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Remembrance by Miss Kagura

Remembrance

Sesshoumaru wasn't sure why he wanted to do it.

Kagome explained what 'Father's Day' was, and was puzzled when he sunk into a deep, brooding mood.  She was even more confused when he took their infant out on his own, dutifully packing bottles, diapers, and all the other things that Kagome brought from her era.  When she asked if he wanted her company, he just shrugged and left.

Gozu and Mezu, the guardians of the gate to the next world, bowed before him when he threatened them mildly with Tenseiga.  Sesshoumaru had a sleeping baby on his shoulder, so the two massive beings were extra-quiet, lest they wake the little one and upset his father.

Sesshoumaru stepped through the gate and made a series of long leaps toward the giant skeleton.  His movements were so graceful that their son barely even stirred until he landed on the armored shoulder, near the hole he made in his father's skeleton when he and Inuyasha first fought there.

He sat down and cradled his son.

Sometimes, as he grew older and wiser, he regretted the things he put his father through when he was alive.  Sesshoumaru was very stubborn and hateful when he was young, and his mind was preoccupied by dreams of power and might.  His father was always worried about him, concerned that he would end up being lonely and empty.

Sesshoumaru wished his father had seen the final battle with Naraku.  Nothing would have made him more proud than seeing his sons fight together, embracing the greatness they had instead of using it to hurt each other.

He also wished his father could see that he was happy.  Kagome was often difficult to live with and their relationship wasn't anywhere near perfect, thanks to many misunderstandings in bi-species love, but love her he did.  There was such intense passion in his life because of her and, sometimes, he wondered how he would ever get by when the inevitable future came.

The things Sesshoumaru hated his father for made sense now.  If he was put in his father's place, he would make the same decision in an instant so that Kagome and their son could live.  He would be the one pulled from the burning embers, bloodied and full of arrows.  The decision had made no sense until he found out he was going to have his own pup, and then it made all the sense in the world.

Kagome's pregnancy was very unexpected and came about after they had both decided what they did was a mistake.  So, for quite some time, they struggled with their relationship and their choices.  Sesshoumaru often wondered if his father went through the same struggles with Izayoi that he did with Kagome.  During those months, no matter how hard he thought, or how much time he spent trying to make plans, he could never figure out what to do.

Clarity came with the first cry of his son, and all the tumultuous angst and brooding vanished from his mind.  It was like he forgot everything in that moment, subsequently spending the next few seconds trying to remember how to breathe.  Even then, he thought of his father, because that moment was all that his father had ever seen of Inuyasha.  He couldn't imagine having to give up his son after just a few seconds.  His father never had the chance to teach Inuyasha anything but, if he had, Sesshoumaru knew his brother would have been quite the man.  All his father could leave behind was a piece of metal, which, from a father's perspective was nothing!  Sesshoumaru no longer understood his prior logic that placed so much of his father's legacy in Tessaiga.  It was worthless compared to his father's wisdom and guidance.

Inuyasha received Tessaiga, and maybe that was the most powerful thing his father had to leave behind, but Sesshoumaru knew that all the memories his father left with him were so much more valuable.  Steel could never compare to the laughter, the lessons, the tears, the punishments, and all the little adventures he had with his father.

Sesshoumaru looked at the giant skeletal head, remembering snippets of his childhood.  The sentimentalities meant so much now that they eclipsed his biggest trials and greatest triumphs.  He would have gladly given up any sword in the world to have his father back, just so his father could see how he had grown.

There was nothing Sesshoumaru regretted more than the fact that he never truly gave his father a reason to be proud of him.

In some ways, though, it was like his father was always there, until the moment he received Bakusaiga.  His father's presence was like invisible hands that guided him; pushing him along, helping him find his way, even when Sesshoumaru was so lost he didn't realize there was any alternative.  When Bakusaiga came along, those hands vanished and, for the first time, Sesshoumaru felt the loss.  Over the past few months, Sesshoumaru had missed his father greatly.

It made him disheartened to think that people now thought of him as being all the things they used to think of his father.  He was the new 'Greatest Demon of All Time' and, despite the fact that he spent centuries trying to gain that title, now that he had, it only made him feel... empty.  Sesshoumaru felt that, when he walked in his father's footsteps, he covered them with his own to the point that, when he looked back, he couldn't tell his father was ever there.

Life went on though, and while Sesshoumaru struggled with thoughts of his dead father, he himself became a father.  He learned what it was like to truly love someone so completely.  With that came the realization that, a long time ago, his father had felt that way about him.  All the questions that were left in his mind about how his father felt about him were resolved in his heart, because he knew that his father had loved him more than anything else in the world.

His father's legacy wasn't power, or steel, or war.  It was he and his brother; everything the old dog did in his life was for them.  The swords that made him great he had only prepared for his sons, and the wars he fought were only to save his sons from having to fight them.  Even in death, his father invested everything he was into ensuring they continued to grow.

For most of his life, Sesshoumaru thought his father killed off the taiyoukai population for his own glory but, looking back, he understood that he did it because he didn't want Sesshoumaru to have his enemies and his struggles.

