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Meditations On The Abyss by Lyra

Meditations On The Abyss

Meditations On The Abyss

or

Meeting and Meaning

~~~ - - ~~~

Long has paled that sunny sky:

echoes fade and memories die

Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,

Alice moving under skies

never seen by waking eyes.

In a wonderland they lie,

dreaming as the days go by;

dreaming, as the summers die.

                                                - Lewis Carroll

~~~ - - ~~~

Kagome walked past the edges of the campsite they had chosen for this evening, and waved Inuyasha back when he looked up at her and made to stand and follow. The night was fresh and clean; there was a familiar pulse of youki in the area, and tonight the moon was one day past its half. A meeting night, and a night for herself; she needed it.

Having spent most of three years in the past, Kagome had recently come to several realizations. First had been a...sorting of her feelings concerning Inuyasha, following Kikyou’s demise and his subsequent fumbling attempts at courtship. She had decided after much thought and soul-searching not to pursue him, and more importantly, had told him not to pursue her. Part of her had been blazing with happiness when he had stumbled over words of deeper feelings; but the greater part remained suspicious of why these sentiments had waited until after Kikyou was returned to her grave.

She didn’t want to be suspicious, but she couldn’t help it...and she honestly wasn’t sure she would ever be able to. Inuyasha hadn’t made a choice, fate had made it for him and for Kagome...that wasn’t good enough. Inuyasha had the potential to be a really good friend, and someday he might make some woman a good husband – but Kagome didn’t think that she would be that woman.

Inuyasha needed to fall in love with someone who did not wear Kikyou’s shadow.

She had come to her own peace with the part of her soul that had once been Kikyou, and most of her ability to do that had come from recognition of her own accomplishments. She was a miko in her own right, not because of a previous life; she was stronger than Kikyou had been, a more complete person, and her trust in her friends was absolute. As quickly as they were gaining strength, as strong as they were becoming – gathering power and weapons and allies – soon enough, they would have an end to Naraku. If he would just stop hiding...

That bit of thinking had led directly to her next revelation: she was no longer afraid of their enemy. Once had he been the object of her nightmares – that voice echoing in her head, toe-curling - and so smooth, to be full of so many horrors! But now Naraku hid in fear of their combined power; now, Naraku was afraid, so why should she be?

When they found him, it would all be over for him, and he certainly knew it.

There would be mop up work after that; finding the remaining shards of the shikon no tama, purifying them, and putting them in place. That led, however, to the worst and best things she had been thinking, lately. To what she wanted – more than anything.

Looking around herself, alone in the dark, she let out a sigh. The moon was bright, and the stars, but besides that there was no other light, and the sky was clear enough to see spinning galaxies, the entire cosmos laid bare over her head. The sight exemplified her thoughts for her, and she lay back on the grass, her arms outstretched. If she held her hands just right, she could cup the moon.

She had been given such a precious gift! Right here, right now, and every day – despite the danger, because of it.

She had a chance to live her life in the last great age of wonder; the last days of kami and youkai, the last days before the magic had left the world.

She frowned, thinking about that. Lately - since Naraku had diminished in her mind to the spider he truly was - she had begun to contemplate her own strange circumstances. Was he enough reason for her to be brought back to the past; was he really such a terrible foe that without her, no one could defeat him?

She had never doubted that some quest of great importance had allowed her to be thrust back in time, but was Naraku’s defeat really that quest? Or the reformation of the shikon no tama?

She did not think so. In fact, without her presence, the shikon no tama would never have been split in the first place, and Naraku wouldn’t have gathered power...so many things wouldn’t have happened that it was dizzying to speculate.

She had tried, in the beginning, to ensure that she didn’t change the past, but it was hard – because she didn’t know how everything had happened...before. If there was a before – and that was hard to think about, too.

As far as she knew, the old powers had truly deserted her future world, except for the fanciful beings attached to children, who would always believe...and the dead, who had no choice.

