Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha. This is purely fan-based material. Enjoy .
A/N: So this is yet another crude little experiment from the Kat Archives. It's a complete improvisation; just let the melancholy juices flow (yes it's rather dark compared to the previous one). While I usually like to jot the plot down before hand, I decided to wing it. As previously stated, this oneshot is an experiment therefore any type of review is most welcome.
Athelas (also known as Kingsfoil- A small, dark green bushel covered in small, white flowers. Typically grows in dense forests with temperate climates. While poisonous, when brewed correctly can heal various wounds.
The gray skies cloaked Feudal Japan in a dark layer of depression, the torrential rain beating steadily against the ground. Dense forests, once busy with life, were as somber as the dark shadows consuming them. In a small clearing, the splintered shards of a magical well lay scattered from a previous fight-gone-bad, dank moss already contaminating the wood.
Less than a mile away, the soft padding of footsteps could be heard, wandering dejectedly through the trees. The figure of a woman was hunched over in despair, bear arms crossed in an effort to keep warm.
A white t-shirt and green skirt clung uselessly to her form, doing little to protect her from the unforgiving rain. At one point or another, she had lost her shoes, the soles of her white knee socks now ripped and muddy.
A resounding clap of thunder caused her bowed head to lift slightly, dull eyes peaking through drenched bangs. Her blue gaze was haunting and unfocused, layers of indescribable pain locked inside. It was such a contrast to the cheerful, loving one that everyone had grown accustomed to.
She slowly turned her upper body to the shaded path behind her, unaware for the most part that she had stopped. Over and over again, terrible memories replayed torturously in her mind, her heart shattering a little more each time.
"Stay outta the way, wench!" a red clad half-demon roared as Kagome was nearly cleaved in two. Once again, Naraku had reared his ugly head. Well, perhaps sent another puppet would be more accurate.
She opened her mouth to subjugate him, but stopped mid-way through. She would not allow their petty disputes to interfere with the battle… there was too much at stake. She instead opted for silence, and shockingly decided to obey him.
Scurrying into the safety of the nearby forest, she almost missed her hero madly swing the red Tetsusaiga, followed by a loud bellow of "Wind Scar!" Yellow flashes of wind barreled towards Naraku's barrier, which vaporized upon impact.
The mauve fumes of the shield shot forward… a lethal miasma. However, a large boomerang was launched with a feminine cry from above, the currents surrounding the large weapon dispersing the poisonous gas.
With an evil scowl, Naraku's tentacles fired towards the large fire cat darting about the clouds. Without her weapon, Sango the demon huntress could do little to stop the attack. Behind her, the monk Miroku slashed at the oncoming threat with a long golden staff, but was easily knocked aside.
Naraku toyed with the idea of simply piercing the humans, but they had the remarkable ability to escape the clutches of death, so he decided against it. With a dark smirk, he commanded his tentacles to wrap around the legs of the fire beast, and promptly flung his three adversaries far into the forest.
Inuyasha's white ears twitched as a loud THUNK! sounded throughout the forest. This was not good.
"Miroku! Sango!" his hoarse voice hollered over Naraku's twisted laugh. "You bastard!" he shrieked, "BACKLASH WAVE!"
Naraku chuckled darkly at the half-demon's pitiful attempt, but quickly started as he sensed a powerful purification approaching his left. A single arrow consumed in blue light flew towards its target, wrapping its power with the Backlash Wave.
On a large, jutting cliff, Kagome stood tall, her bow still clutched in her left hand. With a painful howl, Naraku disappeared, leaving a battered wooden doll in his place.
"Damn, it was another doll!" Inuyasha spat. His fire-rat haori was stained slightly with his blood, but no fatal wound was dealt this time. "C'mon Kagome, let's go see where the others landed."
"Right," Kagome nodded, jumping off her perch. The sun was slowly setting in the West, streaking the sky with various shades of pink and orange. Inuyasha and Kagome proceeded into the forest, walking side-by-side.
Less than an hour later, the sun had fully set, and there was still no sign of their friends. Always optimistic, Kagome tried her best not to appear worried. Much like Kagome, Inuyasha's anxiety was hidden save for the occasional twitch of his ears.
