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Time and Again by Aimee Blue

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.

0-0-0

Gazing at the magnificence sprawled before her; Kagome slapped a hand to her mouth to stop the giddy coo that threatened to bubble over. She knew this was a very dangerous situation, but her brain refused to do anything more than speculate on the softness, silkiness and smoothness that was within hand’s reach.

It wasn’t every day she happened upon a sleeping Sesshoumaru. And it certainly wasn’t everyday that she happened upon a sleeping giant dog shaped Sesshoumaru. He looked positively huggable, though you would never get her to admit that to his face.

Yet, more than the girlish wonder she felt, relief overwhelmed her. It really was Sesshoumaru. When she’d heard rumours in the village tea shop about a strange silver haired man who prowled the forests of these mountains, she’d almost dropped her tea-tray in shock. The description of duel swords, aristocratic features and cruel golden eyes had made her heart attempt to break free from her chest. She’d been so certain she’d found Sesshoumaru that she’d abandoned the little tea-shop she worked in and trekked to the mountains in the middle of a snow storm.

It hadn’t been one of the smartest ideas she’d ever had, but she’d been unable to wait. She’d been plagued by the possibility that he might have moved on before she found him; he’d always seemed consumed with wanderlust.

The frigid air outside the cave whipped around her, forcing her inside and towards the enormous body that radiated as much heat as a bonfire. Unable to help herself, she sidled closer and closer and closer still until she was cautiously snuggling against his front paw.

Half-expecting him to wake up and stomp on her with his giant poisonous paw, Kagome still managed to luxuriate in the feel of the velvetiness of the fur beneath her cold cheek and numb fingers. Just as she began to pet him in earnest, one red eye sprung open, causing her to freeze in place anxiously.

There was every chance that he might have forgotten her. It had been around a hundred years since she’d last laid eyes on him. His enormous head moved and Kagome remained as still as humanly possible as he sniffed at her.

Apparently satisfied, he gave a yawn before he laid his great doggy head back on his front paws. Did that mean she was allowed to stay? Or was she dismissed?

“Can I sleep next to you?” she whispered, hands still tangled in his downy fur.

Pierced by his crimson stare, she breathed a sigh of relief at his minute nod of consent and cuddled up to his side. Pulling her travelling cloak around herself like a blanket, she used Sesshoumaru’s soft paw as a pillow, tucking herself into a ball as she listened to the wind howl outside.

This was probably the strangest sleeping arrangements she’d ever been a part of, she mused as she absently stroked his fur, her body relaxing as she snuggled into her cosy nest. And yet, for the first time in an agonisingly long time, she felt at peace.

A dreamless slumber claimed her.

0-0-0

Sesshoumaru blinked down at the human sleeping on his paw. It was morning, not that this was particularly apparent given the current storm outside, but she’d yet to wake up. Not that he blamed her, if he was to assume she’d trekked from the nearest human village in that snow storm to get here, it was understandable that she would be completely exhausted.

When she’d first stepped into the cave, he’d braced himself for the screams of ‘monster’ and prepared to chew on a little human – not his favourite snack – in order to regain his serenity. But, instead, she’d walked up to him and touched him.

Imagine his surprise when he’d opened his eyes to find the miko his brother had once carried around clinging to him. She didn’t look a day older than she had last time he’d seen her and considering he’d not seen her for maybe a century, this was very odd. But then, if his memory served him correctly, this human had always been odd.

She slept on him peacefully, no fear of his nature. It reminded him of...

But no. He wouldn’t think of her. It was the only way to live with the pain.

Red eyes watched wryly as she grumbled in her sleep a little, rolling off his paw and waking herself up rather abruptly when she came into contact with the cold earth.

“Ah!” she shrieked, sitting bolt upright and clutching her cloak to her throat as her eyes rapidly scanned the cave. Those blue orbs noticed his reclining figure and her shoulders sagged as relief filled her.

