Standing on the bones of Father again felt surreal. So much had changed since that first visit to his eternal resting place. Now the grand graveyard felt somewhat tarnished by Naraku's presence. However, he could also detect Inuyasha's scrapping affecting the skeleton's structure.
Crackling energy skittering into the spider's shield heralded Sesshoumaru's entrance.
He could feel the miko's eyes on him while gliding by without a word of greeting, slamming his fist into Inuyasha's cheek instead. Landing hard and grunting, Inuyasha snarled; "the hell was that for?!"
"How dare you defile Father's grave," he uttered, picking up Tokijin again and flying into the air.
He conveniently chose not to remember their previous visit and how he'd melted Father's bones in the bowels of his stomach. Landing on a raised pillar of earth, Sesshoumaru got to work on slashing at Naraku contained within a barrier.
"Vermin..." he muttered. How he'd longed to scrape his claws through the bastard's head.
"If you continue to strike me, more miasma will be released from my severed limbs, Sesshoumaru~" the jeering hanyou attempted to bait him, but he brushed it off, noting miasma cloaking around the humans. His lungs ached and throbbed, no doubt caused by Kagome coughing. An arrow glowing bright pink shot out from the purple gloom moments later, purifying the choking air. Sesshoumaru felt pride, eyes calming slightly. He then wiped his face of expression, leaving the miko and Inuyasha to defend themselves.
"You seem to think I would hold back my sword for the sake of humans," Sesshoumaru muttered, continuing to lash out at Naraku's tentacles that released miasma. Better for the spider not to suspect any connection he had to the miko.
As the fight continued it became obvious that none of his strikes were breaking through.
Extremely conveniently, Inuyasha happened to unlock a new technique with his sword just in the nick of time. A swing filled with sharp crystal-like fragments poured out of Tetsusaiga, ripping into Naraku's barrier to leave him exposed. Sesshoumaru would have cut his eyes to the sky if he weren't busy. How fortune favours Inuyasha.
Not that he wasn't riveted to witness his little brother's latest sword upgrade but he had things to kill.
After Inuyasha impaled the spider in the chest, Sesshoumaru flew up into the air, delivering the finishing blow.
Or so he thought. His attack cleaved Naraku into several scattered pieces that floated, still sentient.
Pure, holy energy brushed feather-light, stroking like soft fingers through his hair. Inhaling, Sesshoumaru turned his gaze to the miko, breath hitching. From out of the smokey miasma, he glimpsed a woman. Kagome's back arched, bow drawn, feet planted apart. Her focused, incensed expression curdled an answering purr in his throat, abdomen tightening at her display of power as she let the arrow fly loose.
A bright ball of consuming reiki sailed right into Naraku's fragmented body. Her light connected with Sesshoumaru's own youki still running through the pieces of flesh, creating a brilliant blast of burning pink light, ribbons of blue static racing around it.
Dragging his amazed gaze away from the spectacle that drowned everything in silence, Sesshoumaru watched the light bathing Kagome in pale pink tones.
'Beautiful' was an overused word, spoken so often it may as well have lost its meaning. 'Radiant' felt like a worthy substitute, though Sesshoumaru would never speak such flowery frivolities aloud. Still, he felt the rightness of the word all the same.
Across the stretch of broken wilderness between them, Kagome met his gaze. He could feel her panting, the exhilaration running through her veins. Sesshoumaru inhaled the scent of her joy and victory until his lungs constricted.
Naraku escaped as he always seemed to. Deciding to pursue and take up the hunt once more, Sesshoumaru dragged his attention away from the miko. Taking off from his platform and leaving the humans behind, Kagome's breathless expression felt like the only consolation prize for the whole affair.
A waste of energy, perhaps. But had it been a waste of time?
Sesshoumaru raised his gaze to the horizon. He wouldn't call it that, per se.
Kagome happened upon them by mistake some weeks later, and she believed the innocent happenstance this time, since the Daiyoukai was absent from his little group. Shippo balanced on her shoulder, eyeing them curiously.
"Ah, Kagome!" Rin chirped, perched upon the two-headed dragon's back.
Jaken sputtered at the sight of Kagome barging into their camp. "W-what on earth are you two doing here?! Leave at once!"
"Hi everyone," she said breezily, ignoring him. She'd only been looking for a place to refill her water bottle and hadn't anticipated happening upon them. To her shock, Kohaku lingered on the outskirts of the group, shy, but there all the same. Deciding not to pressure him into conversation, she chose not to do anything more than give a wave. He nodded, eyes doleful and sad as usual.
Noticing Rin fiddle with her feet and not hop off the dragon to greet her as she usually would, the miko approached. "Are your feet okay, honey?"
"They're just hurting a little," she winced. "I can't pick out these pine needles. I'm fine though! Ah-Un is here to carry me!"
Dark brows pulled together. Crouching, Kagome gestured for permission to look. Rin blinked in confusion but plopped her small heel into Kagome's hand.
"Ouch," Shippo whistled, inspecting the damaged soles. "Lucky I don't have-ta worry about that what with my paws," he wriggled his fox-like feet, causing the little girl to giggle.
"How about I help? I've got tweezers and chocolate," Kagome winked up at her.
Rin tilted her head to one side curiously. "What's chocolate?"
