A/N: FINAL CHAPTER!! :D Are you guys as excited yet sad as I am? :3 Thanks to everybody who reviewed and I mean EVERYBODY. Thanks to all those who are reading this fic as well. I'm glad that you guys have enjoyed this story well enough to stick to the end! It's been a long journey guys but this is the finale (finally). There MIGHT, I repeat, MIGHT be a sequel to this but I have absolute NO idea how it'll go. :I And sorry if the review replies are short and quick! I'm pretty sure other people would just want to start reading without any beforehand delays :3
maru53, Sakura Taichou, kouga's older woman, FluffyandKagome, husbands angel, MiHonoKo, DemonDeReves, AnimeFreakGirl777, Jennie Harris, kendra, Whispering Lillies, KagHieiLuver, The Sacred Tree, gdchikadee102, The World is a Stage, Sesshomaru is Fluffy Evil, PoohBearsLovelyWife, a simple review, Perkily-Hally, AwesomeHachi, KiraraTwoTail, LayaDivineangel127, Kagome2691, Shiruri Nii-Chan, Lady Skorpio, lord or the red night, JammyDodger217, tili19, itzumi-vampie-ninja, yukanantenshi, Gothic Pain, AngelofMist, mangadreams, Kurenai no Chinoumi, .Saiya.of.the.moon., SpiritBlackFire, dogdemon16, Trinity Styles, zarrini, 4get me not, Daughter of Shadow, LoveANIME4, llebreknit, SELENE, AJ, Missy Misa, Jeweled Fairy, Utterchaos47, sailormoonlover, fionna, toots and to all you readers! Thank you! :D
Various Review Replies:
DemonDeReves – Lol, your review somehow sounded like a poem :) Thank you that you think I'll become a great writer though! And thanks for reading this fic too :3 Your reviews have given me hope for the future lol :)
AnimeFreakGirl777 – Yeah, I am mean XD But I hope this final chapter will be to your satisfactory! I love brownies X3
kendra – I WOULD enter it into a contest but I don't think they include fanfic stories that are based on characters not even your own (o.0) Thanks for the thought though! :3
gdchikadee102 – Hehe, it's okay about the darn gosh you thing :) Although, it did surprise me when I first read your review and the first thing it did was curse at me (o.o) But lol, it's okay. :) Getting my reviewers mad during the process of my story is my specialty and delight! :D
The World is a Stage – Kya! I LOVE cookies, pavlova, ice cream, cherries and strawberries! XD Thank you so much and since I've updated, I'll be taking them now (grins) I certainly hope that you're not trying to making me fat though :)
PoohBearsLovelyWife – Thanks that you were happy about the last chapter's ending :) I try to make it different from the other stories since I like to create suspense and all that :3 Hope you enjoy this chapter and don't think it's too cliché (o.0)
A simple review – Aw, that's so mean :( But pie's such a cute name! If anyone teased me like that, I'd say 'You're just jealous that your favourite dessert isn't YOUR name!' Lol :3 Don't let them get you down, they're just losers. I mean, come on, teasing someone because of their last name? (rolls eyes) Anyhow, thank you for reviewing my anonymous reviewer! (I spelt that right! :D) Hope you enjoy the last chapter!
Perkily-Hally – Wow, that's such a cool song and I can totally see how it fits! :3 Thank you for recommending it to me! I'm gonna save the song now :D
AwesomeHachi – I now know what you mean when the stupid site didn't let you put in your entire review. I sent a review THREE times to a story and it STILL didn't work. I had to email it instead (T.T) Man, I was so frustrated! I was almost in tears :( Anyway, onto the review reply lol. Sorry if Kagome seems belittling or a little bit mature for her age. I just want the chapters to start off with something deep and philosophical (darn, I didn't spell that word right the first time) that makes absolute sense :3 That dark night! I want to watch that! X3 And yeah, I find it easier to write like this although my friends say it's harder to write in first person :X I like it because you get a better insight to the character and know exactly (well, almost) what they're feeling :P I once tried doing it normally again (with no set POV) and I keep on reverting back to first person accidentally in random times (o.0)
And don't worry about your rant with Kikyo. It's fine :) It's good to see other people's POVs/opinions on these types of things. And the 'Good chapter! I hate pie' was EXACTLY what happened (o.0) Sorry this reply has to be cut short (since it's the beginning of the EPILOGUE (o.0)) so I'll just have to stop here. :3 You get a free imaginary cookie by the way, despite my glares. Man, I'm too soft (-.-) Oh, and kenatsu is that blue things that Sesshomaru releases whenever he uses the powers of Tokijin :)
KiraraTwoTail – Lol, well, I dunno about the sequel as I mentioned above :) We'll see, 'kay? :3
Shiruri Nii-Chan – Hmm… I guess that would be a cool way to post up English assignments and all. But then again, who would want their work posted on the internet? (o.o) Lol, thanks for reviewing by the way! :D
Lady Skorpio – Lol, lots of people are giving me food (grins) Thanks for the chocolate cake! Love ice cream too and it WAS pink, wasn't it? It was so weird (o.0) Anyhow, thanks for reading and hope you enjoy the final chapter! :D
lord or the red night – You're completely right about somewhere out there, there's always the opposite. It's the thing of balance and, without it, everything would be thrown off :)
tili19 – Yay, thanks! That's the first time I drove someone speechless :D Thanks a bunch for reviewing!
Gothic Pain – Thank you SO much san-chan! :D You've stuck to this story since the very beginning, way back when you're name was still Callie-yue! I really really really appreciate it and I'm so glad that you've reviewed almost every single chapter! (T.T) You're like the companion I had since the very first time I posted this story! I mean, you're past name is in the 'thanks to' section in chapter two! XD I'll see ya back on the rpg! :3
SpiritBlackFire – Yay, pie :3 As much as I would have LOVED to contribute to that little fantasy we have with Naraku slowly disintegrating in mental stability and his manhood questioned and displayed public for every villain who believes he's failed at being a 'bad guy' because he died, I can't (T.T) It'll be too long a review reply :( We'll do it later 'kay? :) And I KNOW what you mean about OCs and the fact that people complain that you're ignoring them when it's in their character to do just that! Man, it's so irritating (-.-) Anyhow, the rpg I go to isn't like that :3 Here's the linky if you ever want to join: www.theinuyasharpg. :D I sometimes talk to my friend about my dreams but she gets bored (o.o) I stopped talking to her about that then :P
And I never thought about Kagome's religion XD Man, I'm so stupid (o.o) I was just talking from my POV and thought she was catholic (-.-) And OMGosh, you felt sorry for Naraku for even a split second?? (O.O) … That's okay, I did too and that's why I wrote those darn words for him X( Man, we're both going crazy. I mean, how many people are there that actually pity Naraku after all the things he's done? (o.o) Anyhow, it's getting long. Don't forget to pick up you're imaginary cookie! :D
Trinity Styles – Ya, not many fanfics keep him IC so I try to do my very best to keep him in character to try and encourage those to do the same :3 Thanks for noticing by the way!
Daughter of Shadows – AWWW! Thank you so much for your review! It really warmed me up inside and I really do mean it, especially at the end when you directed the final paragraphs to the other ppl about me X3 In all honesty, it was YOUR story that helped me with the past few chapters. I've been more descriptive (which people have been telling me I should improve on) and I've learnt a few words to! (such as digress :3) I really hope you enjoy this last chapter, Shadow-chan! And I'll go read and review your latest installment of The Tormented Road and see if Pooey royally gets his butt kicked by a super-sized Sesshou! :D
JGK200 – Sigh, I KNEW there was going to be at least one reviewer wouldn't be all positive about the development about the last chapter. In fact, I thought many more would be complaining their butts off! (o.0) But yes, I am sorry I disappointed you but it was all necessary to have a build-up in this final chapter. I hope, after you read it, you'll be satisfied :)
Missy Misa – Welcome back! :D Glad you got a new laptop, you're so lucky! (T.T) But DUDE! You haven't updated in FOREVER! I cannot wait until you update! I want to see what the heck is gonna happen now :P And I've watched a bit of death note and, well, Light person or whatever doesn't seem so nice (o.o) And if you want to know where the epilogue is gonna be set up, you better go read then! :D And I've heard of Indiana jones but I don't really watch it, sorry. Anyhow, thanks for reviewing and you better update soon!
Jeweled Fairy – Thank you so much for the long and detailed review! It's always good to get feedback :3 True psycho, that made me laugh XD Thanks again for the awesome review! Hope you enjoy the last chapter! :3
sailormoonlover – Sorry if the kanna bit confused you. :3 In my mind, while sesshy and Naraku were fighting, sesshy accidentally blocked one of his tentacles and made it so that the yucky thingy would go straight for kagome. You can either believe that OR just think that it was naraku's intention to kill kanna in the first place. Fine either way, really :3 And don't worry about Kouga! Just keep reading :3
The last people to get a free imaginary cookie:
AwesomeHachi – For successfully guessing the quotes :D Enjoy the last imaginary cookie I'm giving out on this final chapter :3
SpiritBlackFire – For correctly guessing the quotes last chapter :) Enjoy the very last cookie I'm handing out in this story :)
Well, this is it. Thank you so much to everybody (again) and I want to tell you how happy I am that this story was such a success :D I never, ever thought I'd even get close to 1000 reviews but here I am, ne? :) I couldn't have accomplished that without all of you! And I want to give an EXTRA big thanks to the people who have reviewed every single chapter (or most of them) since the beginning of the story. I've bolded your names! :) You're deeply acknowledged and I appreciate that you've stuck with me through thick and thin. :3
Anyhow, that's all for farewells. Don't be sad though! I WILL write more Sess/Kag fics. Just you wait ;)
WARNING: Chapter even longer than the last! Go to the toilet, get a packet of chips and make sure you're not sleepy!
So, without further adieu, I present to you the very last chapter of Memory's Shadow!
'Memories come and memories go
Memories that are old and memories made anew
Just know that you can never truly forget
For your memories are really you.'
"Is this seat taken?"
The middle aged woman looked up, her facial expression slightly startled. "No," she replied, moving her bag from the seat beside her. "Sorry."
"It's okay. Thank you," I replied gratefully, giving her a small smile as I sat down on the now vacant seat. The train gave a small whistle and started to move, the carriages swaying slightly as the transportation began to gain speed. I watched through the scratched window opposite me as the scenery of the city flashed by. Silver, gray, white; cold. My chocolate brown eyes glanced up towards the clear, blue sky, faint rain clouds in the distance.
