InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Midnight Meets Moonlight ❯ Awakening ( Chapter 20 )
[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]
Disclaimer: Inuyasha © Rumiko Takahashi. Not me. Not yet, anyway.
(A/N: Well, this is the last chapter, guys. Enjoy. P.S, a really good song to listen to while reading this chapter is “Collide” by Howie Day. Or “Never Meant to Belong” from the Bleach soundtrack. That's the one I listened to most while writing this.)
Shippo didn't think he'd ever heard Sesshoumaru's voice sound quite so desperate and his heart ached. It was hard to hold himself away from them, away from going to Kagome and pleading with her to come back to them as well. He glanced at Kouga and saw the wolf's hands clenched at his sides, the sharp tangy scent of blood filling the air.
But he could already hear what every demon in that room could hear. Kagome's heartbeat, slowly growing softer and softer, beat after shaky beat. She was fading away from this world.
Kagome, who had saved most of them from something they couldn't even conceive of with her joy, her light. Her spirit and unselfish love. Sometimes even by her selfish wish that they all be happy no matter what. Who gave Kouga comfort after his tribe had been slaughtered, and something to live for. Who gave him a family when his had been mercilessly taken away. Who had given a hanyou back his reason for being in showing him that the world didn't hate him half as much as he thought, and if it did, he would always have those beside him who would stand with him against the world. Who saved Sesshoumaru from a lonely, meaningless existence full of coldness and isolation.
This one girl was their whole world, and now she was lying motionless on the couch, her face pale and still, her lips cold.
He watched helplessly as her breath fluttered out from her lips, and then stopped completely. He fell to his knees and Kouga let out a disbelieving sound while Myoga began to cry softly, the sounds heart wrenching to hear coming from the ancient demon.
But it was Sesshoumaru…Sesshoumaru who looked at his mate with wide golden eyes, mouth slightly parted as he tapped her cheek with his clawed fingers, trying to rouse her even though he could hear now that her heart had ceased to beat as well. He looked so lost at that moment, head shaking slowly in denial as his hoarse voice whispered throughout to the occupants of the room.
“Kagome, come back. You can not leave me now…not after I've just gotten you back. I've fought for you, for our life together. You can't…” he had to stop, his breath catching in his throat. “You can't leave me alone again. You think you have the right to just leave after all we've been through?”
He stopped talking then, unable to go on past the lump that had suddenly appeared in his throat. He had never felt that before. His head leaned forward until his forehead was cradled on her pale cheek. Connected with her as if she could feel him.
You idiot. I would have waited forever for you. I've died a thousand deaths waiting for you, and I would do it all over again if it meant having you. But you have to come back to me. Don't go. …please…
He waited, not breathing, straining to hear any sign of life coming from her body, willing her to wake up and say it was all just a bad dream. That this was just a dream and they would wake up from it together, and everything would be right as it should be.
But there was only silence.
Unaware, a choked sound escaped him as he softly rubbed his cheek against hers, his trembling fingers coming up to her temple line to tangle in her soft hair as he clutched her to him.
And unconsciously, he began rocking softly back and forth, the lifeless body of his mate, his love, his life cradled tenderly in his arms…
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Kagome couldn't feel the pain anymore.
She floated, quite deliciously light and carefree through the slight fog. She remembered something had happened, something important. Someone had been in terrible pain. She frowned trying to remember, but shrugged it off. She was feeling too happy to care.
She felt free. Free and invigorated, lost between one world and the next in her mind, drifting along to a destination unknown. She didn't really care where as long as she could stay there for a while.
Smiling as she reclined on her could of air, feeling completely weightless, she couldn't ever remember feeling this way except for when she was with Sesshoumaru…
Abruptly she sat up as it all came crashing back. Sesshoumaru, going into the trance, seeking out Kano's mind, and then feeling it all break around her. Panicked, she glanced around, trying to figure out where she was. The light fog that had given her such pleasure now closed around her, causing her heart to race and her hands to shake.