About fifteen minutes later Kagome seriously regretted offering. With the forest floor picked out from the soles of her feet and hyped up from sugar, Rin was running around the camp at breakneck speed with Shippo, the two of them terrorising Jaken by the time Sesshoumaru returned.
Sweat dropping, Kagome laughed nervously. "I maaay have given her some of my future candies and seriously underestimated how much a tiny chunk would affect her. Shippo eats this stuff super easy."
Gesturing to Kohaku, who watched the kit and Rin tackle Jaken to the ground, she lowered her voice. "I didn't know he was travelling with you now."
Nodding, he seemed disinclined to speak more about it. Kagome smiled, surprised by the fondness weighing into her heart. Straightening and adjusting her notepad, she stiffened when hot breath fanned over the back of her neck.
"What is that?" Sesshoumaru uttered, looking over her shoulder at the scribbles and numbers.
"Rin mentioned that she's tried to wear shoes before," she squeaked, flushing red. Keep distance my ass! Okay Kagome, don't think about the waterfall, don't think about the waterfall. "Only they always begin hurting her so she gives up before she can get used to them. Since the weather is changing into autumn and the rains will start, I figured we'd pick a style that could help keep her feet dry and feel comfortable at the same time, so I measured them."
"I see," Sesshoumaru reached around her for the paper, but she held it out of reach.
"What are you doing?"
He frowned. "I intend to use the information provided to get shoes for her."
Smiling, Kagome gentled, "that's sweet, but let me do it."
"Yeah, my time is really good at ensuring comfort for stuff like this. Besides my mom is friends with this shoemaker downtown, I can get half off no problem," she winked.
Relenting, Sesshoumaru inclined his head silently. The following week when they crossed paths on purpose, Inuyasha's group lingered slightly away from Sesshoumaru's. Kohaku remained suspiciously absent and Kagome wondered if he was hiding from confronting Sango.
The little girl and miko busied themselves with cooing over the brand new shoes. They were a kind of Taka-ashida geta style to help deal with bad weather but held a modern twist to make them easier to walk in.
Rin spun in circles, giggling and hugging Kagome close.
Sesshoumaru quietly watched them, wondering if the glow in his chest belonged to her or himself.
Pumping her legs as fast as possible, Kagome minded wet hair from stinging eyes.
A child was missing.
There had been a storm at Kaede's village, a landslide ruining much of their crops and burying a few huts. But none seemed to care at the moment, searching for a little boy who had gotten separated from his family when they'd fled their hut into a downpour. Luckily no one else had been hurt, but his absence was frightening. Villagers had searched the river, the forest, near everywhere they could think of, desperately calling Eiji's name.
His frightened mother assured them he'd been with her after fleeing their home. She had three other children and had been distracted with them shortly after, moving to another hut seeking shelter from the rain.
Inuyasha had left the village earlier in the day to run an errand. Miroku and Sango now helped the villagers organise themselves, finding shelter for those without homes. Kirara flew Kaede and other people around, helping to deliver messages and communication. Shippo stayed inside, entertaining the worried children with his magic.
Kagome hurried alongside a raging river, panting. She'd seen no sign of the child, and with every minute that passed, fear and dread mounted. Heavy rain pelted her shoulders like ice pellets. She could only imagine what the cold would feel like for a small five-year-old.
Ducking under a large tree and catching her breath, she shakily took out a knife Sango had lent her. Swallowing, she grimly raised her arm. Kagome Higurashi prided herself on doing everything she could, and she hadn't fulfilled that personal oath. Not yet.
Pressing the blade into the skin of her right arm, she grit her teeth and cried out. Shakily, a cut was sliced into her flesh, making the characters for 'help.'
Several seconds ticked by, and Kagome shivered, wiping the rain from her bloodied arm and hoping the message wouldn't smudge on his own-
Her arm was snatched up, wrist held in a tight grip. Yelping, Kagome blinked up at burning golden eyes.
"Foolishness, what have you done?" he uttered, claws gliding down to brush over her wound.
Blinking tears from stinging eyes, she shook her head. "It doesn't matter. I needed you here! There's a boy missing. Please, I know the rain is bad but you were the only one I could think of that would have a chance of finding him in this weather."
Sesshoumaru's expression briefly showed a glimpse of surprise, soon steeling into seriousness. "...This one will need something of the child's."
Having figured as much from spending time with Inuyasha, Kagome took out Eiji's small sandal that had been found shortly after he'd gone missing. "S-sorry, I know it's not pleasant but-"
Taking it from her, the demon sniffed delicately. Passing it back, he turned and burst into the sky with a billow of silks and silver hair. Kagome watched him go, tears mingling with the raindrops. She could only imagine how grief-stricken and fearful Eiji's mother must've been feeling, and left to hurry back to the village, intent on consoling her.
Huddling within a hut sometime later, Kagome had wrapped her favourite blanket around the wailing woman, who sobbed into her neck. Rubbing her back and trying to calm any worries, the miko focused inward and tried to sift through her own emotions to reach Sesshoumaru's. Coldness kept hitting her shoulders, no doubt the rain landing on him. He did not feel afraid, and Kagome took some comfort in how solid and confident she felt when basking in his side of the link.
A hard pull on her senses had her stumbling to stand. Making a hasty excuse, Kagome ducked under the flap covering the hut's entrance, hurrying outside. Raindrops pattered on her head, lessening.
In the gloom of the misty grey, utterly drenched surroundings, Sesshoumaru stood.
