Finally, he'd found her.
It had taken years of searching and he'd pulled in every favor he'd spent the last five hundred years accumulating, but he had found her.
He studied the portfolio the private investigator had put together. In a way, it was odd. Five hundred years had passed and yet she looked exactly as he recalled five hundred years before. She had been impervious to time, flitting back and forth freely between two eras, while he'd had to plod along, alone.
Rin had long since died. Jaken had also succumbed to age a century ago and Ah-Un had passed on before that. While some of the daiyokais had survived to the modern era, most had died out long ago.
It was something he'd hoped his actions would remedy, but it was not his only focus.
He wanted to undo his actions from five hundred years before.
Higurashi Kagome would be his. He would make sure of it.
He would not allow her to slip away a second time. He had done nothing, acted upon nothing, fooling himself into believing that a relationship between them would not be feasible. He had rationalized himself into inaction. She, he'd believed, was beneath him. She was human. She was a priestess.
And she was in love with his half-brother.
But now, knowing all that he did, knowing how her relationship with InuYasha had ended, and knowing the misery that had awaited his decision, he would not allow himself to fail a second time. He had the benefit of time now, the knowledge of the past, and of himself, and he would do all that he could to ensure a change.
Sesshomaru closed the portfolio with a graceful motion. It was time to put the plan he'd been developing for centuries into action, ever since he'd learned the truth of her origins.
Kagome would fall for him by the end of it; he promised himself that.
Soon, all would be right in the world again.
Kagome plodded down the street that lead from the grocery store by her house back to her family's temple.
It was still hard to accept that the well was closed and she could never go back.
She didn't feel like she belonged here. The longer she stayed in her own time, the more she felt driven to try and return to the past.
She'd tried to return through the well more than once. For the most part, she'd sustained sprains and strains when the well had refused to let her through, but on her last attempt, she had fallen wrong and had broken her left wrist against the side of the well as she'd tumbled down.
That had been more than enough for her mother, who had stepped in and pleaded with Kagome to stop trying before she hurt herself even worse.
Kagome had intended on refusing at first, but the tears in her mother's eyes had convinced her to reconsider. She'd promised, but added silently to herself that if she ever felt the magic within the well, she wouldn't hesitate to return.
But I will say goodbye, she'd promised herself.
She'd graduated high school and her mother had found her a part-time job at the grocery store in the meantime while they waited for college to begin. Kagome had done well in high school but she'd chosen to attend a college closer to home—to the well—rather than move away.
She glanced up at the sky, her view partially obstructed by the tall buildings around her. If I was in the feudal era, she thought to herself wistfully, nothing would block my view. The sky always looked like it would stretch on forever and the stars—there's so few of them visible now.
The thought of the night sky brought back memories of camp fires and grilled fish and the loud slurping of ramen. InuYasha had never learned to eat delicately and had resisted all attempts from Kagome and their friends to help him learn otherwise.
We did at least get him to stop shoving his hands into the cups to eat the noodles from his fingers. Her lips quirked in wry amusement at the memory of InuYasha drenched in ramen soup.
I wonder how they're all doing now. She sighed heavily at the thought of how much she must have missed already. I bet Sango and Miroku are married with at least two kids by now—if not more. And Shippo...Her eyes were still a little misty at the thought of the kitsune who had accompanied them. I wonder if he was able to get into that kitsune school?
But as they often did, thoughts of her friends brought her to InuYasha and though three years had passed, her heart was still in turmoil.
InuYasha... Her heart clenched. She was still so uncertain about what their relationship would have been if she'd been able to stay. InuYasha is probably living with Kaede and grumbling about having to deal with whatever yokai wander near the village.
I wonder if he misses me? She bit her lower lip. Has he been able to finally let go of Kikyo? Did...did he mean what he meant when we were trapped in the jewel together? Or was he just caught up in the moment?
Am I...Would I finally first in his heart?
She stumbled as she accidentally stepped off the edge of a curb, lost in thought, but managed to right herself before she fell.
Facing her friends would be easy. She missed them, far more than she'd have ever thought. In their time traveling together, they'd become family.
But facing InuYasha was something she was still hesitant about. She still didn't know what to say him, even if she'd been given the chance. And though once she might have given anything to be his love interest, now she wasn't at all sure what she wanted.
Would that change when I see him again?
