Chapter 1: Terracotta Teeth
Kagome kagome / The bird in the basket/cage,
When, oh when will it come out
In the night of dawn
The crane and turtle slipped
Who is behind you now?
"You've been on the road for four hours straight. Don't you think it's time to stop the car and relax for a sec?"
"Stop fussing already, you really don't need to remind me. I've passed at least 10 signs saying; Tiredness can kill, take a break!" Kagome paused, hearing her brother sigh through the phone. "I've drank a lot of coffee, kiddo, there's no need to worry. I'm getting to Tokyo tonight even if it kills me."
She'd meant to sound encouraging, but the coughing and spluttering of Souta chocking on his drink told her he'd not caught the joke.
Souta cleared his throat, voice thin. "It's not like there's a special occasion to rush home for, why are you even-" he suddenly squeaked. "H-hey! How are we talking right now if you're driving?"
Kagome rolled her eyes, practically seeing his judgemental look. For a boy who was five years her junior, he sure liked to act like he was the older sibling. "It's on speakerphone, moron," she muttered, a smile tugging at her mouth. He was such a worry wort.
Continuing down the road with the moon above as her sole companion, Kagome turned the wheel at a bend, glad her headlights were so bright. Making the journey to Tokyo from where she'd been staying at her aunts was a long and tedious one, but she felt more than ready to see her family again.
She hesitated, before inquiring; "How's Grandpa?"
There was a brief moment of silence, then the sound of a long, deep sigh through the phone. "The same, but we're handling it. How- um...how are things with you?"
"Everything's fine." She said a little too quickly, soon smoothing her tone. "I'll be there soon," she promised, guilt gnawing painfully at her heart. Souta assured her as he always did that she didn't need to come home and help, but it never lessened the strain.
Deciding to change the subject, blue eyes glanced out the window to her right, seeing nothing but darkness and the moonlit outlines of trees.
"I haven't seen another car pass by for awhile," Kagome murmured offhandedly, a little disconcerted. Maybe travelling at night hadn't been such a great idea.
"Mmm?" Hearing the sounds of muted explosions and blasters over the phone, Kagome shook her head. She'd lost Souta's attention to video games yet again.
"Hey! You still with me?"
"Oh, sure, sorry. Did you see that it's a full moon tonight? Better be careful~" he chuckled darkly, making ghost noises.
Kagome laughed even as she scanned ahead. Fog was starting to creep into the road, and even the moon wasn't helping with visibility, hanging in the pitch black sky. "I'll try not to run into any vampires."
"It's werewolves, you uncultured swine!" Souta gasped dramatically, and Kagome couldn't hold back her giggle. "Well, if any do bother you, send them my way. I'm fighting Dracula in Castlevania as we speak."
"My hero," she drawled, still smiling.
Saying their goodbyes, the phone clicked, shutting off. Kagome raised her head, noticing a sign on the side of the road, and feeling hope leap in her heart. Leaning forward and slowing the car to a crawl, she frowned, trying to read.
Yet even as she squinted she couldn't make sense of it, as the words were covered in grime. The encroaching fog was getting denser with every second, grey wraiths of smoke rolling through the trees. Kagome sighed and hesitated, before deciding to carry on, stomach twisting at the thought of getting out of the car.
Trees surrounded her on either side of the road, standing tall and thin. Something about their stillness made her shoulders tense, though she knew it was ridiculous. It was probably because it was so close to winter that she didn't feel like getting out into the biting cold, and definitely not that Halloween loomed a few weeks away. Yeah, that definitely wasn't it.
Shaking her head, Kagome drove on. Silence hung in the air like a physical, heavy presence, only mildly broken by the sound of her engine.
She glanced at the map folded neatly on the passenger seat, unopened since she'd turned onto this road an hour ago. It wasn't like she was concerned, she knew to stay on this road for at least another hour, but the sign would've helped assure her.
Kagome's chest tightened, and she swallowed, deciding to lighten the mood. Leaning forward, she turned the radio on, wincing when static blasted through the speakers.
Growling in frustration, she turned the dial back and forth, glancing up at the road after a moment.
Her eyes honed in on a large, dark shape that darted out from the trees, flashing white in the headlights as it stopped in the road. Ice shot through her veins, seizing her heart in a tight grip. Kagome gasped, foot slamming on the break immediately. Her head swung forward, but her eyes stayed locked with the creatures in front of her, heart racing as the tires screeched.
It wasn't moving! She was going to hit it!
Just as she was about to turn the wheel, the white form leaped into the air, heading straight for her. Kagome cried out. The windscreen cracked, some glass caving inwards. Kagome grit her teeth, eyes squeezing shut as the shards flew by her face. As she ground to halt, she rocked forward, panting wildly.
Everything lapsed into silence, save for the sound of her frantic breaths. Terrified blue eyes peeled open slowly.
Pale, shaking hands unfurled from the steering wheel, knuckles stained white. She inhaled a breath sharply, before releasing it, chest rising and falling. She stared unseeingly ahead, mind turning impossibly fast.
"W-w-what the hell was that?" She breathed, voice thin.
Her hand shot out for the handle and yanked, pushing the door open. Ripping the seat-belt aside, Kagome climbed out of the car, legs shaking. She grabbed onto the door as her knees weakened, threatening to give out.
Willing herself to calm down, she set one foot forward, followed by another, breathing in the crisp, cold air. Placing a hand on the car bonnet to steady her, Kagome staggered forward, terror seizing her at the sight of the damage.
The windscreen was almost completely caved in. It's glass was covered in cracks, all spilling out like a spiders web from one deep indent in the screen. It was barely holding itself together, though a few fragments had broken off inside the car. There was another indent of the same size on the bonnet, probably crushing the engine lying underneath.
Cursing shakily under her breath, Kagome glanced up, searching for anything in the cover of the misty outlines of trees. What was that thing? It had looked like a dog, but none that she'd ever seen. What kind of dog was the size of a bear? And it's eyes...
Tracing her mind back, she dimly remembered hearing something hit the roof after the windscreen had caved in. Kagome reached up on her toes, feeling for anything on the roof.
Her fingers met another deep indent. Bringing her hand back quickly, Kagome cradled it to her chest, wondering what this meant.
Had the white dog jumped onto her car? Even if it had, would it really have been heavy enough to crack the windscreen like that, or even the bonnet? One thing was certain, she hadn't hit it. The creature had willingly lunged at her.
Standing stunned for a moment, Kagome just stared at the damage, at a loss what to do. "I-I guess I can't drive it like this," she laughed weakly.
First things first, I need to call someone. No, wait, its safety first I guess.
Sliding back into her car and switching the hazard lights on, Kagome grabbed her phone and stepped out into the cool night air once more. Warily glancing around for any sign of the white beast, she realized with dismay that she didn't have any breakdown services saved on her phone.
Kagome sighed, wishing she'd been a little more organised. Souta always did say I left everything to chance.
"Souta..." she murmured, hand tightening around the phone. She could ring home and ask them to arrange a pick up truck for her, but it was late and Grandpa was in a 'sensitive state' as the doctors called him. Kagome didn't want to burden her mother with any more stress on top of that.
Scrolling down her list of contacts, she decided to ring Yumi, an old schoolmate who she hadn't lost touch with by some miracle. Just as her thumb hovered over the 'Call' button, a bright light caught her attention. Kagome winced, blinded- and lifted her hand to shield her eyes.
The lights dimmed, and Kagome heard a car approaching, the headlights steadily drawing nearer.
Relief flooded her, but at the same time a faint pang of caution beat in her chest. She'd seen enough horror movies and hitchhiker reports in the news, to know that strangers in cars might not be a trustworthy gamble.
Kagome shivered and wrapped her arms around herself, breath becoming visible in the air as the car slowed and passed her. It parked not too far away.
Her heart thundered in her chest as the driver's door opened. From the light cast by her car, she could faintly make out the number-plate but little else. Fog was still hanging close, draping the stranger in a haze as they began to approach. The sound of footsteps and the faint grumble of their cars engine was all she could hear.
Kagome's eyes were wide, but she held herself still.
Now that they were closer, their form was discernible from the gloomy haze. He was dressed in a casual suit, but the tie at his neck was to the collar, clothes crisp and clean. He had long, dark hair tied back at the nape of his neck. As he stepped closer, Kagome noticed the handsomeness of his face, and found herself surprised. Out of all the people she'd expected, she hadn't thought a businessman would stop to help her. Suspicion rose in the pit of her stomach, and Kagome's eyes darted to the road.
No one else was around, and no one knew she was there. What road she was even on.
"Are you alright?" A low, pleasant voice asked.
Kagome started, and looked back at him, now able to see him clearly. The moonlight made him look ghostly pale, and somehow otherworldly- and Kagome had never thought to use that word on a person before. He stopped at a respectable distance as Kagome looked him over. The stranger seemed genuinely concerned.
"Y-yeah I'm fine," she cursed her squeaky voice.
He came closer, dark eyes locked with hers. "You're bleeding."
Kagome blinked in surprise and glanced down at herself. She was? Where? Why hadn't she noticed?
The man took pity on her and gestured to his cheek. Kagome's hand rose to her face and gingerly traced her fingers down, wincing when she felt a few scrapes.
He watched her, face unreadable. Kagome smiled reassuringly, "it's just from stay bits of the windscreen. I don''t think I have whiplash or anything. I'm mostly a little shaken up."
He nodded, "not surprising. Did you hit something?"
At that, Kagome frowned slightly. "No, well- it's hard to explain. I think a dog or something jumped onto my car and dented it. I know it sounds strange but- I mean look!" Her hands waved enthusiastically in the air, gesturing to the car.
The quiet man approached her vehicle, assessing the damage with intense, focused eyes. Kagome wasn't sure what to make of his expression. His face seemed guarded.
A large hand drew out and traced the dent in the bonnet. "While this may be strange to you, miss, the attack you described is a regular occurrence on this road."
"W-what?" Kagome breathed. "Then why hasn't someone caught the dog yet? It was massive, like- the size of a bear! I'm not kidding!" She squeaked, voice thin.
Eyes that told of secrets, but held them locked tight in a strongbox, raised to meet hers. Kagome quieted instantly, uncertain of what she was feeling.
"The village in this area is small, they don't have the funding or support to undertake such a task. Simple village folk would be no match against such a creature, wouldn't you agree?" The man straightened, expression still carefully blank, but something hard leaked into his voice.
Kagome frowned, unsure what to make of him. He spoke strangely, entirely formal and almost old fashioned.
She rubbed her arms against the chill in the air. "I-I guess. Do you live around here?"
"Hn, at the border of the village. My brother is a mechanic and owns a small business within it." He glanced at her car. "It's doubtful he could repair it, but you could at least hold your vehicle there for now."
Kagome's eyes widened. "O-oh." This was the tricky part. Could she trust his word, or was he just saying this to get her to trust him? He didn't look like a serial killer, but they hardly wore signs around their necks. "Will your brother be able to tow my car to the village?"
The stranger nodded, his stillness setting Kagome's teeth on edge. "I will contact him now. If you wish, there is also a small hotel where you could stay for the night."
"Ah, thank you very much." She smiled slightly. Realizing she'd been a little rude, she continued. "My name's Kagome Higurashi by the way."
His eyes widened, as if caught off guard and finally noticing he hadn't offered his name. "Sesshoumaru Taisho."
Kagome's shoulders eased as she relaxed a little. Someone with a name that meant 'Killing Perfection' sounded like they belonged in a gang, but the awkward way he'd said it made her smile.
He might not have been a very responsive or warm person, but he did seem nice under that indifferent attitude. However, Kagome was still uncertain, and as he turned away to make a phone call, she wrung her hands.
He'd probably offer to give her a ride into the village soon, and then she'd have to choose whether to trust him or not. Deciding to be safe, she rang Souta.
"Hey Sis, whats up?"
"Um, nothing serious, I just broke down is all." She said easily. This way she could tell him the facts and gloss over the details, hopefully making him worry a little less.
There was a panicked squeak from the line. "W-what! Are you okay?"
Kagome's lips lifted at the corners, affection leaking into her voice. "I'm fine, the 'check engine' light flashed up and I coasted to a stop. A guy pulled up and says his brother can tow my car to a village."
"You sure it's safe?" Souta asked hesitantly.
"No sweat, kiddo. He seems like a nice guy, but just in case, I'll text you my road number. I'm going to stay at the hotel overnight, and hopefully it'll be fixed soon." Kagome glanced over to where Sesshoumaru was standing, in deep conversation. He said it was doubtful it could be fixed though. Oh man, what am I going to do?
"What's the name of the village?"
Kagome's silence spoke for itself. Souta gave a long suffering sigh, as if imagining her smiling and waving it off.
She laughed weakly, "I'll text you that too." Kagome's eyes drew back to Sesshoumaru once more, but stopped short at the sight of his passenger door opening. A little girl around the age of ten stepped out, her eyes wide and inquisitive.
"Papa? Whats going on?" She asked, voice soft.
Sesshoumaru stilled, turning with a frown as he lowered the phone from his ear. "Rin. Did I not tell you to stay inside?"
Rin nodded and grinned apologetically, a gap in her teeth. Her eyes strayed to meet Kagome's, who stopped. A ripple of unease shuddered down her spine, breath catching.
When she blinked, nothing seemed to have changed, and the brief feeling of terror had vanished. Kagome realized dazedly that her hand had risen to her forehead, dizziness swaying her.
"Miss Higurashi?" Sesshoumaru's voice snapped her alert, and she smiled weakly at his inquiring look.
Mentally shaking herself and saying a brief goodbye to Souta, she put away her phone. Rin's dark brown eyes stayed glued to her the whole time, a warm smile slowly touching her face.
Kagome returned it, wondering at the faint sense of alarm that still clung to her. Stepping forward, she buried her feelings. "Your name's Rin? It's nice to meet you, I'm Kagome."
Rin nodded, her eyes landing on the ruined car. She gasped quietly. "Were you driving that car?"
Kagome, seeing her fearful look, gentled her voice."I sure was. Looks bad huh? But don't worry, not a scratch on me." At this, Rin's keen gaze roved over her face, and Kagome sweat dropped. "Well not many scratches anyway."
Sesshoumaru cleared his throat, clicking his phone off. "My brother refuses to pick up your car, but another mechanic who works with him has agreed to take it."
His expression was dark, face like thunder. Kagome hazarded a guess that he and his brother didn't get on too well. "O-oh alright. That's okay, I guess."
"We could wait for him if you wish, or I can take you to the hotel now."
Automatically, Kagome's chest tightened. Glancing down at Rin, she thought briefly to herself. He had his daughter with him, and she didn't have any reason to distrust the guy.
Raising her eyes to meet Sesshoumaru's, she smiled easily. "I'd appreciate a lift with you."
Sesshoumaru nodded, and turned to usher a beaming Rin back into the car. After retrieving her bags from the beat up wreck of her once beloved car, Kagome soon found herself being driven into unknown territory.
Sesshoumaru turned off from the main road almost immediately, driving into the pitch black cover of the trees.
The road was only a faint outline of a path for the car to follow, mist rolling through the road. Kagome held herself rigidly in her seat. An awkward silence hung in the air, and she caught herself glancing at Sesshoumaru. He met her gaze once and calmly returned his eyes to the road. If he noticed her uneasy expression, he didn't comment on it.
"Where were you travelling to, Kagome?" Rin pipped up from the backseat.
She turned to look at her, grateful for the distraction. "I was heading back home to Tokyo, but I kinda wish I'd driven a little earlier in the day."
The little girl nodded sagely. "Me too, we've been on the road for hours."
"Oh?" She hadn't thought to ask why they were travelling so late at night.
"Mmhm, we're on our way back from vacation because school starts again soon." She made a face, but then looked up inquisitively. "Why were you away from Tokyo? Were you on vacation too?"
Kagome tensed, but covered it up by smiling quickly. Her hands met in her lap, fingers threading. She wondered how to change the topic without seeming rude.
"Rin, Miss Higurashi is probably tired. Do not ask such questions." Sesshoumaru's steady voice cut through the air, making Kagome glance at him surreptitiously. She'd only hesitated for a moment, but had he somehow known she didn't want to answer?
Rin sighed and leaned back in her seat as Kagome smiled apologetically.
Her attention was grabbed when they turned a corner, leaving the trees behind them as the car was once more bathed in moonlight. A shudder ran down her spine, making Kagome violently quiver. It was as if something had physically brushed past her. Gritting her teeth against the sensation, Kagome was alarmed to find herself feeling nauseous. Breathing out shakily, she raised her head and found Sesshoumaru's gaze trained on her.
Blushing, she waved it off, missing his lingering look.
Houses awaited them, all grouped close together and looking somewhat old fashioned with their soft, quaint lights. Sesshoumaru carried on through the small, rural village, and Kagome glanced around, wondering how people could live in a place so isolated, so far away from any cities.
As they headed towards a cosy looking house, Kagome found her eyes returning to the driver once more. He was so serious and quiet, it was difficult to know what he was really like, yet she felt grateful to him for the ride. But it's not as if I'm going to hang around here to find out more about him. I'm getting outta this village as soon as I can.
Stopping in front of the two story house, Kagome noticed the lights flick on in the upstairs windows. Feeling guilty that they'd disturbed someone, she got out the car and followed Sesshoumaru up the porch steps. Sesshoumaru didn't knock on the front door, but instead waited silently.
There was a rustling from inside, and the jangle of keys being turned before an old woman answered the door. Kagome was surprised to see that she wore an eye-patch. She pulled her dressing gown tight around herself and frowned deeply at Sesshoumaru, who gazed back, non pulsed.
"Do you have any idea what time it is, Mr. Taisho?" The woman grumbled, her single eye narrowing.
"Past midnight, I suspect. This is Kagome Higurashi, she needs a room for the night." Sesshoumaru said, quick and to the point. He turned and looked back at Kagome, who awkwardly waved from behind him.
The woman glanced briefly at her, mouth thinning, eye widening slightly. Kagome felt another brief tremor of that strange sensation down her spine again, but shook it off. She should probably take some pills soon for the travel sickness.
She couldn't see Sesshoumaru's expression, but his voice softened, making the hair on the back of her neck stand up. "Kaede, this girl was attacked by the white dog that frequents the main road. Would you really turn her away after such an experience?"
Kaede's face turned pale, her eye narrowing once more. The two stared at each other in silence for a moment, something unseen passing between them that hung in the air. Kaede finally stepped aside, not looking at Kagome. "Bring your things inside then, shouldn't be too hard to find ye a room."
Kagome said her thanks, and after grabbing her bags, she followed the woman into the house as Rin waited in the car.
Climbing the stairs, Kaede showed her to a small room with a single bed, dresser and wardrobe. Kagome turned on her heel, words of thanks dying on her tongue the moment she realized the older woman had already left. Trying to shake of the feeling that she was intruding, her bags hit the floor as a sigh escaped her.
"A larger room could be arranged," came a velvety voice.
She jumped, finding Sesshoumaru in the door way. She hadn't heard him follow her up the stairs. He gave the room a once over, before settling his cool gaze on her.
Kagome shook her head. "No way, this suits me fine. Besides, you've done enough for me without all that hassle," her hand that waved in the air froze the moment he stepped closer.
He held up a face cloth, causing Kagome to blink in confusion. When he pressed it into her waiting hand, it felt damp and cool. "Because of the accident, it wouldn't surprise me if you've suffered whiplash. At the very least, you should tend to the cuts on your face."
"O-oh, thanks." She felt her cheeks burn, and smiled softly, cursing in the privacy of her mind. Great, the one time I meet a nice guy, I have a total of seven hours worth of driving hanging over me, and we meet because of an accident. Despite his reserved nature, Kagome couldn't stifle the flutter in her stomach as his dark eyes met hers.
"Here is the number of the garage your car is being held at. My number is below it should you need anything," he murmured, giving her a piece of folded paper.
Saying thanks again felt inadequate, so when he turned with the intention of leaving, Kagome stepped forward. "I owe you. Seriously, if there's anything I can do to repay you for this, just lemme know. I mean it."
Sesshoumaru glanced back at her briefly, eyes shining from the warm light of the lamps. His lips tugged up at the corner, just for a moment- but in a flash it was gone. He nodded and Kagome watched, transfixed, as he left without another word.
Kaede only returned briefly to tell her where the bathroom was, and that breakfast was served at 8.00 am sharp.
"How much is it to stay for the night?" Kagome asked, hoping to soothe the tense atmosphere between them. Kaede's single eye landed on her and stared with an intensity that made the young woman rock back on her heels.
"Mr. Taisho has covered your expenses."
"What?" Kagome breathed, "he can't- I mean, why would he do that?" She stuttered, at a loss what to say.
Kaede's mouth tightened, lips thinning until they pressed into a grim line. "You'd best get some sleep," she muttered, shuffling down the hallway before Kagome could utter another word.
What the heck is going on? She stayed in a state of confusion even as she lay in bed, settling down under the covers. She resisted the strong urge to push the curtains aside and peek outside for signs of the white dog. She remained alert and stiff under the covers, listening. It was so quiet outside. The sound of her own breathing was too loud. She couldn't shake the feeling that it was out there somewhere. Strange, demonic red eyes glowing from within the mists, watching her hotel window.
She shivered and curled herself into a ball, yanking the covers over her head. The image of gigantic, monstrous jaws opening wide and consuming her bed whole made sleep a distant friend for awhile. Deciding to visit the garage as soon as possible in the morning, Kagome's eyes squeezed shut, and she released a long breath.
The last thing that passed through her mind before sleep claimed her, was that she hadn't asked what the name of the village was. Yet even as she tried to remind herself to ask about it tomorrow, a phantom sensation brushed through her, wiping the thought away.
Chapter 2: Trick or Treat
Kagome rubbed her sore neck for what felt like the hundredth time that day, deciding that yes, she probably did have whiplash.
She'd woken up early and had breakfast at precisely 8.00 am. Kaede had been in the same grumpy and standoffish mood as the day before, so Kagome had eaten quickly and swallowed her daily pills, setting out to find the garage.
It wasn't difficult to find, since the village was so small it was near impossible to get lost. The garage was tucked away at the edge of the village nearer to the cover of the trees. As she walked, Kagome passed a corner shop, and spied what looked to be a school further up in the hills. Despite the crisp Autumn breeze and sunny weather, she could barely enjoy it. Everything was too still and quiet. There was no sign of the villagers, no birds chirping, no noisy insects. Just deathly silence. Kagome glanced around, searching for any glimpse of silver fur with paranoia.
Stepping into the shadows of the large garage however gave her some relief, as she spotted her car immediately. Hearing a clank of metal, followed by a curse, Kagome ventured forward towards another vehicle. It was raised slightly in the air on metal rods, and glancing down- Kagome caught sight of two legs poking out from underneath.
"Shit," said the voice attached to the legs.
Kagome cleared her throat. "Excuse me, are you the mechanic who picked up my car yesterday?"
"Keh, no. You're lookin for Koga."
She frowned slightly when he continued on with his work. "Do you know where I could find him?"
"Dammit-" he grumbled, almost to himself, before grunting; "He's around here somewhere."
Kagome frowned and turned on her heel, smoothing her skirts. After walking to the indoor office and finding no one to help her there or even around the back of the garage, her feet reluctantly carried her back to the man beneath the car.
"I couldn't find him," she said, all politeness dropped from her tone.
"Not my problem." He replied airily, continuing to tinker.
She growled under her breath and stamped one foot on the edge of the roller board he was laying on, nearly catching him between the legs and making him jolt. Dragging it back with one sweep, Kagome levelled her gaze on the disgruntled looking man as he rolled out from under the car. His expression shuttered the moment he saw her.
"K-kikyo..." he breathed.
Her eyes widened as they landed on the red substance coating his overalls.
"My names's Kagome, but t-that doesn't matter- are you alright! Are you bleeding?" She suddenly panicked, all anger forgotten.
His dark eyes widened slightly, staring at her. Kagome quieted, but his expression became annoyed once more as he visibly shook himself. "Tch, don't be stupid. This is just from fixing a transmission leak earlier."
The man leaned forward, pulling himself up with a grunt of effort. When he was standing upright, Kagome noticed his features; Black hair and dark eyes.
"You must be Mr. Taisho's brother," she stated, noticing the brief flash of annoyance cross his face.
"And you must be the broad the bastard rang me about last night. Keh, so you managed to get stuck here after all."
Kagome grit her teeth. "Guess so, thanks for the help by the way. At least your brother was decent enough to give me a lift into the village."
"Yeah, he's a real saint." Sesshoumaru's brother grumbled. He wiped his hands on a rag and carelessly tossed it to the floor.
By now Kagome's temper was barely in check. "Look, I just want-"
"Hey there, you lost, pretty lady?" A new voice called out. Kagome's gaze locked on the man as he drew closer with a confident stride. He had tanned skin and blue eyes that twinkled with interest, black hair pulled back into a ponytail.
Kagome blinked and arched her eyebrow. Pretty lady?
"Don't say that shit so early in the morning, Koga. You're gonna make me vomit." Sesshoumaru's brother grouched.
"Shut it Dog-breath, I wasn't talkin to you. Unless of course you want me call you a pretty lady."
Kagome watched as 'Dog breath' growled and began to walk away, throwing an insult to the other man before leaving the garage.
"Don't mind Inuyasha, girly. He's just foul tempered by nature, so it's nothin you've done." The man named Koga smiled.
"O-oh, thanks, I was kind of wondering." Kagome brushed a stray piece of hair away from her face and gave a smile in return. This man was much easier to talk to than his co-worker. "You're the guy who picked up my car yesterday, Koga was it? I'm Kagome."
