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What Remains by mythicamagic

Chapter 1

AN: made for the SessKag Prompt Raffle, with Walter205's prompt "Destroyed."

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!

---

Resting both hands on her hips, Kagome regarded the dust-laden thing resting on the floor thoughtfully. It wasn't in the best shape. Grandpa must've either left it alone for years or picked it up last month off the flea market. Either way, it was unloved, discarded and sorely in need of some TLC. The question remained of what exactly to do with it, though. Souta paused within the threshold of the dimly lit storage shed, lingering.

"What's that?" he asked, arms full with a cardboard box.

Kagome hummed, crouching. "One of those old Butsudan things, I think."

"A shrine?" grunting, he set the box down and knelt beside her, fiddling with the wooden doors curiously. "Trust Grandpa to hoard something valuable like this along with his other junk-"

"Hey," she shot him a warning look.

"Oh come on, Kagome- you feel the same way. Now that it's fallen to us to clear it all out, makes you realise how much he kept. There's still a hell of a lot in the attic!"

Batting his clumsy hands aside, she gently pried the doors open. Tiny figures and intricate details lay inside, hinting at its former splendour. The paint had faded, a chipped and rusted bell hiding within. Old candlesticks had melted, caking the platforms in old wax, with incense burners left uncleaned. Even the painted scroll of the Buddha had degraded into a grimy state.

"Maybe I just didn't appreciate it as much as I should have," she mumbled nostalgically, stroking the faded gold design of a platform. "I think… I wanna do something with this, as a goodbye to Grandpa. He'd like that."

Souta rose a brow and stood, looking lanky and teenage these days. Kagome still found it weird. "You thinking about the Feudal Era or something?"

"No!" Blue eyes flashed. "This is a Grandpa thing. Don't bring that stuff up."

"Okay, okay. Geeze," chuckling, he picked up the forgotten box, pausing. "How are you gonna do anything with it? I don't think years worth of neglect is something a quick dusting will fix."

Shutting the small doors of the Butsudan, Kagome faced him with a shimmering fire within her eyes that Souta hadn't glimpsed in years. Interest and burgeoning determination. "I can restore it. Just watch me."

---

It was no easy job. Kagome heartily attested to that after watching various videos on restoring historical items. She should really have handed it over to a professional or conservation centre, they would've treated it with far more dignity and the care it deserved.

However, she'd helped Grandpa restore a few things in the past that had required a delicate hand and fine details, so she stubbornly refused to be deterred. Something about the neglected shrine called to her in an incredibly personal way. It felt wrong just thinking about handing it over to someone else.

After trying her hand at restoring some other, less fine items in Grandpa's old storage/work shed for practice and getting the hand of using adhesives, she began her massive task of glamourizing the dusty old Butsudan.

Sitting within the shed, bathed in lamplight and ignoring Buyo's continuous rubbing back and forth against her calf- Kagome bent over a workbench. It took several hours of cleaning- sometimes with a toothbrush- just to remove its fine layer of dust and grime. She took care not to damage the finite details that time hadn't degraded, but it proved difficult to reach within little nooks and crannies. Her brow remained furrowed, absorbed in deep concentration.

This was what she needed. Since the Bone Eater's Well had stopped working, the former time traveller pursued anything and everything that could keep her mind occupied- but she remained careful and extra vigilant throughout, conscious of how much pressure she was using.

After finishing the cleanup, Kagome sat back and stretched, grunting at the stiffness of her joints.

"Ow- how did Grandpa do this stuff so often?" sighing and removing some yellow gloves (now tinged black), she massaged her aching muscles. It was 6 o'clock, according to her watch.

I've been here for so long.

At that moment, an incredibly loud scream sounded out from the courtyard.

Stiffening, Kagome reacted on instinct, not wasting any time in dashing from the work shed. Hurrying forwards, she noticed a figure, heart stuttering. Heading straight for Mama's frozen form, she noticed a bagful of shopping laying overturned by her feet- dropped and ignored.

"Mama, what's wrong?- AHHH!" Kagome lurched back, eyes flying wide.

