"Mama, please. This isn't necessary."
Miya Higurashi didn't take her eyes from the road as she answered. "Kagome, dear," she said softly, her voice calm and gentle, measured with loving support. "You are my daughter, and I only want what's best for you. I have been told that doctor Taisho is the best psychoanalyst in the country, and quite possibly the world. If there is anyone that will be able to help you overcome your…situation, I believe it will be him."
Sighing quietly in resignation, knowing that her words simply weren't getting through anymore, Kagome turned away from her mother. She settled her chin in the palm of her hand and watched distantly as the other vehicles on the road moved past them in their rush to go wherever it was they were going. But Kagome was in no rush. She was being taken against her will and despite her protests and assurances that she wasn't in need of psychiatric 'help', and on her way to be locked away from the world she had fought so hard for so long to se kept safe.
'Some thanks I get,' she mused sourly as she continued to watch the world slip by around her. 'Save the world, and they call you crazy.'
But she knew that she wasn't crazy. She knew. The things that had happened to her HAD happened. 'No one can just make up a story like that.' She knew it had been real.
Sighing heavily, Kagome leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. In her mind, she was going over what had happened, what she could have done differently.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
It was a moment of joy, of elation, of new hope.
Naraku had finally been destroyed, and all of her friends had lived through the day. They stood upon the battlefield, surrounded by the carnage, but not even the horrid scene could dispel the current of excitement that rushed through them all.
It was over. The battle had been won. The war had finally come to its end.
There had only been one thing left to do. In Kagome's hand rested the Shikon Jewel, the Jewel of power that had wrought so much destruction and had orchestrated so much pain. But no longer was it tarnished black, for in her hand it glowed the gentle pink radiance that reflected the purity of her own heart. They all knew what was to come. A wish had to made upon the Jewel, a wish that was pure enough to ensure that the darkness sealed within it could never again break free and unleash its madness and chaos and destruction upon the land.
For a long time Kagome had thought about what kind of wish was needed, and in turn about what the truth of purity was. But in the end, she came to a realization. There was nothing and no one that was completely pure. Even she, the one that could purify the shards of the jewel, that could hold back the darkness sealed within by her gift, her light; even she was not pure. Kagome knew this, knew that no person could be entirely pure. There were times when she felt despair, felt hatred or jealousy or greed, times when she knew the darkness and felt its pains. But it was that she could see this of herself, that she could understand that such feelings were natural, were human, Kagome could still maintain her inner purity.
And, she realized, that a 'pure' wish would be no different. Somehow, she had to account for both the darkness and the light. One must be embraced by the other. Both must be given equal opportunity. For the darkness could never truly be destroyed. It simply was, and it must be accepted for anyone to ever truly see the light.
She had made her decision, and when the time came, she was prepared to face it.
Slowly, she looked to each of her friends.
Miroku, her teacher, her brother, her friend. The lecherous monk that could make her smile as easily as he could make her blood boil with fury when his so called 'cursed' hand found its way to fondling her curves. How many times she had slapped him silly for it and he still hadn't' learned, even after the curse beset upon him and his family's line by Naraku was no more? The memory of him would always make her smile. For so long, his had been the voice of reason, and even with him gone from her, she would always remember the steady confidence he held and the soft reassurance of his voice.
Sango, her sister, her confidant, her rock. The demon slayer had lost everything that was ever important to her, but she had the will and the determination of a true fighter. Her family had been taken from her, her own brother tuned into nothing more than a slave to the dark hand of corruption; and though hardened by everything that had befallen her, still the Taijiya could be soft. She would smile and laugh, and even though her heart had been torn so horribly, still she would love. Hers was the strength that they had all looked to, had all relied upon; and even now Kagome could see the solid conviction that would burn in her sister's eyes and feel empowered, ready to make any stand.
Shippo, her little kit, her adopted son. Oh, that she could only hold him one more time, hear his sweet laughter, play his childish games. Older than her in years, by his demon blood he was still a child in need of care. So easily it had been to take him in after knowing that it had been her fault that his family had been devastated by the cursed Jewel. But how she had loved him. How she had simply laid awake at night, holding his little body tight to hers, and praying that he might have a future beyond the darkness that they were constantly facing. Her little darling. She would never forget his smiles and his games, his laughter or his tears. And what she would remember the most was the feelings and strength that he inspired in her, the need to protect those who could not protect themselves.
