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Fate’s Reprise by Revang

Prologue

Kagome’s head was beginning to spin in an overwhelmed frenzy. There were too many people. Too many faces, too many names. Too many expectations for the woman she was supposed to be.

Around her, revelers laughed and danced, ate and drank, visited stalls and participated in various festivities. When they saw her as they mingled, they engaged her in conversation and urged her to join in whatever fun they were having.

“Miko-sama, thank you once again for tending to my daughter in her illness,” said a man whose name possibly started with an N. “It is thanks to you she is here today.”

She hid her panic beneath a wide smile and did her best to make conversation without revealing that she remembered absolutely nothing about these people who were supposed to be her neighbors.

She was saved- and once again distraught- by a group of preteens who dragged her off to dance with them. She did her best to keep up with the moves, but they were so foreign to her. She felt her already pounding heart speed up with the physical exertion, and the determination not to let them down.

A young boy approached her, and she broke away from the dancers.

“Miko-sama, will you play that game again with me and my friends?” His face was lit up with an expectant smile.

Did that happen? Had she played a game with this child? When?

“Of course I will!” she beamed down at him, trying to keep her voice pitched with enthusiasm rather than panic. She hoped the noise of the crowd helped to hide it.

“Hurray!” he shouted. He grabbed her hand and suddenly began dragging her through the festival at a near-run. 

She wracked her brain to remember who the child was and what game she was about to be expected to play, while trying to avoid running into anything or tripping over her feet in her traditional waraji sandals.

They flew by banners celebrating the anniversary of Naraku’s defeat, strung up on the tops of stalls which were selling the same banners in miniature, alongside masks and small charms. There were even charms made to look like the Shikon no Tama, she noticed with a gasp.

Her eyes widened in shock and surprise, and her heart clenched painfully. She wanted to laugh and cry- who would have thought those silly keychains of her grandpa’s had gotten their start all the way back here, just a few years after the jewel was rid from the world. Jii-chan would be so proud. But he was now lost to her forever on the other side of the well.

As she was still being led through the maze of stalls by the child, she blinked back her tears- and immediately ran into someone. Her hand slipped from the child’s grasp as she stumbled slightly to the side. Her momentum was still propelling her forward as she spun in place to apologize. She hit another festival-goer, and sent a stand of masks toppling over.

“Miko-sama!” several voices called nearby, hands reaching out.

“I’m so sorr-!” Suddenly, deafening booms rang out with great flashes of light.

Kagome jumped and shrieked, and as the fireworks continued to ring out she breathed a quick “excuse me” and fled, as fast as she dared, into Inuyasha’s forest, unable to handle any more.

~ ~ ~

Sesshoumaru leaned down and placed his hand gently atop Rin’s head. His ward turned her bright eyes from the empty sky where moments before she had been admiring the glittering fireworks.“I’m so glad you came to celebrate with us, Sesshomaru-sama!”

“Hn.” He nodded to her, eyes softening. She was no longer such a tiny thing, but was not yet a young woman. Leaving her here in the village had been the right choice: she was learning the ways of her people well. He had no doubt she would be well-suited to whatever choice she made for her future.

His hand lingered a moment longer before he turned to walk from the festival grounds. Though the festivities would be going on for a while yet, he felt he had properly fulfilled his obligation, and was much more content to observe the rest from a distance. He kicked Jaken for good measure, knocking him out, after the imp began a diatribe about how all the lowly humans should be honored to be graced with the presence of a taiyoukai such as the Great Sesshoumaru-sama.

As he made his way across the edge of the field, he noticed the Miko’s scent leading off into the trees. It was fresh, and it had a strong tinge of fear and distress. He reached out his awareness, but could sense no hostile presence nearby. Odd . He relaxed his muscles, which had begun tensing to rush to face the potential threat. Curious, he followed her scent and pulsing reiki a ways into the forest.

When he found her, the sight that greeted him sent a momentary flash of frost through his veins. He had never before seen the Miko in such a state. Even when he had very nearly killed her, she had always been bold and utterly fearless. She had never cowered as she should, but brazenly stood her ground, glaring and even chastising him.

But now she was huddled down on the forest floor, her form curling tightly around her knees where she knelt. Her face was pressed down to the grass, her arms wrapped around her head. She was trembling and scarcely breathing. Her heart beat wildly like an erratic bird. He inhaled lightly. He could detect neither blood nor tears. What could be affecting the woman so? 

“Are you quite well, Miko?”

~ ~ ~

The further Kagome had gone into the forest and away from the festival, the more her swirling thoughts seemed to overwhelm and paralyze her.

Why had she just taken off like that? What was wrong with her? Why couldn’t she just do what she was supposed to do? Be who she was supposed to be? Why had she even come back here to the past? She was so far from everything she had known and loved for her entire life, aside from the one single year she had spent shard-hunting. And even that life had been completely different from life in the village. She didn’t know how to live here. She didn’t know how to do this.

