Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Inuyasha, only the plot of this story.
A/N: This story is a Sess/Kag, but with a rather different plot. If you are not willing to read something that is definitely a departure from the norm, go no further. You could say this is a fantasy/drama/romance, and it most certainly is all that and more. For those who continue to read on from here, I hope you enjoy the story.
P.S. And yes, major character deaths in first and second chapter - but no matter what it looks like, it really is a Sess/Kag.
Prologue: The End of an Era
Sesshoumaru came to a sudden stop, all his senses on high alert. With no change of expression, he nodded to himself. So. We are surrounded. It has come to this, then.
With a glance over his shoulder at the beings following him, he made a decision.
"H-hai, my Lord?" his wavering, squeaky voice asked.
"You are to take Rin and go to Inuyasha's village. Commend her into the care of the young miko, Kagome." With a pause, he turned his face and looked at the gami. "Treat her with the respect you would give me, Jaken, do you understand?"
"B-but, my Lord...!" he gasped, as Rin inhaled, somehow understanding what was about to happen, but remaining quiet before her beloved Lord.
"Silence. Do as I have instructed." He turned back to the field before him, and drew both swords from his obi. "Come, Jaken, take Tensaiga. Give it to my brother. Tell him... tell him he is the last of our blood - and he now holds the title that our father once held." As Jaken moved forward, stuttering in denial, he handed him the sword, and then raised Tokijiin before him.
"Go now Jaken... and tell the miko that I will be waiting." With one last glance at Rin, he said, "Be well, my daughter," then turned and faced the hordes of youkai and Naraku's incarnations. "Do not fail me, Jaken. Now go."
And as Jaken and Rin fled the battlefield on Ah-Uhn, Sesshoumaru stood tall against the flaring light of a bloody sunset for one long, last moment, then darted into battle in a flash of while light, facing an army and knowing he could not win.
But his last fight would buy the time for those he cared for to get safely away.
Rin would be safe, and he finally understood what his father had been about, giving his life for a human.
His last thought, hours later, as the light finally left his eyes, was that he had no regrets about giving his life for his Rin... and that he was not surprised that it was so.
Kagome woke, feeling unsettled for some reason, and opening her eyes, looked around Kaede's hut. Nothing seemed out of place, although she couldn't feel Inuyasha's youki anywhere nearby, and could feel Kikyou's presence in the forest. Standing quietly and covering Shippo with the blankets, she moved to the doorway and opened the matting to look outside.
It was still very early, not a hint of dawn lightening the sky. With a frown, she stepped out of the hut, and extended her senses, unsure of what was bothering her. It wasn't Kikyou's presence, nor, this time, the fact that Inuyasha was with her. It was something else...
Something just felt wrong.
With a frustrated shake of her head, she moved off towards the edges of the village, and coming to a rise, topped it, and gazed out over the lands laid out before her in the moonlight. With a sigh, she sat down, knees against her chest, wrapped her arms around herself, and waited.
Whatever was happening, she had a very strong feeling she would know what it was soon enough.
Whatever's happened, I feel... sad? hurt? I'm not sure... but at least, no one else seems to feel it, if their peaceful snores are anything to go by.
After sitting there for a time, she shook herself out of the melancholy mood she'd fallen into and stood, feeling the need for comfort, she went to the only place she could in this era... the Goshinboku.
Sitting down amongst the roots, she raised a barrier around herself, and closed her eyes, slipping into a meditative silence and letting her mind free to wander.
Something has happened... and whatever it is, I feel grief.
Inuyasha moved quickly through the forest after his meeting with Kikyou, headed back to the hut, and hoped no one had woken and noticed his absence.
And by no one, I really mostly mean Kagome. I don't want her to be upset - I don't like it when she's mad at me... but it's Kikyou. I promised her. And that has to come before everything else.
With a sigh, he dropped from the treetops and sprinted towards the hut at the edge of the village, happily noting that everything was still quiet, and hopped silently on to the roof, laying back and settling himself comfortably to wait for daybreak.
