Kindred Spirits by Aviel
Disclaimer: Though it saddens me to say it, I don’t own anything relating to Takahashi-sensei’s Inuyasha. However, the plot and/or ideas of this story do belong to me.
Chapter 1: Gravitation
“Is it possible to love too much?”
The words formed a melancholy sound, a mere whisper of childlike honesty that he was unaccustomed to hearing. And in the night air, he wondered if the lingering feeling of emptiness was the result of the looming trees nearby or his own sentiments, privy to none but his lonely mind. That’s not to say that he considered himself to be such… though his followers and brief allies sometimes believed it to be true. From where they conceived the foolish notion he did not know or care to analyze their thought process; he only concerned himself with his personal security–his aloof personality notwithstanding. Some believed his cold demeanor came from his bloodline. Others assumed it was because of an early betrayal in his adolescence. Nevertheless, he hadn’t ever felt inclined to address the gossip, deeming it an act unworthy of his time.
The subject held no significance to him other than the fact that he wouldn’t succumb to its effects until at least a few millenia had passed. Such had been the fate of his father and such would be the same for him. He couldn’t fathom sacrificing his life for his significant other or newborn child, but he supposed he could understand his father’s reasoning before his demise. He just couldn’t forgive him for leaving his family behind on an impulse. His great and terrible sire had abandoned his logic and allowed his instincts to prevail. And this would always be an inexcusable memory. He wouldn’t ever be so lax… or careless.
The voice filtered through his brain again, an inkling of concern and respect overtaking the tones of his name. Deciding that it was acceptable, he graced the speaker with a response.
“What is it, miko?”
The woman that had been nestled close to his arm peered at him from beneath dark lashes and furrowed brows. “Where did you go just now?” she asked.
“`Where,’ indeed,” he murmured lowly, regarding her expression from the corner of his eye. It seemed that she wasn’t pleased with his lack of a proper answer. But he didn’t care; there were secrets he was determined to keep to himself. Even the human and her piercing blue eyes wouldn’t be able to force him to reveal everything unless he willingly decided to let her in. As it was, they didn’t have such a relationship, even if she insisted that they were “friends.”
He snorted at the ridiculous thought, making the petite female jump at the unexpected sound. He felt great amusement when she turned toward him with eyes narrowed in suspicion. The tip of her pert nose glowed with a hue of rose pink as a pale stream of her breath passed through her colorless lips. At this, he frowned. She was much colder than she had led him to believe. Even he knew that mortals were susceptible to illnesses from the weather. Many perished under extreme circumstances. He didn’t think even the Shikon Miko was immune. She wasn’t that lucky.
A deep rumble in his chest eased the hollow ache he felt there. The priestess had survived so much strife and turmoil during her quest for the shards of the Jewel that the thought of her being defeated by such a simple thing was disturbing. That her humanity would be the source of her downfall annoyed him for some reason. And the fact that he couldn’t even fault her for it was even more irritating. If anything, he was mad at himself for thinking it was unfair for the world to allow her to live such a short existence while he would be allowed to have nearly an infinite amount of lifetimes.
The Western Lord blinked slowly as he arrived at the startling conclusion that both futures were unappealing no matter how one looked at them. There was no middle ground. To live out an extraordinarily long life or experience an incredibly quick one with no lasting impressions on the earth… It was unnerving.
He did not know which one he preferred, honestly.
The weight at his side pulled him from his morbid contemplation before he could go deeper, and he found himself somewhat relieved. His death was never an avenue he thought he’d ever explore. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to revisit it. At least, not anytime soon, especially with the aforementioned woman beside him. He wondered what she would think if he told her that he had thought about her death again. The first time only happened because she had been in his way, and his half-brother had been an overemotional idiot. Regardless, he didn’t feel the need to point this out to her. Inuyasha was still an idiot.