He nodded, not once looking away from her. Kagome fought not to blush under his scrutiny. He seemed to notice he was making her uncomfortable and grinned boyishly. "Sorry, it's just that we don't get a lot of outsiders here, and it's been awhile since I've left the village. So its not every day I see a pretty face. I have to work with Dog breath instead," he rolled his eyes.
Kagome laughed lightly, imagining working with such a sour man. When her eyes landed on her car however, she sobered, walking over to it.
"Yeah...about that," Koga rubbed the back of his neck.
"You can't fix it, is that it?" Kagome said softly, the dents glared back at her as she looked over the damage. In the light of day, her car looked that much worse.
"Mmhm, nothing I can do."
Koga blinked. "Why?" He gave a short chuckle, wandering over to her car and grabbing the front bonnet. "Took hell of a long time to even pry this thing open y'know," he muttered under his breath, lifting the heavily dented bonnet for Kagome to see the extent of the damage . It pulled open with a distraught squeak.
The engine had been completely crushed inside.
"It's not just that," Koga said, making her eyes connect with his. "Whatever did this crushed the engine so deeply into your vehicle, that it snapped the suspension underneath. This thing is only good for scrapheap now."
Kagome stared at her ruined car. She'd spent months working long shifts, saving whatever she could spare, just to get herself a decent car. The lump of abused metal managed to look dejected and sombre, probably cursing the day she'd decided to buy it.
"What about the holding charges?" She asked, worrying about the price.
The man hesitated, before smiling. "No need to worry bout that, Sesshoumaru paid for it."
"R-really?" She squeaked. Again. Why was he going to so much trouble for her?
Koga seemed to read her mind, and shrugged. "You know, he can usually be found up at the school right about now. He kind of runs it after all."
"Is he the headmaster then?"
With that strange answer in mind and no other alternative for her time, Kagome thanked him, and set out for the school. She could ring Sesshoumaru, but she found that it wasn't too far a walk, and the trek gave her a chance to reflect on her situation, which seemed a little bleak. Ordinarily, she could call a taxi to pick her up and take her the rest of the way to Tokyo, but Kagome knew she was still ridiculously far from the city. It would cost money to get there, money she didn't have. There was always her family that could pay for it, but she felt her Mother was too stressed for that.
Besides, she didn't want to be a burden in such difficult times. She'd make her own way back somehow.
By the time she'd made it up the crest of a large hill that overlooked the village, Kagome was panting. She wiped the sweat from her brow and looked up at the school. It was fairly average looking, with sandy coloured walls and wrought iron fences surrounding its courtyard.
Kagome walked through the gates and into the large courtyard, heading towards the entrance. She stopped short as the double doors burst open and a flurry of activity broke out as children came running, giggling and shouting excitedly. Kagome stilled as they ran around her, but she soon found herself smiling fondly, their palpable joy contagious as they played hopscotch or tag.
"Oh, hello there. Can we help you?" Came a voice, causing Kagome to look up.
A woman with a high ponytail stood in the doorway, holding one of the children's hands. Kagome nodded and smiled.
"I'm here to see Ses- uh...Mr. Taisho." She added on, not wanting to come off as rude. She wasn't overly familiar with the guy, even if she felt grateful to him.
The woman looked utterly unsurprised, which made Kagome to blink as she turned and gestured to go further in. "He's in his office, I think. It's straight down this hallway and then up the stairs on your right. You can't miss it."
Kagome nodded slowly, passing by her and into the school building. The small lockers inside had nostalgia clawing at her, but she thanked the woman nonetheless and made her way down the hallway, glancing around. For some reason, she felt eyes boring into her back the entire time, but tried to shake off the feeling.
Climbing the stairs to her right, a door with a silver name plate caught her attention, and she soon knocked on the door. Foolish butterflies took flight in her stomach, which she tried to smother.
By the time the door opened, she'd laced her fingers together to keep from fixing her hair. Sesshoumaru rose a brow. "Miss Higurashi? I was not expecting you."
"O-oh, right, I probably should have called or something. That was dumb of me," she laughed nervously, cursing her warm cheeks. Damn it.
"Hn, it's fine. Come in," he said in his usual taciturn, no nonsense tone, which Kagome was starting to suspect he used all the time. But the deep baritone did things to her. When they were seated opposite one another, him behind the desk, she noticed he wore no ring. Double damn it! Stop being interested in him! This poor guy is just trying to be nice to you. Just because you fall a little in love with any kind guy who opens a door for you doesn't mean you should-
"What was it you needed?" He asked while Kagome fussed with her hair.
"Well, my car is busted."
Sesshoumaru paused a moment, distractedly continuing to sort through some papers on his desk. "Yes, this one assumed so."
This one? Kagome blinked, lowering her hands from her black locks. What an odd and old fashioned way of referring to oneself. "I don't really know what to do," she confessed anyway. Strange or not, she felt like she could talk to him. "I'm still so far away from Tokyo, I don't even know if a taxi would come out here. Then there's the cost of the journey...and I can't ask my family to pick me up or loan me money."
"Why?" He asked quietly, eyes pinning her in place.
"There's just a lot going on right now." It wasn't an exact lie.
Sesshoumaru finally put the papers away in a draw, closing it with a precise sounding 'click.' "Seems you're stranded then, unless..."
"Unless?" She rose a brow.
"You could work for me, here at the school. In return, I'll drive you to Tokyo in let's say...two weeks."
"Y-you'd employ me?" She squeaked. The man stared at her unflinchingly from across the desk, and it was then that more questions than answers arose at the composed look of him. "Why are you doing all this for me? Bringing me to that hotel was one thing, that was kind enough- but paying for it, the car holding charges, probably the pick up too...and now this?"
His dark eyes stared at her a moment too long, and a flash of something entered them for just a second that made the hair at the back of her neck stand up. A chill rattled down her spine, and she quickly shook herself. It must have been a trick of the light.
No one's eyes were gold.
"You have not done anything to warrant the unfavourable circumstances that have befallen you," he muttered, seeming to remember to blink now. Kagome bit the inside of her cheek. "Rin also...insists upon it. This is her goodwill, not mine," he added, somewhat awkwardly.
It only made her smile, "but it's not Rin's money, I'm assuming," she pointed out, teasing. She then heaved a sigh, thinking it over while fiddling with her hair. "I don't understand it, but thank you. It doesn't matter whatever work it is, I'll do anything," Kagome said thoughtlessly in her gratitude.
Sesshoumaru finally removed his weighty stare from her, glancing out of the office window. "I suppose you could clean the school. Do you have much experience with taking care of children?"
"Oh no 'fraid not, unless you count looking after my little brother. Which reminds me, I should call him. Dunno know why I keep forgetting," she laughed, taking out her phone just to hold it as a reminder. "But anyway, I don't know if I'm okay with this. Just cleaning wouldn't be enough to cover the cost of my stay at the hotel and the cost of travelling to Tokyo."
"You don't have much of a choice," he uttered, causing her to bristle.
"Stop being so nice. I said it before but I'll make this up to you, I promise," she swore, seriousness in her gaze. Sesshoumaru observed her quietly in his usual, unnaturally still way.
The corner of his mouth upturned slightly, "I look forward to it."
A day later and Kagome found herself staring into the cluttered supply closet with trepidation.
"I'm guessing you've never cleaned before?" The woman with the ponytail, who Kagome had come to learn was called Sango- smiled as she freed the vacuum cleaner with a strong yank.
"I have...it's just that I don't know where to start," she sweat dropped, peering into the back of the closet where cobwebs hung, crisscrossing over each other in their number.
Sango giggled quietly and shook her head. "You don't have to clean the actual closet. Just try going from floor to floor, there's no rush now that school's over for the day."
Kagome nodded, thinking back to when she'd awkwardly hung around, waiting to be shown to her 'new job.' Rin had waved at her from across the school yard, before getting into a familiar sleek black car.
"I'll leave you to it then, gotta run," Sango said, lifting a bag onto her shoulder. Kagome turned, concern knitting her brow.
"Not literally, I hope. There's a giant dog on the loose and it attacked me...I don't get why everyone else is so calm about it."
Sango hesitated, "it's not that we're not worried," she said carefully. "We just don't let it stop us from living our lives as best we can. Besides, the beast has never bit anyone, only attacked a few cars."
"Oh," that didn't exactly assure her. "Sorry for assuming that-"
The woman cut her off with a smile, waving her away. "Don't worry about it, see you later!"
Kagome said a hasty goodbye, watching Sango speed off out the doors. Wondering why there was a need to hurry, she sighed and grabbed the vacuum cleaner. She started with the ground floor, which was the first of the three inside the building. With what time she had Kagome figured she could cover one floor each night. The cleaner whirled on nosily and Kagome disengaged her mind as she worked, sucking up stray pencil shavings around the desks in the classrooms. The vacuum made a harsh noise as she ran over something, and Kagome blinked, leaning down.
How she'd missed the stray bits of lego she didn't know. I must be really out of it. Shaking herself, she packed them away in the toy area for younger students, only to pause. Someone must have broken their doll, because a lone porcelain hand lay broken off on the floor. Kagome carefully reached out and set it on the side, hoping the owner would be able to fix it, though the rest of the doll was no where in sight.
Fortunately or unfortunately, that had been the height of excitement during her work hours. She went on to wiping the surfaces and emptying any bins. Finally she dug out a mop and bucket, washing the floors of the dimly lit hallways.
She raised her head after a few hours and rubbed her neck, stretching. The sun had sunk below the horizon and now evening crept in- a splash of purples and oranges still in the sky, slowly darkening.
It was while she was finishing up that Kagome realised she'd have to walk back to the hotel. Alone. Of course she had a flashlight in her bag, but it had blissfully slipped her mind that a giant silver beast possibly lurked within the forest just outside.
Perhaps the reason she’d forgotten was because the residents seemed largely unconcerned. It wasn't as though there were signs or warnings up. In fact many of the children had seemed happy to walk home after school.
She put a hand to her head and breathed out, shaking her fear. It would be fine. Sango had said it'd never bit anyone.
Shoving the cleaning supplies back into the cluttered closet, Kagome shut the door and turned the lock, hearing a clatter from within as they fell over.
"And that's the sound of somebody else's problem," she dusted off her hands, turning. Wait I'm the cleaner now, so that's going to be my problem tomorrow...damn it.
Padding out of the front doors to the school, Kagome shouldered her bag. A faint chill nipped her skin, so she bundled herself up tighter, walking out of the courtyard. She glanced behind at the school briefly and noticed one of the lights still shining through the window of the second floor. Distantly remembering that the Library was in that area, she lifted a shoulder and continued on. She hadn't been given the keys to lock up, so maybe someone had stayed behind.
Padding down the hill, Kagome told herself she was not speed-walking. It was just the momentum from walking down a steep hill.
Her eyes browsed the tree line, trying to catch any hint of movement. It occurred to her that she had her phone, and if by chance she captured the dog on film, then once she got back to Tokyo she could show someone. Be it hunter or dog catcher.
She took out her phone and kept the camera on, thumb hovering over the record button.
Hearing a rustle from above, Kagome whirled her camera up at the trees at the crest of the hill, hands shaking a little. Something odd teased at her senses, a heavy energy. It was difficult to explain, but like curling smoke or intense heat rippling in the air, Kagome could feel it. Whatever it was lay just beyond the treeline.
Taking a breath, Kagome looked behind her- brows drawing together when she realised the light in the school window had turned off. I really shouldn't go investigating an unknown area on my own...but-
A loud sound made her yelp, breaking into a run. She clutched her phone tight as she madly bolted, quickly forgetting about recording the beast as she heard long, echoing barks from somewhere within the forest. It was not the sound of a domesticated dog she'd often heard in her neighbourhood, but rather that of a snarl. The suggestion of teeth and spittle- hot sticky breath fanning over the nape of her neck. Kagome ran faster, pumping her legs as her feet pounded on the road.
She didn't stop until she reached the hotel, legs burning and lungs practically collapsing in on themselves as she heaved in quick gulps of air. Tearing the door open, she staggered inside.
"You look as though the devil's at your heel, girl. What's the matter?" Kaede blinked, pausing in the living room with armfuls of washing.
Kagome panted, trembling slightly as she looked behind her. There had been no thundering paws or snapping teeth at her legs, but that feeling of heat rippling off baked pavement on a scotching day- it had chased her.
"N-nothing. I-I just heard the dog and thought it was...it was..."
Kaede's single eye remained fixed on her, brows drawing together slightly. She eased forward and reached out to put a hand on her shoulder- but stopped just shy of touching her.
"You're safe now, girl. Come, let's get ye some food."
She breathed out, lip wobbling as she grasped Kaede's hand- only to shrink back. Her skin is so cold, Kagome winced, forcing a smile. "I-I'm okay now, thank you. I think I'll just go upstairs to bed."
The old woman didn't seem to take offence as she nodded slowly, her narrow eye following Kagome's progress up the stairs.
Shutting the door behind her, Kagome breathed out, putting a hand to her forehead. "That was rude," she mumbled to herself. "She probably just has bad circulation. I'm a jerk...no way is she going to be nice to me again."
Still, it was a relief to be in the sanctuary of her room again. Kagome shook herself and pushed off the back of the door, creeping over to the window. She knelt down just before it and crawled over the floor, peering up outside. The back garden lay quiet and still. No red eyes, no silver fur.
Closing the curtains, she straightened and moved to her bags, digging out some tylenol for her headache and frazzled nerves.
After distractedly reading a few pages of her book and glancing at her beside clock, she decided to call Souta to calm her down. Chatting mindlessly with him about the village and her job, she heard a beep on the line.
"Ah, wait a sec Souta, I've got an incoming call."
"That's cool, I should probably get going anyway, see ya!"
Kagome smiled and said goodbye, clicking onto the new call. "Hello?"
"Kagome! It's me. Did you make it to Tokyo okay?"
She blinked slowly, wincing. "Hey...Auntie. Sorry, I completely forgot to check in."
"Oh that's alright dearest, so long as everything's fine. Have you visited them yet?"
"No..." she trailed off, uncertain how much to say, but luckily her Aunt began to talk for the both of them, as she often did. A sweet woman by nature, but a complete chatterbox like most of the Higuarshi women.
"-and please don't forget to pick up the bouquet I ordered-" the line clicked off abruptly, and Kagome removed her phone from her ear to blink at the screen.
"Huh...I guess I must be out of range? Or maybe it's the weather," she didn't exactly want to check the sky. Shrugging, she sent a text instead and stood from the bed. After grabbing her towel and shouldering her bag of hair products, she made her way into the bathroom, opting for a shower.
Washing her hair certainly relaxed her. There was something therapeutic about massaging amazing shampoo into her scalp. Exiting the bathroom caused steam to roll out around her legs, and she shivered, tightening her towel around her.
Heat. Outside. Close.
Kagome turned on her heel and looked at the window, freezing. There it was again. She padded forward slowly and stayed close to the wall, parting the curtain to look outside. An empty garden lay just the same- well, almost empty. A rabbit was shuffling around on the grass.
Get a grip girl, Kagome shook her head, hearing a growl. From her stomach, predictably. "You shouldn't have skipped supper then, idiot," she chastised herself, eyeing the rabbit hungrily. Stew sounded really good right then.
She forced herself to shut the curtain tight, storming to her bag and tugging her pajama's on. No one else was jittery like her, all the residents had been calm. They lived with the dog every day and went about their business contentedly, so that was what she'd do. No more scaring herself silly.
Kagome climbed under the covers and glanced at her phone, seeing a text from Sesshoumaru of all people.
'I hope all is well,' was all it said.
She smiled and text back, before drifting off to sleep with her phone slack in her hand. 'I'm fine, thank you for checking up on me. See you tomorrow.'
Her dreams were awful. Her limbs twisted and stretched under the covers, tangling her legs tight in sweat-soaked sheets. Something hot and sickly humid wafted over her exposed neck and collarbone. It came in soft waves, like clockwork. Tick-tock. Pant-pant.
Warm dewy water slid down her cheek, thick as syrup. Her hands curled in soft hair, or perhaps it was fur, sliding it between her fingers. A sweet ache blazed to life between her legs as her thighs pressed together. Between once moment and the next, as dreams often shifted- she stood and threw back the curtains. A giant red, glowing eye outside her window stared back at her, unblinking. She dissolved into hysterical screams.
Kagome gasped, bolting upright in bed. Dishevelled black hair matted to her forehead. Her entire body was drenched in sweat, pajama's clinging to her form. She touched her sticky cheek and heard a buzz as a fly darted in front of her eyes. Blinking, Kagome realised the window was open, feeling a breeze on her face as the parted curtains danced.
Horror seized her. A small brown form became visible just for a moment, behind the curtains that swayed back and forth.
Her shaking feet touched down on the floor, and Kagome's breathing escalated, chest beginning to heave. A low noise built up from the back of her throat, locked tight behind her teeth. Large bloodied paw-prints marred the wooden floors beneath her toes.
The noise built up into a terrified cry that finally parted her lips and chattered her teeth. A rabbit lay dead, head twisted unnaturally to the side- throat torn open.
The carcass had been splayed out and left upon her window ledge.
Chapter 3: Under the Guise
Nursing a cup of hot chocolate in her hands, Kagome stared at the floor. Kaede was busy talking lowly with Sesshoumaru, having called him over after the distressed screaming and dead rabbit incident an hour or so ago. Kagome barely noticed their harsh whispers and instead felt her need to leave for Tokyo double.
A hand touched her arm, causing her to flinch. Startled blue met calm dark eyes, and Sesshoumaru shifted in his seat beside her. She didn't remember him joining her.
"You will come to stay with me."
She blinked in surprise, "r-really? Isn't that a bit much though? I-I mean I could-"
"You're distressed, are you not?" He asked, gaze fixed on her as usual. He wore a pensive frown, as though mulling over something.
"Yeah...okay, thank you. Sorry for the trouble," she murmured, agreeing without much argument. She hugged her arms, rubbing them slightly. "I just don't understand how it got in. That dog...I know it left t-that thing. But how?"
"Perhaps this is not the work of the dog but a prank from one of the village boys," came Kaede's voice.
Kagome glanced up at the old woman lingering near the living room door. "No. It was the dog," she noticed Kaede open her mouth again and cut her off. "I just know it, okay? It did this. I feel like it's after me."
She hugged her arms tighter, missing the silent exchange between Kaede and Sesshoumaru. His large hand reached over again, this time covering her own. Kagome felt warmth emanating from it and turned frightened eyes up at him. "You're safe. This one will get your things. Rin is waiting in the car if you wish to join her."
Guilt swamped her, "ah geeze, I woke her up so late at night! I'm sorry."
He surprised her by flicking her forehead. She yelped and rubbed it, frowning at him as his lips curved up. "Cease your apologies, they are becoming tiresome."
Kagome huffed, but felt gratitude well up in her chest. Stupid kind jerk.
Soon enough, she'd helped Sesshoumaru with her bags, lugging them into the trunk of his sleek black car. Rin dozed in the backseat so Kagome left her undisturbed and instead turned to Kaede, who watched the whole thing from her porch. Sesshoumaru closed the trunk and got into the drivers seat while she jogged up to the old woman.
"Thank you for letting me stay, Keade. I wish...that thing hadn't happened, but I'm grateful all the same for the nights spent here." She forced a smile, glancing around at the dark bushes with a hint of paranoia. Keade's cold, withered hand took her own, and Kagome fought down the lurch of her stomach. Every fibre of her being rejected that touch, wanting it off. It was like a slab of chilled meat. But she forced herself to hold still, hating her reaction. True, Kaede had been grumpy and a little distant, but she'd shown her care in other ways.
Now that single, narrow eye stared at her. "Girl...you need to be very careful. Do not let yourself linger in these parts longer than another week or so."
Kagome frowned slightly. "Why not?"
"Kagome!" A bright, peppy voice reached her ears. Kagome glanced over her shoulder and smiled, waving at Rin, who beamed at her, leaning out from the window of the car. "Father says you're going to be staying with us now, I'm so happy!"
Kagome giggled, but stilled at the tense form of Sesshoumaru. He appeared to be glaring past her shoulder for some reason. She turned back to the old woman, who removed her hand and drew away inside her house.
"Kaede, what did you mean?" She tried to press, but she shook her head.
"Never you mind. Get gone, you've kept me up long enough." The door closed with a final sounding click.
She blinked, a little confused. Hearing Rin's chatter however, Kagome quickly became distracted and hurried to the car, trying to avoid inspecting the dark woods behind the hotel too closely.
Somehow Kagome was unsurprised by the size of the house, which more closely resembled a traditional Japanese mansion. It was difficult to see the structure properly what with the late hour, but just from what little she could see, the house impressed her. It stood alone in the forest, located away from the tiny village for some reason. It was nearer to the school, perched upon the same hill, but reclusive in comparison.
"It's beautiful, did you inherit it?" She asked, tone hushed.
Sesshoumaru turned off the engine, dousing them in silence. "Hn, in a way."
They exited the car, Sesshoumaru handing her the keys to the house in favour of lifting Rin out, carrying her sleeping form in his arms. Kagome smiled and turned the key, venturing inside. Feeling the walls for a light, she stilled and blushed when Sesshoumaru's free hand grasped hers and led it over to the switch. Flicking it on, Kagome blinked and glanced around at the sparse but traditional decor. There were a few paintings hung on the walls, which seemed to clash a little with the aesthetic.
After taking off her shoes and following him further in, Kagome was shown to her room, which seemed to favour blue tones. She turned in the threshold, lingering and biting her lip. She set down her bags and awkwardly watched Sesshoumaru disappear into a room with Rin, returning a few minutes later and sliding her door shut. He rose a brow at the hovering woman.
"What is it?"
"I-I guess my nerves are still a little frazzled," she murmured, cradling her hand close to her chest.
His dark eyes observed her carefully, before approaching and brushing past her into the room. He knelt by her futon and drew back the covers, gesturing to it like a patient parent ushering their child to bed.
Kagome snorted and huffed, unbuttoning her coat to reveal her nightclothes. She hadn't had a chance to change.
Goosebumps whispered over her flesh as she knelt opposite him and crawled onto the futon. "This feels weird," she pointed out bluntly.
"Hn, you worry much for such a little thing," his tone was equally flat.
Kagome drew the covers up over her lap, blushing. He lingered a little close, but she felt oddly grateful for it. Her foolish heart beat a little faster. "If I could stop having such a run of bad luck maybe I wouldn't need to worry."
"Is it bad luck?"
"I think getting stranded and chased by a wild dog qualifies, definitely."
His expression returned to pensive and quiet, keeping his thoughts locked far away from his tongue. She tried to read him but failed, opting to wear her heart on her sleeve as usual. "You've been worrying about me but, are you good? Seems like something's bothering you."
Their eyes connected, his a touch wider, before he masks his surprise. "It is nothing. This one is merely curious about earlier. What was it that made you so certain the dog was responsible?"
Kagome curled her hands into the covers, glancing at the window surreptitiously. "I don't know exactly, and it probably sounds strange but I can feel this energy whenever it's close." The moment she said it out loud it did sound strange. She expected him to make fun of her, but his eyes only sparked. His attention turned more intense, if that were possible.
"Interesting. Do you sense it now?" He asked quietly.
She tried to focus, waiting for any brush of that rippling heat, but found nothing. "No, there's nothing. Thanks for letting me stay here by the way, I feel much better," she admitted, glancing up at him coyly. "Sorry."
When his lithe fingers came up to flick her forehead again, she grabbed his hand and smiled. "Can you stay here for a little while?"
Sesshoumaru stared at her quietly, slowly shifting to cross his legs. "Very well."
Kagome eased down to lay on her futon, pulling the covers up to her nose. "Du ru funk if coud gu un?"
"I do not speak comforter," he cooly replied.
Blue eyes narrowed, before she lowered the material to under her chin. "Do you think it could get in?"
The taciturn man watched her carefully, and she felt the weight of his heavy, considering stare. "I am here, nothing will touch you." Dark eyes almost seemed to glow slightly in the faint light. Kagome blushed, but after all the uproar, felt herself relax in his presence. She noticed him turn and grab a book, quietly reading by her side as her eyes turned heavy.
The last thing Kagome saw before slipping into sleep were his eyes, lit by the faint glow of the lamp, shining honeyed gold.
Exploring her new lodgings the next day after Rin had gone to school felt a little intrusive. After all, she was staying in a home now, not a hotel. And yet Kagome couldn't quite help her curiosity. A traditional mansion! And it housed so many old fashioned things inside, some seeming like they belonged in a museum. It certainly helped to take her mind off dead rabbits, with their glassy eyes rolled back in their heads, bloodied throats torn open-
"The fuck is your problem? Why won't you just tell me?"
She jumped, having zoned out staring at the ornate sword Sesshoumaru had displayed on his wall. Looking at the window, she shifted, tiptoeing over and peering down. Sesshoumaru stood outside in the back garden, facing who she recognised to be his brother.
The foul mouthed man looked severely pissed off, gritting his teeth. "Did you get her for me or not?"
Sesshoumaru seemed to murmur something in reply, but it was so quiet she couldn't hear it. His body stood tense and still however, almost coiled tight like a snake.
"Because she looks exactly like Kikyo! Smells like her too! It could be her reincarnation!"
"Inuyasha," came the severe, slightly louder reply, a bite in his tone.
The two men seemed to square off for a moment, Inuyasha clenching his hand into a shaking fist. "Shoulda known. Of course ya didn't. Why would you?" He sneered. "So which is it, huh? This for the village? Yeah I bet that's what you told everyone. Keh...or is it for you? Is she for you?"
Kagome frowned, wondering what they were talking about. Kikyo. Hadn't Inuyasha called her that when they'd first met?
She couldn't tell if Sesshoumaru answered, but the younger brother stormed off, disappearing around the side of the house. Sesshoumaru watched him go, before quietly following.