She rolled her shoulders, feeling stiff after her shift as a cashier. She only worked four days a week and spent the other three days helping her grandfather out around the shrine or enjoying the summer break with her friends, but she still felt every shift, no matter how short, in her neck and shoulders afterwards.
She turned around the corner as her family's shrine came into sight. She was not looking forward to the climb up to the top of the temple and neither were her tender feet, but the bubble bath she would reward herself with after was more than tempting enough to make up for it.
To her surprise, as she approached the base of the shrine, she started when she realized someone was standing outside the shrine's entrance, leaning up against the fence as though he was waiting for someone.
She studied him as she approached. The feudal era had instilled a healthy sense of caution in her, but Tokyo was pretty safe overall and as the years had gone on, she'd become more and more lulled into complacency.
The man's suit was nicer than the average salaryman so Kagome subconsciously marked him down as someone likely in management. If he was waiting outside her family's temple, however, rather than driving by in a car, he probably wasn't upper management, unless he'd parked his car nearby and walked.
There didn't appear to be anything remarkable about his appearance, however. He had a fairly typical haircut for a man in his thirties and the wedding ring on his left finger wasn't anything elaborate, supporting her initial assumption that he was mid-management at best.
As she approached, the man turned to look at her and she caught sight of features that appeared more feminine than was popular for his age but in no way detracted from his obvious masculine beauty.
"Higurashi Kagome," the man said in a low rumble that seemed to rumble through her.
Their eyes met and suddenly the image of a typical mid-level manager shifted. Gone was the short black hair and brown eyes. In its place was long, silvery hair, tied back in a low ponytail at the base of his neck. Though there were no bangs to frame the crescent moon on his face, the markings drew her eyes immediately and she traced every single one of them before jerking her gaze back to his golden one.
The suit remained, as did the ring, and she couldn't help but wonder what had happened to him over the last five hundred years since she'd seem him last.
For there was no mistaking the yokai before her any more than than she could mistake the sardonic humor in his gaze.
"Sesshomaru." She could barely get the word out in her surprise. "How?"
Short note: this will be a fic with shorter chapters than many of my other stories, probably around 500-750 words an update. :)
"How indeed?" Sesshomaru rumbled as she gaped at him.
Kagome found herself reaching out to him with her own reiki, wanting to identify the source of his glamour. "You looked human a minute ago," she accused as she searched but now that the glamor had fallen, his own yoki lay beneath the surface, muddling her senses.
"Hnn. So I did," he agreed easily.
"I've never sensed you before." She wasn't sure if she was hurt or angry at that fact. Here she was, alone, in her own time, believing that she'd never get to see anyone again. After three years, she was relieved to see anyone—even if that someone was Sesshomaru—and yet it made her last three years even lonelier. If Sesshomaru had survived, why hadn't he sought her out? Why hadn't anyone?
Her overwhelming emotions didn't allow her much room to consider the fact that she and Sesshomaru had never been close, let alone friends, and so it was unlikely that he would have had a reason to seek her out in the first place.
"Or anyone else, for that matter, aside from Tatarimokke," she continued, unable to stop the rush of questions from leaving her lips. "Is everyone else using the same trick that you are? Do you know where other yokai are? I don't see Jaken or the dragon with you, and I haven't found Shippo no matter how hard I tried, but—"
"Kagome." He held up a hand to stop her, but her emotions were too high, too wrought, for her to stop now.
"Did I go back, Sesshomaru?" Her voice cracked as she felt tears well up within her. Though she'd tried her best to fit in here, she'd missed her friends back home. The well had been closed to her, but she knew she'd try to go back the moment she sensed its magic return—if it ever did.
What if she couldn't? What if she never knew how many children Sango or Miroku had or if InuYasha was happy now as a hanyo, knowing the jewel no longer existed to transform him? What if she never knew if Shippo became the great kitsune he'd wanted to be, or if he'd ever married or had children?
Despite herself, it was too much and her tears began to well up. "Did I?" she asked, her voice no more than a hoarse whisper. "Please, Sesshomaru. I need to know."
Without realizing it, she'd grabbed a hold of his suit with both fists, twisting the fabric as she buried her face in his chest. It was the wrong chest and the wrong man and yet it was oddly soothing to have him wrap his arms around her in turn.
"Yes," he finally said, sounding as though the words had been torn from his chest. "You find your way back, Kagome."
A/N: As many of you many already know, there were no chapters for any of my fics in November as I always participate every year to work on my own novels.
As it is, here's this month's chapter!
"Yes. You find your way back, Kagome."
