A/N: This is the first fanfic I've ever written, so this should be fun. Rating for adult themes and language. No triggers but there is a good bit of angst before the happy parts, so you've been warned. It also has not seen a beta.
Currently this is a one-shot only, but if I get inspired or something by a sudden idea or review, I may continue it with another one-shot or something. Oh and this is post-canon, with what I believe to be a realistic portrayal of how our two lovely persons might find their paths crossing again—and Sesshomaru's a bit of a mix between his manga and anime personalities. He's sarcastic, snarky, but reserved in terms of letting people close.
And I think it's a bit silly to go on and on about how I don't own anything because, really, isn't that the whole point of fanfiction?
He wasn't what she wanted.
She stood beneath the Goshinboku, her hand absently reaching up to stroke the bark where Kikyo's arrow had pierced InuYasha's chest—the same arrow her own reincarnation had removed when Kagome had been dragged forcefully from her own time.
Somehow, she'd always thought she'd be with him. She'd loved him the entire time she'd traveled with him . . . and she loved him the long three years she'd been away finishing school. When she'd returned from the future back to the Warring States Era, like everyone else she thought she'd marry InuYasha and build her life with him together.
It wasn't that she'd stopped loving him. She still loved him and she didn't think that would ever change, but more and more often she was getting the feeling that this wasn't right. She'd changed in the time she'd been gone . . . and so had he.
She was happy that InuYasha was beginning to settle down, taking his work with Miroku seriously even though he was constantly bored with the lack of challenge the lesser yokai they faced presented. In fact, InuYasha seemed to be thriving amongst the villagers, living with Kaede and taking up a sort of village protector and leadership role—one that no doubt would make the transition easier once Kaede passed.
The others, too, had made their own lives. Shippo was gone training, as was Kohaku. Rin was learning herself again on how to be a human girl with Kaede. Sango had three children of her own with Miroku to care for, and now InuYasha was often gone for days at a time trying to ensure their village and the villages around it were safe if he wasn't off working with Miroku in neighboring villages.
But the more things seemed peaceful here, the more Kagome missed the days of Naraku. The Shikon jewel was on, there was nothing to draw trouble here even for Kagome, and her training and herbs were no longer used for anything but farming mishaps and the occasional wound from an overexuberant child.
In short, Kagome felt unneeded. She had no purpose, and it left her feeling antsy with the need to roam, with the need to try to find something better. Kagome needed to be needed, even if it was just for her shard-detecting or purifying capabilities. She wanted someone to want her, need her, so she could feel like she actually belonged.
She sighed as she sank down onto the soil beneath the tree, uncaring if her own pristine red and white clothing was stained. Washing it later, after all, would at least give her something to do.
Was it so wrong for her to want more? She felt guilty for missing the Shikon and Naraku, for wanting more than what her friends could give her, and for thinking about leaving them and their lives here, but she couldn't seem to help herself. She wanted everyone to be happy, but somehow their happiness seemed to be taking root without her own, and without her realizing it, three years had gone by since she'd returned from the future. Three years, yet nothing had changed.
"Goshinboku has seen much in its life, Kagome, but ye do not seem to find comfort with it these days."
Kagome didn't bother to look up from where she was drawing circles into the dirt with a nearby stick she'd been fidgeting with, knowing she would find Kaede hobbling slowly over to her. "Is it wrong?" she finally asked when Kaede didn't speak up, leaving Kaede confused at her cryptic words. "I feel like I'm betraying everyone, even an old tree."
"What is bothering you these past moons, Kagome? Ye were happy when ye first arrived." Kaede slowly lowered herself to the ground to sit next to her pupil, wondering to herself if perhaps she'd been right in training both Kagome and Rin. She'd always figured the former would stay to care for the villagers while the latter would leave, but as time drew on, Rin was the one becoming more and more situated in village life and her own priestess abilities while Kagome seemed to be the one growing more and more restless.
"I was happy at first." Kagome sighed, plucking at her sleeve as she felt increasingly miserable. Once she'd started to answer Kaede, the words just seemed to drop right out of her mouth. "But I'm not anymore. I wanted to be happy here, but all I can think about is everybody seems to have a purpose here but me! It's like being back home all over again and I'm still intruding on everyone's lives. The whole world's going on without me and I'm sitting here beneath the only other thing in this village besides me that won't age and die like everyone else! I keep feeling like I don't belong here anymore, Kaede-sensei, and that feeling isn't going away no matter how hard I try!"