She frowned as she realized that she could actually see her hands now. Before in Kano's mind, she had just been a presence. She could only sense, not see, but now she looked down at her own body and a physical world around her. Where on Earth was she? Was she still in Kano's mind? Hadn't he broken? She should be gone now, dead.
Her breath caught in her throat. Maybe that's where she was right now…the world between the dead and the living. And Sesshoumaru…she never got to say anything to him. Her legs felt wobbly until she had to sit down abruptly, fighting to get her breath back.
Sobs were fighting their way out of the back of her throat, burning her raw and leaving her gasping. The fact that she couldn't see him, couldn't hold him, couldn't touch him, couldn't feel him felt like a thousand knives racing through her bloodstream, leaving her in agony. Just imagining what he must be feeling for her right now added embers to the knives, stinging her with its fury. He would be all alone again, after waiting so long.
“Kagome, you idiot!” she whispered. “This is what happens when you try to save the world. Next time do yourself a favor and just leave things alone. People were made to fix their own mistakes.” She gave a dark, humorless laugh. “There won't be a next time, though. You did it again….you found yourself in an impossible situation. And this time there is no Inuyasha or Sesshoumaru to save you.”
“Akina? Akina, is that you, my love?”
Kagome gasped and whirled around as the fog around her slowly began to dissipate, showing her a shadow headed towards her. “Kano!” she exclaimed, tensing when she saw the demon appear in front of her. He was staring at her in shock and she noticed his eyes seemed different somehow.
“It is you!” he exclaimed, his voice sounding infinitely younger and relieved. She froze as he fell to his knees in front of her and buried his head in her lap and wrapping his arms around her waist.
“Er-” she began, but he cut her off.
“I thought you were lost to me, Akina. I was so alone and I ached for you. I missed you so much.”
With a start she realized that he wasn't really seeing her, only what he wanted to see. Cautiously, she put a hand over his hair and gently began stroking it. He shuddered, and she could tell he was close to giving in to tears, and she felt her own eyes fill in response. It hadn't been Akina who was lost, but him. He had been lost for so long…
“Where are we?” she asked gently.
He shrugged without letting go of her. “I come here sometimes when everything becomes too much for me. When I feel like I will lose myself and my very existence, I come to this quiet place in my mind to get away. It doesn't hurt so much here.”
Her heart leaped with hope, even as a part of her ached for him. His mind hadn't completely gone; he had just run from the pain. There was still a chance she could get him back. To get herself back.
Her heart heavy at what she was about to do, but knowing it was the only way, she asked him gently, “What took you so long to find me, darling?”
She hated using the memory of Akina against him, but if it would help him fight his inner demons and get her back home, she was willing to do anything. And if Akina had loved Kano, really and truly loved him as much as he loved her, she would want him to be happy.
He shook his head against her lap and grabbed her tighter. “I don't know. You were never here before. I looked and looked, but you were never there. Why didn't you come to me first?”
“Because I'm dead, Kano. I died a long time ago.”
“No.” His grip became crushing on her. “You're not dead. You're right here in front of me. I waited for you and you came.”
“I came so we could finally say good-bye,” Kagome said, speaking to him in a soft voice. She had to give him his closure. “I've waited so long to say good-bye to you.”
She felt his body shudder again, and her skirt grew wet and hot from the tears that were escaping his eyes, finally releasing in a torrent that had him shaking. Still, she just stroked his hair, waiting until the emotion that he had held inside escaped him. As his sobs died down, she gently lifted his face so he was looking her in the eyes, still seeing his beloved Akina.
Tenderly she wiped his tears away, but her hands froze again as he softly uttered, “Do you forgive me?”
She cradled his cheeks. “For what?”
His mouth stiffened as if he were trying hold off on his tears again. “For failing you. For not avenging you. For being tricked.”
