The sound of her name was a soft whisper in the back of her mind, like a call muffled by the wind. It was the sound of a distant memory, a voice that she had started to forget but desperately clung to all the same. It was her mother’s voice, twisted in the sorrow of her lost daughter. Afterall, Kagome banished without a trace. She vividly remembered those moments, the way the day had begun, what she had for breakfast and the last thing she had said to her mother. It was haunting, those memories, because it was like any other time she had slipped between worlds. She had woken, listless, because she had no purpose outside of school. She could find a job, and was scheduled for an interview that day. Her heart hadn’t been in it, but it was what she needed to do.
She remembered the feeling of dread, sucking it up and giving herself a pep talk that she could do this. That she could progress in the life that she was meant to now that things had been settled in the past. Of course, she had the lingering feeling that she no longer belonged in her own time or her own life. Not with everything that she had left behind.
Kagome remembered the feeling of the wood beneath her fingers, the way her hand had curled into the handle to slide the door open. She remembered that she paused, turning to her mother with a bright and vibrant smile as she shook herself from her stupor. ”I’m taking off.” She remembered how strong her voice sounded, the smile on her mother’s lips as her eyes shone with pride. Her mother bade her farewell, which didn’t seem any different than before but somehow the weight of the words settled in heavier on Kagome’s shoulders the more she reflected.
Briefly, the thoughts flickered forward, wondering if her mother worried over her, missed her like she did. Kagome could openly admit that her mother’s strength, her support for the fact that her daughter slipped through time so frequently. There were times when she thought herself weak for not having the woman to lean on.
However, she remembered that she did muster up a meager amount of strength.She could remember the shift in the air, the temperature notably different than what she had expected, blinking at the sudden and unfamiliar surroundings. It was not her family’s shrine. And when she turned to go back, to slip through the door she had come through, she was met with unfamiliar and cold metal beneath her fingertips and an interior that was not the entrance of her house. A man stood before her, behind a counter, who stared at her with eyes as wide as her own.
She didn’t panic, at least. Being torn through time and placed in impossible situations at least built your willpower as far as strange happenings went. Because it wasn't every day that someone found themselves dragged into the past by a demon, intent on ripping a powerful jewel from their body that they didn't even know was there. And then there was the fact that she had shattered said powerful jewel into who knows how many pieces and was tasked on finding them. Such things were not normal, and she had needed to square up and roll with it once she realized that was her reality. It had seemed so simple, just gather the shards and fix the jewel.
But it hadn't been easy, there were many demons after the shards and the jewel itself. And one particularly powerful demon with a wish that he was determined to see fulfilled. To this day, she had never learned his wish but knew it had never been granted even once he had the blasted thing completed. He had ruined so many lives for the sake of nothing. Ruined so many lives for such a futile task. Naraku had been the most difficult foe, and the one who had been the center of everything that had gone wrong in all of her friend's lives.
But, it was that unpredicability, that necessity to roll with what was happening and the willpower that she had gained from her adventure that she remembered drawing upon to come up with a story that fit in the moment that didn't seem too whimsical or far fetched. She needed to be believed, she needed to survive.
Afterall, she faced worse than a man in a camera store. She had lied through her teeth to save her life before.
”I was looking for a job.” In the end, it wasn’t a complete lie. After all, she had set out of her house with the intent of attending a job interview. Her state of dress would at least attest to that much. It was one of the easier fibs she had ever told.
And, for some reason, that crazy man hired her.
Kagomed rolled over in her bed as she pushed back the distant memories, refusing to acknowledge that she was really awake. She clawed at the last glimpses of sleep, begging it to return and to take her back into its embrace. She closed her eyes, willing sleep to come and was only met with memories. The echoes of a song sang in the distance of her memories, a song that had often tormented her, given the same name as her. The voice that sang was no longer reminiscent of her mother, but the voices of children who she had often played with growing up. They called back the memories, even though it had been years since she started this live, even though she was happy in this life, the call of these memories was too loud.
Suddenly, she was falling back into them and sleep evaded her again. She was watching herself in her family’s embrace while Inuyasha was pulled back into the well, looking as startled as she had felt. The memories of that moment, those feelings, were still so strong. The feeling of heartbreak and sorrow welled up again though it had been so long since she had felt like she had been ripped away from everything that mattered to her.
Of course her family mattered, and she was happy to be in their arms again. She could never fully, truly describe how she had felt in those days. She still couldn’t explain the way she felt split in two, with warring desires to be in both her past and present. She remembered the futile attempts to jump through the well, fingers clawing at the ground in a desperate plea to let her return. The first month home, she didn’t sleep so much as she cried.
Elysion had garnished a similar reaction, though it was not so fierce because she didn’t know exactly where she had slipped through nor did she know where she could worm her way back. Her explorations were subtle between working her job and trying to settle herself into this life. She had no intentions of staying, no intentions of lingering longer than she needed. And while she didn’t try as fiercely as she had when she tried to return to the past, her passion was tenfold because she had no ties to this world. Because she was truly alone… With no hope of anyone to reach her.
