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Beginning by Chie

Beginning

Chie: This is the one shot I wrote last autumn for the Bond Across Time inuyasha fan zine. Since the zine has now been printed and shipped to all that have bought it, I'm now finally allowed to post this full fic for you guys. :)

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When the Bone-Eater’s Well had unexpectedly reopened after ten long years, Kagome had jumped right in. She’d given it no second thoughts, acting on an impulse like the reckless headstrong fifteen year old girl she had once been.

The hope she’d all but given up on had risen from the ashes, fierce and glorious. Her heart had soared.

Now, the well was dead and she was stuck in an era that felt both achingly familiar and changed forever.

Now, her hope had fizzled out and Kagome felt perilously close to crying as she sat on the rim of the well.

She stared down at the stretching emptiness below, contemplating the unfairness of it all – how, although she’d been gone for a decade, seventeen long years had passed in the feudal era.

A dark energy, the like of which Kagome hadn’t felt in ages, licked at the edges of her senses.

A shiver ran down her spine. Her head snapped up, her hold of the well’s wooden rim grew tighter.

Deep inside, where it had been buried and forgotten for years, Kagome’s reiki stirred.

Kagome stepped onto the sun-warmed grass. She drew herself straight and gazed across the clearing, locking eyes with the youkai who’d just appeared at the edge of it.

Her heart clenched.

Here, at least, was one thing that appeared unchanged.

He stalked closer, stopping when he was only a few yards away.

His impassive golden eyes pierced her in brief but intense scrutiny.

“I did not think you would return,” he said.

Surprised he’d been the one to break the charged silence, Kagome shrugged. “I didn’t, either.”

He said nothing to that.

Kagome sighed, unable to hold back the obvious question. “Why are you here, Sesshoumaru?”

“Because I was curious to see if the rumours of your return were true… and because your friend was worried.”

Kagome frowned. “What do you mean my friend was worried?”

“He came to see me to ask if I would mind having you travel with me for a while.”

Kagome stared at him, scarcely believing her ears. Had everyone gone mad while she’d been away? “Why would I travel with you?” she asked, both perplexed and exasperated.

“Your motives are of no consequence to me and I do not presume to know them,” Sesshoumaru replied, sounding bored. “Your friend, however, seemed to think you would not wish to stay in the village.”

Kagome’s heart flinched. Her shoulders slumped, the irate spark in her eyes dimmed.

She hugged herself and let her gaze drop to her feet.

Whoever this friend Sesshoumaru was alluding to was right on that, at least.

The wounds her heart had suffered were still fresh and raw and staying in Edo was rubbing salt right into them.

Yet, she hadn’t considered leaving – with the well closed again where could she go?

She chanced a quick glance up.

Sesshoumaru was still standing there, his expression unchanged. He watched her silently and waited.

Kagome had never been afraid of him, not really. But she had never felt truly comfortable around him, either.

Until now.

He was being patient. Giving her space.

Or maybe she was grasping for straws, so desperate for just a bit of kindness that she was misinterpreting his aloofness.

It didn’t really matter either way, because one thing Kagome did know for certain.

“Do you know what I want now, more than anything? The two very things that got me into this mess: time and distance.”

Sesshoumaru’s gaze was steady as it held hers. “Life is full of irony,” he said calmly.

Such as seeking solace from one’s former enemy.

The corners of Kagome’s lips quirked. “So it would seem.”

Her mind made, Kagome steeled herself and crossed her arms. “What did you tell my friend? When they asked if you would mind having me travel with you?”

“I told him I would welcome your company,” he told her, his golden eyes boring into her.

Kagome swallowed. “Well then. Looks like you’re gonna be stuck with me for a while.”

Sesshoumaru inclined his head. “Very well.”

ooooo

Kagome briefly returned to Edo to bid goodbye to her friends and to pack. She hadn’t brought any supplies with her, since jumping down the well had been such a spur of the moment’s decision. But Sango and Miroku kindly gave her some provisions for the road. They hugged her goodbye, telling her to take care and to come back soon.