The train carriage was half-full, the people sitting down on the cushiony seats either reading a novel, a magazine or the daily newspaper. One person, I spied, was reading a book called 'Tales of Transcending Time'. The woman beside me held her bag on her lap, skimming through a phone which looked rather new. I turned away and stared absently at the scenery again, sighing beneath my breath as the quietness of the train continued, nothing but the light sounds of the train continuing its bumpy way reaching my ears.
Sitting completely still and, after awhile, slumping a little, I waited. Hours ticked by as the train stopped from station to station, people coming in and people coming out. I waited patiently, my eyes always upon the sky outside, thinking of nothing.
After three hours of sitting in the exact same spot, eating nothing but a small packet of chips I retrieved from my bag, the train stopped at another station and the woman beside me stood and left. With another sigh, I closed my eyes, feeling the train move again. The light luggage between my legs vibrated occasionally because of the rough ride, forcing me to keep a rather firm hold of it.
Another three hours went by and the sun was just above the horizon. Glancing at my wristwatch, I realized it was five thirty-seven. Swiftly glancing outside the window again, I stood up and stretched the kinks out of my body, hearing satisfying cracks when I stretched my back. Taking my luggage with installed wheels by the handle, I began to walk towards the automatic button doors and dragged it behind me, the wheels making a slight scrappy noise against the surface.
As the train stopped and the doors opened, I stepped outside and onto the platform, letting others enter. Once I was out and the train closed its doors behind me, I took in a deep, peaceful breath. I was home.
"Mama! Souta! I'm home!" I yelled, opening the shrine doors and taking off my shoes.
"Kagome, dear!" my mother greeted happily as she walked out of the kitchen, wearing a perfectly white apron with sakura designs on the corners. "I've missed you so much," she whispered, embracing me tightly. "How's my baby? Was university fun?" she asked conversationally as she pulled back, holding me by the shoulders.
"It was okay," I answered with a small smile. I let her lead me inside the home I haven't stepped foot in for eight months, looking around. Nothing much had changed. In fact, nothing seemed to have changed at all. "Where's Souta?" I asked curiously.
"He's out with a friend today," mama answered as she reentered the kitchen, dragging me along as I left my luggage in the lounge room. "Oh, Kagome, you don't know how much I've missed you," she said, tears in her eyes as the older woman once again hugged me.
I embraced her fiercely back. "I missed you too mama," I answered truthfully, comforted by the familiar feeling of being held by the mother who loved me. We pulled apart and I inspected what she was cooking. And what I saw made my eyes widen with absolute delight. "Oden!" I exclaimed cheerfully, walking up to the food currently being cooked and taking in the fresh scent. Yes, I've had oden in Osaka, but mama's oden was always the best.
"I was preparing it just for you," she smiled, walking up behind me to continue stirring the delicious dish. "I'm glad you called beforehand, Kagome," she said. "Or else I wouldn't have been able to cook you a welcoming feast!" she laughed.
I laughed with her. "You didn't need to do that, mama," I told her sweetly. "I'm a university student now. I can cook oden myself." And it was true. I was very proud that I could cook oden whenever I wanted. But, as I said, the oden I made couldn't compare to mama's.
"I know that, dear," she smiled, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Why don't you take over for a bit? I can go call Souta on his new mobile to tell him that you're home. He's missed you too, you know," she smiled.
Rolling my eyes, I gave a light laugh. "I'm sure he has, mama," I grinned. "Although, I doubt Souta would actually tell me that face to face." I waved a hand towards my luggage still in the lounge room. "And it's okay. I need to put that stuff back into my old room anyway," I informed her.
"Okay," she nodded. "And Bouyo is upstairs too, I think. Be mindful of him, okay? And don't wake up Grandpa. He's resting in his room."
"I won't," I promised, giving her a light kiss on the cheek before I retrieved my luggage. Dragging the bag up the stairs, memories began to assault me. I remember when I used to chase Souta down these stairs whenever he irritated me too much when I was younger. The thought made me smile as I finally reached the second floor. Walking towards my room, I opened the doors and stepped in.
Again, nothing changed. It looked exactly how I left it before I went to university. Throwing my luggage lazily onto the light blue sheeted bed, I looked around. On my desk was my usual lamp and the framed pictures of my three highschool friends and family. I touched the glass gently, a soft smile on my face. I remember when these pictures were taken. The picture that held me, Yuki, Eri and Ayumi was taken when we went to the park after our highschool graduation. We all looked so happy, grins on our faces. I touched the much older picture of me, Souta, mama and papa. I smiled at it, staring at my little self being carried by my papa and a baby Souta in mama's arms, grouped together lovingly.
I glanced out my window, spying the Goshinboku. The sight of the old tree made my smile fade. Before I could delve into it too deeply, my train of thought was cut when I heard a mewing sound. Turning, I found Bouyo at my door, sitting. My smile came back as I walked forwards to the fat ginger cat. "Bouyo!" I greeted, kneeling down to pat him and stroke his ears. "How is my favourite kitty?" I cooed. "Did you miss me?"
He mewed again, loving the attention he received. "I'll take that as a yes, then," I grinned. "Man though, Bouyo. You've grown way too fat! Look at you! You're an old, fat kitty," I teased, rubbing his fat side.
As if knowing what I was saying, Bouyo stood up and began to walk away, his fat butt wriggling slightly because of the movement. Giggling, I stood up. And, unwittingly, my eyes traveled back to the tree through my bedroom window. My heart began to ache as I turned away. But I couldn't resist the call I could feel tugging at my soul. So, without further thinking, I made my way down the stairs and into the 'backyard'.
Once I was outside, my feet began to walk towards the large, ancient tree, the breeze sweeping passed me as if to welcome my return. The sun, so bright and warm, was setting, making slight goosebumps rise on my arms. I hadn't bothered to change into new clothes, still wearing long jeans and a plain green singlet with a white T-shirt beneath.
It wasn't a moment later did I find myself standing right in front of the majestic tree, its massive trunk and thick, healthy branches looming over me. It was older than I could imagine. Far more valuable than I would ever know. It always pained me to see it, to relive the memories it sparked within me. But after a year, I was over it. I knew I was.
A tear slid down my cheek.
It was then, as I stared at the tree, that my mind began to replay all the events that occurred after my fifteenth birthday. All the pain, all the suffering. All the joy, all the laughter. All the people, all the items. All the experiences, all the stories.
More tears fell.
Leaning forward, I rested my hand upon the tree, feeling the magical pulse within its bark. My soul cried out to it, the familiar feeling surging through my body every single time I touched it. A sense of belonging. A sense of peacefulness. But, beneath all that light, I felt the sadness, the despair, the loneliness. I knew it was there because it was in my very own soul .
It was crying inside.
"I'm sorry," I whispered, closing my eyes as I rested my forehead upon its smooth bark. "I'm sorry for leaving you."
It seemed to calm a bit and with it, so did I. But that sadness, that soft patch of gray beneath all that purity, was still there, wailing. I could feel it. I could hear it. I could see it. For, that little gray blotch, was the sadness in my own soul, the loneliness in my own heart. The empty void that was created remained. Nothing seemed to fill it. Nothing I did satisfied the aching feeling in my chest. Nothing.
"Goshinboku…" I said quietly, my eyes still closed as they leaked out tears. The sun was almost fully set, the sky a pretty orange colour as it clashed with the yellow and the blue. I could feel the warmth of the descending sun upon my back, as if to soothe me, the wind fluttering and making my hair slightly sway. "I can't stop feeling this way…"
This tree was my tie to the past. If it wasn't here, I wouldn't have survived through my depression right after I jumped down the well and was not allowed to return. I often turned to this tree for guidance, for comfort, whenever I felt lost, alone, afraid. But even this tie that made me so calm couldn't fill the hole through my chest.
"I still remember," I murmured quietly, feeling the power within it. "I still remember that day…"
And just as I remembered, I began to relive that distant memory.
"So, what are you going to do now, Kagome-sama?" Miroku asked me as we sat inside Kaede's hut.
It had been a week since the fall of Naraku and when I regained the memories I previously lost. I sat close to Inuyasha, our knees touching. "I…" I started quietly, unable to meet anyone's gaze.
It had been all tears and laughter after the fiend's demise but now that the joy has passed, we needed to move on. The first few days were confusing, since I was in constant battle with myself. I was confused and a little lost. Having my entire life suddenly coming back to me in an instant was exhausting and I had frequent headaches. Kaede had said they were aftereffects of the curse Naraku brought down on me.
Kouga, who had his legs seriously injured when Naraku had viciously taken the shards away and just dumped his body in Kikyo's village, had returned back to what remained of his Wolf Clan, which was, fortunately, slowly growing in numbers. But he didn't leave until he apologized continuously to me. I'd never seen the ookami so… so... sincere before. It really touched my heart. I told him I forgave him, and truly I did, and then he left. Why did he leave just on a whim? Because I was glued to Inuyasha like never before and he knew, he saw, my decision. The hurt that flashed in his eyes before he grinned sheepishly made my heart ache. After all, I considered Kouga a really, really good friend and I never enjoyed seeing the ones close to me get hurt. But he just brushed it off and went on his way, going back to the clan he hadn't returned to for quite awhile. And I knew that the ookami prince would always have a safe place within my heart.
"Yes?" Miroku proded, seeing as I had stopped in my sentence.
After the battle finished, Kikyo had left. But not before giving Inuyasha a long look. And I saw it too. They didn't say anything, merely stared at each other. And I stood there, in Inuyasha's arms, unable to escape. But Inuyasha had refused to let me go, even after all the seconds that passed in intense silence. Then, finally, Kikyo nodded once and simply left, walking into the dead forest as her soul collectors flew behind her. I didn't know what she did but, a minute later, something hit me in the chest. It seeped into my skin, as if it were water, and when I felt the warmth spread through me and the completeness I felt, I knew that my soul was complete.
After all, Kikyo was never meant to go to hell. She was meant to be reincarnated. Into me.
And I also knew that she and Inuyasha really did love each other. That's why I was so reluctant to stay in the hanyou's arms when they stared at each other, hidden, secret, conversations being exchanged through their silence that would forever change their lives. Who would I be, if I didn't see the tenderness in their gazes? Who would I be, if I didn't recognize the longing in their eyes? Who would I be, if I stayed ignorant to their love?