Kaede paused, muddling her way through Kagome's words. She'd heard what had happened with Kagome and the yokai who'd devoured the celestial maiden, but only Kagome and Miroku had been convinced of the yokai's words. Admittedly, Kagome had not aged much since her return aside from a slight maturing of her features, but the girl had already admitted that people aged more slowly in her time so Kaede hadn't thought much about it. Kaede had finally concluded that if there had been a lack of aging, it was due to the Shikon—which was now gone, freeing Kagome to live her own life normally as a human girl the way her previous incarnation had always wanted.
"Kagome, perhaps ye need some time away from the village. Have ye asked InuYasha about traveling with him next time he leaves?" Kaede finally offered, hoping to salve the girl's restlessness. InuYasha was the only one who knew of Kagome's own time and Kaede hoped that he could help the girl settle into her chosen time with more ease.
"He says it's too dangerous," Kagome paused to wipe at her face, disturbed at the mixture of sweat and tears she hadn't realized had formed, "which doesn't make any sense because we're both more powerful than we were before. Besides, the only demon with any strength left around here is Sesshomaru and he's too busy running his own lands to even bother bugging InuYasha anymore!"
"Child, perhaps InuYasha is just afraid ye might leave him again." Kaede shifted, suddenly feeling as though her ominous words might well end up as a prediction. She opened her mouth to say more but Rin's voice began calling for her to hurry for the sake of the baby. Another woman in the village was having a baby and Kaede still wasn't sure Rin knew enough to assist the woman on her own. "Forgive me, Kagome. Ye just rest for today. Rin and I will handle the birth."
Kaede stood with Kagome's help and hobbled after Rin, who'd already taken off in the direction of the woman's hut. Rin's time in the village hadn't tempered her active nature or tendencies to run off, it seemed, no matter how long it'd been since she'd traveled with Lord Sesshomaru.
"What if I did leave? Would that really be so bad?" Kagome's whispered words hung in the air long after Kaede had left, but no one else was around to hear them.
Sesshomaru growled, glaring at the pile of scrolls and missives that had piled up in his absence during his hunt for Naraku—and continued to pile up ever since his return to his own lands. No one, it seemed, had been intelligent enough to do their damn jobs in his absence, and he was growing increasingly frustrated with how long it was taking to finish theirs so he could finish his own. Jaken was of little use, for the little demon was too busy pestering servants with tales of their great lord's many successes whilst he'd been away for the annoying demon to do much of anything else.
Though, Sesshomaru supposed, besides the endless missives there wasn't much left for him to do. After learning of his pivotal role in destroying the hanyo Naraku, most of the other demons had given him a wide berth. No one bothered challenging his rule whatsoever, including the other lords in the south, east, and north. Out of boredom, he'd had his men encroach on one of the other lord's lands hoping to spark a little skirmish, but before Sesshomaru could even engage the Southern Lord's men, the other lord had simply sent him a messenger saying that Sesshomaru was more than welcome to the thick valley Sesshomaru had attempted to claim.
What was the point in trying to conquer the lands around him if it was just going to be gifted to him?
He barred his fangs, wishing someone would be stupid enough to challenge him for his own lands just so he'd have something interesting to do. Too bad Naraku had tried to assimilate any demons worth their strength, leaving the stronger yokai or daiyokai to either retreat or be killed, and Sesshomaru had the feeling it would be a few decades before any yokai with strength would be openly moving about his lands again. Even his own court here was terrified of him, and he suspected they'd agree with anything he said just to avoid enduring his presence for any length of time.
His claws drummed against his desk in irritation. As much as he'd detested the hanyo that had thought to possess and control him, Sesshomaru found himself looking back to those days. Though neither the hanyo nor his own hanyo half-brother had been any real challenge, at least they'd been amusing enough to entertain him through their encounters.
He shifted, running a hand over his mokomoko as he thought. Perhaps when he finished his own work he'd travel to the village to see Rin and try to goad the hanyo into a fight. It would at least give him a brief distraction from the monotony his life had become.
