They went to a nearby diner, one of her favorites. The place was more full of décor than it was patrons. Vinyl records, black and white photographs, and other odds and ends littered every corner of the restaurant. Kagome led him to a booth that was brightly lit and slid in before a waitress, who seemed to know her quite well came to take their order. He stared around the place; it was not somewhere he would usually give a second thought about entering. They made small talk about the weather and music until their food arrived. It was then that he allowed his curiosity to get the better of him, and he truly looked at her.
Kagome sat across from him, seemingly a different person than the one who had just an hour ago been up on stage, singing her sultry tunes. Now, instead of her hair curled in smooth waves, pinned up in a lovely hair style, she had it tied up into two simple pig tails where it fell in slightly crinkled patterns. In her ears was a pair of gold hoops, far too large for his taste. Her lips were painted a sweet shade of pink, completely different from the look she had just moments earlier.
She leaned forward, taking a French fry from the plate before him before dipping it liberally in the ketchup on her own, empty plate before her and leaning back to stuff it into her mouth happily. He raised an eyebrow but said nothing, simply noting how much weight she'd lost and, yet, how she'd continue to eat so hungrily. Not that she was extremely skinny, nor had she been excessively heavy before but – she had clearly changed.
Gone was the slightly lanky girl he had met in the past, and before him sat a young woman who seemed caught in perpetual personalities based on time, living a different era with each moment. Currently, she looked like she could have been a poster girl for the late 1980's. Her hair bobbed back and forth as she danced to the music overhead, mouthing the words over her food. He fought the urge to display his distaste at her actions.
Kagome had chosen a pair of bright pink leggings, black ankle-high sneakers, and a black camisole covered loosely with an over-sized gray cotton shirt that had the sleeves cut off and did absolutely nothing to hide her shoulders and arms from the world. This was tied down with a large, black belt that partially covered the image of some sort of rock band that he was unfamiliar with.
"I love that song! Poison never gets old!" Kagome said with a contented sigh before looking down at her plate forlornly. She smiled at him and reached over to steal more of his fries with a small laugh. "Get a good look?" He didn't seem very happy with her sarcastic nature but she just shrugged, "Not what you were expecting, right?"
He nodded slightly, and she laughed again before leaning over the table towards him to whisper conspiratorially, "I'll tell you a secret. Nothing is ever how you expect it to be."
Sesshomaru's eyes widened ever so slightly before his face fell into its usual placid form. That was undoubtedly true. Nothing was ever how he had expected them to be or had gone how he had expected them to go. In the past, he had expected to receive his father's title, lands, weapons, and praise. He had only received one sword and nothing else – he had never even inherited the lands from his mother. She had lived so long that she had been the final Lady of the West.
He had also expected things to go differently with Rin. He had never been entirely sure what he was seeking from her all those years, but he continued to dote on her as he always did by giving her lavish gifts for no reason, seeing to her safety and care, and assuring that she had everything her simple heart could desire. Then, one day, she turned to him with her bright smile to happily announce that she was in love and intended to marry a local human. Sesshomaru still could not entirely place the emotion that had sprung up within him at that moment. Jealousy? Fear? Loss? Perhaps all of those and more. While he had never expressed it outwardly, as he had no real notion as to what he was feeling and still struggled with his personal issues over her humanity, eventually he came to realize the truth – he had loved her.
Watching over her after that point had been painful, and yet he couldn't bring himself to turn away. A few weeks later, while he was leaving from one of his many visits with the girl, was when he had found Kagome. She had been stumbling around, heart beating erratically, clearly ill. He absently wondered why she was even there if she was so unwell. While he wasn't entirely sure where she disappeared to whenever she jumped in, he soon came to the realization that Kagome traveled somewhere through the abandoned well, as she was never there after a few seconds.
For a moment, he considered ignoring her entirely. Human women were clearly nothing more than trouble. They were something to be avoided. He had barely escaped from a woman's toxic grip and still was not entirely free from the slow-burning poison that flowed just beneath his skin. He should have left her there, let her hit the ground and die.
Instead, he caught her, not sure why he cared if she lived or not. She trembled in his arms and that single, simple action heightened the way his mind toyed with his emotions. For a moment, he saw her not as just a human or as a companion to his brother but as a woman. Her shocked reaction caused her to faint, and he felt an unusual swell of both pride and concern within him build. When he saw the blood trickling down her face instinct took over, and, before he could stop himself, he leaned forward to lick her clean and sterilize the wound. After her cut began to heal, he took a quick breath before practically tossing her over the lip of the well and letting her drop.
Inwardly, he wished she would never return. Maybe he could forget entirely about this moment of weakness and human women once and for all.
It would be a few more years before he first heard the saying 'be careful what you wish for, you just might get it'.
She never returned to the past.
He never forgot her.
Eventually, he stopped visiting the village for the sake of Rin – who married and had several children with her human mate – but found himself drawn to the mysteriously empty well nearby. Each time he went there, he felt an unusual sense of desperation building within. Would she come this time?
After all, if she showed up he could find some flaw, something he found so absolutely horrible that he could bring himself to stop thinking about her.
A few more decades would go by before he would hear the phrase 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'.
