Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 11 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon

"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." - Nelson Mandela

Two months later, after her final exams had been sweated over and passed with flying colors, after graduation had been squared away, after she had turned down a job offer and been accepted to graduate school, Kagome woke up, walked into the bathroom to wash her face, and found Kikyou staring at her from the prison of the mirror.

Kagome shrieked, the soap squirting out of her hand to skitter across the floor as she flung her arms up in defense. She nearly broke the glass before she realized that Kikyou was wearing 20th century pajamas, looked as frightened as she felt, and had a serious case of bed-head.


Kagome looked up to see Souta peering around the edge of the door. "What's wrong? Did you hurt yourself?" he asked, his voice laden with concern.

Averting her eyes from the mirror and trying to calm her frantic panting, Kagome shook her head. "No! No, I – I just, um... was startled, that's all," she reassured him, running a shaking hand through her hair and leaving a soapy streak behind. Not what I meant to do, she thought with chagrin as a thick lock clung to her fingers. Now I have to wash it.

Souta looked unconvinced. "What could have startled you? Did you see a spider?"

For half a second, Kagome almost seized on the convenient excuse, but in the end she decided it would just be best to let everyone know she was crazy. Maybe they'd lock her up and she wouldn't be so stressed.

"No. I, uh, looked in the mirror and thought someone else was there," she told him. She still didn't look at the glass hanging over the sink.

Souta frowned. "Like, you saw someone behind you, or you thought your reflection was someone else?"

Kagome sighed as she disentangled her fingers from her hair. Stupid soap, she mentally grumbled.

"I thought I was someone else for a moment."

Souta broke into a grin. "Oooh, that's creepy. I wish that would happen to me."

She gave him an exasperated look as she shook the last strands from her hand. "It wasn't fun," she told him. "It was scary."

"So who was it?"

Oh, just my past incarnation. "No one, just someone different," she said.

Souta looked disappointed. "Oh well. That's too bad. I thought you might have turned into someone pretty," he said slyly, clearly under the impression that he was being clever.

"OUT!" Kagome yelled, hurling a wet wash cloth at him. It hit the doorframe and he ducked out, snickering. Kagome slammed the door behind him. Apparently little brothers never grew out of teasing their older sisters, even boys as inherently quiet and shy as Souta.

She stood and stared at the door for a moment, letting her heartbeat return to normal. Her limbs were shaking very slightly, the way they did after a fight or after someone made her angry; the adrenaline in her system had nowhere to go and was forcing her into a case of the jitters, a state that Kagome found extremely annoying.

Although not nearly as annoying as waking up and finding out you've become someone else. The thought filled her with a vague sense of fascinated horror. She slowly turned toward the mirror again.

She didn't look so much like Kikyou this time, but the resemblance was stronger than she'd ever seen.

Extending a hand, Kagome ran it down the face of the girl in the mirror that looked similar to Kikyou, but not quite the same. It had always been that way, of course, but the resemblance was so much more striking now. Kagome squinted and her reflection blurred a little bit and suddenly she was Kagome again.

She stopped squinting, frowned, and leaned closer. The quirk of her mouth was still the same, and the hair was still just a little fluffier and more unmanageable, but there was something else. Kagome brought her other hand to her face and ran a feather light touch over her eyes, feeling the papery quality of the skin beneath them and the slightly oily texture of her eyelids. She blinked slowly and refocused. There. There was a change in her eyes – a hint of something lonely and stricken – that spoke more of the dead miko than her living counterpart. Something sad in her eyes, an echo of something lost that was always more characteristic of Kikyou than herself.

I was always the happy one.

Kagome wondered if it had been gradual or sudden. After all, how often does one really look at herself in the mirror? What would Inuyasha say if he saw me now?

Watching herself as she did so, Kagome traced the curve of her nose and the arch of her brows, trying to decide why she looked so much like Kikyou now when she hadn't before. It didn't make any sense.

Deeply troubled, Kagome bent over the sink and splashed cold water over her face. Unconsciously, she scrubbed a little harder than usual, as if she could wash out the resemblance. As she turned off the light when she left the bathroom, a thought flashed across her mind, and she wondered if she left behind a shade of herself – of Kikyou – in the mirror even as she passed out of the room. Stopping in her tracks, she stood outside the door before slowly reaching back inside and turning the light on again. It was rude to leave someone in the dark, after all.

