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Words Unsaid by wonderbug

words unsaid

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Warning: This story is rated M for character death.

Author’s note: This little one-shot was inspired by DN Silence’s lovely artwork ‘Words Unsaid’ (link: http://dokuga.com/gallery?func=detail&id=9101) and was written, with permission from the artist, for Stella Mira’s Feed My Muse Challenge.

Hope you enjoy! This is a bit different from my usual style, so please let me know what you think :)

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words unsaid

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The first time he held her, it was raining.

She fell against him quite by accident, her feet slipping on the wet face of a rock. As he steadied her, she met his gaze, color spreading through her cheeks.

“…Gomen, Sesshoumaru-sama,” she said as she stepped back, fiddling with the handle of her curious rain shield. “Thank you for catching me.”

Aware that he was still clasping the girl by the shoulder, he dropped his hand and looked past her. “It was nothing.”

He could feel her eyes still trained upon him as she fidgeted in place. Sighing inwardly, he glanced down.

“What is it?”

“Oh, u-um, it’s nothing,” she stammered, clutching the handle to her chest. Her clear blue eyes flicked up to his. “I was just wondering, well…aren’t you bothered by the rain? I know youkai don’t catch colds, but being drenched like that still looks pretty unpleasant.”

He arched a brow at her concerned expression, raindrops dinging against the metallic surface of his armor. His hair and clothing were indeed soaked through, though he hardly registered their chill.

In truth, the only coldness he felt was in the hand that no longer held her. But he did not tell her so.

“The rain doesn’t bother me,” he answered instead.

“Oh,” she said, “that’s good, then.”

At the sight of her smile, the coldness went away.

---

The second time he held her, it was snowing.

Their group had been forced to take shelter in a large cave to wait out the winter storm. As the blizzard raged on into the evening hours, the humans and demons bedded down for the night. The taijiya and kitsune curled up against the fire-cat for warmth. Rin and Jaken huddled close to Ah-Un, while Inuyasha and the houshi reclined back-to-back.

Concealed in a tube of shimmery fabric, the miko slept alone.

Sometime in the night, the tube began to shiver. After few minutes of observing this, he rose and crossed the short distance between them, settling down next to her against the wall of the cave. With considerable reservation, he extracted her partway from her odd cocoon and tucked her against his side.

He hoped she would remain sleeping, but the sudden change in conditions must have disturbed her. She stirred in his hold, one hand braced against his chest as she blinked up at him drowsily.

“…Sesshoumaru?” she murmured, two of her splayed fingers grazing his bare skin beneath the neckline of his haori.

He frowned at the sensation. “Go back to sleep, miko.”

She nodded, a tinge of redness dusting her cheeks as she withdrew her hand, leaving only numbness in its wake. He did not tell her she could keep it there.

“Goodnight,” she whispered, her lashes descending.

A moment later she was slumbering against him, still and peaceful, though inside he was shaken.

---

The third time he held her, the wind was blowing.

Tenseiga, he had learned, was a fickle ally. When Naraku’s incarnation had sought him out, mortally wounded and bearing the last shard of the Shikon no Tama, his sword had refused his wish to save her. And so she had faded from this world, as swiftly as the breeze.

“The wind sorceress is dead,” he told the miko, placing the shard in her open hand. “Naraku killed her for her betrayal.”

Her fingers curled lightly around the fragment in her palm. She ducked her head, the tang of salt suffusing her scent. The faintest tremor wracked her shoulders.

Perplexed, he reached for her, cradling her cheek in his palm as he angled her face toward his. Tears dampened the pad of his thumb.

“Why do you cry for her? She was your enemy.”

A smile twitched her lips as she covered his hand with hers. “So were you.”

His grip tightened beneath the gentle pressure of her touch. The tips of his claws curved back into her hair.

All he could think as he looked at her was of how Tenseiga had failed him—of how it might fail him again. But he gave no voice to this concern.