But Inuyasha had chosen me and that was what made it bearable. And Kikyo knew of Inuyasha's decision too, hence the reason why she did what she did. She knew her time was up, seeing as she was supposed to be dead in the first place, and willingly returned her portion of our soul without asking Inuyasha to choose between us, without asking him to keep his promise and go to hell with her. That, I figured, was the true strength Kikyo gained throughout her entire journey in which she walked neither living or dead. She learned how to let things go.
"Kagome?" Shippo asked quietly as he rested on my lap, staring up with large emerald eyes. I realized my sentence was hanging again.
"I want to go…"
It turned out that there were two Shikon shards in Inuyasha's Tetsusaiga, allowing him to break through Naraku's barrier. He also had two jewel shards within his own body, making the process in which he healed far more faster and his agility and strength far stronger. Two of those jewel shards were the shards before I was presumed dead. The other two shards were from me when Sesshomaru and I retrieved them from that ogre youkai in his castle. Naraku didn't know the location of those four shards and so it was a rather unexpected surprise when my friends arrived.
Of course, Inuyasha had been driving Sango, Miroku and Kirara nonstop in order to get there when they did. And the three didn't complain, wanting it just as bad as the hanyou did. It was a remarkable effort, one that made them sleep for two days straight and almost made them fall sick from exhaustion and fever.
"Where do you want to go, Kagome?" Sango asked gently.
"I want to go back…"
Hakudoushi had also been killed. By what Sango and Miroku had to say, it was because of his betrayal to Naraku. As the two went into the castle to rescue the two children, they were confronted by the white demon. And because Naraku knew about the detachment's betrayal, the poisonous wasps that kept him safe from Miroku's kazaana left. Of course, Sango had to injure him before Miroku had suck him up. But it was the ultimate withdrawal of Naraku's wasps that cause his death. And, luckily, they didn't come out with much injuries.
And, now that I've remembered, I know exactly what Kanna was talking about. It's an odd thing… wishing to be free. That sentence she always seemed to mutter was no longer a puzzle to me. Kagura had wanted to be free. Free from Naraku's hold and being able to fly with the wind. To be as free as the wind. And, when she got that wish, she died. Kanna couldn't understand why she wanted to die. She… It was impossible for her to comprehend because of the simple fact that she couldn't. Kagura wanted to be free; she was. She was free through death. The white demon child couldn't understand why Kagura of all people would want to be free; to die.
Yet, even though she couldn't understand her younger 'sister's' logic, something inside her must have broken free. I knew that every living being had to feel something. Kanna was no exception. She freed me because she wanted Kagura to be free of Naraku the only way she could: by getting rid of him. She didn't understand that Kagura was already free of Naraku. She believed that the only way Kagura could truly be free was if Naraku was destroyed. So she helpd me escape and sacraficed her very life for me, all in the name of her sister's freedom. It's an odd thing… wishing to be free. She loved Kagura. It's the only explanation for such actions.
"You want to go back…" Inuyasha said quietly, the hesitance and the slight anxiety in his voice not lost on me.
Taking a deep breath, I answered,
"I want to go back home."
I now stood in front of the well, gazing down into its dark depths. I used to jump in there and go back five hundred years into the past. Tracing my fingers on the smooth yet rotting wood, I stared down. This, too, had a magical feel to it, but not as strong as the Goshinboku's. While the tree's was active, the well that stood before me was not. It only emitted a small hum of residue magic, slowly fading away as time continued to pass. The fading magic that allowed me to find true friends, a second family and… and a love.
I smiled gently up at him, winding my arms around his torso. "You have no idea how happy I am to remember you, Inuyasha," I whispered against his chest as we stood in the forest, all alone, for the very first time since my memories were returned. "Before, I didn't remember you. But now… now I… I can't explain it." Looking up, I stared into his beautiful golden eyes. "I remember all the times you've protected me," I smiled. "I remember all the times you stayed by my side." My smile widened slightly. "I remember all the times we had together."
"Kagome…" he repeated again, stroking my cheek. "When you were gone… I didn't know what to do," he confessed. "I… I couldn't think straight. All I did was train, and train, and train. I wanted to get stronger. Stronger so that the next time someone close to me was in danger, I'd be able to save them." He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against mine gently, letting his hand drop to my waist. "When you were gone… I wasn't me anymore," he said softly, a rare moment for someone as rough and distant as Inuyasha. "When you were gone…" His arms tightened around me. "When you were gone, I realized how important you were to me. But I was so scared to admit it. Because I realized that after you left, after I thought I lost you…"
"It's okay," I assured him quietly. "It's… It's over now."
"What I still don't understand," he started, his golden eyes opening as he stared into my eyes, "was what Naraku was talking about." His eyes narrowed at the name. "What did he mean… by a spirit?"
"It's hard to explain," I said truthfully. "It was like… like a split personality," I began. "A split personality made out of the memories Naraku tried to suppress. That spirit was the Kagome that held my memories… while I was the Kagome without." I laughed quietly. "I told you it's confusing," I sighed.
"But if the spirit was your memories," Inuyasha drawled, spinning the concept in his head. "Then how could Naraku see it?" he asked, puzzled.
"I really have no idea," I answered him plainly. "It just… came out in a spiritual body."
Again, Inuyasha sighed. "I won't try to pretend I understand because I wasn't there," he said quietly. "But I want you to know that I truly, truly missed you. And… And I'm sorry for all the things I've done."
"Don't apologize," I told him with a gentle smile, cupping his cheek with my right hand. I stared up at him, light mirth and distant sadness in my eyes. "If you hadn't done what you did… then we wouldn't be where we are. That, I do understand."
It just… came out in a spiritual body.
I think I understood what I said now. Looking up from the well, I exited the tiny shrine. I glanced up at the sky, now a dark blue with bright stars shining brightly. The cool breeze caressed my cheek and I breathed in the cold, night air.
Someone had once told me that memories form a person's personality. I figured, since my past memories were so vivid, so intense and unforgettable, it allowed a second personality to form within the back of my mind, behind the mental barrier summoned by Naraku's curse.
But, I realized, that wasn't what the curse truly did. Whenever I tried to remember, I would feel pain. An intense pain that was familiar. And then I would see images that were dark… yet familiar. And then there would be people talking or yelling, sounds that were uncomfortable and unwelcoming… but familiar. I realized that it wasn't an ordinary mental barrier. It was a barrier made out of the hardships and horrors of the person's life. So, when a person would want to remember, they'd feel the pain of their past first. And since it's painful, it's only natural that you withdraw. And since you've withdrawn from your past, your memories, you will never claim them back.
My eyes landed on the crescent moon shining magnificentally above. Immediately, I was reminded of Sesshomaru.
Eyes saddening, I began to remember images of the taiyoukai. His silver hair, his golden eyes and gorgeous build. He was beautiful. Everything he did was so graceful, everything he spoke was so smooth and wise and full of intelligence. The way he handled his weapons was almost mesmerizing, the elegance and practiced ease in which he moved made everything else seem so inferior. With one look, he could make shivers run up your spine and with one glare he could have you begging for mercy. He was beautiful and dangerous, forbidden and merciless.
And yet, I couldn't hold that picture of him for long. Soon enough, I saw the Sesshomaru I spent my time with in his castle. The gentle, almost kind Sesshomaru that I had grown to… to… To be honest, I really don't know. But I kept seeing him smirking at me, teasing and mocking in a playful manner. I saw him with Rin, standing over her like a protective father would. I saw him staring down at me with a foreign emotion in his eyes, saw him protecting me from the horrors of the world when no one else would.
… I saw him taking me in when he found me on the forest floor. I saw him taking me in when he found me broken, crying, in the rain. I saw him taking me in as he watched over me and made me feel safe. I saw him fighting to save me, to reach me. That was the Sesshomaru I truly remembered. That was the Sesshomaru that I would never forget. That was the Sesshomaru I kept close to my heart.
I didn't realize I was crying again. I reached up and touched my wet cheek. Not once did my eyes leave the moon in the sky. Even now, I didn't get it. Why did he just leave me? Why wouldn't he let me find him? Why didn't he… Why didn't he come back to me?
I sat at the edge of the well, looking down at its depths as my tears fell from my eyes. The yellow backpack that I had been taking from era to era was slung almost empty around my shoulders. I looked up at the clear blue sky and at the beautiful, green trees that surrounded the area. This was the feudal era. The era in which I deemed my second home. The era which held the mountains and the plains I traveled on, the forests and the seas I journeyed through. It was my wild home.
Only a few minutes ago I had said goodbye to my friends. It brought me to tears. But, despite the fact that I would miss them dearly, I wanted to jump through the well alone. Inuyasha had offered to come with me but I had declined. My last moments with my friends were over. Now, I was experiencing the last moments in this era. I wanted to go through alone. I wanted to tell myself that, whatever happens, it was my choice.
So, I sat alone in that field, thinking about everything that happened in the feudal era. Mostly, my thoughts were on a certain inu-hanyou.
Inuyasha had matured so much. So very, very much. He was far more thoughtful, far less rash, far more considerate and far less insensitive. When I remembered, I was so surprised by his actions. My faked death… It changed him so much. I didn't know whether or not I liked it. But I couldn't deny the warm feeling in my chest whenever he looked at me fondly or whenever he held me in his arms.
The brash hanyou I met all those years ago had changed. Just like I had.
Inuyasha and I loved each other, we knew that much, but he knew, understood, that I had to go back to my time and risk never coming back. And I knew that risk was a guarantee. So, that was why, I allowed him to be my very first kiss.
I breathed in the fresh, unpolluted air of the wilderness. With the jewel absorbed back into my body, we all knew that I would not return if I jumped through. I would not be able to return to this grassy land.
But I needed to go home. I had a family there who hadn't seen me for four months, worrying about me. I couldn't do that to them. I just couldn't.
Again, I looked up, but this time I was staring at a certain area within the forest trees. I gave a faint smile. He was here, watching me. I could sense him lurking within those trees. But no matter how much I wanted to go to him, ask him questions, thank him, hug him, tell him what I really thought of the merciless Inu no Tashio, I couldn't. My mind was already set and I couldn't stop my course of action just because he arrived too late to say goodbye.
Or, maybe, he hadn't.