Looking back now, Kagome couldn't quite place the moment when she realized something was wrong. It might have been the nearby crack of twigs, or the unusual aura of purity mixed with hatred. All she knew was the moment Kikyou stepped out from behind a tree, her life changed forever.
It was unusual… Kikyou had never approached Inuyasha while he was with Kagome. Nonetheless she ignored her incarnation completely opting to stare at the half-demon coldly.
"Inuyasha…" she began, her eyes softening marginally, "my time on Earth grows thin. No longer will dead souls suffice… I require live nourishment. And I will not kill to sustain my existence… not for one that should not exist in the first place. You once promised me you would come with me as I descend to Hell. Inuyasha, it is time."
A sharp intake of breath from Inuyasha indicated that he had heard her. Kagome waited with bated breath. "K-…Kagome, could you…" He knew it was cruel, but she could not be here… this was something he had to do alone.
Her expression tortured, she looked into his gold eyes, and stumbled backwards slowly, dropping her bow. Then, with a barely concealed sob, she turned and flew from the scene. "Kagome!" he called after her… but she did not turn. Instead, she only dashed deeper into the forest.
End of Flashback
Another crack of thunder awoke her from her reverie. Feeling the cold knife of despair twist again in her heart, she lurched forward, taking small, unsteady steps through the woods.
She was lost by now, or would have been had she cared to be found. With no home, no hope and no… Inuyasha… there was simply nothing left. And so, she would wander, until her grief consumed her. Dropping her head, she shivered as a cold gust of wind wrapped around her body.
He had not seen it coming. The Great Lord Sesshoumaru, had been caught unawares and was promptly ambushed under the direct order of one he had considered an ally. Perhaps a servant would be more appropriate. Regardless, as a multitude of lesser demons surrounded him, that last thing Sesshoumaru expected was the shrill voice of his retainer shrieking to kill him without mercy.
From there, it was safe to say the situation had escalated, to the point that he now lay at the base of large tree in a considerable amount of pain. He ignored what he could, and chose to deal with the rest. To say he had not had thoughts of death before would be a blatant lie, but it was never his own. Wallowing in his hurt, he barely contained a bitter laugh at his predicament; he supposed he should have expected such.
Rin… he thought fleetingly. The last time he laid near his death, the young girl had appeared, mutely offering him whatever provisions she came by. But this time, she would not come.
Less than a month ago, Rin had been made a target by Naraku. The cursed mirror of the void wench had exposed his embarrassing weakness to the spider demon, and Sesshoumaru had no choice but to abandon his young ward in a human village. He had promised to retrieve her after he took Naraku's head.
A small twinge of regret in his chest reminded the demon lord of tales he had once heard. How a creature always thinks of their regrets as they lay at their death bed. Sesshoumaru scoffed. He was no mere creature, thus such thoughts would not plague him. He would not search the recesses of his mind to find empty 'if only's'.
Instead, he chose to dissect his last battle, and pinpoint the precise point of his failure. What went wrong? Did his miscalculate their numbers? Was abandoning the Tokijin in favor of his energy whip an inappropriate course of action? Or was he, the Lord of the West, simply to weak to defend himself against countless pursuers?
Perhaps it was before he even drew his sword, another thought echoed. Perhaps it was the first time he had flung a rock at Jaken in anger… the abuse had become too much for even the toad. Regardless, so many years of 'faithful' service should have instructed the toad in lessons of honor. Sneakily plotting against and ambushing a demon, even a powerful demon lord, was by far a dishonorable tactic. Hmph… now he was just making excuses.
He sighed lightly. Something pulled in his cold heart as he thought of the toad. The toad that had followed him for so many years. The rare time he had pictured his death, the nuisance was never too far away, wailing at the unfortunate demise of his Lord. While he thoroughly detested the situations, the loyalty of his retainer was almost… endearing at times? Now the only creature who might mourn his passing was a young girl, barely ten years of age, living on the opposite side of Japan. The odds of such news reaching her young years… well, it would not. It was that simple.
A crack of thunder sounded overhead as the gray skies opened up. He could hear the water bouncing off what remained of his armor, and could feel the cold water drenching his skin.