She gazed at this strong demon on his knees in front of her, asking the woman he loved if she forgave him, and her heart overflowed. This youkai who had had nothing but revenge on his mind for the last five hundred years, risking life, limb, sanity, and honor to fulfill the dying wish of a woman, was asking for forgiveness. He had suffered so much, sacrificed everything so he could finally finish his duty and go to be with her in the afterlife. He deserved much more than spending the rest of his days trapped inside this abyss, never knowing life and love again, and her hands tightened.
“There is nothing for you to be forgiven for,” she said fiercely. “Absolutely nothing.”
“But-” he began, but she gave him a small shake and glared at him.
“It was not your fault,” she said, enunciating every word because she knew he needed to hear them. And she needed to say them. And somewhere, she felt deep down in her heart, Akina needed to have them said as well. She talked to him as if she were talking to Sesshoumaru for the last time, and hoped that she would get the chance to say them to him if she got out of this. “I have always loved you. Nothing in time and space can stop that. And I will never stop loving you. Not until this world ceases to exist and we go into the next one, and even then I will love you. You have waited for me, but you don't have to wait anymore. Nothing can separate us again.”
He grabbed her to him again, too overcome to speak, and she let him hold her, knowing that she was healing him. She rubbed his back in soft circles until his grip loosened on her.
“Will you stay here with me?” he asked.
“No,” she said, and felt him pull back to look at her. “You are still alive, Kano,” she said firmly. “You cannot stay in this empty place. Go back and live.”
He was silent for a moment. “I have nothing to live for now,” he whispered. “I've been living only to have my revenge. There is nothing left.”
“There is life,” she countered. “If you think you have nothing to live for, live for yourself. Kano, this is your chance to finally be free.”
He shook his head. “I don't want to go without you.”
She smiled sadly. “But you must. Akina…I…want you to. You have a chance to make everything right. And it's time to let me go.”
He looked away from her staring far into the distance. “Live for myself, huh? That sounds like something you used to say to me. `There's only you and me here now, Kano, and when I'm not here anymore, there will only be you. Don't spend your time wasting away when you'll have so much opportunity to do more.'” He looked back at her. “Do you really believe that?”
“With all of my heart,” she said, meaning it.
He blew out a breath. “I don't think I know how to live for myself.”
He finally let out a small laugh at that. “Still so unsympathetic with others when they are feeling sorry for themselves. You remind me of that miko that belongs to Sesshoumaru. I think you would have liked her. She tried to save me, you know.”
He frowned a little bit. “Do you think she'll forgive me?”
“Yes, I do. Without a doubt, she'll forgive you.”
“Do you think Sesshoumaru will forgive me?”
“uh…give him a little more time.” They weren't ready to cross that bridge yet.
“Do you forgive me?”
“I thought I already said that there is nothing to forgive you for.”
“Then say it so I can forgive myself.”
“And you'll live for yourself now? No regrets?”
“I can't say I won't have regrets, but I'll try to live for myself. One day at a time.”
“Then I forgive you,” she said simply. He leaned his forehead against hers and she could practically see a weight being taken off of his shoulders.
He held her for a few more moments in silence. “I don't want to go.”
She gently disentangled herself. “But you need to. It's time to go back, Kano. Back to the man you used to be.”
“I've forgotten who he is.”
“You'll remember. And you'll grow. And I'll always be here, watching over you.”
“Will you wait for me?”
And then he smiled at her, one that almost rivaled the beauty of Sesshoumaru's, and her heart ached with a new pang. And as suddenly as she found herself in that dream world, she found herself back in Kano's mind, the part that wasn't hidden away. Only this time it was a little less dark, a little more peaceful.
And she smiled. It was time to go home.
Mentally, she closed her eyes and reached out…
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Several minutes had passed in complete silence in the room the demons stood in, each trying to come to terms with their shock. Shippo still knelt on the floor, the child inside the full-grown demon raging at him to let the tears loose. And even though he fought them, they fell down his cheeks in a silent tribute to the woman lying so still on the couch, still cradled in Sesshoumaru's arms.
