Chapter 15: I Think We've Met Before
Slowly, Kagome woke. Her eyes felt heavy and lidded as her cheek pressed against the cool concrete of the hangar floor. For a moment, she was blissfully ignorant of everything she had been through. Then all at once, the burning sensation and agonizing pain came back full force.
Without meaning to, her body curled into the fetal position as pain burned and radiated throughout her body. All she could do was writhe, the occasional whimper escaping to echo off the walls. The only other sound was footsteps slowly approaching her broken form.
Naraku smirked, his red eyes leering over her crumpled body. He knelt down and grabbed her throat, his hand clenching tightly as he lifted her up and pressed her against the wall. Her head rolled to the side as she struggled for strength to resist him.
He tilted his head, contemplating her. "You're different from the others," he mused. "Why?"
Kagome gasped, weakly clawing at his hand as she struggled for breath. She felt her windpipe collapsing as he tightened his hold. "N-Na…" she wheezed.
"Shhh…" he cooed, flickering his gaze over her fearful expression. "It's better this way. You won't be haunted by her memory. You could have a life again."
Her skin began to turn blue as unconsciousness once again ebbed at the corners of her mind. He was going to kill her, she was sure. He was going to kill the only subject in his experiment that would cause it to fail.
"Now, I want you to go back to that first day in the hospital," he began, his lips tugging into a smile. "To the first time you ever saw Rin."
Kagome tore her gaze away from him, trying to think about anything other than the memory he so desperately wanted. She fought to concentrate on something else, anything else, but unwillingly the first memory she ever had of her daughter came forth.
Bright lights blinded her from overhead in the operating room. Men in light green scrubs with masks over their faces surrounded her bedside.
"No," Kagome protested with a gasp, her eyes pleading with Naraku. "D-don't.
He frowned, clenching his hand tighter around her throat. "I need that first memory," he insisted with an almost inhuman growl. "Give me that first memory."
A strangled cry echoed in her ears as her hair clung to her skin. She heaved a deep breath, her limbs feeling shaky and exhausted from the hours of labor she had just endured. Her husband's hand curled over her own beside her.
Her eyes, half-lidded, searched the spot between her bent legs, waiting for her entire life to change. Slowly, the doctors came over with something bundled in a pink blanket. "Would you like to hold your daughter?" one of them spoke, his voice sounding as if coming through a long tunnel.
She nodded fervently as they angled the baby so she could see. It was a beautiful baby girl with bright blue eyes and tuffs of brown hair on her head. She clenched her hands into fists as she cried, her skin flushed pink.
Kagome was promptly dropped to the ground as Naraku released his hold. She gasped for breath, filling her lungs with much needed oxygen as she fought to stay awake. Closing her eyes, she tried to remember something, anything, that gave her understanding as to what had just happened. But darkness had taken its stranglehold, squeezing life and consuming her memories, turning them into lost forgotten dreams.
Her mind was blank. Wiped clean.
Naraku knelt down beside her, brushing his fingers gently over her hair and curling it behind her ear. "That child," he whispered. "What was her name?"
Kagome swallowed thickly, releasing a shaky breath, as she stared at the surrounding cement walls. "What child?"
He nodded, satisfied. "That's a girl, Kagome," he mumbled with a grin.
Standing, the demon turned and began to walk away from her. He easily slipped his hands into the pockets of his slacks with triumph, knowing his experiment had been successful.
Kagome blinked against the tears in her eyes as she struggled to sit up. She watched as the man walked away from her, his words playing over and over again in her mind.
A memory resurfaced, one that had long been buried in the recesses of her mind. A tiny heartbeat, no more than a flutter against her skin.
Kagome curled her arm around the bulge of her stomach, smiling as the warm rays of summer touched her skin. She could feel the baby inside her moving happily as the laughter of children accompanied her.
"I… I had life inside of me," Kagome whispered tearfully.
Naraku stopped walking and frowned, peering at her over his shoulder.
Kagome swallowed against the lump in her throat as she wiped a hand across her cheek. "I had life," she said with more confidence as she battled to stand. "I have a child."
He turned to face her fully, his eyes wide with disbelief. "Kagome," he scolded. "There was never a child."
She bit her bottom lip as she furrowed her brows, clenching her wounded arm with her right hand. "I have a daughter," she blurted, her voice rising in strength as she ignored Naraku's words. "I-I have a daughter. Her name is Rin, you son of a bitch!"