Slowly, she descended to the ground, her limbs stiff. On her knees, she sank further down, curling around herself. Her eyes were wide, staring blankly at the grass before her; the breaths she took were coming in tiny sips of air. She began to tremble.

In the back of her mind, she felt Sesshoumaru’s presence coming closer, as that singular thought repeated itself, louder and louder, nearly screaming in her head: I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to do this! I don’t know how to do this! 

“Are you quite well, Miko?”

At the use of her title, she made a small strangled gasp. 

Miko. That person she was unable to be. That role she was unable to fill.

She knew she should sit up and reply, but her body wasn’t working properly. She managed to lift her head from the ground and turn her sad, panicked eyes to meet his.

He regarded her for a moment, then turned to walk away. Her heart clenched and all she knew was she didn’t want him to leave.

“Please,” she shook her head. “Where..?”

He paused. “To retrieve the Hanyou.”

“No-“

He looked at her.

“No, please. I don’t- want him here.” Not like this. She couldn’t handle that right now.

“Please,” she said again, imploring him with her eyes. “I need-“ Something. Company. Something to ground her to reality.

He gave a barely perceptible nod and turned back to face her.

Slowly, she sat up, her wide eyes coming to rest on her lap. 

A child’s exuberant laughter rang out over the din of the festival. A breeze rustled the branches overhead, sending leaves down like confetti. Kagome gave a pained chuckle. It seems even nature has expectations of me.  

“I don’t even know what I’m doing here,” she told him quietly.

“Do you not wish to be?”

“I did. I don’t know. I thought it would be good. I missed being here, being on adventures, being with my friends. But it’s been years! I’ve changed. They’ve changed. Except Inuyasha, but somehow that’s even worse. I’ve grown and moved on ahead while he’s stayed the same. And living here in the village is nothing like my life here before. And it’s nothing like the life I was studying and preparing for back home either.” She clenched her fists resting on her knees. “I just. I feel so lost. But I’m the Shikon Miko- everyone has all these expectations of me built up since I’ve been gone, and I don’t know if I can ever fulfill them.” Kagome let out a breath as she finished. It felt good to voice her thoughts. Even if Sesshomaru didn’t care, he had at least listened.

She looked up at him, wondering what he was thinking, and if the taciturn taiyoukai would say anything.

~ ~ ~

Sesshomaru paused when the Miko haltingly asked him to remain with her.

After a moment, she began to tell him what troubled her. As she spoke, her body began to calm. There was still lingering worry and sadness in her scent, but it was not nearly so pronounced as before, when it had been nearly a beacon. It seemed words were the correct method of helping her.

When she had finished speaking, he took a seat at the base of a tree: one leg propped up and an arm draping languidly across it. 

“You miss your home.”

“Yes, very much.” She smiled sadly at him.

“Is it so different there?”

She blinked at him. “Oh. Did you never- No one told you where I come from?”

He raised a brow. Did she truly expect him to have paid attention to such a trivial detail?

“Well,” she paused, seeming hesitant. “I was born and raised right on this very land- 500 years in the future.”

Indeed? How intriguing. He could scent no lie, and it explained her strange mannerisms and the clothing she wore prior to her disappearance.  He regarded her now. He had never given the Miko much thought- she had always been his brother’s interfering human wench, and then she was his brother’s powerful miko. It seemed she had been worthy of closer attention.

“Hn, you are quite far from home,” he said finally. “How did you come to be here?”

“On my fifteenth birthday, a centipede youkai appeared and dragged me through the well on my family’s shrine. When I climbed out, I was here in the past.” 

Ah. The well from that time after the final battle… That certainly explained some things.

“You see, the power of the Shikon no Tama awakened her, and she ended up tearing it out of my body.”

“From within you?” He gave her an appraising glance.

“Yes. I had no idea before then, but we think I was born with it inside of me, because,” she shifted, looking a bit uncomfortable, “I’m Kikyou’s reincarnation, and she died holding the jewel.” 

“The undead miko.”

“Yeah, that’s why she wasn’t able to be revived properly, and always had to have her shinidamachuu gathering souls. The witch who brought her back tried to transfer my reincarnated soul to Kikyou, but I was able to call it back.”

Her lifeless body regained her very soul on her own power? 

“Hn. And so you were able to pass through the well to this time.”

“Yeah. With the jewel, I could pass back and forth freely- Inuyasha, too. Of course, when he came, we would have him hide his ears with a bandana or hat.” She smiled fondly. “But when the jewel disappeared, the well was closed.”

“And yet you were able to return.”

“I’m still not sure how I was able to come back here without the jewel… I hadn’t even checked the well for a few months since I was so busy with graduating, but right afterwords I went to the well house and the well was open. I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t want to miss my chance, so I jumped. I think maybe my heart was just ready to return, and the well responded to that.” 

Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes. Somehow, that didn’t sit well with him. His instincts told him there must be more to how the well opened again, and he didn’t like the implications. Their business with the jewel should be years behind them now. 

The miko seemed to think his expression was directed at her, because she began hurriedly defending herself, arms fluttering about.

