Beta'd by QueenOfDespair
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha
It hurt since she came back; everything did. It was agony--every nerve, joint, bone, muscle, and organ was on fire. Everything was screaming in pain. Screaming from pain, and loneliness. A day, a week, finally a month, passed. Everyone was gone; she couldn't sense or feel them. They were just gone.
The forest was empty of animals. There weren't any sounds. Worst of all, the well wouldn't let her back through. Now she wasn't sure what was real.
Some days a bowl of rice would appear near her, there by the wall. She ate it, even if it wasn't real.
Slowly, she began to forget. Then the loneliness grew less.
First was the village. She knew it was there, but what it was called, or that she'd ever been there, was lost in the growing fog of her mind.
Then slowly, her friends.
She did have friends, didn't she?
She remembered traveling with others, but she could never put names to the faces. Never could put faces to the blurry images in her mind.
Then other things: home. She wasn't sure where home was. Why she was sitting here by this well? She couldn't even remember her own name. These were all of the things that she let go, so she wouldn't hurt anymore.
But it still hurt.
She no longer cried because she didn't have a reason to. What did she have to cry about? Her brows knit for a moment. That was a good question. What did she have to cry about? As far as she could remember, she had no friends or famlily. Therefore, there was nothing that she thought was missing. But there was still a hole, a huge, gaping hole in her chest that could not be filled, no matter how hard she tried.
Her knees were drawn to her chest, arms wrapped tightly around her shins. Her lips moved, but no sound came. When was the last time she heard anything other then her own voice? Well, for that matter, when was the last time she had heard her own voice? These questions sounded familiar. Could it be that she asked these same questions before? If she did, she didn't remember.
There was a lot she didn't remember.
Why was that?
She tried once more to put faces to the blurry memories that still remained above the fog that filled her mind, a fog that she didn't dare wander too far into, for fear that she would get lost and never come back. Today she thought she did it, just for a moment. Chasing a memory, an image that she couldn't forget. It was just a blur that sharpened slightly, but then ran away from her.
There were four other people in it, and something small. An animal of some sort with one of the people. One person was small; a child. It had to be. It was too small to be anything but a child. Who's child was it? Could it be hers? She didn't think so; she wouldn't forget if she had a baby.
There was another person, though she didn't focus on them. It was a tall person; it had to be a man to be that tall. And two shorter ones. They had this thing behind them. It walked after them. It might be a horse. Wait, a horse? She knew what a horse was. No, it wasn't a horse.
He heard the sound--the beating of a heart. It was strange, smooth and calm. So it must be a human. Then breathing. But he smelled nothing. Everything had a scent. If it hid its scent, then why didn't it hide the sounds of its heart and lungs?
Silent as the night, his steps carried him closer. There was no aura for whatever was making the sound. Perhaps it was close to death, or was simply incapable of exuding one. No, anything that could hide its scent and aura so perfectly should have no problem with such a simple thing as sound. A trap? Perhaps he could have fun with this thing, if it seemed as skilled at this. Perhaps it could provide him a challenge.
The sun was shining high in the sky, high enough to keep the shadows small. They would provide enough cover to hide should this prey prove interesting enough to allow it to...
His thoughts ground to a halt as his eyes landed on the huddled form sitting on the ground near a vine-covered well.
It is the Miko. Why is she sitting alone?
His aura flared slightly, rushing towards her. It glided over the ground, and engulfed her. His eyes narrowed. Something was blocking his aura, keeping it out. She had a barrier around her, but it wasn't her own.
Why did she ignore him? She heard him; he'd spoken much softer in the past, and she heard him. So why not now?
He focused his aura, and crushed it against the barrier. He felt along the barrier for cracks. There! There was a crack. There were actually several cracks, small but usable. He pressed his aura harder, and spread it around the cracks. He allowed his power to seep into the shield. A satisfied smirk crept onto his face.
There was something there; there was power around her. She could feel it. It was so powerful. It was cold, and very dark, but it was there.
Where was it coming from?
She lifted her head and looked around, but there was nothing. The power, ahe needed it, needed to touch it. Her body screamed at her to grab it. Her own power was reaching out against her will, it stretched out and met with that oppressive aura.
It was like lightning; the pain suddenly began to fade. The power she felt inside her swelled and raged, grew and withdrew. Anger took the place of loneliness.
Then she saw him. She felt his presence, standing tall in pristine white robes. He had platinum hair that shone in the sun.
Her eyes widened. She knew him, knew his name. What was his name? The fog was so thick in her mind, she couldn't bring it the surface.
"Miko." Sesshoumaru watched her closely. She was staring at him, as though she was trying to remember something. Then, as quickly as it appeared, it was gone, and she was just looking at him. She was clearly listening, yet she had not spoken a word.
"Why are you alone, Miko?" Her head shook from side to side.
Did she not understand? She didn't smell of his half-breed brother, or even of the kitsune child. He could smell her now, her scent was clean and wild. She was radiating only the smallest bit of power, barely enough for him to sense. Her power, her reiki didn't seem to flow like it had before. Now, it ran throughout her. What was the difference that he sensed. She didn't reek of death either; it was there, but it was fading.