In her irrational moments, she thought the Jewel had pulled her back and found a new hell for her to reside in. A new hell that would force her to make a wish, but she remembered very clearly that she had wished it gone forever. That didn’t stop her dreams, the times when she woke up in the night sobbing. And those memories of her past were the hardest to deal with, the hardest to forget. Her heart began to race in a panic as she turned in her bed again, her breath became a struggle as she fought against a panic attack induced by her wandering mind this late into the night.
She hated feeling so weak, so afraid.
Kagome finally pulled herself from bed, her room lit with a pale light that was enough to guide her to the bathroom. She stood before the mirror, the sink running while she stared at her reflection. Raven colored hair covered her face and she felt as bad as she looked. Her first morning in Elysion was similar to this, only she was in worse shape.
She had found a place to sleep, managing to work out a deal with the owner of the building to allow her to stay a small period of time without paying. Perhaps it had been Miroku’s influence that allowed her to strike such deals, as the monk was known for his way in charming (or scamming) people into giving them more than enough for the work they had done. The monk had always been that way, since they had first met. He would claim the dwelling of a lord to be haunted when it was not or, claim that they were subject to an attack when they would not be. He would sell his wards and charms for such high prices. It worked practically every time and she wondered why people had been so willing to trust him.
Perhaps it was his smile, or the fact that he was a monk that the people of the past were so willing to crumble. He never preyed on the weak, at least. He always did what was right and he was a symbol of strength to her at times when he would push through everything in order to do what was right. He pushed through the fact that he was dying, that he was cursed, and tried to do something about it rather than wallowing in his fate. He had pushed himself to the limit in the time leading up to their final fight. And she had been glad that they had defeated Naraku before he could become subject to the same fate as his father, and his father before him.
As far as her own charms went, however, she was more fair than her friend and made the deal reasonable. She doubted that anyone in this world would pay a hefty price for an exorcism or banishing demons. They were too technologically advanced for that. But she was clever enough, and smart enough, to make a good deal.
But now, Kagome was in a better place though the look on her face looked the same. Haunted, tired, drained...
A quick glance at a clock on the wall told her that she could try to sleep longer. But she opted out of that, not wanting to face the flashbacks again. She took a shower instead, using the cold water to chase away her demons, to fill her lungs with a sharp intake of breath and force herself awake.
It didn’t work.
Not in the way she was wanting. The cold water certainly forced the air into her lungs, forced her mind to wake and muscles to seize. A bitter laugh was pulled from her lips as she tilted her head back and found herself remembering more. Today, she wasn’t going to escape them so easily. She wasn’t going to recover so simply, to recover just because she willed it.
Sometimes, there’s no avoiding the thoughts you wanted to. Even when you were certain that you were past them.
Sango would have been a great help in this situation. The demon slayer was her best friend, she would even go as far as to call her the sister that she never had. An older sister who was wise, always had her side when trouble arose. Particularly boy trouble, when such things were rather trivial but it was fun to have a crush and for her friend to be mad on her behalf when Inuyasha made her sad. After all, it had been often that the half-demon would run to his dead lover's side and break her heart more than once.
But, Sango also inspired her in other ways. After all the woman had faced, she had always been so strong, so sure... Even in the times that she had doubted herself, she always pulled through. She admired that she had the ability to survive after losing her whole family -- the reminder of this often pushed Kagome to survive, because she lost everyone to this world -- and then having her brother become a pawn of Naraku. It wasn't easy, couldn't have been something to that just anyone could face and still go forward with. She still smiled, even with that pain and those reminders... She was often so bright, even in the darker times.
And right now, she wanted to lean into the older woman's side, to take comfort in the fact that she was there and she was supportive. She felt that Sango would somehow pull through this, and offer some words of strength and understanding. It was times like these that made these spells worse, the constant reminder that she was without her family.
”I don’t want to be alone.” She cried aloud in her solitude, the sound of the shower drowning out the plea.
She wasn’t afraid to admit it.
Another hour had slipped by before she had realized it. Her skin was cold from the water and it felt like ice ran through her veins. She hadn’t realized she had begun to shiver until her hand reached to turn off the water and end her shower. Kagome didn’t seek her own gaze in the mirror again, instead, she wrapped herself in towels and trudged out of the bathroom, up the stairs and into her kitchen. She started on making a light breakfast, idly reading through her notes for the day as the food cooked.
Her career was really taking off these last years. Her photos were featured in many galleries, her name started to frequent many lips for those who were interested in photography.
The job she had asked for on a whim had sparked it all. She had been far more lucky than she had expected to be in this world. Never lucky enough to slip back through the cracks into her own world, but lucky enough to do well. As she turned back to the stove, she remembered the time she had finally given up on returning home. It was about two years into her life here, as she had started to venture into photography as more than just a hobby but something she could make a name for herself with.
That day had been particularly pleasant, the sun was high in the sky and she had found herself taking some photos of the natural scenery. A little boy had hidden in one of the plants, and she had caught a picture of the moment his face had settled into a cheerful, mischievous grin the moment before he had jumped out to startle his prey. It reminded her of Shippou, the little kitsune she had, essentially, adopted. He, too, had been torn from his family when they had first met. His father killed and he was determined to avenge him. While young, he did seem so mature in their first encounters.