Kagome tried to shake off her shadowy notions as she went to her closet and unearthed her own traditional clothes – a pair of black hakama and a thick haori that she hadn't worn since middle school – to pack away. Today was the day she had decided on; she was going to try the well again. Before, she hadn't had the luxury of deciding when to return, but that all changed; now that she was just a free-floating character in myth she felt it afforded her a certain degree of freedom. After all, it was the well that had decided to spit her out where it did, and it could damn well determine where she needed to go from here.

Idly, she wondered how many years had passed since her last visit. Chances were growing slim that Miroku and Sango were still alive, but the tiny flame of hope that she had harbored for those years between departing and returning still burned. They'd be old, but that wouldn't matter, right? They would still be her friends, and she missed them terribly. It was too late for Inuyasha, but she could still salvage something.

She was more certain that Shippou was still alive, although his appearance now might be different – how quickly did kitsune age, anyway? Either way, she wanted to find them again. If she could go back, she would do her best.


Looking up, Kagome was mildly surprised to find her mother standing in her doorway. "Yes, mama?" she asked brightly, placing a piece of folded clothing in her backpack. They'd be wrinkled when she retrieved them, but she made a valiant effort to keep them neat anyway.

Kagome watched as her mother frowned slightly before stepping into the room, quietly shutting the door behind her. There was an expression clouding her features that could only be described as sad and a little wishful. Kagome tilted her head, puzzled. "Mama?"

"You are going back today," her mother stated as she leaned back against the door.

Kagome nodded.

"I wish you wouldn't, Kagome."

Kagome was taken aback. "Wh – what?" she stammered. Her mother had never really expressed any sort of reservation about her time-traveling. She wondered what had changed her mind.

Her mother just gave her a look so knowing that it took Kagome's breath away. It was as though her mother knew something and she didn't, something about Kagome herself, something only mothers know. If she did, she was doing better than Kagome herself. How about letting me in on the secret? Kagome thought.

"I wish you wouldn't go," her mother said again. "It's dangerous."

Kagome gave a disbelieving laugh. "It was more dangerous when I was in junior high," she said. "I'll be fine!"

But her mother shook her head. "Not that kind of danger," she said quietly.

"What do you mean?"

Waving a hand as though she could pluck the answer out of thin air, her mother looked away. "I mean... you can't live your life there."

Kagome sighed in relief. "I know that," she replied, smiling and stuffing another piece of clothing into her backpack. "I just want to see my friends again, and I feel like I have a duty to do these things. You know? Like if I don't do it, no one will. You know," she continued conversationally, trying to ignore the odd mix of relief and panic that flooded her as she tried to make room in the side of her backpack for the first aid kit, "Ayumi-chan told me that if you don't do something you were supposed to do in the past – well, by time-traveling, like if you know you're supposed to do something and you don't – that you create a rift in the space-time continuum and you destroy the very fabric of reality. I'm not sure what that means, but – "


She stopped mid-ramble.

Her mother smiled softly. "I know. I just don't want you to be so caught up in what you want to happen that what does happen will take you by surprise. I know you want to see your friends again, but if you live your whole life hoping to just have one more time with them, where does that leave you?"

Kagome felt her shoulders slump, just a little, and she looked away. "I don't know, Mama. I'm just..."

Her mind searched for the right words, but found none. How could she explain to her mother how weird everything around her seemed? How could she put into words the knowledge that no one in the world knew what it meant to have traveled back through time. No one else understood what it meant to lose someone to the past quite the same way she did, and all her life she would be different, without compare, and without companion. No one would ever really know what she felt like, no matter how much she loved or how much they loved her. Little Kagome, who thought love could conquer everything. Except it can't conquer this. Wearily, Kagome passed a hand across her forehead, as though trying to erase her cherished memories.

"I'm lonely."