"Oi, Sesshomaru, 'bout damn time you showed up here." InuYasha didn't bother moving for their father's fang. Instead, he just shoved his hands into his sleeves as if Sesshomaru wasn't even worth the time to fight and glared up at the tree limb he was standing on to his half-brother's cloud. "Fucking bastard. Rin's been asking about you a lot lately. Do yah even know how fucking long it's been since you showed your ugly face around here?"
Sesshomaru, however, was not willing to give up his entertainment just yet. It was, after all, his motivation for finishing his work as quickly as he had. "InuYasha," he greeted his brother. "I must admit that the care you've extended to this one's ward is quite . . . involved. This one is surprised your mate allows it . . . or is it that you intend to take after our esteemed father and procure an additional mate? Are you so deluded that you believe your diluted blood is strong enough to attempt such a thing?"
Instead of the usual rage he'd come to expect from his half-brother, InuYasha stared at his bare feet and Sesshomaru's eyes widened when he noted the sudden blush on his brother's face.
"Keh. Rin's just a kid, yah sick bastard. How can yah say something like that about your own ward?"
It wasn't the reaction he was looking for, but at least it was something. Perhaps if he just continued in this direction, he'd get what he'd come for. "This Sesshomaru was made aware by Kaede that this one's ward started her menses before your mate arrived."
"Keh. I ain't mated Kagome." InuYasha didn't elaborate further, but Sesshomaru was suddenly curious. The last and only encounter he'd had with the priestess since her return had suggested that she'd already mated with his brother.
He lowered his cloud just enough to get a whiff of his brother to ascertain the truth of his brother's words himself. His eyes widened slightly when he noted that his brother not only lacked the priestess' scent, but it also smelt more clean and groomed than usual, as if the hanyo was attempting to impress someone. Worse, he could smell his own ward's lingering scent and the faint scent of desire, suggesting she'd been with the hanyo previously, and suddenly his comment earlier about InuYasha mating his ward seemed far more tangible.
"You are courting this one's ward," Sesshomaru stated, confident in his conclusion. "You intend to mate Rin."
"It ain't that serious, fucker. She's just been lonely. Time passes differently for humans and she's been waiting here alone for you to visit again. That's all. Keh. Besides she's still too young for anyone to mate." InuYasha shoved his hands further into his sleeve, looking increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation.
"Hnn. This one has been busy." Sesshomaru was reluctant to continue, but he wasn't willing to give up eliciting a reaction from his brother yet. Another scent, further beyond his brother, reached his nose, followed by yet another, and he grinned slightly in recognition. Perhaps this would give him the satisfaction he craved. "Admit the truth, hanyo. This one scented your desire for her and hers for you. You would have this one's ward for your mate and there is nothing holding you back, since you no longer desire to mate the priestess."
"What the fuck, Sesshomaru!" InuYasha suddenly exploded and Sesshomaru's eyes closed partially in pleasure as he finally got his anticipated reaction. "Why do you care so much? Not that it's any business of yours, bastard, but I ain't right for Kagome and I know that! We'll both always think of Kikyo and that ain't fair to her! I don't fucking deserve her, okay?"
InuYasha huffed as he tried to calm himself down. He wasn't going to lose his cool over something he couldn't change, anyway, and he had to try and keep his own blood in check. He'd spoken only of the truth, but Sesshomaru had no reason to know just how much more was going on in his half-brother's mind.
"So you decided that Rin was an appropriate second choice? Or should I say third, given the priestess and her reincarnation?"
Sesshomaru's taunt nearly sent InuYasha over the edge again with the insinuation that InuYasha was once again abandoning Kagome for another priestess—though this one wasn't her previous incarnation. Sesshomaru had hit a nerve, and InuYasha figured he was doing it just to keep Rin away from the hanyo half-brother he saw as worthless. Bitterly, he felt the words rising up as he finally acknowledged Sesshomaru's insinuation and, for once, allowed the full truth to drop from his lips without any thought of ramification or the people he could hurt.