Inuyasha. It was he that she looked to last. Her hero, her blazing knight. Her savior and her champion. But also her best friend. For almost four years they had shared everything together. From times of joy and laughter to those of sorrow and loss. They had been there for each other, holding each other up in the hard times, giving each other strength and support. And she had loved him. Though his heart belonged to another, never did that make her feelings any less strong. She knew that they were never meant to be, but still she promised she would never leave his side. And it was a promise that she would forever keep. She knew, without a doubt, that no matter how much time or distance separated them that there would always be a part of her that would remain by his side, a part that would love him always.
She had smiled at them, told them all how much she loved them; and then she tightened her hand around the Jewel and made her wish.
But it was not to see the Jewel destroyed that she wished for. In fact, she wished for it to be born again. She wished that the Jewel that had crossed time itself would return to the hour of its making, and that in that moment, that it would share its power with all of the land and all of the creatures inhabiting it. From human to demon alike, all would share in the power, and all would share in its destiny. Whether they be of the light of the darkness, whether their hearts be pure or corrupt, whether they would fight for a future or to see the land destroyed: she made no distinction. She wished for them all, wished for a power so coveted to be given to all creatures, and in so doing, she wished that the balance be restored.
The last thing she remembered was a blinding flash of light as the Jewel disintegrated in her hands. Like a million tiny grains of sand slipping through her fingers, the magic of the Jewel was washed away.
When she awoke, she found herself lying in a hospital bed. She had been returned to her time. It took only moments for her awakening to be noticed, and then only moments more for her world to be shattered.
You have been in a coma, they had told her. You were found lying at the bottom of a well by your family, and been with us for the past three years.
No. She couldn't believe it. She wouldn't. She knew what had happened. She knew she hadn't dreamt it all.
She tried telling her mother, her family. Tried telling them of what had happened to her friends on the other side of the well. But they hadn't believed her, had told her than none of them had ever met the hanyou boy Inuyasha, that they had never heard of a world beyond the well. She became frustrated, incessant. They had to believe her! They had to listen! But they had shushed her, told her that everything would be all right, that she just needed to rest.
But Kagome knew better. Things would never again be all right.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
And now, having been unable to convince her family of what she had known to be the truth, they had decided it would be 'best' for her to visit yet another doctor, yet another so called 'expert' that would tell them in his professional way that she was 'troubled' or 'disturbed' that she had been 'hallucinating' or experiencing 'delusions'.
Sometimes she would think that perhaps they were right, that perhaps she really hadn't lived the past three years fighting monsters and living so close to death. But in those times, when she felt the most uncertain and the most fearful for her own wellbeing, that the powers that had been both a blessing and a curse to her would show her a truth she could not deny.
She had seen them. Walking among the human population without notice or recognition, the youkai still lived, still thrived even in this time of advancement and technology. They had lived through the years, had fought for their survival; and now they were a part of the world as surely as she was.
No. She hadn't dreamt it. She had been there. She had fought the battles. She had been the one to put an end to the reign of the cursed Shikon.
But why couldn't anyone remember? Why was she the only one that had any memories at all? Why was it that even the name Shikon held no recognition to anyone anymore? What had happened? Had her wish changed things so much? And if so, if it were possible for her to find someone who would have knowledge of the past, someone who had been there during the battles, would they too have forgotten? Would they not remember her even though she remembered them?
"Wake up, Kagome. We're here."
Kagome rolled her eyes behind her closed lids, but refused to open them, refused to look upon her new prison. "I'm not going," she said stubbornly. "I know the truth, but no one believes me. And if you make me go in there, if you drag me in like some incompetent child, then I will lie."
"Kagome," Miya sighed. "I know that you don't want to do this. I know that you believe in what you are saying. No one is here to judge you. We all simply want to understand why this 'memory' is so important to you."
Scowling, Kagome finally opened her eyes to glare at her mother. "You're so full of shit! You say that no one wants to judge me, but you sit there talking to me like I'm a five year old! Like I've already lost my mind! You've already judged me! You think I'm as crazy as all those other doctors you took me to before! The only reason we're here now is because this is the last doctor that will even take my case without pumping me full of drugs and locking me permanently in a padded room!"
"Just forget it!" she yelled as she grabbed the door leaver and yanked it hard enough to nearly wrench it from its holdings. Flinging the door open roughly, she stepped out and made an impressive imitation of one of Inuyasha's growls before slamming the door closed again.
So caught up in her anger, Kagome hardly took any notice of the sprawling estate they had pulled up to as she marched up to the front door. The beautiful gardens were nothing to her but a blur of green hardly cutting through the haze of red that was taking over her vision.
Her steps slowed. Blinking a few times, she tried to rid herself of the red fog clouding her vision. But it was to no avail. The red remained, crimson light that seeped into her senses and burned away all else in it wake.