After watching them leave, her attention strayed up, looking further in at the back garden. No rabbits in sight, but a large brown shed was tucked away in the furthermost corner. Upon closer inspection it looked a little...big to be a shed. Maybe a workshop of some kind? Though Sesshoumaru hadn't stuck her as the artistic sort. She supposed the paintings downstairs could be his.
Shaking herself, Kagome reached for her bag and took out some pills to help steady her nerves. She was going back to the school later, hellhound or not. She had a job to do.
Sesshoumaru had told her there was no need to return to work so soon, but Kagome insisted. She'd accepted his offer to escort her the school at least, but had started cleaning early, scrubbing a water-fountain. The work kept her loud mind busy. Children laughed and raced past her, their high pitched squeals making her smile.
"Hi Kagome," Rin chirped, walking over to her. Daisies were tucked into her untamed hair.
She grinned, pausing. "Hey sweetie. How's things?"
"Great, thank you! But um...are you alright? After the rabbit thing?"
A cold feeling washed over her, and Kagome fought to keep her expression neutral, failing. "Rin. Where did you hear about that?"
"Some teachers were talking about it, and then some kids in class." The little girl rooked back on her heels, "um...so, is it true the big dog brought it to you?"
Slowly nodding, Kagome set her sponge down, a little numb.
Rin put her hands into her pockets and hummed, "you know, it sounds like when a cat brings you dead birds. Like a present!"
"It's not the same-" Kagome cut herself off, not wanting to go into detail and scare the poor girl. Cats didn't open windows and deliberately place their kills out like...
Like an offering.
Kagome swallowed and stared at Rin, turning pale. "Why do you think it would bring me a rabbit though? I'm not it's owner."
She shrugged her small shoulders, "maybe it wants you to be, in a way."
With that said, Rin smiled and leaned forward, hugging her. Another chill ripped through Kagome, making her spine straighten. There was no warmth in the tiny body hugging her. She felt like a cushion that had been stuffed with chilled foods. The only sense of comfort came from the familiarity of the clothes she was wearing, but everything else felt alien, wrong. Just like when Kaede had touched her.
Rin pulled away and smiled, while Kagome could only stare blankly in cold shock. The girl's brown eyes flitted over her face, before leaving without another word.
When the sky had begun to darken once more, the students had left the grounds, leaving Kagome alone. Well, almost. Light spilling out from under one of the shut doors on the second floor caught her attention. Venturing closer, she noticed it to be the Library entrance.
Looking through the small glass window of the door, she spied Sesshoumaru sitting at a desk.
Kagome hesitated to knock. By the looks of things, he was deeply engrossed in his reading, but why he was there after hours, she couldn't say. Perhaps he'd come back after taking Rin home to make sure she'd be alright? Kagome smiled at the thought, splaying her hand on the door instead and pushing it open a touch, before pausing. Sesshoumaru's form appeared to be...glowing. The red light curled outwards, looping back into him in waves.
She stiffened when his body began to change. His image rippled and shifted, emanating that awfully familiar heat she'd sensed before. Taking a step back, the door eased shut as Kagome pressed a hand to her open mouth, chocking on a scream. The stifling heat licked at her cheeks through the door, while fur rushed over Sesshoumaru's pale skin. His face elongated into a muzzle. Eyes changed from dark, to gold to blazing red. Kagome gave a muffled cry from behind her hand, causing the large silver dog to look up, ears perking.
Turning on her heel, Kagome madly dashed away, sweat breaking out on her forehead. Her temples pounded. Not him. Not Sesshoumaru. He'd been so kind, so accommodating. She didn't want to believe it, couldn't.
The rippling energy chased her down the echoing hallways, jaws opening wide. Her heart near burst in her chest as she heard the door swing open behind her. Quickly bolting around a corner, Kagome grabbed a random door handle and yanked it open, ducking inside a classroom.
You idiot! Her mind screamed at her. The stairs. Why hadn't she ran for the stairs?
But her rabbit heart wanted a place to hide, to escape and burrow in. Kagome protested against it and dashed over to the windows. She was only on the second floor. If she needed to, she could drop from such a height. Grabbing a pair of scissors since they were the nearest sharp object, she brandished them, pushing the window up, arm shaking.
From behind the door the hallway lay silent, until a rhythmic clicking of nails scraping across the floor reached her. The faint sound of panting joined in. Kagome turned to the window and looked down at the ground. Actually it looked a little far. If she hit it the wrong way...
A shadow appeared under the doorway, accompanied by wild sniffing. The beast took several long inhales and exhales under the door, while her heart beat into over drive. She couldn't move.
After what felt like an eternity, the nose drew away from under the door, but the shadow remained. Kagome stared at it, quivering in terrified silence. Bones locked still. The beast finally moved on, the clicking and scraping of nails growing quieter.
Sinking down to the floor, Kagome trembled, clutching the scissors so tight their blunt edges bit her skin. "W-why?" She breathed, mind in a frenzy. He was the reason she'd crashed- had deliberately jumped at her and crushed her engine. Had he meant to strand her? Isolate her there at the village? And why had he left that rabbit? Fiddling with her phone, Kagome dialled for the Police, but got no reception. Lowering it, hopelessness threatened to sink heavily into her shoulders, and she shuddered alone in the shadowed room.
After shaking in a huddled mess for awhile, Kagome had chanced a look out into the hall. Seeing nothing, she'd made a break for it, right out of the school, the courtyard and further still down the hill. She didn't know where she was running to- and had no plans, but felt the burning, screaming need to get away.
Her feet sounded too loud on the road but she urged herself on, sprinting past the quaint village and following her memory. Sesshoumaru had turned his car off from the main road she'd been driving on and followed a path somewhere into the village. In the fading light of the evening, it was difficult to tell which way to turn, but the pulsing of something up ahead, almost similar to Sesshoumaru's energy urged her on.
She followed a path that her instincts approved of, and glanced up at the branches criss-crossing overhead, their shadows playing wraith-like fingers over her face. Kagome pushed herself on, legs becoming heavy as her heart hammered in her chest, lungs protesting. Coughing, Kagome skidded to a stop, swaying on her feet. Just a little more. The road had to be up ahead.
Forcing a few more steps, Kagome raised her hand, only to lurch back when it met physical resistance in the air. "W-what?" She breathed, pushing her fingers forward again.
The same invisible force resisted her hand, and no matter how much Kagome pushed against it. She couldn't break through. The energy shimmered in her mind's eye like a barrier, and though such a thing felt impossible, after witnessing that hellish transformation she didn't question it.
"Shit- what...what do I do now?" She panted, feeling something flare to life inside her chest. A strange, pure feeling comforted her slightly. Before Kagome could identify it properly, the sound of paws padding closer had her back snapping straight.
Looking over her shoulder, Kagome faced the white beast. He stood only a few paces away, staring down at her. The pale light of the moon bathed him in soft tones, making his fur shine. Those red eyes glowed brighter as they narrowed. His mouth peeled back in a silent snarl, exposing large sharp canines. Her throat tightened. Quickly reaching into her pocket, Kagome grasped the scissors, whipping them out and brandishing them like a knife. She was tired of being afraid, bone weary of it. Shoving it down, she tried to keep her hand and tone steady.
"Let me go, Sesshoumaru."
Chapter 4: Play House
Hot, sticky breath fanned from above her. Kagome stared up at the white dog, limbs locked, not moving an inch as she gripped the scissors tight. She'd never been so close to him before, and the more she stared, the less he aligned with what she'd expected. The dog in her mind was wild, blood-thirsty and volatile, but Sesshoumaru even like this- had the air of grace and poise about him. Intelligence shone in those eyes while he snarled quietly, instincts sending his hackles rising.
"Why did you do it?" She asked, shuddering.
Her eyes widened when he shifted, lowering slightly. Red light returned to his form, flowing like flames that skittered over his fur, burning it away behind the light to reveal skin. Kagome raised her hand when it got too bright, and upon lowering it, found Sesshoumaru standing before her.
Only he wasn't quite...right. He wore the same clothes, but his hair had turned silvery white, spilling out behind him. Bold markings had appeared on his face, and Kagome got the feeling they weren't tattoos. They were more intimate and strange, bringing out the burning gold of his eyes as the slits of his pupils fixed on her.
"You do not belong outside, in that world," his soft voice sent a thrill down her spine, while her stomach twisted. His eyes had shifted to the road behind her, blocked by the barrier, as though referring to it.
"S-sesshoumaru, you're not making sense. Of course I do. I need to get back home, to my family. They're probably worried that I haven't checked in- they'll, they'll come looking for me you know." Kagome swallowed, watching him carefully.
His hand rose from his side, slowly lifting. Long, sharp nails caught her eye. She quickly swung the scissors before the claws could make contact with her cheek. He made a low noise when they nicked his wrist, mouth curving down. That same hand suddenly knocked into hers, sending the scissors to the ground with a clatter.
Kagome squeaked- her air supply ceased. Those lithe fingers curved dangerously tight around her neck, thumb on her racing pulse. Kagome trembled, staring transfixed as the man- the demon loomed close.
Her hands came up to grasp his, trying to struggle. But it was like her neck had been encased in stone. Sesshoumaru's claws pricked her skin, causing her to squeak and gasp as the lurch of her heart spilled out into her hands, lighting them in a pale pink glow.
Sesshoumaru ripped his hand away, and the two eased back. Kagome coughed, rubbing her neck and staring at the burns on his skin. Making a horrified noise, she shuddered.
"Now what's going on?!" She yelped, jolting when he looked at her again. Quickly holding up her hands, she braced herself. "Don't come any closer! I'm not afraid to- to do whatever that was."
"That was reiki. It is a signature holy power among your kind, Priestess."
The deathly quiet of his tone caught and held her attention. "I-I'm a Priestess?" She thought about it for a moment. "I guess...Gramps did say I was from a line of Priests and we literally live on a shrine, but I never equated that with powers."
Long fingers flexed as he observed the slight steam curling off the burn. "Hn. Your energy is untrained, but this one can assist with honing it."
"A-are you kidding me? Sesshoumaru, please don't tell me you essentially kidnapped me just because I'm a Priestess. Please."
He scoffed and eased closer, lean muscle shifting. Some of his silver hair slid down from his shoulder, falling in front of the pointed ears that Kagome was only just noticing. "That is only one reason. What you are will serve to protect the village well."
The village? What does that have to do with anything?
She jumped upon feeling a pressure under her chin, firm fingers urging her to tilt her head up. Her back met the barrier and pressed against it, while her eyes narrowed.
"What do you want with me?" She asked in a hushed tone, feeling the quiet of the woods surrounding them rather than hearing it. Like a strange stillness had settled within the spaces between the thin- moss covered branches. Autumn leaves scraped along the ground past her feet, skittering into the faint breeze. Her heart raced in her chest, but was muted to her ears.
"...Rin requires a mother."
Kagome's breath stilled. That inhuman gaze stared at her, emotions locked away behind a placid mask. She couldn't tell if he understood the horror shifting into her expression when the implications of his words dawned on her.
Her hand swiftly pushed up to try and land a hit- but was seized by his own and pinned above her head against the barrier. The heat of his body so close caused her to tremble, attention drifting to his mouth when it parted. Fangs glinted.
"Do not mistake my patience as benevolence. This one has attempted to show regard for you-"
"But you misconstrue much. The direct path seemed the most effective at this point. Now you know the truth," he said evenly, their breaths mingling. Kagome grit her teeth, cheeks flushing. Letting that bright spark from earlier return to her hands, she curled her fingers to try and pry into the one that held her wrist.
Sesshoumaru snarled. Her eyes widened when green light coated his fingers- hot boiling pain flushing over her nails. Kagome cried out, squeezing her eyes shut and struggling, his deep growl making her teeth chatter.
"Yield," he hissed lowly.
Resting her head back against the rippling barrier, Kagome peeled one eye open. Pain filled tears leaked down her hot cheek. The pink light died from her fingers, soon followed by the green of his nails.
She shivered as the breeze brushed against her cheek, staring up at him. "You say I know the truth, but I don't understand anything. Just...just let me go," she pleaded, weakening. The fumes from his nails smelled strong and sharp, like chemicals.
His arms slid around her waist, warm palms that had once comforted her now curled possessively. As dizziness swayed her, Kagome could briefly make out the velvet timbre of his voice.
"This is where you belong."
Upon reaching the house, Kagome regained her senses enough to begin struggling. Despite the threat of being dropped, she couldn't stomach being so close. When the door opened however, she stilled when hearing a voice:
"Kagome!" Rin came running over, not worried in the least about Sesshoumaru's demonic appearance. Kagome stiffened against his chest and looked between the two.
"H-hey Rin. Do...do you know about your Father?"
She lifted a small shoulder. "Of course~ he just looks like this sometimes."
That hadn't been exactly what she'd meant. "No I mean about the kidnappi-"
"You're tired, miss Higurashi. This one will take you to bed," came a low voice. Her heart jumped. Feeling his grip tighten on her legs, Kagome grit her teeth, cradling her burned hand that mirrored his own.
Sharp golden eyes warned her not to cause a scene as he carried her up the stairs, setting her down only when they reached the threshold of her room.
"Oh, what happened to your hands?" Rin asked, having followed them. She glanced at the burns on their skin, though Sesshoumaru turned away slightly to hide his.
"Nothing major. Just a problem with the furnace at school," Kagome mumbled, hiding her hand as well. She could still feel the blistering, toxic sensation biting into her skin.
Sesshoumaru hummed with agreement. Tilting her head slightly, Rin worried her lip and sighed, saying they should be more careful.
"We will leave you now. Goodnight miss Higurashi," Sesshoumaru turned, ushering a pouting Rin down the hallway. A stillness settled in the air, as though he remained watchful of her even as he turned a corner.
Releasing a breath she didn't know she'd been holding, Kagome lingered for a moment. Listening intently for their footsteps to draw further away, she quickly turned.
Wasting no time, she entered her room and shut the door. It would be ridiculous not to take the opportunity to escape, to get out of whatever madness she'd stumbled on. Grabbing her bag and stuffing a few things inside it, she hitched the strap over her shoulder. Yanking open her window- her leg was already hitched over the ledge by the time she noticed him.
Sesshoumaru stood outside, looking up at her window. The porch light cast harsh shadows upon his face. Two red eyes seemed to glow at her in the dark. The unnatural stillness of his figure set her on edge. Swallowing, Kagome wet her lips and lowered her leg. "I don't want any part of whatever sick game you're playing."
Ancient gold stared up at her, slit pupils shifting to rove over her face. "It is no game."
"You can't just expect me to stay here and play 'Mother' while my family worries where I am. Do you seriously think I'll be happy living out a lie?"
"This one expects it will take time for you to adjust. But my words earlier still stand; there is nothing for you past the barrier."
Sensing the conversation was going in circles, Kagome grit her teeth and drew away from the window. Digging into her bag, she searched for another makeshift weapon, but found no scissors handy. Instead her hand met a pill bottle. Figuring she could definitely use something to steady her nerves, she grasped it, opened the bottle and shaking two out onto her palm. Lifting it up to her mouth, Kagome squeaked when her wrist was grabbed.
Sesshoumaru knelt by her side, staring at her. "You do not need these anymore."
Temper flaring, she pulled at her wrist, but it didn't budge. "Yes I do! You don't get to order me around-"
A loud snarl deafened her ears. Sesshoumaru bore down on her, fangs seeming to lengthen as his markings grew bolder. Kagome jolted, before feeling something build in her throat as she growled back, the sound hissing past her teeth.
He blinked, eyes flashing as the sound seemed to please him. "Tell me what you need them for," he uttered quietly.
Kagome glared, unwilling to play whatever mind games he was trying to confuse her with. Even if her brain blanked on the reason, she stubbornly shook his question away. "Why should I tell you anything when you've barely answered my questions? How did you even know what road I was on that night? Were you stalking me- oh god how long have you been stalking me?" She squeaked, stomach dropping when he didn't answer. How deep does this thing go?
Kagome tried to pull away again, dropping the pills and scattering them to the floor in the process. Sesshoumaru opened his palm over them, green coating his nails once more as a putrid, acidic smell flooded her nostrils.
"No!" She surprised herself with the desperation of her own voice. Something gripped her tight and wouldn't let go, singing high in her veins as she snatched his wrist. Sesshoumaru paused, considering her.
She didn't know why but the words kept coming. "I-I'll get dressed now for bed, okay? Lets play with Rin tomorrow...I-I'll be calm, promise."
He drew closer, to the point that her back arched to keep from making contact with him. The burning liquid gold seemed to want to pry into her mind he stared so long and deep. He inhaled softly, exhaling through his mouth with an almost hungry sound. His hand then lifted away, and she released his wrist, cradling her hands close to her chest.
The demon stood without another word, leaving through the door and sliding it shut behind him. Kagome's pale shaking hand settled over the pills, tightening her fingers slowly around them.
Two days and twelve escape attempts later, Kagome found herself sitting dutifully still. She'd by no means given up, but obviously her tactic of trying to sneak out wasn't working. Even fighting him head on had proved pointless. So for now, she played the placated victim, doing what was asked of her and sitting nicely for Rin as they made flower crowns, dolls or tea parties with no tea like they were at that moment. One thing Kagome had noticed was that at meals times she ate alone. Rin always claimed she'd eaten earlier in the day, and as for Sesshoumaru, Kagome didn't even want to think about what he ate. Shivering, she rubbed her arms.
"Are you alright, Kagome?"
Blue eyes swung to the little girl at her side. "Oh yeah, I'm great. Thanks!" Ah, that may have sounded a bit too peppy.
Rin's brows draw together.
Kagome noticed there were exactly three chairs at the table they were using. Trying not to be creeped out, she glanced up when Sesshoumaru entered the kitchen. He minded his own buisness making some real tea, but surprised her by setting one cup down before her.
Kagome took it, blowing carefully at the steam. After a moment, she noticed that Rin hadn't received one.
"What about Rin?" She asked, glancing warily at him while he sat with his own.
"I'm alright, I can't drink before bed time!" She grinned.
Kagome didn't feel assured, especially since Sesshoumaru's gaze remained fixed on his cup, as though to avoid commenting. She jolted when Rin touched her arm, tugging slightly. "So Kagome, I really want to play House with you. Can we please?" She smiled, paying no heed to Kagomes pale expression.
"Yes! I'll be the child, Father will be the Father and you can be the Mother."
Inhaling sharply, Kagome felt cold, sitting rigid. "N-no tha-"
"A good suggestion, Rin. What would you like to do?" Sesshoumaru cut in, gold eyes hooded.
"Let's play fancy dress! We can pretend we're hosting one of those old fashioned parties, with music! I'll go get my kimono on! Kagome, do you have one of your own?" Rin asked excitedly.
Instead of being charmed by the notion, Kagome shuddered, inches away from screaming. "Y-yeah. I do." She said instead. "Why? Were you going to offer one of your Mother's dresses?" She took a sip of her drink to try and calm herself, feeling bold for asking such a thing. But a burning curiosity had taken hold of her. What had happened to Rin's mother? Had she ran off after learning how insane Sesshoumaru was or had he changed after?
"Oh...no, I've never had a Mother." Rin muttered, before grinning. "Until now!"
"Just pretend of course~ let's go get ready!" Rin squealed, taking her hand and making ice shoot up Kagomes arm. It felt wrong and unnatural to follow behind the little girl, her hand clutched tight in that freezing, solid grip.
It would have been almost comical to assemble a party for three, were Kagome not so tense. She helped to decorate the living room, pushing the table back to make a wider space. They hung up a few streamers, but it was the bare minimum, just a few to keep the illusion of a party. Kagome caught her reflection in a floor length mirror- pausing. She'd tied her hair up, exposing her neck. Smoothing her hands down the pale blue kimono, she mused it was the same one that Mama had bought her for New years. Lifting the material to her nose, she gently inhaled, fooling herself into believing for a moment that the scent of fireworks lingered in the clothes.
She then touched around her waist, admiring her figure. The smoky scent from the fireworks changed into a familiar heat. Power, intensity and teeth. She wondered what claws would feel like dragging around her hips- before warmth shot to her cheeks and she quickly stormed away.
Silently screaming, she returned to the living room, finding Rin in her orange and yellow patchwork yukata.
"This is great, Kagome! I haven't had a party in ages. It almost feels like my birthday," she grinned a gap toothed smile.
"I'm...really happy for you," she said carefully, swallowing and glancing at the record player. Seemed like everything was old fashioned in the house. Her chest ached a little. A part of her felt the child's sincerity, and wanted to make her happy. But the situation only made her feel lost, filled with unease. "Where's your father?
"Just getting ready, ah- I think that's him just now." Rin squealed, happily dashing out of the room toward the stairs.
Kagome sighed and pushed back some escaped strands of hair from her face. She'd tried calling Souta, her Aunt and the police countless times but her phone still wasn't getting any service. Glancing outside, she noticed the large shed from before, standing silent at the edge of the garden. She didn't know why, but over the days, her eyes had continually been captured by it.
"Everyone's here~" Rin cut off her musings, racing back into the room.
Turning on her heel, blue clashed with gold once more, before her gaze strayed. The demon was dressed in red and white silks. A red honey comb design patterned the sleeves and collar, while a pelt of white fur draped over his shoulder elegantly. The gentle white combined with the bold red made her think of blood soaked snow. His markings only appeared bolder, gaze brighter. This was him with no pretence, aura curling out around him. Kagome felt like the rabbit she'd seen in the garden. Cornered.
He inclined his head, clawed fingers brushing his thumb.
Setting her shoulders, she mimicked his action. She had to act the part. Just like one of her school plays that she'd excelled in.
"Oh, for something to do, we could play that 'Kagome, Kagome' game! That would be fun." Rin smiled up at them.
A chill ran down her spine, "ah, I think you need a big group to play that, Rin."
"That's true, oh! Let me see if I have a board game upstairs. You two should dance or something!" The little girl practically skipped from the room.
Sweat dropping, Kagome stared at her captor in silence. Since that first night, she hadn't really spoken to him, just felt his hands whenever they'd grasped her flailing limbs as she'd tried to escape. He stared back, taking a few measured steps forward, until she could feel the warmth emanating from his body.
"We should put Rin at ease by humouring her," he uttered. A pale hand wrapped around the crook of her elbow, drawing her arm up.
Kagome grit her teeth, but smoothed her features. "It's not like we have to cater to what she says. You take everything too literally."
She watched and felt it as his calloused palm slid down her arm, until it closed over her hand, smoothing her fingers onto a broad shoulder. Forcing herself not to shudder, Kagome exhaled sharply when his free hand settled at her waist.
"Your body is tense," he muttered, drawing her in closer.
"It's not like I can relax easily around you," she followed his lead when they started a simple waltz. Watching his steps felt safer than looking into his eyes.
"Hn, you did once. That time you requested me to stay at your bedside."
Her face flushed with humiliation- sending her gaze right back to his. "Yeah well, that was before I realised who you really were."
"You felt attraction to this one as well," his velvety baritone caused her fingers to curl in the silk.
As well? Is he implying that he? No I'm reading too much into it-
"S-shut up!" She tried to calm herself down, regain her act. "It's not like that matters. I've had sucky taste in men before. Guess my type is just doomed to fail."
He leaned in close. "Ah, so I am your type. How interesting." His lips grazed her ear, hot breath fanning over it and causing a few escaped locks to tickle her neck. "Head strong women are not usually mine, but I find myself making an exception for you, miko."
Her heels instinctively rocked back, causing their eyes to meet. Breath to intermingle. She inhaled and found the scent of him rushing into her, that of a warm hearth. "I need some air," Kagome murmured, breaking away and hurrying to the back door.
Feeling eyes on her, she wasted no time in ripping the door open and stepping out into the cool night air.
The breeze carried a faint chill with a hint of vapour, making her think it would rain soon. Taking a few grateful inhales, Kagome shook herself from any lingering unwanted thoughts. Spying the silent work-shed tucked away in the garden, she hugged her arms, glancing behind her at the house. He hadn't followed, maybe it would be okay to finally check it out?
Taking a few steps forward, she fought against the urge to bolt, hating how exposed she felt in a simple garden. The kimono was tight around her legs, restricting. It would definitely be difficult to run if she needed to.
Movement in her peripheral vision turned her attention away from the shadow drenched structure, seeing a warm orange light.
A man and woman stood with their backs facing her a fair distance away, on the edge of the vast gardens. The man held a lantern. Raising a brow, Kagome ignored the shed in favour of venturing closer. The couple turned when she approached.
"S-Sango! What are you doing here?" Glancing down at what they'd been looking at, she noticed a grave. Fresh lilies were bathed in an orange glow, placed atop it. "O-oh my gosh. I'm so sorry for intruding. I didn't mean to, honest."
The man beside Sango chuckled, his dark violet eyes kind. "No need to worry. We were just paying a visit. No harm done." He inclined his head. "Miroku."
"Hi, I'm Kagome." She smiled, glancing at the plaque. The name Kohoku was engraved onto it. "I...didn't know Sesshoumaru had a grave on his property."
"Graves," Sango empathised the plural quietly.
Blinking, the miko glanced further back, seeing more black plaques dotting further around. There were at least twenty. "Did he just decide to move onto a property with a graveyard?"
"Something like that," Sango mutters, staring at the boys name.
"I take it you...knew him?" Kagome gestured to the grave gently.
Tired brown eyes slid to her, before the woman sighed heavily, nodding. "He was my brother."
Kagome nodded sympathetically, a pang resounding deep in her chest. Souta. She then realised that Sesshoumaru still hadn't followed her. Seeing this as her chance, she looked at the couple with suddenly serious, pleading eyes.