So, just as I was about to jump into the well, I spied his golden eyes and whispered one sentence, letting my words drift on the wind and into his ears.
"I'll see you five hundred years in the future."
And I jumped.
For the last and final time.
I still didn't know if he could live for so long. And, quite frankly, if he hadn't showed himself yet, I doubt he will in the future. But that still didn't mean I didn't miss him. I wanted to ask him so many questions, thank him for so many reasons. Why did he have to turn his back on me and just leave like that? Why? Did I do something wrong? Was he mad at me? If so, then what did I do?
A hand placed itself on my shoulder and I looked down to see mama standing in front of me, a sad and solemn expression upon her face. Was I still crying? I wiped the tears away with the back of my hand hastily. "I-I wasn't… It's just the moon is so pretty and I… I…"
You couldn't lie to a mother who could read you like a book. "Kagome, hush," she whispered gently. "It's okay to cry," she told me, understanding the pain I was through.
Giving her a small smile, I nodded, again awed by my own mother. She always understood. Always.
Looking up, I saw a taller Souta running towards me, a huge grin plastered on his face. Mama stood aside and let him embrace me so hard that I almost stumbled back. "Souta!" I greeted, smiling brightly. "You've grown so much!" I exclaimed.
He dismissed the compliment easily. "Welcome home, Kagome!" he smiled, pulling back.
I watched as mama put a hand on my little brother's shoulder. The image of their smiling faces beneath the night sky almost had me in tears again. Souta wasn't mad that I left him for eight months and neither was mama. They were just so… understanding.
Once I was on the other side of the well, I immediately rushed into my home, not jumping back into the portal to see if I could still go through. I wanted to see my family so very badly. Even though I remembered them, I couldn't confirm it unless I've actually seen them.
"Mama!" I cried, tears running down my cheeks. "Souta! Grandpa!"
I forcibly pushed through the doors and ran inside, dropping my bag onto the floor unceremoniously. "Mama!" I yelled, running into the kitchen.
And when I did, I stopped, the tears running down my cheeks flowing faster. My mum stood there, sponge in her hand, since she was just washing the dishes. She turned to me, her eyes wide and disbelieving as she took in my form. A second passed and she dropped her sponge, running up to me and hugging me fiercely. I hugged back tightly, not wanting to let go.
"Kagome!" my other cried, not caring if the soapsuds got onto me. "Kagome, you've come back!" she said unsteadily, her thin arms tight around me as she trembled with tears. "After four months… you've come back…"
"Kagome-onee-chan!" I heard Souta cry. He embraced me just as I turned to see the owner of the voice.
"Kagome?" my grandpa asked, a disbelieving look in his eyes as he walked towards me slowly.
"Hey grandpa," I greeted with a strained smile, all teary-eyed. "I'm back."
I found myself in a furious group hug then, my three family members hugging me like they would never let go. I hugged them all back, crying endlessly, the completeness in my heart swelling. I had a home. I had a family. They loved me. I loved them. I could never, ever leave them.
"We missed you so very, very much," mama whispered quietly, pulling back reluctantly.
"We thought you wouldn't come back," sniffled Souta, still clinging around my waist.
"We're glad that you've returned to us, Kagome," grandpa assured, tears running down his aged cheeks as he simply pulled back and held my shoulder in a loving manner.
"I'm so sorry, guys," I said sincerely, hugging my little brother fiercely. "I'm so sorry."
And, when I looked into each of their crying eyes, I knew they understood.
It was almost abnormal, how they understood so much.
"Let's go back inside," mama suggested, leading her two children back into the house. "You've got a lot of stories to tell us about your university, Kagome," she grinned.
"I can't believe you got a scholarship," mumbled Souta grumpily. "How did you get so smart?"
"I studied," I answered simply. But beneath that simple answer was an even darker truth. When I tried to get back through the well, I couldn't. I tried so many times. So many, many times. I ended up spraining my ankle and had to have my family help me out. In that state of depression, all I could do was study and go to school. In that state of depression, I was doll, taking everything in and storing it away for future use. In that state of depression, I had nothing else to do but watch as my life went passed. And the next thing I knew, I had a scholarship to a university. I smiled bitterly.
All this suffering just for a simple piece of paper with words.
But, at least, I didn't leave any loose ends in the feudal era.
No loose ends except for one. And that one loose end that could never be tied was named Sesshomaru, Lord of the Western Lands and Inu no Tashio of the Silver Inu Clan.
Sighing, I continued my way back home as the grocery bag I held swayed gently. It was mid-afternoon and the sun blazed down angrily, making it an extremely nice day for a picnic. Everyone was so happy today, for some odd reason. Kids and parents were taking their dogs for walks, newly wed couples strolled through the parks, people with babies walked merrily as they chatted about life and random things. Everything was so happy.
And I felt so sad. Even though I'm back with my family, I was still empty inside. It was selfish of me, I know, since my family were doing all they could to make me happy. But that hole… that hole is something they could not fill.
It was weird that, after an entire year, I was still depressed about losing my second family. I was still haunted by questions whenever I thought of them. Were they happy? Did they die a natural death? How many children did Miroku and Sango have? Did Shippo grow and get married? Did Inuyasha find a new love?
The last question made my heart ache. I still loved Inuyasha, even after a year of not seeing him. It was him that left that gaping hole in my heart. Him that made me so sad now. Why is it that, when I just remembered him, he's torn away from my reach? I… I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Inuyasha, the hanyou. But… But…
I sighed again. "But fate has something different in mind for me," I completed verbally, looking down. My voice sounded so bitter to even my ears. Fate. I can't fight against fate but I sure as hell can get mad at the life it's put me through.
Finally reaching my family's shrine, I climbed up the stairs and upon reaching the top, I wasn't exhausted in the slightest. Why would I, if I'd been climbing these stairs ever since I could walk? I spied my grandpa, sweeping dirt from the pathway. I waved at him, plastering a smile on my face. "Hey grandpa!" I greeted, jogging up to meet the old man.
"Ah, Kagome, you're back," my grandpa grinned, his mouth with missing teeth showing. "You've got everything I asked for?" he asked curiously.
"Cabbages and radish, yes," I nodded. "You going to cook them for dinner tonight, grandpa?" I asked. I really didn't want to taste grandpa's cooking. Every single time he made us dinner, it'll either come out burnt or uncooked. And I believe my grandpa is the only other living being on the planet to burn tea.
"No, your mother is doing that," he answered. He went back to sweeping and I went to go inside. But before I could, he turned around and called after me. "Also, Kagome, can you go to the backyard and call for my new assistant to come here?" he asked. "I'm getting mighty tired of sweeping this floor when I'm pretty sure the dust isn't going anywhere," he grumbled.
"Sure," I replied and entered the house. I left the plastic bag on the kitchen counter where mama was bound to find it and walked towards the backyard. Why would grandpa's assistant be working in the backyard, anyway? Shrugging the thought off, I went outside and found a figure wearing miko robes, her back to me, sweeping. This must be the new assistant. "Hello?" I asked, trying to gain her attention as I walked nearer. Something about her aura, though, was slightly familiar. "Um, Mr. Higurashi wants you at the front for something."
But when she turned to face me, I gasped. Gray eyes, pale skin, short black hair. "T-Takkako-san?" I asked in disbelief, my heart pounding within my ribcage.
"Hello, Kagome," she smiled sweetly, seeming not at all surprised to see me. "How are you fairing nowadays?" she asked gently.
I stared at her, eyes widened like saucers and gaping like a fish. "T-Takkako-san… You're here… and you were t-there… How can you… There's got to be…" I shook my head, as if ridding myself of the fact that she was standing right in front of me. But then an idea sparked inside me and my eyes widened, hope coming alive in my chest like it never had before. "How did you get through the well?" I whispered.
Now she looked puzzled. "Well, Kagome?" she repeated in confusion. "I didn't go through any well. I've been living here for almost six hundred years, believe it or not," she stated in a matter-of-fact tone.
Six hundred years. The hope that said I may be able to get through the well and see Inuyasha and everyone else again crushed into nonexistence. Six hundred years. That meant she merely stayed alive into my time. Forcing a smile, I asked her, "How were those five hundred years, Takkako-san?"
She seemed to notice my act as she frowned slightly. But nevertheless, she answered my question. "It was quite interesting, really," she started, holding the broom between her hands. "I mean, it isn't every day that the demon species come to the brink of extinction while the humans prospered and, eventually, forget we even existed. So, in shorter words, it wasn't all that bad," she grinned.
I shook my head visibly, trying to get a grasp of the situation. The Takkako that stood before me was so much more open than the Takkako I knew before. Before, she was shy and bashful but now. Now she seemed so outgoing and confident. Five hundred years really does change a person, doesn't it? "You haven't changed much in physical appearances but you have in personality," I pointed out. "What have you been doing, Takkako-san?" I asked with a smile.
"Well, you look as if you hadn't changed physical wise too, Kagome," she stated, slyly avoiding the question. "Although…" She paused thoughtfully, eyeing me carefully. "You've grown a bit taller and you're a little fuller in places." She smirked. "I bet you have all the human males and demons running after you, don't you?" she asked teasingly.
Blushing slightly, I shook my head. "I'm… I'm not ready for that kind of relationship," I stated truthfully.
"Well, I better go and see what your grandfather wants," she said, adjusting her miko robes. "I'll see you later, okay?" she asked, walking passed me.
"Wait a second!" I yelled after her. She couldn't just leave. Not now. She was a part of my past. The only person I knew from the feudal era who has survived into my time. "Takkako-san, what's going on? Why have you come here?" I asked with frantic curiosity.
She stopped and gave me a small, Takkako-like smile. "To tell you that we're still alive," she whispered quietly.
She turned her back again and disappeared from my view, her words echoing in my ears. Who was we? My heart picked up a little bit. Could Sesshomaru… Could Sesshomaru still be alive, here, in Kyoto? The thought that he may still be alive… it made butterflies flutter in my stomach. Why was I feeling this way, all because Sesshomaru's name had come into mind?
And why the heck was I still standing here when I could be going after her? I ran back towards the front entrance of the shrine, my heart pounding. "Takkako-san, I need to know where--!" But when I finally reached the entrance, she wasn't there. Only grandpa. "Grandpa, where is your new assistant?" I asked. Some may say my voice sounded desperate. I say that it sounded excited. For what? Who knows.