Not the reaction he normally received. He smirked, which probably looked terrifying in this form, considering his teeth were the same size as her.

With a quick burst of youki, he rapidly suppressed his true form and donned his bipedal form as if choosing a favourite kimono.

“Good morning!” she chirped, smiling up at his now human-looking body.

Never one for small talk, he murmured, “You are still alive.”

Kagome blinked up at him mutely for a few moments before her face dropped and her gaze dulled. “Yeah, it looks that way.”

A silvery brow arched at the bizarre answer. “How?”

Kagome’s shoulders tensed, she looked almost brittle as she sat there, eyes narrowed in pain. “Inuyasha gave his life for me,” she whispered raggedly, “and I gained his life-span.”

Sesshoumaru’s brows rose to his hairline. That sounded absurd, yet the proof was sat before him, looking broken and defeated. “I didn’t know the half-breed had that sort of power.”

Kagome sprung to her feet, anger colouring her cheeks and making her eyes spark. “He was a brilliant man, don’t you dare talk about him with that sneer in your voice,” she snarled, “And it wasn’t power that did this.” She tugged at her kimono demonstratively, “It was his love. I was dying and he gave my all his years.” The scent of her tears brought forth memories he’d rather not dwell on.

“What did you expect, miko?” Sesshoumaru bit out scathingly, the pain of remembrance making his tone frosty. “It was no secret that my half-brother and I couldn’t stand each other. Were you expecting sympathy?”

Kagome glowered at him, though a lone tear escaped the corner of one eye. “I was expecting you of all people to understand.”

His eyes narrowed and he repressed the memories that threatened to drown him. “Get out.” He turned his back on her, knowing that there would be sympathy in those blue eyes. Something he couldn’t stand.

“I lost Inuyasha,” she whispered, her voice breaking, “and you lost R—

Sesshoumaru snapped, spinning around and grabbing the little miko, slamming her into the cave wall and covering her mouth with his hand.

“Don’t you dare,” he growled gutturally, shaking her harshly. “No.”

In her eyes, he could see himself reflected. The pain, the anguish, the torment. Shared grief. His hand slowly slipped away from her mouth and he let her go, just standing there, inches away from her, breathing raggedly.

Kagome reached out, running her hands up his arms ever so slowly, as if attempting not to startle a wounded animal. Fingertips ghosted over his biceps, through his hair, over his shoulder blade until, somehow, he ended up ensconced within her soft embrace.

“Her favourite flowers were plum blossoms,” he whispered, unsure why he was even speaking. Unsure why he was letting her touch him. Unsure full stop.

Kagome chuckled softly against his neck. “I remember; she was always happiest when surrounded by flowers.”

Something felt as if it was stuck in his throat, and no matter how much he cleared it, he couldn’t seem to speak. Kagome didn’t seem to mind, she just continued to run her hands through his hair, the gentle ministrations soothing him deeply.

“She was ten years old,” he whispered brokenly.

Hot tears splashed against his cheeks, Kagome’s tears. He held her silently as she grieved for him. Shed tears he could not shed. She held him tightly as he stared into nothingness, holding him securely with her, to prevent him losing his way again.

0-0-0

Sesshoumaru wasn’t quite sure why he was sat with the miko between his legs as she played with his hair, but he couldn’t find the energy to care. For a demon who rarely – if ever – showed emotion, the day had been truly taxing. For the last five hours, though, they’d been sat in companionable silence, but something made him speak.

“Kagome,” his voice was husky still, “why did you seek me out?”

Kagome smiled a little sadly. “I’m afraid I was being selfish,” she murmured as she twirled a strand of his hair between her thumb and forefinger, “I was tired of being alone.”

He heard what she wouldn’t say. Longevity must be incredibly hard for a human to cope with, and, considering in these changing times demons were becoming rather scarce, he supposed she’d watched a great deal of her human friends die. She’d probably been crushed by the realisation that she’d live forever, alone.

He found it startlingly easy to wind his arms around her tiny body. “We can be selfish together.”