"Guys I-I really need your help. Can you cover for me if Sesshoumaru comes out here? I need to leave right now."
"What are you talking about?" Sango asked, turning to her.
Wetting her lips, Kagome tried to channel her desperation into her voice. "You just have to give me enough time to slip away, I need to-"
"No! No, you're...not allowed to leave."
Kagome stared in shock at the ferocity with which Sango had spoken. Taking a few steps back, a chill of fear thrummed down her spine. Everything lapsed into silence, or perhaps she just became more keenly aware of the absence of insects chirping.
Miroku reached out and placed his hand on Sango's shoulder, squeezing it and giving her a meaningful look. He then turned to Kagome and nodded in encouragement.
"Go. You don't belong here, my lady. We'll try to keep him distracted."
"Miroku!" The shaking woman hissed, tears collecting in her eyes. "What are you doing?! He won't bring him back if we do this-"
That hand on her shoulder seemed to tighten. "Kohaku isn't coming back, deep down you know that." His patient, concerned voice hardened.
Head swimming with confusion, Kagome didn't stop to find out any more as she turned and started to sprint away, heart racing when Sango cried out.
Looking back, Kagome realised that Miroku had covered the struggling woman's mouth, muttering lowly to her. His words were answered with a sharp elbow to his ribs, and then another swinging back into his nose. Breaking free of his hold, Sango's desperate calls haunted the heels of the terrified girl.
"Sesshoumaru! Sesshoumaru, she's escaping!"
The kimono had proved cumbersome, as she'd thought. With a silent apology to Mama, she'd reached down and yanked the material hard- tearing a seam up the side to free her legs to movement. Pulling out her phone while she ran through the forest, Kagome held her free arm up, trying to bat aside the bushes as they whipped into her hands. She pumped her legs faster, lifting the phone to her hear and straining her hearing. Please, please get through to Souta. Come on.
A long dull beep sounded in her ear. Feeling her heart sink, she pressed the return call button again and again. Stumbling out of the undergrowth with leaves clinging to her hair, Kagome breathed heavily, her eyes widening as they locked on a certain house.
Running across the dusty road, she hurried up to the hotel door and pounded on it continuously.
"What do ye mean by making such a racket!" Grumbled a voice from the other side, before it slid open. Kaede found herself hugged tightly, trapped by the small miko.
"P-please Kaede you've got to help me," Kagome begged, gripping her clothes tight.
The older woman's single eye widened a touch. "My child, what is it?" She held onto her arms to steady the girl, leading her inside and shutting the door.
"Sesshoumaru's insane. He's trying to keep me here! He's been the white dog all this time!" Only then did she realise how crazy she sounded out-loud.
Kaede gave her a worried once over, lips thinning.
"Please, you have to believe me! He can transform- but that's not important! Kidnapping me is!" Kagome rambled on.
"I-I see. Let's get ye sat down with a nice tea to steady your nerves. We'll get this sorted out," her voice soothed, and Kagome willed herself to believe her, wanted to. Kaede seemed so steadfast and reliable that the priestess wished she'd never left the hotel. But the adrenaline refused to quell in her veins.
"No Kaede, I need to go right now. He's going to follow me, I know it."
The old woman held up a wrinkled palm, her manner at ease. "Be calm. He will not be able to pass my barrier so easily."
"Y-your barrier?" Her eyes widened slowly as something dropped in her stomach. "Kaede..."
"Yes, my child. It has been awhile since I met a fellow Preistess."
Taking a step back, the walls that had just a moment ago been so comforting now seemed to press in close. "You're...a part of this too, aren't you? After Sesshoumaru wrecked my car, he brought me here. Did you know? Were you...expecting me the whole time?"
Kaede followed that step, reaching out to her without touching. "This is all for the sake of the village, so I was told. But, it is apparent the dog wants ye. Seems he's become lonely for warmth in his old age."
Kagome shook her head slowly, inching away. She kept hearing Sango's frantic calls in the back of her mind, and anticipated another betrayal of trust. There was no one she could count on.
Kaede's eye widened and she held up her hands, "nay child. I do not wish to hurt ye, don't flee."
But she wasn't listening anymore. The blistering aura of heat and jaws spreading wide open lingered behind the front door, causing Kagome to bolt for the back. Ignoring Kaede's calls for her, she raced out into the garden, tears escaping her eyes as she jumped over a fallen tree and disappeared into the darkness of the woods. By this time the rain had truly picked up, pelting her face and shoulders with icy stabs and causing her breath to become visible.
Panting hard, Kagome pulled out her phone again, only half paying attention to it as she minded her footing in the non existent light- tree branches and thorn bushes cutting into her face.
"Hello?" A sleepy voice in her ear caused her to jump.
Gasping, Kagome clutched the phone tight. "Souta!"
He seemed to become more awake by the urgency in her tone. "Sis?"
Hope leaping in her chest, she fought against the chattering of her teeth. "H-help me-" she yelped as her sodden shoes slipped on the mud. The ground rushed up to meet her- before a sharp thump met the side of Kagome's head.
The world plunged into darkness for a few moments. The only thing she could feel upon slightly waking was the spectre of heat and teeth drawing closer in her minds eye. Rain continued to pelt her fallen form- her fingers numb with the cold.
She must have blacked out again, because when her eyes peeled open again, Kagome felt warmth under her body. Though the rain continued on her back, her free hand tightened slightly in the fur supporting her. Hearing the continuous padding of paws on the ground, she turned her cheek miserably into the silver fur of his back, exhaling shakily.
The phone lay silent once more in her weak grip.
Chapter 5: Earth Child
The rain had continued to pelt her back for the remainder of the journey. She'd felt the muscles of his large back shifting beneath her as his form darted through the undergrowth. Arriving back at the prison he called home, Kagome sighed into the fur.
"Let me go..." she murmured.
Heat began to wrap around her, and blue eyes snapped open. Flames engulfed them, flowing over his form like a swirling inferno. Kagome yelped, shuddering into him. Yet the red lights of the embers passed over them- leaving no burns or scarring. The body beneath her shifted and shrank within the flames, rising up on two legs. The phantom warmth eventually died down, and Kagome found herself draped over Sesshoumaru's inhuman back. Her cheek rested against his fine silver hair, but she quickly pulled away.
Opening the door, Sesshoumaru's grip on the backs of her knees slackened and Kagome let herself down. Stepping away from his back, she dusted halfheartedly at her mud-caked legs. The demon turned, tired gold eyes resting on her as they regarded her solemly.
"Must we continue in this way?" He asked quietly.
"Until you let me go, yes. Maybe even after. Kidnapping doesn't exactly make me feel warm fuzzies, pal." She mumbled, holding her cold arms. "I can't believe...Sango is in on this too. Kaede even. Does the whole village know?"
He stepped closer, "you're bleeding." He observed softly instead. His eyes roved over her face, trying to find the source. They flit over her scratched legs, but it was the crown of her head that caught and held his attention. Gingerly touching the spot, Kagome felt a sticky substance in her hair. She pulled red fingers away.
"I-it's just a little blood. Don't try to distract me," she mumbled.
When he took a step closer, Kagome tensed. "Come," was all he said. Lithe fingers wrapped around her wrist, tugging her to follow. She tried to pull away but the Daiyoukai was stronger. He tugged her up the stairs while Kagome glanced around for signs of Rin. The house lay empty and silent save for the gentle patter of rain on the roof.
"Where are you taking me?" She grouched, blinking when they reached the top of the stairs and he opened the bathroom door. He pulled her inside, shutting them away from the world. In the small space, Kagome's hand drew into a fist, feeling cornered. Yet Sesshoumaru ignored her, turning on the bath water.
She paled slightly, "oh. Thank you. Well then, I'll just-" tugging at her wrist did nothing. Raising wide eyes to his, she scoffed. "Seriously? You're going to supervise me while I bathe?"
"This one will attend your injuries," he replied in a clipped tone. "Disrobe."
Kagome stared, feeling his hand fall away from her wrist. Bringing her hands to the front of her kimono, she sighed, mourning her modesty. He'd probably tear it off her anyway. The exhaustion from the run and rain was starting to set in, slowing her movements. She parted the clothing- only to hiss when she tried to bend her elbow to get her arm free. Huh, must have injured that in the fall too.
She jumped when warm hands brushed her collarbone, pulling the material off her shoulders gently. Kagome glanced away while he helped her with the fastening around her waist. Eventually she was left only in her underwear. The steam curled in the air, raising goosebumps on her exposed skin.
"The rest stays," she muttered, hugging her arms to her chest as something skittered up her spine.
"Hn," his hand closes around her own.
Kagome wrestled with a blush when he helped her into the bathtub. "I'm not a child you know, I can do this myself."
"This one is more than aware."
Her lips thinned, but she exhaled gratefully as the hot water lapped around her. Sinking lower, she marvelled that it felt exquisite. Cupping water in her hands and lifting it up, Kagome splashed her face, feeling a light pressure on her head.
Sesshoumaru sat slightly on the side of the tub, leaning over her to press a cotton swab to the wound. It surprised her he was actually cleaning it. But the action only made her sad. The feeling persisted as he finished and moved onto her legs, hand curving around her calf and lifting it from the water. He pressed a wash cloth to it and wiped away the mud, exposing red, angry cuts and scratches.
"Why do you have to do these things?" Kagome asked softly.
"Why kidnap you?" He raises a brow. She nodded slowly, watching as his attention remained fixed on the task at hand.
"Because Rin desired a mother."
Kagome opened her mouth-but he cut her off. "This one...Had never heard her request anything before. But she asked for a miko mother." Harrowed golden eyes narrowed. "I have provided her with everything she could need. When she was lonesome, I found her a friend. When she was confused, I found her a teacher. When she was in need of guidance, I found her a Grandmother, but Rin never asked for these things," he muttered tonelessly. His knuckles brushed Kagomes calf as she breathed in, eyes widening to take in his entire appearance. "Though... Kaede hasn't exactly done the job well as of late," he snipped.
"Y-you mean, you've done this before?" She breathed. "All the people in this village...were they kidnapped just like me?"
He frowned slightly, "Not exactly. Circumstances had... Arisen where they needed somewhere to stay. I gave them a choice. Call it what you will- that I capitalised on their pain and loneliness. But they have no where else to go that is safe for their kind. Like this, they give Rin company."
Kagome stared at him, aghast. She put a hand to her forehead. "Okay, first off- what do you mean by 'their kind?' Second, people aren't livestock you can just place in a role to fulfil, Sesshoumaru. Why not just let Rin live in a normal village with genuine friends? Not ones you've forced to be here."
His heavy attention shifted to her. "Because, Rin is not a normal girl. She needs to be here. Elsewhere is not safe."
Kagome's eyes narrowed. As usual, he wasn't answering anything useful. "You mean you just couldn't handle it if things were normal. You couldn't control everything that way."
Sharp claws nicked her ankle. She jumped and shuddered, gaze staying locked with his.
"You will come to understand in time."
"Time..." she said softly. "Oh God, I bet you've kept these people here for years."
Sesshoumaru hummed and began to straighten, releasing her. "A few..."
She grabbed his clawed hand. Heedless of the sharp nails biting into her palm, she looked at him with quiet exasperation. "And how old are you?"
He hesitated as though having not thought about it for a long time. "800. Give or take a few centuries," he uttered.
Kagome exhaled in a rush. "I've never... sensed another youkai around. You're the only one." The ancient demon studied her from within the curling tendrils of steam. "That is correct. This one is the last remaining, far as I am aware."
It finally, finally clicked into place then. What his true motives were. He was lonely, Kagome realised. This twisted, possessive man wanted something so incredibly simple. Company. He must have misconstrued Rin's desires, in an effort to serve his own wants. Whether or not he was malicious with his intent, Kagome couldn't say. The fact remained she was trapped there by him. But... A part of her could understand his need. The desperate want to keep people close. "You need to... Let all this go. Let Rin be free with the other kids-"
"You dare to meddle?" His voice had dropped to an acidic tone.
Blue eyes flashed, "yes I do."
Her bared his teeth. "Foolish. You have no right-"
"I have every right, I'm her mother." Kagome's own voice dropped as she snapped. Sesshoumaru's eyes widened and he stilled, thrown. The two stared at each other in silence. A thrum of quiet victory shone in Kagome's eyes. She'd play the game if it meant surprising him. She even thought he was backing down, just for a moment.
But then a large hand made a fist in her hair- pulling tight. Kagome yelped, feeling her head be tugged back, baring the delicate expanse of her throat.
Fast drumming roared in her ears. She swallowed, staring at the ceiling. A hot, wet sensation dragged down her neck, lingering on her rapid pulse. "Hn, if that's the case, perhaps you'd be more comfortable sleeping in this one's bed tonight."
Shocked eyes widened. Her breath hitched.
"If you're so eager to be a mother, should we not start trying for pups?" He uttered, a smile in his voice. Kagome jumped when sharp fangs nipped her skin.
No way...is he actually laughing at me? A telltale chuckle rang out, confirming her suspicions, and she gasped, twisting in his hold as reiki sparked along her skin.
"You jerk! Let go," she blushed. His grip loosened and he continued to chuckle while Kagome jolted free, scrambling to her feet. Her balance became compromised however- water lurching as she slipped. Sesshoumaru's amusement was cut short, quickly grabbing her around the waist just as she bumped into him. Pale hands clamped onto his shoulders. Kagome swayed forward, finding her nose inches from his. Her skin flushed anew.
He's so close...
Slit pupils bore into hers, claws pricking her hip. His shoulder felt tense under her hand, lean muscle frozen stiff. The closeness felt different to when they'd been dancing just a few hours ago. Her nearly bare body felt exposed, practically all of her open to his scrutiny. But the demon held her carefully, an intentness in his air and attention.
She wondered how long it had been since he'd last held anyone. A faint...yearning swam in his gaze. That loneliness again. His lips parted, revealing a fang as their noses brushed- breath intermingling. Kagome's frazzled mind refused to give insight, an order, a reaction. It wasn't logic that took hold of her but emotion, instinct. Her own loneliness felt like it were being mirrored back to her in his eyes. He did not feel evil to her, and she hated that. He'd just chased her down like a hunter would his kill. And yet he did not feel repulsive despite his insane reasoning and actions. She still felt her stomach turn to liquid gold, thighs press together as heat flamed along her skin.
Surprisingly, Sesshoumaru was the one to pull away. His eyes frosted over with control. "This one will get you a change of clothes. You are tired, are you not? I will leave you to your rest."
Kagome cleared her throat while they both straightened, feeling the loss of his warm palms when he released her. "Y-yeah," she murmured, expecting him to leave. However, his hand closed around hers and Kagome blinked as he helped her step from the bath. Feeling something soft settle over her head and shoulders, Kagome paused, chest aching. She loathed it. The towel dipped forward over her head a moment, obscuring her vision. By the time she'd pushed the material up, the Daiyoukai was gone.
Kagome touched her burning cheek and dug her nails into the flushed skin, causing harsh rivets.
She despised him. She had to.
While her back was turned, busy with drying herself, Kagome didn't notice Sesshoumaru's coming and going. She turned to see her bunny print pajama's folded neatly on the bathroom side. The cute pictures only made her stomach turn with a certain horrific memory.
Kagome dressed quickly, lest he drop in unannounced again. Returning to her room, she flopped onto her bed, musing that she really wasn't having much luck escaping. Playing along with the sham had won her new information however, and she'd ran further than before with this latest attempt. The brief flare of triumph was snuffed out by the memory of Sango. Kaede. It was clear that there was no one she could trust. Kagome turned on her side, touching her ankle and remembering the bathroom.
She quickly shook her head.
Hearing muffled voices from downstairs that started to raise louder, Kagome lifted her head. One was no doubt Sesshoumaru, but the other...
Lifting herself from the bed, she crept with bare feet toward the door. Sliding it open a crack, Koga's gruff voice reached her ears. "It was just extreme is all! How badly hurt is she? Ya don't have-ta treat women like that, least us wolves don't. Sure a bit of rough and tumble is called for, but -"
"Be silent. This one is not interested in anything you say," Sesshoumaru shut him down.
There's a growl of annoyance, that was suddenly drowned out by a much lower, hissing growl. Kagome was certain Sesshoumaru's eyes had bloomed red by now.
A beat of silence pervaded the house.
"... Look, what are ya gonna do with her? You gonna mate her, or just use her to strengthen the barrier?" Koga grunted.
Sesshoumaru was silent in response, and an aggregated sigh came from the threshold of the front door. It was clear Sesshoumaru wasn't letting him in.
"I don't like it," Koga uttered. "Maybe we outta...let her go. Forget this whole thing."
"Your opinion is not needed, nor was it asked for."
"Stubborn, bratty, son of a-"
Another hissing sound cuts him off, and Koga let out a very animal sounding yelp.
"Unless you intend to challenge me outright, keep your comments to yourself. It is only Rin's sense of mercy that keeps you alive, Wolf Prince. I am less inclined to abide by that mercy with every word you whimper." Sesshoumaru's voice rumbled like thunder, cold and biting. The complete opposite of how it had been with her, soft as honey.
Koga was silent, but Kagome could hear unsteady footsteps draw away from the door. It clicked shut, and she pulled her door closed, hiding under the covers of her bed.
There came a rhythmic padding of paws up the stairs near her door. She held her breath, freezing. The little space under her door letting in a line of light became blocked. The heavy panting of a dog could be heard. He hesitated before her door for some time, and Kagome watched it obsessively, not daring to blink. Mate... Koga had said. What exactly had he meant by that?
She could hazard a few guesses.
The shadow behind her door shifted, before drawing away. The sound of claws clicking on the hard wooden floors faded away. The air escaped her lungs in a rush.
Kagome slept poorly that night.
A few days passed, and Kagome mused that Sesshoumaru had certainly tightened the net around her. She could still go to the school to 'clean' but she barely did her job, instead spending her time searching for a phone signal in different areas or reading books in the library. The difference was, Sesshoumaru accompanied her almost everywhere.
She'd jolted upon being caught with the phone, but he'd ignored it. In fact he allowed every attempt she made to use it. His confidence was both grating and worrying.
The only thing he wouldn't tolerate her doing was taking her pills in-front of him. She had to take those behind closed doors.
And every night he seemed to hesitate just a little longer behind her door.
One night, Kagome dimly noted it was close to Halloween, looking at the calendar on her bedroom wall. Brushing her hair, she paused upon hearing rapid footfalls hurrying past her door. They thundered down the stairs, and Sesshoumaru's voice reached her ears.
"How bad is it?" He demanded.
"...Please don't worry, father."
Kagome's brows drew together and she shifted her covers off her, padding to the bedroom door and opening it. Drawing her foot out into the barren hall, she crouched down, shifting to the top of the stairs and peering down.
Sesshoumaru was knelt, inspecting Rin's arm with a careful reverence. His eyes burned, lips thin. She had never seen him so severe and yet soft. Rin allowed him to do as he pleased, looking almost jadedly tired.
The demon lifted the little girl up into the crook of his arm. "Adjustments need to be made."
Rin only sighed, motionless while he carried her out of Kagome's sight. The backdoor of the house could be heard swinging open and shutting.
Squinting, Kagome left her spot at the top of the stairs. Rising up on her tip toes, she crept down the hall- pushing open a random door to try and follow their progress. Shifting quietly up to the window frame, she peered down. Sesshoumaru was carrying Rin across the garden, heading towards the night drenched work-shed. Kagome's heart picked up with alarm. Why was he taking her there so late? Their forms disappeared within, while the lights turned on soon after. Sesshoumaru shut the door behind them, and Kagome gnawed on her bottom lip.
She had to see. She had to know what they were doing. Turning, she padded slowly, carefully down the stairs, reaching the backdoor.
Pulling it- Kagome was alarmed to find it locked. Bastard. He must have suspected she'd follow. Still, he hadn't had enough time to lock the front. Hurrying now, she jogged across the living room to tear open the entrance, forgoing her shoes. The grass crunched wet and soggy against the pads of her feet, utterly sullying the soles of her feet, but she continued on. Keeping close to the side of the house, she made her way round back and gauged the distance between herself and the silent work-shed. It was at least a good sprint. The run would have to be quick and quiet.
Breathing out, Kagome braced herself, before pushing off from her heel. Urging herself to run, she channelled all of her energy into pumping her legs. A light vapour hung in the air, settling onto her exposed skin. Heading toward the side of the shed, Kagome skidded a little and grabbed hold of the structure- preventing herself from falling. Not a sound came from inside, and sweat broke out on her forehead. Shakily turning, she stared at the light pouring out from the single window. The rest looked to have been blacked out.
Shifting herself slowly around the outside of the shed, Kagome squatted underneath the window, trying to settle her nerves. Then, slowly, carefully, she raised herself up on tip toe, hugging the side of the structure as she peered inside. At first, the single light in the room caught her attention, hanging listlessly from the ceiling. Then the pots. Countless terracotta pots and vases were littered within, stacked high on one another.
Odd, Kagome hadn't pegged him as the sort to like pottery. But then he did have those paintings in the house, maybe he was artsy? A shadow drew close and Kagome quickly ducked down, waiting a moment. Something rustled from within, and she peered inside again, swallowing. Sesshoumaru passed by the window, stopping to kneel next to Rin as she lay on a table located below the window. Kagome tried to raise herself higher to look at her. The little girl lay pale, eyes closed.
Kagome made a noise and quickly clamped a shaking hand over her mouth.
Her left arm was missing.
The image burned into her mind however was that of Sesshoumaru holding a small child sized arm. Clay caked his hands up to his forearms- and the arm held in his grasp, presented like a gift, looked hollow.
What the hell is going on? Pushing off from the shed, Kagome decided not to test her luck and instead returned to the house in a scramble of limbs.
Her mind reeled with what she'd seen. What exactly did it mean? That Rin was an amputee? That didn't explain why her head pulsed with the instinct to get away. To hide or run. It had felt wrong, like she'd stumbled upon something not meant for her. A painfully private moment. Perhaps Rin was a Frankenstein creation, or a demon too.
But that look in Sesshoumaru's eyes was what shook her to the core. He'd looked so weary but...reverently obsessive. Like a determined writer at the helm of a great story that had been driven to complete his work at the cost of his health. He'd looked at Rin as both a daughter and as a piece of craft he must preserve.
What do I do? Kagome thought, laying down tiredly on her bed. Drawing her knees up, she clutched her hands close to her chest, exhaling.
The backdoor opened downstairs, falling shut. Her eyes snapped open.
Quick, small footfalls of the little girl hurried up the stairs, thundering past Kagome's door and down the hall to her own room.
Kagome squeezed her eyes shut, waiting. Just as with every night, she heard the telltale padding of paws. They approached slowly, a faint panting noise behind her door when the shadow drew near and hesitated.
No matter how much she willed her body to hold still, her bones refused, trembling. She didn't know. She didn't know what he wanted from her. Not really. What imaginary role or purpose was she supposed to fill in his eyes to satisfy him? Was she going to have her limbs replaced with clay too?
Why hesitate outside her door?
What did he hope to gain by coming inside?
For the first time, it seemed her question would receive an answer.
Kagome inhaled sharply as her door slid open.
Chapter 6: Porcelain Skin
Slow breaths. In and out. Inhale and exhale. Kagome repeated this to herself like a mantra. She lay on her side as though dead, back exposed to the door while inwardly trembling under the covers. The icy grip of fear held her throat. She dared not move, praying he'd leave again. But her ears strained for noise, trying to find the slightest shift of weight on the hardwood floor.
She jumped. Something like hot, sticky vapour fanned over the nape of her neck. It came again and again in gentle pants. Kagome's hand clenched into a fist- swinging her arm numbly behind her. A warm palm caught her fist.
Trembling, she turned over slowly, meeting hooded gold.
"Tell me...what was it that you just saw?" The demon asked softly.
Her mind raced with alarm, feeling the mud caked on her feet. She must have trailed it through the house in her panic. Stupid!
"I-I don't know," she murmured. "And you won't tell me, I know that much." She panicked upon feeling her arm be drawn closer to him. "What are you going to do?"
His attention shifted from her hand to the frightened blue eyes that stared at him, entranced. "What do you want me to do?" He asked in a hushed tone.
Those eyes widened. She didn't know. Loneliness clung to her like a second skin, but the dangerous situation she was in couldn't be overlooked. Unless...
Unless she used it to her advantage. Kagome swallowed thickly. The pale demon stared, braced slightly over her. The rich iris of his eyes shifted, burning tawny until flecks of red swirled in, shifting like a kaleidoscope. It was both unnerving and thrilling to stare into red eyes. Clandestine hunger glowed, bright and fierce.
"You were...waiting outside my door a lot of nights. Why?"
Sesshoumaru remained silent for a moment. His jaw clenched. "You will not approve of the reason."
Kagome raised a brow, eerily reminded of when they'd first met. How awkwardly he'd said his name.
"Very well," he sighed, leaning a touch closer. "This one desired to be let in. Your warmth, scent...” nostrils flared as he inhaled deeply. “I lie sleepless craving it every night, knowing you are under the same roof."
She stared, cheeks heating slightly while pushing herself up on her elbows. "No one invited you in tonight and you're still here."
Kagome should not have taken her eyes off him, because the moment she did, Sesshoumaru pounced. Shoving her down with one hand, firm lips pressed to her throat. "Perhaps you should not have spied then. If the thought of us together is displeasing, then demand for me to leave," he rumbled quietly, scraping flushed skin with his fangs.
Exhaling, her hands twisted in the sheets. Stomach dissolving into butterflies, she shuddered. "Alright...please leave then."
It was like the fire's in the backs of his eyes had been doused. The almost ardent expression on his face was instantly replaced with an unreadable one as he leaned away. Sesshoumaru turned and stood, touching his mouth briefly. He then began to leave without another word, but soft hands enclosed around his arm. He froze- gaze shifting to the woman at his side, who quietly stared.
