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Timeless

This one-shot was written for Opal-Dreams Fanart and Fanfiction Tournament. I got partnered with KittyBlue this round and was required to write a story based on her time themed fanart. Please take the time to read the other entries and submit your vote to Opal-Dreams. Also, major thanks to Zandreilla. I could not have done this without her!

-

Crimson.

It was the only word he could use to describe the liquid thoroughly coating his long clawed fingers. The substance was thick; its scent metallic, and he had come across this life force too often to forget what it was, but this time, it was different. This time, it wasn't flowing out of an enemy's tattered body, but from a wound Naraku had inflicted upon the woman with sparkling sapphire eyes and silky ebony locks.

The woman who, though just a human, had honorably gained his respect only for his respect to slowly grow into something more - something akin to affection. Never had he witnessed such bravery and dedication from the human race and never had he known a woman to be quite so welcoming and loving as Kagome. She had unwittingly captured his heart and now that they had finally defeated Naraku through sheer determination and teamwork, it was time to reveal his fondness for her.

Sesshoumaru slanted his piercing gaze towards the priestess, his breath nearly catching in his throat at her ethereal beauty. Her eyes glittered with pride at their accomplishment and her dazzling smile only portrayed the triumph felt by the entire Inu-taichi.

A heavy burden had, at last, been lifted from their shoulders. Sango and Inuyasha had gotten revenge on the hanyou who had ruthlessly murdered their loved ones. Miroku had overcome the curse of his wind tunnel. Sesshoumaru no longer had to shield Rin from another manipulation attack from the worthless vermin and Kagome... Kagome was finally able to piece the Shikon no Tama back together.

His eyes slid lower, past Kagome's beaming face and towards her blood stained hand pressing against her gaping shoulder wound. Her once pure white miko garb was drenched in the same crimson as his hand, the warm fluid slipping between her fingers and trailing down her arm. Nestled in the tight grip of her other hand was the purified jewel, smeared with drying blood, but round and whole as it was meant to be.

She displayed no signs of her pain and discomfort as she lifted her gaze to meet his and again, he was struck with the utmost respect for the miko. Kagome was the epitome of a strong demoness and it was truly an unfortunate event that she had been borne human. Still, human or not, Sesshoumaru was determined to make her his to protect.

"We did it," Kagome whispered, voice catching in overwhelming relief tinged with slight awe.

"Indeed," Sesshoumaru replied, his lips curving slightly in a subtle display of a smirk.

She chuckled, but the sound came out breathy and strangled as a sharp stab of pain tore through her. She winced, face twisting in agony and Sesshoumaru quickly stepped towards her in barely disguised concern. "Kagome," he murmured, extending his hand to grasp her arm gently.

She smiled at him and shook her head wryly, "I'm fine, Sesshoumaru. The Shikon no Tama miko is not so easily defeated."

He nodded before stepping back to distance himself, reluctantly releasing her in the process. He turned and focused his attention on the rest of the weary group as he spoke. "What will you do now that your mission has been completed?"

"It's time, Sesshoumaru." When he didn't respond, Kagome continued, "It's time for me to return to my time... to where I belong."

He inhaled sharply, whirling around to face her as silver locks fluttered around them in curtains. "And what of your friends in this era?" He asked, his biting tone betraying his neutral expression. What of this Sesshoumaru?

"I will miss them," Kagome stated, but she offered no more explanations.

Slowly, she peeled her hand away from her wound and grasped his hand, lifting it to hover between them as she turned it until his palm faced up. Her other hand moved to cover his and when Kagome pulled away, the jewel was sitting innocently in the center of his palm.

"I am not trying to escape my duty," she explained. "But this jewel... it also does not belong in my time. There is no such thing as a selfless wish and so the jewel must be passed from guardian to guardian. I am trusting you to guard it, Sesshoumaru. You are the strongest demon I know and I am certain that you will protect it well. Will you do that for me?"