Turning, he heard her breath catch. He was glancing at her from the corner of his eye. She leaned towards him. Did she not wish him to leave so she might find her companions again? Perhaps... No, he couldn't speculate.
"Come." His steps carried him away from her. She trailed after him, her feet making no noise.
There was nothing coming from her. She had no scent; she made no sound. But he could feel a small amount of power radiating off of her.
Her eyes looked empty. That bothered him, more than he would care to admit. She must have been through something traumatic. The question was, what? She didn't look any worse for wear, nor did she seem to fear him anymore then she had before. If he had thought about it, she actually seemed less inclined to fear him.
Kagome followed him when he said to. Why? She didn't know; something in her told her to do so. Something about following him felt right, something about him felt right. The pain she'd felt for as long as she could remember was gone. He'd done that. He helped her. Her mind supplied the word "alpha". She was sure she'd heard it before. It was important. He was alpha.
He was her alpha.
Yes, that was right. He would care for her as long as she cared for him. That small nugget of information slipped into her mind. She would follow and he would lead. He would protect her and feed her. Wait, no. That wasn't quite right. She would find her own food, and he would watch over her while she looked. Then, when the young ones needed to be watched, she would care for them.
Wait. Young ones?
That's right, there were two. They weren't clear, but he was the tall man. He was alpha, and she was alpha, so she would care for him and the young ones. That's what she would do.
He called her Miko. Was that her name? It didn't sound right. What did it mean? Miko. She searched her mind, and tried to locate the information. She then shook her head; she didn't know. She couldn't remember. She knew it was there, somewhere. Like everything else, she would think on it another time.
His eyes narrowed, but he didn't stop. She would whimper like a bitch. She hadn't said a word. Yet she made the sounds that a female inu would make to submit.
He turned to face her, and suddenly, Sesshoumaru's eyes widened. Her aura was mimicking his own. It flowed, rose, and receded like his. It swelled and compressed before finally vanishing beneath the surface. "Miko."
Rin was the same. She wouldn't speak for weeks. Perhaps they had experienced a similar trauma. It was possible that the barrier could have caused some problem. There was more: her power seemed much more controlled than it had been before. Every time before now, she had needed to use a bow. Yet now it acted like his own youki. It filled her whole being.
Perhaps a test was in order.
Yes, a test.
He took off suddenly, at a speed she didn't think was possible.
It happened so fast, that panic set in and she took off running after him. She felt for him, searched for the small sparks of power that she'd noticed immediately when she first saw him. There he was! She ran faster. The world around her slowly turned into nothing more then a green blur. Her legs burned and her body ached, but she knew that she had to catch him.
She kept up, barely, but she did. The power he felt before was just like his; it moved and flowed.
"Kagome!" A voice yelled her name. the same as he always did, even though he knew she she wouldn't respond.
He hated it. He couldn't even touch her. There was some weird spell that surrounded her, and kept them all from getting too close.
His auburn fur suddenly bristled at a strange scent that assaulted his nose. He couldn't remember where he knew it from, but it unsettled him. He ran quicker down the path with a bowl of rice in his hands. When he got to the clearing, the bowl of rice fell to the grass beneath his feet. The ground next to the vine-covered wall of the well, where she had sat for the past four weeks, was empty.
She was gone.
He was frantic at first. Shippou took off, and followed the scent. His nose twitched, as he tried to pick up even the lighest scent. There was a slight scent that clung to the ground. It was very faint, as if it had been there for weeks, though he knew that it was fresh. There was enough of it to trail, but then it all but vanished. Only strong demons could hide their scent that well, so whatever had taken her must have been as strong, or stronger, then Inuyasha.
Shippou searched. And searched some more. But there was nothing. Kagome was well and truly gone.
"Oi, Shippou! Where ya at?" Inuyasha wasn't even half way up the path to the well before the small kit exploded from the trees, and threw himself into Inuyasha's chest. He was babbling on about something, his words were slurred and jumbled together, and tears poured from his face.
It was startling.
"Whoa, okay. Calm down. Slow down, Shippou, and tell me what's wrong." His display of maturity was enough to settle the young fox-kit in his arms. Inuyasha held him still, and hoped that it would help to calm him down a bit more before they reached the clearing. His own pace increased, and carried him quicker. They reached the clearing with the well, and then he caught it. The scent.
Shippou had said that he'd smelled something strange.
He knew this smell, knew the one who made it. It was Sesshoumaru.
Why had he been here? What happened to Kagome? Did he hurt her? No, that wasn't possible. Whatever curse that had been placed on her wouldn't let any harm come to her. Kaede had assured them of that, after she felt the barrier herself.
So what happened?
"Shippou, did you check the springs? You know even though we haven't been able to talk to her, she still goes and takes a bath everyday." At the kit's nod, he began to worry himself. She hadn't just vanished like this before. He shook the thoughts off. He needed to tell the others. Maybe Kaede would know something. He shifted Shippou so the fox-kit was sitting securely on his shoulders, then turned and started back down the way they had come, leaving the bowl and spilled rice where it lay, completely forgotten.
They needed to find Ksgome.
AN: Finally Beta'd. My girlfriend spent two hours picking through the mass of jumbled words that is the first chapter of this story. I've been through four betas that just dropped it so it's amazing. I think it's better now.