His eyes flickered shut, as the task of keeping open grew too difficult. He would save his strength, though he could already feel it waning as the early stages of dehydration wreaked havoc on his body. He berated his weakness, toying with the idea of using the last of his strength to end his life with the Tokijin, only to remember it had been left behind. His only hand closed around the hilt of Tensaiga… the sword which transported him from the fray. It should not have been this way. Not like this.
After continuing through the woods for what seemed like hours, Kagome could see a small break in the trees up ahead; what she assumed to be a clearing. She unconsciously made for the direction of the glade, hardly feeling the many rocks and roots slice through her socks.
She approached the clearing, swaying slightly on unsteady legs. She raised her head slightly, flicking her eyes slowly from left to right, then straight ahead. She drew a rattling breath at what she saw.
Lying against the roots of thick tree, she could see the silhouette of a demon, one she knew well. But, never before had she seen him so vulnerable. Once pristine white clothing was tattered and muddy, with small patches of blood marring the beautiful silk. Smudges of dirt and blood contrasted against him pale skin and silver hair, and strong armor made of the finest dragon hide was smashed, the rain tinkling softly on what remained. Five Long gashes from his left shoulder to right hip leaked blood onto the white pelt wrapped around his body like a pillow.
Unsure, Kagome approached the fallen demon lord, hoping to get a better look, her grief pushed away. Closed lids shielded the slanted, amber eyes she had met on occasion, which often flashed hatred and contempt. Nearing his side, she knelt down, and reached out her hand, ignoring the jagged magenta stripes adorning each of his cheeks.
Cold, dainty fingers brushed lightly across an equally frigid cheek. Suddenly, the demon surged forward, eyes crimson eyes glinting in bestial rage. Dangerous talons ripped forth from an elegantly clawed hand, and snatched Kagome's wrist in a death-grip.
Kagome fell to her knees, emitting small, feminine gasps of pain. Glassy eyes sharpened as he hissed and growled murderously. She felt the bones in her wrist pop and made small mewling noises in agony. "Please, Sesshoumaru… you're hurting me! Please stop!" she cried out, her voice soft and tortured.
His growling intensified, as did the pressure around her wrists. Tears leaked down dirty cheeks as he snarled mere inches from her face, his lengthening fangs terrifying her. She trembled under his fierce gaze.
Kagome forced her body to go limp in submission. Maybe… if she could just get him to understand… but was he beyond her reach. "Please, Lord Sesshoumaru. Stop," she tried again.
Slowly, the hand which held her wrist released its prey, and the maniacal glint in his red eyes disappeared. He slowly retracted his fangs and claws to manageable lengths. She waited under with a bated breath as his crimson eyes faded to an amber gold.
His foggy brain could barely place the new sound. Footsteps… he thought wearily. Had he the energy, he would have been embarrassed that he was so weak. However, soon it would not matter. Therefore, he chose to ignore the noise.
It was the scent of pure pain and sadness that alerted his nearly unconscious brain to her presence. Rin? No… this one was too old. An unknown human wench… lovely he thought bitterly. He could feel the light tremors in the ground as she approached his left side. A feminine gasp reached his pointed ears, and he subconsciously rolled his eyes. What was it with human women and blood?
However, as thin, cold fingers brushed his cheek, he surged forward in defense. All rational thought left him as his basic instincts protected him from the threat. Snarling, he seized the offending appendage, with one word echoing in his thoughts. Kill.
Small bones broke under the pressure, causing the female to cry out in pain. He knew he was hurting both himself and her further, but he did not care. The one who dared attack him while he lay injured would die.
"Please, Sesshoumaru… you're hurting me! Please stop!" she cried. So the wench knew him? Surely, she would inform his enemies of his weakened state. Growling loudly and more viciously, he eyed the creature before him. She was… remarkably dirty even for a human. Unshed tears clung to her blue-grey eyes, from emotional or physical pain he was unsure. He felt her fear, and felt her go limp in his grasp.
"Please, Lord Sesshoumaru. Stop," she beseeched. Slowly, he released his grip on her wrist, and began to regain control. His claws and fangs shrunk, and his eyes changed from an enraged crimson to a calm amber.
His cool eyes regarded her impassively as Kagome rubbed her torn wrist. She was thankful that he had chosen not to release his poison; there'd be no recovering from that. Still, she felt the recesses of her fear returning under his intense gaze.