“I mean, I know I maybe should have put a bit more thought and preparation into it, but it felt like one of those now-or-never things, you know? I don’t know, maybe I’m foolish, but I think I would have regretted it if I hadn’t. Well, that is… Sure, I also have my regrets about doing it. But I guess this is one of those times where there is no right decision. Anyways, the well opening again had to mean something, right? Like it was my fate to come back here…” She took a breath, seeming more confident. “Either way, I made the choice, so all I can do is go forward from there.”

It seemed the Miko had found her answers for herself, so Sesshoumaru merely inclined his head.

After a moment, he asked, “How did the jewel come to be broken?”

She grimaced. “A crow youkai took it, and because of the power of the jewel, it was able to continue reforming itself after Inuyasha struck it down. It was starting to escape, flying too far away to catch, but I had the idea to attach its foot to an arrow.”

“So that it would be attracted back to the main body.” Clever. 

“Uh-huh,” she nodded with a slight smile. “But it worked a little too well and the arrow went straight into the jewel, and the shards kinda exploded across the countryside.” She looked away with a self-deprecating chuckle. “So yeah this whole thing was basically my fault… That’s why I kept coming back to this time, so I could fix my mistake.”

“The strategy was sound,” he assured her, her head to shooting up as she met his gaze. “You could not have anticipated such an unlikely result. Even so, you have honor and set about to rectify the situation. You are strong, Miko. If the coward Naraku had not been so fond of his games, it should have been a simple task to regain the shards.”

“You’re right, he was a total coward. I guess there was no helping it. I’m just glad that’s all behind us,” she sighed.

“Hnn.” He looked to the trees swaying in a light evening breeze, scattering moonlight among them. He was not so sure of that.

~ ~ ~

Kagome felt much calmer now. Aside from Sesshoumaru’s stoic and calming presence, remembering her first days in the past made her realize just how far she had really come since then. It was easy to forget in these days of peace in the village. She might still have a lot to learn, but look at all that she had already been able to do! And while saving the world, to boot. 

She still wasn’t so sure she had made the right decision to come back, but there was no use worrying about what might have been. She stood and dusted off her hakama.

“Thank you for listening, Sesshoumaru.”

He gave a courteous nod.

She took a few steps, but then turned back to him. “I know you’re probably out here to get away from the commotion, but we could share a drink if you’d like?” she said with a nod of her head toward the festival.

She thought he would reject her offer, but after a moment he inclined his head. “This Sesshoumaru would like to hear of your home, Miko.”

Kagome laughed internally at his grandiose manner. Always having to act above it all, even for something as simple as sharing a drink… But it made her happy to think they may be beginning to get along just a bit.

Outwardly, she smiled. “Okay, but that will probably be hard with all the noise of the festival. Why don’t I go grab us some sake and I’ll be right back?”

He sent her off with a slight flick of his chin.

Now that she was calmer, the festival looked completely different. As she strolled casually to find the sake vendor, she smiled genuinely and greeted those she saw. She still felt a bit ashamed and frustrated at her memory issues, but it was probably just a case of too many changes too quickly. I hope. 

Passing through the various stalls, she saw the souvenir stand selling little Shikon no Tama charms. She started to walk past but something made her change her mind. Her smile turned a bit bittersweet. It would be nice to have one of these to remind me of Jii-chan .

Her eyes instinctively scanned for one meant for students, before she realized that they wouldn’t have them and that she had no need for one anymore anyways. Feeling strange, she glanced over the options. 

She didn’t need one for protection, Inuyasha always protected her and- as she had just remembered- she wasn’t too shabby at protecting herself these days either. She also had no need for safe travels now that she lived in the village. The one for good health and protection from illness would certainly be an ironic choice. But it would also remind her of Houjou-kun, who had often bombarded her with such talismans. That boy was just too eager, she sighed to herself. She briefly eyed the charm meant to bring love, but it just felt too pathetic. She would work things out with Inuyasha on her own. Besides, if this was something she carried on her person it would be embarrassing. There was no such thing as good luck in her opinion, so that was also a pass. Ignoring the ones meant for expectant mothers and businessmen, that left just one option. 

Selecting one with the word yaku-yoke on it, Kagome paid the vendor and held it up to look at a moment longer. Yes, that felt right. The original had been such a source of evil, having one meant to deflect evil was the best choice. Running her thumb over the charm, she stuck it in her sleeve and continued on to find what she had come for.

After acquiring a sake bottle and a pair of shallow dishes, Kagome spotted a stall selling dango and decided to get some of those as well. As she was ordering, a calm, familiar voice called from behind her.

“Kagome-sama, I see you’re having similar cravings to our dear Sango.”

“Miroku-sama,” she smiled. “So Sango-chan sent you to get her some, did she?”

“And of course the children want whatever Mama’s having,” he said, making a show of clutching his purse ruefully.

Laughing, Kagome patted him on the shoulder. “Such a good father! Are you enjoying the festival?”

“Of course! Why don’t you come join us?”

“Maybe in a little while,” she said, indicating the two sets of food and drink in her hands.

