Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Coming Back Home

With a sudden clarity, Sesshoumaru understood that Kagome had not changed; She had remained, even through the years of the most dreadful war, her pure and happy self, her eyes shining with that sweet innocence and selflessness. Perhaps, he mused, the Higurashi shrine did provide some sort of spiritual protection, encasing her soul so that that wildfire that was her spirit would not go out.

But he had changed.

"...Fluffy?" He heard Kagome call out his nickname when they had been neighbors—the Higurashi and the Taisho were once neighbors. It had been because of his tail.

It had been when standing out meant being special and being cherished.

He turned to look down at her. Strange, to think that they had used to be the same height, his silver long hair trailed behind him and her ebony hair trailed behind her.

After so many years, Kagome had remained petite, but Sesshoumaru had become tall. Taller, even, than his father, who stood at six one.

"Sesshu?" Kagome asked, a bit hesitantly, unsure of what Sesshoumaru was thinking of. She remembered when they had played together, and they had been the closest of the closest friends, no matter that they were at an age where boys caught cooties from girls.
When she had waited eagerly at the airport to pick up Sesshoumaru, she had remembered the little boy with curious eyes. He had said whatever was on his mind.

But, now, she could tell that something was on his mind by his unfocused eyes that gazed into memories that

Kagome was no longer so sure that he would be willing to share with her. For some reason—probably her naïveté—Kagome had always expected the same Fluffy that had left to come back. Now, she felt a bit lost and unsure.

Sesshoumaru did come back from the war safely, though, Kagome had to remind herself. And she would not lose a friend to the memories of war, no matter how horrifying or overwhelming.

"Ses—shy?" She called again and nudged at his arm gently when he still didn't respond.

Well, she certainly received a response from her nudging.


Sesshoumaru had flinched from her touch. When they had given each other a farewell hug and promised each other a reunion hug, he had flinched from her touch.
It made Kagome wonder if war was really that harsh.

"Don't touch me," Sesshoumaru's voice grated out. His voice had deepened and became more beautiful during that years that they had not seen each other, but it had also become cold. Cold like ice. Cold and distant and beautiful like the silver moon on winter nights.

Because he had become beautiful in that ethereal, majestic sort of way. Kagome had never thought about his appearance when they had been friends—and she was no longer so sure that he hoped for a continuation of the friendship—but now...

When Sesshoumaru had walked out of his gate, dressed in his traditional patterned gi and his tail draped over his like an extremely fluffy boa, he had seemed like an avenger samurai from novels of the feudal era, when youkai frightened humans and there were no human-youkai treaties.

But his golden eyes used to be the color of honey, of sweet childhood excitement. Now, it had hardened into an opaque stillness, reflecting everything without and showing nothing within. He stared as if suspicious and untrusting, and it hurt in a way that Kagome had never thought it would hurt.

Sesshoumaru had been her bestest of best friends, and she had waited eagerly for the day when Sesshoumaru would come back and their friendship would continue.

Only, it seemed as if Sesshoumaru hadn't come back. Instead, a beautiful stranger had taken his place and come back to a home that he did seem to truly want to come back.

Kagome wondered—Did Sesshoumaru really want to stay in the war which that newspapers had already started dubbing "the hellhole"?
Sesshoumaru saw the hurt in Kagome's eyes from his withdrawal. It was not just her facial expression or her shoulders that drooped; Her eyes had reflected her hurt with a sudden shadow cast upon it.

So expressive.

Even as a child, Kagome had been wonderfully expressive and truthful. She hid no thoughts or feelings, and he always knew when she tried.

Like now, she turned her face away slightly, not wanting him to know the hurt.

But he did and he hurt, too, because he had always considered Kagome someone he should protect. She was four years his junior, and only twelve when he had left to fight in the war. Now, she was eighteen.

And compared to her, he felt as if he was eighty.

He felt the apology slipping out of him, but it stuck at the tip of his tongue. In six years, he had learned not to apologize and not be sorry. If he hadn't, he would have long ago exhausted from regret.

He could still see the eyes of the men whom he had killed. Because so few youkai existed anymore, many of the armies he had fought against consisted completely of humans.

Once, he had killed at whole section of them single-handedly with his poisoned claws. If he thought too much, he would still see men falling helplessly, crumbling into dying heaps. Other men had realized to late—they opened their mouths to scream, but their voice cords had been ripped out along with their throats. The blood had sprayed everywhere, so that even those who had died of his toxic gas seemed to have wounds.

Ah, those who had died of his toxic gas... The green haze covered them, and the acid ate away at their clothes and guns before their dysfunctional minds even realized it. Then, they would wheeze and choke in their absurd attempts to gain oxygen, but it would only make them ingest the toxin faster. Their eyes bulged out, white from shock, and most of them had twisted their bodies in a grotesque shape because of their pain before they finally died, convulsing in pain.

How he wished he was back at the front again, to be able to control so precious as thing as life. He had snuffed hundreds out by his mere whim, and it had filled him with a terrible exhilaration.

He looked at Kagome, and then he would remember the shame of it, too. Because truly, what had the opposing soldiers done to Sesshoumaru.

Nothing more than to be on the opposing side. And Sesshoumaru supposed that that was enough.

He had seen instances where soldiers did not accept the morbid fascination with death, and instead ran away from sanity into the realms beyond. Sesshoumaru had sought to escape that fate.

And he did.

Only, he had changed. Hardened, some would say, but Sesshoumaru thought that it went far deeper than that.
You can say that bread hardened, but it would still be bread. Sesshoumaru had trouble remembering the boy he had once been.

And as much as he sought it, he could not find that bond that had tied him so closely to Kagome.

He could no longer befriend Kagome, and in a strange way, it was as if he had accepted that as fact a long time ago, when he joined the war: Kagome would remain loving in innocent while he would become a murderer.

And as much as he felt as if he should apologize to her, he didn't want to cause her further pain. If he severed the friendship—no, the friendship had already been severed—If he let her know that the friendship was no more now, she would get over it at once and endure less pain than if he let her hope foolishly, pointlessly.

So instead of his apology, he bit out, "If you have something to say, say it. Otherwise, don't waste my time."

He could smell the salt of her tears.
Kagome swallowed hard. She didn't want her reply to come out garbled. She felt as if this would be last meaningful thing she would tell him. She wanted it to be something honest, even if it would be his last memory of her. Especially if it would be his last memory of her.

"I liked you," she started. "And I was you friend. And I worried when you decided to leave for war. I waited... I waited for you return so that you would have a home to return to. I knew that you had never been very close with Inuyasha, and since you father had already passed away, I thought that it might be nice for me to welcome you home.

"I had hoped that we could continue our friendship. I wasn't stupid. I knew that you weren't going to be the same—nobody can live through something like that and not change. But I had hoped that you would still accept my friendship.

"But maybe not..." Kagome trailed off, unsure of what she wanted to say next.

"I don't need your friendship." Sesshoumaru rose from his chair in one graceful movement. "Nor do I want it. Waste it on somebody else."

Kagome watched helplessly as Sesshoumaru walked toward the door and exited the room. She added quietly to his back as he paused at the doorway, "If you ever change your mind, I'll be here."


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