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Wisteria by MissTeak

A Crimson Awakening

Standard disclaimers apply.

A/N: Thank you for all the reviews as always, my dear friends! This chapter is dedicated to my dear friends Aoi-Kaji and Madison for being so supportive as always.

There will be major angst and equally major fluff ahead, because I have grown a little tired of angsty Kagome and this chapter will be her last chapter of pain and suffering for this arc. Kagome gets her wakeup call here, and I hope you enjoy the read.

Title: Wisteria

Chapter 52: A Crimson Awakening

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She did not know how long she took to recover physically, but she eventually did. Even her most severe injuries were well on their way to recovery. Her right hand had healed perfectly, though some of the fingers in the left were still bandaged due to having been broken. Caught in a bubble of self-denial and angst, Kagome watched blankly as time – a lot of it- slipped by. Sometimes she was vaguely aware of the fact she was laughing or smiling when others made efforts to cheer her up; sometimes she found herself sobbing away or feeling the need to lock herself up somewhere.

The bipolarity in her behavior was getting more and more extreme, and it was fluctuating at a greater frequency than ever.

Sometimes she knew she was being difficult for everyone around her; sometimes she was being difficult without herself knowing it. Sesshoumaru would always try to accompany her and feed her meals prior to her right hand’s recovery, but still, being a lord with responsibilities, he could not always be there. Then she found herself vehemently wishing he could drop all his responsibilities just to stay by her side. Maybe she could scream and wail until he decided to stay with her. She also entertained ideas of tearing or burning all of his scrolls, documents and books up, before scaring herself with how psychotic she sounded.

With those thoughts running amok in her mind, Kagome would then slip into her phase of intense depression. She was truly revolting and loathsome. Her presence proved to be nothing but a burden to Sesshoumaru, and he secretly wished she could get out of his life, or so she believed. Everyone hated her – Koyama must have grown tired of caring for her as well. She was nothing but hideous, weepy, clingy and pathetic…she deserved nothing other than an end to all these. It would be very easy to get out of this pain, she thought.

Ideas flooded her mind.

She could always just take a walk in the villa’s garden again. It was now late evening; no one would notice her presence in the garden. All she had to do was silently walk into that pretty, inviting river. The cherry blossoms were dead by now; she would be all alone. Step by step, step by step, feeling the smooth curve of the pebbles beneath her feet, and the way the chilly waters licked at her feet…moving higher and higher up the length of her body before she was finally engulfed within that comfort. Then nothing would hurt her.

Or she could always throw a length of silk over one of the rafters above her. There were so many stunning bolts of high quality silk Sesshoumaru had bought for her – they came in all colors. Red, pink, yellow, green, blue, white…anything but purple. Intricate designs had been skillfully hand-woven into the silk. She wondered how the exquisite silk would feel against her neck as she kicked the stool she was standing on aside, before gravity dragged her body down a split second later. Would her neck snap immediately, or would she allow the beauty that was the silk to eat at her life second by second?

There was once when she went to the kitchen to watch the cooks do their job, and as everyone busied themselves among the sounds of merrily boiling soups and sizzling meats, she had stood alone in a corner. That was when she saw a shallow plate placed by the side of the door, filled with snacks that most certainly looked appetizing. She had asked someone what it was meant for, only to be told that the snacks had been laced with arsenic so as to kill rats and any pests that might appear in the kitchen. Instead of listening before dismissing the thought of it, Kagome wondered if she would die if she were to eat one of those cakes. How would it be like to die from arsenic poisoning? Was it a pretty or an ugly death?

How about leaping off the cliff just a mile away from the villa? She had been allowed to venture out under supervision, so she knew where it was. The sight beyond the edge of the cliff was a magnificent one to behold – a vast expanse of green, formed by the impossibly thick canopy of the forest. She had always wanted to fly, hadn’t she? If she took a step off the edge, just one little step, she would be able to fly. Maybe in a few seconds, she would find herself flying forever in a place where sadness was not allowed to exist.

But now, Kagome had something else in mind.

Sesshoumaru was still not back at the villa. No maidservant had come to her to inform her of his return, and neither was there the feeling of his superior demonic aura. So she had to have dinner alone. While she was eating, she wondered inwardly. Now that she had regained the ability to feed herself, there would no longer be an obligation on his part to feed her and care for her. Was that why he was coming home late?