“Ah,” he said sagely, “off to spend some time with Inuyasha?”

“Actually, it’s strange, but Sesshoumaru and I are having a bit of a chat. I guess he’s curious about the world on the other side of the well.” It wasn’t a lie, and no one else needed to know about her little breakdown.

Miroku raised his brows, but merely said, “How interesting.”

“I’ll be sure to come hang out with you guys in a bit, okay?” She waved- or rather vaguely raised the hand holding the sake bottle- and headed back towards the forest.

She wondered what she could tell Sesshoumaru about her own time… If this were a modern victory celebration, it might be more like a fancy cocktail party, and there would be champagne instead of sake, she thought, glancing down at the bottle she carried. She wondered what champagne tasted like- she still wasn’t of age by modern standards- and now I’ll never know, she realized a bit sadly.

Shaking her head to save herself from that downward spiral, she marched herself back to where Sesshoumaru was waiting.

~ ~ ~

Sesshomaru was a bit surprised with himself for accepting the miko’s offer. Though he was decidedly curious about her home.

And it concerned him about her ability to return. Yes, that was truly worrisome. Had the foolish hanyou and the others not considered this? Perhaps they were too blind in their gladness to have her again. And perhaps a bit too content in their victory and the ensuing peace. Humans were prone to ignoring that which they did not wish to see, after all.

In any case, he may need to keep a closer eye on things here. It would not do to have Rin put in any danger. That was quite contrary to her purpose for being in the village.

Knowing the miko would be a few minutes yet, he rose and made his way leisurely over to the clearing where the well stood. There wasn’t much to be found there, however. No lingering traces of power, nor scent of any recent presence. By all appearances it was merely an unextraordinary dry old well. He leapt down into its depths, but no more information was forthcoming. With one more glance around the stony walls above him, he gave a displeased sniff and leapt out gracefully, heading back to the place the miko would be expecting him.

After several minutes he caught her scent approaching- the light sweet scent of roses and the somewhat fuller yet subtler sweetness of almond, along with the bright pine scent of her happiness. Good, that suited the miko much more than the previous bitter tang of her distress, like unripe berries.

Sitting with his back to the same tree where she had left him, he did not turn his eyes from the moon as she approached. He sensed her turn to follow his gaze, and she gave a contented sigh.

“It is so beautiful here. I’ve always loved the night sky, but back home it’s nothing compared to this. The city lights are so bright, you can only make out a few stars, really.”

“City?”

“Yep. By my time, this place is known as Tokyo, and it’s actually the capital of Japan. My family lives in a small house on a shrine near the Goshinboku and the Bone Eaters Well, but all around it are tall high-rise buildings, and a little ways downtown are enormous skyscrapers that tower into the sky- the tallest one has 70 stories!”

Surprised, he turned his attention to her. Humans had changed little in the centuries he had been alive; would they truly change so much in the few hundred years from now? “What is the purpose of such buildings?”

“Well, there’s a lot of people… more than ten million I think, living in the city. And several times that in the area surrounding it. So to make space for all the homes and businesses, they kind of had to go upwards,” she said, pointing her finger up.

That many humans in one place? He tried to imagine it. “And you climb up all of these many stories?” 

She laughed softly, “Well, some people do, but mostly we use things called elevators, which are like carts that go up and down using a pulley system.”

He could see the logic in such a system. Clever .

She moved to sit near him then, setting down what she was holding and offering him a sake dish. He took it with a small incline of his head, and she filled it with sake. He filled hers in turn, and she smiled before taking a sip. Long fingers brought his own cup to his lips, and he turned to look at the sky once more.

From the corner of his eye he saw her pick up one of the sticks of dango she had brought, then she settled a bit more comfortably before speaking again. “We had all kinds of machines that do all kinds of different things. It’s really convenient and a lot are pretty cool, too. Like cars and trains- vehicles that take us around the city quickly- and planes which we use to fly anywhere in the world.”

Another surprise. Humans achieving flight. Simply incredible.

“And we’ve even been to the moon, you know,” she said gleefully.

His eyes widened and he turned to look at her again.

Her smile grew. “Yep! There’s these rockets that blast out so much power that they’re able to leave the atmosphere completely and go to space! The people who ride them, astronauts, have these special suits with canisters of air so that they can breathe and stuff.”

He gazed at the moon. He had tried to reach it once, when he was younger. He had wanted to see just how high he could go, but the air thinned so much that his youki was too unstable to propel himself further and he was unable to continue. So humans will achieve what I could not…  

With a sniff, he asked, “And what of yourself, Miko? What did you do in this future of yours?”

“Well, I was still a student.”

“At your age you still had not proceeded beyond apprenticeship?” He knew the miko to be intelligent and capable, so this came as a surprise to him.

“Ah, no. Where I come from, I’m actually not considered an adult yet- not till I’m twenty years old. I wouldn’t even be able to drink this sake back home,” she said with a laugh. 

“What were you in training for?”