0-0-0

From his perch on the cliff top, he watched the soldiers march through the streets below, clad in western clothes. The streets had changed, customs had changed, strange religions had invaded, the people were evolving.

And he was forgotten.

Once, if he had walked into a village like that one, the humans would have run screaming ‘youkai’ and calling for a miko. Now, he was liable to get arrested for carrying a sword and accused of being yakuza because of his markings.

He was phantom. A story without substance. And he hated them for it. For reducing him to myth.

“There you are,” Kagome murmured as she crested the hill. Moving slowly to his side, she stared down at the people holding his attention. “They look like ants from up here, huh?”

“They are bugs,” he snarled.

Kagome’s eyes darkened with understanding. “It will be okay, Sesshoumaru.”

“I have been vanquished,” Sesshoumaru murmured, “I will never die, but I have already perished in the minds of everyone.”

He tugged at his dark brown hair, the result of a nifty charm Kagome had construct to make him appear more human.

Kagome dropped to her knees opposite him, reaching out to hold him in her arms. Kagome’s ki negated the cloaking charm and Sesshoumaru watched the brown hair turn back to spun silver, his fingers grew back their claws and his markings were once again vibrant on his pale skin.

Gazing down at the human in his arms, Sesshoumaru’s tumult built. He was alive. How dare they relegate him to the forgotten. He could crush their pitiful army with one swipe of his massive paws. He’d never much cared what the masses thought of him, but this blatant banishment left him adrift in the world. He was no longer definable in this new Japan and the nonexistence trapped him.

Kagome smiled. “You are very deadly,” she whispered, her breath ghosting across his cheek, “and in their ignorance they have forgotten. But you will always be Sesshoumaru.”

He bowed his head, slanting his lips over hers. The sensations bombarded him as he yanked her closer, curling his arms around her petite form. His heart beat frantically in his chest, breaths came in ragged gulps, blood rushed in his veins; he was alive.

And somehow, Kagome had become his reason for living.

0-0-0

He found her in the park, swinging sadly on a swing, the toes of her boots scuffing against the ground. Her head was downcast, blue eyes misty and the street lamp cast her pretty face in murky shadows.

She’d been this way since a few days ago. Constantly disappearing, wandering around for hours and then coming home at the small hours of the morning, haggard and cloaked in a cloud of depression. A fine shiver made her slender frame shake and he stepped forwards, draping his trench coat over her shoulders.

“Speak,” he ordered softly, gazing up at the moon through half-closed eyes to give her some semblance of privacy as she gathered her thoughts.

Kagome was silent, though she pulled the coat around her neck, huddling into the warmth.

Unease gripped Sesshoumaru. “This all started when you bumped into that man on the bus.”

Kagome’s shoulders hunched.

Jealousy and fear of abandonment were no emotions he dealt well with. “Kagome.”

“He was... is my father,” she whispered softly, voice strained.

Golden eyes darted to her slumped posture and relief and guilt flooded him. He knew better than to doubt Kagome, she was the most loyal person he’d ever known.

“He’s so young,” she whispered, closing her eyes as a few hot tears rolled down her cheeks, “and so in love with mama. And he’s going to die.”

Her pain made him drop to his knees in front of her, wrapping his arms around her waist and resting his head on her shoulder in a gesture of comfort. The same gesture of comfort she’d shown him so many years ago.

“There’s nothing you can do,” he said soothingly, stroking her hair. She dropped her head to rest it on his.

“I know.”

No one could stop fate, Sesshoumaru had accepted this when they had attempted to warn historical figures that Kagome knew were doomed. Even with foreknowledge those who were supposed to die met their end. In most cases they were called lunatics and dismissed. But it didn’t make it any easier to know that she was effectively letting her father die.

He lifted his face, watching as she balled her hands into fists and her face contorted in pain. “It’s like Inuyasha all over again.”