As the words left her mouth, Naraku simultaneously lunged for her. His red eyes practically bulged from his head in rage as he let loose a predator-like growl. "You insolent wench!"
Kagome quickly raised her arms in front of her as a shield, but just before he was within reach, a strong wind encompassed the entire hangar. Her hair blew furiously around her as she dared to peek over her arms.
She had never seen Naraku scared in the short time she knew him, but in that moment, he looked absolutely terrified. His gaze was trained to the sky as he searched the dark rafters for something she couldn't see.
"Wait, it's not over," he begged, clenching his hands into fists at his side. "I'm not finished yet! I need more time!"
Then, before she could blink, he was torn from the earth they walked upon. The wind surrounded him and thrust him high into the air. Glass shattered from the large window high above them as he disappeared through it, leaving nothing but shards falling behind.
Kagome took a few shaky breaths in, her eyes wide with disbelief. She slowly lowered her arms, feeling a few pieces of glass fall into her hair.
"He was always such a pain."
Startled, Kagome spun on her heel to face the newcomer. There stood the wind demoness, Kagura, who she had encountered earlier. She was tapping her fan lightly against her shoulder with an annoyed expression.
"What do you want?" Kagome demanded, clenching her hands into fists at her side.
Kagura rolled her eyes. "Relax, woman. I didn't come here to kill you."
"Funny, you had no problem when it came to Sango," she bit back, the lieutenant's last moments flashing through her eyes. "What's stopping you?"
She frowned. "If you're asking for death, I have no problem fulfilling your wish," she pointed out. "However, I think you'll be more pleased to know that it's over."
Her words shocked Kagome. She gave her a puzzled expression. "Over?" she echoed.
"Yes, over," Kagura replied haughtily. "Naraku proposed this experiment. You were supposed to forget. He was running out of time. He was accountable and, since it failed, he will be dealt with accordingly."
Kagome pursed her lips. She didn't want to know what Kagura meant by that. "That's it then?"
She sighed. "Yes, you are free to go. You will be the only one to remember our existence." She pulled a feather free from her hair, her burgundy eyes watching Kagome carefully. "Oh, and don't forget, we're always watching."
A whirlwind suddenly encompassed the woman, as Kagome watched her disappear into the sky. And just like that, she was gone like the wind.
The air was brisk as Kagome stepped out of the hangar and into the afternoon. She blinked, a little disorientated, at the late set of the sun. Time had been lost to her. She wasn't sure how long she had spent inside, but by the look of it, she had been there most of the day. Already the sun was waning in the sky.
For some reason, the world seemed a little brighter than that morning. The wind danced across the courtyard with the first autumn leaves, painted in all kinds of beautiful reds and oranges. Brilliant shafts of sunlight caressed her skin from the bright blue sky above. Each breath of the fresh air filled her with a sense of life that almost made her want to shout out loud, just to hear her voice echo amidst the trees – like a brave warrior of old.
Kagome wasn't sure what exactly transpired in the last few hours. She had been right there, front and center, and it was still hard to believe. All she knew was that whatever it was, it was over. So with her heart racing in her chest, she began to run.
She ran down the street and headed toward home. She didn't even bother hailing a cab, knowing that she wouldn't be able to sit still long enough for the driver to reach her destination. A sea of fiery colors crunched beneath her feet as she pushed her way through the town, winding up and down various blocks.
There was only one thing on Kagome's mind. Her daughter. Her little girl. Rin. Was she alive? Was she at home in her bedroom, like she had imagined only hours ago? Was she still playing with her dolls on the carpet of her floor? The questions surged through her thoughts with no intent of slowing down.
Suddenly, she crashed into the ground as the force of another body clipped her shoulder. She held out her hands to brace for impact as she landed on her bottom and a surge of pain shot up her spine.
"Ow!" she groaned, rubbing a hand over her tailbone and wincing.
"Are you all right?" a male voice asked.
Kagome glanced up and saw an extended hand. She graciously took it as he pulled her to her feet. "I'm sorry," she said. "I should've watched where I was going."
"Kagome?" Violet eyes met hers and he grinned.
She blinked once, then again. "Miroku?"
"So nice to see you," he continued, slipping his hands into the pockets of his slacks. "I mean, out of the office anyways."