“I had just completed high school before I came back here, that’s just general classes that everyone takes. And then I would have gone on to university where I would have chosen a career path, and depending on what that was I could have gone on to do that in a few years, or else taken several more years of schooling.”

“Your people are quite educated then,” he said, impressed.

“Yep,” she gave a proud smile. “Inuyasha and the others never really understood why I had to work so hard. He always complained when I brought out my textbooks to study while we were searching for the shards. But just because some stupid spider was being a jerk didn’t mean I could fail my classes.”

She had worked on her studies even then? “Your dedication is truly admirable.”

Her eyes lit up. “THANK you! Geez, everyone else always acted like I was crazy.” She wilted a bit. “Well, maybe I was, since I ended up coming to live back here anyways…” 

“No, Miko. Bettering oneself is always a worthy endeavor.”

She blinked in surprise, then smiled warmly at him. “Thank you, Sesshoumaru.”

He gave a nod, and turned back to the sky again. The pair sat in companionable silence for a while. They continued filling their cups, and he caught the gentle maple leaf scent of her contentment bubbling up.

~ ~ ~

As they sat enjoying the sake and the sparkling stars, Kagome felt a surge of gladness. After all the anxiety of the day and all the build up of negative emotions, she never would have expected to end up having such a pleasant time, and especially not with Sesshoumaru of all people. 

Glancing up at him, she wondered what he was thinking. He was always so reserved it almost seemed like he didn’t feel anything at all, but then there were rare times like tonight… He had still been reserved, but he had shown some concern for her and helped her through her distress. And now he was sharing a drink with her, and had even praised her.

Honestly, it was damn nice to have someone actually appreciate not just the hard work she had done, but also why she had done it. After weeks of nothing but major culture gaps, this one bit of understanding was an innate connection she had been missing. 

As she took in the sight of his striking moonlit face, a pleasant warmth spread through her, and she put it down to the sake starting to take effect.

After a few minutes of peaceful silence between them, Kagome noticed the sounds of the festival music picking up. This would probably be the height of the night’s festivities, and before long it would all be winding down. 

Stretching her arms out in front of her before returning them to her lap, she let out a happy sigh. “I told the others that I’d meet up with them, so I should probably get back there. This was... nice. Thank you, Sesshoumaru. I guess I didn’t end up telling you all that much about my time though, did I?” She hesitated a moment. “If you want, I could tell you more some other time?”

He inclined his head to her before looking back to the sky. “Go see to your friends, Miko.”

She flushed a bit- was it from happiness or embarrassment? Perhaps both. Or maybe it was just the sake. 

Picking up the now empty sake decanter and cups, she left Sesshoumaru to his stargazing and made her way back towards the village. She deposited the items with the sake vendor, and set out in search of her friends. 

When she reached the space set aside for dancing, Sango called out to her from across the field. With a wave, Kagome made her way over to where her friend was sitting, and joined her in watching her children. The twins were among the crowd of dancers along with Shippou, Rin, and Kohaku, trying to keep up with the bigger kids’ moves. 

Kagome clasped her hands over her heart. “They are so precious!”

“Just like their mother,” Miroku said, as he and Inuyasha joined them.

“Keh! At least they aren’t pulling on my ears.” Inuyasha huffed and folded his arms into his sleeves.

Kagome laughed and rolled her eyes, shaking her head at him affectionately.

Miroku, with baby Mori cradled to his shoulder, moved to stand behind his wife, casually placing a hand on her back. Inuyasha remained a ways away, leaving the trio between himself and Kagome, looking away with a slightly uncomfortable expression. 

Kagome pressed her lips together and went back to observing the crowd. It can’t be helped- I’ve only been back in the Sengoku Jidai for a short time after all. It’s only natural there’s some difficulty in resuming our relationship. I just have to give it time, right?  

She wished he’d be a bit more grown-up about it, though. Why does he have to get all defensive? It seems like every time I try to talk to him about it, things end up even worse than before.  

He had always been a bit prickly and had a hard time being open with his feelings, but had it really been this bad? She sighed. She’d just have to wait for him to come to her. It was starting to get tiring though.

“I remember dancing like this during celebrations back home,” Sango said with a fond, bittersweet smile.

Kagome turned her attention back to her friend. “Really? That must have been a lot of fun. Why aren’t you out there dancing too?”

“I’m surprised you aren’t, Kagome-chan.”

“Ah, well I was but… I really don’t know these dances.”

“Oh, of course.” Sango offered an apologetic smile.

After a moment, Kagome made up her mind. She looked over to her friend with a determined grin. “Will you teach me, Sango-chan? 

“Eh? Me?”

“Yeah! Come on, let’s go dance!” She took Sango’s arm and led her away from their seats.

“Have fun, ladies!” Miroku called after them, waving little Mori’s arm.

They joined up with the children, and soon they were laughing and dancing and teasing each other. All her worries were temporarily forgotten. Looking into each of her companions’ smiling faces, Kagome felt so glad to be right where she was. Especially on such an occasion where everyone was together again. She’d only been back a few weeks, and since Shippou was busy with kitsune school and Kohaku was off doing his taijiya duties, she’d hardly seen either of them. Even Jaken was there, clearly bullied by Rin into dancing with them. He was squawking and making a fuss, but she could tell he was happy to be included. She smiled fondly at Kohaku, and then she grabbed Shippou into a crushing hug, suddenly overcome with feeling.