Kagome wanted to sob with relief at his words. "I-I'm glad," she managed to get out, suddenly far too overwhelmed to process what that might mean. "When?"
There was an odd look in his eyes and though he was right in front of her, he seemed far away. "Soon," he answered calmly, but there was an odd undertone to his words that she couldn't quite place
"Soon?" she repeated, hating the lack of specificity. "Dammit, Sesshomaru,, don't you have something better than soon?"
He smirked. "Should I?" he retorted with that same arrogance she'd known so long ago. "Perhaps, but you forget, priestess, that I am not human and have never bothered to keep track of time as your kind has."
She licked her lip, accepting that answer even if she didn't like it. There was one other question she needed to know, at any rate, and she figured as long as she went back soon, it didn't matter if she knew the exact day or time. "A-are they all still okay? My friends, I mean."
He seemed to hesitate for a moment before admitting, "They are well enough, Kagome." He paused and looked at her with that odd expression again, almost as if he couldn't believe what he saw.
"What?" She stared back at him. "Is there something on my face?" She had eaten the onigiri with a bit too much gusto a little while ago and it would probably serve her right to be wearing sticky rice when she finally bumped into someone from that past.
And, of course, knowing Sesshomaru, he would never let her forget that, either.
Then again, I won't be here long for him to remind me. She wanted to rub at her temples. Time travel is confusing.
But to her surprise, he said, "No. It is simply odd to see you like this. You were dying when I last came to see you."
She recoiled at that thought, both at the thought of dying itself and the thought of Sesshomaru of all people showing up to her deathbed, especially when it sounded like she'd invited him to visit her. Next thing I know, he'll tell me Naraku came back from the dead and was there, too, to profess his undying love.
"I...died?" she repeated, struggling to process what he'd just revealed. She could only hope it was of old age and yet there was something in his expression that suggested otherwise.
He inclined his head. "Hnn."
"What happened?" Her throat suddenly felt too dry. "Was...was InuYasha there?"
Sesshomaru was silent for a moment. "This is not a conversation to be had here, Kagome," he said, instead.
She pressed her lips together but had to agree. Though it was late, anyone could walk by and overhear their conversation. "Did you want to come inside?" she asked and then wanted to kick herself. She could only imagine how her grandfather would react if she came home with a full yokai after how he'd treated InuYasha. "Or maybe not," she added, flushing a little as he stared at her."
"Join me for dinner," he said and though it was phrased more or less to be a request, it sounded more like a demand.
"Now?" She blinked.
Kagome tried not to fidget as their meal was served.
Sesshomaru had taken her not to a fancy restaurant, but rather to a cozy, quaint little restaurant that was almost hidden away from sight if you stood out on the street. The proprietor seemed to know Sesshomaru on sight, ushering them over to a quiet corner and bringing snacks and sake without being prompted, though he did request tea for Kagome, since she was still under the drinking age.
A fact that she'd never told Sesshomaru, so she wasn't entirely sure how he'd known.
But for all its simplicity, it was the perfect place to have a conversation without being interrupted. It was loud enough that they weren't likely to be overheard or bothered but not so loud that they couldn't hear one another easily.
Well, not so loudly that she couldn't hear Sesshomaru, at least. With his yokai hearing, she figured he wouldn't have any difficulty hearing her.
"You said that I died," she prompted immediately once they were alone. "What happened? Was InuYasha there, too?"
Sesshomaru took a moment to fill her tea cup and then his own cup with sake with careful, elegant gestures. "I will not tell you," he said simply, smiling a little at her ire. "I am already tempting fate and, as it is, it is not an outcome that I intend to allow to come to pass."
Kagome pressed her lips together as he began to serve her some of the dried meats and vegetables that had been left. "And just how do you plan to stop me dying, Sesshomaru?" Her eyes flicked to his waist which was free of the blades he once carried. A thought suddenly occurred to her—if he was going to all of this trouble, then clearly he hadn't been able to reverse or halt her death at the time. "Tenseiga didn't work, did it?" she guessed shrewdly.
Sesshomaru halted, his chopsticks still holding dried meat as they hovered not far from her own bowl. "No, Tenseiga did not work," he confirmed a moment later, setting the meat in her bowl. He didn't explain why his father's fang had been unsuccessful.
She sat back, a little stunned. "You want to change the past. That's dangerous, Sesshomaru!"
