Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 40 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon

"I've seen you laugh at nothing at all
I've seen you sadly weeping
The sweetest thing I ever saw
Was you asleep
And dreaming."

- The Magnetic Fields, "Asleep and Dreaming"


They called it cancer.

He had heard of it before, but had not made the connection between this clinical disease and the mysterious illness that had caused his world to crumble when he was young, so long ago. Now that he knew what it was, it was surprisingly logical that a youkai would fall ill of it - he wasn't entirely certain how it all worked, but something went wrong somewhere with cells. They weren't supposed to divide unless it was to heal or grow, except with cancer they did; multiplying over and over, turning the body against itself.

How many wounds did the body heal? How many times did it take before irreversible decay set in?

She had a month, maybe two. Pancreatic cancer, metastasized, spread through her liver and just beginning to invade her lungs. The bad cramps she had been having, the way she just wasn't interested in food, the shedding of pounds - they were all such vague symptoms. The doctors would not have known what to look for if he had not caught the scent on her breath.

But of course even then it was too late.

He wished...


"Do you remember that talk we had?"

It was evening, and she was lying listlessly in the bed they had shared. She had wanted to be at home when she left. He slept on the floor at night, next to her.

There was a rustle as he moved from his chair to her bedside. "Which one? There were many." He spoke softly, moved slowly - loud noises and sudden gestures made her nauseous. She looked back at him with tired eyes in a sunken face, surrounded by wisps of hair and the garish scarf he had bought for her.

"The first one." Her voice was feeble. He knelt next to her.

"The one by the fire?"

A wan smile managed to manifest itself before it died. "Yes. That's the one."

He snorted. "Of course. What of it?"

She blinked slowly, a small frown on her face, her new way of shaking her head in exasperation. "If I had know that would be the first of many, I would have tried to make it better."

"It is not good enough as is?"

"No, it's fine..."

She trailed off. After a moment he thought she had fallen asleep and began to rise.


He stopped. "Yes?"

"Let's have our last conversation right now."

The request was so odd that he thought he had heard her incorrectly. "What?"

She opened her eyes and looked at him, and from behind the fog of drugs and illness the old her flashed for a brief moment. "Let's have our last conversation," she repeated.

She really had always been the only one who could make him panic. Low in his belly, a slimy knot of tension slithered around and over itself, tightening. "Are you planning on leaving afterwards?" he wondered out loud, nonchalant, but he knew she could see right through it.

"No," she said, closing her eyes again. "I just... want to have our last conversation now. While there's still time, and I'm still me."

Her voice was breathy, a little labored. He could tell that it hurt her to speak.

But all things hurt, so it was no matter.

"All right," he said quietly.

"Come lay next to me."

The room was so quiet when he lowered himself to the mattress that he could hear the small revolt of her stomach at the movement. She grimaced, eyes still shut.

The sheets were cool and a little worn from many washings, and as he slid between them he thought of all the times he had done so over the years, of all the times she turned to him and made him into himself, of all the times he had held her, had drawn her close and made her sigh and moan. But even though he had made the most of each moment, every memory felt like a chance he had missed, though what he had failed to do he could not say. Slowly he rolled over on his side so that he was only inches away. His hand found hers where it lay listlessly against the covers. He cradled it in his own, and to him it seemed like a bird, hollow and light and -

"Kagome?" he said, voice soft, cutting off the thoughts he did not want to know.

"Mm," she mumbled. On the other side of her he heard the clicking of the morphine button as she pressed it. It seemed to have become a reflex.

He almost couldn't stand it. "Would you like me to go?"

"Mm, no." She appeared to be struggling to wake up, though she seemed quite lucid despite all the drugs in her system. With great care she turned her face to his.

For a while she just looked at him, her eyes trailing over his features, as if she were searching for something she had never seen before. He waited, wondering what to say; in his head, a thousand tiny echoes were trying to make themselves heard, but none of them were strong enough to find voice.

"So, Kagome," he finally murmured. "How do we begin our last conversation?"

She closed her eyes and turned her face to the ceiling again before opening them slightly. Her heavy-lidded gaze might have been one of desire, once, maybe yesterday, maybe a year, a century, a millennium ago; it didn't really matter, since each one was just as unreachable as the last.

"We start with you asking me how I feel," she said after a moment of reflection.

"All right. How do you feel, Kagome?"

A tiny smile bloomed on her face. "Like shit, Sesshoumaru. Like shit."

"I see. That sounds bad," he hypothesized.

"It is bad," she agreed.

The click of the morphine was loud in the room.

She sighed. "Maybe," she said slowly, and he could tell she was trying not to slur her words too badly, "I should have planned this better."

"You never were very good at planning," he pointed out.