"Funny thing, that!" grandpa spat. "She just ups and leaves, for no apparent reason! Can you believe the nerve of some teenagers these days?" he grumbled angrily. "She even took the miko uniform!"
But I thought otherwise. From the corner of my eye, I saw a plastic bag, in front of the doors, that wasn't there before. Ignoring my grandpa's ranting, I stepped towards the plastic bag and peered inside. "Here's your miko uniform, grandpa," I called, getting up and handing the bag to him.
"Hmm," he said curiously, a childish expression on his face as he looked inside. "Oh! You're right! Well, would you look at that…" he said in deep confusion. He pulled out the miko uniform, to check if it was complete, and it was, the white and red fabric gleaming in the harsh sunlight.
But I saw something else come out of the bag. I bent down, picking up a wild, blue flower, freshly picked.
My eyes widened as the hand holding the pretty thing slightly trembled. A wild, blue flower…
"Kagome, are you okay?" grandpa asked, noticing my shocked and baffled expression.
"I-I'm fine," I stuttered, getting up and grasping the flower tightly behind my back. "I'm fine…"
I sat in front of my desk, thinking, pondering, meditating, considering, reflecting; whatever you want to call it. I was thinking. Takkako appeared today. And she gave me no explanation as to why. Well, no explanation that actually made sense anyway. What did she mean, reminding me that they're alive? What kind of absurd reason is that? I glanced at my lamp, burning brightly, and then to the closed off window. What was she trying to say? Who was 'we'? Why did she have to leave like that when she could've just answered all my questions in a matter of five minutes?
With a groan, I slumped back into my chair and rested my cheek against the desk. "What's going on?" I wondered out loud, my last thoughts before I slowly drifted off to sleep.
"Hey, Kagome, I need you to give Souta his lunch," mama said, holding a box neatly wrapped with a blue sheet, a knot at the top. "He forgot it on the table again," she sighed. "I called him earlier about it. He should be at the front gates when it's time for lunch."
"Sure mama," I agreed, taking the bento from her. Quickly changing into appropriate clothes, I headed out, strolling on the pathway with the package bobbing with every step. It has been a week since I've seen Takkako and, unfortunately, I haven't been able to find her. Sighing beneath my breath, I wondered if I just hallucinated the entire thing. Looking up, I saw the rain clouds I saw earlier coming nearer, but not near enough to have it rain here. Yet. The weather person said it'll rain in three days. Maybe they actually got it right this time.
Arriving at the front gates, I peered inside. It looked the same. My old school.
And so, I waited. My head was bent, looking at the pavement, thinking. Or, more like, recalling. I hated it when I had to wait. It made me think about things. In the distance, I heard a few birds tweet. I missed them so much. Everyone. Why couldn't I have been able to visit? Why couldn't the well just continue to let me pass? Why did I have to be torn from them after so much? Merely a week after I remembered who I was, I had to lose the ones I remembered were dear to me. And merely a week after I remembered, I had to lose the one I've grown to… to… Again, I really didn't know. Why was I even wondering about it? Sesshomaru… Sesshomaru doesn't like me that way. He… He left me, with my friends, just like that. Just like that other time. He just… left.
"Remember, Kagome." My eyes widened, still looking at the ground. A breeze swept passed me. "Remember tomorrow."
My head snapped up. No one was in front of me. But, as I turned my head, I saw a figure with long, lilac hair walking away. Lilac hair. "A-Aaya-chan?" I yelled, about to go after the person slowly getting further and further away from me.
"Hey, Kagome-chan." I stopped mid-step to see Souta in front of the gates, grinning at me. When did he get there? Now that I was paying attention, I saw that it was lunch already. People were outside, chatting, talking, eating. When did that happen? "Is that my lunch?" he asked, pointing to the box in my hands.
"Y-Yeah," I replied, breaking from my stupor. I handed it to him through the bars. My hands were slightly trembling. "Don't forget it next time, 'kay squirt?" I asked teasingly, a small smile on my face as I tried to make it believable.
He scowled. "You can't call me that anymore, Kagome," he said. "I'm nearly as tall as you!"
I gave a rather convincing snort. "You're a freshman, Souta," I reminded him. "You're still short." I glanced towards the pathway again, realizing she was gone. My heart sped up. "Anyway, I'll see you later. Have fun at school!" I waved then took off.
As I ran, I couldn't hear my brother's incredulous "Hey!" All I knew was that person who just passed me was Aaya. Who else in Japan had lilac hair? Her sister, yes, but her shade is darker than that. "Aaya-chan!" I yelled, looking around as I ran. I couldn't find her anywhere. Like Takkako, she had disappeared. People I passed stared after me, confusion written on their faces. I didn't care. I needed to find her. I needed to. Tears gathered in my eyes. Why was I so desperate, to communicate with someone I knew from the feudal era?
"Aaya-chan!" I yelled again, to the same result. Stopping, and panting for breath, my eyes skimmed the new neighbourhood for a tall woman with odd coloured hair. I couldn't see anyone like that. With a sigh, I straightened my shoulders and walked normally, trying to look as if I hadn't been running around town like a maniac. Again, the people who saw me yell gave me odd looks but I brushed them off. It was quite easy, since people always gave me odd looks in the feudal era.
As I began my walk home, I wondered what she meant, tomorrow. What was happening tomorrow? I don't believe anything special was going on tomorrow. Another puzzle. At least, now, I knew it wasn't a coincidence. First Takkako and now Aaya? And both of them giving me subtle hints? Hints to what?
With another sigh (I seemed to be doing that a lot lately) I tried to tame my beating heart. Even though those two had appeared, what did it all mean?
Three days passed with no excitement, with no events worth taking notice. It was weird. Most of the days, I'll be helping other people. Why? So I can tell myself that I have a duty here. A duty to other people in my time. But… But what about the duty to myself? Whenever I had time alone, I'd do… nothing. I had… nothing to live for. For me. Every day was a bore. Nothing excited me anymore. Why… Why is that?
"Kagome, can you do the cooking for a couple of minutes?" mama called from the kitchen. "I need to get the phone!"
Sure enough, the phone was ringing. Finally glad to have something to do and not just sit here pondering, I ran down the stairs and quickly took over my mother's job in stirring the fried rice as she went to answer the phone. Humming to myself as the rice sizzled, my stomach grumbled. I guess I was kind of hungry.
Looking out through the kitchen windows, the rain clouds have, indeed, rolled right above us. And they looked heavy too, like a really bad storm. As I continued to mindlessly stir, I spied something else in the window. A girl was on the pathway, just standing there with her back to me. She had dark lilac hair.
"Thanks Kagome," mama said, taking the wooden spoon from my hand. "You can do whatever you want now."
"I'm going outside," I murmured, my eyes still glued to the girl.
"But it's going to rain, dear," my mother frowned.
But her warning was lost on me as I was already outside the door. A small wind swept through me and I shivered, only wearing a T-shirt and jogging pants. Nevertheless, I ran down the shrine steps, two at a time, and reached the pathway. The girl still stood there, her back to me. "Sekiko-chan?" I asked quietly, walking closer. But the second I took that step, she bolted.
"Sekiko-chan!" I yelled, running after. The girl was quick though. Faster than me. No surprise there since she was a demon. "Sekiko-chan, wait!" I called, panting slightly. No one was out, knowing about the rain that was due any moment.
And yet, she continued to run as if she hadn't heard me. I was quickly losing her. She turned a corner and it took me ten seconds to get there. I stopped and looked around, taking deep breaths as I tried to regain some oxygen. Where was she? My heart sped up once more when I saw her standing, her back to me. Was she waiting? But then she started to run again and I was forced to follow her. Where was she taking me?
I had no idea where we were going. I couldn't recognize any landmarks. But she continued to run, waiting whenever I fell too far behind, before running again. We twisted through blocks, ran across empty roads and went passed unfamiliar buildings. I haven't been through this town before and I was scared I might get lost when it started to rain.
"Sekiko-chan!" I panted, tired and exhausted. I hadn't ran this much since the feudal era. "Wait…" But she didn't wait. She continued on her way, stopping only when I was too far away. She turned a corner and it took me awhile to get there, turning also. But the moment I saw what was beyond, I stopped in my tracks.
Looking from side to side, I didn't see her anywhere. She was gone. It was then I knew that this was the place she was leading me to. The graveyard of the city. Taking in deep, calming breaths, I walked forward and crossed the road towards it. Oddly enough, the metal, rusty gates were slightly open and I managed to squeeze myself through, scraping myself slightly. Above, the rain clouds continued to roll and the breeze picked up. Why would Sekiko lead me to a graveyard?
I walked through the numerous of gravestones, finding nothing familiar about them. Even so, the atmosphere in which the dead slept was eerie, making my skin crawl. Holding my arms to protect them from the dropping temperature, I strolled through the area, the tall, unkempt grass rough and dry. Some of the tombstones looked so old, the stone chipped and moss growing upon it. The feeling in the air, the intensity of the atmosphere, didn't abide well with me. I never liked graveyards.
My feet took me to a particular stone, one that I haven't visited in ages. Kneeling down, I fondly brushed away the grass that hid the name engraved from view.
"Hey, papa," I whispered quietly. "Sorry your daughter hasn't been visiting lately," I apologized, stroking the wearing stone gently. But I did spy the days old flowers by its stone. Mama, unlike me, had continued the ritual in seeing our deceased family member.
My eyes then caught the sight of blue. Standing up, I walked towards a small stone that seemed to separate from the others, what was left of the ancient forest hundreds of years ago behind it. My heart rate sped up, seeing the beautiful wild blue flowers dancing around it with the wind. Stepping closer, I realized that someone had planted those blue flowers around the grave. It meant that, every spring, these flowers would bloom all through summer until autumn comes. Kneeling in front of the tombstone, my breath hitched in my throat. Only one word was engraved into the old, chipped stone.
These blue flowers… They were the same type of wild flower that I had placed on this very same grave. Beside this stone was another stone, one that didn't look as old but was still worn and chipped. Tears gathered in my eyes as I read the beautifully engraved kanji.
Still kneeling down, I began to cry. And as I did, so did the skies. It pelted down, first gently, but then grew angry as it assaulted the earth. I continued to kneel there, too engrossed in the past to care. Too enveloped in my memories to care that I was beginning to soak. Too pained to care that the cold, relentless rain was making my skin numb. All I did was cry.