She'd crossed through the courtyard earlier to reach their work shed, so she knew… Kagome knew without a doubt that the bones currently jutting out of the ground hadn't been there earlier.

As her mother clutched her tight- they stood frozen while Souta wandered out from the house.

"Hey what's all the- AHHH!"

Kagome grunted as Souta collided with her front, gripping them both tight.

"W-why is there a skeleton in our courtyard?" he asked thinly, trembling.

Kagome recovered quickest, grimly used to the sight of dead bodies. Unfortunate villagers had become victims of youkai attacks so often she'd gotten accustomed to it, though her stomach always turned. Hell, she'd helped bury Sango's people.

Prying their frozen fingers off her, she stepped closer to inspect it carefully.

The body lay on its back, fairly tall. Perhaps an adult male due to the size and density of the bones. They had no skin, no defining features. Their ribcage had been blown open, creating a deep cavity in their chest that made yellowed bones open out like a blooming flower.

Perhaps a cannonball did that? she mused.

The decimated body oddly seemed like it had belonged there for centuries, laying just outside the well house. Earth encrusted onto its joints, bones peering out like they'd been newly unearthed after being buried.

"You didn't… dig this up, did you, Mama?"

Mrs Higurashi rapidly shook her head, "I was just wandering back from the shops when I saw it."

"Maybe Buyo dug it up?" Souta helpfully suggested.

Kagome snorted. "That's dumb."

"You're dumb!"

"Alright you two," gently putting her hands on their backs, Mama looked around. "Luckily no one is visiting the shrine right now. I can close it to the public long enough for us to figure out what to do about this."

Souta rose a dark brow, gesturing wildly to the skeleton, "there's nothing to figure out, is there? We just call the police and let them take it away."

"No… Mama's right," Kagome muttered, following the woman's line of sight towards the well house. "This is weird. And weirdness usually involves the Bone Eaters Well. Who knows, maybe they're the remains of a demon? If that's the case, we can't just hand these over."

At a loss, they fell quiet. None were sure what to do about the unprecedented situation.

"... We can't uh… move it, can we?"

Kagome glanced at her younger brother, a twinge of sympathy crossing her face. "That might be the only thing we can do."

Throwing the old bones down the well crossed her mind, though it made her feel rotten. The magic had dried up, so the bones would likely sit there.

"Ah! We have a tarp from when we went camping one year!" clapping her hands, Mama smiled. "Let's cover it over with that for now. Afterwards, maybe we should consider cremation?"

They all agreed to her plan, fetching a blue waterproof sheet out from their dusty attic. Kagome stooped over the skeleton, covering it while her family secured the tarp, hiding such a monstrous sight from potential prying eyes. Since nightfall had descended swiftly upon them, the Higurashi's gradually headed for bed. They'd deal with everything tomorrow.

Kagome lay in her childhood bedroom pensively, squeezing blue eyes shut and tossing a blanket over her head.

No good.

Groaning, she shoved the soft covers down, frowning at Buyo currently sprawled over her stomach. "You're heavy. It's no wonder I can't sleep."

The calico cat purred, squidging both legs beneath herself to lie like a loaf of bread.

Sighing, Kagome threw her head back into the pillow with a soft 'thud.' After several attempts at sleeping, she finally disturbed her cat by sitting up. Grabbing a dressing gown and fluffy slippers, she poured herself a cup of tea and made for the work shed.

---

A loud, drawling yawn disturbed the quiet hush within the small space. Souta wandered in, scratching his stomach. "Thought I saw the light on. What're you doing up, it's early."

"Couldn't sleep," Kagome hummed, sitting back from her work and petting the tiny reattached doors of the Butsudan. She'd hand-painted them. Loose components were newly secured using adhesives, stabilising some tiny roof tiles- a few of which had been replaced. Souta glanced at the sizable amount of sawdust on the ground. "Wait, you didn't sleep at all?! Come on, Kagome- it's definitely time for a break! Come and eat something at least."

Sighing, Kagome conceded and put the paints away, rubbing bleary eyes.

Walking out into the courtyard and wincing at the bright, morning sunlight, they noticed a small commotion nearby. Crows cawed loudly, six of them hopping around the tarp and pecking at it.