"Youkai…" she whispered tentatively.
Stopping completely now, she took some time to look around. The main building was ahead of her, a massive three story building with white walls that gleamed in the light of the midday sun. Its entrance was unique, curved in the sweeping arches of the old days at its peak, but brought closer, made more inviting, by a long run of decorative pillars that supported the archway as it curved downwards on both sides of the entering walkway. The white walls too were softened, the hardness shaded behind the thick greens of the vines of Wisteria that were just beginning to peak with tiny blossoms of the purest white.
The windows, however, were dark. Not merely the trick of the sun as it shielded eyes from a view within, they were tinted slightly against the glare, or, perhaps, against the threat of looking in.
Her senses were set on high alert. Her breathing quickened, taking in more air to fuel her body with higher stamina. Quickly, she allowed her eyes to shift through the gardens that lined the walls and spread down into the broad entranceway's fields of green grasses. The slight roll of the drive, the way it twisted between beds of flowers raised upon lifting mounds that tapered much more sharply at their far ends, made Kagome tense.
She has seen this type of landscaping before. Of course, then there had been no beautiful blossoms, then there had been no need for conspicuousness. Then there had been peoples at war. Villages built walls to keep out predators, those both of the night and of their own kind, those seeking land and riches, or simply those seeking blood. And fortresses were no different.
She turned her attention back to the main house. Taking in more now, she could see the cameras so tactfully hidden behind the cresting of the columns, only visible once having passed them and able to see into the shadows. And the entrance, though having its dark-stained wooden doors ajar and inviting, a second barrier remained; one of technology. Old houses were often redone to include such safeguards in this time, of course. And it was reasonable for an institution of such to have barriers to prevent those from leaving who should not. But in this case, Kagome was almost certain that the precautions were not needed for those within.
'So strong…' Her skin was tingling with currents of energy. It was everywhere, touching everything in this place. The power.
But it was strange. It seemed relaxed somehow, quiet even. So many times before, when she had sensed the aura of a youkai, they had been enraged, in battle, in fear, in anxiety, in some state of aggression or of defense. But here the power simply was.
It was…soothing. Almost as though….almost as though it was something known.
Kagome drew in a sharp breath. 'What if…?' She was almost afraid to ask the question, even in her own mind. 'What if they're…?'
"It is quite lovely, isn't it Kagome?"
Startled by her mother's sudden comment, Kagome had to work hard to keep herself from jumping more than a foot. "It's great," she murmured quickly in response, her eyes moving again to the building in front of her. "Mom…"
"No. No." Miya cut in quickly. "We are here, and we are at least going to talk to the man." She took hold of Kagome's hand and began pulling her towards the entrance. "They say he is very nice, Kagome. I even hear that he has won several humanitarian awards for his work with those of…varying fortune."
Kagome couldn't help but shake her head. Ever since her 'episode,' or whatever 'non-labeling' word her mother would like to give that always gave a large birth to 'Serious mental breakdown', the woman had taken to every politically-correct phrasing that existed instead of saying the truth of what she actually thought – that her daughter had completely lost her mind.
They stepped up to the automated doors together, continuing through when they had slid open nearly soundlessly across its bearings. A soft whoosh from behind them was the only signal of the doors slipping closed, but it still sent a cold shiver down Kagome's spine.
Trapped. Tension gripped her again. Her hand tightened around her mother's, though out of fear or protection she wasn't sure.
"It will be alright, dear," Miya soothed as she patted her daughter's hand gently.
Nodding mutely, Kagome allowed her mother to lead her to the reception area set up just inside the doorway. A pleasant woman in her mid thirties greeted them warmly, offering wide smiles that caused her rounded face to squint into soft lines. Her tightly curled hair framed her face, giving her a doll-like appearance as the tight ringlets of black twisted in every direction. But it suited her, for this woman radiated a comforting air; that of a mother.
"We have been expecting you," she said with another smile. "Please, follow me. I will take you to Dr. Taisho's office."
"Taisho…" Kagome whispered the name, her mind spinning with possibilities she had never even dreamed of. Before, it had been of no consequence what the doctors' names were. She had tuned them out, quit listening to their claims of delusions and misconceptions. She had known the truth and they didn't. It was that simple. She had thought nothing more of this one. Not until now.
"Kagome, dear," Miya said in a laughing voice. "You look like a gapping fish. What has gotten you so distracted all of a sudden? Usually you're muttering curses by now about the obscenity of all of this. Which, by the way," she added sternly, "you know I am not at all fond of. Cursing is such an unladylike thing for a woman to do."