He stared at the jewel, then at the woman who had wormed her way into his heart, and back at the jewel again. He wanted to ask her to stay, to walk beside him for eternity, to protect the Shikon no Tama from evil together, but he could not. Kagome does not deserve to sacrifice all that she would have to with his request. She was slipping away from him like sand between his fingers, but after all her suffering and hardships, she deserved happiness. Perhaps her happiness comes in the form of living in the modern times, away from her feudal era friends, away from him.

Kagome had already decided where her future lies and Sesshoumaru would honor her wishes. He would not hold her back, he decided. He would, instead, guard the Shikon no Tama in memory of her and hope that his act of devotion will not be forgotten, that Sesshoumaru would be imbedded deep within her heart and memories. He wanted her to never forget him, just as he will never forget her.

Slowly, his fingers curled around the jewel and Sesshoumaru nodded firmly. "I shall."

She smiled. "Thank you, Sesshoumaru."

He nodded again, engraving the vision of her smile within his heart.

Sesshoumaru mentally prepared himself for her departure, but when Kagome bid her farewells a few days later, he still felt a deep sense of loss. He recalled the way her blood had marked his hand and the way his scent had mingled with hers when the possession of the jewel had been transferred and knew that was the closest he would ever get to Kagome.

- o0o -

"Congratulations, Kagome!" Her family exclaimed before clinking their water glasses together at the center of the table.

Flushed with happiness and excitement, Kagome swallowed a large gulp of water as Mama Higurashi, beaming with pride, quickly retrieved a fancifully wrapped gift box and held it out to her daughter.

"Mama, you shouldn't have!" Kagome gasped, gingerly accepting the gift with both hands.

"I'm so proud of you, Kagome. I know it's been difficult for you and that you miss Inuyasha, but you've worked so hard these past few years I thought you deserved a token to remind you of your accomplishments. After all, getting accepted into a university as prestigious as Tokyo University is practically a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Tears filled her eyes as Kagome pulled the ribbon loose and tore the wrapping paper off, willing the memories of her friends in the feudal era away. It had been painful to say her goodbyes, but she knew it had to be done. She was not meant to stay in that era no matter how much she had wanted to. The fear of changing history was the only form of motivation the day she jumped down the well for the last time. Many times throughout the years, she had wondered how they were faring and if it were possible that Inuyasha or Sesshoumaru had lived to present day Tokyo.

If they had... they surely would have found her by now, wouldn't they?

Kagome didn't know which she preferred; the possibility that they had lived but did not seek her out or that they didn't live and was; therefore, unable to find her. Shaking her head to clear the thoughts, Kagome lifted the lid to reveal a glass pendant dangling from a silver chain. The glass was stained red with a white sakura blossom in the center that oddly reminded her of Sesshoumaru's emblem.

"It's beautiful, Mama... Thank you," Kagome whispered, the necklace bringing more of her suppressed memories to the surface. She recalled the way Sesshoumaru had looked at her the day she said goodbye, as if he had something he wished to tell her but chose not to reveal what was on his mind. She remembered the many times Sesshoumaru had saved her from falling, hand wrapped firmly around her waist, during a battle with their enemies. The way he fiercely protected Rin from all harm and the way he looked when he smirked. All at once, she was hit with the realization that she missed Sesshoumaru - much more than she could admit.

She blinked back more tears, her heart clenching painfully as her loneliness nearly overwhelmed her. Why had she ever thought she could be alright without her pack? Pushing her untouched udon away, Kagome shakily stood up and flashed her mother a watery smile.

"I love it, Mama, but I'm not hungry anymore."

Before her mother could respond, Kagome trudged upstairs to her room, closing the door gently behind her. Wiping the tears from her eyes, her gaze zeroed in on the large box sitting innocently upon her bed. Perplexed but curious, she slowly picked up the card that accompanied the box and began to read -

"Sis, I found these letters inside the well house. The first one came a few days after you came back but you were so upset with having to leave Inuyasha that I didn't want to make you more sad by giving you his letter, so I kept it. But you're happy now... I'm sorry I hid them for so long. Don't be sad anymore, Kagome."