His fangs were embedded in his knuckles. Dried clay was still caked up to his forearms.
It occurred to her how tenuous his control was at that moment. The whites of his eyes kept flashing a deep red, breathing picking up. Slowly, careful fingers pried his hand away from his teeth. Kagome could feel the youki in the air now, rippling and hissing like sharp burning static. The puncture holes were bleeding, and Kagome leaned down, pressing her lips to the marks and dying her lips red with his blood. He tasted like iron and earth.
Fear did her no good, so she banished it. No more hiding under the covers from monsters. Sesshoumaru had turned deathly quiet.
She lifted her head, revealing her bloodied mouth. "I meant...please leave- but take me with you. Your bed is probably a thousand times softer than mine."
He stared intently, completely enthralled. Kagome didn't understand what it was about her that commanded his attention so strongly, but his fingers flexed- curling around her own in a tight grip. A white orb enclosed around them and Kagome pressed closer just as the arm suddenly around her waist brought her flush against him.
When the white orb dissipated, they were standing in a new room. She assumed it was his room, judging from the swords on the wall and traditional decor.
Sesshoumaru leaned down, and this time Kagome met his lips halfway, easing up on her tiptoes. Though she'd banished logic and her conscience for now, it felt embarrassing to admit heated excitement was already racing through her veins. She didn't need to fake any reaction. Her body responded like an instrument in his hands, strings plucked by lithe fingers. Kagome kissed him hard, digging her fingers into his shoulder as her free hand buried itself in silver locks. Her heart thundered in her chest, lungs inhaling sharply when his claws dragged down her thigh, hitching it to wrap around his waist.
Turning on his heel, the demon shoved her against a wall, grunting into her mouth. Blunt teeth latched onto his bottom lip, nipping. He brushed his tongue inside her mouth in retaliation. Their bodies shuddered and rocked slowly, hands exploring everywhere.
Stroking the silver hair, she caressed the shell of his curious pointed ear. Everything about him felt foreign and exotic. When her touch moved to his cheek, rubbing her thumb over a magenta stripe- a shuddering growl rumbled out from his chest.
Kagome pulled away from his mouth, blinking. Sesshoumaru attacked her neck with kisses instead. Her back arched and she gasped, rutting her hips forward just as a dim thought occurred to her. Picturing the bag sitting innocently in her room, Kagome shuddered.
"I-I forgot to take my pills today- ah!"
Sesshoumaru's claws tore at her pyjamas, nicking her skin. "Put them out of your mind."
"But I need them. I forget...why exactly but I know they're important."
His head rose, face inches from hers. Pulling the tatters of her clothing down her shoulders and leaving her half naked, his knuckles brushed down her arm. "Focus on this one," he said in a soft rumble, stepping back slightly. Taking her hands and bringing them to the front of his hankimono, he focused on loosening his obi tie enough for it to part. She blushed, tugging the clothing enough to expose the pale expanse of his chest.
Goosebumps kissed her skin just as he did, bringing her hand to the space over his heart. The strong beat of his heart thrummed against her palm, so she splayed it wide, feeling his lips at her neck. It occurred to her suddenly why he always dismissed the pills.
"You know...what the pills do, don't you?"
The Daiyoukai lifted her up, arms wrapped around her waist as he lay her down on the bed. She noted it was made up of furs that brushed her skin, cushioning her back.
"Yes," he leaned over her, silver hair falling forward to spill around them like a waterfall. "They fog your memories. Make you forget a certain thing that happened a few years ago."
Cold fear washed over her, and Kagome looked at him sightlessly, trying to search her mind for what it could be. His warm hand on her cheek startled her out of the daydream. His lips were thin as they peeled back, flashing sharp fangs. "This one has watched and wanted for a year, miko. Do not think of what occurred before. All you need to know...is that it makes you similar to myself. Rin asked for a miko mother and I found one, but I did not expect to be endeared to you by your fortitude. It is why I will mate you."
Kagome jolted, hands going to his shoulders. "A-and, what does that mean?"
"I suppose it could be seen as a form a marriage-"
"Wait a minute!" She barked. "That isn't what's happening, buster. We're having sex and that's it!"
"Call it what you will. Sex is a form of claiming."
"Well maybe I'll claim you," she growled, pushing herself up with all her strength to roll them, landing atop him. Straddling his waist, she grit her teeth. Something hard was already pressing between her legs. A sweet ache flared to life in her lower stomach. The demon looked up at her with a raised brow, as if doubting her resolve. Instinctively, she rocked her hips against his, eyes flashing.
Sesshoumaru inhaled sharply, giving a low growl as he gripped the back of her hair, tugging her head down.
Mouths melding, he worked her into a panting mess by shifting his hips in rhythm with hers, pressing his rigid, aching erection against her heated skin. Fingers teased, scratched and caressed, neither relinquishing their hold on the other.
She met his lips again and again, panting into his mouth. He lulled her into a sense of dizzying lust, and she took the initiative to slide her hands over the strong plains of his body. Pushing the red and white silk off his shoulders bared more magenta stripes. They began on his hip and slid suggestively down his pelvis.
Sesshoumaru reached down, curling a clawed finger inside her slick folds. She jolted when it scratched her, quivering at the mix of pain and pleasure. She moaned into his mouth, breaking away to pant heavily as he thrust another digit deep with her. Yet he seemed precise with his claws, careful to rub or slightly nick her slick flesh but not seriously harm. Kagome's knees tightened on either side of him. He continued to lick and press hard lips against her as she trembled and quaked around his fingers, gripping his shoulders tight.
Bravely, she reached down and tugged at his hankama, blushing bright red.
"Careful, miko. If you're set on a claiming, you'll have to take all of me."
"I-I can do that," she fibbed.
Sesshoumaru's lips curled up. His fangs scraped her nipple- nipping sharply. He raised his now slick knuckles to his mouth, languidly licking them clean and watching her with half lidded eyes.
Arousal coursed real and fast through her veins as she gasped, freeing his cock in response. Sesshoumaru shifted out of the white material, gripping her under her thighs and rutting their bodies together.
Once his bare skin touched hers, Kagome’s body flamed alight. A wetness and tightening need swelled inside her core.
He rubbed his length against her dripping entrance- and gold met blue. Suddenly the adrenaline died down a little, and the reality of what she was about to do settled on Kagome's shoulders. She couldn't deny her attraction, nor vague fear of this man. This demon who had stolen her away. But their skin blazed together, and the pleasure felt good after days of worry. Exhaling, she guided the head inside her. Her sex stretched to accommodate him, and Kagome held onto him, gritting her teeth. She sank her hips down just as he guided her, and a low sound escaped him. Lips parting in a silent scream, a moan built from the back of her throat, spilling out into the room.
Kagome tried her best to set the pace, but as a virgin, she had little experience with how exactly to best move. She winced and shuddered, growling and trying to keep Sesshoumaru down when he shifted. Gold flashed, and a deep snarl escaped him.
Gripping her hips, he toppled her easily, yanking her down beneath him.
He moved slowly at first, pulling in and out, her folds making wet, obscene sounds when he slammed back into her. Her back arched, nails digging harsh rivets into his shoulders.
"Y-you jerk. I said I was- gn- claiming."
"You're doing a poor job, so this Sesshoumaru has decided to take you instead. Except..." he thrust hard and deep, ripping a moan from her. "We'll be doing this my way."
Not understanding his meaning, Kagome squealed when he yanked her again. In a swift movement he flipped her over, earning a yelp as he angled her hips up and knelt between her knees.
He braced himself over her, inhaling the black hair that spilled over her shoulders and making a strange, rumbling purr. Her body quivered and she panted for breath. She gasped as his fingers teased her again to the point where she was bowing her back and panting.
Suddenly he was thrusting behind her. The striped hips moved hard and fast in merciless bucks. Kagome cried out each time, face flaming. All she could do was cushion her chin on the furs and try to move with him. But it felt impossible. His sheer strength and power made his grip on her uncompromising. The solid thrusts made him pound into her deeper and deeper. Her body jolted every time. Kagome's mind bled away into pleasure, until she didn't recognise herself. The miko became a mewling, needy thing, practically begging as saliva dripped down her chin.
As the ache inside curled her toes, white hot heat coxed her pleasure higher, and higher- until ravenous, teeth splitting need drowned out all thought.
The thought firmly entrenched itself within her heart.
When the pleasure had died down, they'd lain together in a mess of sprawled limbs. His scent was comforting, warmth making her relax against him. She'd dozed contently in the arms of the demon. Long, deadly fingers had stroked her hair, a sated laziness in his mannerisms. She felt it when he kissed her forehead.
After an hour, he seemed truly asleep. Chest rising and falling, magenta lids remaining shut, lips slightly parted to reveal the hint of a fang. Kagome's eyes peeled open tiredly, and she stared at him for a long moment. He was kind of...beautiful up close. Her fingers twitched with want to touch. To trace a thumb over his lip.
Carefully untangling herself from him, she pulled herself up- wincing. Everywhere felt sore and slightly sticky with old traces of sweat. In between her thighs ached and pulsed, as though wanting to be filled again. Kagome blushed and clothed herself a dressing gown- the size dwarfing her. She resisted the urge to inhale his scent, hurrying out of the room with quiet steps. After quickly washing between her legs and dabbing a sponge over her damp face and collarbone, Kagome looked at her reflection tiredly.
She needed to find his car keys. The only problem was, she had no idea where they were. The only person who may be willing to tell her slept down the hallway, but Kagome's stomach turned at the thought. She wanted to leave Rin out of this escape, but...
She'd waste time by searching downstairs. Who knew how long Sesshoumaru would sleep for.
Dressing in jeans and a thick sweater fit for Autumn, Kagome put her sneakers on inside the house despite breech of manners. In what felt like seconds, the miko found herself bathed in shadow, standing outside Rin's room.
Sliding back the door, she stepped inside, finding the little girl asleep in her bed. The decor was oddly...sparse from what Kagome could see. No toys. Many paintings hung on the walls though, with a large desk near the wall where various sketchbooks were sprawled.
Kneeling down, Kagome steeled herself. Ever since Sango, she was cautious. Covering Rin's small mouth with her hand, she whispered: "Rin, wake up."
Brown eyes fluttered open and she started, hands coming up to hold Kagome's.
"Shhh," Kagome quickly soothed. "I need you to be quiet, okay? No loud noises. I just want to know where your father keeps his car keys."
Peeling her palm reluctantly away, she watched Rin stare up at her. "The...keys?" She asked in a hushed tone.
"Yeah. I'm...I'm going to buy a surprise for him from the little shop in the village. So, let's not wake him, okay? Just tell me where they are."
Rin shifted, unblinking. The miko fought not to glance down at her arm, wondering. Surely Rin was loyal to Sesshoumaru. Perhaps this was a mistake.
But the girl surprised her. "They're downstairs on the top shelf in the cupboard. The one near the irori."
Kagome breathed out with relief, smiling. "Thank you Rin, that's great. Go back to sleep now." She stood, lifting her bag onto her shoulder and turning.
"You're...coming back. Aren't you, Kagome?"
Not facing her, Kagome's hands folded, gripping her fingers tight. She didn't want to lie to the child, but it was necessary. "O-of course, silly. Be back in a flash!" Her voice wobbled slightly, but Kagome hurried out, closing the door behind her.
Trying to keep the remnants of her bravery together, she padded carefully down the hall. Passing Sesshoumaru's door, she held her breath as though it would help. Shifting down the stairs, she side-stepped any steps that creaked, having memorised them over the days. Her body curiously hummed with a continuous sweet ache. The place where his teeth had buried in her neck during his climax stung a little, pulsing. Deciding to try and ignore it, Kagome opened up the cupboard- snatched the keys and made her way outside.
The first stage of victory was in her grasp the moment she lay eyes on the black car in the driveway. Hurrying closer, she opened the car door and hastily sat in the drivers seat, slowly shutting it behind her to try and make as little noise as possible. It closed near silently. Kagome breathed out with relief.
"So what surprise are we getting?"
Jumping, Kagome whipped her head violently to the side. Rin sat primly in the passenger seat.
"H-honey, you can't be here right now. Why don't you go back to sleep? It's a school night, right? We don't want your father to worry."
Calm brown eyes stared back at her, nonplussed. "I think he'd be more worried about you sneaking out and trying to escape again."
A cold chill rattled Kagome's spine. Her knuckles turned bone white as she gripped the steering wheel. "What...are you?" She asked in a subdued voice. "You're not a child."
Rin sighed, adjusting her bed hair. "Not really, only in appearance. I don't really know what you'd call me, but it doesn't matter," she muttered, much more collected. The way she held herself, back straight and eyes steady reminded Kagome more of an adult. "Kagome- don't leave."
Turning the engine on, she shook her head. "Please just get out. I-I can't deal with this anymore."
The girl didn't budge, brows drawing together. "He's getting better slowly, he really is. If you just give it time, I really think Sesshoumaru will calm down-"
"Rin, I'm sorry, but I don't owe him anything." She grit out, even as her neck pulsed, the marks burning on her skin. "Or...you, for that matter. You asked him to fetch a miko mother. Y-you were there that night!" Blue eyes widened as it dawned on her. "Y-you lied to my face when he drove me to the village, played pretend by telling me you'd been travelling all day!"
Rin's hands met in her lap, eyes turning downcast. "Yes, I know. I can't go out of the barrier for too long but I wanted to be there. Wanted to see the woman he's become so...attached to." Those warm brown eyes rose up to meet hers. "It's a big deal. Kagome. Him, taking an interest in something outside the village. He can delude himself all he wants by saying kidnapping you is for the village, or for me. But he does genuinely...like you."
Kagome stared at her until the child winced. "He'd been watching you on and off- and I know how overbearing he is. Believe me. But you're the only chance we've got now. You can save us all-"
Putting the car into reverse, Kagome released the handbrake and turned the car around to face the exit of the drive. Hard blue eyes filled with tears stared hard ahead of her. "Please get out, Rin. I don't want to hear any more. He got in-between me and my family. My grandpa is sick, and who knows what else has happened while I've been gone. I can't let myself feel anything for Sesshoumaru, so just please. Please leave me alone."
Rin settled down in her seat, putting her seat-belt on in answer. Kagome sighed, "I'm forcing you out once I get to the border of the village."
The car pulled away, speeding out of the drive and along the pitch-black road through the heavy woods. The night sky remained dark and cloudy, blocking out the moon. Kagome drove in silence, biting her lip hard enough to make it tremble. Rin's gaze shifted to look up at her, noting the silent tear that rolled down her cheek.
"S-so long as you're here, you might as well answer some questions." Kagome sniffed, clearing her throat. "How old are you?"
"500 years. Um...give or take a few decades," Rin rested her cheek against the car door, staring up at the dark window.
"R-right," Kagome exhaled. "I saw your arm. What are you then?"
"I was originally human, but really that part doesn't matter." Rin mumbled, drawing her knees up and hugging them. Sensing it was a sore subject, Kagome sighed, leaving it be.
"Okay, so something I don't get; Why would Sesshoumaru ever say that stealing me will help the village? How would it?"
"The barrier around the village could be strengthened enormously with the input of your powers. If they joined with Sesshoumaru's when harnessed by the Halloween moon, it would become a real force field. Sesshoumaru thinks it's why I chose a miko mother. To protect the village and cut us all off from intruders once and for all."
"And why did you chose a miko?" Kagome asked in an acidic, turning at a corner.
Rin's lashes fell shut. "I figured if anyone could stand up to Sesshoumaru- snap him out of his need to protect us- it would be a miko. He needs...to let all this go, Kagome. Let me go.” Her lips bent up painfully. “So, yes. I did kind of twist things to get you here. But I'm doing this for my family," her smile turned rueful.
Kagome was about to reply when a loud noise rose up from beyond the trees. It echoed into the sky, roaring long and harsh, like a strangled snarl had been ripped from his throat. The sound buried itself inside Kagome's heart and made her teeth chatter. Slamming her foot down on the accelerator, the car sped down the road with a scatter of leaves dusting into the air behind it.
The tires bumped into the curb of the forest road, but she hardly cared. Fear pounded inside her skull. He was angry. For some reason, she could feel the thunder of his paws. They thrummed over the bite marks on her pulse. The sleek black car screeched. Kagome forced it to speed through the village.
"Where now, Rin?" She barked, disoriented. "Which road do I take to get out of here?"
The girl hesitated, and Kagome turned to her with wide eyes. "Rin!"
"I-it's that way," she pointed, wincing when the car lurched. Kagome turned the wheel, gunning the engine and willing them to go faster. The car ripped down the leaf infested road, and Kagome listened out for the snap out jaws- watched for the slightest hint of silver.
She gasped as they were sent into the air briefly- underestimating the size of a dirt mound on the road. The tires crashed into much cleaner, smoother black tarmac as they ripped through the village barrier and out onto the clean public road.
Kagome gasped, looking around at the very road where she'd first crashed. "I-I made it," she breathed, turning. "Alright Rin, you need to get out now so Sesshoumaru can-"
She stopped dead. The girl was pressing her small hands to her cheek, cupping it together.
"R-rin? Oh no, did you get hurt?" Forgetting her escape, Kagome ripped her own seat belt away to lean closer. "Let me see," she said gently.
A tired brown eye drifted to her listlessly. Kagome was struck by the utter apathy within it as Rin peeled her hands away.
Kagome's breath lurched and skittered to a stop. Cracks were spilling out of her small cheek like spiderwebs. A chipped pot crumbling. The indents were crumpling up into Rin's eye, threatening to collapse inwards.
Stumbling out of the car, Kagome sprinted around it to the passenger side. Lifting Rin carefully into her arms and pulling her from the vehicle, helplessness weighed down heavily onto her shoulders. "I-I don't know what to do. Tell me how to fix this."
Rin rested her good cheek against the miko's collarbone. "End this Kagome. Please, that's the only way you can help. Break the power binding us to this world. Sesshoumaru...will fix my body. He always does. But it's not helping me...I don't want to feel nothing anymore."
Her head lifted so that their eyes connected just as Rin's damaged one caved in, revealing a darkened, hollow shell for insides. There was no blood or eye socket. Just an empty vessel.
"Please free me," Rin whispered.
Kagome stared at her, frozen stiff with horror. She heard numerous things approaching then. The sound of paws and the rev of an engine.
Sesshoumaru arrived first, bursting out of the undergrowth. Leaves and twigs were lodged into his fur, red eyes crazed. He practically foamed at the mouth, jaws snapping as he stalked closer, panting heavily.
Her breath stilled and Kagome jumped when something else burst into the road from behind them. A large green pickup truck skidded to a halt, the driver door slamming open.
"Kagome! Get in, now!" Koga called.
Floundering, she looked between the two. Biting her lip, tears blurred her vision. "S-sesshoumaru," she murmured, bowing her head. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for her to get hurt. P-please just take her," she held Rin out from her body, not looking up.
Silence engulfed them. A shadow fell over Kagome’s face.
Something breathed hotly in her ear. The suggestion of teeth scraped her cheek.
"...Father, it hurts." Rin's small, childish voice piped up, drawing Sesshoumaru's attention away from the miko. "Take me home, p-please?"
A low, guttural growl hissed against the side of Kagome's mouth. The slight weight in her arms was taken away.
Kagome swallowed and turned on her heel, fleeing to the truck and not looking back. Climbing inside, she held her arms, leaning forward slightly and trying not to fall apart as Koga sped away with her.
The green truck sailed down the empty road, carrying them further and further away from the lonely, desolate village.
Chapter 7: Dust to Dust
The hum of the engine was the only noise Kagome paid attention to for a long while. She kept feeling the scrape of teeth on her skin, the fanning of heavy breath on her neck. Pressing her hand to the teeth marks, she focused on the road ahead.
"I can't...believe I'm free," she murmured. Turning to the tanned man next to her, Kagome tilted her head. "Why did you save me? Not that I'm not grateful but we haven't exactly talked much."
He lifted a broad shoulder. "Yeah I know, but ya don't deserve to be trapped there. Sorry I didn't warn ya sooner. Figured the least I could do was lend a hand when I saw you escaping. Heh, you looked like the devil was chasin' ya."
Kagome glanced away, watching the scenery pass by. What little she could see of it, anyway. Darkness still swamped the sky, with no sign of sunrise on the horizon. Without anything chasing her, she suddenly felt completely drained. She rubbed at her eyes, feeling a few lines underneath them that hadn't been there before.
"A pretty lady like you shouldn't be trapped with dead things."
"Dead...things..." the feel of Sesshoumaru's heartbeat thudding under her palm came back, real and warm. "What are you talking about?"
Shadowed cobalt blue shifted to her briefly. "Didn't you see Rin?"
A cracked, hollow child stared at Kagome in her mind, right eye caving inwards. She shivered. "I did, but i-it's just a lot to get my head around at the moment."
"Well, just relax. Since I didn't help sooner, I feel responsible." The seemingly amiable man grinned at her. "So I'll explain a few things if you want."
Kagome nodded her head eagerly, hugging her arms and rubbing them to try and rid herself of the biting cold she felt. "That's a relief to hear. I'd really like to know how this whole mess started. Like...why is Sesshoumaru so obsessed with preserving the village? Rin I can understand, kind of. She's his daughter. But I'm lost on everything else."
Koga fiddled with the radio and turned it on, adjusting the volume to let the rock music hum in the background. Her gaze flattened, and Kagome arched a brow tiredly.
He blinked at her. "What?"
"This music sucks. What are you, an edgy 12 year old? My little brother has better taste than this."
Clawed fingers flexed on the steering wheel and Kagome noted their sharpness.
Wolf Prince, Sesshoumaru had called him.
He tsked and chuckled, turning the volume up slightly to spite her. "Fine way to treat a guy who just saved you," he drummed his fingers to the screaming beat. "Alright. I don't know all the details, as I came in later, but here's what I know: This thing started 500 years ago. Sesshoumaru was Lord of the Western Lands, a big deal. I remember he'd gut you sooner than he'd talk to ya. Anyway, he had this sword-"
"Seems like he's got tons of swords in his house," Kagome said dryly, turning the volume down a touch.
"Yeah but this sword was special. Tenseiga could bring people back from the dead."
A cold chill brushed over her shoulders, and Kagome shuddered, reaching forward to turn on the car heating. She felt mild satisfaction when warm air began to fan onto her.
Koga waved a hand in the air, tsking. "With one slice, he could bring a soul back and put it in it's body. That's what he did with Rin. See she'd died by uh...gettin ripped apart by wolves." He sweat dropped, glancing away. "He apparently adopted the girl after that, treated the whole thing as an experiment. But he ended up getting attached to her. So...a few years roll by, and unfortunately, the little tyke gets killed a second time."
"So Sesshoumaru used Tenseiga again?" Kagome predicted.
"It didn't work, unfortunately." Koga said grimly. "Ya can only use the sword to bring back a person once. But Sesshoumaru didn't like that. Not one bit. He held onto her body and found this ogress sorceress demon named Urasue. Real piece of work. She brought Rin back at his behest. Only...necromancy is a nasty business. Using black magic, she was able to create a clay body, with human bones baked into the clay. Rin's soul animated the body, and that's what Sesshoumaru got. A clay doll. Rin was immortal sure, but hollow."
Kagome pressed a hand to her head, sadness swamping her. She couldn't imagine what that must have been like for him. The grief, the guilt. Picturing his usually unreadable face, she could imagine the storm taking place inside him. The proud demon had probably never dealt with his emotions.
"Urasue was killed. More years passed, and Sesshoumau kept Rin around. Except she was depressed and lonely. Sesshoumaru was also startin' to notice the humans were taking over. Bit by bit. Demon numbers are falling, and his Lands are next. So he tries to do two things at once. He learns Urasue's old trade of necromancy and brings back a few dead humans for Rin to be friends with. He then patrols his Lands. Revive then Patrol. Revive and Patrol. But then this all changes. See Sesshoumaru learned necromancy from Urasue's books, but they must have been missing something, because Rin's clay friends crumpled to dust one day."
Her brows drew together. "Why?"
Koga shrugged, "he must have missed something. Anyway he was too busy comforting Rin that he forgot to patrol." He sighed, weariness in his countenance as he placed one hand on his side, under his ribs. "His Lands fell. The Western Keep got destroyed along with all the demons inside. They weren't much good against this new thing called 'firearms' and Sesshoumaru came back to a ruined Stronghold. I heard a rumour about a rival demon clan tipping the humans off, but I dunno."
Some things were starting to fall into place. Kagome touched her bite-mark again, wishing Sesshoumaru had been the one to tell her these things. Maybe it wouldn't have changed anything but...
So that's why he's so intense about keeping the things in his life close. Especially Rin.
"Why the village, then?" She murmured, twisting her hands into her hair anxiously. Vaguely, she realised she'd left her bags in Sesshoumaru's car. My pills. Oh no, I left them behind.
"I reckon he just buried his emotions and focused everything on providin' for his tyke. He made more clay people, but this time he found a way to make sure they wouldn't crumble into dust. He made a barrier by plantin' Tenseiga into the earth. By fusing his youki into it and the human bones baked into the clay- the clay people could live within the barrier."
Koga glanced at her. "That's what the village is."
She felt faint, "so...all those people. They're all- they're all dead?"
"Pretty much. They're just animated clay dolls with souls inside. Want some gum?" He offered a stick to her casually, as though talking about the weather.
Kagome shook her head. "Uh...no thank you."
"So, you're headed to Tokyo, right? This truck will get ya there no problem, it's got a full tank."
She turned to him, noticing how his brow had knitted. "What about you? Aren't you coming with me?"