"This one poses no threat to you, in his current condition," his baritone voice said calmly. From the way it shook, Kagome understood just how weak he was.
"What… happened to you?" she asked softly.
"Mind your own business, girl," he replied acidly, coughing lightly. Small drops of blood gathered on his pale lips.
"I… I want to help," she said uncertainly.
"There is nothing you can do to help this Sesshoumaru. Be on your way," he commanded. She was left to wonder how he speak so forcefully in his condition. And how he was still alive.
"This one is going to die." He said calmly, almost as if asking a question. She nodded her head slightly. She would not lie. He sighed knowingly, closing his eyes.
"But, if I help you…" she started, looking around for any herbs which may be of use.
"Save you plants. If this one's own demonic strength can do nothing, your pitiful medications will be of no use," he stated dryly.
"I… have a Shikon shard…" she started, reaching into the folds of her t-shirt.
"And this Sesshoumaru would no sooner use that cursed thing to keep himself ali-" he was cut himself off with a hacking cough. "Why do you care to heal this one?" he asked after a moment.
"Because I'm a human. And… humans don't like giving up," Kagome answered.
Sesshoumaru was reminded of something his brother had told him once. Humans are the greediest and most selfish beings alive. And I'm part human. So I don't like giving up.
"So it would seem," he replied. "Very well girl. Do what you will."
She nodded, standing to retrieve anything that would help. Looking around the glade, she thanked the Gods to see a small green bush, adorned with simple white flowers. Using a sharp rock, she cut a small branch, and returned to the small shelter of the trees.
"You're lucky Sesshoumaru. This is the Athelas plant, it's an herb that contracts the blood vessels-"
"You plan to poison this Sesshoumaru," he said skeptically. "Foolish girl."
"It's Kagome. My name, I mean," she said meekly. "And the poison will stop your blood from flowing. Otherwise, your lungs will fill with blood. You'll drown."
Suddenly, Kagome stopped. Are demon bodies the same as human ones? Do they have two lungs and- . She was cut off with a short, "Hm."
Crushing the plant between her fingers, she cupped her palms, and held them in the rain. Within moments, a bitter liquid collected in her hands. She brought the makeshift bowl to Sesshoumaru's lips, encouraging him to drink.
With a vast amount of effort, he forced himself to sit up and ingest the liquid. Almost immediately, he gagged on the foul tasting concoction.
"I know… it's putrid. But trust me, it will help." With a cool glare, he swallowed the remainder, and allowed his body to fall back down. The two sat in silence.
"You are my half-brother's woman," he stated. He could smell the stench of his brother on her hands. "Why are you not with him?"
Pain shot through her body. Having temporarily forgotten Inuyasha to focus on her task, the crude reminder shot a dark arrow into her heart. She sobbed once, and looked away.
"He left you for the dead one, then." Sesshoumaru concluded. He knew of the ridiculous love triangle between the two Priestesses and Half Demon. It was his business to know of any possible creatures that would further contaminate his father's blood. Kagome looked at him with hurt eyes, and nodded twice.
Damn half breed… your death was mine, Sesshoumaru thought darkly. Foolish creature wasted his life away pining for a dead Priestess and her reincarnation, never pleased with one or the other. Yes, humans were incredibly greedy.
Suddenly, Sesshoumaru shot forward, grunting in pain. "What have you done wench?" he growled maliciously, clenching his eyes. His whole body felt like it was on fire.
"Relax, Sesshoumaru. Relax your muscles. The poison is taking effect. I promise, it will help," she rushed frantically. He snarled as he clutched his gut, the movement serving to further tear the gashes. "Sesshoumaru, lie down!" she yelled, pushing his upped body backwards.
He thrashed under her touch, cursing her and his decision to trust the bitch. She was his half-brother's wench and she wished to cure him? And he stupidly fell for it.
Groaning as the pain intensified, red eyes snapped open, and glared angrily at Kagome. His face twisted in a smirk as he thought of her hot blood staining his claws. Once again, his teeth lengthened, this time in sick anticipation.
Kagome was terrified out of her mind. He wanted her dead. She had three choices: run, try to calm him, or try to kill him. Even in his weakened state, he could catch and kill her with ease. There was only one option left. Please let this work. Summoning her own, ill-developed purification powers, she touched her hands to his chest, and imagined herself curing his pain.