Mud splashed onto her legs as she sprinted forward, breathless the moment she reached him. His single arm rested at his side, empty.
Despair crashed down Kagome's throat, pricking tears into her eyes. Slow blinking, Sesshoumaru shifted a large bulk of mokomoko aside, revealing a slumbering child huddled within the furs that curled around him.
Gasping, Kagome made a noise. He wasn't even her child, and she barely knew him, but the pure relief that swamped her was genuine. Sesshoumaru stared as she touched Eiji's hair.
"Where was he?" she murmured.
"A water spirit snatched him into the river. His mother should mind him more carefully," Sesshoumaru rumbled.
Kagome brushed her hand over mokomoko, noticing the soaked strands, while Eiji remained relatively dry, if a little damp, enclosed protectively within the warm furs. Remembering something he'd said about Rin, she sent a worried look to the Daiyoukai.
"When you found him...did you..."
Sesshoumaru did not answer, nothing flickering in his expression. Mokomoko unfurled and shifted the slumbering child into her arms, and Kagome cradled him close. Reacting on impulse then, the miko stood on tiptoe and cupped the Daiyoukai's cheek, brushing cold wet lips over his jaw.
"Thank you so much."
Feeling his body stiffen and hold still, Kagome pulled back enough to glimpse half-lidded golden hues staring at her. Imperceptively, he tilted his head down a touch. Their breath intermingled.
Hearing Sango call from the hut, Kagome sighed and turned. Stepping away from the Daiyoukai, she glanced back at him just once before hurrying inside to assuage Eiji's mother's fears.
Many things changed in the following months. The prelude to Naraku's end made one-off, pleasant encounters hard to come by.
By far the most outstanding and amazing event to happen in ages was the moment she'd woken up from an unconscious state to feel fingers flexing from her left hand. The tingles were not her own, and when she realised why, a gasp of pure relief and happiness threatened to overwhelm her.
Sesshoumaru had regained his arm. What's more, a sword all his own rested proudly at his hip.
After that, Kagome noticed the increase in attacks directed towards her and wondered why she'd become more of a target. Naraku had belittled her many a time, accusing her of being a mere shadow of the original priestess. As the jewel neared completion she supposed it made sense to extinguish all threats and gain back each sliver of the shikon.
This, unfortunately, threw Sango into the line of fire.
Unlike when he'd aimed at Kagome, the hit landed at its desired mark. Kohaku lay dead and motionless in his wailing sister's arms. Nothing could revive him. His jewel shard had been taken.
Knowing where she was needed most at that moment, Kagome decided against returning home for her exams. Sango's grief came first, and defending her friends felt more important as the final battle drew near.
He could feel it- the miko's terror. Blind panic signalled her distress, heart thudding rapidly like the beat of a hummingbirds wings. His own heart thundered in sync with it. Rin was a priority, of course. And yet he couldn't ignore the frightened blood pumping through his veins. Sesshoumaru refused to let her feel like hunted prey- to allow himself to be marred by such emotions.
Curious, since he'd never felt her be afraid of Naraku before.
Forcing youki through his body to fly faster, static raced over his skin, biting. Jolting, a snarl curled his lips- claws ripping through the flesh of his upper arm. Blood soaked his sleeve, soon fading away. Kagome was hurt. He needed to get to her, now. The breeze lashed at his hair and clothing, stomach plummeting in time with hers.
Why? Why was she feeling so helpless?
And then there was nothing.
Like a marionette cut on a string, Sesshoumaru was plunged into the consuming, isolating feeling of being completely and utterly alone. He'd never realised it, but during that entire year of feeling her presence she'd been a pleasant hum in the back of his mind. The miko had been there, an unacknowledged part of him, but there nonetheless.
Feral youki spread out, searching blindly. Where are you? it strained.
Sailing through the innards of the monstrous cavern, Sesshoumaru inhaled- stiffening. Iron filled his nostrils, the phantom taste of blood coating his tongue.
Blurring mid-air, a streak of white streamed with hot, blazing energy. Caught up in her nearing scent came Inuyasha's; twining with her muddied fear was his bloodlust and the faint trace of Naraku.
Landing on the ground the second he glimpsed white and green, Sesshoumaru approached.
She lay at an odd angle, sprawled out in a tangle of fallen limbs. Black hair tossed about her face, head twisted unnaturally.
The revelation came to him like a physical punch to the gut. He had never felt the air being knocked so swiftly from his lungs- but Sesshoumaru understood at once what the sensation earlier had truly been. A candle being snuffed out. The feeling of being cast off, bereft of a second person's emotions.
Kagome's eyes were glassy, open even in death. Blood caked her upper arm, the material of her strange clothing torn in a jagged slash.
Golden irises dulled, red creeping into the edges of his vision. Inuyasha.
Scenting the air, he caught sight of the blood escaping her chest. An unnatural amount. The fall hadn't killed her, likely knocking her unconscious. Vulnerable enough for Naraku to pounce and impale her with a talon.
Taking a breath, Sesshoumaru closed his eyes. Consumed in silence, he knew he could leave. The demon lord could simply turn his back on the soul mate bond he'd despised so much. Be rid of it forever and never feel the nuisance of emotions and pain that were not his own again. There would be no danger of completing the bond. He'd never feel that warm glow in his chest, the scrape of tiny claws on his collarbone, those random spasms in his diaphragm- hiccups, he dazedly thought. There'd be no ache in his stomach when she laughed so much it hurt.
