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Nexus. [Sesshoumaru/Kagome on crack]



~ Nexus ~


From the lip of the well, its wood now smooth and slippery with ice, Kagome watches.

Snow is pretty. It is even prettier at night, when the frosty glitter of stars plays off a myriad tiny crystals and everything is covered in untouched, glimmering white. No contrasts, save for the clear line of the horizon where white meets the inky black of the night sky. No grey, just the sharp transition from light to dark, leaving no room for hidden meanings or blurry half-truths. No shadows apart from the black outlines of trees with bare branches, almost spidery in their nakedness but not quite.

Kagome tears her thoughts away from spiders, seeking the numb serenity of a few moments before. She could almost touch it, her personal nirvana, but again it has slipped from her grasp, replaced by thoughts of blood and love and spiderwebs in the dark.

White. His colour. The colour of purity and death.

Or maybe purity in death - in this world where demons roam and the buffer of civilization is almost nonexistent, the embrace of white is deadly to fragile human tissue.

But no, even here, death is never pure. Particularly here. It is a mess of blood and innards, human and youkai alike. It is a mess.

And a small part of Kagome wonders when her own body will become just that, a mess for someone else to clean up. A gooey shell, spilling out the soul to fly where it will, maybe even to the clay body that is a mirror of what she was and never wants to be again.

Cold. Broken. Alone.

A shadow on a pedestal too high to ever reach.

The dead one.

The one who holds the hanyou’s heart. It used to be more bitter, that particular thought, but Kagome is not the kind of girl who would let bitterness seep into her heart until it becomes a brittle, shrivelled thing. Instead, she hurts for Inuyasha whenever he reaches for the cold priestess, trembling like a chastised puppy, offering his love although he knows that he will never receive anything in return.

But Kagome hurts for Kikyo too, especially when she catches the clay priestess staring at the hanyou's face, and the dead mirror eyes hold a desperate wish for a feeling, any feeling other than the all-consuming bitterness that propels her through life. Even worse, they hold the knowledge there will never be any love as long as her heart is clay and her very life is fuelled by another's betrayal.

It's a sad thought that they (each one of them) are victims of a war that someone else started, long ago. They're mere infantry and the war is the long, drawn-out kind where all enthusiasm and hope have long withered in the face of an enemy with more lives than a hundred cats put together and an endless store of pure, unadulterated maliciousness.

There used to be a time when Kagome felt slightly heroic about it. Special. A time when she clutched her teenage love for Inuyasha to her heart and it gave her wings, this shivery butterfly ache in her soul, the knowledge that it was them against the world and it was so romantic.

But her hanyou turned out to be no Romeo after all. Besides, Juliet had already been and gone, a prettier version of Kagome with glossier hair and wiser eyes. Turned out that death didn't have the power to end this story and so Juliet came back as she had died: a bitter virgin.

Kagome hasn't told anyone, but sometimes she sees herself in dead Juliet's porcelain face. She'll clench her fists whenever it happens, and she'll mutter 'I'm not her,' over and over, but she won't cry.

She hasn't cried in a long time. She's getting numb, like all veterans do, because the forest is the same everywhere, Naraku is the same everywhere with his safe detachments and his comfortable cowardice, and her days are spent losing shards, recovering them only to lose them again... it's all blurring together and she can't bring herself to care.

There was a time when she was full of hope for victory... It took years for the despair to set in, but even though she secretly prayed for a quick death she understood even then that death was not enough.

What they truly need is an ending.

What they have, finally have again, is hope.

"Naraku will fall," Sesshoumaru has told her a few weeks ago, in that dignified tone of his which is at the same time faintly disdainful of anything he regards as beneath his notice. As of now that includes everything with the exception of Rin and the possible exception of herself, but only because he likes her shampoo. Kagome still isn't quite sure what his reasons are, but she does know that Sesshoumaru takes care of messes in his backyard. He's also made it abundantly clear that he also doesn't approve of sloppy or otherwise erratic thinking -- which hanyous with world domination plans are inherently guilty of.

But then again that's hanyous in general, at least if you ask Sesshoumaru and he bothers to answer you. Also, Naraku has curly hair and smells of baboon and beeswax. Sesshoumaru doesn't approve of either and so he'll do what he has always done when something displeased him (with the exception of Inuyasha who is family and therefore allowed to be dead annoying instead of merely dead): he'll take care of the problem.

Kagome allows herself a small tentative smile.

Someone is lifting her down from her wooden perch and the white hair that flutters across her face smells of citrusy girl shampoo. For a moment she feels weightless, which is nice. And then she feels warm, because he's cradling her close.

"You have to decide, Kagome," Sesshoumaru rumbles in her ear.

His chest is flush with her spine. Or rather his abdomen is, because he is so much taller. The silky veil of his hair is so light it ripples even in the slight breeze, giving shape to the shifting currents around them. A few strands are tickling her ear.