“Promise me something, Sesshoumaru,” she said, closing her fist around the shard as she brought it to her chest. “Promise me that if something goes wrong, you’ll make sure the Jewel is destroyed.”

His thumb swept in an arc beneath the lower fringe of her lashes, banishing the wetness there.

“This Sesshoumaru gives you his word.”

---

The fourth time he held her, the sun was shining.

She was sitting on the ledge of the well when he found her, gazing up at the cloudless sky. Her eyes held a suspicious gleam, but there was no sadness in her expression.

“What if I told you I could predict the future?” she said to him, a hint of wistfulness in her tone.

He drew to a stop before her, considering. He did not find it implausible for her to possess such a gift. She was, by all accounts, a rather unusual creature.

But one did not need supernatural sight to know what the future entailed. For her, it was the certainty of death; for himself, the tedium of existence.

“Such knowledge does not appeal to me,” he replied.

She stood and stepped closer to him, a secret smile playing at her lips.

“You know, a lot of people don’t like to believe in fate. They find it oppressive, I guess—the idea that their future is fixed and that nothing they do now will affect how it all turns out in the end. But I think it’s kind of freeing.”

“Because it allows you to cast off all responsibility for your actions?” he offered dryly.

“No,” she said, her lashes lowering slightly as she touched his jaw, “because it lets me live without fear.”

His lone arm went around her as she rose and pressed her mouth to his. Never had he been more acutely aware of his lack of limb—nor more resentful for it.

As they parted, the sweet taste of her breath lingered in the air between them. Her eyes held his without a trace of doubt or apprehension, lit with an inner brilliance that was all the more beautiful because it was fleeting. All the more brave because it persisted in spite of this fact.

He was awed by her, though he did not admit it.

Instead, he bent down and kissed her again.

---

The last time he held her, it was raining.

They were on the cusp of victory when he saw her fall.

Crumpled, she lay at the edge of the battlefield, a scion of Naraku blasted to pieces around her. Blood pooled beneath her ribs. By the time he fought his way to her side, she was scarcely breathing.

He did not understand why she had engaged this enemy on her own, until he saw what it was she was clutching in her too-white fingers—the completed Jewel. Purified, it glowed with a pale rosy light.

She smiled weakly as he stared down at her, too close to death to speak.

Unthinking, his hand went to Tenseiga, but to his dread the fang did not respond.

“Worthless,” he seethed, hurling it into the muck as he dropped to the ground beside her.

He had two arms to hold her now, but they were as useless as his swords. His touch could not save her. His words could not bring her back. Yet he found himself begging her in the silence, his claws burying themselves in her hair as he crushed her lifeless body to his own.

When at last she grew cold in his arms, he pulled back, his gaze empty as it fixed on the Jewel at his hip. The rain was still pelting him mercilessly, each drop stinging as it fell.

“Promise me something, Sesshoumaru…Promise me…”

Her words echoed in his thoughts, tormenting him as he took up the Shikon no Tama in his claws and, after one last pang of hesitation, wished it from existence.

-

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-

The first time he sees her again, she has been dead five hundred years.

He cannot say what has compelled him to return to Japan after so many decades spent abroad. Much of his homeland is unfamiliar to him now—even his own Western Lands.

And so he travels East, drawn reluctantly—though perhaps inexorably—toward that site of his most hollow victory.

A shrine now houses the Bone-Eater’s Well. As he ascends the steps, ice flakes crunch occasionally beneath his heel, the last remnants of a long and bitter winter.

About halfway through his climb, the sense of a familiar presence has him grasping the railing in stunned disbelief. The cold metal warps beneath his fingers.

“What if I told you I could predict the future?”

The first trace of her scent in the smog-filled air breaks him from his frozen spell, and he is racing.

At the end of a stone path, he finds her. She sits on the low wooden porch of the well house, chin propped up on one hand as she gazes at Goshinboku’s budding branches.

His lips part mutely when she turns toward him at last, smiling in recognition.

There simply are no words.

 

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