A quiet sigh–a real one this time–reached his ears as his companion raised a small, ceramic cup to her lips, eyes misty with regret and hands trembling as her blood struggled to keep them warm. She was foolish, of course, and awfully stubborn. He didn’t know why she had preferred his company–and the silence that came with it–over the comfort of her modest home. A blazing fire seemed like the better alternative compared to braving the frigid temperatures outside. Although, he supposed, the human female had the habit of surrounding herself with any form of danger. Oftentimes, trouble followed her wherever she went, attracted to both her innocence and overwhelming purity.
In this case, however, she appeared to be the one who wouldn’t leave his side. Sesshoumaru refused to believe that he had somehow found himself on her doorstep because he had unconsciously sought out her unique presence. If anything, she had dared to drag him from the outskirts of the village, inquiring about his health and other trivial things. He hadn’t indulged her curiosity, but he hadn’t discouraged or rebuffed her attempts either. So, in this aspect, he could admit that he was partially to blame for not departing from the human establishment when he’d had the chance. His young, impressionable ward was the other reason.
Rin was now in the early stages of adulthood. She was growing and maturing much faster than he had anticipated. It was unsettling to think the child that had followed him unwaveringly would one day grow old and die. Even in the present time, accompanying him throughout the lands posed a greater risk to her overall well-being than the option of staying with the resident priestess and learning the ways of their kind.
His fondness for her was a weakness.
Compassion of any kind was easily manipulated and exploited, giving rise to a multitude of mistakes and attacks to one’s pride. Naraku had used this tactic too many times.
Thinking about the spider’s dishonorable schemes made Sesshoumaru’s lip curl slightly in disgust. There wasn’t anything he hated more than a coward. He was glad the hanyou was dead.
“Ah, you’re smiling? Should I be worried?” Kagome remarked suddenly, teasingly. She took another long sip of her drink, savoring the pleasant burn of liquid fire down her throat. A casual, discreet sniff told Sesshoumaru that she had an affinity for sweeter flavors. He also discovered her intolerance for the warm beverage, hence the real reason he had allowed her to partake in his company. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t have felt comfortable leaving her to her own devices while she was inebriated. He was not that indifferent.
Exhaling slowly through his nose, the daiyoukai told her, “This cup will be your last.”
Kagome ran her tongue over her teeth as she swirled her sake. “Why do you care if I’m drunk or not, Onii-sama?”
“Are you only capable of asking questions, miko? Do as I say.”
The woman refused to be intimidated by his glare, matching his intense look with one of her own. It had been a long time since she’d been afraid of him. Yes, she knew that he could easily kill her if he wanted to, but she also knew that he wouldn’t. Sesshoumaru’s weird code of ethics and sense of morality held greater sway over his actions than he liked. So, Kagome was neither scared nor felt threatened in the least. He was like a big, disgruntled puppy–a surprisingly loyal one–and that suited her just fine.
“Well, unless you’re going to drink the rest of it for me, I’ll be okay with a few more cups. Besides,” she said, pausing to wipe her nose, “it’s really light, and it’s the only thing keeping me warm.”
Sesshoumaru frowned as he eyed her current state of dress. “That is because you refused to change into something more appropriate and decided to wallow in your misery out here.”
“Kagome.” The dark-haired female stiffened at the sound of her name; the Lord of the West rarely used it, after all. “You are drowning yourself in liquor,” he drawled, the weight of his gaze piercing through her. “I would advise against this reckless behavior.”
“I am not your brother.”
The sharp rebuke had Kagome recoiling in shock, stunned by the pain she felt at his immediate rejection. The truth didn’t hurt her as much as his grave response, for she was well aware of their tenuous acquaintanceship. The icy tone of his voice made it seem like he was a far distance away from her rather than a few inches.
“I see…” Her hands began to shake again. But this time, it wasn’t because of the weather. “I won’t make the same mistake twice,” she mumbled, averting her eyes. A chill skated down her spine while her arms prickled with goosebumps. Even the even-tempered sake was no match for the frostbite at her fingertips. Sadness drew a cloak around her shoulders like the arms of a false lover.