I don't get it. Why would it make me so sad? Why was the aching within my chest so painful? I thought I was over it. More tears slid down. No. I wasn't over it. Every single time I had time to think, my thoughts would wander to those of the past. They would replay every memory, happy and sad, only to dig the hole in my heart deeper and deeper. Why can't I just move on? I couldn't… I just couldn't…
I was so happy, so excited, when I saw those three demons. My heart had skipped a beat, something it hadn't done for a long, long time. They were able to ignite life within me, make me feel alive. And… And those three were from five hundred years ago.
Why was I… Why was I still hung up on the past?
Suddenly, I didn't feel the rain pelting on me anymore. It rained in front of me, around me, but not on me. I could still hear the harsh pitter-patter the large raindrops made as it ungraciously hit the ground. And yet, I heard the very same drops hitting plastic, a plastic that protected me from the freezing rain.
"I once found you like this," a smooth, deep voice spoke. My eyes, still crying, stared at the ground beneath me, my body unable to move to my wishes. "Broken, shattered." The voice was so elegant, so silky; it rolled into my ears like a caressing breeze. The voice, so serene, spoke louder than the wind around us, louder than the unyielding rain. "Unable to move on." And yet, this voice that calmed my very soul was cold, emotionless. But I knew. I knew that this voice was more alive than any other. "Crying, in the rain." His words made me recall those memories again, forcing the tears out faster as I relived my past. "You have regained what you sought after for so long." Why won't my tears stop? Why can't I stop the ice, prickling in my heart? Why must this voice, calm and placid, evoke the pain within my chest? "And yet, after all that, you've forgotten how to create more."
Finally, as if his last words snapped a spell, I was able to move. And yet, why were my movements so reluctant? Still kneeling, I turned my head, staring up into those golden eyes that I so dearly missed. That silver hair, long and silky, swayed uncurling with the wind. His masculine jaw, his majestic face, made my heart lurch. His clothing, no longer the silky white, yellow and gray, were business-like, black and white. Nevertheless, it did not dampen his masculine body or the way he so proudly portrayed himself. Although, I couldn't help but notice that his dangerous, impassive face no longer held the beautiful markings of his family. The skin was smooth; no trace of the blue crescent moon or the magenta stripes that empathized the mystery in which surrounded his very being. And when he stared down at me with such intensity, I could've sworn my heart stopped beating.
"Sesshomaru…" A hand then reached out to me. My teary eyes widened even more. "You have… two arms…" I whispered, staring at the hand that was not there five hundred years ago as the other held the umbrella protecting us from the raging rain. He said nothing, his hand still outstretched as he stared down at me unwavering. Slowly, I accepted the hand, my own hand freezing and trembling. My heart fluttered in delight as his bigger, warmer, hand enveloped mine and gracefully lifted me off the ground.
What was there to say as we stared into each other's eyes, my heart calling out to his and my soul unknowingly reaching out to touch his own? What was there to say as our hands were still linked, his gorgeous eyes staring deeply into my own with a foreign expression, an emotion which caused my heart to leap? What was there to say when I had so many questions, so many inquires, so many things to say to the powerful demon before me, his aura and youki hidden? What was I to say when I feared the feelings he elicited, when I was angry that he left me, when I wanted to scream into his face for not saying goodbye sooner, for not letting me find him, for not returning to my side? What was I to say when I missed him more than he could ever imagine, when I wanted to hold him and to never let go again? What was I to say when I wanted to cry on his shoulder and let him soothe my fears away, protect me from the dangers that assaulted my heart and soul every single time I mourned for the loss a year ago? What was I to say?
Finally, he let go of my hand and I immediately missed the warmth that was given to me. His eyes hardened as he stared at me and, for the first time, I felt his anger, slightly seeping through the illusion he cast upon himself, touching my own aura. "I did not wish to see you," he said coldly, his tone not changing since the last time I heard it. And that last time was when he turned his back on me and uncaringly threw my words back into my face. I could hear my heart crack.
"Then… Then why did you come here?" I asked quietly, my voice barely heard above the angry rain. I was soaked to the bone, my clothes clinging to me and my hair slightly matted as it clung to my skin. My tears still fell. I must look so distasteful in his eyes. My tears fell faster. No wonder he didn't want to see me. I was merely a human female, living a simple life, and he was a powerful demon, no doubt in the position of great power. I felt like a fool for ever believing that he may be fond of me.
"The meddling of some employees," he stated icily, his hard gaze still on me.
I felt like dying. Those three… They must have set this up. It hurt even more that Sesshomaru didn't even want to see me. With effort, I buried by sadness, my regret, my shame, and dug up my anger, my spite, the fury that emerged because of the one in front of me.
"That's no excuse if you didn't want to see me in the first place," I spat angrily, forcing my teary eyes to narrow. Just bury the pain, Kagome. Hide it behind fiery walls and impassive barbs. "You could've just left me here, wallowing in self-pity," I sneered. The angry tone in my voice reflected how hurt I was. At least shouting at him was less painful to deal with, despite how minute. "And what made you believe I wanted to see you?" I asked him spitefully, my tears drying as I glared up at him. "I'm over it, Sesshomaru. I don't care anymore. I have moved on, I'm not broken or shattered and I certainly do know how to live." My words seemed to be more of like a demand; a demand for myself to believe it was true. "I don't care what you think of me anymore," I whispered quietly, the immense rage brimming in my tone. "You're dead to me."
No sooner did I find myself pressed against a tree, Sesshomaru's arm across my chest, keeping me in place as the other hand placed itself beside my head. The umbrella he was holding was now on the ground, being blown away with the wind as both he and I were rained upon. "And do you believe I, Sesshomaru, actually cares what you think of me?" he asked quietly. But I heard it. The rage within his tone as he glared right into my eyes. "Do you really believe that, after five hundred years, your opinion of me still matters?" Tears pricked my eyes as his harsh words continued to enter my ears and attack my heart. "Could you honestly say that a demon as powerful as I would even waste a passing thought as to what a mere mortal believes?" His illusion was being overpowered by the rage he couldn't control. His markings began to show upon his face as the youki I haven't felt in so long enveloped around me, my own aura meeting with it so it wouldn't completely consume me. "Because, if you believe that, then you are a fool."
But, for some reason, some odd, absurd reason, I believed he was lying. If that were true, why was he so angry? "Then why are you doing this?" I yelled into his face, only merely inches away from mine. "Let me go and I'll go away! Let me go and I won't ever, ever see you again." The rain around us was lost to my mind, all my attention on the person standing before me as my heart continued to break with every word that sprouted from my mouth. "Just let me leave and I promise that I, a pathetic, inferior, disgusting human wench, will never enter your life again!" I screamed furiously. But even that scream seemed to be subdued into a mere cry as my tears once again fell, blending with the cold, prickling rain.
"And do you believe I wish for something otherwise?" he asked coldly, his golden eyes lit aflame. "I never wanted to see you again after that day. Everything was how it should be. I wanted nothing more than to forget you completely." His voice was so icy, so emotionless. And I sensed no lie in his tone. It made my tears fall faster. Why were his words so painful? I didn't care. I didn't… I didn't care whether or not he… I just didn't… I didn't care…
"Let me go," I said quietly, unable to summon the energy my anger formed. "Just let me go," I whispered, unable to look into his eyes. It hurt so much. So much that it overpowered my anger, taking over my soul in a despairing song. "Onegai." I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to block out the pain I hadn't felt in so long. It was the pain of rejection. The pain of my hopes, crushed into unrecognizable bits. The pain of loneliness, the pain of despair. Only, it hadn't hurt so much before. "Leave me alone."
His arm left my chest as I felt one of his hands cup my cheek, forcing me to face him. My eyes opened reluctantly, staring deep into his raving, golden, beautiful orbs. "I want to let you go," he told me, his anger rolling off in waves. "I want to forget you." The rain was lost on us, despite the fact that we were soaked and the umbrella could no longer be seen. "I want you to leave my life, my thoughts, and never come back." My tears quickly fell. He hated me. I could see it in his eyes. His anger was suffocating, his youki almost crushing my aura. I wondered briefly why he hasn't killed me yet. "And yet, I also want you."
I gasped as his face quickly neared mine and captured my lips in a searing kiss. His tongue forcibly slid through my mouth, assaulting the inside in an angry fury. Placing my hands on his chest, I tried to push away. No. I couldn't let him do this. Inuyasha… What about Inuyasha? But he kept close, pressing himself against me as he viciously explored my mouth, placing a hand on my hip to keep me still and another by my head, successfully trapping me so I couldn't escape.
The hand beside my head suddenly grasped my wet, raven hair and pulled it back, angling it so the kiss went deeper. He was so close, the heat coming from his body almost making me melt. My fists weakly hit his chest in an effort to get him to pull back. I can't… I loved Inuyasha. But he merely held me tighter, not wanting to let go.
Finally, he pulled back. But his anger was still there, flaring in his youki as it still continued to drown me. "Do you know how badly I wanted to rid you of my life?" he asked, his tone furious as he glared into my eyes. I panted slightly, my lips slowly swelling from the fierce kiss. "Do you know how badly I wanted to stop thinking of you, every time I had a spare moment?" My heart continued to beat wildly. He still too close… "Five hundred years and yet, you still continued to haunt my dreams like a parasite."
Again he took my lips into his own, his tongue searching out for mine. And, almost unconsciously, my tongue met his in a fierce battle for dominance. I will not let him do this to me. He had no right to take me like this. I had only let Inuyasha… Inuyasha was the only one who could touch me like this, no one else. The anger came back as I pushed harder against his chest, trying to pull away. But he still wouldn't move and the hand that held my hair kept my head in place. My arms pressed against his chest as he continued to delve deeper inside me, pressing himself so close that my arms were the only barriers between my chest and his.
"My own father had mated a demon noblewoman," he growled as he pulled his face away from me. "And yet, he had the foolishness to claim another human wench." His eyes narrowed so angrily that I began to squirm slightly in extreme discomfort. "The action was the cause of my mother's death," he growled deeply. "She died because she couldn't live anymore. She became weak. She forgot how to live and died because she was too unwilling to fight off a demonic illness." The hatred seeped through his very aura, attacking my own. Inside, I felt a small prick of pain. "She loved my father. And my father loved a human bitch. Not only did I loathe humans because they were disgusting, inferior creatures, but because my father chose one over a beautiful demon, one that gave her very heart to him." He pressed himself closer, his claws slightly digging into my waist. "I loathed humans for that one reason. I loathed human women even more because they were the initial cause of my mother's death." His eyes narrowed. We couldn't feel the rain around us anymore. "And yet, why is it that I feel such things for a human wench when I loathe them like no other?" he snarled.
