A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. - Robert Frost
Four Weeks Later…
"Kagome," he whispered in her ear, Arro fluttering over their heads in lazy circles. "Wake up."
She murmured, her braided her wrapped around her throat as she shifted in his hold. Sleepy blue eyes blinked lazily open and he barely refrained from smiling at her attempt at hiding her yawn. "Sesshoumaru-sama?"
"I've kidnapped you from your friends." He stated softly, the rush of the wind adding a cadence to his words. Lanterns flickered behind him, ghostly beneath the evening skies and darkening clouds. The scent of rain and foreign spices came to her nose and she wriggled, blinking sleepily at his statement.
"You could've just asked, you know," she said, voice husky from disuse as he put her on her feet. She winced at the feel of the cold ground beneath her toes and then wondered why the ground felt cold to her but he didn't.
Before she could ask about the strange occurrence, Sesshoumaru gestured to the small crevasse at the side of the cliff from which a thin waterfall tinkled down. They were standing on a very small ledge and beneath them, a faint glimmer leading down the gorge indicated a river. "This," he smirked, "is the entrance to the Underworld. The River Styx," he gestured at the waterfall and down beneath them, "is the only connecting factor between the mortal realm and the realm of the dead."
Her mouth dropped open in shock before she grinned, surprising him. "Wicked awesome!"
He eyed her in her excitement for a moment, trying to understand how a mortal could be so excited about being shown the entrance to the Underworld by Death's surrogate.
She turned, eyes sparkling, distracting him. "Where's the Ferryman? And the boat? Would I be able to see the souls too?"
Sesshoumaru laughed. He couldn't help it. "You are the most peculiar creature I have ever met."
Kagome blushed. "Sorry. I'm a mythology nut."
He rested his hand on Bakusaiga, a gesture familiar with his old self. "It is of no consequence, priestess. I have shown you this place so that you have an escape route should you need it."
Kagome snorted. "Wouldn't it be easier to just kill myself rather than hike all the way up here?"
His good humor disappeared at her words and his eyes glinted silver-gold with his anger. "You will do no such thing."
Kagome took a step back, suddenly frightened of the figure in front of her. Power whirled around him like wind, flashed in his silver-gold eyes like lightening. He looked like the ghost of an avenging angel against the rising storm. She gulped. "No," she whispered, "no, I wouldn't."
"This is a last resort, Kagome. Inuyasha," he looked away from her, towards the rays of setting sun peeking through the far off clouds, "has not been overly stable of late- the jewel is beginning to work on him. If he fails to protect you and I am busy with my duties, then you must find a source of water and think of me. Take a breath and close your eyes. You will feel like you are drowning but when you wake, you will be here, on this ledge and I will find you."
Kagome gave a soundless gasp, heart stilling at his last words. She cursed herself for not getting over her crush but the words were out before she could keep them from him. "You'll find me?"
He bent down, smiling into her eyes, the tall frame of his body cool to the touch even through the layers of their clothing. "Yes, Kagome. I will find you. It is my honor to keep you safe, Lady Priestess."
He chuckled when she blushed bright red before wrapping them in shadows and soundlessly depositing her on her sleeping bag.
Kagome dreamt with a silly smile on her face the rest of the night and when she woke, she whistled.
Two Months Later…
Kagome huffed in annoyance as she slapped another budding tree branch away from her face, her friends keeping a wary distance from her. It had been four weeks since she had last seen Sesshoumaru and she was beginning to worry about him all the while knowing how foolish it was to worry.
After all, what could harm Death?
Still, in addition to going exhaustedly over and over their interactions, she worried. He had come to see her regularly after that conversation at the end of winter and while they exchanged no more than a few sentences, their meetings were precious to her.
The pretty, black-haired miko sighed as she trudged on, kicking stray rocks. Their meetings were also incontrovertibly revealing of the strain he was beginning to suffer carrying Hades' power.
She chewed her lip as she thought back to the things he had unconsciously told her about taking on the mantle of Death. Her Taiyoukai friend could no longer taste any food save the bloodiest of steaks and the ripest of pomegranates. He could barely feel warmth or cold. He couldn't smell anything anymore- he just knew what it was supposed to smell like and why and how long it had been alive.
That last one had truly disconcerted him since as an inuyoukai he had once relied heavily on his sense of smell.
Then again, he had gained more than he had lost in terms of ability and power. He was faster, stronger, near invincible for the time being, his knowledge of spells and auras, foreign magics increasing day by day. He had told her once that he now saw the world through sparks and souls and that it was more wondrous than anything he had ever seen before. He had looked at her then and his eyes had become so, so sad, looking over her head.
When his eyes had found hers again, her heart had almost stopped at the emotion she had seen in him. Then he had disappeared and she had been left to decipher what the hell it was that she had seen, what it meant for her.
Above her, cloaked in the invisibility of Death, Sesshoumaru watched her stomp loudly through the forest, having taken care of the two youkai that had been trailing the small band hours ago. His mouth tightened when she hissed and mopped at a cut on her hand. Inuyasha had turned to the miko and was watching her with a look akin to obsession, his gaze on the bottle around her neck for a second longer than usual- it didn't bode well.
Still, he didn't go down and speak with them. He was avoiding her.
No, he frowned. He was avoiding the knowledge that soon she would belong only to Hades and that he would never see her again.
The thought bothered him significantly more than he knew it should.
"You have 198 souls to reap by Evening's fall, Lord Death." The butterfly, Arro, drifted around his head and eventually he turned to follow it.
He did not want to acknowledge how attached he had grown to the charming young human, how he was beginning to collect small gifts for her that matched the color of her eyes, the shade of her lips.
His father was no doubt laughing at him from the grave.