"What the fuck are you suggesting, Sesshomaru? That I'm picking Rin because I can't have Kagome? You fucking bastard! It ain't like that at all! Rin's somethin' special, okay, and if I wasn't so worried about the kids we might have or how the villagers would treat her I'd be honored to mate her! She deserves better than some hanyo the villagers barely tolerate or kids who can't control their demon sides and I know that too!" InuYasha struck at the tree with his claws in frustration, and Sesshomaru barely hid a sigh when InuYasha yet again deprived him of yet another chance to fight. It would have been far more worthwhile if the hanyo had turned on him instead of the tree, but it seemed the hanyo was determined to deprive Sesshomaru of what he was due.
"You should have told me, InuYasha."
InuYasha flinched as he glanced down at the ground to see both Kagome and Rin, dressed in their priestess garb and looking as though they'd run out here in the forest looking for him. Guilt washed over him as he realized Kaede must have sent them looking for him, and instead of being in the village where he was needed he was out here, arguing with his own half-brother over issues that would no doubt hurt both of the women he'd grown to care about.
"I'm sorry, Kagome," InuYasha finally said, glancing away from both of them in shame. "I didn't know how. You came back here for me and I was so happy at first, I really was. But the more time I spent with you, the more it didn't feel right. I went off to think a lot and I ran into Rin and we ended up just talking. It was so different being with Rin and it was nice, but then I'd feel guilty when I saw you, and so I'd just go off again. Only when I did, there was Rin and then I realized I was doing it all over again, only this time, it was with Rin instead of Kikyo . . . and I didn't want to hurt you again but I didn't want to hurt her, either."
"I know, InuYasha. I didn't want to hurt you, either." Kagome shifted her weight, feeling equally burdened. "I noticed a while ago that we were growing apart but we had those plans when I'd first came back and I thought it would hurt you and everyone else if we broke them now . . . But I felt so guilty, too, because I didn't love you like I should."
"I'm so sorry, Kagome." InuYasha nearly choked on his words as he stared at Kagome. "And," he added, unable to face Rin and see the pain he knew would be there, "I'm so sorry, Rin. I didn't mean to trouble you."
Sesshomaru hovered there, watching the troubles he'd forced to air with a feeling of malcontent. The tears in both priestesses' eyes only made him more irritable, and he was growing increasingly frustrated with how nothing turned out like he'd anticipated. He should have left, but he couldn't seem to pull his thoughts and emotions together enough to redirect his cloud and he had no desire to ground himself and directly face the troubles he'd caused his ward.
"Rin thinks . . . " Rin stopped and inhaled slowly. "I think that you are one of the most honorable demons I've met. I don't care that you're a hanyo, InuYasha. It never mattered to me. You're as honorable and caring as Lord Sesshomaru and . . . I kept wishing you'd ask me to marry you but I thought you wouldn't because of Lord Sesshomaru and Jaken and Ah-Un and because you thought I was still a kid."
InuYasha jumped down from his tree perch and freed his hands from his robe. "It ain't like that. I was just tryin' to protect you, Rin. You deserve better. Because you're that bastard's ward, you could have anybody—a human lord, a demon, a demon lord even—so there's no need to settle for someone like me who can't even control himself without a stupid sword and some enchanted beads." He kicked at the dirt.
"Kagome removed those beads, remember?" Rin moved closer and slowly pulled one clawed hand in between her own hands. "That shows how much faith she has in you. And Lord Sesshomaru trusted you to keep me safe when he left me in this village, so that shows that he's already accepted you. I don't want anyone else, InuYasha. I think you're the only one who could really understand me and what I've been through."
Kagome stepped back as Rin pulled InuYasha into a hug, feeling as though she was—once again—intruding in her friends' lives. She had a pretty good idea what would happen next, and she definitely had no desire to be around for that. Watching her best friend and the girl she'd seen grow up have sex would no doubt have her eyes nearly bleeding.
Besides, Rin was right. Both Rin and InuYasha had grown up as orphans. Both of them had the same demon lord as a pivotal part of their lives. Both of them had to struggle on their own to survive and rely initially only upon themselves. They had so much in common that Kagome wondered why she'd never seen their relationship developing before today, and suddenly, she felt inherently stupid. Rin was sixteen years old and, for a sixteen-year-old hanyo that had barely aged at all since their battles with Naraku, they were both more than old enough for marriage in this time.