Koga laughed, before wincing. He pressed his hand harder against his side, coughing. "You might have to put me in an urn."
Blue eyes widened to take in all of his appearance. Kagome grabbed his arm and ripped her hand away soon after, paling. He felt agonisingly cold. "N-no, Koga. Not you too. I thought you said Sesshoumaru only revived humans!"
He smirked at her. "So ya figured it out. Yeah I'm a wolf demon, but he killed me personally and then revived me. Wanted to test if he could bring a demon back. See it was my pack who killed Rin the first time. They were just hungry. But Sesshoumaru didn't exactly forgive me-" Koga coughed, and the truck lurched to the side briefly, before he straightened the wheels.
"You've been out of the village barrier too long! Just let me out and then turn around- maybe you can still make it!" Kagome barked, grabbing the wheel. He batted her hand off carelessly.
"Pipe down. I'm dead either way. Sesshoumaru would break me for my betrayal even if I did get back in time. I'm just glad I did somethin' honourable before dying for good." His lips peeled back to reveal sharp fangs, and he grit his teeth, bowing forward slightly. Kagome felt panic erupt in her chest and grabbed his arm, ignoring how the chilled flesh bit into her palms.
"At least pull over, you dumb idiot!" She began to cry, out of tiredness, frustration or fear. It was difficult to tell.
The wolf demon snapped his teeth at her. "Quit your cryin! I'm taking you as far as I can." He grouched, exhaling while keeping one hand curled around the steering wheel. "500 years ago I woulda done anything to survive, but my whole clan has been wiped out. All I've been doin' for years is read books and learn skills, becomin' a blacksmith, carpenter, mechanic. Anything. But it was all damn pointless. Just a way of starvin' off boredom. I'm tired...I'd wager everyone is."
Kagome watched with alarm as cracks began to spill out over his arm. She quickly removed her fingers when the skin under her hand began to feel brittle and fragile. Heart thudding, she looked around helplessly for something to save him. With a start, she felt her phone still in her pocket.
I must have slipped it in my jeans earlier, yes!
Whipping it out, she dialled for the police, certain the signal would work since they were out on the open road now. There was a long beep, before the line went dead. Kagome removed it from her ear, hand frozen.
"Gn...the hell are you doing, pretty lady? That phone probably doesn't work." Koga grunted, breathing starting to become laboured as he hunched over.
"W-what are you talking about?"
The cracks on his arm started to cave in, the clay crumbling. "You seriously think Sesshoumaru would let you wander around with a working phone? He probably broke it the second you entered the village without ya knowing."
"That's impossible. I've talked to my little brother a few times on it, and my aunt!" She grit out, dialling again. The same dull beep, the same click. "T-the police are probably just out of range."
He gave a dusty sounding laugh, leaning back in his seat. His hair loosened slightly from its pony-tail, showing the tips of pointed ears as they peeped out from his thick black locks. "Not like the police would be much help. For someone so cute, you sure are a dumb woman."
Kagome lowered the phone numbly and watched as his arm crumpled, flattening into dust.
"Koga..." she choked, not sure what to say. Tears continued to roll down her cheeks, and her hand hovered uselessly in the air near his shoulder. He gave a sober, doleful look, before grinning while the cracks spilled up his neck. The truck continued on, the demon refusing to remove his foot from the pedal.
"Don't give me that look, this is a good thing. I can be with my pack now, and lead them in the Netherworld like I was meant to. I just feel sorry for those guys back the village." He sighed, glancing at the road. "Hey...if you feel like it, maybe go back and save them. If you...if you pull out Tenseiga from the ground, everyone will be free. But it's up to you. Not like you owe us anything," he exhaled shakily, wincing as his rib-cage caved in.
Orbs of light started to escape from the cracks over his skin, flowing out. Koga turned to look at Kagome, who could barely see him through the tears blurring her vision. She quickly wiped them away, sniffing.
"You look kinda gross with your nose all snotty." He smirked, closing his eyes as the structure of his body began to cave in. "Still a...pretty lady though..."
Kagome chocked on a sob. Koga's form disintegrated into dust, some specks spilling into the air while others fell into a small pile on the drivers seat. Grabbing the wheel when the truck started to swerve, she numbly watched as the orbs of light from his body rose through the ceiling. Shifting, she saw them travel up into the sky, slowly disappearing entirely.
The vehicle eventually coasted to a stop.
Left alone, her breathing sounded too loud in the small space. The rock music continued on faintly from the speakers, just a dull roar in her ears. Kagome sat back in her seat, a stone in her stomach.
"Damn it," she murmured thickly, rubbing at her eyes. In a burst of emotion, she kicked hard at the dashboard, dissolving into frustrated sobs.
Scooping the dust off the drivers seat hadn't been a task undertaken lightly. Kagome had gotten out of the vehicle and buried what was left of the Wolf Prince in a little make-shift grave behind the cover of the trees by the side of the road. It was left unmarked, but Kagome said a prayer for him, thanking him from the bottom of her heart.
She'd then taken his place in the drivers seat, a chill running through her. Glancing at the road behind her, Kagome wondered if Sesshoumaru would follow.
Starting the engine again, Kagome tiredly carried on. Her fingers found the marks on her neck again and she wondered why loneliness wrapped around her like a gossamer curtain.
The truck pulled away from the hard shoulder, and Kagome stared ahead of her sightlessly. Something was bothering her. Namely the phone. She wished she'd asked more about it. When exactly had Sesshoumaru broken it? She'd managed to speak to Souta a few times.
Exhaling, she leaned forward and turned the terrible rock music louder, letting it wash over her for the remainder of the journey to Tokyo.
Kagome drove along one of the cities many roads, rolling down the truck window to let the breeze tease at her hair. She breathed in the familiar smells of exhaust fumes and looked around at the many sights with a small smile. The sun had finally inched over the horizon, bathing the sky in warm oranges and blues.
Skyscrapers towered high above her, dowsing the truck in shadow. Countless people were already wandering around, probably heading to work at the early hour. Kagome spied Tokyo tower briefly, before it was out of sight behind another tall building. She carried on, pushing fatigue away in order to see her family shrine. Nothing else mattered to her except reaching it now.
"You do not belong outside, in that world," a velvet voice caressed her mind.
He hadn't known what he was talking about. Of course she belonged here.
"This is where you belong."
It was just like Koga had said, she shouldn't be among dead things. Sesshoumaru had gotten everything wrong.
"There is nothing for you past the barrier."
The last one drew Kagome up short. The phone suddenly felt like a heavy rock in her pocket. Why had he said it like that? It seemed a little strange, even for him.
Shaking her head, she continued on to her family shrine, only to find barricades at the bottom of the shrine steps. She pulled the truck up, parking it sloppily and getting out, brows drawing together. That was odd. Kagome made her way to the steel shutters, glancing up at the blocked off stairs. A man came cycling by on the path, and she quickly held out her arm.
"Excuse me, do you know what's going on here?"
The man braked harshly, skidding to a stop. He lifted up his googles and blinked at the structure, as though having passed it so many times it had become part of the scenery. Unnoticed.
"I think there was a fire a few years ago? The shrine is still being repaired, but I don't think the house will be. The city takes so long to do anything, it's annoying huh?" He sighed. "Used to love going to Higurashi shrine for festivals."
Kagome's eyes widened and she froze, limbs locking. "W-what? There has to be...some mistake. Where's the family gone who used to live here?"
He looked at her with confusion, gaze shifting as though he were looking back on some buried memories. He then pulled out his phone and showed her an article.
"They fog your memories. Make you forget a certain thing that happened a few years ago."
Kagome didn't really process what happened next. There was no melodramatic fainting or tears, her brain just went on autopilot. She followed the directions the man had pointed out to her, but she knew the way. Grandma Higurashi was buried there after all.
She stared down at the three plaques, vaguely noticing when the sun became hidden behind the clouds, dousing the land in tinged, dull colours. No grief buckled her. It was more like she'd been completing a jigsaw puzzle for years. Each day, she'd set a piece down or turned over a new one. Kagome had slotted them into place one by one. And now she'd slotted in the last until the full picture gazed back at her.
It made her remember everything.
She'd been staying with her Aunt for the past two years.
The night she'd been kidnapped, Kagome had been on her way to Tokyo to see her family.
To visit their graves.
Kagome knelt in-front of the names with a calm she did not feel. A silent scream stayed locked behind her teeth. She slowly traced the lines of Souta's death date with her eyes and then reached out, touching the cool stone. Sesshoumaru had been right, the pills had fogged her memory, but only in a placebo effect. The actual pills were harmless headache relief.
Bringing out her phone, Kagome placed it numbly to the side. She then sat back on her heels and stared ahead of her sightlessly, hollow as a clay doll.
The woman sat alone in the secluded graveyard, vaguely noticing the unattended flowerbeds that had become ruined and brittle with the encroaching frost. She stayed there for some time, thinking back on everything she'd blocked out in the past few years. A heavy ache pulsed slowly in her chest, solidifying into a stone that weighed down her stomach. Kagome pressed a hand to her mouth and squeezed harrowed blue eyes shut.
One of the larger graves that stood on the outskirts of the burial site stood tall. It's stone was cracked and weathered, with dead ivy clinging to it in vein. A white form shifted out from behind the tombstone, red eyes set on the trembling woman.
"All you need to know...is that it makes you similar to myself."
Chapter 8: Purgatory
Treading the nostalgic path down to her old school in a haze, Kagome walked amongst the sea of students. That uniform that she'd worn almost every day only made more memories resurface. She glanced behind her dimly, seeing an afterimage of a boy struggling to keep up, a football tucked under his arm.
'Hurry up, squirt. I don't want to be late for my exam again.'
He just smiled sheepishly. 'Sorry! But hey, it's not like you want to go in the first place. I'm doing you a favour.'
Kagome blinked slowly. The image was suddenly gone. Turning, she continued on, still dragging her feet. Souta always made her late, it felt only right to do so.
Of course, she was much too old to be going to school. Kagome walked there for an entirely different reason. As the school bell sounded, signalling the start of first period, she walked across the courtyard. Opening the door to the archery range, she stepped inside like she belonged. It almost felt like she did. Taking a bow and lifting out an arrow from a quiver, Kagome tested it's weight on her fingers.
She'd used to practice all the time.
'I'm not too shabby with a bow, if I do say so myself!'
'Don't puff up with pride so much, girl! Only pigeons strut like that!' Grandpa huffed fondly, turning a page of his newspaper.
Kagome's lips curved up, the action hurting her face. Exhaling, she notched the arrow, taking aim. Letting it fly, a soft 'thunk' sounded out as it met it's target.
A little off bullseye.
She turned, shouldering the bow and taking the quiver of arrows with her. It would do. She wasn't going hunting.
The scenery passed by in a series of blurred images. Kagome barely noticed them, staring straight ahead. Brain on autopilot. Sitting like a passenger in her own body, she tried to suspend her mind free of all thought. To not think about how stupid this was. About her family. About burning shrines or silver demons. But the memories she'd pushed away for so long refused to leave, sinking inside her insidiously. Kagome's grip tightened on the steering wheel.
She was almost grateful when something thudded onto the back of the truck. Kagome gasped, lurching forward and slamming her foot on the break. Slowing to a crawl, she whipped her head around, glancing behind her through the window. In the open topped cargo bed, silver caught her eye. Fur danced in the breeze. The inuyoukai sat down, staring at her as she slowed, pulling the truck to a stop on the side of the road.
She watched him through the murky window, swallowing. Her pulse jumped at the sight of him. Red eyes stayed locked with hers, until he quietly huffed, shifting down to lay his great head on his paws.
Kagome's lips thinned, and with a sigh- opened her door. Climbing out, she walked around the side of the pickup truck, the road completely silent. Opening the latch to lower the back of the storage side revealed his large form.
"…You may as well come and sit with me in the front," she murmured.
His ears pricked, tail sweeping out. The dog demon lifted his head and tilted it slightly.
"Let's not make this a big deal," she turned, walking back to the drivers side. Returning to her seat, she shut the door. I hope he didn't notice the bow and arrows...
She'd hidden them under a cover. Of course it was pointless to hide them if he'd followed her to the school as she'd suspected.
"You are not as frightened as I'd expected," came a velvety voice at her ear.
Kagome turned to look at him in the passenger seat. "Should I be afraid?"
"Perhaps normal humans would be," he uttered, shifting. She noticed he wore normal attire, rather than his old traditional red and white clothes. In the small space, he felt that much more real and close. Thinking back to her conversations with Souta, and how clear his voice had been over the phone, she sincerely hoped the demon was not imaginary.
She started the engine, glancing at his deceptively handsome, calm features. "You've been following me," she murmured. "Why?"
"I like following you."
Kagome didn't have it in her to be alarmed as she pulled away from the side of the road. He said it like it were a natural occurrence. "Normal girls don't appreciate getting followed, you know."
"We established just a moment ago that you are not a normal mortal."
She touched her neck. Normal. She certainly hadn't felt like it since the graveyard. "Koga…he told me everything," blue eyes shifted to him carefully. "Is Rin alright?"
Silence flooded the small space, before she was rewarded with the rich cadence of his haunting voice. "She is well. Is that why I have found you heading towards my village? You are returning for her sake?"
Kagome focused on the road, biting the inside of her cheek. "Sort of. I'm guessing you followed me out here to drag me back?"
He nodded, intent gaze never leaving her. He had no interest in the world outside when she was the only sight he wanted to gaze upon. "At first this one intended to take you before you found out about what happened to your family. But Rin's condition detained me longer than anticipated. I was too late to prevent you knowing," he inclined his head slightly, as though apologising. "This one could only observe afterwards."
Kagome's eyes widened, tears stinging her eyes as something slammed it's fist into her abdomen. It made her nearly buckle with the onslaught of emotion. She quickly blinked, trying to restore her suddenly blurry vision. "You knew the whole time, didn't you?" She murmured faintly. "About my family. I guess you would if you've been following me for a good year," she laughed, the sound strained and pathetic in her ears.
She summoned her bravery and looked at him, hot tears running down her cheeks. "In your own way, I think you were trying to be kind by not telling me."
His palm closed over her shaking hand on the steering wheel. "Pull over," he said quietly.
Kagome only did as asked because her body was shaking too much to do anything else. Stopping the car, she closed her eyes against the onslaught of tears, trembling.
Feeling his hand shift to her shoulder, sliding behind her to pull her closer- she jolted and slapped it away. "Don't touch me," she grit out, shying away. "Please don't, I don't have anything left. I can't afford to latch onto you just because you're being nice right now!"
Sesshoumaru stared at her silently, clawed hand still outstretched and hovering uselessly in the air.
Kagome looked away and gave a self-deprecating chuckle. "You want to know why I'm really going back to the village? It's not for any honourable reason- it's not to save people or help you. I just need something. Anything, to distract me right now. I'm just looking for the next thing that can function as my pills. Something to make me stop thinking about them, picturing them!" She sobbed, continuing to hear the phone call. The sound of the authorities telling her to sit down, because the news might be a shock.
She remembered her friends faces at the university, slowly becoming more concerned as Kagome heard the words scramble over and over in her mind.
'There was a terrible accident…'
"I'm alone…" she realised quietly, tears dripping off her chin to land on her knees. Her aunt had taken her in, but the older woman was practically a distant relative. It was more like sharing a house with a room-mate.
"You are not alone."
Kagome numbly turned to look at him.
The gold of his eyes glowed fierce and bright. "You are not alone," he uttered again in a viciously low tone. "The humans who took you in after your families demise failed you. They didn't seek to help you. But this one is here. I have been here, and will continue to be."
She sniffed, holding her arms and drawing her knees up. "Why…?"
The demon looked away slowly, as though he loathed to do so, gaze clouding with remembrance. "Perhaps it is not for any honourable reason, but I remember first laying eyes on you."
Searching with single minded intent may have sounded obsessive or serious, but the process of finding Rin a priestess did not feel so to Sesshoumaru. He took his time travelling, keeping in contact with the village and making certain Rin was well. Aside from that though, he flew across the country at night, travelling to the nearest shrines and then moving on from there. Sometimes he found priests instead of holy women, or mikos that were too old to be his companion. Some that had too little spiritual power to strengthen the barrier of the village.
Other times were far less easy to explain away why they were unsuitable. A young woman had been sweeping the steps of a shrine outside of Tokyo. She had desirable features, a quiet baring and kind demeanour. For all intents and purposes, Sesshoumaru could have approached her and set out to take her to the village.
Something made him continue on, renting a car once he got to Tokyo and travelling from shrine to shrine by day. Sometimes it was the same, and he had no discernible reason for passing over them.
He stopped at a burned down shrine. The once proud structure had been reduced to ashes and waste. He walked around it's ruins, taking in the quiet devastation that was so like his own fallen home.
Learning what had happened, he'd focused on the headlines of the newspaper article on his laptop while sitting in a coffee-shop one afternoon. Apparently a woman and her son had died in the fire, an elderly relative of theirs passing away a mere few days later. Some suspected he'd died of heartbreak, but the old man had been sick in hospital for a while.
A daughter remained alive, the sole survivor of the Higurashi shrine. She'd been staying onsite at university when the accident had occurred. Sesshoumaru stared at the picture of the young woman with dulled blue eyes in the article. Obviously the press had taken it without permission.
She looked how he felt. Something unnamed had stirred within him.
Sesshoumaru set out to find her the next day.
It took some time to track down Kagome Higurashi. She'd been taken in by her aunt that lived many hours away, and Sesshoumaru had to do some digging to find out exactly where. When he finally arrived the sky had dimmed into bursts of lilacs with the chilled dusk. He kept to the garden, looking through the large dining room window while in a smaller version of his true form. He hunched low but listened keenly, hearing scraps of conversation.
A middle aged woman was seated at the head of the table, an air of awkwardness about her. "How are you enjoying the soup?"
"Oh, it's great, thank you."
Spoons clinked against the sides of bowls, and he heard the tell-tale blow of lips on steam.
Her voice sounded kind. Sesshoumaru couldn't see her clearly from the angle, so decided to focus only on listening.
"I suppose you're used to better cooking at home- ah! Oh I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"
"No, no, it's fine." Kagome cut in gently. "Mom's a great cook. I wish I'd inherited her skills, my dishes are always either too bland or too strong."
The awkward air surrounding her aunt only seemed to double. "Yes...she was a great cook."
Sesshoumaru's ears pricked when Kagome's spoon paused. He couldn't tell what she was thinking, but distress fanned briefly into her vibrant scent. He inhaled and blinked, feeling it be smothered. The miko seemed to fold her pain neatly, smoothing over the crinkles and tucking it away.
"May I please be excused?"
A chair scraped back and footsteps took her to the kitchen. Paws shifted as Sesshoumaru padded closer, changing into his humanoid form and taking to the trees when she made her way upstairs.
The first time he truly set eyes on the miko, she was laying on her side. Knees drawn up to her chest, she held a phone up beside her pillow. She had doleful blue eyes, and hair that spilled chaotically in long tumbles of dark waves. She pressed something on the device and held it to her ear.
'Hi there, I'm not here at the moment. Um- could you leave your name and number and I'll phone you back as soon as possible? I think that's how it works- Kagome, how do I-'
Full lips tugged up into a pained smile. Sesshoumaru watched while the girl pressed the return call button again and again, listening to her mother's voicemail. He did not think himself a man of feeling. He was not a man at all, but demon. However in those minutes, his instincts roared to life, having remained dormant for years.
Something recognised her pain as an experience long ago felt. He remembered standing in the crumbled foundations of his own home. Recalled the scent of blood soaked ash that had festered in his lungs and never really left.
Her distressed scent called to him, to the point that his claws sank deep into the branch of the tree, splintering. He wanted to look at her. Face to face. Wanted to see what that agony looked like reflected back at him like a mirror. And yet a part of him knew their experiences were not the same. He should not steal away a woman just because he felt a connection.
"You did it right the first time, mom."
Sesshoumaru's gaze turned back to the girl lying on her bed. She stared at the phone, a hazy smile on her lips. The call button was pressed once more.
'I think that's how it works- Kagome, how do I-'
"I explained it before, just talk when it prompts you and hang up when you're done," an airy giggle escaped the miko. Her blue eyes had strayed far away, a faint, tenuous tone to her voice. "No, you're not getting better. You're allergic to technology. Souta, tell her."
Gold eyes flickered as he watched the girl carry on a conversation with herself. She only seemed to get more emboldened the more she continued. Soon she was happily comforting herself with their imaginary voices.
And then it clicked for the demon. He didn't need to look her in the eye, face to face, in order to know. This girl was just like him.
There was kin in that room. She lay alone and isolated, but he would not let things remain so. He would find a way to forge their bond in blood and flesh so that neither would be separated and lonesome again.
Sesshoumaru sat for the remainder of the night, listening in silence. He did the same many nights after.
After finishing an abbreviated version of the story, Sesshoumaru's gaze slid back to Kagome's shocked features. "This one has not wanted to leave you since, illogical though it is."
Her mouth opened and closed. Wide blue eyes continued to stare. "But I-" she swallowed, eyes lowering. "I don't even know what's real anymore…"
She inhaled sharply when her chin was seized, tilted up by a warm, firm hand. Slit pupils bore into her. "This one is real, flesh and blood. Just as you are."
His thumb strayed, sliding up and smoothing over her bottom lip. Kagome made a noise, frozen stiff. A long, sharp nail pried in-between her teeth, forcing her mouth to part. "I will not be parted from you again- no matter how you choose to run," he uttered in a hushed rumble. His claw scraped over her tongue lightly, dragging his thumb over the blunt of her teeth.
"You will have to destroy this one first if you intend to escape again. Be it with teeth and claws...or bow and arrows, miko."
Kagome jolted, heart stuttering in alarm and hammering in her rib-cage. She remained frozen even as his face drew nearer, until all she could see was magenta lids and burning gold. And then his mouth was on hers, stealing a searing kiss that left her mind reeling.
The demon pulled away after a moment to rest his hand on the steering wheel, looming close. "You walked willingly into my jaws tonight, Kagome." He reminded her quietly.
Kagome glanced in the mirror, seeing herself in the drivers seat. That's right, she had. And without much of a plan. She really was a dumbass.
"Jerk..." she whispered, breath halting.
"Hello again, Kagome."
The faint greeting had instantly given her pause. Searching Rin's gaze for any judgement, she instead found an empty, placid look. It was almost as though the girl had expected her return. Kagome glanced at Sesshoumaru as he exited the truck. No doubt it would shock the girl if she knew the decision had been Kagome's.
"Hi Rin," she greeted softly. The drive into the secluded village had certainly been...strange. She hadn't thought she'd be returning under any circumstances, let alone free will. The little girl stared up at her, lingering in the threshold of Sesshoumaru's house.
Kneeling down, she gestured to her own cheek. "You okay?"
The little girl nodded mutely, a melancholy look in her faded brown eyes. Kagome's brows drew together. Reaching forward, she clasped her small, freezing hands in her own warm ones. Unlike before, she forced herself to push past the instinct to rip her hand away.
"You don't have to worry. I'm going to...make things right. What do you think? Can we be friends again?" Kagome asked, looking into her eyes to try and convey her meaning.
Rin's eyes gained a little more life to them, and she nodded eagerly. Kagome followed her gentle tug inside, glancing behind her to catch Sesshoumaru's interested gaze. She inwardly winced.
Strangely, the days eerily slipped back into a routine. Sesshoumaru continued to chaperone her around the school, though not as intently as before. Kagome remained calm, suspending her mind when it wasn't needed.
She hadn't been able to find her pills in her bag.
The first thing Kagome worked on in private was drawing up a map of the village. In the late hours of the night, she crept to Rin's room and asked for any possible locations Sesshoumaru may have hidden the sword Tensaiga.
"Obviously it's planted in the earth somewhere no one ever goes," Kagome mused in a hushed voice. The map was spread out over Rin's bed like a cover. The little girl crossed out various locations with a red marker. "Only Sesshoumaru knows where it is right?"
Rin nodded slowly, "I think since a few of us...wanted to break ourselves for good, he knew not to tell us it's location."
Wincing, Kagome looked at the map in the faint night light. Placing her hand on her stinging neck, lithe fingers brushed the bite marks. Frowning, she felt her attention be tugged towards the marks of raised land. The hills thickest with trees slightly beyond the school. Kagome tapped her finger on the unmarked area.
"I'm guessing nothings over here?"
"No. Some of us have tried to go up there in the past, but Sesshoumaru says the ground is unstable. Lots of landslides."
Kagome scoffed. "Convenient," she prodded it. "I'm heading there next chance I get to check it out. See if you can buy me some time by distracting your father."
"What if you're caught?"
"I'll just say I'm trying to escape again," she shrugged. Pausing, a guilty look flitted across her expression. "Rin, this is what everyone wants. Isn't it?"
Unfathomable apathy gazed back at her. Rin nodded slowly, sighing and wringing her hands. "I've spread the word over the past few days. Everyone is in favour of it and will help in any way they can. Even Sango."
"R-really?" Kagome paused. The burning embers of a shrine wafted over her nose briefly. She breathed in and viciously pushed down the swell of feelings. "She...wanted to bring her brother back, didn't she?" Her voice wavered, becoming fragile.
Rin nodded, folding up the make-shift map. "Kohaku was one of us. But sensitive, almost too full of emotion. He was a wonderful friend, but...he couldn't take it anymore. He fled outside the barrier and became dust. The wind carried his remains away before Sesshoumaru could bake them into clay again."
The miko shivered and rubbed her arms, hearing Souta's carefree laugh resound in her mind. Rising, she took the map and turned. "Right. Good thing we're gonna help everyone so that they don't have to worry about that again!" She forced cheer into her tone.
