Dreaming by ShadyMinion
SM: Listening to too much Savage Garden.
She was...too perfect. She was so perfect, that sometimes, he had believed her an illusion that his mind dreamt up. Even as he watched her standing by his side. Protecting that half-demon. He wondered if she fancied them, the half-breeds. Hanyous were widely regarded as one of the lowest of the low. They possessed only half the strength of youkai, and all of the weaknesses of humans. But, perhaps that's what made them strong. They had emotions that could not be hidden, could not be masked. Humans could see through them, identify with them. Although, they were becoming haughty. The foolish humans were forgetting their place. They would revel in their own almost non-existent powers, boasting until a stronger party came and crushed them. The more developed ningen villages even began to forget about youkai, until one showed up, and then they were all on their knees, begging for mercy. It was disgusting. But she...she was different. She never begged, she never fell to her knees.
Only once had he ever seen her plead a case, and that was to himself. She was begging him to spare the life of the hanyou, throwing herself over his unconscious, feral form. He had hid his disgust. After all, once one lost their self to the bloodbeast, what were they than a raving monster? Still, he had not desired to kill him, and her plea had...appealed to him. He let Inuyasha live. He couldn't forget her gratitude. It was unspoken, but her eyes glowed with her emotions. Her face, her body, it was an open book, freely displaying her displeasure, her anger, her love. She was so transparent. And she seemed to understand him. Sometimes, when she caught him staring at her, she would only smile and nod, seemingly to know what went through his mind. She was a curiosity.
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In the final battle with Naraku, the dark hanyou had lost everything. His minions had turned on him. His body was a disgusting mass of assorted parts and powers he had absorbed from numerous demons. The Shikon had fallen into Kagome's hands. She stared at the stone in her hand. She was wounded, bleeding, dirty. But when she smiled, she was radiant, even through the gore. She had dropped her bow then, running toward the revolting mass of demon flesh. Inuyasha had shouted, her friends screamed in alarm. She jumped with open arms, wrapping them around the neck of a creature who had once looked human. Only Naraku's torso and head had retained human shape. It hovered above his monstrosity of a body, having sacrificed appearance for power. His mad rage had disappeared into an expression of pure shock. Then it morphed into one of anger and humiliation. The creature had snarled, and drew his tentacles back into himself, ready to throw the slim girl off of him. Sesshoumaru himself had been ready to swoop down, and pluck her from battle. Instead of readying herself for the blast of dark energy that was coming, her arms only tightened. Her face turned, with a queer half-smile on her face. Her lips moved, whispering words into the hanyou's ear that no one else could hear. Then she smiled and placed a kiss on the creature's temple.
Naraku howled in agony as light began to pierce his body. Claws, arms, fingers all scrabbled at her body, attempting to pry her off him. She held on, still smiling as he screamed and screamed. But, Sesshoumaru noted that it wasn't a scream of pain. It was fear. Naraku was terrified of that small girl whose arms were around him. New cuts were sliced across her body as Naraku clawed at her. She raised one hand and brushed it through his dark hair, as if soothing a child with nightmares, instead of the nightmare himself. More whispered words. Then the tears...the hanyou was crying, screaming, writhing beneath her purity. His body began to dissolve. And still she held on, until the monster was no more than a man, crying, whimpering into her embrace. She had looked up at the others then, still smiling, despite their shock. She had spared Naraku's life, relegating him to a human instead of killing him. It was a compassion that no other could be capable of. Kagome was kneeling in the black gore of the battlefield, a man shivering in her lap. She held up the Shikon on an upturned palm. Her smile held such benevolence. She was offering them, any one of them, their wish. She trusted them.
Sesshoumaru had been captivated. How could someone so powerful, be so utterly pure? He had realized it then, that he wanted her. He wanted her smile, her radiance. He wanted her love. He wanted to see her smile just for him. It wasn't possession or dominance over her, like in youkai relationships. He truly wanted her affection. And not for the first time, he wondered over Inuyasha's claim to her. Inuyasha had never voiced or formally declared his intentions, but his actions spoke for him. He cared about Kagome as well. Yet, he was trapped by the guilt of a failed former love. If he could not shed it, Kagome could never be his. In turn, Kagome had wanted Inuyasha's affection, but after watching the hanyou suffer, she gave him that glowing smile, her eyes saying that she would wait. Sesshoumaru didn't want her to wait. Inuyasha could take a lifetime. His emotions were so stunted and immature. It would take him too long to come to terms with his dead lover. Sesshoumaru wanted Kagome to be happy, but if she didn't want him, there was only one other recourse...