She smiled softly at Souta's words and put the card back down beside the box. Kagome briefly hesitated, slightly afraid of what she might find in the box. She knew they were letters... but what did the letters contain? With shaking hands, Kagome opened the box and gasped. Hundreds of letters stacked neatly row by row met her eyes. Kagome chuckled at her younger brother's obsession with neatness, but her gaze roved the letters, taking in each detail.

Her name was scrawled elegantly upon each envelope, its writing uncharacteristically reminding her of Sesshoumaru than Inuyasha. She grabbed the first letter and turned it over, nearly dropping it in shock at the seal she saw - a crescent moon. All at once, she was hit with realization but confusion. These letters were from Sesshoumaru?

Kagome slid a finger underneath the flap, breaking the seal, and pulled out a single sheet of parchment.

"Miko,

You have caused this Sesshoumaru's ward much distress with your departure. You must return and remedy the situation immediately.

Sesshoumaru."

She laughed while tears began to fill her eyes. It was such a Sesshoumaru thing to say, especially in a letter.

Kagome reached for another letter, this one slightly longer and contained minor details about his day, the headaches of ruling his land, and how Rin was coping with the loss of Kagome's presence. The next several letters were of similar context and she read through each one quickly, finding herself missing Sesshoumaru more and more with each letter.

Each one was written with an elegance only Sesshoumaru could possess and though Kagome still hadn't figured out just why Sesshoumaru had decided to write to her or why the letters were able to travel through the well, she was content with having the letters to reflect back on her time in the Sengoku Jidai. Sesshoumaru had been considerate in providing her with details of how her friends were doing.

Miroku and Sango had married and were living in Kaede's village. Inuyasha, although alone, stayed by his close friends and pack at the village, lending a helping hand to the humans. They had taken Shippo under their wing after her departure and though Shippo had mourned, he was happy living amongst familiar people he had long ago deemed family.

In later letters, Sesshoumaru mentioned Rin growing up and moving into Kaede's village as well in order to be around the presence of more humans and how she met a nice young man at the village to spend her life with. He told her of the many children that Miroku and Sango had, the human woman Inuyasha fell in love with, and Rin's children - the first of which had been named after Kagome.

The details in his letters allowed her to envision everything clearly in her mind and while she was happy that they were all leading fulfilling lives, she was sad that she had not been there to witness it.

Finally, Kagome had reached the letter she had been dreading - the passing of her dear friends, Miroku and Sango. She cried as she clutched the letter in tight fists against her heart. Sesshoumaru had assured her that they had passed away peacefully of old age, but it did nothing to diminish the pain she felt in her heart. She sank to her knees and sobbed until no tears were left. Only when she had fully composed herself, did she continue reading Sesshoumaru's words.

She dragged the entire box to the floor beside her and took out the next letter, again detailing the tasks of his daily routine. At this point, Kagome felt like she knew Sesshoumaru better than she knew anyone else. His inner turmoil on how to best rule his land, the frustrations and elations that came with being a lord, and how after all these years of watching everyone Kagome held dear marry, grow old, and give birth to children, he was still utterly alone.

"Kagome,

At this point in time, you must be wondering why this Sesshoumaru has not yet taken a mate. Indeed, I am in need of a strong heir, but even one such as this Sesshoumaru does not wish to take a mate for the sole purpose of securing my status. There was a woman I had become quite fond of and it is under unfortunate circumstances that she is no longer with me today. Still, this Sesshoumaru has been unable to forget her smile and the way her eyes would sparkle when she looked at me. No demoness could surpass her strength and beauty and it is with such devotion to this woman that I risk my lands for her. Surely she will understand my sacrifice?

Sesshoumaru"

Kagome smiled at the thought that Sesshoumaru was a closet romantic. He appeared to be quite smitten with the mysterious woman and she wished him all the luck in finding that woman. "I think she will understand the sacrifice, Sesshoumaru," she murmured. "She would be a fool not to realize what you have given up for her."