He was so grateful that no one was up waiting for him with tears in their eyes, that he didn't think to check and make sure everyone was accounted for...
As the sun rose, Kagome opened her eyes, and standing, stretched, then dropped her barrier. She noted absently that Kikyou was gone, and that Inuyasha was back at the hut, and drawing a deep breath, she let it out slowly, and headed back to her friends.
Just as she reached the bottom of the small hill before the elder miko's hut, Inuyasha spotted her, and she sighed, annoyance kicking in as he leapt off the roof and barreled towards her with an irate look on his face.
"What the fuck, Kagome?! Where were you? I thought you were inside sleeping!"
Kagome held up a hand, not in any mood to listen to his ranting. "Well, Inuyasha, if you'd actually been here last night, you'd have known that I wasn't inside, now wouldn't you?" When he stuttered, trying to come up with an excuse, she shook her head impatiently.
"Don't try it. I know where you were, and frankly, at this point, I just don't care. I have something else on my mind."
Inuyasha flushed red, and glowered at her, but before he could respond to that, jealous that she was worried about something or someone other than him, he caught a scent that had him flipping around and pulling Tessaiga in one move.
"Oi, toad, I can smell ya, so come out of those trees where I can see ya!"
Kagome stiffened at his words, a feeling of almost despair settling over her as she looked towards the forest, and watched as Jaken, pulling Ah-Uhn, and with an obviously exhausted and devastated Rin, moved slowly out of the trees. With a frown, she pushed in front of Inuyasha and ran to them, stopping in front of Jaken.
Jaken bowed slowly, shaken and visibly upset, and said, "I am here on Sesshoumaru-sama's last orders to this lowly one, miko. He asked that I bring Rin to you, so that she would be cared for." Kagome's eyes widened as she looked up at Rin, and held her arms open as the distraught child flung herself into her embrace and sobbed brokenly into her shoulder.
Inuyasha sheathed his sword and came forward. "What the hell's going' on, toad? Where's my damn brother?"
"We were ambushed by Naraku and his hordes at sunset yesterday - there was no escape. Sesshoumaru-sama sent us away, and went into battle to buy us time to get to safety." Jaken moved back towards Ah-Uhn as Kagome held onto a sobbing Rin, and withdrew Tensaiga. Shuffling slowly to Inuyasha, he held the sword out to him.
"He told me to give you this, Inuyasha-sama, and tell you that you are the last of your father's blood - and that you now carry the title that your father once held." With a bow, he waited for the hanyou to take his new sword, and then straightened, and moved towards Kagome and Rin, who were both in tears.
Kagome held Rin tightly, eyes far away as she stared at the horizon. "I see... so that was what I was feeling," she said, quietly, almost speaking to herself.
Jaken nodded at her slowly then bowed to her as well. "Sesshoumaru-sama told me to tell you that he would be waiting for you." At Inuyasha's confused look, he shook his head.
"I don't know what he meant, Kagome-sama, Inuyasha-sama. That was all he said, except that I should treat you with the respect I would him - if you are worthy enough for my Lord to give this Jaken such orders, then you are worthy enough for me to give you that honor."
She sighed then, gaze still far away, and turned towards the hut. "I understand, Jaken. Wait here. We need to figure out what we're going to do... and we need to retrieve his body." With a quick look at Inuyasha, she finished, "I want to bury him at the Goshinboku. He should not be left on a field amongst Naraku's filth."
Inuyasha merely stared at her back, eyes narrowed. Why does she care? He shook his head. But anyway, she's right. He may have been an ass, but he deserves a decent burial... and now I have another reason to take revenge on Naraku. He spilled my brother's blood.
Kagome entered the hut, and moving to her bedding, sat a quiet Rin on it, then reached to grab her bag. Pulling out her first-aid kit, she opened it, and pulled out some sleeping pills. The child needed to rest - she was in shock, and grieving, and the only comfort now would be in sleep.
She looked up as Sango and Miroku shook themselves awake, and held up a finger to her mouth, silently asking them to wait. Both nodded, solemn looks crossing their faces as they took in the child's presence and tear-stained face.