“Wah! Kagome! ” he laughed.

“I missed you, kiddo,” she beamed down at him, ruffling his hair.

He made a show of fixing his hair, but beamed right back up at her. “I missed you too, Kagome. I’m so happy you’re back. Sorry I’m gone all the time, and you have to deal with stupid Inuyasha,” he stuck out his tongue.

It was so funny how Shippou acted like he disliked Inuyasha, though she knew he really loved him and looked up to him. She suddenly thought of Souta. He idolized Inuyasha so much as a kid- No. She was not going to be sad right now. This was the time to be happy with her friends.

She poked Shippou’s cheek with a silly smile. “It’s okay, you’re off making me proud at Kitsune school.” 

She wondered how Souta was doing in school- No! She shook her head, and as a new song started up, she jumped back into dancing.

Kohaku was currently impressing Rin with some moves he’d picked up on his travels. Apparently the dance was becoming quite popular in some of the big towns. Humans really never change, do they? Kagome smiled to herself, joining the others in trying to learn this new dance.

She was actually starting to get the hang of some of these dance moves, and as she got into the groove, she was caught up in the euphoria of her wonderful company and pumping blood. But at the height of her excitement, just as she was doing a little twirl, she stopped dead. For the briefest of moments she had suddenly felt that long-forgotten and all-too-familiar pull of the Shikon no Tama. She stretched out her awareness, but could feel nothing.

“Are you okay, Kagome-sama?”

Blinking, Kagome looked down into the concerned face of Rin. “Ah, yes, it’s nothing,” she assured her, smiling. Great, am I imagining things now? 

The rest of her friends had also stopped dancing and looked at her with concern. “Don’t worry, I just got a little dizzy for a second. I’m fine, really.” To prove her point, she took Rin’s hands and began guiding her back into dancing again. Letting go, she continued her own dance, subtly checking to see that the others had gone back to dancing too. Breathing an internal sigh of relief, she tried to get back into the spirit of things herself.

This was all she needed on top of everything else. Memory problems, being jumpy and panicking over nothing, constant worry and sadness about her home, and now paranoia and imagining things that weren’t there?

No, she was probably just tipsy, and all that spinning and moving around had jumbled her senses, that’s all. And her nerves had already been frazzled this evening. It was so brief that now she wasn’t even sure she had felt it to begin with. And if she had felt something, well, she had been in the modern era away from any kind of magic for so long, she probably wouldn’t actually recognize the feeling of the jewel if she truly felt it. It could have been anything, really.

She cursed her traitorous mind for the zillionth time that night, and firmly set aside all thought on the matter.

~ ~ ~

After the Miko left, Sesshoumaru stayed a while gazing at the moon. He glanced down at the remaining stick of dango. She had clearly left it there for him inconspicuously. It would be a shame for it to go to waste. Picking it up gingerly, he took a bite of the sticky treat and thought on his unexpected encounter that evening.

He had learned much more about the miko than he had ever thought to. He supposed he should have realized how unique she was from the start. If he admitted it to himself, she had caught his attention during that very first meeting. How had a human survived his Dokkasou? At the time, he attributed it merely to Tessaiga’s power, re-categorizing her in his mind as an ordinary human, to his dissatisfaction. But over time she had grudgingly won his respect with her power and daring- not least of which against himself. She displayed true honor and loyalty as well.

Beyond that, he had never given her much thought, however.

Yet he now knew her to be a child of the future, educated beyond perhaps even his own level of schooling, diligent and determined. And not only possessing of her own great power, but born with that accursed jewel of power within her very body. One did not often meet creatures such as she.

When he found her earlier that night, he had been perturbed. Such a distressed state did not suit the woman. It was strange, but he found he was glad to have contributed to her improved mood.

He wanted to know more about this future of hers. He was a curious being, after all. And her company wasn’t unpleasant. In fact, she was much like Rin in her expressive antics and ability to read him without much input on his part. Yes, he believed he would be seeking out her company once more. He needed to spend more time around the village at any rate, to ensure no issue came of that well. 

As he thought, he found himself wandering back towards the festival grounds. The miko was among her friends, laughing and dancing. Rin seemed to be enjoying herself as well, he noted with approval as she briefly met his eye. 

He marveled at the miko’s joyful demeanor. She was truly resilient to overcome her episode of distress to already be in such high spirits. He noticed when she stopped for a moment, seeming disturbed once more, but she quickly recovered and went back to her revelry. It seemed she was not truly past those feelings, then. Yet she was doing her best not to allow them to hamper her again.

You will find your place here, Miko. If his experience with her was anything to go by, she would in fact make her own place with little problem. She was never shy to insert herself into situations which she had nothing to do with, and were even a danger to her. Making a life for herself in the village was a simple matter.