Youkai were nearly immortal, and did not age like human beings; she knew that well enough from from the stories of both Inuyasha and Shippou - so why were they gone? How had all of them disappeared by her time? It was not even five hundred years in the future, and yet youkai would become nothing but monsters for bed-time stories, or less.

Except for a few very rare occasions, which could be blamed on her connection to the past, Kagome had never sensed a youkai presence other than Inuyasha’s. Never. And somewhere along the line, she had recognized what this meant.

Between this now and her future now, something terrible was going to happen. Something cataclysmic. The existence of everything she had gained was threatened by that something; her precious wonderland was teetering on the edge of the abyss.

But none of those she cared about even knew. Even Inuyasha, the only one who had been exposed to her time, had never said anything that made her think he was the slightest bit worried about the future.

She was left only with questions. Should she say something? Would it make any difference?

She squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, frustrated by so many questions and no answers at all – and then opened them again to find a tall, dark shape obstructing her view. She surprised herself by smiling...and more by the rush of relief that accompanied the voice which floated down from above her.

“You are very careless, Kagome.”

Kagome did her best to refrain from laughing, knowing that if she did, he might never forgive her.

“Not careless at all, Sesshomaru; just watching the stars, until someone decided to impede my view.”

“And the fact that it was within the abilities of that someone to cut you down before you noticed?”

This time the laughter spilled out before she could help herself.

“Sesshomaru, I’ve been waiting for you to show up all day! I’ve got no idea why Inuyasha didn’t notice you -”

“I stayed downwind of him, Kagome.”

He chided her as if this should be obvious, was rewarded by her blush.

“Oh. Well, you should know that downwind or not, I can still sense your youki. It’s not like anyone else could ever be mistaken for the giant writhing ball of power and doom that is you.”

Pointedly, he lifted an eyebrow, and she watched him mouth her description and then glare at her in irritation. Kagome barely restrained herself from rolling her eyes.

“I’m not taking it back. It’s true.”

She watched his face carefully, picking up tiny hints that those unfamiliar with him would certainly miss – the right corner of his mouth twitching, for instance, a sure sign that he couldn’t decide whether to be irritated or amused. The tiny crinkle between his eyebrows, a sign of consternation which seemed to appear only in her presence. And there – just there! The slightest widening of his nostrils, and the definite decision of his twitching lip to settle in an upward position.

Pleased with herself, Kagome settled back against the grass contentedly.

“You’re smiling. Or at least, you’re smiling as much as you ever do. I win -”

“Never.”

“Yes, I do!”

Grinning widely now, Kagome pulled herself up on to her elbows and gestured with one hand at a bare patch of grass.

“Going to sit with me, or just stand and stare?”