Smiling, Kagome fumbled for what to say. From what Kagura had told her, she would be the only one to remember. Did that mean that Miroku had forgotten that demons existed? Or did he simply forget she had been involved?
She cleared her throat. "The, uh, office?"
He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Ah, yes, I suppose I shouldn't be divulging private information in such a public manner. However, it is nice to see you outside of counseling."
"Counseling…" She let the word trail, unsure what exactly he meant by it.
Miroku looked at her curiously. "Yes, your marriage counseling. I know that we haven't met in a week or so, but surely you haven't forgotten already."
Her heart skipped a beat and her mind faltered at his words. Marriage counseling? What had happened between her and Sesshomaru? "Oh, yeah," she continued with a chuckle. "Of course. I'm sorry. I've just had other things on my mind today."
He grinned easily. "I see. No need to apologize. I completely understand."
Someone cleared their throat, and for the first time Kagome realized there was a woman standing next to Miroku. Her dark-brown hair was pulled into a high ponytail as her eyes flickered between the two.
"Oh, how rude of me," Miroku exclaimed. "Kagome, this is Lieutenant Sango." He gestured toward the woman. "My, uh, date for this evening."
Kagome's eyes turned wide as she surveyed the lieutenant. The last memory she had of her was filled with blood and surely death. But here she was, in the flesh, holding out her hand to shake.
"Please, just call me Sango," she introduced as the women shook hands. "No need for formalities when I'm not on the job."
"Kagome," she squeaked as she released a breath she hadn't realized she was holding. "Kagome Taisho. It's nice to meet you."
"You as well." The lieutenant looped an arm through Miroku's. "Now, if you please excuse us, I'm giving this lecherous fool a chance for a date. Taking time to talk to another woman is definitely not winning him any brownie points."
Miroku chuckled and heeded her request. "I'm sorry my dear. Let's get going. Kagome? I'll see you soon? Perhaps next time we can get together for coffee elsewhere than my office."
"Sure," she replied, watching as the pair waved and turned to walk in the opposite direction.
Sango was alive. Kagome had been positive the lieutenant wouldn't have made it out of there. She had been impaled by a demon that controlled the wind. However, despite everything, she was here in the flesh.
Is that what Kagura meant when she said Kagome would be the only one to remember? That it would seem as if nothing over the past eighteen months had ever occurred at all?
Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she turned and continued to run toward her apartment. If what she speculated was true, there was a little girl she was dying to see again.
The house was eerily quiet as Kagome stepped into the foyer. She walked into the kitchen and surveyed the room, noting the time. It was around three o'clock in the afternoon. At this hour, Sesshomaru would normally still be at work.
Kagome pinched her brows together and set her lips into a thin line. "Hello?" she called out, unsure of what to expect. "Anyone home?"
There was no answer. However, just to ease her worried mind, she surveyed the house slowly. The picture on the end table in the living room held the picture she had been missing for some time. It was the picture of her, Sesshomaru, and Rin. It seemed like a lifetime ago that she had accused him of taking Rin away from her. Now, it was almost like a distant dream.
With new hope in her chest, she strode quickly to the office where she had last left the photo albums of Rin. Opening the door swiftly, she was startled to see she wasn't alone. Sesshomaru sat at the desk with his laptop opened, not bothering to look up from his computer screen upon her entrance.
"Sesshomaru," she addressed breathlessly. "I didn't know you were home."
"Hn," was his short reply as he continued to type something.
Kagome gnawed the inside of her cheek. "Did, uh, did you go to work today?"
He stayed silent, which began to annoy her.
She frowned. "What? You aren't speaking to me now?" Still no response. Just the irritating clicking sound the keys made as he continued to type. "What's the point of even going to marriage counseling if you are just going to ignore me?"
That got his attention. Steely, amber eyes shifted in her direction. "Yes."
Kagome waited for more of a response, but when there was none, she narrowed her eyes. "Excuse me?"
He exhaled, almost sighing, as he returned his gaze back to his screen. "You asked me if I went into work today. The answer is yes."
That wasn't exactly the response she was hoping for. She folded her arms over her chest. "What happened to us, Sesshomaru?" she questioned quietly. "Where did we go wrong?"
He chose not to respond once again, causing her anger to increase ten-fold.
"Answer me, dammit!" she shouted, storming toward him and slamming her hands on the desk.
Sesshomaru paused and glanced up, taking in her erratic expression. "Do not raise your voice to me, woman," he clipped sharply.