Sesshoumaru readied himself to attack, only to hear a strangled yell as she pushed glowing hands against his chest. A feeling of warmth slowly crept beneath his skin, washing the hurt from his system, until all that was left was a dull throbbing. His savage breath calmed, his features sliding back to a cool mask.
Concentrating on dissipating the pain before it was drawn into her system, Kagome closed her eyes. With a light sizzle, the purification was neutralized, and Kagome fell to her knees, exhausted.
"Sesshoumaru… are you going to be okay now?" she asked softly. He snorted at her question, and looked away, his body tired from fighting the poison. Maybe the wench isn't completely useless he mused, as his vision darkened.
Kagome held Sesshoumaru's upper body as he fainted, so he would not further damage his wounds. She released the breath she didn't know she was holding, and with it the terror she had felt. Arms shaking as she lowered his massive frame to the ground, she thought humorlessly, It must take a truck to move his entire body .
She stayed awake for several hours, as the sky grew increasingly dark. Surprisingly, the rain had yet to let up, although it had slowed to a more manageable drizzle. The ground squished under her occasional movement, as she tried to warm her frozen body.
Kagome thought about wrapping her legs in Sesshoumaru's pelt, but in her mind's eye, she could clearly see his face if he awoke to such a seen. It would not change, she reminded herself, but boy, would he be angry.
She had not thought of Inuyasha since Sesshoumaru's little episode, as she had to focused only on keeping Sesshoumaru alive. He seemed to be healing nicely, courtesy of the Athelas plant and an hourly change of bandages, but still required a watchful eye. And nourishment, she thought wryly. What on earth did a dog demon eat?
For the hundredth time, she began to mentally tick off what he would need. More bandages for one thing, the sleeves of his haori already shredded. Food, water… well maybe not water. She'd had enough of that for awhile. But food yes.
Sesshoumaru stirred next to her, indicating that he would awaken soon. He shivered slightly, and unconsciously pushed his face into his pelt. However, a persistent pain across his torso finally irritated him in awaking.
He was surprised to see the human woman still attending to him; however he let none of it show on his face. He watched her gaze listlessly into the forest, assuming she was once again thinking of the half-breed. She trembled slightly, as a gust of numbing wind chilled her to the bone. Sighing softly, he wrapped the unused end of his pelt around her shoulders.
Kagome was shocked from her thoughts as a heavy weight fell upon her shoulders. She reached her hand upwards only to feel wet fur glide between her fingers. She turned slightly, to look at her awakened companion questioningly.
"It would do no good for this one's nurse to die due to hypothermia," he replied to the unanswered question, refusing to meet her eyes. She felt a small fraction of the darkness surrounding her soul lift. He didn't want her to get sick.
"Thank you," she said softly, hugging the fur closer. For a big, wet pelt, it was quite warm. "Um… Sesshoumaru, could I change you bandages now?" she asked, blushing slightly.
"Do as you will," he replied, uncrossing his arms. He made to remove his haori, until a small hand stopped him. "Sesshoumaru, can I use what's left of your shirt for bandages?" she asked timidly. He nodded once.
Leaning forward, she helped him remove the haori, and ripped the bottom into long, thin strips. Removing the blood stained silk currently binding his chest, she wrapped the makeshift bandages around him.
"There," she said softly. Once again, he merely nodded. She ran her fingers down his left side, stopping as they skimmed over what was left of his severed arm.
"That does not need to be tended to," he hissed angrily. She quickly retracted her arm with a whimper. She moved out from under the heat of his pelt, opting instead to allow the rain to chill her once more. Sesshoumaru made no attempt to stop her.
For nearly half an hour, Kagome was drenched in cold water, trembling only slightly. Many mixed emotions choked her. Inuyasha, she thought desperately. Tears danced in her eyes again. Inuyasha had severed his arm. It was Inuyasha. Her Inuyasha. No… not her Inuyasha. Kikyou's Inuyasha, she realized dismally.