Saying a hasty goodnight, she stepped out of Rin's room and slid the door shut. Bringing a hand to her pulsing heart that throbbed with little squeezes- she quickly padded to her room.
Rummaging roughly through her bag again, Kagome threw it down when she predictably found nothing. She needed something. Anything. She couldn't stand the memories. They kept trickling in without warning, triggered by stupid things. How was she supposed to guard against them when the mere mention of Sango made her remember her own little brother? Even a cringe inducing pop song over the radio made her recall Mama swaying around the kitchen, spatula in hand.
Kagome held her arms, bowing forward. She began to tremble, teeth clenching-
"You are not alone."
She blinked slowly, exhaling. It felt...underhanded. Slowly rising, she walked with fragile steps to a certain door. Knocking on it gently, she couldn't bare to raise her head when it slid open.
Kagome's hands squeezed into fists. "I'm sorry," she murmured. I'm sorry I'm such a coward.
"Did I ask for an apology, foolish woman?" He uttered quietly.
Feeling a warm palm settle on her cheek, Kagome blinked away her tears. It felt nice. Real.
Please hold me.
She followed Sesshoumaru into his room and tried not to feel despicable doing so.
All Hallow's Eve arrived.
Sesshoumaru made no mention of any plans to strengthen the barrier. Kagome attended to her duties as a cleaner that day just as always. She figured if he was going to try something, it would be that night. Her heart continued to flutter like a caged bird in her chest. Her body hummed with new aches, particularly in-between her legs. A few fresh bite marks lined her shoulders and lower back.
They didn't feel unpleasant.
Kagome glanced at him while dusting the shelves. He sat at a desk, reading calmly. She bit her lip, considering.
Just as she opened her mouth- Rin burst into the classroom, panting wildly.
"Father!" She gasped, eyes wide. "It's Sango!"
Sesshoumaru looked up, raising a brow. The book shut with a sharp snap. "What is it?"
"Sh-she's uh-" Rin glanced at Kagome, swallowing, before turning back to him. "She's on the school roof. I think she's going to break herself."
The chair lurched back with a distraught scrape of it's legs. Sesshoumaru strode to the door, glancing at Kagome, who remained frozen. "Remain here. Do not leave under any circumstances," he rumbled.
She could only watch, swimming in confusion while he left. Rin glanced back at her and nodded firmly, before hurrying after him.
Snapping out of her state of worry over something clearly false, Kagome automatically left the room. Peering around the corner into the hallway, she checked it lay empty. When it remained quiet, she speed-walked away. Taking the stairs two at a time, she continued until she were sprinting to the back exit and further still into the cover of the trees.
Picking up a pack, along with her bow and arrows Rin had stashed for her in a tree trunk the day before, Kagome hurried up the forest trail. Autumn tinged leaves scraped and lashed at her exposed knees. She cursed her penchant for skirts. Damn comfy clothes would make her catch her death before she found the stupid sword.
Oddly, the bite marks on her neck kept throbbing. Every time she stepped a certain way, the feeling would either fall faint or grow into a fierce ache. It felt much like when she'd looked at the map. Letting it guide her, Kagome poured everything into sprinting until she felt herself move uphill. Her ears popped after awhile of trekking upwards and Kagome breathed out, catching herself from falling.
Holding a stitch in her side, she stopped, panting hard. Glancing behind her on the incline, the village peeped out through the vast trees, somewhere below her. Spying the school, she felt mild worry. Had Sesshoumaru given chase already?
Turning on her heel, Kagome decided to keep pushing on-
Something slammed into the back of her head.
Pain assaulted her senses. Yelping, Kagome lost her footing.
Someone scooped her up, a cold hand supporting her legs as she felt herself be jostled. Resting her cheek against something, her vision swam. Closing her eyes helped. Kagome tried to regain her bearings even as she sank further and further into the comforting waters of darkness.
Tasting something metallic on her tongue, Kagome dimly realised her mouth must be bleeding. Coming to slowly, she groaned. Groggily opening her eyes, blurry shapes of dark murky browns and a single blaze of harsh orange made her wince. She blinked rapidly, squinting. The room came into focus slowly.
The bright orange turned into a single light hanging from a hook in the ceiling. Dark browns and shadows made up the strange circular walls of the room. There were no windows or other sources of light in the claustrophobic room.
Kagome's stomach dropped the moment she lay eyes on them. Clay pots lined the walls, some sloppily made. Something else was covered by a white sheet, propped up against the wall, but she couldn't make out what. Sitting up, Kagome noted the bed felt like a normal house bed, not the slab she'd seen Rin lay on in the workshop. In fact, the whole room looked different from the workshop. It felt like the time her class had gone caving. Sweat pricked the back of her neck. Was she underground then? Judging by the circular structure of the uneven, earthy walls, it could certainly be a cave or cellar. She didn't know, she wanted out.
Kagome made to move off the bed- only to feel a harsh tug yank her in place. Looking down at her wrist, she found a plastic cable tie had been tied around it, binding her to the bed.
Her breathing was starting to pick up now, chest rising and falling quicker. Tugging, realised both hands were bound to either side of the bed.
"S-sesshoumaru?" She tried calling out weakly. "H-hey, where are you? Let me go, please. I didn't even do anything yet!"
Glancing behind her, a long passageway stretched from the room, down around a shadow drenched corner. Figuring that to be the only way out, Kagome yanked her wrists up, tugging at the ties and trying to find a sharp object to rub the binds against.
Lifting her legs revealed them to be unbound, and she shifted onto her knees, gritting her teeth. Tugging with all her might at the strong ties, the material dug harsh red rivets into her skin. Kagome tried sliding her hand gradually out of them but the cable wouldn't budge around her wrists. Gasping out in pain and exertion, she whipped her head up.
Footsteps were drawing closer, echoing down the passageway. Kagome sat down, heart thundering in her chest. Sesshoumaru had never gone this far before. For some reason, she hadn't thought he would. He'd never locked her in a room, in fact her escape attempts never seemed to vex him. So why now? Why imprison her like this?
Kagome glanced at the clay pots with wide eyes.
Dark strands of hair caught the light first, before red overalls were bathed in the orange glow. Kagome stared at him in surprise.
Chapter 9: Faithful Monster
The glow of the single light cast orange hues on his figure. Kagome stared up at him, mouth agape. For a moment she forgot to be afraid. It just felt too absurd to cower.
"W-what the hell are you doing here? Why am I tied up? Hurry and let me out of these!" She grouched, expecting him to huff at her.
His eyes remained serious, a grim edge to his mouth. Inuyasha glanced away, hand curling into a fist at his side. "Look...I'm sorry but, I can't let ya go."
Kagome blinked, deflating a little. So he really was the one who'd taken her. "Why not? I don't understand what's going on. I can't think of a reason for why you'd want me-"
"It's because you're her reincarnation!" He snapped, stuffing his hands in his pockets. He practically burned a hole in the ground his stare was so intense, but Kagome noted he wouldn't look her in the eye. The muscles under his overalls remained stiff and tense, harsh stress lines under his eyes. He looked awful, like he hadn't slept in days. "Your scent is familiar, hell- you even look alike. You're her, I know it." He muttered almost to himself, rubbing his brow in an agitated scrub.
"Kikyo," he breathed out in a haggard rush. "She used to be my- my...mine."
She thought back, trying to piece together her frazzled brain. "You called me that once before, when we first met. You think...I'm her reincarnation," she clarified slowly. At his grim nod, she tilted her head. "Alright. My life has been weird enough lately to accept that. Now try talking me through why it matters." She spoke carefully, as though talking to a child. The guy seemed stressed and unbalanced, judging by the way he kept running a hand through his shaggy black hair.
Dark eyes flamed alight. "Of course it damn matters!" He burst, slamming his fist into the wall. Kagome jolted, fear trickling into her veins. "I- fuck. I need her back damn it. Sesshoumaru's never given a damn about her or me." He spit, harrowed dark eyes narrowing. "Why does he get to be happy after five centuries of making this village miserable? I ain't right. I realised after you escaped from the village that I'd missed my chance, but you're back now. I'm settin' things straight and resurrecting her, no way am I squandering this."
Kagome swallowed, glancing at the clay pots lining the walls. "Ah, and you're going to do that by putting her in a clay body. I'm sure she'll love you. Best gift a boyfriend could get ever, but personally I'd go with a plastic container for a bod."
He snarled, baring blunt teeth at her. She shied back, wondering. Inuyasha could have been a demon too. He was Sesshoumaru's brother.
Inuyasha tsked, heavy brows pulling down. "Look, I'm sorry I gotta do this to you. It doesn't exactly sit right with me, but hell, I was never a saint."
She began to struggle, getting irritated with his mood swings. Her pack caught her eye near the exit, where her bow and arrows had been discarded. If only she could reach them. "You still haven't clarified exactly what you're going to do to me. You suck at kidnapping," Kagome growled, trying to keep up her bold act. She tugged at her restraints, wincing.
He knelt down and grabbed her arm, stilling it. "Oi, stop that. The more ya struggle the more the ties tighten. Do you want your circulation cut off or something?"
Kagome stopped and looked him in the eye. The touch felt freezing cold. "You're one of them, aren't you?" She asked quietly. "You're a clay person."
He hesitated, before standing and turning away. "Yeah, that's right." He padded over to the forgotten thing resting by the far wall, covered by a sheet. The outline underneath unnerved Kagome.
"Inuyasha," she said softly. "I don't think you really want to do this. Please just let me go. Think about it, would Kikyo want you to bring her back? It's not too late. Let's just forget this whole thing before you go too far."
The white sheet danced into the air as it was pulled free. It flit around in a gentle tangle, falling gracefully past Kagome's horrified stare.
A woman sat, propped up against the wall. She wore traditional miko robes, dark hair hanging limp over lean shoulders and spilling down her waist. Glassy eyes stared back lifelessly, the doll an empty husk.
Kagome felt her bones as they began to shudder. She glanced up at Inuyasha, fear rolling off her in waves.
"You wanna know what I want from you, Kagome?" He muttered softly, turning to look at Kikyo's frozen features with quiet reverence. His love reminded her of Sesshoumaru's, in way. Loyal to extremes, corrupted by years of isolation.
Tired, dark eyes shadowed by heavy brows shifted to stare at her. "I need your soul, okay?"
A tremor skittered down her spine, raising the hair on the back of her neck. Her breathing escalated. Gradually, it dawned on her that things may have already progressed further than she'd realised, past the point of no return.
Bleary eyes stared ahead, sight out of focus. After the initial shock, Kagome leaned heavily against the headboard. She wasn't sure how long she'd been down there now, but hunger pains started to grumble in her stomach. Inuyasha had been taking his sweet time. Oddly he'd dragged a bathtub into the room and placed it in-between her and the Kikyo doll. He'd filled it with some putrid smelling green water that eerily glowed with an inner light.
The miko had fixed her gaze far away from the figure, but kept sneaking glances at it. There was something unnerving about looking at a face that mirrored your own. Except not perfectly. They had the same nose, same mouth. Even some areas around the eyes looked familiar. But Kikyo's jawline had a regal curve, features more refined and womanly. Kagome still looked and felt like a woman-child. A girl in spirit with honestly- not a devastatingly alluring face. She was pretty.
Kikyo looked beautiful.
Drawing her knees up, Kagome decided that was alright. In a few moments her soul might be sucked out, and then it wouldn't matter what her face looked like. She hadn't sensed Sesshoumaru once in the area, but kept releasing her energy in faint bursts from her finger tips, hoping it would call to him.
Inuyasha padded in with a few herbs, scattering them into the water. They hissed on contact. Kagome wrinkled her nose.
"That bath smells disgusting. You better not be putting me in there."
"Shut up already. It's nearly time," he muttered, attention on the task at hand as he stirred the water.
Sitting up, Kagome realised this may be her last chance to appeal to his better nature. "Inuyasha, come on, this witches cauldron isn't you-"
She suddenly remembered Koga's words. "Urasue. This is her spell- the same one that Sesshoumaru uses to bring people back, right?" Kagome leaned forward desperately. "You're not a sadistic witch and you're not him. This is the first time you've attempted this, isn't it?" She prodded, making an educated guess since he kept consulting an old worn book.
Inuyasha scoffed, glancing at the pages guiltily. "So what? I've looked this over a thousand times. How hard can it be?"
"Doesn't Sesshoumaru usually bring back people who have already…died?"
"Kikyo is dead."
"Yeah but her soul is kind of busy at the moment. I get the feeling that pulling a soul from an already living body is a different process."
Inuyasha exhaled and set his shoulders, padding over to her. "Guess we'll find out," he muttered tensely.
She gazed up at him, feeling dread pool in her stomach. "What happened?" She asked thinly, stalling. "How did she die?"
"It's complicated. She died some 500 years ago after sealing me to a tree."
Kagome made a face.
He scoffed and cut one of her ties around her wrist. "Like I said, it's complicated. She sealed me asleep after a mix up- I don't know what happened. Anyway, 50 years passed and apparently some samurai came by. They killed me in my sleep and I just…remember seeing Kikyo's face again."
Inuyasha cut the other tie and quickly grabbed her around the waist when Kagome bolted. He lifted her up and grunted as she pounded her fists against his chest. Despite her struggles he kept talking, as though too caught up in memory to notice. "I remember being pissed before being sealed, but when I saw her again, all that crap didn't matter anymore. She embraced me, and we were happy. I know it. But then that bastard tore us apart-" he tossed her unceremoniously into the bath tub.
Kagome squealed and squirmed, feeling her clothes and hair be soaked by the foul-smelling water. Feeling her wrist be grabbed and rope be tied around it this time, she lurched forward and sank her teeth into his arm.
Kagome quickly pulled back and make a pained noise, her teeth aching. Ow.
"I'm made of clay, you fucking dumbass." He deadpanned, eyes narrowing as he bound her wrists together. "That prick made sure of that."
"Why'd he even resurrect you? Not like you're grateful," she hissed. The odour from whatever herbs and chemicals he'd used made her nose and eyes sting. Everything felt too sharp.
Inuyasha made a dismissive noise, pushing her to lie back in the water. "Not like he ever told me. Guess he just wanted to see if he could bring back a filthy Hanyou."
Though she was hardly a willing audience anymore, he clarified. "Half demon. When he resurrected me, I guess he only succeeded in bringing my human side back."
Kagome thrashed in the water, kicking it at him but only succeeding in soaking his clothes. "If you're so set on seeing your lover again then break yourself!"
Grave looking apathy stared down at her. It didn't look right on his boyishly handsome features. "I ain't the suicide type. Keh, anyway like I said: why should he be happy?"
Panic set in, pressing down on her windpipe. She felt like throwing up. "This isn't going to help, you cree-"
She stopped when a heavy weight sank her bones down into the tub. Sensation fled, blood seeming to freeze in her veins. Kagome inwardly screamed, fear clogging her throat like marsh water.
Try as she might, her body wouldn't move.
Inuyasha stilled, watching. His eyes grew wide, flitting to Kikyo's still form.
"Inu- yasha…" Kagome forced out, trying to draw breath.
Please stop, please don't do this.
He whipped his head around to look at her, half fooling himself for a moment that Kikyo had been the one to call his name.
Kagome's eyes started to drift shut. Maybe…it wouldn't be so bad to sleep.
Inuyasha stared as her body began to glow. The light spread out like an orb from her body, impossibly large for a soul. It practically dwarfed the room. He couldn't find it in him to feel happiness as he watched. He didn't have Kikyo's ashes or graveyard soil, the clay body really was just something he'd made. It didn't stop him from trying though. From daring to hope that a soul would be enough to animate her. He jolted when two red eyes appeared within her soul, taking the shape of a monstrous white dog.
Inuyasha grit his teeth, "so you anchored yourself inside her, huh bastard? Well it won't make a difference. I'll cut you outta her if I have to!"
The soul roared and snapped it's jaws, coiling tight around Kagome's. The teeth marks at her neck glowed, the source of Sesshoumaru's attachment within her. Inuyasha's fingers clenched with the need to dig them out of her skin.
Hearing something behind him, Inuyasha turned, not expecting the sharp object that was levelled at his throat.
The arrow prodded closer, held steady as a single eye narrowed at Inuyasha. "Lift the girl out at once. Be not a fool, Inuyasha."
His lips peeled back, revealing gritted teeth. "The hell Kaede, how the fuck did you find me?"
"That hardly matters. Out. Now," her weathered voice lowered dangerously.
Kagome barely felt it when she was lifted from the waters, but gradually feeling started to leak in. The glow of her skin abated. Removed from the waters, the orb receded. She never noticed the white youki that slipped back into the marks on her neck. Propped up against the wall, her hand twitched, eyes cracking open weakly.
Kagome sucked in a startled breath all at once, dissolving into harsh coughs. Her throat and lungs burned. When she gained more awareness of her surroundings, she found Kaede stood in front of her protectively, still pointing the arrow tensely at the Hanyou.
"It was smart of ye to hide below ground, and behind a waterfall no less. It has thrown her scent off no doubt, but the Lord is coming. And he is angry."
Inuyasha threw a hand out. "Like I give a fuck if he's pissed!"
Kagome forced her exhausted limbs to move. She felt like she'd been hit by a bus, or suffering five hangovers at once. Her head continued to swim while she held onto the wall, slipping slightly but forcing herself to stand.
"Inu…yasha," she grit out, holding her hand to her neck. The bite marks were starting to burn. He was near. "I'm… sorry for what might have happened in 500 years but-" she took a breath, glaring at him. "I get the feeling Kikyo wouldn't have wanted this."
He stopped, a vulnerable look cracking his hardened exterior, before swiftly being covered over. "Oi, shut the hell up! You didn't know her!" He turned on his heel, looking for a weapon desperately. He jumped back when an arrow embedded itself in the ground near his foot.
The eye-patched old woman frowned at him, gaze slightly saddened.
"But I did, Inuyasha. Kagome is correct. This is not what my dear sister would have wanted. The part of you that still remembers what it was like to live knows this." Kaede muttered, easing back. "Come girl, it is time we leave this miserable place."
Kagome didn't have to be told twice. She grabbed her pack and slipped her arms through it, shouldering her bow and hastily grabbing her arrows.
The two miko's carefully left the room, Kaede continuing to train her bow on Inuyasha's frozen form until they were out of sight.
Once alone, Kaede had brought out a torch that Kagome had taken, lighting the way. A long, drawn out cry, muffled by the thick cave walls surrounding them could be heard.
"W-what was that?" Kagome asked, voice small.
Kaede glanced back the way they'd come. Her single eye softened with something like pity, before she grabbed Kagome's arm and walked quicker, remaining silent. Kagome's heart shuddered in her chest and she didn't ask again.
They reached a fork in the road soon enough, and the old woman turned to the left path. A very faint breeze could be felt from up ahead.
Kagome looked back while being tugged along, eyes staying fixed on the tunnel they hadn't taken. Her free hand came up to press against the pulsing bite-marks. "Kaede."
When the old woman didn't stop, she tried again, louder. "Kaede, wait!"
Finally they stopped. Kaede's single eye narrowed at her in the dim light. "Make haste, we cannot tarry."
"But my mark- I feel like it's pulling me another way," she murmured, gazing down the new tunnel's inky black depths. "I don't know why, but ever since I set foot on the forest trail earlier, it's like something connected to the marks- or to Sesshoumaru, is guiding me to it."
"Do ye think it the sword?"
She lifted a shoulder. "I don't know, but it's worth a shot. Sesshoumaru isn't going to let me out of his sight for a good long while after today. I have to make use of this time."
Kaede hesitated, seeing the merit in her plan. She nodded and gestured to the tunnel, "lead the way then, child. I will accompany ye."
She smiled warmly. "Thank you, and- thanks for saving me back there."
A tired look passed over the woman's drawn features. "It is the least I could do. Rin told me of the plan and so I have kept an eye on ye and followed when Inuyasha stole you away." She exhaled, "I know not if we will succeed here, but ye are brave to attempt to free us, child." Her lips turned up at the edges. "Your bravery and kindness has not gone unnoticed. We are all grateful, Priestess Kagome."
A light blush dusted Kagome's cheeks and she waved it away.
The two turned back and hesitantly started walking down the new tunnel. Kagome lifted the torch higher, trying to squint ahead into the darkness. Her clothes and hair had now dampened, crumpling them. She still felt gross from the water. Luckily her strength and awareness seemed to have returned.
She stumbled over a rock. Quickly catching her feet, she winced. Kind of.
"Kaede why do you always talk in 'ye olde ways?" The younger miko asked, if only to fill the empty silence that seemed to stretch on.
"I do not understand what thou is referring to."
She smiled to herself. "Uh, never mind."
In the lonely, orange hued room, Inuyasha sat slumped against Kikyo's side. His chin rested on her frozen shoulder, hand covering her motionless one. He'd asked so many times. So many times, for Sesshoumaru to bring her back.
The demon lord had refused, without a word of explanation as to why. If he didn't have her ashes, that would be fair enough, but Sesshoumaru had never clarified if he had them or if they were lost to time.
His limbs seemed colder for some reason. Perhaps because the absence in his chest felt larger.
Dimly, his ears picked up the sound of claws flexing. Bone's shifted so that deadly fingers caught the light.
Inuyasha lifted his chin slightly, a shadow looming over his face.
Removed, unsympathetic gold bore down on him.
A wry chuckle escaped him, "go ahead. You've been itching to kill me yourself for years. Admit it, you just brought me back for the pleasure of watchin' me suffer, to be killed by your hand."
Inuyasha's lips pulled down, "you bastard." He spit, hot fire burning in his empty gut. "Why? Why didn't you ever bring Kikyo back? Just fucking tell me that at least."
Sesshoumaru's form remained still, red frozen on the outskirts of his eyes. Dressed in traditional robes, he looked every bit the warlord of days passed.
"Urasue," he uttered the name quietly. "When first approaching the witch, I demanded to see proof of her powers before handing Rin's body over. She restored the Shikon miko back to life, all while you remained stuck in that disgraceful state of sleep."
Inuyasha's eyes widened, breath halting. "W-what? She was…alive?"
Cold eyes narrowed. "No, you fool. Undead just as you are. When the Priestess realised her state of existence, she despaired. She could not see a reason for remaining in this world that had so betrayed her in life."
Long lashes lowered with remembrance. "She broke herself, and demanded never to be ripped from the netherworld in such a way again. She called Urasue's craft an abomination."
"T-that's why?" Inuyasha chocked, tears pricking his eyes. "But…but you still fucking brought Rin back. Still brought me back! You're sick…"
Thin lips drew into a sneer, flashing a sharp fang. "Ungrateful little brother. You were not there when Father's enemies came to attack the West." A strong hand grabbed hold of Inuyasha's hair, pulling tight to yank him up. Inuyasha grit his teeth and grunted in pain.
A storm clouded Sesshoumaru's vision, and the words poured out faster and faster. Years of repression pulled back, loosening his tongue. "You were not there when the Houses began to fall. You were not there when our people were slaughtered-" he hissed, tightening his grip as his voice lowered into a velvety tone. "You remained in blissful sleep. This one brought you back so that you might be of use. To make Father's blood count for something. But you proved useless."
Inuyasha grunted, feeling himself be released. He fell back to rest against Kikyo's doll.
Sesshoumaru raised his hand, claws flexing wide into deadly talons.
"And now…you steal my mate from me."
The Hanyou tiredly glanced behind his brother's still figure, where a little girl stood frozen with shock.
"Hey brat, look away," Inuyasha muttered quietly. Rin's eyes widened.
With a swiftness that demonstrated how he'd lived up to his name, the Killing Perfection cleaved the lovers in two with one broad stroke of his hand. His claws ripped into their figures, breaking the limbs. Poison released from his deadly nails to eat into the clay with a terrible hissing noise.
Inuyasha and Kikyo lay shattered in pieces together, shards of light escaping the Hanyou's form and drifting up into the air.
"Return to your miko's embrace, foolish brother." Sesshoumaru uttered softly, no light in his gaze. He lowered his hand numbly, flinging dust from his claws.
"This one must return to his own Priestess."
Chapter 10: The Church Grim
AN: Thank you so much to everyone who read this. I really appreciate all your support x Hope you enjoy this last chapter. Please subscribe to me on Ao3 or any of my other accounts if you’d like to read more of my sesskag fics. I’ve got more in the works so stay tuned!
The long tunnel had eventually narrowed, murky cave walls lowering and pressing in close. Soon the path opened out into a large barren space, filled only with stalagmites. Kagome's fingers brushed her neck.
They'd reached a dead end.
Kaede glanced at her, brows drawing together. She put a hand on her shoulder, "it is alright, child."
"No," Kagome muttered, hurrying forward. "No, this is wrong. The marks are still pulling me, there has to be something here."
The elder miko sighed and followed with a subdued, doubtful air. Kagome glanced across the empty space, inching around the thin structures that rose from the ground.
"Maybe there's a puzzle to work out, you know, like in a treasure hunt." She babbled, "Sesshoumaru did hide the sword after all. Perhaps there's a secret lever to pull or a trap door-"
Kagome yelped when her foot plunged through the floor. She tugged, grasping her leg and pulling, finding it stuck. Puzzled eyes met Kaedes before cracks spilled out from the indent.
There was a brief pause. And then the floor caved in beneath their feet.
Kagome let out a scream, feeling herself fall through the air. Squeezing her eyes shut, she threw her arms up to cover her face. Dark hair rose to lash in the breeze that rushed up to claim them.
After a moment, her body collided with the ground. Kagome grunted with pain, helpless as she tumbled and rolled down a slight incline before coming to a stop. Debris scattered around her, some sharper rocks grazing her skin while they clattered to the floor.
Trembling, Kagome lowered her arms. Her ribs protested. Kagome coughed and reached her hand down- only to pull it away, hissing breath between her teeth.