Her thoughts ran wild again. They were like the wild horses on the prairies – unbridled and dangerous. There was no one else to talk to other than the maidservant who was waiting at the side for Kagome to finish her meal so that she could slice some fruits for her. So her thoughts continued running, crossing boundaries of logic and common sense, to come to the eventual conclusion that Sesshoumaru was indeed avoiding her. He was growing to detest her like everyone else did, and now that she was once again independent in feeding herself, he was starting to avoid her. She had it coming – no one liked burdens. Trouble was always meant to be avoided.

So even though she had obediently eaten a few slices of the sweet pear, the natural glucose did nothing for her mood. Then as the maidservant made a move to leave with the tray of fruits, Kagome stopped her from doing so. She lied, telling the young girl she had a craving for peach and would slice one for herself later at night when she was feeling less full.

Somehow, she just liked the idea of the fruit knife being in the same room. She tried to read a novel, but it was boring and she did not understand all of the ancient Japanese terms used in it. Again and again she would find herself peeping at the knife, before going back to her book and looking up at the tray again. She was certain she would touch it, but she did not know who she was pretending to convince.

Then the inevitable happened. The book lay forgotten by the side, while Kagome’s hand found itself hovering above the wooden hilt of the knife. The shadows of her hand danced across the tray as she hesitated to make contact with the object. Retreating and advancing, she did not know what to do. Then eventually, her finger tips came into contact with the smooth wood, from which the bodily warmth of the maidservant had dissipated to be replaced by a detached chill. It felt…welcoming. More and more of her fingertips covered the available area on the hilt, before her hand closed around it.

She picked it up, staring at the end of it in an expressionless awe.

The tip of the knife glinted in the dim light of the rice paper lamp by her futon. She noticed how pretty the sharp tip looked when she turned the knife in her hand, as the light that caught off it at certain angles gave it a tiny sparkle. She had not held something for so long, and now, she was holding something so powerful. One end was generally harmless, but the other provided an escape route.

Kagome lit the sandalwood incense; the incense would help mask the smell of her blood.

She dragged the tip of one of her fingers on the left hand across the blade’s end. There was the initially rough graze of the sharpened metal against the smooth pad of her finger, before the tender skin gave way to the combination of friction and pressure. The soft, pliant flesh underneath the split skin was now eating the edges of the knife, swallowing more and more of the silver blade into the raw pink and red of the flesh. Then there was less of pink and silver, as red oozed forth to trickle down her finger in a tiny stream. Silently, she watched the flow grow in width and volume in morbid fascination. That was her life blood. If more of it was allowed to flow from her, then there would no longer be life within the shell that was her body.

She pressed deeper down onto the blade, feeling more of the raw flesh give way to the acute pressure. It hurt; but the hurt could not reach the hurt that was residing within her chest. There was something missing in the physical pain she felt. It was only brushing against the surface of the vast sea of agony she was feeling on the inside, and she was so tempted to alleviate that hurt within. Existing so deep within, the only way to reach that pain was to touch it directly.

And what other better way was there, she mused as she stared at the blood-stained blade, than to push the knife all the way into her chest? It could reach all the way in, and once it was there, it could take all the existing pain away. She would no longer hurt, and Sesshoumaru would no longer have a burden to bother himself with. He would no longer have to be obliged to take care of her as he had been doing.

It was a win-win situation. They would both benefit out of it, or so she firmly believed. To love someone was not to tie him down, she thought. Rather, it was about letting him go when the time for it arrived. Somehow, deep within her mind, Kagome thought that was how she should be – selfless, till the very end. Never did she once think how selfish she was to entertain the idea of leaving the demon she salvaged all alone again.

The tip of the knife looked like it was thirsty for more of her blood, practically begging for her to plunge it deep into her chest. It would, at the very most, hurt for a short while. Then everything would be back to how it was. She would be happy again. If she was lucky, she might be able to meet her father and grandmother in heaven. A smile graced Kagome’s lips; she wanted to see them so badly…she missed both of them so much. There would no longer be so much suffering, and she would no longer have to live in this era in which she was never meant to be in. Her life had been a mistake from the instant she fell into the well in the shrine, and now, it was time to put this dreadful mistake right again.