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For the first few days after the battle, Naraku was little more than a child. He had clung to Kagome as if she were a lifeline. She grinned, and comforted the man, soothing him, running her fingers through his hair. She had him clothed, fed him, took care of him. For his part, Naraku seemed interested in everything going around him. It was like he was looking at the world through new eyes. He constantly watched people through a small window in his room. He stared at them so hard, Sesshoumaru briefly wondered if Naraku had ever seen a peaceful village at work before. He doubted it. From what he had heard of the past, Naraku had once been a human bandit. Then before that, he had come from a ravaged village. The creature most likely had no memories of a safe home.
The town regarded Naraku warily, as they should. He was the beast who had attacked them numerously, he was the villain, the monster. The villagers trusted Kagome though, so for her sake, they tolerated him. Kagome regularly encouraged children to visit. Their bright, untempered vision would bring new insight to Naraku. He wasn't a bad man. He had been cleansed of his sins. For once he had felt light, and of sound mind. There were no longer the vicious hissing of the demons in his mind. For so long, the malicious voices had been all he could hear, driving him the edge of madness. Kagome had saved him.
Sesshoumaru watched Naraku watch the girl, every bit as curious about the strange girl as he himself had been. Sesshoumaru now had a deeper understanding of the girl. She was selfless. She cared about others. She loved people. So undiluted was her affection, that even past crimes couldn't dampen her love. She lived in the present. Sesshoumaru wondered if it was to forget about the pain of the past. If that were the case, she couldn't keep living like that. As much as she loved others, she needed someone to love her back as well.
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In the end, Inuyasha couldn't cope. He was a demon of his word, he saw no other choice. He had followed Kikyou to hell. Kagome had been strangely silent for days afterward. She would still smile, but the glow was diminished. When she opened her mouth to speak, she would pause, reconsider, and close her mouth. Other than that, it had been business as usual.
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She had moved to a separate hut from her friends. She understood how uncomfortable they were housing their former nemesis, but she couldn't bring herself to turn the man away. He had simply been a result of bad choices, and she was determined to give him another chance. She lived alone with Naraku, taking care of him until he was fit to do it himself. It would seem a while though, since the all the man did was sit quietly and watch the town, or, more often than not, watch Kagome.
Sesshoumaru visited regularly, more to see Kagome than to check on Naraku. The man had become so docile...it was...strange...
It had been during one of his unannounced visits when it happened. He had been walking past the window, heading toward the door when a pale arm had reached out. He saw through the window, Naraku had been sitting against the wall. He looked as if he had been there all day, contemplating something. The movement was slight, tentative even, but as Kagome had walked past, he had reached out to her. When she felt the hand brush against her elbow, she stopped, looking at him questioningly. The hand quivered in the air a moment, then clamped down on Kagome's forearm. She was pulled to the ground, gently, but quickly. She was stunned by the action. Naraku had never been so...touchy before. He didn't mind it when she touched him, patting him on the head, or brushing his cheek when he became agitated, but he had never been one to reach for her. She sat semi-sprawled on the ground for a good few seconds before it occurred to her that she was still moving. Naraku was gingerly drawing her into his lap by the arm he held. He situated her somewhat comfortably, then he wrapped both arms around her waist and buried his face into the crook of her neck. He seemed perfectly content to simply sit there like that while Kagome sat bewildered. Her blue eyes had flashed to meet the golden ones still peering in from the window.
Sesshoumaru had shadowed his look. Something like this had been bound to happen. He had stood back and allowed it to happen. So why did he feel like ripping the man limb from limb and snatching Kagome away?
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Kagome had needed someone to love. Someone who would give her undying affection. Someone who depended on her, and who she could depend on. Sesshoumaru had reasoned that Naraku could be that person. It had made sense when he made the decision. He knew Inuyasha would be no good. Any other male she came in contact wouldn't be worthy or loyal. Naraku looked to be a good decision. He was, after all, a very changed man. Naraku was still a creature of few words, and an excellent schemer, but this time, his machinations had his heart in the right place.
