The night was still clinging to the sky as if it was aware of those watching, half wishing that the sun would delay forever. There were several eyes upon it, their thoughts just as dark as that sky, even as they were wrapped in their loved one’s arms.
One lonely soul awaited the coming dawn in the court yard, passing the time drawing pictures in the sky, using the few remaining stars as his guidelines. He was impatient, wanting this war to be over already, for life to go on from there. Sighing he tried to push his impetuous thoughts away, knowing they would do him little good in the battle ahead.
The sound of footsteps turned his attention away from the heavens. “I have been looking for you, Miroku,” her soft voice reached out to him.
“Sango,” he greeted her before turning his gaze back skyward, “do you need something?” he asked.
She stared at him silently for a moment. “yes, I do. I need my friend and companion. I need you, Miroku. I do not like how things are right now.” Sango admitted quietly.
“you have other friends and companions,” he said, not sure himself why he was being so cold to her. His heart had sped the moment she said that she needed him, but for some reason it was not enough.
“But they are not you…” she whispered, aware her words had not come out quite like she wanted them to. “Miroku…” she sighed, her heart pounding in her chest, fear nearly closing her mouth completely. Sango wondered at times if she would not rather face a dozen yokai alone and unarmed than to bare her world to another, but this man was worth that. Taking a deep breath, she moved closer to him.
The image of him in that moment would stay with her forever. Solemn violet eyes looked at her as the gentle breeze tugged at his dark hair and robes, the soft chime of the rings of his staff as he lowered it before turning toward her fully for the first time. “What is it, Sango?” he asked, just a trace of hope in his voice.
“Miroku…” she tried again, calmer than before, “I love you and if we survive I…” Sango’s words were cut off as she was buried in his arms.
“I love you too,” he told her, holding her tightly. When he finally loosened his grasp, she looked up at him, her light blush was clear even in the dim light. “you can finish now,” Miroku said teasingly.
“I want to try to be with you.” Sango continued breathlessly.
“hmm, close,” he said, kissing her forehead, “try again.” His voice remained playful and light, lifting her spirits.
“I,” she began again, knowing what he was aiming for, “want to be with you.”
“closer,” he brushed his lips over her cheek, “try adding ‘always’”
Smiling up at him, Sango let go of old ghosts and did as he asked, “I want to be with you, always.”
The teasing light left him as he covered her mouth with his own. It felt like sweet air after the life was nearly choked from you. They clung to each other as if their very next breath depended on the person in their arms, finally free of the heavy weight they had carried.
The watcher leaning against the castle wall smiled. It was finally as it should be. She turned and silently walked away, the dark fall of her hair blending with the shadows.
Kagome turned away from the window, snuggling the pup she rocked gently in her arms. It was nearly time to meet the others, the ever lightening sky drawing them away from home and their precious babes. Reluctantly, she placed Toshihiro back in his crib next to his sleeping brother. Charmed by Takeshi’s grumpy face, she softly stroked his ear, making it twitch as he opened one eye to glare at her. Laughing quietly, she backed away from the crib, letting them rest.
The farther she drew away from the four pups, the more her smile faded. Warm arms embraced her from behind. “It will be alright, Kagome,” Inuyasha told her as he kissed her hair.
“My mind won’t settle,” she told him, placing her hands on his arms where they wrapped around her chest. “What if we fail?”
“We cannot,” Sesshomaru crossed the room where he had also been watching over the children. Lifting her chin until she looked at him, he continued, “If we were to, this burden would fall to them, they would carry this all of their lives and possibly die trying.” His words sounded harsh, even to him, though he ignored Inuyasha’s glare.
Kagome thought of the future of her children should she die. Would her daughter suffer as she had, as Shikyomi had, living life watching all she loved perish around her. Which of her sons would take up the battle, would they all die because she herself had wavered? The questions hit her like nails in her chest, anger giving steady clarity to her. Eyes blazing with furious lights, she met the golden gaze of her mate. “We will not fail.” Kagome said with certainty.
“not a chance in hell,” Inuyasha agreed squeezing her tightly. Sesshomaru touched their faces briefly, cloaking himself in an icy shield before turning and leaving the room, his mates following in his wake, determination and wrath equally filling their veins.
Shikyomi walked the garden path, her beloved beside her as the enjoyed the last of the night. Neither had slept, just held on to one another as time worked against them. Even with the serene presence of her future mate, she could feel the rise in her blood. The desire and want to rend, tear, and dismember all who would threaten burned within her chest; a fire that would not be quenched by anything short of Hisuhebi’s keening death shrieks. That was a lamentation she had long waited to hear.
“You will remember your promise, Shikyomi?” Midoriko asked drily. She could nearly see the carnage playing in the crimson tint that flickered in the inu’s eyes.
“This one would never forget, dear one.” She replied with a cocky smirk.
“Shi,” Midoriko stopped her just out of sight from where the others were gathering in the court yard. “Do not let your anger and sorrow blind you in rage. It is not your destiny to kill that monster.”
Shikyomi wrapped her arms around her, feeling the slight trembling to her form. “I know, but I must be there,” she whispered against her hair, bathing in her scent. After a moment, she released the smaller woman. “Besides, it does not have to be my fate to kill him, just so long as this one can dance on his grave in the process, preferably as he is being put in it.” The sardonic look she received made her laugh as she pulled the priestess along with her to where the others waited.
A calmness settled over the court yard. Miroku and Sango stood, a new glow about them, as the Sesshomaru, Kagome, and Inuyasha appeared, their pack whole, but for the pups. Tsuyoi was the next to arrive, coming to stand beside Sango after bowing to the western lord and his mates. Shikyomi soon followed, the smile on her face chilling despite the warmth in her eyes. They were gathered and it was now time to hunt.
Kei and Hakaru stood with Midoriko as the group faded from sight. The priestess wondered if it was harder being the ones headed to uncertain battle, or the ones left behind to wonder and worry of its outcome, possibly never knowing what would become of those that they loved. Her heart was both heavy and hopeful as she turned away, the gleam of her lover’s pale hair no longer visible, but the warmth of their last embrace still lingering on her skin. “Fare well,” she prayed to the wind that raced along their path just before the palace doors closed behind her.