"What else am I suppose to do when you won't even look at me?" she demanded hotly. "You think burying yourself in work is going to fix this? Fix us? Well, it won't!"
"Kagome, you need to calm down. You are acting ridiculous."
"Ridiculous?" she echoed. She chuckled humorlessly and took a step back. "I'm the ridiculous one?"
He folded his hands into a steeple and eyed her carefully. "Did it ever occur to you that perhaps your emotional behavior is the reason we are in this predicament?"
His words caused her to pause. "I-I'm sorry. Can you repeat that?"
Sesshomaru tilted his head slightly. She could tell he was annoyed, but she didn't understand as to why. "You are much too emotional when it comes to the simplest of things. I cannot even go out of town on business without you constantly checking up on me."
"And why do you think that is?" she asked before she even realized what she was saying.
He was quiet for a moment before exhaling deeply. "When will you stop reminding me of that?" he interrogated. "You walked in on me with another woman. We've already discussed this. I have made the decision to work through this and attend counseling with you. What more do you want from me?"
Kagome's blood suddenly ran cold and she felt as if a giant rock was wedged in her stomach. She fought to catch her breath. "I-I what?"
He eyed her carefully. "Do not play dumb with me, Kagome."
She… She had walked in on him… with another woman. He had made love to another woman. To someone other than her. Is… Is this what would have become of their marriage if Rin hadn't died? Is this what they would have resorted to?
Kagome shook her head slowly, in disbelief, as she tried to wrap her mind around the fact that her husband had cheated on her. "Where-where's Rin?" she asked, her voice sounding strangely calm to her own ears.
He turned his attention back to his computer screen, as if the conversation had never happened. "She's at the park with some friends."
That was all the answer Kagome needed. She spun on her heel and briskly exited the office, putting as much distance between her and Sesshomaru as she could. She felt strangely calm, as if a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She didn't know where she was going to go from here. She wasn't sure if what they had was something she was willing to fight for. However, she did know one thing.
The idea of her husband being with another woman… It was definitely left best to be forgotten.
Her daughter's name flew off her lips as Kagome arrived at the park. There was a slight nip in the air, but the sun warmed her. Small children played on the various, colorful steel beam structures as their parents kept a watchful eye on them.
She started to move amongst the children, her eyes darting more wildly with each passing second, noticing any toddler with a glint of orange, hoping it was her daughter's favorite orange t-shirt. Then she called her name again, getting louder, until heads turned in her direction.
The noise of dogs barking at each other playfully as they chased each other in circles almost drowned out the cries of a baby whose mother was too busy talking with her friends to notice the baby had lost its doll.
Kagome grabbed a boy with red hair gently by his shoulders. "Have you seen my daughter, Rin?" she yelled, her lips trembling and her voice almost cracking. "Little girl, black hair."
His green eyes widened with surprise, before he quickly shook his head.
She let go of him and continued searching and shouting her daughter's name. "Rin! Rin!"
Kagome snapped her head in the direction of the little girl's voice, catching sight of her daughter climbing down from the jungle gym. She was sporting her favorite orange shirt and a jacket, with her hair tied messily in a side pony tail.
"It's not time to go yet, is it?" she asked, shoving her hands into her jacket pockets and grinning up at her.
Tears came to Kagome's eyes as she grinned. She cupped Rin's face in her hands, as if to verify she was real. She sniffled and bent down, wrapping her arms around her child and lifting her into the air. Rin still smelled the same and she could feel the girl's chest move with each breath she took.
She placed a kiss against her cheek, feeling a tear roll down her face, as she embraced Rin even tighter. Now that her daughter was finally in her arms again, she never wanted to let her go.
Rin giggled in her arms. "Mama, I can't breathe."
Kagome laughed and placed another kiss against her head before setting her down on the ground. "Sorry," she cried meekly, trying to hold back her tears as she looked into her daughter's smiling face. "I just, um… I just wanted you to button up," she finally choked out, reaching out to pull on Rin's jacket.
"Can I play until five-thirty?" she asked, her eyes hopeful.
Her lips turned upward and she nodded. "Yeah, yeah five-thirty is okay."
"Okay, thanks!" Rin said, turning to run back to the playground. But she paused for a moment, and turned to shout something over her shoulder. "See you!"
Kagome exhaled deeply, watching as Rin went back to play. "See you."