She heard a low noise that sounded suspiciously like a growl, but he acquiesced to finally step out of her view and sit on the grass a few feet away, legs folded and arms crossed, looking – if she had dared say it – remarkably like his brother.

~~~ - - ~~~

Sesshomaru settled himself, and then turned to look at the miko beside him; a careful movement that showed no eagerness.

He decided to choose something he felt was innocuous to start their conversation, knowing that if he left the choice of topic to her, she would want to ask questions about him...questions that he generally had no desire to answer.

The first time they had talked like this, he had come close to killing her more than once, less than amused by her impetuous questions. She was utterly fearless, and totally trusting – and he had definitely given her no reason to be! She was also completely honest, but then that was what had set this arrangement in motion in the first place. He had been hovering on the fringes of his brother’s group of companions for weeks, trusting her senses to lead them eventually to Naraku and his shard of the jewel. When they had finally encountered one another, his glare had been enough to silence the priest and his woman; the kit had not required even that much. Inuyasha had not even tried to talk to him – but the miko...Kagome. She was a different story entirely.

She was not rebuffed by his glares or his growls, his snarls or even his claws at her throat. She had smiled at him the whole while, waiting patiently for him to let her go, and then she had asked him - asked him! - what had upset him so. And for reasons which still were not entirely clear to him, he had answered her...and he had let her go afterward.

Miko, there is no one in this whole world who tells me truth unequivocally. No one who does not fear the consequences of their words when speaking to me; no one who says anything other than what I want to hear when I ask questions, or demand answers.”

She had claimed something he had deemed impossible, something he had refused to hold her to, though it had become more clear she meant her words with each passing week, each meeting between them.

Sometimes you’re an idiot, Sesshomaru. If that’s your trouble, I’ll tell you the truth! I’m not afraid of you -”

“Sesshomaru, are you falling asleep?”

He was brought back to the present with a jerk, and thought it an appropriate moment for a growl.

“Be no more foolish than you must be.”

He paused for a moment, to remember what it was he had intended to say.

“Tell me why you are here, Kagome. Watching the sky – what is the point? The stars do not move fast enough to see.”

She looked up at him and he saw she was surprised by his question.

“Well – because it’s beautiful. The sky isn’t like this when I’m from. You can’t see nearly so many stars, and there are city lights that are distracting...”

“I see. So, to study this beautiful sky, you risk yourself by laying out here unprotected?”

He scented wariness from her, and wondered what could be so touchy about his statement. It was only the truth, after all -

“I wasn’t unprotected, Sesshomaru.”

“Kagome, I will know if you are lying -”

“Then know! You can check – your senses are better than Inuyasha’s, and we both know it -”

She dragged herself up onto her knees, and hitched herself closer to him across the grass, leaned near him...almost too near, almost touching. His nostrils dilated, dissecting particulars, but she had spoken the truth.

“I see. Is it a new power, Kagome?”

She hesitated, and he saw it, but she shook her head.

“No. No new powers -”

“And you are out here without your bow. How did you intend to defend yourself?”

Kagome was shaking her head again, and he could see by her face that she was uncertain of whether laughter was an appropriate response.

“You’ve got it wrong, Sesshomaru. It’s just that – I wasn’t worried. You’ve been nearby all day, and I knew...”

She stopped speaking, and Sesshomaru looked at her sharply. He was decidedly uncomfortable with the turn the conversation had taken, but she was going to finish her sentence.

“What did you know, Kagome?”

She looked up at him.

“I knew that if I was going to meet you, I would be in no danger. Not from anything.”

He blinked, reminded himself that she spoke only the truth. Certainly nothing would come near her while he was with her, but -

“This might be true, Kagome, but what about before you are with me, and after? You are not so safe then.”

“Wrong again, Sesshomaru.”

She was smiling, and he found himself...discomfited by her expression.

“I am still protected, even then.”

“By my brother? Inuyasha might try to save you, but you would be surprised how much damage -”

Her stare stopped him mid-phrase.

“Not Inuyasha.”

And then he knew what she was going to say.

You, Sesshomaru. I am safe because you would protect me.”

A little voice in the back of his mind whispered to him, reminding him of his own thoughts.

She speaks only the truth...

He had promised her, on his honor, that because he could tell if she was lying, he too would speak only the truth...or not answer.

So he said nothing. It wasn’t necessary anyway. The woman was looking at him with an expression that was far too knowing in her eyes.

~~~ - - ~~~

Caught for a long moment in his stare, Kagome finally flushed and turned away from Sesshomaru’s gaze, staring back out at the night. How had they gotten from discussing the sky to...that?

Her relationship with Sesshomaru, if it could even be called that, was one that defied description. She knew that what she had just said was the truth; it was why she had to say it. Not answering that question would have seemed silly, or suspicious, and she knew that as far as Sesshomaru was concerned, a lie was far worse than nothing.

What had made him talk to her in the first place, she didn’t know – she had certainly tried long enough to engage him with no results – but the fact that honesty was his only policy was something she had accepted at once. It was something she herself tried to live by, with varying amounts of success at varying times, but with Sesshomaru self-monitoring wasn’t necessary. He always knew, even if she was just shading the truth, or attempting to avoid part of it in her speaking.

