This story has been a very long time in the making and I'm deeply attached to it. I began writing it to the challenge theme "Insatiable," struggled with it endlessly, and finally found the inspiration I needed to finish it right for the theme "Time." I'm very proud of it and I hope you all enjoy.
Warnings: Contains heavy angst and character death (...sort of). But I consider to have a happy ending (at least for our couple). Also, potentially it might come across as having semi-religious undertones, but it's just a story. Interpret things as you will.
The stained glass windows were dark; even with the moon bright and full outside, only a shadowy, bluish light managed to get through them. The dark didn't bother Sesshoumaru, though, as he shut the heavy oak doors behind him. His eyes shone like pale lanterns in the gloom of the church.
He had never been in a church before, but he unerringly moved straight down the aisle, past the rows of benches, and stepped into the confessional. He shut the door behind him again.
There was a small bench in the chamber, but he decided to remain standing.
The screen before him was dark and empty, like looking into the eyes of a skull. There was no priest behind it; which is precisely why Sesshoumaru had chosen to break into a church in the dead of night, instead of attending during the day, when the humans would be present. Sesshoumaru saw no need to involve a priest in this business. He would not speak through a human intermediate. He would speak directly to the source, in its own house.
"To whom it may concern," he began, in a brisk voice, "be you god, or gods, or something else entirely." His mouth twisted in a tiny smile. "The 'powers that be,' as Kagome always liked to put it." The smile turned bitter and then vanished. "I am not here to confess. I have a great many sins, but I am sure you are aware of them, and there are far too many to list in just one night—or even a year of nights. No. Think of this as merely a courtesy call."
He stared for a moment at the empty screen, his gold eyes searching the darkness. Folding his hands in front of him, he continued. "I am not a good man. Or at least, I have not always been one," he said. "Not before her. But I have been honorable. I have killed only when there was reason, and I have given respect to those who deserve it." He ran his hand over the dark cherry wood. His voice dropped to a quiet murmur, like he was speaking half to himself. "And, after today, I will have kept all my promises."
The demon lord hung his head and fell silent, studying the dark before him. The church's vaulted ceiling, which should have amplified sound, seemed to dampen it. Whispers of memory ghosted around him in perfect silence.
"I have been given an entire lifetime with her," he said finally, straightening. "Her lifetime. Not mine." The demon drew a slow, shuddering breath. "Her beautiful, brief lifetime. And I am grateful for it. I am. Out of all my many centuries, all my endless lifetimes, my years with her are the only ones to ever have brought me joy."
His claws clicked against the wood paneling. "But I am a selfish man," he added in a low voice. "I know I have done nothing to deserve those years. I know, also, that there are many who would say I should take my happy memories and be happy with them. And I do not care." The crack sliced through the empty church like a sharpened blade; the wood was splintering beneath his claws.
"It is not enough." His claws dug deeper, fingers clenching and gouging. His voice dropped to a raw hiss. "It is not enough."
The words seemed to cut loose an invisible tether and he began to pace the chamber like a caged wolf. His eyes flashed red in the dark; a snarl halfway escaped his throat.
The words echoed around him and inside him and through him, deafening. The words burned him and drowned him.
They were the same words he had said, once before, so very long ago, at a woman's deathbed. On the day that he made his promise.
She had been old, then, so old for a human—but so young. So very young. She wasn't even a century old and her body had crippled and withered around her, trapping her vibrant, fiery heart inside it. It was inconceivable to him. He could not understand how it was that her spirit had stayed young and the rest of her hadn't, while his body hadn't aged a day but his heart was suddenly as old as the mountains, old as dust, old as a dying sun.
Earlier that day she had died in her sleep, in their bed, beside him.
Sesshoumaru awoke the moment her heart stopped. Somehow, he was already howling, and he howled as he drew his father's sword, howled as he ran it through her chest, howled on and on and on as she gasped to life. He did not stop until she held him still with leathery hands and kissed him.
He returned it with the fervor of a dying man.
He had brushed kisses across every inch of her. Pressed his ear to her naked chest and moaned at the sound of her beating heart. Made love to her old woman's body, tenderly and slowly, with an exquisite gentleness that none save her would ever know he had.