But she couldn't stay there and watch them. She loved them both, just as she loved everyone else in the village, but she couldn't keep staying there and watch their happiness bloom and grow, hearing them have sex at night, seeing Rin give birth to their kids, while she stayed on the fringes alone. With Rin willingly staying behind with InuYasha to serve as priestess and care for the village, Kagome had lost her last little spot in the village. She wanted them to be happy, but she was beginning to realize she needed her own, too.
She turned and headed deeper into the forest, but not before she heard InuYasha whisper his love to yet another woman that wasn't her.
She didn't want InuYasha anymore, but it still broke her heart and severed the last tendrils of the relationship between them. No matter what happened from now on, their relationship would never be the same. There was no going back; they'd made their choices.
Like Kagome, Sesshomaru hadn't stuck around to see his half-brother rut and then mate his ward. There were some memories he could do without, and that was definitely at the top of his list.
Instead, he found himself slowly trailing after the priestess, dissipating the cloud and dropping to traverse the ground once he'd moved far enough away from his half-brother and Rin—who was about to become truly related to him through her mating and subsequent marriage.
He followed her only because he'd had nothing better to do and he wasn't ready to return home after his latest disappointment in curing his perpetual boredom. His work was done for now anyway, and he'd missed the feeling of traveling outside with no real destination in mind. Perhaps, when he returned, he'd make a bigger effort to more fully patrol his own lands as his father had once done. At least it would help him find a sense of peace.
For now, though, he would try to work out the restlessness—brought on by boredom and the lack of fulfillment that had followed antagonizing his half-brother—through this aimless travel the priestess ahead seemed to be indulging in.
"Don't you care?"
He stopped in surprise when Kagome's voice called out as she stepped around a tree in front of them. He hadn't realized she sensed he was following, and she'd been quiet enough as he'd trailed along a small distance behind her that he had thought her lost to her own thoughts.
"No," he finally answered, intrigued as to why she was suddenly questioning him about his ward, and why now instead of when he'd first started following her. Perhaps she hadn't noticed him?
"Why not?" Kagome still didn't turn around to face him as she spoke, but he was curious enough that he found he didn't care much about the slight at the moment. He could always rectify the situation later.
"This one had no intentions of mating her."
"So? You hate your half-brother, right? So wouldn't you want her to marry someone else?"
"Rin has already chosen." He was relieved when she started walking again, allowing him the space and time to think before he responded—a luxury he'd missed in his castle.
"So that's it? Rin's chosen and you're okay with that?" Kagome's voice echoed her disbelief.
They both fell silent after that, to his disappointment. He continued to wander with her, and as time went on her pace fell into step with his so that no one was really following after the other. They were both mutually and aimlessly wandering, and somehow that brought a sense of peace to his mind that he hadn't felt since he was a pup.
Was this why her companions had traveled with Kagome?
He admitted to himself that it was a welcome feeling. The priestess was acting oddly out of character, enough to help shake some of his boredom, and it made him want to latch onto that distraction for as long as it would possibly last him. Even if it was only through the remainder of her short life, it would hopefully be enough to content him.
At the very least, her very presence seemed to offer something nothing else thus far had.
"Priestess." He deliberately called out to her, an idea already forming into his mind.
"Kagome," she corrected automatically, but Kagome didn't really expect him to pay her any attention. He hadn't bothered before with using her name when she'd corrected him—an irritable family trait, she'd noticed—so she figured it wasn't going to be any different now.
"Where do you travel to?"
She blinked at the question. "Nowhere, I guess." She realized immediately how stupid that sounded. She was literally wandering with only the clothes on her back, and yet despite the lack of supplies, she had no real desire to go back to the village to gather any anytime soon. "Why?" she added, curious. Sesshomaru didn't seem like the type to care about her wellbeing, so his question didn't make sense. It seemed entirely out of character for him to care enough to ask anyone anything, rather than demand it, and she was determined to figure out why.
"This one has not wandered since the hanyo died, but it has been missed." His expression didn't change and neither did his tone, leaving her to try to puzzle out his meaning.