'Pft,' Kagome mentally snorted. 'You try living with a hanyou that only speaks the language of vulgarity for three years and see how long you make it without using a few of them. Besides, Inuyasha was way worse than I could ever be. And if he were here right now, and saw that you were dragging me from institution to institution, he would have cursed a blue streak so long it could have wrapped around the earth six times!'
"Right in here, ladies," the secretary told them as she pushed into a large office.
Light spilled into the room from the wall of windows, lighting everything with a soft yellow glow. And beyond the glass lay a fantastic view of the gardens outside and the large, winding, coy pond that trickled in streams to fill the large basin settled just below the wall of windows.
Once they were inside, the secretary turned and left them to their privacy, though leaving the heavy doors ajar.
"This place is so…"
"Big? Scary? Like a prison house or a guard tower?"
Miya shot Kagome a disciplining glare. "Ornate." She finished firmly, and then sighed as she let her eyes sweep over the large office with all of its exquisitely carved furniture and its massive collection of books.
'Expensive, you mean,' Kagome thought sadly. 'I'm sorry, mama…'
Before Kagome could offer her mother any words though, her eyes were drawn to the large desk in the middle of the room. Curiously, she stepped closer to get a better look. 'Is that…?' She couldn't believe what she was seeing. On the desk, bathed in the warm of the sun and settled upon a subtle display stand, lay a sword. She took another step. And then froze. 'It is…'
Her breathing stopped. Her heart pounded furiously in her chest. Her fingers twitched at her sides, anxious, timid, but desperate, too. She needed to touch it. Needed to feel with more than her inner senses that it was real. She stepped closer, but cautiously.
She was afraid. Afraid to find out it was a mirage. Afraid to find out that it wasn't. Afraid that if it was real, that He would be as well.
Slowly, she reached out. Her fingers brushed against the smooth carving of the sheath. They were trembling. She pulled back slightly and clenched her shaking hand. Then, with a surge of determination, she reached out forcefully and took hold of the sword.
It was unremarkable, plain, something so ordinary and so commonplace in Japan. But this sword was not a decorative piece. This blade was not put on display in some archive or museum. This blade was set in a position of honor, given respect by all who entered here.
And respect it deserved. She could feel its power tingling against her senses even through the sheath that held it. Without thinking, needing to see it completely, she secured the hilt of the sword in her hand and pulled it from its covering. The blade sang as it was drawn, a melody so sweet it was like a choir of angels.
The Fang of Heaven. "Tensaiga…"
"One should be careful when playing with swords. You might get cut."
The smooth, deep, rich voice that sounded out from behind her made Kagome's heart flutter. It was so familiar. The cool measure, the unwavering confidence, and the low drone of something else, something more, something powerful just beneath the surface.
She smiled as she began to turn to him. "You know as well as I do that Tenseiga could never hurt a soul, Sessho…" She stopped abruptly. Her eyes widened in confusion, uncertainty, fear, and painful shock. "You're…you're not Sesshomaru."
He cocked an eyebrow. "Who?"
"No…" Kagome took a step back from him. She clutched the sword to her chest, hugging it desperately. "No!" she said again with a sharp shake of her head. She stopped herself from backing away and looked back up to him.
He was youkai. She could see it as plain as day. Not even her spiritual senses were needed to see the flawless pallor of skin, the delicate point on his elven ears, and most strikingly, the glistening silver of his hair and the piercing gold of his eyes. He looked almost identical to Sesshomaru. He had the same tall frame, lean with muscle, built for fluidity and power. The same grace and poise. The same intimidating presence.
His markings though, weren't the same. Where Sesshomaru had deep cut paths of burning crimson running in sharp lances across his cheeks in parallel with the strong line of his jaw, this youkai was marked with jagged paths of indigo. But that coloring she had seen before as well. It was in his times of utmost desperation, when Inuyasha had called upon the demon blood of his father to give him strength that he had taken on those markings, that he had taken on the youkai traits of his family's line.
Finding her voice, Kagome whispered. "You look just like them…"
"Like who, dear?" he mother questioned from her side.
"Like Inuyasha and Sesshomaru!" Kagome said excitedly as she turned to her mother. "Can't you see it? Look at his hair, his eyes! They're just like I told you! See, mama? See? I knew it was real! I knew it wasn't all just in my head!"