She walked to the calligraphy materials which had been left prepared for her just in case she felt like writing. The knife was placed by her side. Kneeling down, she picked a slender brush up with her bloodstained hand, before her hand hovered above the paper, unsure of how to start or what to write.

What was there to say? She wondered, watching in silence as her blood dripped from her bloodied hand onto the paper beneath to stain it with crimson droplets.

For a good five minutes she sat motionless, watching the heavy flow of blood stain the paper more red than white. In fact, she could no longer feel anything, not even the physical pain of her split finger. Then, as if a flash of inspiration hit her, she wrote the simplest words she wanted to say to him.

“I am sorry, Sesshoumaru. Farewell.”

If it had been the Kagome of the past, she might even have laughed at how silly that sounded. But now, she was genuinely sorry for everything. She was not sorry she was leaving him; she was only sorry she had brought upon him so much trouble and inconvenience.

She paused to think, as the first trail of tears escaped the confines of her numb eyes to create a clear track of moisture down her cheeks. Raising the brush again, she watched the black ink blend with some of the fresh crimson on the paper to create a morbidly beautiful picture. The dim yellowish light thrown over the paper from the lamp in the room made it look even lonelier and melancholy. She had never expected herself to die in such a setting, but then again, she had never expected any of the happenings that had taken place in her cursed life.

“If there is a next life, I would like to meet you again.”

The paintbrush was placed against the ink slab, and her hand, driven by her death wish, wrapped itself around the hilt of the knife. Walking over to her futon, she knelt on it, before positioning the tip of the blade at her chest. The letter was left by the side of the futon. This is it, she thought. There was nothing more to say or do. Taking a deep breath, Kagome raised the knife, before swinging it downward in an arc to pierce her left chest. The blade caught the light from the lamp once again, and a lethal glint was the only thing she saw before her eyes closed in anticipation of the liberation she craved.

She could feel the blade’s tip pressed against the skin of her chest, but there was a greater resistant force that held it back from her. Where was the sound of her heart gurgling as she mutilated the chambers within the organ? Yet blood hit her face with sickening splats, and in that split second, her eyes flew open only to widen in disbelief and horror at the sight that greeted her.

Kneeling right in front of her with his face caught in a mask of horror, rage and disbelief was Sesshoumaru, and for a while, all she could make out was the blend of red, silver and gold. She froze for an instant, before the embarrassment, frustration and helplessness at being discovered caused her to fight the hold to pull the knife closer to her chest. Then there was the sick sensation of the blade slicing into something soft, and…

She could not hold the gasp of horror in as she saw something she had never expected.

For wrapped around the blade, drenched in what was meant to be only her blood, was his hand and his blood. Warmer and a slightly deeper shade of red than hers, Sesshoumaru’s blood dripped down from his clenched fist to stain her lap and the futon with more flecks of crimson. It took her by surprise, but she couldn’t help but pull the knife frantically in her direction again, her death wish magnified now that humiliation was engulfing her.

“What are you thinking?”

“Let go!” She practically begged, struggling though she somehow knew it was futile since he was so much stronger physically than she could ever wish to be. Her eyes could not stop tearing at this point, and the hot tears were clouding her vision such that all was visible was a blurry mass of red. Involuntarily she shook her head and the vision cleared, and she saw his face for the first time that night. The expression on his face stole all the remnants of her ragged breath away, for it was the first time Kagome had seen an angel in agony.

Sesshoumaru, like the angel of death he was, was beautiful and pristine even when blood stained his face and clothes. But what shocked Kagome was the raw display of emotions on his impossibly handsome face. There was not only the anger, frustration and disbelief which she had anticipated, but what stood out from those emotions was the immense sorrow that she had never seen from him. It was such raw pain, and was radiating off him in waves to overwhelm her. It was a picture of an angel suffering.

“Don’t do this.” His voice, deep with agony, begged with her in a manner as dignified as only he could manage.

She sobbed and shook her head desperately, tugging on the knife’s hilt until she felt the sensation of metal scraping against bone. Then she saw the flash of the slightest wince across his features, and suddenly, she realized what she had done.