Gently setting the letter aside to the growing pile of read letters, she continued to read and again was succumbed to tears when she learned of Rin's death and Sesshoumaru's mourning over his daughter figure. Gradually, Kagome began to notice that the parchment and ink in which Sesshoumaru had originally written to her in was changing, signifying his adaption to how the world was evolving.

He mentioned the death of his mother in the same letter in which he first began to comprehend that demons were slowly diminishing while the population of humans began to grow. The day Sesshoumaru realized that his lands were threatened by humans was when Kagome cried for him a second time. Never had she witnessed Sesshoumaru in such a state of weakness and confusion and when he wrote of how he had been forced to flee his home, Kagome wept even harder for his pain.

She angrily ripped the letter describing how Sesshoumaru felt about going into hiding to shreds. Immediately regretting her actions, she spent the next hour piecing his letter back together with a roll of tape. She felt as exhilarated as Sesshoumaru had upon meeting another youkai disguised as a human. He spoke of the terrors of the world wars and the puzzling automobiles that he wouldn't dare approach. Sesshoumaru wrote in fine detail of his world traveling experiences and the differences in each culture he found interesting yet peculiar.

At this point, the parchment and ink had long ago been replaced by lined paper and ballpoint pens and Kagome wondered if it was possible that Sesshoumaru was still alive in her time. She looked inside the box and was saddened to find that only a few letters were remaining out of the hundreds that had been stored away. She pulled the next one out, fingering the corner of the envelope thoughtfully.

Sesshoumaru had been an enigma when they had joined forces to defeat Naraku. The Sesshoumaru she had come to know and understand through his letters was a man of many sides and Kagome found that she was equally as intrigued by him. Surely, if he had been a man of modern times, Kagome would have taken a keen interest in him, but he wasn't. She wasn't even sure if he was still alive.

Sighing, she tore open the envelope in her hand and pulled out the letter, still as elegantly written as the first and began to read.

"Kagome,

For the first time in this Sesshoumaru's existence, I found myself purchasing ramen, the oddity you had first introduced me to during our travels in defeating Naraku. Oddly, I felt quite nostalgic recalling those memories. I am but a lone youkai in a world full of humans and you would be the sole being who could understand its relevance. Despite the original wistfulness, the ramen was quite vile but this Sesshoumaru was surprised to vaguely enjoy the abomination known as ramune. Never have I seen such an odd beverage in an equally as strange packaging. Furthermore, this 'pocky' I had taken the liberty in purchasing as well was as peculiar as I had imagined it to be. They; however, remind me of a home I no longer have and of a miko who had too abruptly bid me farewell.

Sesshoumaru"

Kagome sighed again, laying the letter down upon her lap as she read the last line under her breath again. "It sounds like you miss me, Sesshoumaru. Is that even possible? Reading your letters... I've began to miss you too, but... it would be cruel of you to leave me hanging in the end, wouldn't it? How do you expect me to react if, after all these letters, I found out that you don't exist anymore? That you had...," her breath caught and her next word came out strangled. "Died...?"

Rubbing at her eyes to ease the prickling sensation of tears she was trying to will away, Kagome picked up the last letter and took a close look at the envelope. There was something different about this last letter than all the previous ones. She bit her bottom lip contemplatively, trying to find out what it was. A glance at the open letter in her lap revealed it. This last letter was stamped.

Eyes wide, Kagome brought the envelope closer to her face and peered at the faint ink that would display the date. It was postmarked over a year ago and Kagome felt her heart stop. What had happened to Sesshoumaru since the last letter? Had he passed away or had he moved on from sending letters to a human woman unworthy of his time?

Sliding the letter out of its complimentary envelope, Kagome smoothed it out, eyes darting quickly to each character still so carefully and diligently written.

"Kagome,

This Sesshoumaru has finally found the woman he had been searching for. It is not yet time to reveal myself to her but I am certain that an appropriate time will arrive with my patience. When I reveal myself to her, I will finally claim what rightfully belongs to me and I will protect her with all that I am. Times have changed, but my dedication to the woman has not. My affection and fondness for her has only increased during the time we have been apart as this Sesshoumaru knows that his emotions for her are timeless, just as I hope her feelings for me will be.