At the moment, she wanted nothing more than to change the subject – desperately – but the only thing she could think of to talk about was what had been running through her mind all evening.

“Sesshomaru, I’ve been thinking – you know that I’m from the future...”

He looked surprised at her change of topic – and then not-surprised - but she waited for his nod and then continued.

“Do you know anything about my future? Has Inuyasha ever mentioned anything, or the others?”

She saw that he looked insulted by her question, and shrugged.

“Well, then...”

And in as few words as she could manage, Kagome tried to convey to Sesshomaru the massive difference between his world and the one that had been hers. She told him of steel and skyscrapers, of industry and economy and technology – of the tormented earth, of perilous population growth, and of the footprint of mankind stamped on the moon.

She told him of earthquakes, and tempests, plagues, pestilence, and wars – of air raids and infantry and the dust-shadows left in the wake of the atomic bomb.

Sesshomaru listened, not bothering to conceal his disgust and very poorly concealing his disturbance. All of this, in less than five hundred years? How could there possibly be so many humans that the whole world couldn’t support them? Humans were numerous, and generally prolific, but that many? Surely youkai would simply feed upon the weak...

And then a terrible thought struck him, and he interrupted her in the middle of a word.

“Kagome, why do you not speak of youkai? How could humans have gained so much power that -”

But he stopped, because she was shaking her head in a way he did not like.

“There are no youkai, Sesshomaru. None. I looked, all around Tokyo, and further – I was terrified, the first time I went back home, afraid I would find youki everywhere, demons after my shikon shard...”

And again, she shook her head.

“But there were none anywhere; none at all, no matter where I went in Japan.”

His features tightened in fury and frustration.

I have no intentions of leaving the world after such a paltry span as another five hundred years! Where have youkai gone?”

But Kagome had nothing to say to reassure him. She had only her own dark suspicions, and a sudden feeling; as if he might be the only person who could understand, who could help her decide what to do.

“I don’t know what happened, Sesshomaru. I can’t even guess. All I’ve been able to think is that something happened...something between now, and then. Before you came, I was thinking about this, because I...I’ve been wondering if maybe I could do something to...prevent it.”

He stared at her in silence for a long moment.

“An...interesting thought, Kagome.”

She shrugged.

“I don’t even know what I could do, since I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t even know if I can cause changes, and....”

He looked at her curiously.

“Have you changed the past already, or not? That should tell you your answer.”

She could only give him another shrug.

“How can I tell, Sesshomaru? It’s not like I know exactly what happened in the past the first time...if there was a “first time”. I think I might have changed things, at least with people I’ve talked to, things I’ve done...”

“Then you must determine if this is true. You must try to change something, or you will not know if you can. Something you know happened one way, you must make happen another way.”

Kagome let out a long breath, and looked down at her hands.

“That’s easy for you to say...but I don’t even know where to start.”

For a brief moment, he looked at her as if she was a complete idiot.

“Kagome, you have just said what it is you want to change, and it is something you certainly know happened...even if not exactly when.”

Her mouth formed a silent Oh, but he was not finished.

“Also...there is the fact that now, you have told me that something is coming. And I certainly do not intend to let youkai become nothing more than dusty ink in some scholar’s journal.”

“It’s worse than that, Sesshomaru – youkai are just...just fairy stories, legends, not something to be taken seriously. No one believes. No one remembers. Except...me.”

His fury suddenly gained power, tenfold.

“Kagome, I swear to you – this will not happen. I will not let it happen. Whatever it may be – I will stop it. For my sake, and for yours.”

He stood began to walk away...and then stopped, briefly, to answer a question she had not really asked.

“You were right; before, when you said I would protect you.”

He left her to sit alone for a long while, contemplating why he would say that and what it could possibly mean. Her gaze shifted back to the sky, and she spoke wistfully.