He really hated those phrases.
Years went by and he found himself unable to stop thinking about the woman he barely knew. It was infuriating!
It took him a while to figure out where she went when she fell into that well. At first, he had been concerned that he might not ever find her. Perhaps she went somewhere that he could not follow.
Soon, he learned that she went somewhere entirely tangible, somewhere he could easily get without even trying. The future.
He worked hard to assure things would be favorable for her. What few tidbits he had about her lifestyle led him to help shape Japan into what she would know. It certainly helped him pass the time.
His mother told him he was crazy. His brother had simply found amusement in his infatuation. They would both pass away, leaving him to his mission alone.
Sesshomaru studied human culture, spent more time with humans in order to learn about them and their needs. It was through them - scientists and writers - that he learned of a new phrase 'time paradox'. He would have to endure knowing she was alive but would have to wait until after their final encounter in order to meet her again. Those humans and their phrases!
Because he did not know exactly when they had met up, as no one seemed to know her exact birth date, he was left with nothing but a rough guess based on her appearance. It had been very hard when the years, fashions, and speech had begun to show that she was most likely alive. He had avoided the one place he knew he would find her for all this time – the well.
Then, as if by some twist of irony or some cruel trick of fate, he found her. Miles from the well and in a little hole-in-the-wall jazz club. He didn't frequent the place. He had just decided to go there to pass the time while he waited for her.
There she stood, on the stage, absolutely stunning. Inwardly, he cursed himself for wanting the frail, human woman so thoroughly. He had succumbed to her toxic poison so easily, and he doubted she even knew.
So here they were, sitting together, and he had no idea what to say.
She stared at him with a small smile. "What's on your mind?"
He physically startled, almost jumped, at her interruption of his thoughts. Quickly, he gathered himself and considered how to respond to her. He couldn't very well say 'you' as that would be strange and might end badly. Instead, he decided to employ what he had learned from other humans, small talk. "I was wondering what led you to jazz singing. Did your family not own a Shinto shrine?"
Her expression soured and she leaned back, crossing her arms defiantly. "So you think I'm a lazy bum, too? Well I've got news for you, I don't care what you or anyone else thinks." He raised an eyebrow, and she blushed slightly, giving out a sigh. "Sorry. A lot of people think I should go back and take over the shrine. They say I am being selfish by moving out and taking up singing. It's just that..." She trailed off and became very silent.
"Just that?" He questioned, wondering what had happened. She seemed like such an obedient girl before.
She frowned and let out a huff, blowing at her bangs in frustration. "It's just that I hate the memories."
Sesshomaru felt as if everything inside of him suddenly stilled. She hated the memories. That meant she didn't want to be reminded of the past. The past he came from. The past he'd waited through just to see her again. Did that mean she hated him? Perhaps she was just being polite so far and would regret them ever even meeting again?
Her shoulders slumped, and she lowered her head, pig tails sinking down as if they were actual ears. "I don't want to think about InuYasha. The last time we saw each other he really hurt me. It was too much. Everything reminded me of him, and I had to get away from it all." She let out a broken laugh and reached up to rub at her weary face with an open palm, "You probably wouldn't understand."
Oh, he understood. Probably better than she could imagine. He also knew that running away wouldn't solve anything. "You can't allow InuYasha's stupidity to control your life. He was never worthy of you and yet you allow him to affect you even now?"
Kagome was surprised by his words and stared up at him with a shocked expression before smiling crookedly. "Thanks, Sesshomaru, I appreciate that. Still, he isn't the only reason I don't want to take over the shrine. I really love music, and I enjoy what I do right now. Music is one of the few things that transcends time. It allows me to feel connected to the others in the past, even though I can't visit them anymore."
"Did the well stop functioning?" As far as he knew, that was not the case.
"No." She turned away, staring out at the busy streets outside, "He asked me to stop coming."
So that's what it was. That idiot. Sesshomaru felt a rage swell up in him. He should have killed that bastard long ago. Not only had he forcefully kept her away from him and her friends but he had also hurt her in the process. "Why did you listen to him?"
Kagome shrugged. "I figured he must be worried about me. He said that I was in danger when I was there and that I needed to stay away for my safety. He was pretty serious and he rarely gets that way. I'm not sure what was so dangerous, but I figured it was okay. Our relationship had died off. I know the others cared for me, but they would understand and be just as happy without me. Kaede had Rin, Sango and Miroku had each other and their children, and what did I have, really? Who would honestly miss me?"
He sat there across from her and, before he could stop himself, spoke, trying his best to comfort her. "I did."
She turned to stare at him, eyes wide and mouth hanging open in surprise. "What?"
Sesshomaru considered not repeating himself and passing it off as if she had misheard. That was the cowards way out; he couldn't do that. He had to suck it up and admit the truth, "I missed you."
Her face flushed nicely, and she swallowed hard before staring at him for a few moments more, lower lip trembling. A smile blossomed on her face, widening as tears welled in her eyes before slowly tumbling down her cheeks, "Thank you, Sesshomaru. You have no idea how much that means to me."
She was right. He really had no idea how much it meant to her, but he knew what it meant to him and that was all that mattered right now.