son and heir to his father's title, realm and power. Him…
Hearing his name draws his attention to me. He looks at me, as if seeing me for the first time, the cold eyes narrow at first, until he notices what I am holding. I turn, shielding Inuyasha from his big brother, fearful of what he will do. If he decides to kill my baby, a "mockery" of the ancient demon line, then there is little I can do except resist till the swift end.
"Turn around," he commands, his voice a haunting echo of his father's deep timber.
"He's just a baby," I try to reason. "He isn't a threat to you."
I refuse. I wait to feel his clawed hand on my shoulder, forcing me to face him. He doesn't touch me. He doesn't force me physically, embodying the aristocratic class that set him and his father and their ancestors above the lower, brutish monsters. But he's determined.
"Why do you want to see him?" I challenge. "You know he's a hanyou. You know that you hate his very existence. Why look?"
He doesn't answer but a sudden gust of wind blows past me. I look behind me. He's gone. I can still feel his eyes. To my surprise, he is now standing right in front of me. He has his father's blessed speed and stealth. And, through the fear, I wonder if Inuyasha has inherited some of his greater kins' powers. Will he be able to run faster than wind, faster than sound, faster even than light? Will he be able to see over twenty leagues and smell over a hundred? Will he be able to defend himself from those who seek him out to destroy him, just as easily as Inutaisho and, according to eager tales, Sesshoumaru were and are?
I don't turn away again. It's no use. So I stand there, like a small child standing before her superior, feeling terribly guilty for a crime that I didn't commit.
Nothing is said between us. I stand with my eyes on my son. He stands, but I don't know where his eyes are. My shaky breaths are irregular puffs of white air, swirling over Inuyasha's head, tickling his white ears, which flick in irritation. Inuyasha…
He has stopped whimpering. His tiny nose is wriggling. He's sniffing the air curiously. Opening his big eyes, my son looks first at me, then sniffs again, and at once turns to the youkai before me. He goes still. A natural response? Are these his survival instincts? No. The white ears perk and he barks. A true bark of a young dog seeking attention. Before my very eyes Inuyasha does something for the first time in his oh so short life.
Looking up at his half-brother, his full-blooded brother, his brother who hates him, he smiles widely, showing toothless gums. He barks again, and kicks excitedly, waving a little hand, no longer caring that it is cold. He is happy to see his brother. Happy to see someone that closer resembles him than I do.
Though I should feel put down that my son's first smile isn't meant for me, I cannot help smiling at his enthusiasm. I look over to Sesshoumaru and my smile ebbs.
Sesshoumaru doesn't share the elation. Inuyasha's gleeful barks and darling smile are doing nothing for him. He's studying Inuyasha as one would a strange artifact.
Inuyasha gurgles louder at the deep voice, blissfully unaware that as rich as it is it is laced with disdain.
"He is perfect."
I don't know why I said that. We both know that that isn't true. Hanyou are never perfect. To be a hanyou is to be an abomination. But he is healthy. More importantly, he is the surviving symbol of Inutaisho and my love, which to me was perfect. To me, my son is perfect, and I will never say otherwise.
"His name is Inuyasha," I also supply.
"Father named him, then," he says uncannily.
Though the cold is doing nothing for him, my feet are numb. I try to shift but a pain courses up my legs. It is so cold…My strength leaves me and I slump to my knees in the snow, shivering and, to my surprise, crying. When did I start crying? My cheeks are wet and my eyes burn and my chest aches with violent spasms.
"Please help me," I beg. "I don't know what to do…where to go…I am not strong enough to do this alone!"
The snow crunches and I can see his black boots walking away.
"Don't leave me!" I shout. Inuyasha is no longer laughing. My anguish has brought tears to his eyes. "Please don't go! Please…"
Not now. I cannot be alone now. I struggle to my feet, cringing against the pain that shoots through my toes, feet and legs, and stumble after him, but he's gone. Before me are nothing but trees and snow. I can't feel his treacherous aura.
"Come back! Please! Don't leave us!"
Inuyasha's crying. I'm crying.
"I beg of you! I BEG YOU!! Help us!"
I don't know for how long I wander, shouting my throat raw. I'm trembling so badly that Inuyasha's cries are stilted as he absorbs every shake of my body. I don't know where I've brought us. The ruins of our home have long vanished. The more I walked the further away I got, the more desperate I've become. I don't know where I am. And we're only getting colder. My feet sting with every step I take. When I fall it isn't out of pain, but out of the loss of control. My mind is willing me to continue. My legs refuse to understand.
Cold, alone, scared and lost, I lean back against a tree, gasping as I look up at the night sky with wet eyes. It's quiet. There's no one here to help us. It's quiet…Inuyasha is no longer crying!
Curled in a small ball, his ears flat against his head, my baby, my symbol of love, is silent. His face is blue and I can barely feel his chest rise. He's staring blankly, eyes half-lidded. A tiny hand, shivering alarmingly, weakly paws at my breast. I almost scream in anguish when I realize that in my mad searching I had yet to feed him once. My newborn son has spent the first hours of his life cold and hungry.