Lifting a hand, Sesshoumaru grabbed Tenseiga's hilt and ripped it from its sheath, metal giving a noise of distress. The reforged blade shone blue, glaring brighter as he forced youki into it, the world falling away as he glimpsed demonic pallbearers swarming around Kagome's still body. They were readying chains and complaining in a foreign tongue about the weight of her soul.
Sesshoumaru snarled, bearing his teeth and causing them to cower. That is not yours.
Lifting Tenseiga- he slashed it down violently, severing the ghouls in two far more viciously than warranted. Panting softly, Sesshoumaru stared, grim surroundings returning.
Kagome did not move. For a moment, he experienced a similar feeling that had haunted him when holding Rin's lifeless body. The same one that sank heavy and regretful in the depths of his stomach when learning of Kohaku's demise; that of failure sinking into his bones.
But then an arm shifted and she groaned softly, lashes falling shut.
Putting the sword away, Sesshoumaru lifted his sights to some weak youkai streaming towards them, threatening to tear into her vulnerable flesh. Enlarging sharp claws into talons, he moved swiftly- slashing them to ribbons with an uncaring flick of deadly fingers.
Hearing movement behind him and feeling twinges of pain, he released a slight breath through parted lips. Relief flooded his being, frazzled instincts calming.
Tearing two more black, snake-like youkai apart, he deigned to glance over his shoulder, levelling a holier than thou look at the miko. She raised herself up on hands and knees, wincing, bloodied, but very much alive.
His fangs ached in his mouth.
"Were you driving the demons away all this time?" she asked softly, sitting up.
Sesshoumaru killed the last of the youkai like they were no more than butterflies, straightening. He smoothly side-stepped the question and rumbled; "your wound. Did Inuyasha do that?"
Kagome's silence was heavy and telling. She then touched her bloodied chest, puzzled by it as though not remembering where it had come from. Frowning at nothing in particular, a sneer came to his lips, and he naturally insulted the hanyou that had likely lost control of his blood again. And, predictably, she defended the whelp as always.
Even though the fall from the hanyou's hands had resulted in her death.
Walking away so as not to start an argument and let something slip- Sesshoumaru strode forward. He heard footsteps hurriedly following and felt stiff muscles relax a touch.
A hand catching hold of his trailing sleeve caused his steps to slow, attention snapping down to the miko. Blue eyes stared up at him questioningly, worriedly tugging her plump bottom lip between her teeth.
"You feel weird. Like buzzing is going on inside my head, racing up and down my chest. Are you stressed about something?" she slid gentle, warm fingers to his calloused palm at his side. The line of tension in his back sighed, relaxing somewhat.
"Rin is in here," he partially lied about the source of his discomfort.
Kagome looked briefly shocked before resolve hardened her features. "Then let's go find her. Inuyasha...is probably up ahead too."
Sesshoumaru's gaze flicked to her injured arm. The weight of so many unsaid words lay his tongue heavy within his mouth, and he merely continued on as if nothing were amiss. She did not need to know what had happened, it would only distress her.
The final battle within Naraku had passed in a blur of motion. Kagome could barely keep up with it- her blind grappling for Tetsusaiga in order to throw it to Inuyasha and return him to normal- Sesshoumaru's strangely helpful and protective presence, the words; "Get away from her!" still ringing in her ears.
After Magatsuhi's defeat, her innate spiritual powers and abilities had been released to their fullest extent.
Confronting Naraku alongside all her friends, the spider was finally, finally defeated by Inuyasha's Meido Zangetsuha and Sesshomaru's Bakusaiga. Taking aim at the jewel and striking into its heart, Kagome smiled.
And then darkness.
Being stranded within the jewel had been frightening. Like being plunged into the deepest, darkest depths of the ocean. There was no light, no glimpse of a surface to swim to.
Just an inky black pressure holding her down, and sharp-toothed creatures lurking in its underbelly.
Jolting her head up, Kagome stared ahead of her into nothingness. "Inuyasha?"
When he appeared however- he was not alone. The miko's breathing hitched. Sesshoumaru loomed in close, stopping before her. She stared up at him, bewildered, quailed under the intensity of his gaze. His irises were gleaming with fiery liquidity, like molten gold. He looked... alarmed. Angry.
She silently questioned why he'd come with his brother. Why he'd rescued her so many times. If they both desired that red string of fate between them to snap then he shouldn't feed the bond. He shouldn't...get her hopes up. She shouldn't want him to touch her again as he had at the falls and never again.
Kagome grasped Inuyasha's hand as he helped to steady her. She needed to focus on the jewel more than demon lords at that moment.
Focusing on the unassuming little jewel no bigger than a marble, Kagome found the words.
And with a simple, unselfish wish, it troubled them no more.
There was no verbal way of expressing Sesshoumaru's consuming, savage and ruinous fury towards the Bone Eater's Well. The miko was gone. Stolen away back into her original time some 500 years in the future. Inuyasha had explained it to him after arriving back from the future, as the well had not permitted Sesshoumaru through before it had closed forever. Kagome would not be returning.
This felt unacceptable.
He wanted her to sully propriety with him again. He wanted fierce blue eyes and the sharp highs and lows of her temper, the passion and protective snarling as she shielded her pack from danger. Gentle fingers stroking his cheek.