A sudden, unknown feeling started to overcome her. It started to tingle in her fingers and toes, much like the feeling she had when she was anxious, but instead of worrisome it was warm. She felt it pass through her like a warm ocean wave, washing away the stress of the last few days to leave her refreshed inside. It was infectious and she knew, for the first time in eighteen months, she was happy again.
She felt a pair of eyes on her, and searched the surrounding crowd, coming to rest on a woman in a red and white dress. A burgundy gaze met her own, as the woman smirked and gave a slight nod of understanding. Kagome averted her eyes to Rin, watching her climb over the jungle gym. A red-headed little girl with pigtails and a flower in her hair waved to her as they played. Kagome waggled her fingers in return.
When she looked back, the woman was gone. Smiling, she whispered into the wind, "Thank you, Kagura."
Right when Kagome was close to giving up everything, right when she was about to let go of the dwindling ray of hope that flickered dangerously inside her, the blanket of blackness was replaced by bursts of light that pierced right through the darkness. It was like the sky had opened up, giving Kagome another chance to live her life right, and her heart soared, mending itself once more.
Rin was saved! Waves of happiness and relief washed over her, and she felt it soak right into her bones. Dizzy with exaltation, she closed her eyes and savored the felicity that fizzled in her heart. A tear-choked laugh escaped her throat as tears came to her eyes.
Grinning like a mad woman and slowly wiping away her tears, she shuffled through the fallen leaves and woodchips surrounding the playground to her favorite spot. The swings came into view, and she saw one was occupied. Her heart fluttered in her chest at the sight of his tan skin and bright blue eyes.
She paused, feeling her breath hitch in her throat. His hands were shoved into the pockets of his leather jacket as he pushed himself back and forth slowly on the swing.
Kouga's eyes found hers and he nodded with a wolfish smile. "Hey," he greeted.
"Hi," she answered breathlessly, drinking in his calm and serene expression. She wondered if he would remember her, if he remembered anything, but Kagura's words once again rang clear in her mind.
He turned his head, setting his eyes back on the playground where Ayame played.
Kagome nibbled on her bottom lip, unsure what she should say to him. They had a connection, she was sure. They had gone through something horrendous together and came out the other end alive, with their children alive. She should be ecstatic just to see him.
He didn't remember. He didn't remember when they ran for their lives and hid in the fields. He didn't remember the many heated arguments they had, or their banter, or him saving her life. He didn't recall the night they spent in bed together, with her curled in his arms, as he pressed a kiss to her lips.
"I guess, um," she began, fumbling for what to say. He looked at her expectantly. She smiled. "They don't seem to want parents around," she finished lamely, nodding in the direction of the park.
He chuckled. "No, they don't."
Kagome turned around and instantly found Rin sitting on top of the jungle gym. Her face lit up and she grinned as she spotted her mom, and Kagome waved.
"You keep watching her," Kouga commented from behind her.
She smiled knowingly, feeling a light blush dust the bridge of her nose. "It's hard not to."
"Nah, they're okay," he assured confidently.
Spinning around to face him, she bit her lower lip. Her eyes ghosted over Kouga's expression, every detail of their time spent together flashing through her mind. "I know," she finally responded.
Kouga's blue eyes, brighter than they had been in over a year, watched as she took a step forward and held out her hand.
"I'm Kagome," she introduced. "Rin's mom."
He hesitated a moment before reaching out and grasping her hand in his. "Kouga," he replied, running a thumb over the back of her hand. "I think we've met before."
There was something about the way he smiled; the way butterflies seemed to escape from the pit of her stomach and the way the sun had somehow toppled down from the sky and made a home right there in her heart. He had the kind of smile that made her feel happy to be alive and just that little bit more human.
Softly, she stepped beside him and took a seat. Her eyes moved from the planes of his face to her daughter's orange-clad figure in the distance. She moved her legs back and forth lazily as the afternoon sun warmed her back.
The swing didn't creak.
A/N: This was the first story I actually wrote Sesshomaru with a bigger part. I think I did a decent job, more so than in the past. This story was definitely fun to write, especially adding my own twists to it, but I'm happy to have it finally completed. I'm already looking forward to my next big story. Thank you to everyone who reviewed/favorited/alerted this story over the years I've been working on it. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. I'm so glad you all enjoyed it and I hope to see you take interest in some of my future fics.
Until next time, lovelies :)