"Leave that alone!" Kagome called, hurrying over and shooing them away. The crows squawked in outrage but flew off, leaving scattered feathers.

Souta frowned as he approached, putting a hand to his nose. "Urgh, what's that smell?"

Kagome winced, breathing through her mouth. It smelled like meat that had been baked under the sun too long. Blue eyes widened- sliding from the watchful crows that lingered atop their roof- to the still tarp.

"What are you doing?"

Ignoring her brother, Kagome leaned down and curled her hand around the edge of the tarp. She swallowed thickly. "I've smelled that scent before. It comes from…" she trailed off, fingers shaking a little as she lifted the tarp. A waft of strong, degrading meat immediately fanned out from beneath it.

Kagome steeled herself and peered under- only to immediately slam the cover down after the faintest glimpse. Pressing a hand to her mouth, she gagged and heaved, coughing up the remains of her tea.

Souta gaped and was immediately at her side, lifting dark hair away from her pale face. "Kagome, tell me what's wrong! Did you see something? I-I know the skeleton is scary, but you seemed to handle it better yesterday. Has something changed?"

As she fought to recover, he glanced at the tarp and inched an inquisitive hand towards it.

"Don't look!" Kagome snatched his hand back, gentling at the confusion on his face. "I think… I think we definitely have a demon on our hands," wetting her lips, she exhaled shakily. "They're slowly coming back to life. Let's just say their body has more flesh on its bones… and a few regrown organs from what I could see."

Souta's skin turned sickly pale, becoming ashen. "Uh, and I'm guessing there's no way to tell if they're a friendly demon either." Brown eyes suddenly widened, and he spoke without thinking. "W-what if its Inuyasha?!"

Pain immediately thrummed through her chest, and Kagome flinched, hands curling into her gown. Shivering from the morning air, something in her expression must have registered with her brother. "Oh- hey, I'm sorry. I just thought… if they look kind of human and they're near the well, then maybe he could be… coming back to life?"

"I doubt that," standing shakily, she sucked in a breath. Kagome spoke the words she'd accepted five years ago when the Feudal era had become a snatched- distant dream, lost to her. "As a half-demon, Inuyasha would only live about 200 years or so more. At least, that's what he told me. I never heard anything about a hanyou being able to regenerate after death. Especially not after 500 years."

Unbidden, Naraku and his narrow escapes from death's clutches, even with his head severed in two, came to mind. Was it possible?

Kagome shook herself. Souta stood and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, steering them towards the house. "Yeah, you're probably right," he mumbled. "Would've been cool to see him though. I know he's your boyfriend, but he was like a big brother to me-"

"He's not my boyfriend," Kagome snorted, delivering a jab to the ribs with her elbow.

He wheezed and laughed, rubbing the spot tenderly as they walked inside and took off their shoes. "Okay, he 'was' your boyfriend."

Kagome paused, nostalgia touching her features, "only for a little while," she said softly. "We actually… weren't a thing during my last few months in the past."

"Wait, really?" putting on some house slippers, he gaped. "You never mentioned this before- was there someone else? Ah- hey what's with that blush? Get back here, Kagome, don't run off after dropping that bombshell!"

---

They waited several hours before checking again. From Kagome's dry heaving, they surmised there'd been no change.

Nor was there any the following day.

Returning from her job at the museum as a tour guide and checking the body once more, Kagome sighed.

"This isn't good, we need to open the shrine back up at some point. Besides, I feel weird just casually having a dead body lying outside. Gives me the creeps," Souta said at dinner. "If the police come by and notice it, this is gonna look really weird."

Kagome bit her lip, pausing mid-meal with furrowed brows. "Doesn't make sense. There was such a leap in recovery. Now nothing! I didn't sense any demonic aura giving it a healing boost while working on the Butsudan that night either. I wonder what could be the cause of its recovery stopping and starting."

Mama Higurashi looked up from her shisami. "You were working on the Butsudan at night, Kagome?"