The world was forgetting all those mighty things he did; the wars he won, the enemies he defeated, and soon, his father was going to fade into myth.  Thanks to the little bundle in Sesshoumaru's arms, though, they wouldn't forget his name.

Sesshoumaru hoped that his son would be a little less like him.  The day he was born, Sesshoumaru uttered the first prayer he had spoken in centuries.

Please don't let him be like me.

He wondered if his father ever had a moment like that.  Sesshoumaru was fairly sure he had, because he went to such great lengths to ensure that he and Inuyasha didn't have to live like he did.  Looking back, Sesshoumaru could remember long periods of time when his father was away.  Then, it had hurt him, because he missed his father; now, it hurt him because he understood what his father was doing for him.

Sesshoumaru wanted his son to be more like his mother.  Kagome loved easily, and loved so intensely.  Being loved by Kagome was like being under either a powerful blessing or a powerful curse, depending on the day.  She loved him even when he did not feel like being loved, and he had many bittersweet memories of his woman holding him when he struggled with memories of his father.

He didn't know Izayoi very well, but he knew she was a lot like Kagome.  Sesshoumaru wished his father had been able to know what it was like to be loved that much by a woman.  His father recognized it, and fought to attain it; although, while he did, Sesshoumaru had second-guessed, criticized, and insulted him for it.  Yet, his father had tasted only a sliver of the bliss Sesshoumaru got to enjoy every day of his life.

Sesshoumaru didn't know what the afterlife was like, but he hoped that, wherever his father was, he was with her.

The infant opened his gold eyes and stared up at Sesshoumaru, squeezing one of Sesshoumaru's fingers as hard as he could.  All these things that he did with Touga were things he did with his father, and he enjoyed them.  Looking into those little golden eyes brought sadness also, because a single thought lingered in Sesshoumaru's mind.

Please don't be like me.

The path to happiness for Sesshoumaru had been so long and so hard that Sesshoumaru wouldn't even wish it upon his worst enemy. To live so long and be so lonely was to be in hell, and he hadn't even seen it, not until he looked back and saw how dark his life was.  Sesshoumaru had built his emotional walls, and told himself they made him strong.

Life broke down those walls and him as well.  In a very short time, after centuries of apathy and emotional coldness, circumstances had stripped him of his pride, his chilly contentment, what he felt was his inheritance, and a limb.  He didn't even question himself until he was alone and badly injured, physically and emotionally.  He still didn't want to know what his life would be like if Rin hadn't stumbled upon him that day.

Sesshoumaru didn't want his son to endure any of the things he had.  They were too painful, and the thought of his son suffering through his trials made his heart ache.  He spent so much time hating his father that he couldn't see how much his father actually loved him.  If his son learned nothing else from him, and turned out to be just as terrible as Sesshoumaru was in his youth, at the very least, Sesshoumaru wanted him to feel loved.

The taiyoukai mentally played back some of the memories from just before his father died, shaking his head.  What Sesshoumaru did to his father went so far beyond taking him for granted.  He couldn't imagine the disappointment and sadness his father felt because of the way he acted and the things he'd said.  He didn't know then that he had so little time left with his father and, even if he had, he wasn't sure if anything would have been different.

All those burdens he was so eager for - the title, and the glory, and the reputation - weighed so heavily on Sesshoumaru that he didn't remember why he wanted them in the first place. At that moment, all he wanted was to see his Papa again.

Kagome had told him about this tradition from her time earlier that day... Father's Day.

Maybe it was different for humans, but taking only one day of the year to honor his father was far too little.  Sesshoumaru honored him daily, because he knew that, without his father's sacrifice and guidance, he might never have known joy; for that, his father deserved more than a day of appreciation.

The things his father did for him and gave up for him were too great to even name in one day, much less honor.  Sesshoumaru couldn't imagine having to leave his son to go battle, day after day, year after year, just so that, someday, his son wouldn't have to.

Every touch, every smile, every night spent just holding the infant was a gift from his father, a result of his sacrifices for Sesshoumaru. Sesshoumaru knew that, every time he picked up his son, the only reason he was able to enjoy peace was because his father spent his entire life preparing the world for him.

Sesshoumaru knew he would spend his life honoring and remembering his father; wishing he could have the chance to show him that he did find his way.  He had a family and a home but, most importantly, he understood that those things were far more precious than accomplishments gained through battle.

An apparition watched from behind them as Sesshoumaru kissed the infant and left.

When death reunited them many, many years later, the first thing he told Sesshoumaru was how proud he was at that particular moment, and how that one moment made every drop of split blood, every sacrifice, and all that pain worth enduring.  And Sesshoumaru simply nodded, because he had walked in his father's footsteps to that final paw print in the sand.

The End


Author's Note: This piece was Beta-ed by Wiccan, who saved it from the trash pile. I wrote this, posted it, hated it, and deleted it in like, a minute, and Wiccan was like 'What did you do!" and so I made her beta it so it would be presentable. In other words, it's her fault!

 

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