Though perhaps not with Inuyasha, he mused. The festivities were dying down and the crowd was dispersing, and the two had come together, but did not seem to be connecting well. There was indeed a sort of barrier between them as she had indicated.

Hn. It matters not to This Sesshoumaru. The time had come for him to collect his vassal and bid farewell to his ward.

~ ~ ~

The music came to an end as Kagome panted and clutched her side. “I haven’t danced so much in a long time! Thanks for teaching us Kohaku-kun, you're a great dancer!”

He smiled bashfully and cast a glance to Shippou and Rin. “I don’t know about that, Kagome-sama. But tonight was a lot of fun.”

“Hey, I wonder if there’s any more dango left?” Shippou piped up, herding Rin and Kohaku towards the stalls where the vendors were beginning to clean up, Jaken squawking after them. “Come on, let’s go guys! See you at Kaede-obaba’s, Kagome!” he called over his shoulder.

Sango put her hands on her hips and looked down at Izumi and Megumi. “Alright, it’s time for bed, you two! Say goodnight.”

“Aw, Mamma….” the girls pouted. 

“But we wanna stay with Auntie Kagome!” Megumi pleaded.

“Please!” Izumi joined in.

Kagome squatted down and booped them each on the nose. “Listen to your mama, you two. We can play more tomorrow, if you want.”

“Okay…” They slumped their little shoulders. “Goodnight,” they said in unison.

“See you tomorrow, Kagome-chan.” Sango took the twins by the hand and joined her husband. 

They both reached up their little hands to Miroku. “Up, Daddy, up!”

“Okay, okay,” he laughed. “Goodnight, Kagome-sama,” Miroku called as he handed the baby to his wife and lifted up the two bigger children to carry them home.

“Goodnight!” Kagome smiled at the sweet scene. She was so happy that her friends had gotten together and were able to have their happy family after everything they had been through. And she was able to be here to be a part of it. As much as she missed her home, she wouldn’t miss this for the world. She only hoped she and Inuyasha would soon do the same.

She glanced over and saw him still standing where she had left him and Miroku earlier. His ear twitched as he noticed her attention on him. She smiled and made her way over to him.

“Phew! I’m beat!” she sighed, wiping her brow.

His mouth quirked up into that cocky smile of his she loved so much. “What did you expect with all that weird waving around you were doing?”

“It wasn’t weird!” she mock-pouted, clenching her fists. “We were having fun, and it is the very latest trend, I’ll have you know,” she said, pointing a finger at him.

“That was? You humans are always coming up with weird stuff, aren’t you?” he scratched his cheek. “I can see why everything in your time is so crazy.”

Her eyes flashed with pain for an instant, before she again distanced herself from thoughts of her home. 

He seemed to notice however, and his face got serious again. “You know, Kagome, you can go back.”

“No! Why would you say that, Inuyasha? You know I want to be here. With you. With everyone. We don’t even know if the well will take me home, but without the jewel I won’t risk not being able to come back here again.” She looked seriously into his eyes. “I made my decision a long time ago, you know that.” She reached out to hold his hand, but he shifted away from her.  

“I know, Kagome, I just want you to be happy.” He folded his arms into his sleeves again. 

The sting of rejection was building up within her again, but she refused to allow it to overcome her. Biting her lip, she ventured, “Y’know the kids were saying there might still be some dango left. Wanna go-“

“That stuff is all mushy and always gets stuck in my teeth,” he said, sticking out his tongue. “Those brats probably already got any that was left anyways.”

She resisted the urge to chastise him for calling the kids ‘brats.’ “We could go for a little stroll maybe? The moon is nice tonight. I haven’t seen you much these past few days.” A light breeze picked up, and she rubbed her arms.

His ear twitched again. “It’s the moon, the same as any other night. You should just go back to the village.”

“Okay…” If he didn’t want to hang out, there was nothing she could do. Rubbing her arms again to relieve the chill that had started to set in, she hesitated another moment. Thinking of nothing else to say, she finally bit out, “Well, goodnight.” Turning to walk away, she winced at herself. That had sounded dejected even to her ears.

It was fine. He had been off fighting youkai with Miroku-sama for most of the week, and then immediately helped with the festival as soon as he got back. He was probably just tired. He didn’t have to hang out with her all the time. She wasn’t so insecure as that. 

So why did her heart hurt so much?

She paused to breathe in some fresh air, looking up to the sky for comfort. The image blurred, and she looked away, wiping her eyes with her sleeve. Stupid moon. Stupid Inuyasha… Stupid Kagome. 

She took another deep breath and patted her cheeks. What she needed to do was just go back to the hut, where she knew Kaede-baachan would already be preparing some soothing tea before bed, cuddle up in the futon with her two favorite kiddos, and get some sleep. She gave a weak smile. She was so happy to have Shippou-chan back for a few days. And it was nice sharing a hut with Kaede-baachan and Rin-chan since she had been back in the Sengoku Jidai. Even if things weren’t going exactly the way she had hoped, she was still glad to be here with everyone. 