“As soon as I can,” Kagome had promised.

As soon as her heart had settled, however long that took.

Inuyasha hadn’t said anything, but Kagome could tell he hadn’t been happy about her choice to leave with Sesshoumaru.

Too bad. This time, she would prioritise her own feelings over Inuyasha’s.

She pushed aside the thought and breathed in the humid summer air. Stared at Sesshoumaru’s straight back as he walked in front of her. Watched the dappled sunlight play in his silver-white hair.

With a start, she realised she hadn’t really been alone with Sesshoumaru before, aside from the few brief moments during their final confrontation with Naraku.

And then she realised something else, surprised it had taken her so long to notice.

“Where’s Jaken?”

Sesshoumaru didn’t slow his brisk stride or turn to glance at her over his shoulder, but his answer came promptly. “I left him with my mother last winter.”

Kagomes’s eyebrows rose. “Your mother?”

“Indeed.”

“OK.” Kagome had so many questions about that, but she tamped them down. “Why did you leave him behind?”

“It was getting harder for him to keep up with this Sesshoumaru. Lesser demons age more similarly to you humans.”

“Oh. I see.” Kagome bit her lip, not knowing what else to say.

But Sesshoumaru did, as he soon added: “Granted, he was not very quick on his feet to begin with.”

Kagome stared at Sesshoumaru, laughter bubbling in her throat as she recalled Jaken’s imperious waddle.

Had Sesshoumaru just made a joke? Perish the thought. The feudal era had really gone topsy-turvy in her absence.

“I was surprised that it was Shippou who’d come to talk to you,” Kagome said next. Shippou had confessed to going to Sesshoumaru for help, back in Edo while watching Kagome pack. “He used to be afraid of you.”

Sesshoumaru shrugged but kept walking. “He used to be a kit.”

Kagome hummed. “True enough, he’s hardly that now.”

She almost succeeded to keep the wistfulness from her tone. Almost.

“He also used to travel with me for a while,” Sesshoumaru continued.

“Really? He didn’t mention that,” Kagome murmured.

At first it seemed like an odd happenstance, but then… Why not? Weirder things had happened.

Kagome’s heart felt heavy in her chest.

Silence fell, but now it carried an edge of pain.

Until Sesshoumaru’s calm voice jerked Kagome out of her harrowing thoughts. “You can tell me about it if that is what you wish.”

Kagome licked her lips. “About what?”

“The cause of your distress that you have been skirting around.”

Kagome stumbled her step, her gut clenching. She wasn’t sure she wanted to talk about it. She wasn’t sure if Sesshoumaru cared to listen. But then, he had travelled with Rin and Jaken, so he must’ve been accustomed to chatter and blabber.

She took a deep breath, despite the tight band squeezing her chest.

“I didn’t think I was coming back,” Kagome said, her voice soft. “I didn’t think the well would work ever again. And then it did.”

A wry smile touched her lips. “And just like that, hope was high. I jumped in without thinking. I was nervous and giddy and I felt so light. And I couldn’t wait to see Inuyasha. One moment I had all but given up on him. The next, everything seemed possible.”

Kagome’s gaze bored into Sesshoumaru’s back. She wondered what kind of an expression he was wearing, if any. She squared her shoulders and ploughed on.

“I went to the village,” she continued. “A lot had changed. Much still looked the same. The first person I saw was Shippou. I couldn’t believe how much he’d grown, that he was taller than me now… Then there were Miroku and Sango. They looked a fair deal older but they were healthy and whole and there. I was overjoyed, seeing all my friends again. I looked around, sure that I would see Inuyasha, that all the noise from our reunion had alerted him. Instead, I saw her.”

Kagome had to pause and swallow past the tightness lodged in her throat.

“I didn’t recognise her, not at first. She seemed the same age as me. I saw the baby she was carrying, the baby with golden eyes. Then she called out my name. She smiled at me. I knew who she was then, because you don’t forget a smile like that. I think I was still in shock – about the baby and that this woman was Rin – when Inuyasha finally appeared.”

