Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size Divider Print This Chapter Divider

Her Smile by SleepyCat

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: All credit for these characters and the marvelous universe of which they belong to are given to where they are due.

Her Smile

Chapter 1

人算不如天算

“Man proposes and God disposes”

-Along With Time, p. 246

*****

The village folk watched with awe as a two-headed dragon soared amidst the clouds, gracefully circling the perimeter of the town before making its descent onto a verdant patch just beyond its border. Not a soul dared to utter a sound as the majestic creature neatly folded its legs underneath it with a low whine, dipping its head downwards to allow its silver-haired master to disembark.

Sesshomaru’s regal figure exuded dominance as he tread across the clearing with slow, deliberate steps, golden eyes glimmering with such brilliance that they threatened to burn the very sun they reflected. His aura commanded absolute obedience with every masterfully crafted fiber of his being; nature itself seemed to bend to his will, shying away from every area his feet chose to touch. The air breathed as he breathed, the wind moved as he moved – he stood, without a doubt, one of the closest examples of perfection ever to be witnessed with mortal eyes.

Moments after his arrival a rat-like man scampered up to greet him, hastily sweeping into a deep bow once he was in close enough proximity.

“Sesshomaru-sama, it is both an honor and blessing to stand in your presence.” The youkai simpered in an overly obsequious tone.

“Enough.” The inu-youkai’s low baritone rumbled. He had not come to entertain the sniveling pandering of lesser youkai; Sesshomaru abhorred exaggerated reverence above all other ways to waste his time.

 The rat shrank backwards. “M-my apologies, my lord.”

Ignoring him, molten gold orbs swept their surroundings, focusing in the distance where a strong energy source pulsed.

“The miko is there?” he questioned, pointed gaze making no mistake where he was referring to.

“Hai!” the smaller man squeaked. “But first, we have prepared a feast to welcome your arrival-”

“No.” Sesshomaru interrupted coldly. “I will go there now.”

The youkai’s face was frozen in shock as the silver-haired male departed, but once his surprise receded he enthusiastically scurried after the retreating lord. Sesshomaru navigated through dense forestation and jagged terrain so effortlessly that even the veteran inhabitant struggled to match his pace, and the smaller male was only able to reach him after he had come to a stop in front of a small cave.

Golden eyes widened a split fraction before narrowing.

The entrance to the alcove was saturated with magical runes, inhibiting admission into its foreboding depths. They did nothing, however, to mask the energy pulsating from within – volatile and raw in nature, it fluctuated with such intensity that it caused the hairs on the inuyoukai’s arms and back of his neck to stiffen in apprehension.

Behind him, the rat youkai teetered from side to side, visibly anxious of the tendrils of purification energy that were occasionally expelled from within the barrier.

“The miko does not eat or sleep.” he whispered. “Neither does she die. It’s proving to be quite the…inconvenience.”

“…” Sesshomaru approached, delicately moving one elegant finger towards the mesh of protective enchantments as the other youkai watched with bated breath, not daring to breathe. Upon contact the runes glimmered with a purplish hue, transmitting a sharp jolt of electricity that ran down the inuyoukai’s spine. It carried with it pain, but buried beneath the initial shock was a spiral of feelings so complex that one could not be isolated from the rest.

Sesshomaru stepped back with an indecipherable expression.

“She does not come out?”

“No. Never.” The other male shook his head. “We have guards keeping watch at all times of the day.”

“What does she do, then?”

 “She waits.” Was the answer. “The question is, for what.”

The daiyoukai remained still for a moment more before unsheathing the sword strapped to his waist. In one fluid motion that spoke of years of experience and skill the blade was brought down, effortlessly ripping a hole in the barrier. It instantly began to regenerate but Sesshomaru was already inside, his youki howling as it warred with the enormous concentration of purification energy emanating from the back of the cave.

Sesshomaru grit his teeth, canines elongating and eyes bleeding crimson. The last time he had felt this much power had been when Naraku had attempted to absorb the completed Shikon no Tama. Each step grew more difficult as he trekked forward, natural instinct protesting fiercely against his continued expedition.

Emotions swarmed him from every side, echoing off the barren walls to form an infinite loop that threatened to engulf him.

Sadness.

Anger.

The last was quiet, like a whisper.

Shame.

All was forgotten once the end of the cavern came into view, and Sesshomaru stopped, astounded. Even with his exceptional intellect, it took the daiyoukai several minutes to register what he was seeing and then fathom the reason behind it. 