But Kagome was gone.
The absence of pain and sensation from her side of the bond felt cripplingly unnatural. Though he'd loathed the Soul Mate link for a time, Sesshoumaru could not ignore the pang in his chest when he sought her pure energy within the village and came up unanswered. He could not help it. His instincts clamoured for her, shamefully pining.
It did not feel ridiculous to a certain kit though. Shippo had been in low spirits since the incident. Having continually noticed it, Sesshoumaru scented the air, picking up the faint trace of tears from the old miko's hut. Almost every night he wept.
With a sigh, the Daiyoukai ducked into the small space. While Kaede and Rin slept on, he extended a hand down to the kit, picking him up by the scruff of his clothes and curling mokomoko under his feet, carrying him outside. Shippo was roused enough to squeak, stiffening as he realised who held him. Blinking up at the demon, Shippo's bottom lip wobbled.
"I-I miss her so much," he confessed.
Sniffing, the kit burst into tears anew. Stopping not too far from the village under the peace of the trees, Sesshoumaru took a seat at the base of a larger one. Having removed his armour to sleep, he allowed the fox to cling to him.
Shippo scraped tiny claws through his silks, awakening an old nostalgia. It felt as though he'd been pack mates with the kit all year alongside Kagome, feeling the boys sleeping habits through the bond. Shippo nuzzled into his shoulder, letting out a small sigh.
"You smell...like Kagome," he mumbled, eyes drooping. Crying must have rendered him exhausted.
Sesshoumaru hummed, staring up at the stars. Jolting as something ripped a horrid noise out from his chest to his throat, Sesshoumaru's eyes widened. The kit gave a giggle.
"Uh did you just...hiccup?"
"No," he grit out. "And if you tell a soul, this one will kill you."
Shippo wisely decided not to comment, drifting off into sleep and trying not to think of Father's fur when curling small fists into mokomoko's warmth.
The separation hit harder than she'd expected it to. Bereft, Kagome couldn't place what exactly she strained for. The assurance, perhaps, of his presence. Even just the faint scrape of his claws gliding through his hair to massage his scalp would've eased her.
Instead, a deafening nothingness surrounded Kagome's day to day life in the present era. It felt very odd. Even unsettling.
She finished her education, drifted away from what few friends she still had, and instead tried to make up for lost time with her family. Yet even while helping Souta study, Mama with the groceries or Grandpa with the shrine, Kagome still couldn't stop herself from prodding. Spreading the pale pink of her aura out, Kagome strained it over the city like flexing her toes, curling for something in the dark, hidden.
He's not dead, she thought to herself. He can't be.
When her open invitation remained unanswered, Kagome started pinching her arm again. Ha! See how he likes that.
But not a flicker scraped her arm in return.
Kagome stared ahead of herself, lips thinning. Twisting her thumb and index finger into her skin again, and then thrice more, she barely registered Mama entering the room.
"Kagome! What are you doing-" her hand was seized. "Stop that!"
Blue eyes refocused, embarrassment colouring her cheeks. "O-oh… sorry, Mama," she murmured.
Mrs Higurashi mistook the tears in her eyes for ones of physical pain and the pinching as down to some leftover demon spell.
Kagome had laughed sadly. She wasn't entirely wrong. Pushing her sleeve down on her arm, she stiffened and paused when the smallest but unmistakable sensation scraped her skin.
The answering bite of claws.
Sometime during her absence, Inuyasha approached him. With a grunt and a gesture, Sesshoumaru followed the hanyou away from the village and into a clearing.
White ears flicked and pressed tight to his skull. Calloused hands clenched into shaking fists. "I ain't got no proof of this, but you've never spared my feelings so just fucking tell me." Inuyasha took a breath and glared. "It was you who killed Kikyo, wasn't it?"
His brother stiffened, perhaps surprised he'd surrendered the information so quickly. Sesshoumaru was not ashamed nor regretful for killing what was already dead. Still, some...discontentment lingered. Perhaps he had been mildly hasty and killed what he had no right to.
Inuyasha blinked rapidly, lips peeling back to flash pearly white fangs. "Figured as much," he exhaled, rolling one shoulder. "Ya know I'm actually glad Kagome ain't here right now so that she doesn't have to feel this."
Sesshoumaru's muscles tensed and he braced himself, instincts screaming as he stayed rooted in place. A punch knocked his face to one side and sent boots scraping back across the ground. Grunting, Sesshoumaru staggered and brushed pale knuckles over his red, stinging cheek.
Inuyasha snarled and raised his fist- only for it to be caught in a steel grip.
"I allowed you one and no more," Sesshoumaru hissed.
Shaking with anger, Inuyasha was sent stumbling away by a shove. The two brothers eyed one another, a thousand words filling up the grim silence.
Knowing Sesshoumaru would never explain yet also sensing there was a reason behind his seemingly thoughtless act of violence, Inuyasha walked away first.
Things remained quietly tense between them for several months, unspoken barbs hanging in the air yet no actual sparring.
"Kit," Sesshoumaru approached Shippo one afternoon, who was waiting outside a hut. "Do you wish to hunt?"
Happiness brightened his earthy fox scent but his tail twitched. "Ah- I'd...I'd really like to but Inuyasha was going to help me fish toda-"
"Go with him if you wanna," the hanyou grunted, ducking out of the hut and brushing by. "Tch, it's no skin off my back if ya do."