Sesshoumaru"

A pang of hurt shot through Kagome's heart at his words.

Of course.

Of course Sesshoumaru would find love one day. He was probably too busy raising a family now with the woman to write to her anymore. In the same instance, what woman would happily allow her husband or boyfriend to write letters to another woman with such intimate details of his thoughts and emotions?

She couldn't help the tears that escaped this time and she felt silly for shedding tears for him. Had she honestly thought anything could come from his letters? She was truly a fool - always had been and always will be.

Drawing her knees towards her chest, Kagome wrapped her arms protectively around herself and closed her eyes, wishing her thoughts were that easily closed off as well.

Kagome woke up feeling disoriented, wondering what had stirred her from sleep. Then, she felt it - the feeling of something tugging and pulling at her, attempting to draw her closer to where it wanted her to go. She knew the sensation, had experienced it enough times in the past to know, but she couldn't understand it. The jewel was safe, why was it calling to her?

She blinked, trying to process this development as the jewel began to beckon her more insistently. Kagome gasped - the jewel was safe... safe with Sesshoumaru. Eagerly, she leapt to her feet and tore out of her room, coming to an abrupt halt just outside the shrine's front door. There, like a vision in a dream, stood Sesshoumaru beside her mailbox, silver hair gleaming under sunlight and an envelope in his hand.

"Sesshoumaru...," she whispered hoarsely, but he heard her nonetheless.

Slowly, he raised his head, their eyes locked and held. Kagome was slammed at that moment with a mixture of nostalgia, joy, and something she couldn't quite put a finger on, but before she could dwell on what that emotion was, she found herself running down the shrine steps towards him.

Sesshoumaru stood, unmoving and utterly still, as she stood before him, panting slightly from her exertion. Kagome stared at him, eyes full of question and then he spoke.

"Kagome."

"What... what are you doing here?"

Sesshoumaru handed her the envelope wordlessly and Kagome accepted it. The first letter since more than a year ago... what had changed? What made him start the letters again?

As if having read her exact thoughts, he clarified. "The last letter I will ever write to you."

Her heart dropped to the pit of her stomach and she swallowed hard, trying not to lose her composure. "Oh - I see..."

"Will you not open and read it?" He tilted his head to the side slightly in query.

"Now?" Kagome didn't want to read his goodbye letter now. She wanted to run back to her room and sob to her heart's content. The only connection she had left to the past and the man she had grown to like, possibly even love, from his letters was biding her farewell. Why would she want to read it now while in his presence?

"Now," Sesshoumaru reiterated.

Suppressing a sigh, Kagome broke the seal and slid the last letter out. She lifted her gaze to meet Sesshoumaru's and when he gave her a slight nod of encouragement, Kagome began to read the shortest letter of them all.

"It's time, Kagome..."

Puzzled, she looked at him, brows furrowed.

"It's time, Kagome," he repeated. When Kagome didn't respond, he continued. "It's time for you to return to my side... to where you belong."

She bit her bottom lip, finding the statement somewhat familiar but unable to recall from where. So intent was she on finding the original source, Kagome hadn't given thought as to what Sesshoumaru's words insinuated.

"It's time, Sesshoumaru." When he didn't respond, Kagome continued, "It's time for me to return to my time... to where I belong."

Eyes wide with realization, Kagome suddenly fit the last piece of the puzzle together to form the most perfect picture. The woman Sesshoumaru had been searching for the entire time... had been her. He had waited five hundred years for her, sacrificed his lands and his opportunity to sire an heir for her, and had waited patiently for time to bring them together once again. His love for her was timeless and her love for him would be too. She was the only one who would understand his hardships just as he would understand hers. They were perfect. Fated.

She smiled then and reached for his hand, lacing their fingers together.

"Yes, Sesshoumaru... It's time."

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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