Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of its respective characters. I have also at times been tempted to disclaim all knowledge of this story as well, but no, the story is mine.
Author's Note: For those of you who have visited my profile, this would be the story that has been driving me nuts (oddly appropriate that). It started by jumping on my brain insistently while I was trying to study for three midterms simultaneously and then refused to come out right when I complied. My quality control agreed that it sucked. So I rewrote parts. It still sucked. I grounded it and ignored it for a month. Then I made the stupid promise to get it written, attempted to rearrange things, and to my fury the sucking continued. Loathing the story by this time, I created a story graveyard for the sole purpose of throwing it in. At which point it naturally rolled over in my brain and went 'hey, why don't you start here?' Are. You. Kidding. Me. But I am a stubborn soul, and once upon a time this was one of my favourite unwritten oneshots, so I decided to give it one last shot. I did turf the original and altered version, however, and started again from scratch, this is the result. So here it is ladies and gentlemen, the story that just wouldn't die. Since I'm starting to like it again I hope that means it's good, or at least decent. It's gotten a little darker than it was originally in the process, but then again, it never was going to be all sunshine and daisies. I hope it was worth the effort.
Ancient footfalls, silent as the grave, relentless as the sea, draw ever closer. Not real they say, not real, but she can hear them. She can.
Neck straining, head whipping back and forth, the patient fights against the jacket. The battle goes on and on and on, never stopping save for complete exhaustion. Then, for the briefest of moments, the patient pauses, head cocked to the side as if listening, but for what? Moment over, the fight begins again.
Aura pulsing, angry, violent, powerful, it wraps around hers. Illusion they say, delusion, but she can feel it. She knows it, and it knows her.
They try medications, have been trying them for months now, and the patient fights them even harder than the jacket. Great care is taken with this one; injuries have been caused in the past and will likely be incurred in the future. But they know the drill and they have the sedative ready.
Cold eyes narrow, ever knowing, ever seeking, noting everything with a glance. Not there they say, never there, but she sees them and they search for her.
The sedative takes and the patient slumps against the padded wall, eyes dull. This is by far the worst outcome. They don't know it, don't understand, but they are guilty of cruelty beyond torture. Behind those dull eyes scenes of nightmares beyond nightmares play out. Drugged and trapped within the mind, the patient must watch them all; scenes of memory, scenes of illusion, scenes of the end. Within the silent, paralyzed throat lays a soul wrenching scream.
Hand glows, corrosive, caustic, liquid drips down scalding the ground. Imagination they say, fantasy, but she can taste it. It burns her tongue.
The psychiatrist observes the patient. So unfortunate, so tragic, always so sick, the world had finally doled out one burden to many. The mind couldn't take the strain, snapped beneath the pressure. Therapy was rejected, medication is not helping. The patient's body fights the drugs even more violently than the patient fights the jacket. What could be done for the poor, pitiful, broken mind?
Sword drawn, whistling, whirling, screaming wind wraps about the blade. Not possible they say, impossible, but she can smell it. She can smell it now as he always has.
Metal squeals, brick crumbles, the building shakes violently under the sudden assault. There is a moment of shocked silence then chaos erupts: the patients are screeching, the orderlies are overwhelmed, the guards are trying to find out what happened ... and the psychiatrist is frozen in shock. The patient, the heavily sedated and nearly catatonic patient, has responded to the commotion. Laughter, nearly hysterical, joyous laughter fills the padded cell.
Kaze no kizu, destroyer, protector, it comes, it comes for her. It always has.
Chaos is spreading, panic growing, while down below voices shrieking into phones cut off abruptly. An explosion of some sort has occurred. Probably the gas lines, it's the only reasonable explanation.
Claws, sharp, deadly, drip blood quietly to the floor. She knows them, fears them, they will not hurt her.
The damage must be worse than they initially thought. Communication with the lower wards has been lost but the screams, the screams rise through the floors. The patient has stopped laughing, now only weeps quietly. So much death.
Doors, flimsy, insufficient, are locked and bar the way. Barriers of straw she knows, she knows, she knows.
Several cry out as another explosion rocks the building once more. In some places floors and ceilings collapse, structural integrity compromised. Fires ignite, spread.
Poison, acidic, vaporous, spreads, melts, kills. She has felt it, has survived it, is able to fight it, but won't.
The guards don't know what is happening. They cannot reach the lower levels; a nightmare stalks in the darkness. Something moves silently in the dust and smoke, cutting off cries abruptly, eternally. They cannot see it, do not know it, but it is there and it is angry, so very angry.
Stairwells crumble, weak, useless, like the humans who built them. Inconsequential, she can see him leap, easily, effortlessly. She had known what it was to soar once upon a time.
Something is not right. Even for a disaster this is not ordinary, everyone knows it now. No one dares leave the ward, those that already have vanished without warning. Only their screams, lingering in the surviving minds, remain. The psychiatrist finds himself crouched in the patient's room staring into haunted eyes.
Here, finally, eternally, the nightmare, the saviour, arrives with measured, silent footfalls, as always. She is so glad to see him, wants to hug him, knows he'd kill her and doesn't care.
The psychiatrist is transfixed. Golden eyes narrow, pinning him in place. It is not possible, he is not possible, the being before him is not here. It is delusion, madness, just as he has been telling his patient for months. Hair, eyes, ears, markings, claws, sword, tricks, all of them tricks, they have to be. Why is a myth standing before him now? Impossible.
