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I Fell for Myself by Stella Mira

You Were Not There

"You will become…unique beings, another kind, not born but made." Bokusenō's voice was ill-sounding, a strum of vocal cords, roughened, as if he was unused to such long talks, but not as unpleasant as his words themselves.

Sesshōmaru pondered them, made his own conclusions. "Not hanyō then."

It was spoken for self-assurance's sake, as if saying it aloud would give more substance to the matter, make it irrefutable. Still, Bokusenō nodded, offered unasked verification.

"You will retain most characteristics of yourselves – but absorb others." His eyes fell on Kagome, narrow, dimmed with prescience, but not unkind. "I suspect yōkai longevity for you, child – but perhaps it will be another curse. Your bonds lie with mortality, with fleeting life, after all…"

The scents of tree resins and old wood and spring, once aromatic, now became cloying, filled Kagome's lungs. Thick congestion, toilsome respiration, the miko shook her head, whether in denial or resignation, even she couldn't tell. She would have to watch her family, her friends, everyone she knew and loved, grow old, become nothing but soil and memories, leave her behind.

"And for you, Sesshōmaru, emotional resonance, that which your sire strove to pass on by bequeathing Tenseiga to you – but I fear your line will end with you."

Wrath swelled in Sesshōmaru's eyes, an illusion of crimson, almost touchable – it devoured the blackness of his pupils. Scents and sounds inundated the atmosphere – poisons and growls. Kagome watched with weariness as Sesshōmaru swallowed back that growl, as it throbbed inside his body, from his throat down to his abdomen.

"You dare claim I will never have heirs?"

Bokusenō hummed, less than sound, an oscillation of wood, a quivering of leaves. "I never claimed you could not beget offspring – merely that female yōkai could not, will not do. Your nature will become dissimilar to theirs, incompatible for such."

Furor. Potent toxicity. Another growl. It smothered the tree yōkai's low tone, devoured the calm of the forest, too violent a warning, a dazzle of canines.

"It is the same. I will not mate a ningen. I will not sire a hanyō. "

"You have but one choice then." Grave-spoken, firm with finality, Bokusenō overpassed the bite of Sesshōmaru's anger. His eyes touched Kagome, delved inside her psyche, saw more than she wished to be known, dragged wretched memory to the surface. She took a step back – and another. As if stricken with a physical blow, she recoiled, struggled to breathe. A clutter of spasms and denial, skin numbed, jaw frozen, her lips barely parted to allow vociferation.

"No – no…"

Sesshōmaru reined his fury, took note of her change, of the white in her eyes – iris, pupil, sclera, all one and the same. No other color, no blue, no black, only white, the shade of grief and shock and guilt.

"Miko –"

A chant spilled past her thin lips, devoid of blood – a litany of no, culminated in a scream, brittle, strident.

"No!"

Quickly, almost on instinct, his muscles flexed, his hand caught her wrist, hard-gripped, bruising clutch. Nails sank into taut skin, drew blood, pain for lucidity.

"Calm yourself, miko. I would not ask it of you."

She ceased her incoherencies, became chillingly still, but the whiteness of her eyes persisted, color didn't return.

"I can't – not true…that is a lie!" It was a hiss of a whisper, burdened with blame, bounteous of accusation. She shut her lids then lifted them once more, stared at the ancient tree – streaks of the palest blue and wetted lashes.

"What is untrue, child?" Soft, too soft, Bokusenō urged her to speak of it even though he knew all too well.

"We cannot – it's not possible…"

Cognizance pierced Sesshōmaru's mind, scythed back and forth against the cold of his viscera. It gorged on his nerves with the viciousness of a predator, ripped a piece of him, gone, lost forever. He was the one who gave voice to what Kagome would not utter aloud.

"You were with pup."

His grip loosened, involuntary backlash, and she slipped past his fingers, slinked to the ground, a cascade of dark hair and pallid flesh.

"I'm sorry – I'm so sorry…" She didn't wail, didn't scream anymore, quiet threnody, almost lyrical in its dulcet tones. "I didn't mean to – I don't know why…"

Silence. A shiver of her spine. An arch of her neck. Bones cracking with a distinct sound. Then she shrieked.

"Tell me why!"

"I can only speculate, child. Do you still wish to know?"

She could only nod, nothing but undulations of lips and hair and skin – but she still forced a please past her throat. It was too much, unbearable, incinerated her tongue.

"Your change was at early stages, unstable. Your body was unfit to carry life – but it will not be so in days to come."

Bokusenō's justifications sounded like an excuse to her ears, an anodyne to soothe her contrition, to camouflage the atrocity of her fault. Kagome couldn't care for the future, didn't want to care – only for the past.

"But I –"

"Enough, woman." Steel-armored voice. Gold-edged eyes. "It is in the past."

It was a lie – his vindication, his dispassion, everything. A slant of her neck, she didn't rise, but her eyes bore into his – neither white nor blue, only black, jet-black.

"Don't you dare tell me to forget. You don't know how it felt like… I can't –" She couldn't take in air, couldn't find even a breath of it. "You were not there! You were not – Sesshōmaru…"

Sesshōmaru knelt before her – but he didn't touch her, didn't dare touch her, only gazed into the blackness of her eyes, willed his air into her lungs. It was she who reached for him, fingers curling into the folds of his kimono sleeves, shaking him lightly.

"Why…were you not there?" It was the last thing that came out of her mouth. Perhaps it was the lack of air, perhaps the intensity of his eyes – but she lost consciousness, deserted feeling, heard nothing more.

Even though she could not – would not – hearken to his voice any longer, Bokusenō addressed her. One last time. Compassion and sagacity and foreknowledge. "Child, you have suffered much grief…but there is more to know, more I must tell you. Perhaps it is best to leave it be for now though, perhaps it is best if you returned at a later time – but you must return."

The tree yōkai appeared to have aged more in the mere span of their conversation, his leaves mottled with ochre, his bark veined with grey.

"I will bring her once more when she is calm."

Sesshōmaru took to the skies, took her with him; he didn't wait for Bokusenō's last words, but it didn't matter. He would return for certain – and then he would know.

"Yes, yes, you must. She will perish if you do not."

 

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