Soft footsteps fell on the carpet as her mother moved across the floor to kneel beside her. "I know, Kagome. I know." Kagome felt the heavy, sweet settling of her mother's arm around her shoulder, and high in her nose she felt the sting of unshed tears.

She'd cried so much in these past weeks, and something in her rebelled, almost violently. In her lap, she clenched her fists. I'm tired of crying, she thought, and so she didn't. She just rested her head on her mother's shoulder and breathed in her comforting scent – soft talc and a hint of rose perfume – and let it soothe her, calm her soul, resurrect her memories of childhood. She wished the answers were as easy as they were then. Even when she was crying for her first love, the answer had seemed simple. Be who you are, be happy for the time you have.

But it didn't seem that simple anymore, and maybe it never had been.

After a moment, her mother pulled away and Kagome sighed deeply, reaching for another item to put in her pack. Kagome wondered if in that moment, caught in the circle of her mother's arms, she had lost something, but it didn't feel like it. Her mother ran a hand through her hair before standing.

"Just come back safe to me, all right?"

Kagome smiled. "I will, Mama."

When she finally leapt into the past only a scant half-hour later, her mother was there to see her off. From the fierce circle of her arms, Kagome suddenly wanted to go, to leave this place where she was loved but not understood, and she didn't even look back as she made the heart-stopping leap of faith into the well.

When she finally felt the magic catch, Kagome breathed again. Suspended in the blue light of time, she finally felt at home with no one else around.

One grey winter morning Sesshoumaru awoke in the House of the Moon, and found that, for the first time in ten years, he didn't want to tear it to the ground.

It was so strange to him to be so suddenly bereft of one of his most familiar emotions that he nearly went back to sleep, certain that he had to be dreaming. He even went so far as to close his eyes on the theory that when he woke up the angry compulsion would return, but after fifteen minutes of floating on the surface of sleep he opened them again and stared at the ceiling that he didn't want to dismantle, piece by piece.

Sesshoumaru blinked before bringing a hand to his face and inspecting it closely through narrowed eyes. The stripes on his wrists were the same. The claws were sharp, the skin pale and smooth, and the blood that ran beneath the skin smelled like his own. Carefully he probed his face with the hand and found everything to be in the correct place.

So, he thought, a little groggily, I didn't turn into anyone else in the middle of the night. Excellent. Good to know. He allowed himself the faintest of smiles; one theory already tested and dismissed and he hadn't even risen from his bed yet. He was doing well today.

Slowly he sat up and propped his elbows on his knees and weaving his hands through his hair. He let the tips of his claws massage his scalp as he slowly passed his hand across the crown, trying to soothe away the pain that wasn't there. After a few moments of this futile exercise, Sesshoumaru rose to his feet and padded across the cold wooden floors to the wall. Stretching out his hand he lightly ran his fingertips over the wood, letting the seams catch his skin. To his surprise, his fingers didn't twitch with the suppressed desire to leak poison and melt the timbers in front of him. He drew back and looked at his hand in confusion.

Around him, the walls of the castle settled into the ground in their old positions. After his victory, he'd ordered it laid out the way it was before, against the memory of it scorched into the mountainside, and when it was finished he had strolled in through the front gates expecting – what? Not the wave of nostalgia that hit him, surely, nor the sudden longing that only his pride kept from his stoic face. He had wanted to tear it apart right then and there, but the expense was too great, and the labor from his reclaimed youkai vassals had been too loving for him to do such a thing. And yet there hadn't been a day since the House of the Moon had been rebuilt that he hadn't wanted to burn it himself. The walls had been witness to none of it – the quiet, cheerful whisper of servants, the squawking attentiveness of Jaken, the echoing laughter of Rin – but the house was filled with ghosts all the same.

He hated that castle, and he dragged himself through his days, letting the rage that bubbled underneath the surface fuel him. He squashed rebellions with impunity, destroyed whoever got in his way, negotiated harshly; he went to bed every night exhausted and resentful, and the next day he would do it again. Day in, day out, the same things over and over, and always the chill of fury beneath his skin.

Except today. Today, his resentment against the prison of memories had dissipated, leaving nothing behind.