Sesshoumaru would not comfort her; it wasn’t in his nature to offer words of apology or reassurance. His confident vows to complete his tasks were merely reiterations of facts. Honor kept him from uttering lies, but his instincts allowed him to be fair… even if his methods were cruel. To be misled by such a being was the result of one’s own missteps. Her only error was assuming that he would be similar to his brother. That he would eventually accept the concept that she wanted to bring him within the circle of her friends–her family. But a sobering thought made it very clear that he didn’t feel the same way.
And her heart burned because her impossible expectations had let her down again. Her disappointment strangely hurt worse than the news of her broken engagement to Inuyasha. It was nearly on par with the completion of his wedding to a village girl some hours earlier.
“I’m not like this because he’s married to somebody else,” she murmured. “He deserves to be happy with the one he loves.”
Sesshoumaru snorted at her reasoning, huffing under his breath, though it sounded more like an exasperated sigh.
“Do you not also have the right to be happy? I did not think the affections of a male was the only factor that determined the course of your life. At the very least, miko, have some pride in yourself.”
“But I am happy!” Kagome argued, somewhat surprised by his uplifting words. She knew he hadn’t meant it that way, but she couldn’t help her interpretation, especially considering her mood. “I don’t expect you to understand how I feel,” she said quietly.
The silver-haired male turned toward her fully then and sneered. “You are correct.” At her widened, cerulean orbs, he continued, “I cannot fathom how you love my half-brother more than you love yourself. Even now, you continue to put him above everything else. Why?”
“War is complicated. Having dignity and self-respect is not.”
Kagome groaned, resting her forehead on her knees as she sat beside him. Her cup dangled precariously from her fingertips.
“You make everything sound so easy. I don’t think that I could ever be as self-confident as you.”
“Therein lies the problem, miko,” Sesshoumaru rumbled deeply. “You doubt yourself before opening up your mind to the possibility of success. It is as though you lack the courage to stand on your own feet. Is it fear that holds you back?”
“Do you not know what fear is?” the woman retorted, voice muffled slightly because of her legs. “If you did, you wouldn’t have asked me such an obvious question.”
The inu-youkai tipped his head in consideration. She had a point. His lips parted, “Fear has many forms… but it does not control me. Rather,” he paused, running his hand through the lengthy strands of his hair, “I fight its existence with every fiber of my being. To refuse to acknowledge its crippling effects would be a mistake. In this life, there is no room for error, miko.”
“Then how is anyone supposed to learn anything if they don’t even mess up once? Nobody’s perfect. Not even you.”
Sesshoumaru took in the downward slump of her shoulders and the way her midnight tresses spilled over her legs, shielding her defenseless body from the cold scrutiny of his gaze. The sake in her cup sloshed close to the rim as her wrist jerked suddenly, throwing her slightly off-balance. Somehow, to his mild consternation, she soon found herself pressed against the mass of his pelt, sighing at the warmth overtaking her skin.
A few moments passed before Kagome sluggishly gathered her bearings and moved to pull away. She was honestly surprised that the proud demon didn’t reprimand her for her random bout of clumsiness. She was only grateful that she hadn’t accidentally thrown her drink all over him. She didn’t think he’d be very pleased if she had. The frown tugging at the corners of his lips was scary enough. She didn’t want to be the target of his wrath.
“Sorry, Sesshoumaru-sama. I’m a bit dizzy,” she said. “I think you were right about this one being my last. I was never good at holding my liquor.”
Clawed fingertips reached toward her outstretched arm and swiped the cup from her hand. A weak protest rose from the back of her throat but was easily ignored. The silent male swallowed the rest of the sake and draped his fur around the woman’s thin frame, more annoyed with her fragile nature than her apologies or inane chatter. Her luminous, blue orbs amused him as they remained wide and slightly glossy from the alcohol in her system. It seemed as though he had stunned the poor human speechless.
Good. It was progress.
As long as she wasn’t falling over herself or demanding to know why he decided to share his warmth, he could tolerate her scent on his person. Her natural perfume was even sweeter with the smell of sake on her breath.