Shippo clearly seemed conflicted, glancing between the two. Gentling his voice, Sesshoumaru inclined his head. "You should follow him."
Green eyes widened. "Ah- alright...but why?"
"He has much need of you," he watched his retreating brother walking further away. "He misses her too."
Nodding and puffing up with pride, Shippo promised to hunt some other time with the taciturn demon lord. Sesshoumaru watched him go with some amusement, the warmth of fondness flickering in his chest.
Rin sent him a knowing look from across the fields. Sesshoumaru scoffed and pretended not to notice.
One bright summer day, Kagome adjusted the strap of her handbag over one shoulder while taking a sip from her coffee. She needed to hurry if she didn't want to be late for her job interview.
Ever since the day she'd felt Sesshoumaru's answer, he'd not shown himself to her once. That had been several years ago now.
Kagome had decided to go on as usual in the modern era. Knowing he was alive felt like a huge relief, and she trusted the Daiyoukai had a good reason for not showing up. Wildly insecure speculations had floated around in her mind before she'd settled on one concrete feeling theory;
He wanted her to experience living normally.
She had no proof of it, but it sounded right. Sesshoumaru was not a coward. If he'd found a wife in the 500-year gap and wanted her to stop wondering outright, he'd have told her.
As it was, Kagome tried dipping her toes into everyday life. The type without soul bonds or battles. She'd gotten rather good at it. After retaking her year of school and moving on to various jobs, she felt just like any student cast adrift. Of course, normalcy had also meant a boyfriend.
Hojo had always been a 'what if.' What would've happened if she'd taken him up on his offers all those times for movies or the mall? Well, she'd found out after dating him for a grand total of two weeks. As it turned out the answer was; not a lot.
Figuring it to be a one-off, Kagome had moved on to dating Hitomu, Koji, Naoki- yet none of them sparked much in her lower stomach. And Kagome had tried, believe her.
The attraction was there, sure. But they'd felt so strange, she mused absentmindedly. Their kisses had felt far away, barely able to reach her. Perhaps all her sexual and affectionate reactions towards men had been muted ever since that stupid demon lord 'deigned' to touch her.
And oh how she missed his touch. His frustrating, aggravating smile and disarmingly soft, tender eyes in those secret, stolen moments. By no means could she romanticise him. He'd been cruel, a first-rate asshole...but he'd been more than that too. So much more.
The image of him standing drenched in the rain while shielding a child in his furs came to mind.
Waiting at a level crossing, Kagome stood in a small crowd of people and glanced at her watch as a train approached. Feeling the faintest, barely-there tug, she stiffened and whipped her head up.
A breeze whipped long dark hair back, tamed into a ponytail. His bangs ruffled, sweeping above earthy brown eyes. None of his markings were visible. His clothes were modern, some sort of navy dress shirt and black slacks, hands in his pockets. Nonetheless, the aura and pure exhilaration choking fire into her veins whispered it was clearly him. Tempered by time but not defeated.
Sesshoumaru stood on the opposite side of the level crossing.
He gave a small smile, gentle and calm. Kagome's heart fluttered, and she opened her mouth to say something, to try and bridge the distance between them- before the train whirled between them, blocking off her view.
At that moment, the familiar sensation of the well came rushing back. Kagome whipped her head back in the direction of Higurashi shrine. Breath hitching, the miko glanced behind her at the train still rolling by. When it finally passed, Sesshoumaru had disappeared.
It's your choice, his appearance seemed to say.
Turning on her heel, Kagome pushed through the crowd with murmured apologies, hurrying home.
Sesshoumaru had been walking away from the village, deciding to return home after his usual visit to Rin and Shippo. Nothing had been amiss, no strong enemies nearby and no further business to delay him-
Until something pinched the skin of his arm. Stiffening, nerve endings exploded. Air rushed into his lungs, thin lips parting. Feeling attacked him, unexpected and crippling. Youki raced over his skin as the Daiyoukai blurred at breakneck speed through the forest.
Bursting through the bushes, Sesshoumaru stopped, eyes alight.
Kagome's laughter filled his ears, dark hair fanning up into the air as Inuyasha lifted her from the Bone Eaters Well.
You have returned…
Tension slowly leaked out of the Daiyoukai's bones like smoke, something gentling with him that he wouldn't admit to. She looked slightly older, losing her teenage gangly limbs in favour of filled out curves. Bright blue eyes slid around, searching, but he lingered under the shade.
As the minutes passed and Miroku, Shippo and Sango arrived to embrace her, Sesshoumaru became aware of his own desire to touch her. To reaffirm her existence. However, unlike her pack, he did not move closer.
Turning on his heel, Sesshoumaru drank in the sweet fragrance of Kagome's scent before walking away.
He would approach, but at a time when she could be alone. He did not wish to share the miko during their meeting.
It was possible he wouldn't be relinquishing her for some time.
A celebration had been held, the village rejoicing in the Shikon miko's return. Kagome had insisted it wasn't necessary yet soon got swept up in the fun of the festivities. They held a feast and Shippo's newly acquired kitsune friends from his training class started playing music. People began to dance around the large bonfire, the reason for their celebration slipping away. Everyone just wanted to have a good time.
Sango seemed to be in better spirits than when Kagome had been separated from her. The pain of losing Kohaku had cut deep. However, after grieving for a few months, she and Miroku had decided to start a family. Grief never really left, yet the Slayer had done well to manage it and three children.