My heart was beating so fast that I thought it may explode, my anger forgotten when he spoke the secret tale of his family. He must have loved his mother, must have, for it to effect him so deeply. But… But that still didn't explain what his last sentence meant. "Then, if you loathe all humans, let me go," I whispered quietly, my voice barely heard by the pelting rain.
He gripped me harder. "I want to but I can't, you fool," he said impassively. He closed his eyes and took in a deep, soothing breath. Without another word spoken, he fully pulled away from me, stepping back a meter or so. I immediately touched my lips, my chest heaving deeply as my heart skipped almost painfully. If he couldn't let go, then why did he just do it? I was hurt, I was angry, but moreover, I was confused like nothing else.
I watched as he schooled his features, his facial expression once again neutral. "Sess…"
"Say nothing," he demanded, his tone once again controlled as his markings disappeared once more. The illusion began to set itself as his youki receded, almost nonexistent behind his spell. The rain continued, soaking us. I shivered, just realizing the cold without Sesshomaru's warmth.
Before I could say anything, he turned and began to walk away. The sight of his back, again, pulled at my chest. That was it? He was just going to leave? "Wait, Sesshomaru!" I called, running after him. But the rain got into my eyes and I had to wipe them away with the back of my hand. And when I looked up again, he was gone. "Wait… Sesshomaru…" I whispered into the cold, merciless wind and unrelenting rain. "Please don't leave me again..."
"Excuse me, is this seat taken?"
The man looked up, slightly startled, and shook his head. "Sorry," he mumbled, moving his bag off the seat and setting it between his legs.
"Thanks," I replied quietly, sitting down with the luggage on the floor. My three-month vacation was over and I had to go back to my university in Osaka. After the incident with Sesshomaru, I didn't see anyone related to my past again. For the first few weeks, I had tried to search for them, looking up Yellow Pages and on the Internet. But nothing seemed to work. So I just gave up, believing that if Sesshomaru really did want to see me again, he would have let me find him.
It still hurt, whenever I thought of him. And I was so very, very confused. Did he… Did he like me that way? If he did, though, I didn't know about my own feelings. I couldn't just forget about Inuyasha. In my heart, I still loved him. But, and I felt it, when I was with Sesshomaru, no matter how sad or angry, whenever he kissed me, that hole within my chest seemed to fade away, if only for a moment.
But it was too late now. That hole was still there and I would never know when it would go away. The person who had momentarily made me forget about my heartache was gone, not wanting me in his life. I was going away from Kyoto, off to Osaka for, this time, ten months. He would surely forget me by then and I shall, will, forget him too. It's no use holding onto him when he wants nothing more than to let me go.
The train started to move again and I watched the window opposite me, the scenery flying passed. The carriage was slightly empty, most faces once again hidden behind books or newspapers. Sighing, I wondered how my life would be now. I felt… felt so empty. Every single day I had to force a smile. My heart wouldn't quicken anymore. In fact, the only time it broke into a run, was when I encountered the four people from my past. I guess, since I'm not excited anymore, I was still hung up over what had happened during my times through the well.
The train stopped at a station and some people got up. I was looking down, on the floor, watching as feet walked passed me. But then someone dropped something onto the cold, train floors and my head snapped up. "Excuse me, miss, you dropped…"
My sentence hanged as Takkako looked back at me, smiling faintly. As predicted, my heart rate sped up. Before I could get over the initial shock, though, she was out of the train and the doors had closed behind her. When the train started moving again, I saw her outside the window, holding a novel in her hands and holding it up for me to see. The title was 'Tales of Transcending Time.'
And she was gone as the train cut her off from sight. With my eyes widened, I wondered what that book was about. Looking down, I inspected the item she seemed to purposely drop in front of me and my breath hitched in my throat. It was the pouch she made. The one she gave to me and the one I gave to Inuyasha only to give it to Shippo. Slowly, I picked the item up, carefully opening it and peering inside. Inside was an aged acorn along with a sheet of paper. Tears gathered in my eyes. That must have been Shippo's acorn.
Holding back the tears as I remembered the kitsune cub, I pulled out the white sheet of paper. On it was an address. Again my heart quickened. But it didn't say whose address it was. And yet, I wanted to go. If Takkako left this for me, whoever lived there must be important. It was merely another puzzle she had dropped.
Quickly standing up, I was relieved to see that I hadn't gone too far away from the address. When the train stopped at the next station, I hopped off, pulling my luggage behind me. Glancing at the address again, I wandered through the town to find a phone booth. Once I did find one, I went inside and took out the thick directory book from the shelf and flickered through it, trying to locate the place written on the piece of paper crumpled up in my fist.
When I found the location, I took out my notebook and copied the route messily, the directions vague. Once I was done, I snapped the book closed and quickly ran out, glancing at my notebook and taking off to find the address. For some reason, I was excited. Did this mean I was meeting up with my past again? It was an odd thought. I was only truly alive when I encounter those who were supposed to be dead. I gave a bitter smile. That was a rather strange and unhealthy way to live.
It took me awhile, since I was unfamiliar with the town and had to ask for directions when I was lost, but I finally arrived. It was in a rich, tall building and I had to crane my neck up to see the top floor. The entire building looked classy, the outside silver. When I went inside, the ceiling had chandeliers that sparkled and shined in a beautiful golden colour. The carpet was a bloody red and the walls were painted cream. Even the lounge chairs looked expensive. I suddenly felt out of place with my gray shirt and plain, blue jeans. Even my bag looked ancient compared to all the new things here.
"Excuse me, miss, are you in need for anything?"
I turned to look at the receptionist who realized, and I was embarrassed to admit, that I was gawking around like a complete simpleton. "N-No," I stuttered, giving him a nervous smile. "I'm fine. I just came to visit a friend of mine here," I told him. Well, I didn't know about the friend bit. I still didn't know who I was going to. But, deep inside me, I had a feeling this was where Sesshomaru lived. I mean, who else could live in such a posh place other than the taiyoukai himself?
The receptionist nodded skeptically but he still gave me a smile. "Do you know what room number?" he asked politely.
I glanced at the sheet of paper in my hands again. "Yeah, I know it," I nodded. "Where are the lifts?" He pointed to the lifts at the far side of the room. Even the doors were painted gold! "Thanks," I muttered before I hastily walked towards it. Once I was inside and the doors closed with a soft 'ping', I glanced at the floor numbers. On the sheet of paper, it said that it was on floor 70. Floor 70 was the top floor. Stuffing down the bile that rose to my throat, I shakily pressed the button. Smoothly, the lift rose as I nervously tucked a stray hair behind my ear. I didn't know why I was going there. I was compelled to. But, if it really was Sesshomaru, what would I say?
Before I knew it, the doors were open. Slowly, I stepped out and the lifts closed the doors and went down. It was quiet here, the carpeted floors a dark blue and the walls a smooth creamy colour. There was only one door here. I should've figured that Sesshomaru would live in a penthouse.
With small, unsure steps, I walked up to the brown, wooden door. Why was I so nervous all of a sudden? It could be someone else other than Sesshomaru. But what if it is? We didn't exactly part way as friends. But what if he didn't want me? I almost scoffed. Of course he didn't want me. Before I knew it, I was in front of the doors. So, if he didn't want me, why was I here? I should be on a train right now, going to Osaka and leaving all these memories behind. If I knew he didn't want me here, why was I still in front of his door, waiting, standing like a doll in a stupor? Why couldn't I move my legs to run out of here? Why couldn't I just lift up my hand and knock on the door, seeing him one final time before I leave his life forever?
I knew the answer to that. I was afraid. I was afraid that I will leave his life forever. That he will leave my life forever.
My courage leaving me, shameful tears in my eyes, I clenched my fists and turned to leave.
And that was when I heard the door opening.
I froze mid-turn and I slowly turned back around to face him. He stood there, markings invisible on his face, as he stared at me through cold and calm eyes. How could he have known I was here, if I didn't knock? That was a simple answer to an idiotic question: he must have sensed me. But even so, why would he open the door when he knew I was about to leave?
"H-Hey," I greeted, unable to meet his eye. "Um, well…" I gulped. "I'm sorry," I said quickly, lowering my head. "T-Takkako-san, she gave me this address and, ah, I thought I should come here. But you obviously don't want me here so I'll be going now," I stated rapidly, turning around and fully intending to run.
But before I could, he snatched my wrist. "This was not the act of a meddling wench," he said impassively. "She was told to do this."
Turning back to face him, my heart running like a horse, I let him lead me into his apartment, mindlessly pulling my luggage behind me. Once I was inside, I heard him close the door behind us. Stock still, I only allowed my eyes to take in Sesshomaru's home. I was quite surprised when I saw nothing extraordinary. It was like a normal, albeit expensive, home, with chairs, tables, a television, a couch, a kitchen and all those ordinary things. For some reason, I didn't think anything belonging to Sesshomaru could be… ordinary. He even wore ordinary clothes.
"Nice home," I managed to say without stuttering. "Do you own it?"
"I own the entire building," he informed from behind me. I stiffened greatly when I felt his arms wind around my waist. "And more," he added quietly, his breath upon my ear, making me visibly shiver.
Shaking my head, I turned to face him. And yet, his hands did not leave my waist. "What do you want?" I asked, my voice more clipped than I previously intended. "If you were the one who sent Takkako-san to give me your address, you must want something from me."
He continued to stare emotionlessly down at me. "Indeed, I do," he replied calmly. He began to walk forward, forcing me to walk back. I wasn't entirely surprised when I pressed against the wall. "For five hundred years I've waited," he told me, his golden eyes cast into mine. "Five hundred years of pondering, reflecting, on many, many things." His cheek brushed against mine gently. "And in those thoughts, I've come to realize how incredibly stupid you were," he whispered against my ear.
And I felt rather stupid for believing he was going to say something romantic too. "Excuse me?" I asked through clenched teeth, my anger rising. "If that's all you have to say, I'll be on my way," I demanded.