Kagome closes her eyes, recalling an offer she still doesn't quite believe -- or understand.

"Your life, bound to mine. Your death as well." There was a stillness about him, but instead of his usual indifference it carried a sense of tension. "This Sesshoumaru will not die."

Ever? She'd wanted to ask but didn't. She hadn't really wanted to know.


"Do you still... Do you still mean it?" She feels silly asking that.

He says nothing, because she should know by now that he doesn't do anything he doesn't mean to. And it seems she understands after all, because after a while she leans into him and her head falls back against his silk-clad chest. She startles a little as she merely encounters the softness of cloth over skin instead of the hard bone armour she expected but it doesn't take her too long to relax into him until she is mere weight, slack and boneless.

He won't let her fall. He never does.

But he never gets mushy about it either and she does, in that secret corner of her heart that's still fourteen and starved for the kind of romance that comes with insecure glances and light touches and butterflies.

She ponders that while she watches warm air leave her mouth as a cloud of vapour and notices that unlike hers, his breath does not condense in the frigid air. And yet it is there, a chill, faint wind across her cheek.

He nuzzles her temple, his perfect mouth cold and marble-like to the touch even while his breath wafts over the small rounded shell of her ear.

"Kagome."

She doesn't want to think, but she recognizes the tone -- the Lord of the Western Lands means business. "Mhm?"

"Have you thought about my proposal," he demands again, calmly, as if her answer were of no consequence one way or the other. And in the great scheme of things it probably isn't, but to the both of them and the rest of their little circle...

Kagome knows she will be more resilient. She will heal better. She will not be a better miko but she will be a tougher human. A considerable advantage if she considers her current situation -- her scars have increased in number over the last few years and they are aching even now, the hardened pathchwork tissue tugging at the healthy skin.

And then she thinks of dying one day, without warning or preparation. Maybe it will happen during a bath and she'll slip gently into the water that will close over her head, completing her erasure from the world. Maybe during lunch, or in her sleep, she'll be extinguished like a candle flame, frail and gone in an instant. Most probably she'll die in battle, surprised by the sudden darkness and faintly thankful.

Only in her worst nightmares she sees herself go on, and on and on, unchanging while everything around her withers and falls. She sees herself (and him) shedding memories like birds do feathers until all that is Kagome will be gone and all that is Sesshoumaru will have crumbled as well and they will both be empty and blind and purposeless, waiting for an end or perhaps making one.

Not that it matters. In little things Kagome is selfish, but not in this. Her friends have been growing numb, stretched so thin that they look nearly transparent. She is growing numb. She feels hollow, less than she used to be. The Shikon still calls to her, but nowadays it merely seems a cruel taunt.

An ending, she remembers. For better or for worse, they need an ending.

"Yes," she says therefore, slowly, as if waking from a mildly unpleasant dream. "Yes," she repeats, with more conviction. As she turns her head to look up at him, all doubts have fled. She's surprised to find that she feels like a great burden has been lifted.

"Do it," she says easily, and finds that her breezy calm annoys him the way her worst insults never managed to as he turns her around -- none too gently -- to face him.

"You do not know what it is you are accepting," Sesshoumaru murmurs against her temple, feeling her heartbeat pulse against his lips, warm and deep and human beneath the cold surface of her pearly skin. So giving, her heart.

So selfish, his.

"It is a gamble then," Kagome says wearily. "We've had worse odds, before. And you are..." invincible, she wants to say, even though it isn't true. But his utter self-assurance is contagious nevertheless, and his battle prowess is nothing compared to the intricate workings of one of the most brilliant minds among youkai and humans alike.

No, Sesshoumaru isn't invincible, even less now that he's learning, reluctantly, what caring is. But he is strong enough to instill hope even in those who are trapped in this dark broken jumble of lost chances and personal tragedies. And so they’ve accepted him, the taijiya with the bleeding stump of a heart, the monk who carries a void inside and still manages to be both wise and lecherous at the same time although there really is no point, and even his own brother who is neither but who has this endless stamina when it comes to bashing his head against walls that are too hard to ever break.

And that's all right, really, because all Sesshoumaru needs is a tiny crack.

Of course there is also the corpse, and the child, and above all this fragile human girl with her candyfloss heart and the incredible capacity for greatness. And he wonders if he even has the right to bind her fate to his the way he intended to, to condemn her to enduring while everything around them falls prey to death and decay, but if Sesshoumaru has one vice then it is selfishness -- and so he will, because she agreed. (He will never, ever, force Rin to make the same choice; he wants Rin to be happy more than he wants to keep her with him.)

"You are foolish," he says in that level tone of his that always sounds a little like it carries the potential of impending death.

She grins up at him. "Quite. But you offered. And I accept."

