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Fulgurite: a mass of fused sediment sometimes formed when lightning discharges into the ground

Eight-pointed star. That's what her name is. Was. Used to be.

She is no more thumbtacked to the heavens than the afterglow of moonlight skittering off his mokomoko.

Kagome sits still.

"Where are we?"

Her knees rock into the handsbreadth of dense emptiness between them. Water swallows her toes, unapologetic. It is cold.

"In a world between worlds," he tells her, like a seer. "In the space between planes of existence," he says, like the sages of ancient shrines.

He is neither.

He is stuck, like she is.

She is eighteen and she is not. She is a girl who fell into a well, and into a pearl, and into a meido, and into a sacred jewel, and into a cave, and this time she doesn't know how to fall out.

His mokomoko twitches. It is time to leave.

She finds the springs in her feet. The flip of a muscle, or two, or three, and she is up again, following him wherever the wind decides to mislead them. His footsteps are silent over the wildflowers he crushes, and hers are not. Her thonged wood sandals plant their stiffness on the earth and into the soles of her burning feet. She has learned not to wince. The tears inside flow deeper inside, under, up, over and into herself, like a mechanized waterfall. She thinks the life of eternal wandering is more suited for someone like Rin, someone like Inuyasha. She hears their laughter sometimes.

Sesshoumaru has never laughed since the day she awoke with her fingers brushing over the tips of his moon-dyed hair. He did not smile when she unsealed him from the yet unexplained sleeping spell he was under. He did not smirk when he learned that she, too, was forced into the wrongness of this timespace.

Neither, in fact, has she. The waves gasping at the shell of her ear are the kind of solitude that strips emotions away, and she hates that more than anything. It feels like the endlessness of the void inside the Shikon no Tama, like the shapeless darkness of the Bone Eater's Well with no blue skies or pinpoint lights to steal her breath on the other end.

The end of this world, she knows, is a tree. He doesn't know where the end of this world is.

So he stays. So she follows.

"We've been walking for days," she moans. "Can you really not smell her?"

"Humans cannot smell stars," he answers.

That is not an answer, and the eleven-year-old girl is still in a tree.

In another world, perhaps, Inuyasha is also pinned to a tree.

And in yet another world, maybe they are free of trees altogether.

"Miko," he calls— not Kagome, for it is neither too dark nor too bright for that yet— "what do you sense?"

The wind. The stars. The leaves.

Nothing, she does not say.

He pauses, scents the wind, glowers at the stars and…

She flares her powers, and the tree before them does not pulse loud enough in return.

It is not this tree.

The sky flickers. Lightning digs its talons up her feet. His sleeves flutter like kites on a string, and so do hers.

"Miko," he speaks again, interrupting her vision of nonexistent fireflies, for that is what her name is now, from his lips, from his cold.

"Kagome. It's Kagome."

"You drag your feet."

He says nothing else. They reach another tree. She says nothing else. They reach a pear tree.

He unleashes his whip, and she eats.

And he eats.

She thinks she should be more surprised. She thinks an awful lot more than she ever did in the years before and after Naraku.

She thinks of the battle in Naraku's body, of how she clung to Sesshoumaru's fur for dear life, the way she clings to her bow now. In another world, Naraku is but a thief. In another world, she never touched the tetsusaiga.

In another world, Rin is probably older. In another world, maybe, Rin is older and stuck in a tree.

Her shoulders slump with exhaustion, sending the recurve of her hama yumi jarring into the fullness of air with each step. The arrows packed within her quiver sway to the rhythm of half a hum and half a sigh. Blades of wild grass slice into her blistered skin. She keeps walking. He keeps wandering.

In another world, they could be friends.

He leads her to a louder tree. She presses the back of her hand to its scarred armor. Bark teeth scrape her knuckles. She feels it. She feels something.

She feels nothing useful.

She sighs.

He resumes his pace, walking, walking.

What time is it? There are still marionette stars dangling from the sky.

Another tree. She's either going to cry or scream.

She moves toward it. Her right foot seems to crack open— never mind, all of her has been cracking apart since she stumbled into this here— and her nails hover just inches from the calloused surface when a green whip splits another tree apart.

"Huh? But I didn't sense any power—"

He glares at her.

Oh. So he's lost it, too.

"We'll find Rin. Don't worry," she worries aloud.

Her answer comes in more dancing green lightning, dancing breathtakingly, dancing the wrong way. It's the flowers that get disembodied this time.


She fires an arrow in that direction— she doesn't know what direction, it's just that direction— and lights up the patch of nitrogen-oxygen-what-were-the-other-gases like a supernova. It doesn't help.

But he blesses her sight with more lightning, and she births more stars, and he splits the universe in thirds, and she runs out of arrows, and he watches her grope in the dark for slender traces of reiki, and when her weapons are back in their original places, they carry on.

"I think," she observes, after several beats of dead conversation, "the tree is not here."

He glances up towards the moon, presumably tracking something. Maybe there's a compass etched out of those craters on its face that mankind never bothered to imagine.

The moon stays mute, and he scorns its blank brightness. Kagome tells the stars to stop laughing.

They are getting nowhere, and Rin is still trapped in a tree and Inuyasha is still pinned to a tree, and they are stuck here together. She looks back because she knows he'll not tell her she shouldn't, and the wreckage they left behind bears silent testimony to their momentary madness.

It's not so bad, she thinks.

It could have been worse.

He walks, he walks, an elegant walk, and she nearly trips and nearly carves her stupidity into the ground.

He walks, he walks, she sighs, she does not cry.

And then the sun comes up and the stars and lightning are forgotten, and they walk through the sunstricken forest together.