Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Inuyasha.
"And so, little miko, it ends for you, kukuku."
Naraku chuckled, enjoying the sight of the crimson lifeblood rapidly spreading from the tiny torn form, soaking wastefully into the infertile ground from all the many puncture wounds in the girl's body.
"After all this time, and all you've given," he continued, torturing the dying girl, "only to finally come to the understanding that not one person cares whether you live or die. It must be excruciatingly painful," he said, false sympathy oozing like oil from his voice.
Kagome blinked from her spot on the cold ground, unable to even see any longer, everything appearing blurry. She was numb, now, and grateful for it - the pain had been more than she'd ever known... and the hurt that accompanied her abandonment by the one who was supposed to protect her not the least of it.
But at least, she thought vaguely, as more blood fountained from her mouth, trailing down one pale cheek to puddle beneath her, it's almost over. She could feel death beckoning her, and it almost felt warm to her frozen form.
Just a few more moments... and I'll finally be at peace - no one will be able to hurt me again... like Inuyasha...
Just as her eyes blurred again, she caught a sudden flash of eerie green light, and realized distantly that Naraku was no longer taunting her, but before she could wonder why, a white light flared around her...
And she knew no more.
What happened to me?
Kagome opened her eyes slowly, squinting in the sudden brightness, and looked around, attempting to figure out where she was.
Am I... dead?
She didn't realize that she'd said that out loud until she was answered...
By the voice of one she'd never have expected to hear near her, unless he was seeking her death.
"You are not dead."
"S-sesshoumaru-sama?" she murmured, still trying to see, and becoming frustrated at the band of pain that seemed to tighten itself around her head as she squinted even more.
"Lay still - your wounds are gone, but your body needs to rest, miko," he said quietly.
She felt a cool hand press her back into whatever inhumanly soft thing she was laying on, and after a moment, let him do so, too tired to fight.
"What happened? I... remember - Naraku killed me... didn't he?" she asked, suddenly uncertain.
There was a moment of silence, and then, "Hai. I found you just as you passed, and destroyed Naraku. Unfortunately, it was merely another puppet."
Kagome thought about that for a few minutes, eyes closed, so as not to continue hurting from the bright light. "But... if I was dead..."
"I used Tensaiga - that is, after all, what it is for," he said, a slight bit of amusement noticeable in his voice.
She was astounded at that fact - both of them, actually - that he had brought her back, and that he was amused. "Forgive me, Sesshoumaru-sama, but are you sure you're okay?" she frowned, concerned. "You don't seem like yourself..." she trailed off, unsure of how to say it without offending the touchy Lord.
"You aren't usually one for... compassion," she finally said.
She felt a warmth move into her, something almost erotically soft wrapping around her, and snuggled gratefully into it.
"And how do you know that, miko?" he asked. "Is it because my... 'brother' said so? Yet, where is he?" He helped her sit up just a bit, moving what she now realized were furs to bundle them under her upper back so that she was slightly reclining.
"You only know what you have been told by one who is not exactly impartial towards me - perhaps, you should find out for yourself? You might be pleasantly surprised," he finished softly, and Kagome shivered at the tone in his voice.
That was one thing she knew about him - he had an absolutely gorgeous voice - he could send shivers down your spine with just the faintest whisper. It was just too bad he didn't talk much - or at least, he hadn't any other time.
This time, though, he'd actually seemed almost... chatty - for him, anyway.
"Well, you have tried to kill me, haven't you?"
It was quiet for a moment, and she opened her eyes again, wondering, and finally met his golden eyes as he gazed at her. "Twice... that much is true," he conceded. "However, now, I have actually returned your life to you. I would say that outweighs a mere failed attempt or two to kill you... would you not agree?"
"Yes... but what I don't understand is why," she said, shaking her head as a troubled frown furrowed her brow. "Even Inuyasha didn't seem to care... and he would have had more reason to do so than you, Sesshoumaru-sama. After all, you don't know me any better than I know you..."
Sesshoumaru tilted his head and studied her solemnly for a moment. "Are you so sure about that, miko? I have watched you, from afar, admittedly, but nonetheless..." he trailed off into silence as he continued to stare at her, then he looked away, reaching for a small cup that she'd not noticed 'til then.
"Drink this, it is an herbal tea - it will help you regain your strength."
She looked at the cup, then up at him, and nodded slowly, taking it and sipping from it. "Okay... but that still doesn't answer my question. "Why?"
"Because Naraku was wrong, miko," he finally said, looking up and holding her gaze in an almost weighing fashion as she tilted her head questioningly.