"It's nice, isn't it?" She finally settled for a noncommittal answer, deciding that Sesshomaru hadn't really meant much of anything by his words. "You know, walking like this? It kind of soothes the soul."
"Would you travel with this one?"
She gaped at him, slowing her steps to a near-halt once again. "You can't be serious."
"Hnn." He didn't bother answering her as she wanted because that meant repeating himself, and that was something he would be forced to do only with his idiot half-brother and Jaken. The priestess was at least slightly more intelligent than them, so she could figure out what he'd meant herself.
"You are serious!" she finally yelped as he hid a wince at the high pitch. "Look, Sesshomaru, it's nice of you to offer," she ignored his bristling at the word 'nice' and plowed on, "but I might be wandering for a while. I don't know. I'm not like other humans. I won't age. And I have a lot to think through, so it could take longer than you'd think. I doubt you'd want to be stuck with me that long."
He barely hid his surprise at her words. She wouldn't age? It was highly improbable—all things aged. Even demons themselves aged, albeit more slowly. The only creatures that did not were the kami and those they blessed.
If she had indeed been touched by the kami, then she should have had some sort of mark upon her person to signify that she had received such an honor. Yet the girl had run around nearly nude for most of the time she'd spent here, and not once had he noted what would have been such a prominent marking.
Perhaps, then, it was hidden under her clothes, which made him question again her humility. Most humans would have shown off such a mark, yet she did not. That led him to believe either she did not know of the mark, or that she was comfortable showing everything off but the mark, which only served to confuse him further.
If she was indeed marked, then he found himself wondering what would have happened if InuYasha had mated the girl instead of his ward. Matings blended the powers and auras of both persons, with the stronger person ending up the dominant of the relationship. It stood to reason that Kagome would have then become the dominant, both by her own pure power as a priestess and this lack of aging—his lip curled slightly in disgust at the thought of his own kin being so totally dominated by a human woman, no matter how powerful—but if Kagome instead had mated someone with equal power? What, then, would happen? Would the gifts be shared, the exchange equal? Would his gifts spread to her as well? Would the exchange strengthen or weaken the two? Would her lack of aging spread to the other partner?
Or, perhaps, would her own limitless lifespan then be limited to share that lifespan with her mate, as happened with most human-yokai matings? Would her limitless humanity affect a yokai in other ways?
"Explain this lack of aging," he demanded, reaching out to grip her arm and pull her to a complete halt.
"It's a long story," Kagome answered, trying in vain to shrug off his grip, "and even then we're still not sure how it happened."
Suddenly, he realized he'd found his entertainment, at least for now, in the puzzle that was Kagome.
"Then, priestess, this one will travel with you until it is figured out."
He expected her to argue as she was wont for doing, but instead she nodded, and he realized then that she'd been as without purpose as he. In helping to alleviate his curiosity, she'd gained a sense of purpose and peace she'd lost with the fall of the hanyo.
"I'd like that," she finally answered, feeling the beginnings of a smile slip across her face—something that hadn't happened in months. "I'd really like that."
She didn't get a verbal response, but the slight relaxation of his posture suggested that he was as content with the situation as she.
A / N: Well, I rather dislike having two in this piece, but in this case, it is necessary. More or less, anyway. This piece was a challenge from a friend, who issued me a challenge to complete that did not have usual tropes. So, the challenge:
To write a SessKag canon fanfic where Sesshomaru gains his arms in the normal manner without Kagome returning it to him; Naraku/Kikyo/InuYasha could not in any way be the villain for their relationship; Sesshomaru's beast doesn't speak; Sesshomaru does not instantly desire Kagome due to smell or any other senses; Kagome does not end up hating Sesshomaru or InuYasha at any point of the story; InuYasha does not end up mating with Shiori or Sango; Kagome does not become a yokai; Sesshomaru and Kagome cannot deal with the courts or other demon lords trying to always break them apart; and there is no mating biting mark to make someone a mate.
I rather think I did well—of course, I suppose it helps to not have an actual mating take place in the fic. Even if I do expand it, however, I still will continue to follow this little challenge. Though now I'm going to issue said challenge to any readers here who also are writers, because I'm intrigued to see how others might take on the challenge. If you do, message me the link to the story so I can read it!