“There is one other thing, Sesshomaru. One other worry. What happens to Alice when a change in wonderland changes in reality? What happens to Alice...if the rabbit-hole is closed?”

~~~ - - ~~~

The weeks following that encounter with Sesshomaru, during which she met him once each seven days, as they had arranged, never quite fell back into their previous pattern. During the day, she guided Inuyasha and the rest of their group, drawing slowly ever closer to the place she could sense Naraku would be hiding. They had even ignored the pull of weaker shikon presences as they traveled; they were so close Kagome could almost taste the miasma.

It was Friday when they found him, the end of a long week. The battle was almost – almost – a disappointment. Naraku was no match for Tetsusaiga’s barrier-breaking power. With two arrows, one right after the other, Kagome destroyed his crawling incarnations, and then sent a third to purify the Saimyoshou.

Freed of that danger, Miroku was able to use the Kazaana to great effect. With well-practiced style, each one completely aware of the other, Sango and Miroku darted around their companions, destroying minor youkai and oni who seemed to spring up at Naraku’s command.

Kagome turned her attention to assisting Inuyasha with his fight against Naraku, almost sighed and then shook her head. Inuyasha was in the process of madly hacking at their foe’s roiling body, scattering bits of deformed flesh in all directions. He was obviously causing Naraku pain, but their enemy could regenerate faster than Inuyasha could slash him apart.

When Sesshomaru stepped up to stand at Kagome’s side, the battle became play...and then was over. Furious light poured from Kagome’s arrow and from Sesshomaru’s sword. Entwined like a pair of roaring dragons, the blue-violet of Kagome’s power and the blue-gold of Sesshomaru’s youki beat at Naraku, and ate at him, and then fragmented him...and finally turned him to gritty dust the color of iron.

His scream was wonderful and terrible to hear.

In the dust, glittering with malice, lay Naraku’s chunk of the shikon no tama. Kagome bent and picked it up; in her hands, the dark energies were disrupted and dissipated, and she was left with a shining pink third of the sacred jewel, almost a match to the piece she carried. When she held them together in her cupped hands, her fingers glowed for a moment with blinding light. The two pieces became one, a single chunk of gem with a hollow center and a space missing from its pristine surface; not much space, though, considering.

Minor celebrations broke out amongst the group of companions while Kagome stared at the near-complete jewel in her hands. Miroku was busily tearing the cover he had worn over his hand for so long into little pieces, and tossing them around. Sango was crying and dancing with Shippou and Kirara at the same time; Inuyasha stood stony-faced over Naraku’s remains, stabbing Tetsusaiga deeper and deeper into them, over and over again.

Only Sesshomaru stood aloof. He sheathed his sword carefully and then went to stand behind Kagome, looking down at the pink jewel in her hands.

“Pretty thing, isn’t it? But deadly.”

Her words were almost absentminded; she looked up at him quickly, surprised to find him so close, and flushed.

“I should be thanking you for your help; sorry, Sesshomaru -”

He shook his head and looked away from her, perusing her celebrating companions with disinterested amusement.

“It is of no matter. Now that this is over, more pressing concerns can be addressed.”

She lifted an eyebrow in inquiry.

“Oh?”

“Yes. I have spent some time thinking over the problem of destruction you presented me. I believe there is something you should see. Will you journey with me?”

She was surprised into silence. Their conversations were interesting, almost exciting, and she would be lying if she didn’t admit to feeling a certain bond between them, some sort of relationship which had grown from moonlit words, questions and answers and the occasional confession.