"Priestess… you are cold." Sesshoumaru's voice invaded her thoughts. She ignored him, wallowing in grief. With an irritated sigh, she heard a rustle of silk, assuming that he had fallen asleep again. Needless to say, she was shocked when she was suddenly swept up against a bandaged chest.
"Let me go, Sesshoumaru," she whispered brokenly.
"You foolish woman," he said coldly. "Inuyasha made his choice. Would you let yourself die, for him?"
She said nothing, choosing instead to glare at the demon lord. "Do you believe that should you die, you will be reunited with your lover? To join him and the dead one in Hell for all eternity? For that is the path you walk at the moment."
She was taken aback at his icy voice. How could he be so cruel? But… his words… she didn't really want to die… did she? No. She definitely didn't.
"This one knows his words may seem cruel. However, he will not allow such a diligent healer to fail due to a broken heart. He will not lie to you. It shall not heal. And you shall grieve. But only the weak would allow themselves to be consumed entirely."
"How… how do you know I'm not weak, Sesshoumaru?" she mumbled.
"No human has stood defiantly before this one and lived. You have achieved this feat several times," he replied, shrugging indifferently.
"But… it's so hard… to not miss him!" she choked between sobs.
"My brother… Inuyasha… his life was never what it should have been. From the day he was born, he faced nothing but ridicule and torment from both humans and demons due to his tainted blood. Yes, this Sesshoumaru is aware that he too falls into this category. Regardless, his life was unhappy.
When he met the priestess Kikyou, he believed he had found love, someone who accepted him. Yet, she constantly tortured him with guilt, and… also convinced him that should he become human, his life would vastly improve. She did not love him. She merely wished for the Shikon to vanish, along with her duties. Their unsteady companionship was tested and failed… killing one and sealing the other."
At his words, Kagome felt her heart clench painfully. No one deserved a life like that. Especially not Inuyasha.
"He escaped death, the first time. This Sesshoumaru believes he was given a second chance. A chance for a half-demon pup experience happiness… and when he was with you, Kagome…no matter how short a time…he found it. Mourn for his death… but remember his life… that which you gave him."
Sesshoumaru broke off, having lost his train of thought. He could hardly believe that he was attempting to comfort the miserable girl in his arm. He was… untrained in the use of words.
Having reached the tree, Sesshoumaru resumed his previous position, this time allowing the priestess to draw herself into his lap. As she made herself comfortable, a strange feeling darted through his gut. It was most certainly not love –he could not feel such a powerful emotion. However it was… a desire to keep her safe. Because she was different from the usual filth he dealt with daily.
Pleased that he managed to sort out his latest thoughts, he closed his amber eyes, allowing himself to slip into a light slumber.
The pale gold sun was rising slowly in the East, painting the morning sky with various shades of pinks and oranges. Periwinkle clouds showed no evidence of yesterday's turbulent weather. Small drops of rain dripped from the leaves, leaving crystal trails on the dewy grass. Once again, the forest was alive.
In a clearing, a young priestess lay contentedly across the chest of a demon lord. The demon lord had awoken at dawn, marveling that he had lived to see another day. He could feel his skin and muscle knit together throughout the night, subconsciously repairing his damaged form.
Sesshoumaru cast his amber eyes to the girl wrapped securely in his arm. He had considered waking her… not even Rin had been permitted to sleep against him. However, somewhere in his dark heart… something told him she deserved her rest.
He, however, could no longer delay… he had much to do. Such was the life of a Lord. Reluctantly, he unwrapped his arm from her body, and gently placed his sleeping beauty against the roots of the tree. She shifted slightly, mumbling incoherently.
He wandered towards the edge of the clearing, but stopped suddenly. Turning on his heel, he approached the sleeping woman, and skillfully wrapped his long pelt around her shoulders. She immediately snuggled into the warm fur, wrapping her slender limbs around it. As he unwound the bandages from his chest, he looked towards the priestess one last time.
"Thank you, Kagome," his baritone voice whispered, almost fondly. With a humungous leap, he jumped into the trees, disappearing at a break neck pace. If not for his demonic hearing, the Great Lord would have missed the soft voice reply,
"No Sesshoumaru… thank you." He could not help it; he smiled. He sped up, his eyes set on the West. The slight smile twisted into an evil smirk as he thought of one, very unfortunate toad.
Over and Out. (meaning The End)