"Though I cannot speak for any other... there is at least one person out there that cares."
It had been a week since she'd died and been brought back, and Kagome stared out over the village that her saviour had brought her back to when she'd recovered enough.
I still can't believe... he was so different. Nothing like what Inuyasha was always saying, and nothing like I always assumed he was.
I felt... warm when I was with him.
She sat down on a small grassy verge, knees pulled up and arms around them, twirling a piece of grass in her small fingers, idly wondering when Inuyasha and his new miko companion would show up.
That's what had happened that day... Naraku had come prepared, tossing a slightly injured Kikyou at a suddenly feral Inuyasha, and when he ran off after her - Kagome had come under immediate, and fatal, attack.
Sango and Miroku, along with Shippo, were still at Master Mushin's temple, helping the old monk with some of his more rigorous temple duties, so they hadn't known any of what was going on.
Naraku sure knew when, and how, to strike, she thought, a bit bitterly, if the truth were to be told. But you know... it's better this way. At least, now I know I can't depend on him to protect me.
She was pulled from her thoughts by the arrival of the hanyou and Kikyou, she watched as the clay miko slid down from his back and entered her sister's hut - and Inuyasha followed, not even noticing that she was there.
That didn't hurt as much as I thought it would, really... though it sure is aggravating, she thought, and she almost laughed when the hanyou suddenly shot back out of the hut and swept the area with a furious gaze, until he finally spotted her.
It didn't take twenty seconds, and he was in front of her, irate eyes glaring at her. "Where the hell did you go, bitch, huh? When I got Kikyou back and came looking for you, your ass was gone! What'd'ya do, run away and hide like a sissy?"
Kagome stared at him. "Sit." She said it lightly, not even caring enough at that point to get angry with the things he'd said to her.
"For your information, baka, while you were busy chasing after a ceramic figure, who only had a mild injury, I was busy getting killed. Naraku set you up - and you fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. His only purpose that day was to see me die - and he succeeded."
Inuyasha stared at her, shocked, then his face took on an ugly red cast, and he pried himself off of the ground and started yelling.
"If that's so, then why the fuck are you sitting here talking to me, bitch?!" he shouted.
Before she could answer, a heavy aura flowed over both of them, and Kagome smiled.
"Sesshoumaru!" Inuyasha screamed, and drew Tessaiga... almost dropping it when the sword failed to transform. "Wh-what?" he gasped.
"The miko is here, and capable of speaking to you, because this one found her just as she died, and destroyed the Naraku puppet, then revived her, you fool."
The hanyou stared from his brother, to his sword, and then sheathed it with a snort of disgust.
"And why the hell would you do that, bastard? You hate humans, remember?" he spit out.
"No, I just hate you - and I think the miko is beginning to understand why that is so," he finished, capturing her gaze with his.
"Hai... you dislike his lack of honor, ne, Sesshoumaru-sama?"
The daiyoukai tilted his head and considered her for a moment, then held out a hand to her, assisting her to stand. He didn't let go of her hand, however, once she was on her feet.
"That... and for the fact that he shows poor judgement and taste. He was unable to even catch the scent of Naraku on his clay priestess... or the fact that she was working with him to get rid of you. I do not suffer fools gladly."
Inuyasha opened his mouth to scream at his brother, but Kagome cut him off with another 'sit', and the youkai Lord chuckled.
"This one will never tire of that, miko, it is highly entertaining." He stared at his brother laying in the dirt groaning for a moment, then lifted his gaze back up.
"Have you considered my offer, then?" he asked, and she nodded.
"Yes, I have, and... I agree. I will travel with you - after all, I would rather be where at least one person cares for me, than to travel with someone who would abandon me to my death."
Sesshoumaru said nothing, merely waited with a still-cratered Inuyasha for the young miko to grab her bag from Kaede's hut. As she started back up the hill towards him, followed by an irate Kikyou, he looked down one final time at his brother, who was still struggling to free himself from the ground, and said, "I pity you, Inuyasha. You are an even bigger fool than I had taken you for. Enjoy the misery that your stupidity is about to bring down on your head."
With that, Sesshoumaru walked away, and Kagome followed, moving past the hole in the ground without even looking down at him once.
"Goodbye, Inuyasha," she called back cheerfully. "Hope you have a happy life... I know I will," she finished, as she looked towards the swaying silver mane of the daiyoukai walking just ahead of her.
I can be happy just about anywhere - as long as at least one person there cares about me.