“Sesshoumaru…” She froze, with only her parted lips uttering his name so apologetically. The knife’s blade was practically embedded deep within the flesh of his palm, and instead of relinquishing her hold on the knife; she was stubbornly fighting his resistance, hurting him even more in the process of doing so. The blood flow from his clenched fist was now increasing in greater volume, meandering like a thick red stream to stain her hand. He was in pain; he did not show it, but it had to hurt very badly.

“Let go, Sesshoumaru, please! You’re hurting yourself!” She cried, begging with him again.

His eyes flashed with the mixture of emotions she had identified in them, and she watched in silent defeat as he picked the letter she had written up. Eyes of molten gold grew even darker into a shade of ochre as he scanned the words she had written, before he clenched the piece of parchment into a small ball and threw it furiously to the side.

“What do you mean by that?” He demanded quietly, and she watched in mounting horror as his knuckles grew more pronounced against his skin, evident of the increase in the pressure of his grip on the knife.

Kagome cried even harder now, sniffling hard to remain coherent as she tried to pry at his hand with her one functional hand. “Stop…let go, let go…!”

“What do you mean by ‘sorry’? For what reason do you bid farewell?” He asked, ignoring her efforts to stop him from hurting himself further.

“I am sorry because I don’t deserve you…I’ve brought you nothing but so much trouble! I am useless, I am hideous and burdensome…I don’t want you to be stuck with a woman who’s always bringing you nothing but trouble! Please…stop hurting yourself because of me…I’m not worth it!”

Sesshoumaru looked at her accusingly, his jaw clenched with the effort of holding the emotions in. “Do you understand the feeling now?”

She did not know what he was talking about, and her confusion must have been blatantly displayed on her face, for he continued, “The feeling of watching someone you love and care for hurt themselves.”

Then it all dawned on her.

Flashbacks from the past revisited her angst-laden mind, and she recalled the things he had done for her in the past.

She recalled how he had told her he would fall with her if she ever fell off Ah-Un’s back.

Then she remembered the way he had selflessly took the hit from the arrow for her despite having been angry and bitter over her betrayal of his trust then.

She also recalled the way he had been so protective over her when they had run into mountain ogres in the forests of Ezo, and how he had been protective of her even when they were out of danger, shielding her from the eyes of other men.

Memories of him rushing to her rescue when she had been kidnapped by Kumano rushed back to her like a tidal wave as well, and she realized how he had always been giving so selflessly in his stoic, subtle manner. She had always been receiving selfishly, and Kagome realized she wanted to live. She had to live, not because of anything else, but because she had to exist to return the love he had so generously bestowed upon her. She owed him that much.

There were so many things she wanted to tell him about – the truth about Kagome, every single detail about her predicament, their shared links through Inuyasha and her friends, the agony she had to live through when she found herself at Hanaka and her ordeal and everything…just everything.

She wanted to live.

She realized she could never do any of these without being alive.

Kagome’s head fell, and she nodded with barely concealed sobs.

“Promise this Sesshoumaru you won’t ever do this again.”

Her shoulders shook with the immense effort of holding uncontrollable sobs back, but she nodded.

Sesshoumaru’s eyes softened and he removed the knife from his bloodied hand, which was by now a mess of mangled flesh, skin and crimson blood. With a loud thud of metal against wood, the knife was thrown into a distant corner of the room.

He watched expressionlessly as the girl he had grown to love so much cried bitterly, her frame shaking like a leaf in the winter storms. If he had not smelled the strong stench of her blood under the notes of sandalwood upon his return to the castle, he would never have managed to get to her room in time.

“Sesshoumaru…I’m sorry.” She apologized again through her sniffles, but this time, the apology held a different meaning.

Just like how she had caught him by surprise with her suicide attempt, Kagome once again caught Sesshoumaru by surprise when her petite frame rose and lurched forward weakly to embrace him as tightly as she could.

She was…initiating contact, he realized, before his arms encircled her frame protectively.

In the heated embrace, mingled breaths and whispers of apologies, a new promise to a new life was made, and she never got to see the genuine smile of gratitude that graced his face.

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To be continued…

A/N: Angst and fluff combined in one!! Of course, if some of you find the scene a little familiar, I borrowed it from Rurouni Kenshin, when Sanosuke saved Megumi from suicide at the end of the opium arc. Please read and review – this has got to be my favorite chapter till date despite how dark it was.

Read and review!! We're hitting the 1000-mark, dear friends!

 

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