He didn't seem surprised by the sharpness of her statement, for it was more than a question. "I will change the past," he corrected her calmly. Now that her own bowl was full, he began filling his own. "Your death had far reaching consequences."
"Like what?" She gaped at him and then suddenly, everything made sense. "That's why there's no yokai," she said as the realization hit her. "I died and somehow that led to all of them dying out. Except for you."
"Except for me," he echoed, sounding far more wearied than she'd ever expected to hear. "And Tatarimokke, as you have already noted. If any others have survived the centuries with me, I have not been able to sense them."
Kagome exhaled, not even realizing she'd held her breath. "Why couldn't I sense you?"
"Eat." He waved his hand to her bowl before turning his attention to his own now full bowl.
She opened her mouth to protest but saw the look in his eye. He wouldn't speak further unless she began to eat and so, after a moment, she capitulated, though she hardly tasted anything.
It was only after she had several bites that he continued, "My own powers have weakened, but it has provided a necessary advantage. I am able to blend into your world so that any humans left with the ability to sense yokai would not. Between that and the kitsune glamor provided long ago, I am able to make do, more or less."
But it wasn't much of a life, though he left that unsaid.
"Just what exactly happened after I returned, Sesshomaru?" she prompted after he fell silent, his gaze flickering as he became lost to some memory or another.
He straightened as his gaze returned to hers. "As I have said, I will not tell you the details, Kagome."
She folded her arms across her chest. "Then just how do you plan on stopping it, Sesshomaru? After all, it's not like the you I'll meet when I return knows anything that is about to happen. Or did happen." She rubbed her temples. "Time travel is confusing."
"So it is." He chuckled dryly. "However, I have already planned for just such an occasion. Should you follow the plan I've created, I have no doubt that it will evoke the necessary change."
She waited, but he didn't elaborate. Instead, he once again was staring at her as though he expected her to simply vanish. "So? What's the plan, then?" she pressed after a moment, feeling more uncomfortable the longer he stared.
Instead of answering her, he nodded towards her partially eaten food. "Eat and drink first, Kagome. Then we will talk."
She sighed heavily. "I want you to tell me everything, Sesshomaru. I think I deserve to know."
He lifted a brow but remained silent.
"Sesshomaru!" She glared at him and to her surprise, a small smile spread across his face.
"It has been some time since you have scolded me," he confessed almost absently, oblivious to her astonishment at the revelation. "Eat, Kagome, and then we will talk."
Sensing she would get no more out of him for now, she grudgingly gave in, but resolved that she would have the answers she sought before the night's end.
Whether Sesshomaru liked it or not.
Sesshomaru refused to speak until after the check had been paid and she'd been ushered into his car.
He didn't take her back to the shrine, as she had expected, but instead turned towards the opposite direction.
"Where are we going?" she asked, curious. "Some place quiet we can talk?"
There was an odd quirk to his lips then. "There are few places left like that," he commented dryly, "if we do not wish to be overheard. I intended for us to have our conversation here."
"In the car?" She gaped at him, feeling more than a little awkward to have a conversation as serious as the one they were about to have in a car of all places.
No one she knew had a car, so it felt even more uncomfortable.
"Why not?" He moved his hand and the light caught on his ring.
"You're married?" she blurted, forgetting what she had intended to ask.
The half smile at his lips abruptly vanished. "No. I came close," he said flatly. "Once."
"Oh." She sank back against the car seat, feeling as though she'd pried when she shouldn't have. "I'm sorry, Sesshomaru."
"It was not your fault," he answered, his voice low. "I wear the ring as a promise."
She wondered what that promise was and to whom, but she didn't dare pry more. There was a strained look on his face now and and odd tightness in the way he clutched the steering wheel. "Um, so what's the plan, then, Sesshomaru?" she asked, awkwardly trying to change the subject. "For when I go back, I mean? You said you had one."
He drummed his claws absently against the steering wheel, careful not to puncture the leather. "I did," he conceded and if he was grateful for the change in conversation, he didn't show it.
"But you won't tell me anything about what happens," she prompted when he didn't immediately elaborate.
That odd humorless smile was back. "I cannot," he said lowly. "I will not. The risk is too great."
She felt like tossing her hands up in the air. How was it that this version of Sesshomaru was so much more infuriating than the one who'd tried to kill her in the past?
"Sesshomaru," she said, tapping back her irritation with all that she had, "I think you've stalled enough."