"Yeah, I got the urge to keep going when I couldn't sleep," she said, realisation slowly dawning. "I haven't since then. You don't think…"

All three stared at each other, silently clicking. Kagome hurriedly scoffed her food and stood, closely followed by Souta. They returned to the unassuming Butsudan and immediately got back to work. Mama trailed in after them once coffee was brewed, predicting it would be a long night.

---

The prediction proved correct. The siblings continued undaunted, Souta taking care of sanding down new pieces of woodwork while Kagome secured any last loose fixtures, replacing the broken bell and painting the outside of the structure. Mama kept them replenished throughout, smiling slightly to herself. She hoped Grandpa was watching. The sight of his grandkids working so hard on a historical artefact would've surely pleased him.

After a few hours, Butsudan lay near finished. Kagome just needed to take care of the more finite details inside and replace its candles and incense.

The Higurashi family tiredly approached the tarp with trepidation, wondering if their long night had paid off. Souta glanced at Kagome, who nodded and knelt, taking a steadying breath. Lifting the plastic cover to peer in, her face visibly changed. Relief swamped her, shoulders relaxing.

"It worked. You were right, Mom."

Mrs Higurashi smiled warmly, gesturing towards the head. "Shall we take a look at their face? Have they been restored enough?"

"I think so. I'm seeing a lot of bare skin. It's brittle and kind of fragile-looking," Kagome hummed. Shifting to grasp the end of the tarp at the body's head, she pulled it down.

Souta and Mrs Higurashi blinked and inspected them. A man. No one they recognised. Their attention slid to Kagome instead, who had fallen deathly silent and still. "Can't say I know him," Souta muttered, "what about you, Kagome?"

She stared, raising a trembling hand. Lightly touching long, thin silver hair- Kagome became aware of hard drumming inside her ears. Her dazed touch moved to a formally stern brow- now relaxed with death, brushing a thumb gingerly over it. Lithe fingers dragged over brittle skin, mapping the plains of high cheekbones, a firm jaw, and faded magenta stripes- hovering over chapped lips.

"Yes," she breathed, tears obscuring her vision of the mighty, fallen demon lord as an ache thrummed cruel and twisting through her body. An accompanying bitter crunch slammed into her stomach, choking her breath and eliciting a stifled sob.

"Yes, I know him."

---

Since his bare body appeared solid enough to be moved- Kagome and Souta dressed him in a yukata and with Mama's help, all three of them carried him inside. After placing him on their sofa, they also brought their Butsudan into the living room.

And then Kagome sat, lingering near Sesshoumaru's lifeless body as she began working again. Souta tried to convince her to rest, but she declined and told him to sleep. She'd catch a nap later. Mama faithfully brewed more coffee and cooked dinner, ensuring her daughter at least ate.

Every time Kagome finished painting a segment, she'd glance over and spy something different about his appearance. With each glide of the brush- brightening the small shrine- Sesshoumaru's thin hair would grow thicker and silkier. The magenta stripes steadily grew darker and more vibrant. Chapped, wrinkled skin smoothed over into youthful, unblemished flesh.

After completing another part, the situation hit home.

Sesshoumaru was there. Flesh and blood, suddenly and inexplicably back in her life. Kagome bit her trembling lip and exhaled shakily. Turning to him, she touched the cold skin of his motionless hand, squeezing it.

"You better wake up after all the trouble I've gone to," she gave a wane smile. Her shoulders dropped, and Kagome swallowed thickly. "... There are so many things I need to say to you. Ask you. Please don't just come back only for me to have to bury you. I'm so tired of saying goodbye to people. Really, really tired."

Sesshoumaru didn't stir, but she imagined he'd arch a brow at her remarks.

Stifling another yawn, Kagome's heavy lids tried to creep shut once more. Catching herself, the miko slapped her cheeks and continued on diligently.

---

Upon finally replacing both candles inside after the paint had dried, she placed an incense stick into its holder and leaned back tiredly.

Finished.