It reminded him of the cherry blossoms that bloomed in the spring and brought life in every petal. The same flowers that marked his left shoulder–the ones that understood beauty and grace and represented the simple mortality of the earth. No living being was above the absolution of death. Not even the wielder of the Sword of Heaven could cheat Fate more than once. Sesshoumaru knew his limits. He, too, would one day leave the shell of his body and go on a journey unknown to all but the ghosts of the past.
But until then…
He gently guided Kagome’s head to the side of his arm and allowed her to rest it against the silk cloth of his kimono. The drowsy female moved easily with the motion, curling into the welcoming heat of his body. Her slurred words of thanks came softly afterward.
A deep exhale left his chest. Slowly, his gaze rolled skyward to the stars and the wispy clouds next to the light of the moon. The crickets sang to their lovers while the wind danced amongst the trees and the dewy blades of grass below them. It was a setting he never thought he would share, especially with his present company. The quiet intimacy unsettled both his heart and mind, though he would never admit it. The newfound weight left him confused… and so did the girl on his shoulder. She had the habit of complicating things that were out of her control–sometimes without even lifting a finger.
Was this headache what his brother had dealt with when she had been under his protection? How had it become his problem to now look after the troublesome priestess? Would his relatives always demand that he’d clean up their messes?
All of these questions… and not a single answer to any of them.
Kagome was most unhelpful as she remained tucked against his side, his mokomoko curled over her dainty feet. Crystalline tears slipped down her cheeks when she cuddled closer, her breath hitching ever so slightly. It was a sad, painfully pathetic sound–one she shouldn’t have ever made. This was not the fiery woman that had challenged him at his father’s tomb and later shattered his armor with a measly arrow. This… human was not meant to just give up because her emotions became too much to handle. The depth of her feelings was supposed to be her strength–the fuel of her soul. And if they were gone… What was left?
This creature… This abomination. This was not the person he had come to be associated with.
Not this broken doll. Not her.
Not Naraku’s killer and certainly not the savior of the world.
Her so-called protector had abandoned her to a future of loneliness and solitude. Her so-called pack had left her behind as they embarked on a new chapter of their lives with familyhood at the forefront. How quickly had their “bond” of friendship crumbled once their enemy had been vanquished, never to return again?
Sesshoumaru’s eyes glinted in the night, the gold shining eerily, alight with his frustration on her behalf. She would never complain about her current circumstances; how the Bone Eater’s Well had stopped functioning after her return three years after their quest and how everyone seemed to move on while the displaced girl struggled to find purpose after her initial plans had failed to come to fruition. His informant in the village was more observant than anyone gave her credit for. She had learned from the best, after all. His own assessments had been about the same, and yet he wasn’t pleased with what he had found.
The miko of the modern era was worth so much more than these fickle ties of loyalty. Members of a solid pack were supposed to take care of one another, providing support to those who needed it.
Their trust only seemed to last as long as their common goal even though they were comrades for a substantial amount of time. Having a pack meant having a place to belong, a place where one could call “home.” Unfortunately, in Kagome’s case, she had been unwittingly forced out from her position within it. It’s too bad that she hadn’t realized it sooner. Sesshoumaru didn’t believe she was aware of it even now. And that… was deserving of his pity.
It was obvious in the way she had chosen to turn to him of all people for comfort, however misguided it was, since he was probably the only one who could understand. They made a strange pair, he noted, as they were both anomalies in their own right. A stoic inu-youkai and a selfless miko of the future… It seemed like a companionship would never work out between them… but it could if both parties learned to accept each other. He wouldn’t have allowed her to be so close if he didn’t tolerate her even just a little bit.
It really was an odd thing.
But he found that he didn’t mind it in the least.
A/N: It’s been quite some time since I’ve penned a legitimate chapter that wasn’t a drabble. As of right now, this little spark of inspiration should be read as a oneshot. I’m not sure if a story will follow due to RL distractions… but I wouldn’t count out the possibility. Hopefully, you guys enjoyed it; my muse wouldn’t let this one go. :)