Maybe it had been the influence of Inuyasha that allowed the kit to act like a kid again, to be young and whimsical at times while others he was more mature. He offered comfort to her in his own way, and she tried to care for him as she would her own though she had been so young then as well. However, her youth did not stop her from understanding how to tend to him or care for him like her child. Her heart swelled when he smiled, when he had been so happy for his gift of crayons and took the time to make art. She was so proud of each drawing that he had finished that she knew that this was how a mother would feel in such a situation.
The pain that had ripped through her was too much, too sudden. She missed him and wanted to see how much he had grown since she had been gone. She had missed so much...
To spare herself any further pain, any false hopes… She gave up. And focused on bettering herself.
Breakfast tasted bland, boring, and inspired. Only after she had finished did she realized she had forgotten to any sort of spices or flavor to the food. It was too late now to remember that much, as her mind was too busy remembering other details of her life that clearly had become more important than her food.
Of course, nothing happened when she had angrily yelled at one particularly frustrating client that reminded her of the half-demon. He was being particularly stubborn and rude, wanting a photo taken his way rather than letting it work out naturally. You could try to force wild animals to behave how you wanted. But, rarely did anyone succeed with force. Inuyasha wasn’t as bad, however. Inuyasha had learned before she had been forced away from him. He had become gentler, more understanding, more mature though there were times he was still childish and cocky.
She remember how red her cheeks had burned, but how she stood her ground and fired him. She told him she refused to work for anyone or with anyone who wanted to twist something beyond it’s nature, beyond it’s own desires.
She should have compared the man to Naraku rather than Inuyasha. Though her client did not have such extreme intentions. At least the feeling afterwards was a pleasant memory. The freedom of knowing that she had come so far that she could refuse work that she didn’t want to do, to be her own person that was independent of others. She could say that she made it at that point. Even though she heard rumors days later with words meant to slander her.
She defended herself righteously, like she did towards the end of her journey. After all, she was the only one who could protect herself in this world.
Morning light began to creep into her home, reminding her again of the passage of time. Again, she considered the list of things she had to do and debated on where to start. Or, if she should even start at all. With how the day began, she didn’t know if she could consider that a great idea. It was doubtful that she would be successful with how lost in herself she was becoming.
She didn’t want to mess up her latest work. Because she had done that on a few occasions before. It wasn’t pleasant to try and recover from a complete disaster.
Kagome remembered the feeling of her expensive, brand new, camera slipping from her hands. She wasn’t prepared to support it, because she had just removed it from her bag. Part of her screamed on the inside. A dramatic, over-the-top, full on scream that she frequently did when she was much, much younger. When she was struggling to make it through middle school while hopping between times. The other part of her had remained frozen in place while her lense completely shattered and the rest of the camera had broken along with it.
Seeing Inuyasha’s brother, a full demon, standing before her was the last thing she expected when she had made her way out for her photos. He stood as proud as ever, as tall as ever, as imposing as she remembered. He didn’t look fazed at all to be in an entirely different world, though she was never the best at reading his mind. His name on her lips was so potent, that she could remember the tiniest feelings as she did. Her lips were chapped, her mouth felt dry, and the bubbling feeling of anxiety in her stomach made her feel sick.
She didn’t want her hopes to be up.
But, she wanted him to be there, even if they were not friends. They were allies, if anything, since they had fought side by side. And something was better than absolutely nothing.
And Kagome had the sense enough not to throw herself at him, to wrap her arms around him in relief that knowing she was not alone. Her camera no longer mattered when she approached him. She remembered that nothing else mattered for days as she spent time with him, not speaking of their world but speaking (or, she was speaking and he simply acknowledged that fact).
When, exactly, she fell for him though… Kagome couldn’t recall. It was a subtle thing, just like he was. But she knew the feeling was there. And he let her know that she was not alone in the fact that she had fallen, that feelings had somehow blossomed.
A feeling of weightlessness overtook her and suddenly her eyes opened while her mind desperately clawed for the last thing she was doing. She didn’t recall when she had fallen asleep on her couch, but she knew the last place she had been was on the far too comfortable cushions. She didn’t struggle, however, or fight the weightlessness as she was in familiar arms. Her head tilted against Sesshoumaru’s chest, taking comfort in the fact that he was here and she wasn’t alone.
”Welcome back.” His response was a soft hum in acknowledgement. He didn’t need to speak much for her to understand his intent, or the rest of what he had to say.
He carried her back to her bed, settled her into it with ease. Her eyes met his and she smiled easily because no more memories drifted back, no more recollections teased at her. No, whenever he was near, she never fell back into those thoughts. He had helped, and the years had helped. Today was just… One of those days.
”Sleep.” He commanded with ease, her eyes rolled at him but she did not fight because she was tired. Her hand clung tightly to him, while she felt his opposite hand press to her forehead in assessment of her wellbeing.
”I’m okay,” she said, her words firm with her promise.
She was okay. She was alive. And she was happy.