Kagome’s eyes were starting to burn. She gritted her teeth and stopped for a moment to will away the tears.

“Our eyes met and I knew. He looked so stricken. My heart broke the day the well closed but now it was breaking again. I couldn’t take it, so I ran away; went back to the well. And the portal was gone.” Kagome let out a shuddering sigh. “I never expected Inuyasha to wait. And still I felt betrayed. How stupid is that?”

Sesshoumaru had stayed silent and walking, but now he stopped and turned to look at her.

“It is not stupid and Inuyasha did wait for you. He simply did not wait long enough.”

“W-what?”

“I believe Inuyasha visited the well every three days after you had gone,” Sesshoumaru said evenly. “Along the years his visits became sparser while he grew more morose. Eventually, he stopped going altogether.”

Kagome gaped at Sesshoumaru, her cheeks pale, her mind sluggishly registering what he was telling her. The words were caught in her throat, but she forced them out.

“How long?”

Sesshoumaru met her gaze, his golden eyes unreadable. “Ten years.”

The knowledge settled heavily upon Kagome’s shoulders. The broken places inside her ached.

But it was a good kind of ache; the necessary kind that paved way to healing.

“Thank you,” Kagome said in a hushed whisper.

Sesshoumaru inclined his head gravely and resumed his walking.

Kagome stood still for a few heartbeats, then set out after him.

ooooo

It was startling how easy it was to fall into routine. It didn’t matter that Kagome had never travelled with Sesshoumaru in the past or that she hadn’t gone on a single hiking or camping trip in the last ten years. They found their rhythm with astounding ease.

Already on that first day when they had stopped for the night, they had found their respective roles without having to even discuss it.

His company was silent, but one she felt safe and comfortable in.

And the silence wasn’t too difficult to break, either, when Kagome wanted to.

During the day when they were walking, she actually enjoyed the quiet – it gave her space, and time to think. Right now she needed both, just as she’d told Sesshoumaru.

But during the evenings, after they’d made camp, Kagome started longing for company and conversation. She’d been doubtful at first if Sesshoumaru would consent to being a conversational partner, but to her surprise it hadn’t taken much coaxing at all to get him to talk.

Some days, they talked only a little.

Other days, their conversation might span hours and last long past the time Kagome should have gone to sleep.

At first, they mostly talked of the past; of their memories of the hunt for the Shikon shards and their battles against Naraku. But as the days went by, their discussions broadened to other topics: from their childhoods to their education, from their families to their hobbies, from their various likes to their various dislikes.

Little by little, day after day, Kagome was learning to know Sesshoumaru.

She was learning to like Sesshoumaru.

Although, looking back, Kagome believed her relationship with Sesshoumaru had changed the day of their final battle against Naraku, when she’d come to after Inuyasha had pushed her off the ledge trying to protect her from himself.

Sesshoumaru had loomed over her, impassive as always as he easily slew the lesser demons lunging towards her. He’d protected her, then they had briefly joined forces, just the two of them.

She hadn’t had the time to really think about it then, and later she’d been too preoccupied by the tragedy of the well’s closing.

But now, being alone with Sesshoumaru again made her reflect on that moment and realise its significance.

Coming back to consciousness to see she’d been kept safe – of all people – by Sesshoumaru.

And now, thanks to Shippou’s request, he’d come to her aid again.

“What are you smiling about, Kagome?”

His deep voice jolted Kagome out of her thoughts.

She met Sesshoumaru’s inquisitive stare and her smile grew wider.

“You. I was thinking about you, and how we’ve become friends,” Kagome replied.

Emotion flashed in Sesshoumaru eyes even as one of his eyebrows arched. “Have we indeed?”

“Yes,” Kagome said firmly. “We have.”

ooooo

The hut was partially scorched. One wall was crumbling. The family that had once lived there was long gone.