He sighed quietly. "Perhaps I have," he allowed and then said something that was too inaudible for her to hear. After a moment, he added, "Very well. But I fear that you will not like it."
"When you next go through the well," Sesshomaru said, his voice low, "it will be the last time. You will not be able to use it again."
Kagome processed that. At first, she'd always assumed the well would work indefinitely, but once she'd lost the jewel shards and couldn't return until Shippo had saved her, she'd realized its power was limited.
At some point, she would become stuck on this side of the well—or the other side.
"So once I'm in the past, you won't be able to help," she guessed, realizing then why he was taking the situation so seriously. "Well, this version of you, anyway."
He nodded. "The 'me' you meet when will be just as you remember him, Kagome, though you will find that he has made some changes in your absence."
She could already see there was differences between this version of Sesshomaru and the one she'd known in the past. She couldn't imagine, for example, the version she'd known before coming close to marriage.
He'd always seemed so aloof, determined to blaze a path for himself on his own.
"What sort of changes?" she asked, curious. "It's not like this is really a spoiler, Sesshomaru; I'll see what's changed the moment I get back," she added when he raised a brow.
"A fair point," he conceded with grace. "You will find Rin in the village by the well, under the care of the miko there. Jaken and I visit from time to time."
"She didn't keep traveling with you?" Kagome asked in surprise.
There was a small smile at his lips. "Rin has been at that village since you left it," he said, surprising her further. "It has been left up to her to determine her own course for her life."
Kagome sighed. "But you already know, don't you? How she's going to choose?"
Sesshomaru's expression suddenly went blank. "I do," he said flatly, "but I did not know then."
"You don't sound like you agree with her choice," she pointed out, both amused and concerned.
"It was never her choice that concerned me, only the ramifications of it," he said cryptically. "And no, I will not tell you what that choice was."
She sighed. "Spoilers."
"Spoilers," he agreed easily. "There have been other changes made in your absence, but those you will need to discover on your own so that you don't need to explain how you came into knowing them."
"I can't just tell past-you that I met future-you?" she said and then immediately felt silly referring to Sesshomaru as if he was two different people.
But Sesshomaru shook his head. "If you follow my plan, you will have no choice but to tell me, but your companions would not all be as understanding."
She digested that and hazarded a guess, "InuYasha?" She paused as he nodded. "I married him, didn't I?"
One of Sesshomaru's fingers twirled his wedding ring idly as he drove on. "I have said—"
"I know what you said!" she said, more sharply than she'd intended. "But dammit, Sesshomaru, you can't just send me back without knowing a damn thing about what I'm supposed to change so that I don't die."
"You married him," he confirmed as if the words had been torn from him, pulling over the car to the side of the road.
She opened her mouth and then shut it at the ferocity of his expression then, though he tried to hide it from her. She reached out without thinking and turned his head back to meet her gaze. "Just what are you hiding from me, Sessshomaru? This is my life; it's not a game. I don't care about a plan—I just want the truth. What happened after I married him? How did I die?"
Sesshomaru tried to pull back but she moved with him, uncaring that she was practically in his seat before he had nowhere to retreat.
"Kagome—" he began.
"Sesshomaru," she said, mimicking his exasperated tone. "I have traveled back and forth for months between that era and my own. I brought future items to the past to feed and help my friends and I met people I probably shouldn't have. I didn't set out to change anything, but defeating Naraku probably did change how things ended up. After all, before he died, there were no other yokai in this era. None. It was only after I went back that things began to change."
She lifted her chin. "So stop hiding the truth from me, Sesshomaru. What are you hiding?"
To her surprise, she felt his yoki rise as she tried to keep him pinned to his seat, though, true to his words, it wasn't as strong as he remembered.
"You think you can force my hand?" he ground out. "I have been examining what happened and making plans for centuries, Kagome. I will not risk your life nor anyone else's for answers that might change something."
She sat back as she threw her hands up in the air. "You want me to make changes, Sesshomaru!" she reminded him. "I can't change what I don't know needs to be changed!"
Sesshomaru opened the car door and stepped out.
Kagome hissed and opened her own door and followed him as he moved to lean against the guard rail at the side of the road. There was a forlorn look on his face and at once, her ire vanished.
"Sesshomaru." She put her hand on his arm. "I want to help. I do. But I need you to trust me."
He turned his face from her. "Would you still say that, I wonder, if you knew that the plan I have requires you to turn away from InuYasha...and to me?"
Kagome suddenly felt like the ground had fallen away under her.