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Before the Dawn by Sage McMae

Chapter 1

Her pulse is ringing in her ears. Her breath comes out in heavy, staccato pants. Pounding against the ground, her feet are bare and cut but she keeps moving. Each step leaves a trail, not that it matters. He’ll always find her, no matter how far she runs. 

Kagome tries not to think of what will happen if she doesn’t reach the well in time. She fails. Her vision swims with the horror of claw-slashed bodies, glassy stares, and the overwhelming stench of blood. She squeezes her eyes shut and presses on. 

Almost there. 

Almost...

His body slams into hers with the force of a freight train. Kagome lands with a resounding thud on her back and all the air escapes her lungs. Her hands instinctively shove at his shoulders, vainly attempting to pry him off. He growls menacingly. 

Kagome’s fear grips her heart like a vice. This is it. This is how she dies, pinned to the forest floor with no one— not even her friends —by her side. A single tear trails down her cheek. 

In a way, there is a peace that comes with accepting your fate. The knowledge that there is nothing you can do, no further action to take, is like a balm on an open wound. It covers the affected area with comfort and cleanses away all else. 

Her worries somehow seem less now. Perspective hits at the most inopportune time. Who cares about graduating high school when an all-power demon is attempting to rewrite history? Guess it’s true what they say— hindsight is 20/20. 

Kagome closes her eyes and waits for the inevitable swipe of claws. 

Her last thought is I’m sorry

Except it isn’t. 

Suddenly, he is being torn away from her and golden eyes replace his snarling red ones. She'd know those eyes anywhere.

“Go.”

She doesn’t hesitate. Kagome follows his command, taking off into a run with a burst of strength she didn’t know she still possessed. 

Sticks and rocks tear the flesh of her feet but she doesn’t feel any pain. Adrenaline is pumping through her veins, urging her forward. An unlikely savior has given her a chance. She takes it. 

As Kagome hurdles through the well, she hears a thunderous roar. She can only pray he will survive this night. 

When the portal deposits her in the future, Kagome collapses to her knees. Her clothes are in tatters, her skin is covered in scrapes and bruises. She is a mess. Yet, her appearance is nothing compared to how Kagome feels. 

Raw. Vulnerable. Pathetic. Weak

She left him there. She seized her opportunity and abandoned him to fight alone. Kagome’s stomach twists unpleasantly. She has to go back. She has to save him. She has to—

Retch violently. 

Now that her adrenaline is wearing off, the pain is unbearable. Blood loss causes her vision to go in and out of focus. Kagome’s hand trembles as she brings it to her side. It comes back painted red. She winces as a wave of dizziness washes over her. 

If this is the end, Kagome would rather be with him. 

One last time. 

With a steadying breath, she places her palm on the dirt floor of the Bone Eater’s Well. 

Take me where I belong. 

The ground gives way and she tumbles through space and time, traveling five hundred years into the past. 

She wills her arms to haul her upward and over the side. When she spills into the grass, it takes her several minutes to catch her breath. 

“You came back.” 

“Sesshomaru.” Kagome can barely get his name out before she’s running— then falling —into him. 

“It is over,” he tells her.

Instinctively, she tries to peer around his massive form to see for herself. 

“No,” he growls.

“It’s my fault,” Kagome laments. “I told him and he...he just lost it. I don’t understand what happened.” 

“It was Naraku and his tainted jewel shards. This was not your doing,” Sesshomaru explains. 

Kagome buries her face in his chest. “I was so scared. I’ve never seen him that mad before. I didn't recognize him at all.” 

“He will never bother you again.” 

The finality in his words makes her crane her head to gaze up at him. Kagome swallows around a growing lump in her throat. “Did you...?” She can’t finish her sentence. 

“He meant to kill you. I could not let that stand.” 

“Sesshomaru, he was my friend.” 

“And he was my brother until Naraku turned him into a puppet. In the end, he was neither. Take solace in that.” 

Kagome cries. The tears she sheds are for the friend she lost, the unfair victory her enemy has claimed, and the lover who she chose to keep a secret. Maybe if she hadn’t been so foolish none of this would have happened.

“Come. You require a healer,” he says, lifting Kagome off her battered feet. 

“I’m going to tell them everything— about you, about me, about us,” she vows as he carries her toward the village. 

“Do you think that wise?” 

“I thought I would die tonight and you know what went through my mind?” 

He stares at her, waiting in that patient, silent way of his. 

“I’m sorry.” 

Sesshomaru tilts his head, not following her meaning. 

“I thought, ‘I’m sorry’ because I was. I was so heartbreakingly sorry that I didn’t get a chance to tell you.” 

“Tell me what, little bird?” 

“I love you.” 

He hums, pressing his face into the crook of her neck. Kagome doesn’t think about her matted hair or the dried patches of blood on her skin. Her mind’s sole focus is on the demon holding her and his reassuring display of affection. 

After all, the night is always darkest before the dawn.

 

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