None of that, however, prepared her for this question, or the easy, casual tones in which he uttered it; as if this had happened before; as if her yes was a forgone conclusion.

And then she smiled a little to herself. Wasn’t it? She wanted very much to learn something more of Sesshomaru, and what better chance would there be? She smiled at him, and closed her hands around the shikon no tama.

“All right, I’ll come with you. But I should tell -”

“Kagome! What do you mean, you’re going with him? We still have jewel shards to collect, before some other demon decides to cause a problem!”

Immediately irritated, Kagome swung her head around and glared at Inuyasha, who had spoken.

“You shouldn’t be listening to other people’s conversations! If I want to go see something with Sesshomaru, it’s not your concern – and I’m sure he’ll have me back soon enough that the end of the world won’t intervene!”

Inuyasha let out a huff of derision, but Kagome spoke warningly.

“Inuyasha, if you complain, I’ll say you-know-what. Until I run out of air. And then I’ll still go!”

“Kagome, wait.”

She looked back over her shoulder at Sesshomaru, and saw a new expression on his face, one she hadn’t seen before. His eyes were practically glittering with amusement.

“It is the shikon shards that are his problem, yes?”

She nodded slowly. He reached one hand into his sleeve, and pulled out a small pouch -

And then he poured a stream of shining shards into her lap, some large, some tiny. Ignoring the gasps of Miroku and Sango, Shippou’s squeal of delight, and Inuyasha’s complete consternation, Sesshomaru leaned a few inches closer to Kagome.

“I assume this removes any urgency?”

Kagome scooped the little pile of shards up into her hands – and they almost flew, one at a time and then more quickly, to fill the empty space in the jewel she was already holding. In a very few moments, the shattered shikon no tama was complete.

“Sesshomaru – you did it, Sesshomaru! You found the last of the shards!”

She stood, and looped her arms around his waist and hugged him tightly.

“You did it – you did it! Thank you, thank you, thank you -”

He held her, allowing the bouncing, happy dance which he had somehow precipitated, until she seemed to realize what she was doing, and with whom, and abruptly ceased.

“S-Sorry! It’s just exciting; we’ve been waiting so long – thank you!”

And regardless of her apology, she squeezed him tight again; it was a sensation he found tremendously pleasant.

He had had a purpose in collecting those shards – following every warning that the little company had ignored, registering every twitch of Kagome’s senses and responding. He had anticipated that Inuyasha would try to get in his way, and had done everything he could to prevent that. Kagome would come with him. She had to; the future of his whole people was at stake.

Admittedly, he had not expected to succeed quite so thoroughly, but his armful of warm and squirming miko was an excellent prize; he could not complain.

“Kagome, does this mean you will come with me?”

She nodded firmly.

“Of course! How long will it take, do you think?”

He noticed that she had not let go of him, and nearly smiled. How long would it take? He could travel there and back in twenty-four hours, even with Kagome, but he found himself desiring more time than that; time alone with her that was not restricted by the phase of the moon and the direction of the wind...time in which he did not have to watch over his shoulder for his brother.

“Three days.”

She twisted in his arms, and called over her shoulder to the group behind her, oblivious to their pink-cheeked and astonished expressions. The intimacy implied by her current position, wrapped as she was around Sesshomaru, did not occur to her.

“I’ll be back in three or four days, okay? Shippou, be good – and Inuyasha, if I hear anything bad when I get back -”

The hanyou only rolled his eyes; the others waved goodbye.

A cloud of youki gathered under Sesshomaru’s feet, and Kagome felt herself being buoyed up, lifted...and then they were flying through the air, avoiding clouds for patches of clear blue sky and gradually gathering speed.