Youkai, mythical, mysterious, they are real, oh so very real. She told them and told them and told them. Didn't believe her.
The youkai (impossible) does not waste time on the inconsequential human but turns immediately to the patient. Eyes survey and nostrils flare, measuring and flavouring, testing and calculating. Behind the intelligent eyes, the mind learns and understands the truth; anger escalates into fury.
Youki, dark, dangerous, flares, presses against her, challenges and commands her. She recognizes it and struggles against it. Something all but forgotten within her stirs to life.
Kagome, bright, happy, it is a name. It is her name, she knows it, remembers. She is Kagome, Kagome is her and he is...
Sesshoumaru, enemy, ally, is also a name. A powerful name, a deadly one, and it is his. She feared it once, still does and yet not. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
The psychiatrist stares. In that moment, when myth and girl named one another, he saw her as she has not been since she became his patient. Her eyes were clear, her mind unbroken. Then the moment passes and the eyes become haunted once more. What had he done?
Mercy, weakness, strength, is not a virtue he embraces yet she has seen it in him. She is late, so late, but she must try.
"Don't kill," she starts, but is interrupted as madness rises up to claim her.
Speed, impossible, invisible, is the essence of his actions now. She was there and then she was not.
The psychiatrist does not even flinch when the wall is obliterated in another explosion. Impossible, swords cannot blow apart walls. Ridiculous that a myth should scoop his patient up in one arm and leap out into the night. Improbable that it should fly. Unfeasible that it should all occur within the blink of an eye. Unbearable that it should leave reality crumbling behind it. The psychiatrist did not move a millimetre even as flames began to lick the walls.
Soaring, floating and free, is a feeling beyond this world. She had missed this and she had never been this high. Fresh, fresh air and wind in her face.
The Higurashi family watched the breaking news in awe. This just in: disaster and death at the Tokyo Psychiatric Hospital. Chaos and panic, unexplained facts and bizarre accounts, all things the family recognizes, if only from description. Do they hope or despair?
The shrine, quiet and safe, is the beginning and end of it all. Home, shrine is home, was home, is home, she doesn't know, can't...can't...
They don't know whether to flee him or fight him when he lands in their courtyard, but he holds the daughter of the house in his arms so they stand their ground. Perhaps they should thank him. The being in question doesn't seem to care what they think, however.
Tentacles, crushing and ensnaring, have grasped her again. Fight them, fight them, fight, fight, fight.
He only has eyes for her at this moment. She fights endlessly. Shredding the jacket only gave momentary respite as she fights a foe that isn't there. Or rather, she fights the enemy within. For an instant the Higurashis think the youkai has abandoned her as she is suddenly left writhing on the ground. Then he is back, pressing a bow and arrow into her hands.
Wood, familiar and textured, forms shapes she knows, shapes she can use. Shapes have forms have functions have...have...
"Fight your enemies, Miko," he intones.
Poison, choking and cloying, is flowing in her veins, killing her mind. Well meant, she knows, well meant poison; salvation for the sick, death for the healthy. Poisons her like...like...like it once poisoned a wolf.
She only has the briefest second of clarity, but that second is all she needs. The bow drops from her fingers while the arrow whirls swiftly in her hand and is stabbed into her arm.
Burning, purging, healing, is flowing through her veins. Reiki, she remembers, it had always been there, trying to save her, needing to be aimed.
The light flares incandescent. Though it hurts him the youkai does not move. Implacable as ever, he stands staring through the glare, waiting for a miko to be reborn.
Clarity, blessing and curse, blooms within her mind. She remembers herself now, remembers her mistake, realizes her grief.
Tessaiga lay in its sheath at Sesshoumaru's waist, she knows what that means. Tears flow silently down her cheeks while the youkai looks at her impassively.
Inuyasha, hero and friend, is the dearest of names. Gone now, gone, gone, gone; never more to save her when she feels she needs him now most of all.
What is left for her here? A world that thinks she's insane, friends that betrayed, and a family that loves her but cannot protect her. To stay would be to endanger those she held dearest, but where would she go?
Despair, helpless and debilitating, is an emotion she hates. She was never a quitter even at her weakest moment.
"Kagome, will you come with me?" Sesshoumaru asks.
Surprise, welcome and puzzling, is an all too familiar emotion. Never saw that one coming.
Why, resounding, repeating, is the real question. Why did he save her? Why did he want her with him?
"To a place where youkai do not hide and miko can show their worth," he replied, holding out a clawed hand.
Fear, familiar and alien, grips her; fear of those claws, fear of the future. She had always done best in the past. And yet, and yet he did just save her, as he had saved her before. The why could wait.
She places her hand in his.
Optimism, remembered and cherished, had been so easy once. It would be so again. Smile, she should smile, she was, after all, Kagome.
Her family does not worry about her now. She smiled and hugged them all goodbye, facing the future with her accustomed cheer. Grief would touch on her, sadness would be felt, but her shoulders were always strong enough to bear the burden. She was meant for mystical lands, grand adventures, and daring deeds, a place where she could change the world just by being herself. Kagome would be fine, besides she was not alone. Dog youkai, it seemed, could not stop themselves from wanting to protect her.
Blue skies, radiant and wonderful, were on the horizon. Clouds would cover them, night would darken them, but the rain only served to wash them and the sun always rose to lighten them once more. Hope existed, happiness could be found again, she knew this, to believe otherwise would be insane.