Sesshoumaru dropped his hand to his side where it hung uselessly. Experimentally he flexed it, wondering why it felt so empty. Well, it felt empty because it was empty, but there was something else to it. He squeezed his hand shut as hard as he could and found that his strength was still there, but it was as though there was no use for it any longer.

His mouth twisted with displeasure. His whole body felt useless, even weak, as though his bones were bags of sand, unable to hold shape or provide support. His mind felt empty as well, as if he was supposed to be doing something but was not. Something was wrong, or needed to be fixed, and he had forgotten – or worse, never even known – what it was.

Slowly Sesshoumaru divested himself of his sleeping garments and dressed himself for the day, marveling at the novelty that was this feeling of aimlessness. After a few moments in which he stood, half-dressed, in the middle of his room and turned it over and over inside his mind, Sesshoumaru arrived at the conclusion that it wasn't the same as when he wandered in the East in exile. That had been an endless spiral downwards into darkness, and shadows filled his days. He had been swollen with an excess of sorrow; it was like a noise so loud and blaring that he had grown numb and insensate to any feeling at all, and he had remained that way until the miko – Kagome, his mind supplied – had taken a lance and sliced him open with her words.

This feeling, he determined as he shrugged into his haori, was different and yet the same. He could still feel sadness all around him, but it was an abstract sort of sadness, without color or form. Instead of feeling numb, which was a feeling in and of itself, he just felt... nothing. There was an absence of feeling – not because he was avoiding emotion or consequence, not because he was so bombarded that he had become inured to it, but because he simply didn't have a reaction. There was nothing there, except an itch at the base of his spine that made him squirm inside his body. There was a restless quality to it, urging him to move.

Still, there was nothing for it except to go on with his day and see if his driving force came back. Sesshoumaru settled Toukijin and Tenseiga at his hip, made last minute adjustments to his armor, and stepped out of his chambers. Turning he walked down the corridors that didn't resonate with memory before turning into the room where he held his morning briefing.

Sesshoumaru sat down at the low table and was neither comfortable nor uncomfortable, neither at home nor at odds. He wanted to get up and pace; he wanted to leave and not return. With difficulty, he refrained from placing a hand on his forehead to determine if he had a fever.

There was only one advisor in front of him today, and Sesshoumaru couldn't remember his name. Siryuu, was it? Perhaps it was Sinyuu... Regardless, the fact that there was only one meant that today would be a slow day, with nothing much to do, and in front of him Sesshoumaru could feel time unreeling, pale and empty. He listened with half an ear as the advisor – Sanzo? or Seinzo? – detailed the state of his domain. No rebellions, no troublesome youkai threatening villages, no disputes and no allies pestering him with troubles in their own lands. It was a wholly unremarkable day, and there was nothing for him to do. The phantom itch at the base of his spine grew in intensity; he wanted to leap outside his own body. It was winter, when he should want nothing more than to be ensconced inside his warm castle, but something sang in his bones, reached through his chest and grabbed a heartstring, and pulled. The advisor continued on, oblivious.

Finally Sesshoumaru cut him off in mid-recitation. "Is Myouga here?" he asked abruptly.

The advisor, whose name was actually Shirin and who hated to be interrupted, teetered on a mental precipice for a moment before righting himself.

"I – I beg milord's pardon?" he asked.

Sesshoumaru sighed impatiently. "Is Myouga in the castle today?" he demanded again. He couldn't remember the last time he had spoken to the flea; all his recent memories seemed to bleed into one another, unlike the past which stood out sharp and clear.

Shirin struggled for footing. "I believe so, milord, but I don't see why – "

"Send him in," Sesshoumaru commanded before turning his face away, indicating that he was finished with the briefing.

"Yes, milord," Shirin said before bowing and leaving the room at a hurried pace.

Sesshoumaru stared at the wall that he didn't hate and waited for Myouga to make his appearance.

This was how Myouga found himself rudely poked awake – far earlier than he usually arose, he observed grumpily – and rushed down a maze of corridors to the briefing chambers. Outside the door the little flea stretched and tried to shake the bad dreams out of his head before bounding inside as energetically as his old bones would allow. Hopping up on the table, he landed in front of Sesshoumaru, cleared his throat, and announced his presence. "Sesshoumaru-sama!" he called, "What do you wish of me?"