He hadn't been Sesshoumaru's first choice, as that had been himself. But he couldn't reason a way to make it work, He wanted Kagome to love him in a way where he didn't have to make her fall in love with him. He could charm any female, he knew, but he wanted Kagome's affections to be pure. That could only happen if Kagome had loved him in the first place. He couldn't see it work out. So, he had set up the situation where Kagome would grow to care about Naraku as much as the poor man obviously already did for Kagome. He had seen it in the battles they had once shared, Naraku's mad crimson eyes had stared so hatefully at Kagome. He hadn't known what it was at first until he remembered his own emotions. Sesshoumaru had hated the weakness of compassion. When he had first sensed his own being falling for the human, he had loathed the girl. Naraku had been experiencing the same thing, wanting to kill the weakness that had pervaded his form.
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Naraku and Kagome lived in Inuyasha's forest for several years. The couple had never formally married or anything. There had been no need to. As long as they were together, it was an unspoken bond. Naraku had been a good man to Kagome. She laughed and glowed in his presence. Naraku himself never laughed, but he had allowed himself the occasional rare smile that lit up Kagome's day. She had been happy.
Then Naraku had died.
It was a sad occurrence. He had been killed by a vengeful child who recognized him as the being responsible for the slaughter of his village. Naraku had not even fought back, as if expecting such retribution. His only regret, was that he had not time to say goodbye to Kagome properly. The boy had fled, and Kagome had found her lover's dead body hours later. She buried him in silence, shedding not a single tear. She didn't say a word, but disappeared deeper into the forest, into a clearing where an old well stood, forgotten by all but a few people.
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Sesshoumaru hadn't seen or heard of Kagome for years afterward. He had reasoned that she had to be dead. No human could ever live so long. But he never felt her disappear. She had left a mark on his life, a lingering presence that had stayed with him throughout the centuries. It had not once wavered or flickered. Somewhere in his heart, he entertained the belief that she lived.
He was standing in his room staring out a large window, contemplating the growth of humans. Skyscrapers filled his vision, obscuring the sky from his eyes. The loss of nature had been sad. It had diminished youkai magic until they had faded into myth. Humans sprawled everywhere, like an infestation. Many times he had entertained the thought of mass destruction. He still had his youkai strength, even with weakened youki. But, that would be pointless as well. Humans outnumbered the dwindling youkai populations, hundreds of millions to one. They were like masses of insects.
A servant had knocked on his door as he was absent-mindedly flexing his claws. An inconspicuous note had been dropped onto his desk. He purposefully waited for the servant to leave before he even approached the desk. His eyes widened as he read the envelope
To Sesshoumaru-sama, Lord of the Western Lands
Hardly anyone alive knew of that title, and any that did, would no longer use it. He was no Lord any longer. His hand trembled. The handwriting. The scent lacing the paper. It just wasn't possible. He sliced open the envelope, slipping out the folded sheet. Golden eyes scanned the paper, widening as they did so. He clenched the letter in his claws, opening the window and flying out.
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Kagome looked up, a tired expression on her face, yet she still smiled. "I knew you'd come." She said quietly.
Sesshoumaru stood in the doorway, hardly believing his eyes. "Kagome..." He replied, his smooth baritone sliding over her soft words. He had no idea what to say, she was alive. She was here. How?
She gave a weak laugh. "I'm so glad you remembered."
"I could never forget." He said truthfully.
The smile faltered. "I-I'm sorry." She swallowed. She looked abashed. "Maybe I shouldn't have..."
"No." He strode into the room, sitting by the bed. He picked up her hand, holding it gently in his. "You have no idea how happy you've made me. I could only dream that you were still around. I...I never felt you fade, but I couldn't find you."
She gave a brittle smile. "The well in Inuyasha's forest...I went home through it."
"I see." He stared down at the hand he held. It was old, wrinkled. Kagome was no longer a young woman. She had aged beautifully though. Her silver hair heightened her sapphire eyes. She was staring though. Kagome stared at him, unblinking. Her other hand raised to caress his face. He leaned into it.
"Still beautiful as always." She chuckled. "I'm almost jealous."
"No one could be more beautiful than you." He replied.
She blushed. He felt oddly pleased that he could elicit the school girl reaction.
Her breathing hitched slightly. "Sesshoumaru..." She whispered the name reverently. "I'm so glad you came."
"I thought you said that you knew I would."