Usually, it would have saddened Kagome; seeing this silent casualty of the wars ravaging the land.

Now, however, she let out a sigh of relief through teeth that were on the verge of chattering.

The sad little hut still had its roof intact and that was all that mattered right now.

Kagome walked in, found a dry corner and slumped onto the dusty floor, dropping her pack next to her.

She rummaged around for the spare kimono Sango had given her for the trip and pulled it out.

Sesshoumaru had already removed his swords and his armour and was building a fire in the hut’s long-neglected cooking pit.

As soon as the flames leapt up, Kagome scooted closer to the warmth they offered.

Outside, the rain still poured down, the hum of it loud in the silence.

Kagome started to shrug out of her soaked miko outfit. They’d been looking for a shelter for over an hour and she just wanted to be warm and dry.

Besides, she’d been travelling with Sesshoumaru for nearly two months now and had changed for bed in front of him countless of times.

This time, though, she had forgotten to take into an account two very important things: the underkimono that she usually left on to preserve her modesty was white. It was also just as wet from the merciless rain than the rest of her clothes.

A frisson of awareness snaked across her skin, making it pebble.

Kagome stilled. Heat rushed to her cheeks as she felt the weight of Sesshoumaru’s stare settle on her.

He let out a sound that was almost a growl.

Kagome forced herself to look up and meet his eyes.

Their gazes locked and Kagome’s breath caught.

There was tension in the air that hadn’t been there before.

Nervous about the sudden change, Kagome licked her lips.

Sesshoumaru moved so quickly Kagome barely had time to register what was happening before she found herself pressed against his chest. A large, warm hand rested between her shoulder blades.

Claw-tipped fingers nudged her to lift her chin.

Stunned, Kagome saw Sesshoumaru’s intense golden eyes focus on her lips.

Eh?

Then, he kissed her, his lips firm and shockingly warm against her chilled skin. Kagome grabbed a hold of his wet kimono.

The kiss was unhurried, thorough and coaxing; full of lingering promise.

When Sesshoumaru finally pulled away, his hand still cupped her cheek. His eyes were hooded, but there was warmth in their gold depths that she’d never seen before.

It was a look that spoke volumes and louder than any words he could have offered.

“W-what?” Kagome stammered, breathless and unsettled. “How? When?”

Sesshoumaru shrugged, his thumb lazily tracing the line of her jaw. “Since the very beginning, I suspect.”

Kagome shook her head, her heart pounding in her ears. “You tried to kill me in the very beginning,” she reminded him.

“You, a mere human, had just pulled Tessaiga free,” he murmured. “I found that both an embarrassment and an insult, and reacted accordingly. Or what I believed to be so, at the time.”

Kagome scowled at him. Sesshoumaru, undeterred, tucked a wet strand of her hair behind her ear.

“It did not happen in one single moment. But it must have begun the day we met, because since the very beginning, you made yourself impossible to ignore.”

Kagome blushed and instinctively relaxed against him. “I suppose I did,” she admitted softly.

Even so, she’d never have imagined that Sesshoumaru…

He hid himself too well, with the silence and the cold, impassive face he showed to the world.

Kagome let go of Sesshoumaru’s kimono, burrowing her hands into her lap. She steeled herself and tried to ignore the spark of heat in her gut; the slight, tentative stirring in her chest.

 “I’m not sure I’m ready yet. For whatever this is,” she told him.

Sesshoumaru’s fingers slid across her cheek in a final feather-light caress as he withdrew his hand.

Kagome was a little alarmed at how bereft she felt without his touch.

Sesshoumaru caught her gaze, his eyes both gentle and solemn with promise.

“Take all the time you need, Kagome. I will wait.”

Once upon a time, the unpredictability of the Bone-Eater’s Well had cost Kagome her chance for love.

As she sat there, shyly peering at Sesshoumaru and feeling the first faint flutters of warmth in the pit of her stomach, Kagome wondered if by opening again ten years too late, the well had given her another one.

End.

 

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