"K-kaede," she wheezed. Sitting up on her knees, she reached over to grab the torch that miraculously hadn't broken from the fall. "Kaede are you okay?"
Shining the light around the new clearing they'd found themselves in, she found Kaede struggling to rise. Kagome quickly got to her shaking feet and jogged over. She stepped over the old miko's broken bow.
"I am fine, do not worry," Kaede murmured.
Kneeling down, Kagome touched her shoulder, worriedly glancing her over. Some cracks were visible on her neck, spilling out over the chipped skin. "You're definitely not fine!" She protested.
Kaede raised her head, the eyepatch loose on her face. Kagome spied a hollow hole in the spot where her right eye should have been.
"C-child," Kaede said thinly, staring straight ahead.
"I know, it's alright. You wait here and rest while I-"
"No, foolish girl, avert ye gaze," Kaede grabbed hold of Kagome's chin and turned it to face what was in the old woman's eyeline.
Kagome's breath hitched in her throat.
Ruined, crumbled buildings were scattered around the cave, which stretched vast and wide. Some thin patches of light peeped in through cracks in the distant ceiling high above them. The light highlighted various mounds of the rubble, showcasing the devastation. They were ancient, traditional Japanese houses. Not just homes, but beautiful ruined palaces- the roof tiles worn but various walls intricately carved. She could imagine what they'd looked like in their former splendour.
Kagome rose, walking towards them hesitantly. As she passed them by, the ashen, scorched quality of the rubble stood out to her more and more, until Kagome noticed a few pieces of charred wood from what could have been an arch.
There had been a fire here, once.
Swallowing a lump in her throat, Kagome knelt down, squinting. Faded colour caught her eye from under some debris. Reaching down, she pulled out the cracked stone, wiping off the dust and grime.
A worn blue crescent moon lay under it.
"This was the House of the West," Kagome said softly.
Kaede drew herself up to stand, patting her aching back. She heard something muffled in the distance, and turned.
The younger miko ignored her, venturing further. The amount of crumbled buildings was so vast, she couldn't take them all in. Climbing up an incline of broken rocks with rusted railings jutting out of them, her eyes widened. Kagome stilled, looking at a mound of rubble up ahead.
At the top of the broken foundation, a single sword with a blue hilt could be seen, embedded in the earth.
"Kaede! I think I've found it!" She called, turning to see if the older woman had heard.
Kaede ignored her. She had raised her arms- reiki fanning into the air and pouring out as a large rippling shield. The wavering pink light stretched out, forming a barrier between them and the space above where they'd fallen from.
Her brows knit. "What's wrong?"
Kagome received her answer. A large white form sank its teeth into the pink light. Bright sparks rained down. Kaede gasped and forced him back, digging her heel in.
"Kaede!" Kagome cried out in alarm. She stepped down, moving to help.
"Nay child, please hurry!" Kaede shouted.
Kagome hesitated just once before panic and desperation caused her to yank herself up, hurrying towards the sword. She dropped her pack, seeing no need for it- but kept hold of her bow and arrows.
Pink energy rippled and hissed as enraged claws slammed against the barrier. Kaede's body began to dip back, strength waning. Though she pushed her energy out through her palms with all her might- bright sparks flying into the air- she knew she couldn't hold him much longer.
Kagome grit her teeth and burst into a run, stumbling over debris.
A dam of reiki burst. Youki assaulted their senses as a white figure plunged through the barrier.
Transforming mid-air, Sesshoumaru bent low, claws flexing wide. "Now I will put an end to your interference," he uttered.
The old woman stumbled back, body lurching as he brought his arm down in a wide arch.
Her body was cleaved in two.
Kagome turned back to see the two halves split down the middle fall apart. Kaede released a breath of relief, her pieces crumbling into dust.
"Kaede!" The miko cried, jolting when a red-hued stare snapped to her. Sesshoumaru took one step closer, letting Rin drop down from his back. The little girl ran over to the fallen miko, trembling.
Sesshoumaru took yet another step. He seemed to willfully ignore the charred remains of his stronghold. "Come down from there, Kagome."
She hesitated to shake her head or do much of anything. Her bow and arrows suddenly felt heavy in her hands.
"You fell. Are you injured?" He asked, intent concern palpable in his gaze when it swept over her form.
Don't. How can you look at me like that after…
She looked at Kaede's crumpled form.
Kagome matched his step forward with one back. "I'm fine," she said carefully, touching her rib.
The demon stopped, mild confusion passing over his face. "I do not understand..." he followed her gaze. "Ah. If it displeases you, it is a simple task to fix her."
She inched towards the sword once more- and his eyes snapped back to her, widening minutely. He jolted as though she'd slapped him, understanding dawning on his face. Strong shoulders tensed, silver hair falling forward as winter frosted his gaze. "You intend to betray this one?" He asked, feather light.
"No, I'm not betraying you, Sesshoumaru!" She yelled, shaking her head. "I-I'm on your side."
He took another step and she darted back, drawing her bow now and levelling an arrow at him. The demon lord paused, raising a brow as though to call her out on her contradiction.
Tears pricked her eyes. "Please don't come any closer. You have to let them go, Sesshoumaru." She mumbled in a rush, panicking when he took another step. The arrow was let loose, flying into the ground at his feet.
His eyes narrowed, claws flexing, stretching wide. "You dare to lecture me on letting go?"
Kagome bit back her hurt. Now wasn't the time for it. "You're right…we are the same. I suppressed my grief using pills and you surrounded yourself with dolls, playing House. In the end, we just deluded ourselves, embracing dead things. But all they've ever done is stopped us from moving forward." She took a breath, "let them go. Let…Rin go."
He snarled, gaze bleeding red. Thin lips stretched back, fangs lengthening. A rumble built from his chest and hissed out like a thunderclap. "Miko, you will cease this now. This one will not ask a second time. We are returning home."
Sesshoumaru leaped into the air, just as Kagome gasped and let another arrow fly. It zipped through the air- embedding itself in his shoulder.
"Stop it! Get back!" She yelled, stumbling backwards but not daring to dash for the sword. There was no way she'd make it.
Notching another arrow, she aimed as he landed on level ground with her, not too far away. Hot tears now obscured he vision. She hadn't wanted to hurt him.
The white silk of his clothing turned red, matching the rest of his attire. Blood on snow.
"Death could not take her from me. You stand no chance," Sesshoumaru uttered, lifting his hand in one fluid motion. A whip of yellow light flew out, and he lashed his wrist.
The light snapped toward her. Kagome grit her teeth, darting aside- only to be yanked back by her foot. Her body flew up into the air- before being tossed down. Her chin met the ground, landing with a grunt as the whip around her ankle tugged. The ground dragged sharp under her stomach as her body scuffed along it toward the demon. Kagome coughed and twisted, grabbing hold of the light and forcing reiki to spill out along his energy.
Sesshoumaru snarled, letting go. Burns littered along the skin of his left hand.
The miko crawled along the ground, ribs blazing. Ignoring the arrow protruding from his shoulder, Sesshoumaru followed.
Kagome grasped her bow and arrow, drawing it up just as he halted mere inches away. The tip aimed directly at his heart. The two locked eyes and she was unable to see even a sliver of humanity within the red hues.
Sesshoumaru exhaled, voice coloured by instinct. "Yield," he uttered, hand reaching down. She felt his palm meet her neck, fingers wrapping around it loosely. A warning.
"This is the only way to make you see that she's already gone. She was taken from you a long time ago." Kagome murmured, staring at him beseechingly. "Deep down you know that."
The glowing, inhuman gaze stared back. White lashes lowered slightly, the pad of his thumb dragging over flushed skin. Her rapid pulsed jumped. Kagome's expression gentled.
Sesshoumaru jolted, back snapping straight when he sensed something. His attention landed on the sword not too far away.
The little girl stood behind it, reaching up on her tip toes. Her small hands wrapped around the hilt.
Sesshoumaru let go of Kagome immediately, stepping toward her. "Rin, what are you doing?"
"I-I'm sorry. Lord Sesshoumaru," Rin murmured. She shifted to look at him. "You did what you thought was best. I understand. But it…it hurts every day."
Sesshoumaru stared at her, wide-eyed. He couldn't move suddenly, limbs heavy. No…this was not fear. It couldn't be. The Lord of the West did not feel fear. Fight or Flight was the way of the demon, and he always fought, tooth and nail.
But now he Froze.
"I'm so tired of not feeling. All this time, I carried on for you. I loved being your daughter, truly. But I don't want this anymore, you know that. None of us do," Rin's dulled brown eyes held him captive.
"Not even you."
He felt his throat close. All the powers he possessed; flight, poison, strength- enough to bring his enemies to his knees- were rendered useless by this child. "That is not true, Rin, please-" he could barely hear himself. A lord did not beg. "I will do anything to-"
She just shook her head sadly.
Sesshoumaru's heart shuddered. "Rin, NO!" He snarled, lurching forward.
With a yank, the sword was pulled free.
Immediately, energy lashed out from the sword, whipping back their clothing. Kagome pushed her hair back from her eyes in time to see Sesshoumaru blur in the air, gathering Rin close to him in one arm. He slammed the sword back down into the earth in a fit of desperation- but the blade shattered upon impact.
Static pulses of energy spread out through the chamber. Kagome felt their waves echo through the land. No doubt they'd spread through the entire village, shaking it to its core. Somewhere, the barrier over the village rippled and vanished.
She turned back to Sesshoumaru, who had been brought to his knees, holding the little girl.
Cracks had spilled out across her face, spreading further still over her body as the clay began to chip. Pieces caved inwards, revealing an inner glow within her body that began to fragment into the air.
Sesshoumaru stared down at her, aghast. Gold eyes were wide, face ashen as he bent over her still form.
"Do not go," he uttered thinly through clenched teeth. "I forbid it. Do not leave- Rin."
Her chapped lids peeled open, dulled brown focusing on him. For the first time in centuries, she gave a small, genuine smile. The light came back to her eyes.
"Sorry, father. I have to disobey this time. But…" she breathed out, stands of hair becoming brittle, dispersing into dust. "Don't be angry or upset…I'm so…" her body crumbled faster and faster, lights scattering up from the crevasses in her body into the air.
"I'm so happy," she grinned a gap-toothed smile.
Her body crumpled into nothingness within his arms. The lights escaped up beyond his reach, disappearing as they fled.
Kagome pressed a hand to her mouth, hugging her arms close to herself. She made a noise, looking away. Despite how hard she'd fought, it didn't feel like a victory.
Please be at peace, Rin.
Within the village, she could picture the rest of the dolls crumbling silently away. She hoped Sango and Miroku felt at ease as they departed along with all the other souls that had been denied rest for so long.
Sesshoumaru remained still for some time. Not a sound escaped the demon. He then slowly, numbly gathered her shaking remains to him closer, only to realise it was his own arm causing them to tremble. Her empty clothes felt much too light. He tried to scoop what was left of the dust up into the middle of the cloth, but it kept escaping through the gaps in his fingers.
Kagome swallowed, squeezing her eyes shut. She then released a breath and began to slowly approach.
Reaching out tentatively, she put her hand on his shoulder.
The muscles under her palm tensed. Gradually, achingly slow, they relaxed. Sesshoumaru lowered the empty clothing to the floor. A shaking hand raised, and the demon observed the remains caked onto his fingers.
"I caused her great pain," he uttered thinly, realising the truth of the words as he spoke them aloud.
Kagome's brows drew together. His head remained bowed, skin pale. Carefully, she knelt by his side. "She forgave you," Kagome murmured.
The lord stared ahead of himself sightlessly. It were as though his own spirit had left his body, trying to follow Rin's into the afterlife. He sat empty and alone, surrounded by the remains of everything he'd once protected. A loyal dog in a graveyard, awaiting a friend who would never return.
"We should get back and patch up your wound," Kagome tried to force lightness into her tone. She looked at the dark patch on his shoulder, wincing.
Her hands latched onto his arm, tugging slightly to get him to stand, but the demon didn't budge.
"That's enough," Sesshoumaru pulled his arm down slowly, voice far away. "You may leave me here, miko."
She drew in a sharp breath. "What?"
Dust coated claws reached up, yanking the arrow in his shoulder free. Kagome gasped as he let the piece fall to the floor, blood spreading out onto his clothing.
"Sesshoumaru! You shouldn't have pulled it out yet! You'll lose too much blood-" she pressed her hand over the wound and tried desperately to keep pressure on it.
Sesshoumaru ripped her hand away.
"Stop it!" She snapped, grabbing hold of his face and turning it toward her. Faded, dulled gold looked through her. Kagome stopped and fell silent.
His lips parted to exhale shakily. "There is no cause for alarm. My wounds will heal quickly," he said, tone even. "Your duties are at an end, miko. You saved the village from the monster, did you not? Now it is time you leave."
"I'm not going anywhere, you dumbass!" She protested stubbornly.
"Look at this," he hissed suddenly, grabbing the front of her shirt to tug her closer. He lifted Rin's empty clothing up, shaking the dust from it. "This is what I do to the ones I cherish! Do not be so foolish as to die a slow death with me!" Teeth clenched so hard some split in his mouth, causing blood to coat his gums.
Kagome stared at him, some of her own light leaving her eyes. "You said I wasn't alone," she murmured quietly. "You said you'd continue to be here. T-that you'd never be parted from me again."
She grabbed his hand and parted her clothing enough to press his palm against the space over her heart. "This one is real, flesh and blood. Just as you are, remember?" Her heart pounded In her chest, the very fabric of her being pulling apart at the seams.
"Or…am I alone again?" Kagome asked in a faint whisper.
When nothing but silence answered, a surge of pain shot through her at the rejection. Kagome's heart sank like a heavy stone in her chest. She didn't know what to do. Without him, the future suddenly looked uncertain. Kagome didn't think she was brave enough to face the remainder of her grief alone. She swallowed hard and then lowered his hand, letting go. Shifting, she numbly moved to stand.
Arms wrapped around her waist, tugging her down. She felt his breath on the crook of her shoulder before something wet landed on her skin. "No, you foolish girl. Not if you don't wish to be," he thinly rumbled, holding her so tight her bones protested.
His silver hair tickled her cheek. More light sensations, like small raindrops, landed on her skin. Kagome buried her face in his hair and embraced the demon.
"Never." The words were spoken clear and strong, despite the emotion clogging her throat.
They sat in the ruins for a long time, longer than either cared to keep track of. Each soaked in the other's presence, basking in the warmth.
"Come on," Kagome was the first to break the heavy silence, propping herself under his arm and helping him to rise. He stood on unsteady feet- the formerly powerful figure of her nightmares a mere shadow in the dim light.
The two slowly left the child's clothing, Kagome's gaze drawn to the pile of empty, torn clothes of Kaede as they passed by. Her lips pressed together sadly, and she looked away, resting her head against the steady thrum of Sesshoumaru's heart in his chest.
They'd returned to his home in silence, which felt all the more oppressive once they were inside. Rin's presence could be felt all around the house, from the paintings to the small lilac chair, the potted flowers- the book she'd been in the middle of reading laying forgotten on the table.
Kagome stood with Sesshoumaru in the living room, glancing up at him. The Daiyoukai didn't move.
Setting her shoulders, she continued to lead him on, grunting with effort when they padded up the stairs and she supported his side.
Running the bath water, Kagome dimly noted they'd switched roles. She stripped him of his clothes, mindful of his injury.
The demon lord sat in the tub, resting one arm on his knee, lost deep in thought. Kagome went about the process of cleaning his wound, but as he'd said- the skin was already stitching itself together.
When the water turned lukewarm, and he still hadn't responded, Kagome reached out. She swept damp hair behind an elven ear, stroking her fingers down the shell of it.
Slit pupils focused on her with dawning awareness. Despite his age, his uncertainty reminded her of a young teen.
"Do you want to talk about it, or be distracted?" She asked in hushed tones.
His lips parted, knuckles brushing up her arm. Steel fingers wrapped around it and tugged her in, guiding her mouth to his. He pressed long, lingering kisses against her full lips, inhaling her scent.
"Distracted," he muttered.
A week later found them still within the house. Kagome was starting to feel a creeping sensation down her spine. There was an instinctual need to start the process of trying to make Sesshoumaru leave the village.
Because if she didn't, the very real danger that he'd never go loomed over them.
One night, when they were sitting downstairs comfortably reading together on the couch, Kagome took the plunge.
"Sesshoumaru, don't you…think it's time we started to clean things up?"
"The state of the house is displeasing to you?"
"No…I mean like- maybe we should think about leaving here. The village." She turned to face him, "I know I said I wanted to be with you- but that doesn't mean we have to stay in a ghost town. We're starting to run low on human food as it is, and I am not chowing on rabbit, thank you."
His fingers curled into a loose fist, before unfurling as he exhaled. "This one does not know how to live as a man in your society," he admitted.
Kagome smiled encouragingly. "We can do it. I have some money leftover from the inheritance when my-" she cut herself off. Clearing her throat, she smiled. "Let's leave. Rin wouldn't have wanted you to stay here, and we can bring as much of her things with us as you like."
Sesshoumaru mulled this over, looking at one of the many paintings of flowers Rin had created, hanging on the wall.
"There's another reason I want to go," she mumbled hesitantly.
He noticed, shifting his ageless attention onto her. "What is it?"
"You still have the workshop," she murmured. "I-I don't know why, but sometimes…"
Kagome stopped again, drawing her knees tighter to herself. Selfish desires threatened to loosen her tongue, and she worried if she spoke them aloud, he'd lose respect for her. She'd already lost respect for herself for thinking them.
Sesshoumaru's warm, calloused palm shook her out of her reverie. "You can tell this one," he muttered, stroking his hand down her thigh.
Her lips parted, gaze fixed on her toes. "Sometimes I- think about what would happen if I drove to Tokyo and brought back my families ashes. If you fixed Tenseiga and brought them back to life."
Tears stung her lashes. "I-I can see their clay bodies in my dreams. And I don't always feel horrified. I daydream, sometimes- of asking you to do it. And I hate myself for it because you would. You'd do it for me- and it's awful! It's selfish and terrible after all the suffering I've seen in this place and it would hurt you too-"
"Shhh, that's enough," he cut in, hearing the tone of her voice turn thin. Distress and hysteria fanned into her scent. He lifted the miko onto his lap, curling around her. No judgement clouded his expression. Her pain plunged deep, like a bottomless well. Despite her open nature, Kagome only lifted out buckets filled with inches of water from the well to spill.
"P-please get rid of it, I don't want to become that person. Promise me you'll never bring them back," she trembled. Bringing them back would be easier than moving on. But easy would create a cycle of new pain.
"I swear. It will be destroyed tomorrow."
He bent down and kissed her cheeks. "Do you want to talk about it further, or be distracted?"
Shaking blue eyes stared up at him, her hands curling in his silks with a strength that belied her slender form. "Distracted."
She'd awoken sometime in the night to feel something like an earthquake. It shook the foundations of the house. The very walls trembled violently. Kagome turned to the space beside her- finding the bed empty. The tremors eventually settled, and Kagome quickly dashed from the covers, searching the house.
It was only when she felt his youki brush against her did she realise he was outside. Hurrying out, Kagome ran, heedless of her bare feet- to where he stood. Sesshoumaru was unmoving, overlooking the village grimly. Or at least, what remained of the village. The humble houses had been reduced to waste and rubble, debris from the broken structures jutting out in broken heaps. Kagome's breathing hitched.
Hearing something, she noticed Sesshoumaru slide an ornate looking sword into a white scabbard. Lean muscles relaxed, the breeze teasing at silver locks.
"Nothing of importance. I was just removing evidence."
"That's a bit extreme, isn't it?" Kagome asked softly, checking his expression.
His gaze stayed fixed ahead, no signs of mourning on his face. And yet Kagome could feel a sadness rippling underneath, lurking.
"This one cannot remove our presence from here entirely," he muttered. "Someday, humans will discover this place- now that the barrier is down."
"They'll probably think it was either a lost village or the site of a cult."
His lips quirked. Kagome smiled gently.
When the time came to destroy the workshed, Sesshoumaru set it ablaze without much thought. The harsh flames cast a bright light on his sublime features, his shadow thrown behind him stretching large and dark. Terracotta pots blackened in the blaze. His tools and necromancy books crumbled. Kagome approached, watching the building burn. She stood next to him, fishing something out of her pocket.
"You found them," Sesshoumaru wryly observed.
Kagome made a non-committal noise, looking down at the pill bottle in her hand. With a single motion, she casually tossed it into the fire.
His eyes followed the movement and then slid back to her, puzzled.
"I'm not cured or anything, I know that." She mumbled, holding her hands behind her back and rocking on her heels. "But I want to try moving on, I don't want to forget their deaths again."
It struck the immortal that even though the woman next to him had barely reached twenty, she stood braver than he, at eight centuries old.
Kagome turned to look up at him, and his heart stumbled in his chest. Without Rin or the village, his entire focus zeroed in on her, but she did not buckle under the weight of his obsessive attention. She took his hand and smiled.
They buried the dead the day after, making graves for empty clothes if only to honour those who had worn them. Rin's grave was covered in snowdrops, as it were the only flower Sesshoumaru could find so close to the coming chill of Winter.
"Do you want to talk about it, or be distracted?" She asked one day.
"…Let's talk," he murmured softly.
Kagome felt like her throat had been torn, vocal cords surely bleeding she'd been screaming so much.
"Okay Kagome, now just give me another push." A nurse was muttering.
Damp hair slicked against her forehead. Kagome burst out every curse word she let pass through her splintering mind. She cried out, forcing herself to push.
"That's it, they're coming, they're-"
Kagome wasn't certain why the nurse had cut off. Her legs ached, propped up. Her lower body ached and blazed with excruciating pain.
A horrified noise reached Kagome's ears. She peeled her weary blue eyes open to see the nurse holding something small, covered in birthing blood.
"…What's wrong?" Kagome croaked wearily.
The nurse's hands began to shake and the thing in her hands was dropped onto the bed. A distressed noise escaped it.
"Oh God, it's disgusting! W-what the hell-"
Kagome looked up blearily as the nurse turned and ran, stumbling from the opening of the cave. Only to choke. A low sound rumbled from outside, but the noise drew in and out of focus for the miko. Despite her exhaustion, her hands itched to hold. She weakly twisted her body, trying to reach for the wriggling, whining form by her leg.
Sesshoumaru appeared in her eye line, blood on his claws. He picked up their child, wrapping it in his silks and cleaning them. He made a noise in his chest, almost like a rumbling purr. The small whimpers gradually fell quiet, lulled. He came to kneel next to Kagome on the bed of furs.
"How are you feeling?" He asked, resting his knuckles against her flushed forehead. "Do you require anything? Food? Water?"
"Sesshoumaru?" She rasped. "I think I…had a dizzy spell. What happened to the nurse?" She asked, shuddering as she forced her exhausted body to move closer.
His gaze slid away, "the help we hired has served her purpose and been released."
Kagome grit her teeth weakly, reading him like a book. "Please tell me you didn't."
His lip lifted into a sneer, "did your dizzy spell make you deaf to the insults she gave our son? Blind you to her discarding him like trash?"
Kagome winced, reaching for the bundle. "I think I remember that," she murmured, stomach turning with something like protective anger. "But…it doesn't matter right now. Gimmie," she grinned as the small, warm life was passed into her arms.
The smile on her face froze. Instead of skin, a flash of white fur registered. Slowly, she parted the silks to reveal a small muzzle. Paws. Tail.
A crescent moon adorned the pups forehead, assuring her this was not a dream.
"Perfect," Sesshoumaru muttered, pressing firm lips to the side of her head. "He is perfect, you did well."
Kagome took a breath, staring. The little white pup had come from inside her. It all felt so surreal, she hardly knew what to think. The pup wriggled, searching and Kagome reluctantly parted her clothing. Dazed, she felt him feed from her, noting the traces of youki that rippled around his small form. He looked bigger than a normal newborn pup, closer to a three-week one in size. She jumped when she felt the pads of paws press against her skin.
This would take some getting used to.
Swallowing, Kagome turned to look at the Daiyoukai, who loomed close. His gaze was ardent and intense. She knew that look. The warning signs. Like a hoarder discovering a new find he wished to hide from the world.
"You're right, he is." She murmured, twisting her hand in Sesshoumaru's silver locks. "When he's settled, we should go back to the house. Staying in these caves was temporary, that was the deal."
He tutted, "the city air is not what I wanted to fill our child's first breath."
"Well suck it up, he's going to be raised there." She sniffed, touching the pup's fur instead. The more she touched, familiarised herself with him, the less unnatural and alien he seemed. He was hers.
She could dimly remember the horror she'd experienced when first meeting his father. I guess it's a family trait.
To her surprise, small eyes squeezed shut before opening slowly. Sleepy blue blinked at her, gradually falling closed once more.
Resting his chin on her head, Sesshoumaru exhaled. She lulled into him, exhaustion starting to take its toll. The pup finished, yawning. Milk was visible on his tiny mouth.
"He will be capable of transformation in a few months," Sesshoumaru muttered, brushing his thumb over the small crescent moon mark. He didn't think he'd see another one again. It seemed Kagome had given him a full-blooded heir when he'd been expecting…anticipating a Hanyou. It had been a strange, sobering experience.
Kagome hummed, cradling his small form close.
"Did you think of a name yet?" The Daiyoukai asked, sweeping his arm around her waist to pull the miko closer.
Her lips tilted up into a small, gentle smile, eyes slightly hazed.
Rocking him in her arms, she hummed a soft tune.
Kagome kagome / The bird in the basket/cage,
When, oh when will it come out
In the night of dawn
The crane and turtle slipped
Who is behind you now?