"I knew you'd come...but I wasn't sure if...you would come to see me. It's one thing to watch, Sesshoumaru, but to come visit me, it's something else entirely. Thank you." The wizened hand in his squeezed his gently. She reached out again, her fingers trailing through his hair. Her eyes held a far off expression. "Sesshoumaru?" She asked, her eyes still staring at some far off distance.
His brows furrowed. Why wasn't she looking at him. "Kagome?" She must have heard the worried note in his voice because almost immediately she withdrew her hands.
"Sorry. I know that you don't like being touched."
"No, that's not it. Kagome..."
She stared at her hands folded in her lap.
A slow nod. "It's nothing. A human thing, comes with age sometimes." She said quickly.
"I know." He retook her hand in his. He wanted the contact. It didn't matter to him that she was no longer the spry, youthful creature she once was. She was still Kagome to him, a being of such unadulterated affection. She was pure, even into her old age. "Kagome, if you knew where I was, why didn't you contact me sooner? I searched for you for several lifetimes."
Her eyes closed. She felt guilty. She was so fragile. It looked like she had only weakened with time. "I want to explain. I'm so sorry Sesshoumaru. I left without a word. So many people had already left me. I...I didn't want to hurt you."
"I don't understand."
"I thought you would be content without...me. You seemed to avoid me when..." She trailed off. She was referring to Naraku. He knew. He had been avoiding her, not because he didn't want to see her, but because it pained him that she now belonged to someone else. Things couldn't stay the same when it felt like he was being stabbed every time he looked at her.
"I should apologize for that. My behavior was inexcusable." He began.
"No, I understand." She interrupted him gently. "But when he died, I was so...tired. I was lonely. It had only been me and him, and then he was gone. I couldn't go back to the village. Things were...too different. Kaede had died and Miroku had left to return to Musashi. Sango went to rebuild her village. Even Shippou had grown up without me. I felt so selfish then. I was a terrible person, putting my happiness above theirs. I didn't even realize how much I had left behind."
"So I left. There wasn't anything else for me there. And I thought that you..." She trailed off again. Her hand slid effortlessly from his grasp. "But I was only running. And I'm sorry Sesshoumaru. You didn't deserve that. So...I wanted to explain before it was too late. I..."
He seemed to sense her answer before she said it. "You loved Naraku."
"I did, but I was in love with you, Sesshoumaru. I thought that you didn't want me, so I didn't press it. I was afraid I had already pushed away Inuyasha. You were the one I was in love with. The first time I saw you, I thought you were so perfect. You looked like something sculpted from dreams. You hid a wonderfully caring personality behind an icy facade. I thought that you were something just so...perfect. And I loved you. But, you let me go, and I couldn't bring myself to tell you then." She raised her hand, framing his face. His golden eyes met with her sightless blue orbs. "I just want to tell you, that I loved you with all my heart." She gave him a tremulous smile. Then she released him. "Thank you for coming, Sesshoumaru." She withdrew her hands, settling them in her lap and bowing her head.
"Kagome." He wouldn't allow to have the last word. He captured her chin with ease, tilting it upwards. He captured her surprised lips with his. He pressed against her, pouring out his repressed emotions into the kiss. His heat seared, and for a moment, she blinked, as if actually seeing him, her eyes retained her youth. They parted, panting.
Her eyes were wide. "Sesshoumaru...?" She reached out, groping blindly.
He took her hand, sliding easily from the chair to sit beside her on the bed. He cradled her tiny, fragile body against his stronger form. "Wait for me." He whispered.
She paused a moment, then beamed. Her image flickered. She was young again. The vibrant wild child that had roamed Feudal Japan with a mismatched crew. "I will." She whispered back. Then she faded.
Sesshoumaru held her hand until the last of the warmth disappeared. Then he stood, bringing up the sheet to cover her face. Nurses were already coming in, bustling, checking machines, and preparing her body. His face expressionless, Sesshoumaru left the terminal ward of the hospital.
He stood outside on the hospital steps, his face upturned into the sunlight. From this vantage, the sky never looked so blue. He smiled. Kagome said that she would wait for him. She would wait for the end of time. For the end of his lifetime. When he could finally join her. He would be with her forever in the afterlife. He could already see her smile.
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SM: Originally posted on ff.net, this has a side story requested by Lady Psyche exploring the relationship between Naraku and Kagome.
Here is the link if you are interested. Copy and Paste: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2661905/2/