"Kagome," Miya started tentatively. She stole a quick glance at the doctor out of the corner of her eye, but it only reaffirmed to her that he was simply a normal man. He was handsome, surely enough, clean cut, wearing a top brand suit opened lazily at the collar for comfort. But as for his hair, though unusually long, he had the sleek black strands tied neatly at the base of his neck in a respectable tie. And his eyes were a simple brown. They seemed kindly, though retaining a seriousness to them, as though he were taking in every single detail he was seeing. "Kagome," she tried again with a slight shaking of her head, "this is Doctor Taisho."
"You don't…you don't see it?" Kagome stammered in disbelief. "Impossible…"
"Mrs. Higurashi," Dr. Taisho addressed Miya with a slight inclination of his head. "I think that perhaps Kagome and I should begin with a small talk. Just the two of us."
Miya cast a worried look at her daughter. "Alright," she relented after a moment. "Kagome," she reached out and drew her daughter into a tight hug. "Just talk to the doctor. For me, please?"
Kagome sighed. "Alright, mama," she agreed. Though she had much more planned than simply talking with him. Her mother released her and turned to wards the door. She passed Taisho with a soft, sad smile, whispered her thanks to him, and then was gone from the room.
The second Kagome believed her mother to be out of hearing range, she looked back to the youkai. Her eyes were narrowed, hard with accusation. "What sort of sick game is this?" she asked in a low, angry voice. "What? Youkai are now taking on human patients? Or am I to be a subject in some warped experiment for your pleasure?"
"So defensive," Taisho mused as he began walking slowly towards his desk with long, measured strides.
Kagome backed away from him with every step he took, maintaining the distance between them. "You get that way when you're fighting for you life."
"Ah, I see," Taisho said placactingly as he settled himself in the large padded leather chair behind the desk. "You are speaking of you dreams, correct?"
"Don't play dumb with me!" Kagome yelled as she gripped onto the sword in her hands even tighter. "You are a youkai, just as surely as this blade was crafted from the fang of a youkai! I want to know who you are and what connection you have to this fang, because I know for damn sure that Sesshomaru wouldn't hand over his father's legacy to just anyone! He was a frigid, stubborn, jackass; but at least he had his honor and pride!"
Kagome swore she saw a flash of recognition sweep through his golden eyes like a clash of amber waves. But no sooner had she seen anything, than it was replaced by a sharp glint, a hardening of the golden surfaces, a barrier to anything beyond.
"The name you speak," He said slowly in a measured voice, "Sesshomaru? And the other, Inuyasha? These persons were part of your dreams?"
"They weren't dreams!" Kagome cried in exacerbation. "They were real! They were the past! I fought with Inuyasha in the Sengoku Jidai, the hanyou son of Inu no Taisho. And his elder brother, Sesshomaru, youkai Lord of the Western Lands in place of his father, was the heir to the legacy of Tenseiga. The sword I'm holding in my hands! You can't deny this!"
Taisho waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. "There are millions of swords in Japan."
"Oh yeah," Kagome challenged tersely. "And how many of them can bring people back from the dead?"
Taisho blinked, his brow rising slightly in surprise. "Now, if a mere sword could be made to do such things," he replied smoothly, "what a world it would be. No sickness. No death. A paradise."
"Yeah," Kagome agreed sadly. Her eyes drifted down to the sword in her hands. "I bet he thought that too. But his paradise would never be. His wife was murdered by her own people on the night she gave birth to his child. All because they couldn't see past the differences, because they believed that youkai and humans could never make anything from love. And when he went to save her, to bring her life of his own power, his own fang; he met his end in a storm of blood and fire."
"Aren't fairytales supposed to have happy endings, Kagome?"
"In a Feudal fairytale," she replied slowly as she lifted her haunted eyes to stare into the golden depth of his, "Someone's heart is always being broken."
"A sacrifice for the greater good?" he asked.
"No," she replied wistfully, "For the future."
"Hn," He mused softly, leaning back in his chair. He gestured to the large padded chairs on the other side of his desk, indicating for her to sit. "Would you tell me of this future?"
But Kagome shook her head. "The future is what we make it," she sighed as she slowly moved towards the offered chair. Once she had seated herself tensely at the edge, she looked back to the youkai. "I would tell you of the past."
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Ok, so I just found out that there's an InuPapa section here on FFN. FINALLY! And I was so excited about the prospect that I just had to write something. I know, I know, I have two other stories that I haven't finished yet, but I couldn't help it! –Dreamy sigh- I just love Toga. Besides, I can sidetrack for a short story (hear that muses? I said short! No dragging this one out, hear me?)
So yeah, anyways, hope you've all enjoyed.
Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own anything but my imagination, but especially not the characters of Inuyasha