For at the back, nestled between jagged earth, was Kagome Higurashi.

The last Sesshomaru had seen of her had been when they had ended Naraku’s reign of terror once and for all. Following the epic battle she had disappeared, leaving behind only rumors of her whereabouts. The daiyoukai had sought her out on more than one occasion to appease Rin’s tearful pleas for reunion but had never managed to make contact; the girl had vanished like an elusive memory, and only the worthless hanyou and his company had been granted knowledge of her location. She had been a woman who shone so radiantly that her light could pierce through even the darkest abyss, ever able to charm all those she came in contact with – now, she sat as nothing more than an empty shell of her former self, dazzling amber all but extinguished into ashy gray.

This was nothing but a ghost of the woman that had once defied all logic by daring to challenge a youkai of his caliber and living to tell the tale.       

A scowl pulled at his lips as another wave of energy surged from the girl’s body, this time with such force that the inuyoukai barely had time to prepare. He escaped from the sudden onslaught unscathed, but only barely so.

The reason behind the instability of the girl’s powers became increasingly clear as her fragile constitution shivered with fever, and even flushed cheeks did nothing to add color her pale, disheveled state. Her entire body seemed to collapse upon itself from a combination of exhaustion and malnutrition, threatening to disappear altogether at the slightest tremor. Within her arms she hugged a sword against her chest as if it were her very life, and Sesshomaru had no doubt that it was the only thing still binding her to the realm of the living.

Tessaiga.

Suddenly, everything became clear.

Sesshomaru drew closer, ignoring the powerful blasts that attempted to stall his advance. When he was near enough he reached out, placing the palm of one hand on the hilt of the old, rusty blade, and when he did so Kagome looked up for the first time. She gazed into his eyes but did not see him, just as how she breathed but did not live.

“Y-You can’t.” she rasped, coils of pink lashing out.

The daiyoukai’s cheek stung and he distantly realized that he was bleeding.

Ignoring the miko’s stubborn resistance his hand closed, wrapping around the grip of the sword and carefully disentangling it from the girl’s desperate hold.

“You’ve done enough.” He spoke. Kagome’s eyes were impossibly wide and round, much like a lost child’s, and she shook her head violently.

“No.” she shuddered. “I have to wait-”

Something stirred within the youkai’s chest, and Sesshomaru suspected that it was sympathy.

“Rest.” He said softly. “There is no one coming.”

A solitary tear trickled down the girl’s face before she fell forward, collapsing against Sesshomaru’s knees. Her fever burned even through the folds of fabric, and now that she had fallen unconscious her protective shield of energy was gone, leaving her vulnerable to the dark shadows of the underworld that had indubitably been waiting for their chance to devour her. A quick flash of the Tenseiga disintegrated them, their silent wailing resounding within the cave like a curse. Sesshomaru regarded the unconscious miko with an unreadable gaze before gingerly lifting her with one arm, raven tresses splaying across the creamy fabric of his haori with startling contrast.

If it had been any other miko, he would have left her behind without another thought – but because it was her

“Sesshomaru?”

The silver-haired male turned, pinning down the petite female with a stern glare.

“Heehee. Sesshomaru-sama, I meant.” Kagome corrected with a bright smile, unperturbed.

“What is it.” The inuyoukai demanded warily.

The girl surprised him by gently catching onto his sleeve, her smile fading as her fingers ghosted over the fabric which now hung limply at the youkai’s side. “It might be strange for me to say this now, but…I’m sorry about this.” Delicate brows furrowed. “For what it’s worth.”

Sesshomaru’s lip curled upwards in a snarl. A mere ningen, low in both birth and race, dared to pity him, Lord of the West? “Your condolences are meaningless to me.”

“Riiight. I know.” Kagome nodded – could nothing darken this imprudent human’s smile? – before reaching for him again. “I just thought I’d say something, you know? Because Inuyasha never will.”

Aware that he had been staring for an uncharacteristic amount of time, the inuyoukai shrugged off her touch.   

“Sesshomaru!” the girl called after his retreating form (lacking honorifics once again – such insolence!). Against his better judgment the inuyoukai graced the miko with one last glance to see her waving wildly, her entire body seeming to glow as the sun set behind her.

“See you later!”

The impressive daiyoukai gave the battered blade on the ground a final look before setting off, Kagome’s shivering form carefully balanced against his chest.   

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
No money is being made from the creation or viewing of content on this site, which is strictly for personal, non-commercial use, in accordance with the copyright.