Cupping a hot cheek in the palm of his hand, Sesshoumaru pressed his lips to the other cheek. “I’m still here. Always.”

Her lips found his, desperately, seeking comfort and reassurance that he freely gave. Her hot tears hit his own cheeks as she clutched desperately at him.

“Thank you,” she whispered with every caress. Thank you.

Sesshoumaru was her fixed point. Her constant. She shuddered to think what would have become of her without him. Without their love.

0-0-0

Nostalgic blue eyes gazed out of the coffee shop window, watching a red-clad figure with white hair argue explosively with a young girl in a school uniform. Her memories had preserved him, but not as he had been. She’d idealised her first love somewhat, she mused wryly as she watched Inuyasha’s cocky, pig-headed behaviour, but the pang of grief still lingered.

“Do you still love him?”

Kagome was startled from her musings by Sesshoumaru, who sat opposite her with his raven hair pulled into a ponytail, his golden eyes guarded. Even after all this time, Sesshoumaru still seemed a little insecure where Inuyasha was concerned.

“I’ll always hold him in my heart,” she said truthfully, reaching across the table to grab his left hand. Soothingly, she played with the gold band on his finger, “but you are my heart now.”

Sesshoumaru’s rigid posture relaxed minutely and he rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. “Good. I do not share well.”

Kagome chuckled. “I always liked it when you were selfish.”

0-0-0

Sesshoumaru was having a staring contest with their Christmas tree, and Kagome was pretty certain that the Christmas tree – which she had decked out with lights and baubles and decorations galore – was winning. Not that she was going to tell Sesshoumaru that.

He still saw westernisation as the cause of his relegation to myth, so Christmas was certainly not his favourite festivity. He only put up with it for her sake, but Kagome had a strange feeling he’d like his present this year.

Leaning over the back of the sofa, above his head, she murmured, “Stop sulking.”

He tilted his head up to glare at her instead and she struck, mistletoe in hand, and snuck a backwards kiss that caught her grumpy lover completely off guard.

A growl rumbling in his chest, Sesshoumaru pulled her around the sofa and yanked her into his lap, stealing the mistletoe from her.

“This tradition is the only one I enjoy,” he grumbled, managing to look both grumpy and anticipatory.

His lips descended on hers and Kagome kissed him with equal fervour, hands tangling in the silver hair she loved. Passions escalated and soon he had was scooping her into his arms, his intentions certain.

Sense regained its control and she wriggled in his hold, regretfully attempting to break free from his embrace. Hundreds of years hadn’t improved her clumsiness in any way, though, and a flailing leg entangled with his, bringing them both down onto the carpet with a thump. Kagome smiled softly; Sesshoumaru had manoeuvred them so that they had fallen on him.

“Kagome?” he queried as she crawled determinedly up his chest like a monkey, attempting to reach the little stack of presents under the tree. He efforts were hindered by his repeated kissing and caressing, but she grasped the slim enveloped triumphantly and pushed it into his face before he could bewilder her with another kiss.

“What’s this?”

“Your present.”

“What is it?”

“Open it and find out,” Kagome advised, rolling her eyes at the chagrined expression on his face. In an incredibly put-upon manner, Sesshoumaru opened the envelope and pulled the note from within.

Kagome sat back and watched his facial expressions gleefully. Incomprehension, panic, shock, disbelief, comprehension and then, awe.

Golden eyes flickered to her face. “Kagome?”

“Sesshoumaru.”

Those eyes dropped to her belly reverently. “I thought we couldn’t...”

“Sometimes, you just have to be patient,” she hummed, smiling beatifically. She tilted her head to one side when he continued to simply stare at her belly. “Are you okay?”

He nodded jerkily and pulled her into his arms. She’d thought he couldn’t cry, but when the single happy tear rolled down his cheek, her heart clenched. He held her tightly, holding her as if he would never let her go.

And he never did.

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A/N: Thanks for reading and seasons greetings! I hope you all enjoyed, especially Priestess Skye.

 

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