Inuyasha seemed to have made peace with himself and lingered with the group during the party. Kagome caught him sneaking stolen glances at a village girl and smiled, silently wishing him well.
As Rin and Shippo grabbed her, tugging so that she'd join them in a dance around the fire, Kagome laughed, aura stretching out. She felt like she were home.
It was almost perfect. Almost.
Spinning Rin out and giggling as she pulled her back in, Kagome ducked down to allow Rin to do the same to her, the little girl having grown taller. While whirling on her feet, hair fanning out and heart drumming, a cool brush of youki stroked the back of her neck. Blue eyes instantly found him.
He stood on the outskirts of the village, pale figure bathed in soft oranges from the large bonfire. Kagome paused, catching her breath.
Honey-coloured eyes gleamed with an inner light that rivalled that of the fire. His armour was absent, swords removed. Though they didn't speak- hadn't spoken for three years, she understood immediately what would happen if she left the company of the village that night.
Swallowing, Kagome excused herself from her friends and made towards him.
A hand caught her by the elbow, "ya don't have to go to that bastard if you don't wanna."
Kagome smiled, patting Inuyasha's arm and kissing him on the cheek. "I want to."
Surprise lightened his gaze, but nonetheless he released her. "Keh, the Soul Mate stuff was too hard to fight, huh?"
"No, it's not really that," she kept walking. "But hell if I'd be able to explain it."
The sound of the wind whipping through dense trees starting as a gentle roar, rolled into a wailing breeze. Kagome minded dancing dark hair away from her eyes, heart thundering wildly. A kind of calm possessed her nonetheless. She moved with complete confidence, flushing under his rapt attention but unafraid.
Meeting him under the shadows of the trees, Kagome tilted her head up.
Mokomoko slid around her waist, curling tight and dragging the miko further into the darkness and flush against him.
Kagome huffed, steadying herself, only to feel two hands on her waist instead of one. "You've certainly changed your tune," she said softly. "What happened to 'keeping distance'?"
"We did keep distance, for three years," he uttered, nose brushing hers. "I have since decided that the closeness was preferable."
Gladness filled her chest, hands smoothing over the silk covering his chest. "Even if that means being close to a human?"
Kagome smiled, cupping his cheek and whispering her request in his ear. "Take me somewhere we can be alone."
He took her to a cave, the earth somewhat hot under her feet. The reason for it became apparent as he led her to a hidden, underground hotspring. Clear, turquoise waters, the beautiful environment, and the smell of rich minerals in the air made her hair puff up with humidity and lips spread into a grin. Above them, the cave ceiling opened up to let in the light of the crescent moon.
Stripping and hopping into the pool, Kagome made a noise of appreciation. The waters rippled, disturbed behind her, before a warm bare chest pressed against her back. And just like that, it was as though no time had passed. They were back at the waterfall, touching and revelling in each brush, caress or stoke.
Unlike last time, their crescendo was allowed to build.
Clearly, Sesshoumaru knew how to handle a woman. Kagome had thought him dexterous and confident with just one hand, but now he felt like a force of nature to deal with. His touch was light and assured, no misguided prodding or painful jabs, simply caressing and insinuating, and ever-so-slowly applying pressure and depth until she was like wax in his hands, melting into a puddle of building ecstasy, moaning against his mouth.
Sesshoumaru groaned against the delicate skin of her neck, running large hands over her back and dragging them over her thighs. Peppering kisses and nips down her throat, he reached her collarbone, stopping to pant. Raising his head, hungry golden eyes gleamed, damp hair falling into them slightly.
Something low in Kagome's abdomen jumped at the look he gave her, and she swallowed, biting her lower lip.
Making a low noise and cupping her cheek, he slanted a firm mouth over hers, wrestling her lip back from her teeth to bite it himself, licking soon after. "What would you..." he exhaled shakily, "like to do now?"
"That a trick question?" she giggled, reaching under the water to stroke his hard length. She inhaled the hitch of his breath, "it probably isn't a good idea to jump from being in no relationship to getting essentially married...but somehow logic isn't computing. I just...know I want this. I'm on birth control so there's no danger there. I guess I am somewhat scared of..."
Sesshoumaru tilted his head, curling a strong grip into her hair and tugging slightly to get her to look at him again. "What is it?"
"Just of- of losing myself in you. Aren't you scared of how strong these feelings are?"
Shuddering when she didn't stop her stroking, Sesshoumaru let out a pant, steadying himself against her. "It would be remiss of me not to warn you; mating is exceptionally intimate and binding long after the initial act is over. But yes, this one can somewhat understand your worries- gn-" lean hips bucked.
Kagome grazed her free hand down his abdomen, dragging blunt nails over the muscles and feeling the scratches tingle on her own stomach.
"I don't want to stop."
Sinking his teeth into her shoulder and groaning when she yelped and ground against him, Sesshoumaru licked the molten hot taste of her blood away from her skin. "Then let us continue, Kagome."
They kissed and sighed, Kagome's soft, keening noises rising as the head of his cock, beading with precum- sank inside slick folds.
Long sublime legs wrapped tight around his stripped waist. Kagome's toes curled, an ache flaring to life. He filled her exquisitely, perfectly, though she strained with the size. "Move- please."