And then, together, they had waited for the end.
The sword could make her heart start but it couldn't make it young again. It was made for reversing death, not time. And even death, it could only cheat once.
The entire time he never let her go; never took his eyes off her. She was so beautiful. She seemed to grow more and more beautiful with every day, with each passing moment. It awed him. He could see her pulse flutter under her pale papery skin and he could hear every raspy breath drag through her lungs, and it was so achingly, wretchedly beautiful.
He tried to tell her this. The words tumbled out of his mouth, halting and desperate.
It made her smile, which made him cry.
He wanted to beg her to let him take this journey with her, but she had made him promise, many years before, that when her time came he would take no action against himself. Even though he thought that she might now relent, he would not ask, for even if she did he could not do it: He would not break a promise to her. Ever.
"Shush," she said to him, brushing the wetness off his face. "I'm not afraid. Really." A weathered smile. "I married the great and terrible Lord of the West. Nothing can scare me."
Kagome was always doing that. Making jokes. Trying to find ways to lighten his thoughts, keep him afloat. "I'm so lucky," she would always joke when they elicited stares in some village, "all the other old ladies are jealous that I've got such a hottie with me." Conspiratorial wink. "Sometimes I don't know which of us is robbing the cradle."
He loved her terrible sense of humor.
Her smile slowly faded. "Please don't be sad." She held his face with frail hands. "That's a stupid thing to ask, I know, but I…please. I can't handle this if you're sad."
He saw the beginnings of tears in her eyes and realized the same was true of himself, so he gathered her to him tighter and rested his chin on her head so neither of them would see each other cry.
"I have only one regret," she murmured, and his neck grew wet where she burrowed her face into it. "That I'm leaving you all alone. I'm so sorry, Sesshoumaru. I'm so, so sorry."
Sesshoumaru stiffened and immediately held her by the shoulders at arms-length, looking steadily into her eyes. "Do not apologize."
She smiled sadly. "But dying is so easy. It's putting you through this that hurts." She closed her eyes. "I'm sorry that—"
"No," he repeated, sterner. She was not allowed to apologize for things she couldn't help. Not now. No. "You will not feel sorry."
She gave him the same affectionate, exasperated look she had been giving him for the last sixty odd years. It didn't matter that there were wrinkles now that there weren't before; it was the same one.
He loved that look. He loved that look so much it hurt.
"Just because you say something doesn't make it so," she said quietly.
Sesshoumaru frowned. "Yes it does."
Then she laughed, and he was so entranced he couldn't speak anymore. So he just held her.
It was hours before he broke the silence and spoke again.
"I will find you in the future."
The old woman in his arms had been half-dozing but she snapped awake at once, clutching at him.
"Sesshoumaru, no. You can't. We've been through this. If you meet me in the future and change things, then none of this will happen." She held his face again, pleading with her eyes for him to understand. "I don't want to undo what we have had here together. And if you change things…there will be paradox. Chaos. You will break time."
"This Sesshoumaru will not allow anything to be undone. Nor will I allow paradox."
She shook her head. "There would be too many overlapping timelines. You would have to bend the laws of reality."
"Then I will bend them."
Kagome was quiet for a long time. "Sesshoumaru," she said finally, in a low, gentle voice, "even if it worked—even if you didn't cause paradox and were to live with me in the future; even if I somehow remembered all this—I would still grow old and die again. You would have two lifetimes with me instead of one, but it will be the same in the end. Would it really be enough?"
"No. It is not enough." He shut his eyes, pained. "Two lifetimes is not enough. Ten lifetimes is not enough. Nothing less than forever will be enough." His eyes flashed red when he opened them. "When I find you, I will not allow time's touch to harm you again." And then: "This I promise you."
Kagome went very still at those words.
"Don't promise the impossible, Sesshoumaru," she whispered.
"This Sesshoumaru will do all these things," he repeated fervently. "This I vow."
Kagome stared at him, searching his eyes long and hard. And then she gave a small, sharp nod.
Saying something didn't make it so, but when he made a promise to her…it did. It became a truth, a fact. It was as though it were already done; reality just hadn't caught up with the changes. Yet.
