This oneshot owes its existence to eien-no-baisho, a talented author who's been working on an epic piece called Behind the Silk Screen. Kaede's death in Chapter 13 somehow came to life in my head, with a little twist to it, and with eien's permission I present it to you. You don't need to read that story before this one—it's incredibly long—but I highly recommended it for its own sake (you'll thank me—or not, if you love your sleep).
It might help you to know that in this AU, Kagome is a fully trained miko under Kaede's tutelage, and had left the village she grew up in for a period of time. Inuyasha is Tennō—emperor, essentially—of Japan in the time period they're in. She returns to her village with Inuyasha to protect it from an attacking youkai horde and events transpire.
Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to point out any rookie mistakes while you're here.
I am not Rumiko Takahashi in secret, and wave off any claims to ownership.
If silence could kill...
A dry laugh echoed through her mind. Figures I'd finally develop some sense of humor at a time like this.
Kagome was staring at a wrinkle between her senior miko's brows. It had that pulpy, almost scaly quality of skin that had consistently renewed itself for a long time, and was promptly getting exhausted. She was waiting for it to smoothen itself out—that wrinkle, for it seemed weirdly stuck like that—amidst her own dark thoughts, amidst sluggish recollections and the sharp tang of suspicious, surfacing emotions. It'll happen... now. Now. And... now.
It didn't. Kagome's natural restlessness started to nag in the hollowness of her head, ringing, filling the nothing with something, and she blanched at the thought that she'd been drawing out the waiting for too long. She wondered if that nagging voice had always been there, ignored at first so she could do what she needed to. One must clean and dress them up; done. One must sit still, and look at their face; she did. After that, she wasn't sure… something must surely happen if she looked at the face. Although...
She—she didn't know what to do with herself. Some strange fear rose and fell like waves from the thought that this uncertainty troubled her more than what she was actually looking at. How selfish.
She reached out a hand to try and smooth it out herself—that wrinkle—reached out to Kaede's scaly-skinned face. Then she felt kind of sick at remembering she was about to reach out to touch a face. One that couldn't express surprise at the gesture, couldn't cringe at the approach of her dirty fingers. Briefly she thought Kaede would have been incensed at the waste of her etiquette lessons. Her arm did motions like the chameleon's in the Tennō's personal menagerie.
Kagome had been staring at a wrinkle between her dead senior priestesses' cold, pasty brows. For a second, the thought distracted her of how a dead person's muscles stayed like that after, well, death and all. She lowered her hand to her lap. Elusive scenes of—now that she thought about it—downright ridiculousness came and went in her mind. Just this afternoon she had come running back to her village at the news of attacks from youkai masses. She came to fight them off and helped erect a village-wide barrier with her cleansing powers. She'd watched as a giant spider youkai stuck its foot into Kaede-sama's chest.
She saw something else then. It's 10 years ago; Kaede is berating her for aborting meditation training at the feel of 8 hairy legs scuttling along her own. Kaede promptly brushed it away from bared, flailing legs with a sleeve. That tiny critter has more reason to be afraid of a screaming little girl! she's bellowing over Kagome's girlish wails. But now she's gotten squashed by the same "tiny" little creature!
What started out as muffled snickering, hand clamped over her mouth, quickly morphed into full-on laughter, then guffaws. And just as suddenly, the mouth poised to inhale just wouldn't close. Crinkled eyes broke at the edges into something more undignified; lids tucked as far into the sockets as they go, whites around the irises shining a terrible sheen. She heard wheezing like deathly asthma she used to heal among the village children, mildly surprised that it came from her. Despite the sound's familiarity, she wasn't sure if this was the type she could heal. And again Kagome was strangely frightened, not because of the feelings bubbling up from some deep, bursting reservoir, but from the alarming self-awareness. She knew she was nose-diving into the ugliest state she'd ever been in, and couldn't bury herself in the experience, couldn't hide under the emotions so that she wouldn't have to think anymore, dammit! Couldn't give Kaede-sama what she deserved—
She didn't want to know that embarrasing convulsions wracked her torso as red sleeves enclosed from behind. She wanted to forget that rearing her head back made her bump into his teeth. She wished to drown out the awkward lull from him accidentally palming a breast, momentarily lost as to where to put his hands. She wanted to ignore the warmth blooming from her stomach the very first time she felt his chest against her back.
She kept her arms tucked to her sides through this, and wailed, and wailed. And he held her.
Her wild eyes finally settled on the fire pit some feet away, finding dying embers and glowing coals. One of his hands reached up and clawed fingers carefully fumbled their way to her face, stroked her forehead and the bridge of her nose with calloused pads of his fingers. Had Inuyasha had been staring at a wrinkle between his miko's brows? Kagome hadn't seen it, but she felt that she knew.
Having powers like hers let her scope out the world in so wide a vision that she knew, always knew, that there was much more to be done, much yet to accomplish. That didn't mean having senses like hers didn't come with a mind to match it, or a competent body to respond. She knew that, too, knew it more than anything. Kaede once told her she had the curse of a big heart to wield that big scope, and that it was a combination fated for suffering.
Here, however, he was. Watching for her wrinkles, smoothing them out for her. The one arm around her tightened as if following her thoughts, the other hand settled beneath her ear now, holding firm though the job was done.
With this, she abandoned herself (Oh kami, this ugly, ugly self) for him to deal with, and all else, whatever else, she gave to her former mentor.