The demon lord turned away from the wall and looked down at his old servant. He narrowed his eyes and leaned closer, causing slight heart stutters in the old flea.

"What on earth are you wearing?" Sesshoumaru asked, a touch of incredulity in his voice.

Myouga squirmed. "I was sleeping, milord," he replied, a shade reproachfully, tying his kimono tighter and feeling naked.

Sesshoumaru merely arched an eyebrow.

Myouga crossed his arms. "I didn't know if the situation was urgent or not. This is what you get when you wake me up!"

"I see." Sesshoumaru supposed that, had he ever stopped to think about it, it was perfectly logical for Myouga, now a highly positioned servant, to have a few new changes of tiny flea-sized clothes. Even clothes for sleeping in, an activity that for some reason he had assumed the flea never did.

Shifting uncomfortably under the demon lord's gaze, Myouga wondered if Sesshoumaru knew how like his father he appeared. Finally he spoke, just to break the silence. "Did... did you want something, milord?"

For a moment Sesshoumaru seemed a little lost and uncertain, but it passed so quickly Myouga wondered if he'd even seen the expression flicker across his face. "I have decided to travel," Sesshoumaru announced.

"Ah," Myouga said, trying not to act surprised. When no further information seemed forthcoming, he cleared his throat and attempted to sound wise. "Traveling is always a good idea when the burden of ruling becomes too much," he declared, hoping it sounded as sage out loud as it did in his head.

Sesshoumaru quirked his other eyebrow, a gesture Myouga was certain he used for the sole purpose of making servants uncomfortable. "Are you saying that I am a poor leader?" he asked imperiously.

Panic. "No!" Myouga immediately amended. "No, what I meant to say was, er, sometimes it's good to get away."

"Yes," Sesshoumaru agreed.

"Your father would take, ah, extended constitutionals as well."


"Yes. He always said it cleared his mind."

Sesshoumaru thought about this for a moment. He didn't really need to have his mind cleared – it seemed empty enough as it was – but it might help to find some sort of focus. Perhaps he needed time away to think.

"I see," Sesshoumaru said again.

There was a pause. "And... where will you be going?" Myouga asked after a moment.

For almost a minute, Sesshoumaru appeared to ponder the question. "Out," he finally answered.

"Just... out?"


Myouga gave up. "What would you like me to do then, milord?"

Very faintly, the demon lord smiled. It was just a quirk of his lip, but it looked very out of place on his usually stoic facade. Myouga found he didn't like it very much. "You shall accompany me," he said lightly.

Myouga decided that this sounded dangerous. "But... my lord, I am a terrible traveling companion! I am quite, quite allergic to it!" he informed his lord almost desperately. Visions of battle and blood went through his mind and sweat broke out on his forehead.

Sesshoumaru sniffed. "The only thing you are allergic to is courage," he informed his old retainer.

"No," Myouga corrected him. "I am allergic to dying, and, pardon me, my lord, but it seems very likely that while traveling with you a situation will occur in which I would be in imminent danger of passing over."

"I like those situations," Sesshoumaru said.

"I know," Myouga answered despondently and let himself slump a little. It had been a long time since his lord had decided to do anything like this, but there was a gleam in his eye that said he was not to be dissuaded. The old flea was fond of saying that he couldn't see into the future, only the past, but since everything had already happened anyway it was just as good as fortune telling. Right now he wished he didn't know what was going to happen, but it didn't matter. The future was crystal clear, bright and pretty and probably filled with incident in which he, Myouga, would be put into grave danger while his lord – like his father before him – simply stretched his legs and yawned.

"Good," Sesshoumaru replied. "Get ready. We depart before midday."

"So soon?" Myouga asked, aghast. His tiny fingers fiddled with the tie to his kimono. "But who will take care of things while you are away?" he said, hoping against hope that he would be left behind to tend to household matters.

Sesshoumaru didn't disappoint, merely shrugged nonchalantly as he stood and turned to exit the room. "I trust you to see to that. And put some clothes on."

Myouga sighed. It was going to be a long day.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 11 of 42

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