Sesshoumaru rolled his hips torturously slow. He gave a breathy chuckle when she snarled and squirmed, trying desperately to guide him deeper- only for the demon to give a hard thrust, making her cry out. And then he was moving.
He felt so big, fucking her perfectly. She ached from head to toe, wanting more; he held onto her with bruising strength, he bit her neck and pinched her nipples, and she came twice before his teeth were at her throat, pouring immortal lightning into her veins along with the white-hot feeling of cum shooting inside her. She wanted it to last forever - she couldn't imagine feeling so good again.
In the afterglow, they lay on the heated stones together. The demon offered his cupped hand, and Kagome rested her head there, rubbing her cheek against the heated skin and basking in the raw power emanating from it.
Sesshoumaru rumbled quietly and dragged an ardent lick over her arm that bared the scar of 'help' on her flesh. Smiling, Kagome basked in the lazy aches of her limbs, succumbing to the need for rest.
Cracking open weary, sleepy eyes, Kagome sat up and stretched. Arching her back and shifting, she felt sticky wetness remaining between her sore thighs. Sesshoumaru rested beside her, long silver hair tossed about in disarray. He looked very inelegant when sleeping, arm pillowing his cheek and lips slightly parted. Kagome smiled and stroked some hair back from where it stuck to his mouth.
Grabbing rich red and white silks, she dressed and tied his obi around her waist, walking outside into the crisp night air. Inhaling, she looked out at the forest with new eyes.
Everything looked different. She wasn't sure how. Grass felt more real and keen beneath her feet. Insects and nocturnal animals sounded louder. Even the air tasted sweeter and filled with lush scents she'd never noticed before.
Her legs pulsed with the urge to run, and she glanced to her side upon hearing movement.
Sesshoumaru stood beside her in a smaller version of his true form. Lush fur caught the light of the crescent moon, making the coat gleam luminous white. Red eyes slid down to her, perpetual smile widening to expose more of his large fangs.
She realised then that she was hearing and seeing so clearly because of him. This was what a Daiyoukai sensed.
Kagome grinned and took off running into the night. Blood rushed through her veins, pumping her heart into a gleeful thrum. She could see everything!
Hearing rapid paws, she glanced at Sesshoumaru easily keeping pace beside her.
Laughing, Kagome heard rushing water drawing closer the quicker she ran, and instead of hesitating she burst through the bushes and took a leap at the river, landing one foot on a stepping stone and then bounding to another. She didn't know how she knew it would be there, just that the sound of the broken flow of the water signalled a safe place to land.
Kagome still felt like Kagome but she'd never been more unleashed and hungry. Like a switch had been flicked and she was suddenly more aware and awake. Reiki thrummed in the wake of her footsteps.
Leaping from stone to stone, Kagome felt power crackle through her body- seconds before her foot slipped.
Sesshoumaru let out a bark, catching the back of her clothes in his teeth.
"Woops," Kagome panted, grinning as he carried her the rest of the way across the river, setting her down with a reproachful look.
"Oh don't give me that, I think I did really well," Kagome huffed, touching her heart dazedly. "This is the bond… isn't it? I knew it would get stronger after we mated but this is completely different from before. Like putting on 3D glasses or something."
Sesshoumaru stared at her blankly, choosing that moment to transform back, red mist leaking from his body. She felt him shake his fur back into his skin.
Sesshoumaru's inhuman form stood before her then, dressed in his white hakama pants.
"Do you feel anything from my end of the bond?" Kagome asked gently, stepping close to him and basking in his heat and presence.
Sesshoumaru smoothed knuckles over her hip. "I feel your joy. It is… strong," he uttered, eyes vaguely uncomfortable. Kagome's brows pulled together and she pressed herself closer, kissing his jaw. "Is that a bad thing?"
"It is merely new and will take time to get used to," he said, inhaling the scent of her hair.
"Yeah, me too. I can feel your heartbeat like it's mine, and when we were running I could feel your strong legs moving and feet pounding. It's weird, but I'm not afraid of it."
Sesshoumaru smiled slightly and hums, dragging a wet tongue over her cheek. "That is because you are mine. A normal human could not adapt to this so easily I do not think."
"Ooh compliments~" she teased. "Someone's feeling mushy."
Sesshoumaru pressed his palm against her face and pushed her away while she laughed. With mirth dancing in her eyes, she caught his wrist and smoothed her fingers through the gaps of his own, lacing them together.
Kagome then tugged and stepped away, "come on. Let's run some more, I want to feel you."
Golden eyes cut to the sky, "you are acting much like the kit when he masters a new spell," he started to walk with her.
"Speaking of, Shippo told me what you've been doing for him these past few years." Sesshoumaru blinked when she sent a gentle smile his way. "Thank you. Helping him with magic, teaching him to hunt, being there when he needed company to sleep. It sounded like he considers you kind of a father now."
Glancing away, Sesshoumaru hummed.
"Why did you do it? Look after him, I mean," Kagome peered at him curiously, the grass tickling her bare legs.
Sesshoumaru's attention slid down to her once more, heavy and intent.
"Because he is yours."
Despite everything they'd done, her skin still feeling vaguely sticky from his tongue on her body, Kagome flushed red.
Sesshoumaru broke from her to transform into his true form, bounding ahead.
"Hey!" Kagome laughed, racing after the large Daiyoukai into the inky black darkness of the forest. Even as they took different paths through the undergrowth, their hearts would beat as one.