Pouring some water into a cup, she coaxed Rin to take the pills, then laid her down, and looking at a slowly awakening Shippo, whispered, "Would you stay with Rin and cuddle with her?" He nodded, and she finished, "Don't talk, though, okay? Let her fall asleep."
"Okay, K'gome," he whispered back, and curled up around the tiny child.
Kagome placed the blankets over them, and stood, beckoning to the other two to follow, and then she went outside, walking quickly to where Inuyasha was standing with Jaken.
She turned to face Sango and Miroku as they reached the other two, and said, "Sesshoumaru is dead." At their gasps, a peculiarly pained look crossed her face, and she turned her face towards the horizon. "He died protecting Rin and Jaken from Naraku and his puppets. We need to retrieve his body - I refuse to leave him there. I want to bury him at the Goshinboku."
"Oi, Kagome, why d'you care, anyway?" Inuyasha was definitely suspicious... just what was going on with Kagome so upset over his brother's death - and why did she want him buried in a place that was so important to her?
Not turning to look at him, gaze still far away, she said, "Does it matter, Inuyasha? Were you planning to leave him on a battlefield surrounded by Naraku's disgusting slave's remains?"
He snorted then, as Sango and Miroku stared first at him, then at Kagome. "No," he sighed then, "I'm not. Even he doesn't deserve that."
Jaken looked up at him. "What are you going to do about the Western Lands, Inuyasha-sama?"
Inuyasha looked down at the ground, and frowned in thought. "Right now, nothing. Naraku is a threat to all the lands, and I'll be fulfilling my duty to them by continuing to fight that bastard - besides, now I need to pay him back for Sesshoumaru's sake, too."
Miroku nodded then. "That is a wise decision. Now, to retrieve his body."
Sango looked at Kagome. "I'll stay here with Rin, and Kirara can go with you to help."
Jaken stared at the group, then glanced at Inuyasha. "Ah-Uhn and I will lead you there."
"Then it's decided." Kagome moved towards Ah-Uhn, and climbed aboard the dragon, then held out a hand to the little gami. "Come on, then, Jaken. Let's go."
Inuyasha glanced at her. "Don't you think you should eat something before we go?"
Kagome shook her head. "I'm not hungry," she said flatly, "but if you're going to argue, then just grab my bag from the hut. I've got granola bars and water in it, if I feel hungry later, or anyone else does."
He nodded shortly and loped to the hut, disappearing inside for a moment, then reappearing holding her yellow bag. Reaching her side, he handed the bag up to her.
Waiting 'til she was settled, and Kirara transformed for Miroku to ride, he sighed as they looked at him.
"Let's get this over with, then."
It was a quiet group that moved off into the early morning, and Sango stood behind watching them leave.
She had the feeling that this day held some importance beyond the death of the daiyoukai, and shivered.
But what that was, only time would tell.
It was a silent and tense group that arived back at the village late that afternoon, Ah-Uhn carrying not only Kagome, but Sesshoumaru's body, and they immediately went to the Goshinboku, where Kagome pointed out a spot... and Inuyasha and Miroku made quick work of digging the grave.
By the time the sun had set, Sesshoumaru lay in his final resting place.
The group left then, heading towards Kaede's hut - all except Kagome, who had taken a seat at the base of the tree, making it quite obvious that she was not moving anytime soon. Even Inuyasha finally gave up trying to get her to return to the hut, instead, bringing her bow and arrows to her, and demanding that she at least put up a barrier for protection.
Without a word, she did so.
Kagome spent a silent night watching over Sesshoumaru's grave, and when morning came, bringing her friends with it, they met a changed person.
Overnight, Kagome had grown up. Something had turned inside her - from that day forward, there was a fey look in her eye that could be seen if you looked deep enough, and there was a slight, but noticeable distance between her and the rest of the group, but no matter how may times she was asked, she never spoke about that night she spent sitting over the Lord's grave.
And if she had any idea of what Sesshoumaru's last message to her meant, she kept it to herself, refusing to discuss it if asked.
'Tell the miko that I will be waiting.'