~~~ - - ~~~

Quickly, Kagome and Sesshomaru made their way north and west. Along the way, Kagome found herself cared for and catered to as she had never been before. It was in such a quiet way that she might have missed it if there had been anything else to distract her, but there was not, and so she noticed, and was surprised...and happy.

Alone with Sesshomaru, traveling often in silence and sometimes in quiet conversation, occasionally walking but more often clinging to him as they hurtled through the sky, Kagome found herself more content than she had been in a long time. At first, she thought it was because her quest had been completed, but she discarded that thought almost immediately because it was not true. She had taken on a new task, a more important one. No...that was not the reason.

As ridiculous as it seemed, her newfound happiness was, not because of something, but because of someone. The someone she was with; Sesshomaru. What was more, she thought he knew what she was feeling...and liked it. That was more surprising to her than anything, because despite how he acted toward her, he was never anything less than wholly contemptuous of...well, almost everything else human.

But he asked me to travel with him. Does he...does he like me? It seems stupid to even think it, except...

Even as the thought crossed her mind, he reached out and grasped her arm, her waist, pulled her close to him.

“We fly again now, Kagome. We will arrive in perhaps another hour; do you wish food or drink before then?”

Smiling, she shook her head and took the extra step necessary to press herself against him, rested her cheek on his chest.

“No, I’m good...”

And she wrapped her arms around him as tightly as she dared.

Very good.”

She thought she heard his demon-fast heartbeat become just a little more rapid...but perhaps she was imagining it. She knew she was not imagining his completely unnecessary return of her embrace, and grinned against his chest, where he could not see.

Maybe it’s not stupid at all. Maybe he does feel something for me; I just need to find out what.

When they landed again, they were in a spacious courtyard, and in front of them was a wide, steep stair, leading up to a dais holding a single throne-like chair. Behind it, carved out of the mountain itself like the most ancient of yamajiro, a fortress rose tall above and behind them.

In the chair on the dais was an Inu-youkai Kagome had never seen before, but Sesshomaru took care of her curiosity almost immediately.

“Mother; I greet you.”

His mother? She’s...kind of scary.

Without standing, the Inu female answered her son and waved him closer.

“And I return your greetings, my son. Tell me, what brings you to visit your lonely mother on this occasion?”

“I have come, finally, to see your precious prophecy. You will bring us to it.”

His mother’s gaze remained cool and distant, but lingered for a moment on Kagome.

“You concern yourself with such things now, Sesshomaru? Many times, in your youth and after, I have sought to show it to you, to give you your place in history and your own destiny. Why, now? What of this woman? Why should I show her such an heirloom?”

The corners of his mouth moved upward into the barest of smiles.

“This is Kagome, mother. She is the guardian of the shikon no tama, a miko of power...and she has come to us from days that are yet to be; from five hundred years into the future.”

The female on the dais started violently in her chair, and peered down at Kagome with renewed intensity...and then sat back, and let out a long sigh.

“So. She is the one. Human, obviously...such a pity, but what must be will be.”

And then she stood and beckoned to her son and Kagome both, gesturing for them to follow her as she swept through the door behind the dais. Kagome latched her fingers onto Sesshomaru’s sleeve as they walked down many hallways, but by the time they had come to the first of many galleries they would traverse, her hand had crept down into his hand, to which she held tightly.

Eventually, they passed through a door that let them out near the base of the mountain, and crossed bridges covered and uncovered, passed through pavilions and gardens until, at the very back of the yamajiro, at the top of a tall stair, there was a panel of stone set against the mountain, alone in a circle of grass perhaps twenty feet wide.

It was ancient in aspect, worn by time and by the weather, but the characters and images that had been carved into it had been graven deep and meant to last. Kagome stared in awe at one particular depiction near the middle of the stone which immediately caught her eye – a square and blocky set of images that could be nothing if not the Tokyo she knew and loved.

How is this possible? A prophecy...

She turned and looked at Sesshomaru, saw his mouth moving silently, his eyes fixed on the stone. On the right hand side, a long row of characters had been graven even deeper than the images, and he was reading them; Kagome, however, could not decipher them, and squeezed his hand gently. She was burning with curiosity. Could this be something to help them; something that might tell them what to do?

“Sesshomaru, I can’t read it – I don’t know these characters. Can you – will you read it to me?”

She saw him draw his attention away from the stone slowly, and look down at her.

“You wish to know? Truly?”

His voice was...odd, but she nodded.

“Of course; isn’t this why you brought me?”

“Yes.”

And he seemed to hesitate, and then spoke very low.