Kouga had maintained his rigid stance, his claws eating into his hands and he fought the rage and sorrow consuming him. Kagome was Sesshoumaru's, but she was his friend. Perhaps the best friend he'd ever had, and now she was gone. There had been nothing in this world to prepare him for that. The noise the flea was making, his great sobs racking his small body, was not helping him in the least to tamp down his emotions. He couldn't seem to breathe properly.
Sesshoumaru wasn't even breathing at all. What was the point? Her fragile body felt so tiny next to his, and he just wanted to crawl into her and live there forever. Anything to escape this white cloud consuming his brain. It was like nothing he'd ever felt before, like screaming inside of his mind where only he could hear, and it was destroying him. Every time she had smiled at him, every time her eyes lit up at him or flared at him flashed through his mind in a hazy whirl. Every kiss, every touch, every desire pounded through him until he felt like choking on it. Every dream he had made for them vanished into the white cloud growing inside of him, and he clutched her closer.
He would never see her grow swollen with his child, or laugh at him whenever he was being jealous for no reason at all. She was not going to tease him in his office at the museum, daring him to grab her and kiss her, to forget all about his work. He wouldn't get to come home to her after a trip and just rest in her embrace, finally content with the world.
And he was finally breaking.
He made that desperate choking sound again, the one that came from his very soul as he fought to realize it all, all that he had lost, all that he would never gain, and a dull roar began in his ears, steadily growing in force.
And he heard a heartbeat.
His head snapped up, his own heart leaping painfully in response as he heard the shocked gasps of everyone in the room. That meant that he hadn't been the only one who heard it, hadn't conjured it or dreamed it.
And then he heard another one. And another after that.
Slowly, he leaned back from her, staring intently at her face as her heartbeat grew stronger, hardly daring to hope, but wanting to oh, so bad and please, please, please just…
Her breath rushed through her lungs and out of her mouth in a gasp and her eyes flew open.
Kagome sat up with a start, not seeing Shippo on the floor with his eyes closed, his mouth silently saying a prayer of thanks to the Kami, or Kouga leaning against the wall as if his legs wouldn't support him anymore, or Myoga using boxes of tissues to stem the renewed flow of tears.
All she saw was Sesshoumaru in front of her, feeling his familiar heat next to her body, dragging in his heady scent, and his eyes, oh, god his blessed, brighter than normal, brighter than anything she'd ever seen, beautiful, glorious eyes staring at her with more intensity and heat than anything she would ever see again, and his mouth, his perfect, perfect mouth latching onto hers with a sudden ferocity that shook her entire being.
That kiss was full of every emotion he was capable of; love, passion, relief, anger, possessiveness and desperation. In his haste to devour her, to completely seal their mouths together, his fangs nicked the inside of her lip, drawing blood. He was crushing her to him in the next instant, held so close to him that her ribs creaked and she didn't know where she ended and he began, and she returned it with everything she had inside of her, tears streaming down her face. And then his lips were all over her face, licking away the tears, on her neck, on her eyelids, in her hair as if he couldn't stop himself.
And Shippo said out loud to the room in general, “She is never, EVER, doing that again.”
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It took a good three months for Sesshoumaru to let her out of his sight, and even longer for her to ever be able to go out by herself. And she couldn't really blame him for that after all, not after finding out exactly what had happened to her body that night. Technically, she supposed she had been dead for about five minutes, and that had been enough to warrant her house arrest for the rest of her mortal life. So, since she was immortal, it was a good thing Sesshoumaru was being lenient with her.
And it wasn't until six months later, when she was in the shopping center picking up the ingredients for dinner, that she saw Kano. She dropped the head of lettuce she had been holding as his eyes met hers across the expanse of the store, both uncertain over the next move.
But then she smiled at him, noting that he didn't look as pale and gaunt as he had before, and there was something now in him that hadn't been before. Slowly, tentatively, he smiled back. She nodded to him, knowing he couldn't come near her to risk his scent transferring to her, knowing that Sesshoumaru wasn't ready for that.
His smile grew wider, and a group of children and adults walked in between them. When they were gone, so was Kano, but Kagome felt peaceful for the rest of the day. She went about the store humming the remaining time she was there.