"I'm sorry, darling!" I swear, a new loathing for myself brewing in the pits of my stomach as I shrug off my right sleeve. "I'm so sorry!"
He's lifeless at first. I grow hysterical as I urge him to drink, stroking his ears and rubbing his little body with my free hand. Weakly, he opens his eyes fully and accepts a nipple between his blue lips. A weak suckle…then another…another, more force… His ears perk a bit and he squirms to get a better position.
"My boy. My beautiful, beautiful boy," I tell him. My bare arm and shoulder is quickly spreading the chill deeper into me. But Inuyasha's drinking. My baby is at least a bit content.
'Inutaisho…Why? Why us? Why you? Why…Why…'
Why would Inuyasha have to face this world without the love, protection and support of his father?
Why did Inutaisho have to die?
Why did he have to fall in love with me, a stupid young human?
Why did he die there and we live, only to die here?
Couldn't we have all at least died together? Had we enraged Fate so greatly?
Inuyasha's full. I pull my kimono back shut and pull my knees up, making a cradle in which I can offer him all the love and warmth I can. I can give him no more. No more reassurances. No more hope. My firstborn's short life was nothing but cold, scared and for the most of it, hungry. A miserable beginning that would have been just a taste of what was to come. Perhaps, if I think of it like that, death will be the kindest thing. In the end, perhaps Fate feels that we've learned our lesson and will relieve us of our suffering.
"It'll be over soon, my darling," I tell him. He's awake but unresponsive. "We'll see daddy soon. You'll love him, dear. And he'll be glad to see you. Even if it wasn't his intent, he'll never turn you away."
Nothing. My child is dying before me, just as his father. So alike… How many similarities would they had shared had things gone differently? Would he had been as stubborn as his father, or as gentle? As independent or as amiable? Would he have inherited one of the sacred swords? Would he have had the power to wield one? Would I have sat to the side, watching with glowing pride, as his father taught our young son how to swordfight? How much potential will my little boy never get to explore?
"You could have been great. You could have been handsome and moral and selfless. You could have fought your way to the top and seen the pride in your father's eyes. You could have…" I choke. "You could have lived."
I'm tired. I no longer want to think. Or fear. Or cry. I don't want to be alone anymore, or miserable. I just want the world to leave me alone. I just want to leave.
So I lay my head against Inuyasha's, kiss a little ear, and close my eyes.
I'm too tired to fight.
I will now sleep.
I will not awake.
I will not…will not…
"You must survive, Izayoi."
"I can't see you!"
"Don't cry. All is fine."
"No, it isn't. I cannot go on."
"I can't…Not alone…Not after you've left me alone…"
"You're not here. You can't protect me anymore."
"I swore I would. As long as you need it, you'll have my protection."
"Open your eyes."
"I'm too afraid."
"Open your eyes and see. I will always be with you both. I have passed on, but my protection will always be there for you and our son."
"Open your eyes…"
"Open your eyes, Izayoi…"
"Promise me that it will be alright…?"
"I swear it to you. Don't despair. Don't fall into the darkness. Turn back to the light, turn back to the world, and open your eyes."
It's warm. I'm warm. A soft cloth rests beneath my head and a thick blanket covers me till my chin. There's the light. I have found it, but I don't know where I am. Am I still in the woods? No, I can't be. It's warm. And I'm no longer alone.
"Lady Izayoi? Lady Izayoi?"
A woman, no older than myself, is sitting right next to me on the floor, dressed in simple servant's clothes. Her tired eyes keep shifting between me and something else but once I fully open my own eyes she leans over.
"How are you feeling?"
I touch my chest. I'm empty handed.
"Where's my baby?" I ask, touching the area around me. "Where's my son?"
"He's…He's asleep. Over there." She points to a cot near to the fire.
"Where are we?"
"In the house of Master Okita. The Master has agreed to let you stay here for as long as you like."
"Agreed?" I cannot make sense of her words. "Agreed…with whom? How did I get here?"
She doesn't say. Her eyes answer for her as she once again looks off to the side at something. Not at Inuyasha's cot. Not at the fire. At the paper sliding doors. A tall silhouette. A tall being is standing on the other side. As my senses return to me one by one the strong aura grows, seeping in from under the doors.
"Lady Izayoi, you really shouldn't…!" the woman says, trying to keep me down as I clamber to my feet. I shove her away, tripping over blankets and the hem of my new kimono, courtesy of kind Master Okita, in a bid to get to the doors, to throw them open and be assured that my beloved's words from beyond the grave had been true.
I fling the light doors aside, my hair and clothes disheveled. Over the woman's worried concerns of my health and rest, I hear Inutaisho's warm voice as I stare into cold eyes.
"…As long as you need it, you'll have my protection…Open your eyes…"
I slump forward, gripping the white pants as I cry.
"Thank you," I sob. "Thank you…"
My eyes downcast, I cannot see his reaction, but it being Sesshoumaru I doubt he's showing any. But he's here. He's brought me here.
Inuyasha and I are not alone.
A/N: Open ending. Leave it at that or add a couple more chapters?
Read & Review, please.