“Very well; listen carefully:

No matter how pure your blood, how old your loss,

soon pale and fleshless bone shall be made dross.

A heartbeat’s pounding, light to break the eyes

and in the starless night leave power blind.

“With breath and lungs afire, with periled bliss

and all alive with night, know more than this:

the Warrior comes, and his heart’s shore profound,

lies buried deep; yet seeks out sacred ground.

“Your savior draws no water, yet drowns in time:

she will give many vengeance; make right two crimes.

First, a single arrow: one past life.

Second, the end of Spider, won by strife.

“In halfling’s hand, she falters, home returns;

in her retreating shadow your world burns.

The hope of youkai lies alone in this:

the Traveler, the Warrior, and love’s kiss.”

Kagome took a deep breath, and looked up at Sesshomaru as he stopped speaking. It couldn’t be...there was no way...

“Speak, Kagome.”

His voice was calm, but his eyes screamed at her: say something! She wondered at his tenseness, and wished she had a chair...and since she didn’t, sank down onto her knees. She reached out with one hand, to touch the stone, those images – a city, a shrine...a spiral blur...a tree. A hanyou; a sword. A spider...an Inu-youkai...and a stone.

Yes. It is the truth. It is...of me. Of us.

“I...I am the Traveler? I am written here? And...and you...”

But she was spared any more words than that, because Sesshomaru had obviously come to the same conclusion, and he was not one for waiting or long explanations.

“Yes. Yes. And that means you were always meant to be mine. Kagome.”

He had never let go of her hand. He used it now to lift her, pulling her up and towards him. She had time only to think that she had obviously misjudged the likelihood and intensity of his feelings - and then he kissed her, and the world dissolved in light. His kiss was intense, pure passion, all heat and tongue and a stirring, melting feeling in her middle.

One kiss became two, and then many...and then finally, he pulled away, and nodded once, shortly, to his mother, as youki gathered beneath them and they rose up towards the Southern sky. When they were well on their way, and Kagome’s flush had finally tamed itself, Sesshomaru spoke quietly, watching her face for a reaction.

“I must bring you back to your companions, Kagome. There are important things I must attend to now; my lands have been unsupervised for many months and Rin has probably caused Jaken to burn down half the shiro. Or kill himself.”

He watched her face for a reaction, and was absurdly pleased by her disappointment.

“Oh. Well, I guess I’ll...I’ll...”

But she was unable to finish her sentence, because he had pulled her across the six inches needed to close the distance between them, and his eyes were bruising her with their stare, and he was kissing her again -

When he pulled back, he spoke so that his breath warmed her lips.

“I will be coming back for you, Kagome. I intended to...even before we read that stone. Whether it would have saved the world, or destroyed it. For many weeks now, I have been wanting you; I must go so that there is a place ready for you; when I return, you will never leave me again.”

She surprised him utterly by reaching her arms around his neck and bringing him close, by kissing him. When she pulled away, she was breathing hard, and so red he almost laughed – but her voice was fierce, and he cherished her words.

“You will have to come back soon. Soon. Because I think I’m falling in love with you, Sesshomaru; and I’m tired of being alone.”

~~~ - - ~~~

Second Annual Fanfiction Challenge

Round 1: Lira VS Jenniferelaine

Read her entry, which I will link to when it is up; then send a message to TangerineDream with your vote!

GO TO: http://www.dokuga.com/fanfiction/story/5898/1

Prompt: Wonderland

A/N: Phew! Approximately 6500 words; can’t get an accurate count with all the ~~~’s as line-breaks :P I could have gone on with this one-shot forever, which is why I don’t usually write one-shots, but I like all the potential bound up at the end. And I removed a comment about the title...which was silly because I changed the title :P

Remember, this is for the Second Annual Fanfiction Challenge, so be sure to read Jenniferelaine’s one-shot and then send a PM to TangerineDream with a vote for one of us!

Please Review!

 

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