Checking Sesshoumaru's unresponsive body, Kagome sighed. He lay peaceful, perfect. Like he were merely sleeping. Moonlight kissed his bangs, blessing it with a gentle shine. Crawling out of the desk chair wobbly, energy having been sapped dry, Kagome closed her eyes groggily. All she could do now was wait and hope. In the quiet of Higurashi shrine's living room, she rested a cheek down upon the edge of their sofa, tucking both knees beneath her and falling asleep instantly.

Her dreams were filled with vague images- glimpses of smiles, sharp teeth and deep baritones murmuring into her ear. Soft furs glided across prickling flesh, and the steady, secure assurance of golden eyes cutting deep into her marrow haunted her long into the early hours of dawn.

---

He hadn't awoken by the time she stirred, and disappointment flooded in fast and fierce. Mama had taken the liberty of calling Kagome's work to give her a day off. Souta treated her to breakfast until all three found themselves pondering the still body on their sofa.

"Maybe he has to be awoken with a kiss?"

Kagome blushed and snorted, elbowing Souta. "Go ahead then, thanks for volunteering," she teased.

"I meant you-" he grunted, pushing her back. "Like in those fairytales and stuff."

"Are you trying to imply that Sesshoumaru is my true love?"

Souta reddened, "no! That would be weird. Just forget it."

Mrs Higurashi rested a hand upon her daughter's shoulder, sensing the fatigue lingering just beneath the surface. "Are you alright, Kagome?"

Trying to keep her expression composed, the miko gazed down at the unresponsive demon lord. "I'm just trying not to freak out. What if he never wakes up?"

"I'm sure he will, honey. You've done everything you could."

Tired lines beneath her eyes only seemed to deepen. "Have I?" Kagome glanced over at the Butsudan sitting restored on their table. The paint job looked uneven to her critical eye, some pieces not aligning correctly- the woodwork imperfect. Her own ego and strange possessiveness over the thing hadn't permitted a professional to touch it, but what if she'd inadvertently doomed Sesshoumaru to an eternal rest because of it?

Guilt caused her to gnaw at her plump bottom lip, hands curling into fists.

This is my fault. Now I'll never know what happened to my friends. He won't wake up.

Kagome felt her cheeks warm as tears crept into the corners of her eyes. When she'd first envisioned the completed Butsudan, she'd been so happy. So pleased to be honouring Grandpa's memory. Would he be proud of her despite its flaws? She'd wanted to place it in a cosy corner of the house and pray to it, to place a photo there and light its incense, leave an offering or two.

Blue eyes widened.

Grabbing the Butsudan, Kagome suddenly barked orders to help her move it. Souta and her mother confusedly helped, heaving it to the corner of the room where Grandpa's old armchair sat. Quickly grabbing a photo from the wall- Kagome dashed over and set it down within the shrine, lighting the incense last after leaving an offering of food. Grandpa's smiling face seemed to glow brighter as smoke coiled around it.

A wheezing cough caused all three members of the Higurashi household to freeze.

Kagome slowly turned, back ramrod straight.

Wide eyes greedily drank in the sight of movement. Blessed, amazing, welcome movement.

Sesshoumaru coughed again, body quivering. Clawed fingers stiffly flexed, knees shifting. He suddenly bolted upright and made a terrible gasping noise. Dry, hacking coughing sounded out. Kagome was immediately by his side, trying to soothe him. She held back his long fall of hair as Mrs Higurashi helpfully supplied a bucket for him to heave into.

Sesshoumaru eventually quieted and lifted his head, red eyes glaring at the new humans. Blood caked his lower lip- which he absentmindedly licked away.

"What-" he rasped.

Kagome appeared in his line of vision, sitting beside him and handing over a glass of water. When it slipped slightly, she patiently curled his stiff fingers around it- guiding it to his lips. Sesshoumaru stared at her in stunned bewilderment, drinking. Souta and Mrs Higurashi watched with cautious amazement, their own additions to Kagome's hard work having paid off.

After soothing his parched throat, Sesshoumaru collected himself and tried again, staring at her. "Miko…"

Immediately a punch to the gut of torrid emotions threatened to overwhelm her. Kagome blinked rapidly and gave an answering, wobbly smile. No one had called her that in years.

"Hi," she murmured, eyes stinging. "Welcome back."

 

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