I felt the slow rise of his youki as he steadily dispelled his illusion. "Don't you want to know the reason why I believe you were so senseless?" he asked, pulling back. I saw the markings upon his face slowly reappear as the familiar feel of his youki and aura brushed against the miko inside of me. Since the day I returned to this world for the final time, I had no more use for the hidden purity inside me. It felt… good to be able to release it again when there was a youkai threat. Although, Sesshomaru was no threat anymore. In the future, we had laws, and since he was a person high in authority, I doubt he wanted that to change. I could have my say without the threat of my life ending the minute I opened my mouth.
"Enlighten me," I replied dryly, despite the fact that our interaction was causing my heart to pound gleefully.
"First off, you were stupid enough to be pulled into a well by a centipede demon," he listed smoothly. "Then you went and broke that damnable jewel, creating all the troubles people, including yourself, had. Afterwards, you had the idiocy to keep your defiance when you were captured by Naraku. Later on, you had the simplicity of a rock when you dared defy me." His anger spiked. "And then you had the absurdity to walk up to my true demon form, resulting in your true death," he growled, glaring at me. "What pressed you to do something that would make others believe you had a mental disability? Why did you approach me when I was injured, ready for blood to be spilt, fully knowing that you will, had, died?" His eyes flashed. "What made you so certain that I would come and save you from death's gate?"
The fact that he knew I was dragged down into the well by a centipede youkai, when he shouldn't have known in the first place, was lost on me. I was too angry at the other things he said. "Don't call me stupid just because of that!" I yelled at him furiously. "I was worried about you, okay? Is that a crime?" I asked defiantly. "I didn't see you for an entire day and then I see Inuyasha and the others entering the village, almost dead! Of course I'd be worried about you, especially since you didn't come back." I glared right back at him. "I just didn't know what to do," I confessed angrily. "You were going wacko and you were about to kill Kikyo!" I gave a deep breath, collecting my thoughts. "But then, when you fell over, I saw the pain in your eyes," I said quietly, calmer now. "I just… I wanted to stop the pain. Somehow, I wanted you to stop hurting." Staring deep into his golden eyes, I smiled faintly. "I was just scared… that I was going to lose you."
He paused for a bit and I had to wonder if he merely brushed off those words or actually listened to them. "But you still died," he informed me needlessly. Again his eyes narrowed. "Did you intend to die?" he asked coldly.
Still smiling faintly, I told him, "Don't you remember? You said that I needed to trust you," I reminded. "And I trusted that you would keep me safe. And I am. Sure, I died, but you saved me, didn't you? I'm still here, alive and breathing."
He shook his head slightly. "Your foolishness knows no bounds," he stated calmly. But I could see the faintest hints of… dare I say… a smile. But it was hard to say since the next time he looked at me, his expression was controlled again. But something was different. His eyes were more intense and his lips were thinner than usual. "Tell me, Kagome, are you mad at me?" he asked suddenly.
My eyes widened. "Why would I be--"
His finger silenced me, placing itself gently on my lips. "Think, Kagome," he said quietly. "What questions do you have? Are you angry about something I've done?" He continued to stare and the ache in my chest grew. "Or was I perfect?" he asked unexpectedly, his tone suddenly lighter. "Everything I did, everything I said, was justified and to your satisfaction. What right do you have to be angry?" he asked impassively. "Indeed. I did nothing wrong. If you are angry, then it mustn't be something important or worth taking notice of. And since you can't think of anything you'd like to question me about, I suppose everything that happened was to your liking, correct?" he asked, lifting his eyebrow.
Right after he changed the course of the question so unexpectedly, my fists were clenched to my sides in rage. "What do you mean you were perfect?" I asked furiously, glaring up at him. "You were definitely not perfect! You belittled me, scorned me, threatened me; you even tried to kill me!" I yelled. "And that didn't even compare to what you did…" Forcing the tears back, I told him. I told him what he did to hurt me so much. "You left me," I whispered. "You left me twice. How can do you that?" I asked hurtfully. "The first time, I thought you understood how I felt. I mean, I told you. But then… when I got back my memories… you left me again." I looked away. "I felt… I felt as if, now that I remembered, you didn't want me anymore," I whispered sadly. "That you only stayed with me and protected me… because I didn't remember. Not because… Not because I was me." There. It was off my chest. And once it was, I sighed deeply, readying myself for the stupid-human-why-would-I-even-care-about-you-in-the-first-place speech.
What I didn't expect, though, was what he said next. "I apologize." My head snapped up and I stared at him as if he grew a second head, believing he was jesting. But he wasn't. He stared at me with such seriousness that the pain in my chest slowly faded away. "Back then, I was rather ignorant," he stated expressionlessly. "I was bitter and scornful. I had believed that, once you remembered my half-brother, you would no longer be needing me." His face neared. "Are you still angry with me?" he asked, his voice uncharacteristically soft.
Conscious of the closeness, a blush smeared my cheeks. "N-No," I stuttered nervously.
"Good," he murmured. "Because I am no longer angry at you for making me wait five hundred years."
Again, he captured my lips in a kiss. But this time, it was not hard or forceful. It was not angry or demanding. It was soft and patient. Gentle yet passionate. It spoke far more than anything he could ever say. I couldn't help but open myself up to him as he slid his tongue inside and soothingly stroked my own tongue in a light message. This time, I didn't try and push him away. I merely placed my hands on his shoulders and let his experienced tongue guide my own in its own little dance. A part of me resented his touch, still clinging to Inuyasha.
But… But for the first time in a year, that gaping hole within my heart began to swell. And… And I wanted it to be filled again.
When he pulled away, my face was flushed and my breaths came in a slow, deep rhythm. All on its own, my arms found their way around him and, with a sigh, embraced him. "Thank you, Sesshomaru," I whispered against his chest. It gave me butterflies when his two arms wrapped themselves around me in return. "For everything you've done. Thank you."
And I started to silently cry.
"Come," he said, a gentleness in his tone I've never heard before. Wordlessly, he grabbed my wrist and pulled be through his apartment. And as my eyes skimmed over the desks, a picture caught my attention. A worn picture, the ink so faded that I barely recognized it. But I knew what was on it, I knew who drew it. After all, I had seen it before.
"Rin…" I suddenly asked, my heart trembling.
I felt him stiffen and his grip on my wrist slightly tightened. "She grew up, married a human man, had four children and died of old age," he said emotionlessly. If I were anyone else, I would have yelled at him, screaming that he was a monster for not caring enough to even sound as if it bothered him that the girl, who looked up to him as a father, was dead. But I wasn't anyone else. I knew it had hurt him when Rin had passed away. After all, it hurt me and I didn't know her for as long as Sesshomaru did. I didn't watch her grow old and bony as I stayed the same, forever in my prime.
"Where are we going?" I asked quietly, switching the subject. If Rin had a happy life, and I'm sure she had for Sesshomaru would never have allowed otherwise, then I will be happy for her.
He said nothing and, finally stopping in front of a table, let go of my wrist. He picked something up and turned to face me, handing me a book. With a puzzled expression, I took the book off of him, wiping my tears away first. 'Tales of Transcending Time'. "What is this book?" I asked, completely confused. Why would Sesshomaru show me a fiction book at this time?
"I thought it would be a shame if your memory was forgotten by others," he answered impassively, reading my reaction. "I was sure that you wouldn't want others to forget what you have done. Nor stay ignorant of the past's true history."
My eyes widened. Was this… Was this what I think it was? "B-But it's a fiction book," I stuttered, staring at the novel. I looked up at him. "No body will believe it."
"It does not matter if they believe the story or not," he said, gently taking the book from me. "All that matters is that it's remembered by at least one person."
Against my wishes, my tears fell once more. "I still remember, and so do you," I told him quietly.
His gaze still upon me, he reached out and stroked my cheek, wiping the crusading tears with his thumb. "I remember, yes," he agreed. "But you do not. Instead of remembering, you are reliving." He continued to stroke me, a tenderness I thought I'd never feel from a hand that killed so many. "I had watched you, when you returned for the final time," he spoke. "And I had watched what you did to overcome that grief. And yet, after more than a year, you were still battling, still glazed in the life you led as you continued to dwell in the past."
And in my heart, I knew it was true. "I watched as you studied, earned that scholarship, went to university. And yet, you were so lifeless. You cried yourself to sleep. You ignored other people's attempts to keep you alive. You would not allow yourself to move on. Even though your memories returned, you failed to make new ones worth having." He paused and my tears fell faster, the ache in my chest growing. "You cannot lie to me," he continued. "When you saw those from five hundred years ago, that was one of the very, very few times in which you grew excited, in which your heart leapt. Tell me, Kagome, when was another time you felt like that after your return to this timeline?"
"There was no other time," I replied quietly.
He nodded. "Correct. Because your past was returned to you, you were so preoccupied by those memories that you could not remember tomorrow." Remember tomorrow. That's what Aaya had said. They all knew. They all did. "I want you to live now, Kagome. I don't want you to remember. I want you to live," he told me, leaning down to gently kiss my forehead. "Live for tomorrow and finally accept the past."
I embraced him, silently crying on his shoulder. Not because of sadness. Not because of despair. But because of relief. Because of hope for what the future held. "Thank you, Sesshomaru," I cried sincerely, my hold tightening on him. "Thank you. Thank you."
Feeling his claws rake through my hair, his other hand soothingly rubbed my back.
This Sesshomaru I was going to have to get used to. But I was definitely not complaining.
Again, this demon has helped me find my way. First, it was when I couldn't remember. The second time was when all my hopes were shattered. Third was when the words he spoke were the keys in which I needed to unlock the chest that held my past. The fourth was he, himself, slowly filling the gap within my chest and mending the wounds I kept hidden. And, finally, he was the person who helped me find the future I couldn't see, the future in which the very essence of memories was made of.
Memories may be the past but how could memories be created if there is no future worthy enough to become one?
I haven't been truly living for the past year.
But… But Sesshomaru was with me now.
He could create new memories with me, by my side.
And, perhaps, there may be a sequel to that book of his.
"Sesshomaru…" I murmured against his shoulder, my eyes closed as I willingly let my lips tell him what I truly felt, tell him what my heart truly believed… "You're such a stalker."
'Memories worth remembering are the times you cannot replace
Because they are unique, you must not recreate them
Do not relive your history when your future must be written
Do not become your Memory's Shadow.'