With another soft glance at the moon, she took a last fortifying breath and set off towards the hut.

~ ~ ~

Sesshoumaru found his vassal and ward with the young taijiya and kit, haranguing the dango seller for scraps as the man was packing up his things.

“Rin.”

The girl brightened and rushed over to him, stopping before him in that sudden manner of hers just a few feet away.

“Did you not have your fill of sweets earlier this evening?”

She had the grace to look guilty. “Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama.” 

“I tried to stop her,” Jaken squawked. “It’s not befitting for a ward of the Great Sesshoumaru-sama to be begg-“

”Jaken.” He sent the imp a withering glare, and he shut up immediately.

“Are you leaving now?” his ward asked.

He inclined his head.

“You will come see me again soon, won’t you?”

His eyes gentled. “Do not ask foolish questions, Rin.” 

Straightening, she smiled and gave her usual, “Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama!”

He placed his hand briefly upon her head.

“Tonight was so much fun! I’m glad that Kagome-sama is here with us this year. Don’t you think it’s wonderful she has returned to us?” 

He raised a brow. “Hnn.”

Said woman approached then, picking her way through remaining stalls and banners.

Scenting lingering distress on the miko once more, his mouth turned down slightly in displeasure. In his opinion, she should not allow his brother to affect her so. Was she not having a pleasant evening with all of the others? 

Inuyasha’s behavior was strange however. Did he not want the Miko? Three years ago the two had been inseparable, and he had even been willing to leap into the meido to retrieve her. He had been most upset when she had disappeared.

“Shippou-chan, Rin-chan, let's go back- ah. Sesshoumaru, you’re still here.” He did not miss the way her scent shifted, the subtle pine fragrance of her happiness reaching his sensitive nose. 

He inclined his head. “I trust you enjoyed the remainder of your evening?”

The woman gave a bright smile, “Yes, we had so much fun dancing, didn’t we guys?”

“Yeah! Kohaku showed us a new dance!” Rin provided eagerly.

The boy gave a soft nod as he joined them.

“You were the best dancer Kagome,” the kit approached, lingering closer to Kagome than he might normally these days. He had matured greatly while away at Kitsune school. It occurred to Sesshoumaru that this was the nearest he’d ever dared to come to the Taiyoukai. So he was still intimidated, was he?

“I really wasn’t, Shippou-chan. I’m not even very familiar with this style.”

“The important matter is to flow with the music, rather than performing the steps perfectly- particularly when first learning- which you did well,” Sesshoumaru told her.

The miko’s shocked expression morphed into a blush coupled with the soft scent of plum wine. Embarrassment? Quite endearing.  

“You dance?” the kit asked with wide eyes.

“Upon occasion.”

Rin caught his sleeve. “I have never seen that! Sesshoumaru-sama you must dance with us next time!”

The miko’s eyes shot up to him, and he slanted his gaze to hers.

“Perhaps.”

Kohaku looked intrigued. Stroking the nekomata on his shoulder, he moved closer. “Are there any youkai dances you might teach us, Sesshoumaru-sama?”

The kit hopped up and down. “Oh, oh! I’ll try to learn some at school for next time!”

“That’s a wonderful idea, Shippou-chan,” the miko said.

The kit folded his arms and chuckled, grinning proudly. “We foxes are-“ whatever he had been intending to say was cut off when he yawned loudly.

The miko smiled. “I think it’s about time we head to bed.”

The kit yawned again, nodding his head and rubbing an eye. “I think you’re right, Kagome.”

“Ready to head back, Rin-chan?”

“Yes, Kagome-sama.” His ward released his sleeve and moved to stand by the miko.

He found this was pleasing to him. She was good to the children, though they were not in truth her responsibility. Yet still she claims them. Having the miko here in the village to look after Rin was more than he originally could have hoped for when entrusting her to the care of the elder miko, particularly now he was aware of how educated she was.

He was anticipating learning more about the world she came from.

The miko gave a small bow. “Thank you again for earlier, Sesshoumaru. See you later!”

As she turned to leave, he captured her gaze. “I shall hold you to that, Miko.” And with that he turned from the stunned miko and walked into the forest, Jaken trailing behind and his ward calling out her goodbyes after them.

~ ~ ~

Kagome stood a moment watching Sesshoumaru walk away, before shaking her head and following the kids back towards the village. I guess he really is curious about my time after all. And did he say he would dance with us? Why did that make her feel happy?

Kohaku parted ways with them, going to spend the night with Sango and Miroku. Kagome walked back to Kaede’s hut, just listening to Shippou and Rin’s chatter. It was so cute the things that were important to kids. The scraps from the dango seller seemed to outshine the rest of the evening, except maybe the fireworks which were an even rarer treat for a poor village in the Sengoku Jidai. Though according to Shippou, kitsune youjutsu was able to create even more spectacular tricks. He promised to show Rin as soon as he was able to perform them.

Snuggled up in bed with Shippou and Rin later that night, Kagome drifted to sleep feeling more content than she had since her return to the Sengoku Jidai.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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