"No, I wasn't, was I? I made so many mistakes." She sighed again, weary. "I'm sorry."

His eyes traced the brilliant streams of color flowing through the scarf on her head. "For what are you apologizing?" he asked.

"For..." Silence fell into her words, and in the space he thought he could smell gathering tears, but then she blinked and it was gone. "For many things," she continued. "But right now... for ruining our last conversation."

Something twisted in his throat. "It is not ruined."

"I'm not saying the right things," she insisted, and this time the scent of unshed tears, of frustration and loss, was stronger.

So light, so heavy. "But what are the right things?" he wondered softly.

A small grimace crossed her face, but he could see the smile hidden in there, somewhere. "If I knew, I'd be saying them. God, I don't know. I feel like I should have something significant to say. Like I should say something wise."

"Why?" The lump in his throat squeezed tighter, into something painful that could not be swallowed or willed away. Absently, he marveled that he could still breathe around it.

Next to him, she shifted stiffly. "I guess... because I'm dying for real this time, but I still don't..." She trailed off, her eyes fluttering a little as she tried to think through the fog.

"...You don't...what?"

She turned her face to his again, seemingly startled, before giving him a tired smile. "I don't even know what I don't know. If that makes any sense. And I feel like I'm supposed to."

"Why would you know it now?"

"...I think... because this is the last thing. The very last. So I should say something that makes sense of it all, that would explain everything. It should give you comfort. It should complete me..."

Her mouth twisted sadly. "But I can't think of anything."

Briefly he closed his own eyes before opening them again. "Comfort..." he echoed in a soft, hollow voice.

"I'm sorry I'm leaving so soon," she whispered.

"It was inevitable that it would end this way." Strange how the truth rolled off his tongue as if it didn't hurt at all.

Shutting her eyes and turning away from him again, she gave the barest ghost of a laugh. "You know, I'm kind of glad that I didn't grow old with you. I'd have gone wrinkled and grey, and you'd still be beautiful. But I guess I'm ugly now, too. So maybe that's silly."

To his surprise he snorted. It was amazing, really, that she could still coax amusement from him, even now.

"It is silly," he told her. "Your appearance was never of consequence."

She glanced at him from the corner of her eye. "Any other woman," she said, "would have just been crushed. But I know what you mean."

And that was the crux of it.

The hand not holding hers moved up, brushed a thin, feeble strand of hair from her gaunt face.

"I know you do, Kagome," he said softly.

She turned to his touch, very slightly, like she always did.

"Are you afraid?" he asked suddenly.

She blinked, then closed her eyes. "No. I've done this before, remember?"

"I remember."

"I... want to wait..."

Her voice was so soft. He moved closer to her, so that his nose was just inches away from hers, his fingers stroking her cheek. "What do you mean?" he murmured.

But instead of answering him, she just frowned slightly. She seemed in danger of slipping over the edge and into sleep.

He wished he could follow. He wanted to follow her so badly.

Outside, the sun was slipping down the sky. Fiery evening light spilled in through the window, and it seemed to him in that moment that a sunset was the saddest thing of all.

"Fuyu said something to me, before I left for Edo," she said quietly, suddenly.

"...And what was that?" His thumb traced over her eyebrow.

"She asked me... what you would do without me."

"...And what did you say?"

"I didn't really answer her. I didn't know."

He said nothing.

"You don't have any close friends," she murmured. "I worry about you, after..."

But how could he take this again, and again? "I do not need them," he told her. In his throat, the lump seemed to crush his voice, leaving it as pale and sad as hers.

That weary smile again, as if she knew something he did not. "After..." she sighed. Her eyes were still closed.


" know, supposedly I should want you to move on and find someone else, so you won't be lonely. But I don't."

He could not say a word.

Very slowly, her eyes opened, just a little. "I'm just selfish, I guess."

Something in his stomach loosened.

"Good," he said.

She swallowed hard.

"But still," she murmured, fighting to stay with him, to not slip into slumber. "After..."

She tried to lift her hand, but she didn't have the strength any more.

Gently he caught her fingers in his own and brought them to his lips. "After..." he breathed against her skin. She turned her hand to stroke his cheek, and she was fragile, so terribly fragile, so breakable, and mortal, and dying -

"Sesshoumaru - "

- the world seemed so small -

" - don't be afraid."

His heart was dissipating.

"I am not afraid," he said quietly.

Again, Kagome gave him that tired smile.

"Okay," she said.

And then, without really knowing why, Sesshoumaru sank down, hid his face in the soft space between her shoulder and her throat.

"Okay," he whispered back.

Eventually, she fell asleep.

Sesshoumaru listened to her breathe.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 40 of 42

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