And then she went back to her home, to her mate, and to the glorious future she knew was ahead of her.
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Kouga stepped off the airplane with a sigh of happiness. He'd never liked the little tin cans that flew in the air thousands of feet above solid ground, but it was one of the quickest ways from point A to point B. And he had really needed to get to point B. Even though the sane part of his brain kept screaming at him that this was a really, really bad idea.
Ignoring that part of him, he efficiently picked up his practical duffle bag and walked out of the airport to hail a taxi. Thousands of new scents assailed his nose as he kept the window rolled down so he could feel the air as it blew through the car. He'd always felt awkward coming to new countries, but this one was worst than most. For the thousandth time, he called himself every kind of fool for coming here. But before he could entertain some really good thoughts of putting himself right back on a plane to Tokyo, the cab arrived at his destination and he found himself standing on the sidewalk in front of a quaint townhouse.
Understated class and natural charm oozed out of the building, and he rubbed his hand on the back of his neck to rid himself of the tension there, wondering what the hell he was doing. He shouldn't even be there. He didn't even know what he was hoping for…
Before he could turn away, the door opened, revealing the occupant of the house, and his breath caught in his throat.
Fiery red hair, no longer in girlish pigtails, but hanging in a burning waterfall down her back adorned the head of a woman with the face of a pixie. A little mischievous, a little fey, and all gorgeous. Funny how he had blocked out that little fact over the years.
He stood there, rooted to the sidewalk as she took a step out of her front door, her nose coming up an instant before she saw him. Her eyes flashed with something that made his heart leap a moment before they froze over into the expression that had been seared into his brain the last time he had seen her face to face. When she told him she was taking a mate. And he let her go.
Immediately she stepped back into her house and started to close the door, but before it could fully close, he was on her steps and had his foot in the way. He watched with interest the way her eyes seemed to chill even more.
“It still seems you are as fast as ever,” she said coolly, the voice he hadn't heard in so long doing funny things to his stomach.
“It comes in handy,” he said cautiously. “May I come in?”
“…” Well, he had been expecting hostility, hadn't he? But damn, it was humiliating to admit that it hurt. “Damn it, Ayame, can't you even take some time to talk to an old friend?”
She laughed, a rather tight and humorless sound. “Is that what we are, Kouga? Or should I address you as my Prince?”
He let out a small growl that he couldn't contain. “If anything, we were at least friends.”
“What do you mean `at least'? Were we ever anything more?” Her deliberately innocent voice began grating on his nerves.
“Look, there are some things I need to talk to you about.” Like how she had been invading his every thought more frequently than ever, or how every red-headed woman he passed on the street sent a jolt through him until he saw the face of the woman, and then only felt disappointment. Of all the things he should have told her years ago, but was never able to get out because of his pride. Because of her rejection. But he remembered the look a moment ago, that one flash of feeling from her before she put her shields up, and he was determined not to let her get away.
Not this time.
And there were things that she was grossly mistaken about that needed to be set straight. If she would let him in at least. “Look, can I just come in for a little bit? For old times' sake?”
She looked at him warily, her body still protectively in front of her door as if she could protect her house like she was trying to protect her heart. An eternity passed in the span of a few heartbeats.
“You have five minutes,” she said, opening the door and turning to walk into the house.
Completely missing his wolfish grin as he sat down his bag in the hallway and followed after her.
It would take a lot more than five minutes with her to do what he wanted.
He was looking forward to it.
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(Well, everybody, that's it for now. Twenty chapters, two awards, a thousand some-odd reviews, and a lot of hours spent killing my brain cells later, this story is finished. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. There will be a short prologue following this chapter, but aside from that, this story is officially finished. Reviews are always appreciated, even years after a story is finished, so don't be shy. I'll be doing a few one shots here and there, but I don't know if I'm going to do anymore full-blown stories unless I get one really kick-ass idea. So for now, I'll say adieu.
Many blessings and much love to you all,