Because one way or another, she knew, it would be done. Even if he had to take apart heaven and earth to do it.
"I lied," she confessed quietly after a minute. She rested her head against his chest. "I was just a little afraid. Only a little, of course."
His eyes glowed warmly.
She curled into his embrace. "But I'm not any more."
She soon fell asleep against him. Breathing shallowly.
Not long after that, time caught up to his little time traveler at last.
Sesshoumaru buried her inside a white pearl, which he put inside his own eye, so that even in death no one could harm her. The left eye—the same side his severed arm had been on—to symbolize that a part of him was now missing. That he was no longer whole.
And he carried her inside him through the long, long centuries. Drowning in the memories of a single perfect lifetime that was now over.
And for many of those years, he was mad.
His need for her was something unquenchable. Insatiable. Not one ember in his fire for her had died, not in five hundred years—if anything it had grown hotter, an inferno that blazed through him. Consumed him. It was a wildfire. A white-hot sun burning under his skin.
There was only one thread of sanity strung through his madness:
He had a promise to keep.
And once he did, he could hold her again. Touch her again. And she would be his, forever.
He knew to get her back he would have to defy the laws of reality. If not rewrite them entirely. But reality had it coming anyway, for having let her die in the first place.
And as for time?
He would make time give her back, and then, he would never let it near her again. If it got destroyed a little in the process then so be it. Time was his enemy. And Sesshoumaru took great, great pleasure in beheading his enemies.
So he spent his centuries hunting for a way to make the impossible possible. Planning. Preparing.
Waiting for just the right moment.
And here he was.
Sesshoumaru stared at the demolished wall, his acid hissing loudly in the silence of the church as the fragments from the hole he made began to dissolve. The sound brought him out of his memories and he shook his head, his thoughts returning to the present. To his current conversation. Slowly he smiled.
"There is another possibility that never occurred to Kagome," he continued at last. "That I am meant to do this. That this was supposed to happen all along." He shrugged his shoulders slightly. "But regardless of whether or not I am meant to, I will. As I said before, this is a courtesy call. I am not here to ask permission. I am not here to lay blame, in the way that mortals do. I am merely here to apologize for what I am about to do," he said. His lips turned up in a slow, wry smile. "Though I am not sorry."
He paused. Then gazed evenly into the screen. "Understand that this isn't personal. I am not displeased with Creation as it is; on the contrary, it is simply that I am especially pleased with one creation in particular. But I am a fair man. If you do not approve of what is about to happen, I give you the chance now to strike me down. Though I warn you to not be surprised when I strike back. I will take your silence as approval."
The empty church was unresponsive.
Sesshoumaru smiled a dark smile. "Good. I'm glad you see things my way."
The demon reached into his coat. Withdrew from it a small jewel that gave off a faint pink glow, casting the dark confessional in rosy hues.
The same jewel that, five hundred years ago, he and the miko had finished together. The same jewel they had used to destroy Naraku; the one that had then vanished forever, its magic spent.
The same jewel that, earlier that day, a team of surgeons had removed from the side of a young Kagome. The jewel she believed to be a benign tumor. The one he had built a hospital, and gotten a medical license, and taken up practice as the Higurashi family doctor in order to get.
His hands were trembling.
"My father's greatest achievement was to cheat death. For her, I shall defeat time." He brushed his lips against the jewel in a solemn kiss. "Only for you, Kagome."
He shut his eyes for a minute, and when he opened them again he held the jewel aloft for inspection. "They say the jewel is only for selfless wishes. Fortunately, I am not making a wish." He gave a slow, slow grin. "I am making a command."
The Shikon pulsed, as if rising to the challenge. There was a brief, violent struggle as the jewel raged for control before it was smothered beneath incredible force. A force that dominated and demanded.
Bent to Sesshoumaru's crushing will, the glow stoked into a blaze.
His grin grew feral, white fangs showing. "Time be damned."
His snowy hair rose around him, whipped back as the wind of his power rose, youki crackling in the air, and the jewel flared brighter and brighter, incandescent, a tiny pure sun. White light streamed out the stained glass windows.
The air began shuddering.
"The miko is mine," he said, breathing in the light. "You cannot have her."