Sesshoumaru cradles her closer still, and for just one instant he wishes for two arms -- before he remembers that the useless stump that remains of his left arm is the only reason she is still there, alive and warm beneath his touch.

He would do more, to her and for her, but there is a cry of "Kagome!" and then a small warm bundle of kitsune is suddenly in her arms, clinging and crying and smelling like sugar and milk. Kagome hugs the kit to her, murmuring soothing nonsense and trying not to be moved to tears herself by his obvious distress.

"H-he killed you!" Shippo wails, and Kagome knows he means Naraku, knows Shippo saw it all in gory detail in his childish mind, watched tendon and bone rip and splinter just like he saw his parents being torn apart before his eyes.

"Shippo," she says brokenly, because even demon children shouldn't have to dream of carnage and loneliness and after all he is hers in all ways that matter. And just like the fierce tenderness her grief is that of a mother, even if the feelings seem too large for her young body to contain and too tainted with anger to belong to the miko she is supposed to be. But then again, although she has never given birth she's mother first and priestess second; for this one moment the tiny boy clinging to her is her whole universe.

That is, until a large clawed hand settles on the fox's red locks and Sesshoumaru smirks arrogantly into the wide green eyes that turn to him.

"This Sesshoumaru will never let any harm come to you," he says quietly, tactfully refraining from any allusion to shampoo, conditioner or any other modern marvels that might require him to keep Kagome alive and happy, "neither of you." And even though his smile is thin and sharp like the curve of a blade the boy returns it with a cute fanged grin of his own, distress forgotten in the face of such a precious promise.

As if that weren't surprising enough the Lord of the Western Lands briefly lays his hand on Shippo's head, turning a blank face to Kagome when the little fox gives a strangled giggle of shock and surprise.

"Sesshoumaru," Kagome stammers, blushing because his lips are entirely too close to her own. He doesn't respond, at least not in words. He has never been one to fill uncomfortable silences with talk anyway, but he knows when actions are required and so he kisses her. Deeply, and with less finesse than she has grown to expect from someone as controlled as him.

Dimly, she wonders why they never kissed like this before. Wonders why it feels so new and consuming all of a sudden, why the lime scent of him affects so much more than the taste buds that leap to life at the touch of his cool lips and clever tongue.

It is because she really can't help herself that Kagome's own tongue slips almost shyly between ivory fangs. His mouth is as hot as his skin is cold. It scorches her, the fresh and spicy sweetness that is Sesshoumaru, and in her arms a thoroughly shocked Shippo giggles again, bringing small hands up to his face while still peeking through spread fingers, nightmare now thoroughly forgotten.

It is Sesshoumaru who finally lifts his head, but not without a last nip at her lower lip.

Dazed, Kagome looks down to see that the youkai lord's one-armed embrace encircles Shippo too, and for once his slanted gold eyes are a tiny bit softer as the child mimicks their kiss with grimaces and smooching sounds, eyes squeezed shut and lips smacking in a mockery of their previous abandon.

Kagome smiles.

There will come a time when nothing will be left of her but a mind like a sieve and a mere husk of memory in an eternally youthful body. A time when she will no longer live but rather exist, surrounded by ghosts and shreds of lost thoughts.

And she doesn't know how or why, but she simply knows that whatever else might fade, at the end of the world she will still recall a glint of gold in the darkness and the echo of the fox-child's laughter.

~fin~

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
a_hollow_year
Dec. 3rd, 2004 07:45 pm (UTC)
I feel all hollowed out and empty now, but not, which is just what good writing should do.

*adds to memories*
technoelfie
Dec. 5th, 2004 04:50 am (UTC)
And I'm perversely glad it affected you that way. ♥
x_rika_x
Dec. 3rd, 2004 09:04 pm (UTC)
Since I suck at wording things, I'll just say it left me in an almost indescribable mood. Apathetic, yet hollow and somewhat melancholic, yet contemplative.

An excellent piece, which shall be put amongst memories and possibly be saved into my computer in case I ever lost touch with you. This is something I'd rather not forget.
technoelfie
Dec. 5th, 2004 04:52 am (UTC)
Wow.

Well, I suck at expressing my thanks, but your comment made me happy (for what it's worth).
dreaming_aeryie
Dec. 4th, 2004 08:00 am (UTC)
This was lovely. All tender and painful, but ending with a smidge of hope. Also, all the bits about shampoo just made me smirk a little.

Sigh. Your art is beautiful, and so are your fics. You post your writings rarely, but when you do, they're keepers. Thankoo!
technoelfie
Dec. 5th, 2004 04:55 am (UTC)
Well, if Sesshoumaru would ever have an addiction, I suppose it would be to shampoo.

I know I write rarely. It's because putting words together is so much harder to me than drawing it's not even funny. And, uh, thank you!

hana_ginkawa
Apr. 20th, 2005 06:01 pm (UTC)
Beautiful.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )