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Soul Mates

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He'd first experienced it when lazing one quiet evening in a hot spring.

Crickets had softly chirped, surrounding trees silent and still, nocturnal animals keeping their distance while the lord of the west tipped his head back. His golden half-lidded gaze slid over the stars, the humidity dampening pale bangs, long hair trailing around him in the water, steam licking at the surface. Muscles coiled and pulled taut as Sesshoumaru stretched languidly, in the middle of a sigh- when his relaxed noise abruptly cut off.

Pain lashed through his side, like that of claws ripping through the skin under his ribs. A plume of red leaked into the water. Automatically pressing a hand to his side, furious youki swamped the area. No matter how much he probed and searched with his energy however, no foe was unearthed. Rising from the pool, Sesshoumaru pulled his hand away, noting the blood with mounting outrage. As suspected, several slashes had cut into his flesh, though from the indents he suspected teeth were at play, not claws.

Some lowly demon saw fit to bite this one? I should answer with their death, he mused darkly. The moment he thought this, however, Sesshoumaru witnessed the blood fade. Even his flesh returned to normal, unmarked and unmarred.

It was as though nothing had happened.

Sesshoumaru blinked, frowning to himself. He possessed divine skills, rapid healing among them, but even a Daiyoukai such as he knew the limits of his power and Sesshoumaru had never healed so quickly before.

Curling his hands into fists, the demon waded out of the hot springs.

As the days crawled on and Sesshoumaru and his vassal pursued directions from the staff of two heads, the incident fell to the back of his mind. Without a foe to fight, no leads and no serious repercussions from the bite, it fell beneath his immediate notice.

She'd first noticed it while standing upon the bones of Inuyasha's father, a few weeks into her feudal era adventure. A stabbing pain had stung her eye, but Kagome had dismissed it as a consequence of the fumes filling the tomb. No, what really made her take notice was something much larger.

"You should shut up and let me protect you!"

Kagome stared, watching as Inuyasha padded towards his murderous elder brother. Her breathing had hitched, something stirring within her chest at those words. Inwardly, she cheered him on as he'd begun to fight, swinging Tetsusaiga at the inuyoukai. Her cheers soon snuffed out, however.

A hot, burning sensation carved up the inside of her arm- causing the girl to throw her head back and scream. The slash dragged up and up- slicing through skin and bone like butter and cleaving off. She'd never experienced pain like it. Her nerves exploded as bare knees hit the ground. Clutching her arm and crying out in agony, her body writhed and twitched. Kagome could barely breathe it hurt so much, choking on tear laced sobs. Blood soaked her skin under her shirt but she barely noticed. Nothing else registered except the burning sensation of having her arm cut off.

Inuyasha slashed the blade in a wide arc, hitting Sesshoumaru in the chest, once twice, then three times. She knew because she felt every hit, despite not knowing entirely where the pain was coming from or why. With a whimper, the world turned dark, Kagome's head hitting bone.

After taking her back to Kaede's hut, Inuyasha had scoffed.

"Didn't expect ya to pass out from the sight of me cutting off that bastard's arm. Kinda delicate, ain't ya?" He sneered almost teasingly.

Kagome didn't rise to the bait, leaning heavily against the wall. Her fingers remained clamped around her very real, very whole and connected left arm. Inuyasha blinked, ears flicking. Kaede sent him a hard look from the irori, stirring a pot.

"Whatever. You better toughen up if you're gonna hang around here," he grunted moodily.

"Hey, Inuyasha," Kagome said quietly. It was the first time she'd spoken since the ordeal. Neither the old miko nor the hanyou had seen her so withdrawn before, nothing like her usual sassy, hardheaded and chipper self. "Your brother…" she murmured, "does he have some kind of…psychic abilities?"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

She stared at the wall, voice soft. "Can he share his pain with others? Force them to feel what he's feeling?"

Inuyasha frowned, hesitating, before shaking it off. "Keh, sounds too emotional for him. Nah he's not capable of that. You hit your head or somethin? Sleep off that weird attitude you have right now, it's creepy," he muttered, storming out of the hut.

Kagome shifted, placing a hand over her chest where she could vividly recall muscle and bone tearing, those sharp slashes leaving aftershocks. Strangely enough, her clothes hadn't been stained with any blood.

But it had felt so real…

"Are ye well, child?"

Kagome looked up at Kaede shakily. "Ah, yeah I'm fine," she forced a smile and waved it off.

The old woman's single eye remained upon her, sliding a cup of tea over the tatami mat.

Picking it up, Kagome watched it tremble in her hand, the contents sloshing violently until it spilt over one side. Kagome set it down, hugging her arms and fidgeting absentmindedly.

Kaede's brows drew together. "... Why do ye keep pinching your left arm like that?"

Pulling her fingers away from her skin, Kagome rubbed the abused flesh a little awkwardly. She watched her worried reflection trapped within the teacup. "I just want to remind myself that it's there," she mumbled.

Laying in a reclined position against a tree, Sesshoumaru panted. Hissing out a breath, long fingers clutched at the empty sleeve of his left side. The tremors started again, as they usually did at night when he attempted to sleep.

Phantom limb pain had been a foreign concept to the proud Lord, but he was not so certain it was meant to feel like this.

He could still 'feel' the need to twitch his fingers that no longer existed on that side, wince at the blazing wound of his stump, but the worst part revealed itself to be the little pinches. The invisible twinges along his phantom arm, like the missing limb remained as some invisible spectre. It taunted what he did not have anymore mockingly. He hated it.

The twinge came again, like thumb and forefinger had twisted the flesh of his elbow. Growling, Sesshoumaru dragged sharp claws over his shoulder, biting them into his flesh and burrowing his face into mokomoko's warmth in frustration. The twinges abruptly stopped, and Sesshoumaru breathed out shakily, resting a little easier.

During the following month, he continued to experience various twinges of pain. They were strange, minor wounds for the most part: scuffs on his single palm and knees like he'd taken a fall, a throbbing at the back of his skull, various cuts and bruises, all soon fading the moment he paid them any notice. By far the most unsettling moment came when mid-step, Sesshoumaru's body flared alive, a gasp caught in his throat, eyes flying wide.

"Mi Lord? Ah-! Lord Sesshoumaru!" Jaken's surprise turned into horror as his lord's eyes flashed red and sharp rattling noises of pain escaped him.

Sesshoumaru shamefully steadied himself against a tree, face pale, sweat beading on his temples. It felt as though someone had reached inside his chest and ripped out something essential. Instinct grappled to seize back the puzzle piece, but he could not fight something invisible and formless. Loud ringing deafened elfin ears, a scream caught up in the back of his throat.


His energy flared and rippled, thunderous growls hissing out of his throat, teeth bared.

But the unknown foe did not show itself, and soon Sesshoumaru was left with rippling aftershocks. Whatever had occurred, it did not seem to have left any long-lasting damage to himself, just as always.

Straightening, Sesshoumaru caught his breath. Twitching a little, his youki sank back into his body. Feeling oddly bereft, he tilted his chin up. "We will not speak of what just occurred," he uttered.

"V-very well sire, but… does it not trouble you?"

Sesshoumaru continued walking as though nothing had happened, instincts prodding at him that something was wrong, missing.

"Ridiculous," was all he said, voice crisp and sharp. Nonetheless, unlike what had transpired at the hot springs, Sesshoumaru felt himself continually root around within himself for that missing something, like he'd left an essential item at home.

When they came face to face with Inuyasha's older brother once more, their duo had become a group. Shippo and Miroku looked at the demon with a mix of wariness and curiosity. Kagome stared with mild fear. Not of Sesshoumaru, though he warranted it, but of experiencing the same pain she had last time.

Since then, Kagome hadn't felt any significant amount of unknown pain, just some claw marks on her shoulder one evening. Her own experiences with very real danger had taken up all her attention.

The crippling sensation of part of her soul being ripped out to animate Kikyo's body hadn't been something easily shaken.

Still, the sensation of having her arm hacked off remained the single most awful thing she'd ever experienced. Deep down, a part of her somewhat felt sympathy towards the proud lord. If that pain had indeed been his and not a random burst of torture, Kagome couldn't be entirely indifferent towards him even if he did look ready to murder them all.

They fought him as before, Sesshoumaru somehow having two arms instead of one- until Kagome clicked that it was being animated by a jewel shard.

While Inuyasha scrambled and slashed at him, Sesshoumaru taunted his brother with quiet, silky words. Kagome nocked her bow from the sidelines, hesitating for a moment.

If she did hit Sesshoumaru, would she feel it? Maybe that pain had just been a weird one-off. Shaking herself, Kagome noticed the dire situation at hand- Sesshoumaru holding Tetsusaiga aloft, steady to strike his brother down.

It didn't matter if she got hurt, she had to help!

Letting the arrow fly free, it pinged off the mighty sword's blade, causing it to revert back to it's usual dulled, thin shape.

"Sesshoumaru!" she yelled, quickly nocking another arrow and aiming it at his still figure. "The next one is aimed at your heart!"

His handsome features were drawn into a mild frown, frustration seeming to tick his jaw.

"Inuyasha, make your escape! Hurry!" Kagome barked, trying to get across to just move already. Her gaze remained locked with Sesshoumaru's, not about to risk looking away. "I'll shoot at your left arm," she threatened. "I know there's a shard of the jewel embedded there!"

Surprise and anger flashed in Sesshoumaru's flinty gaze.

With Inuyasha not budging and still in danger, she fired unprovoked. Dodging and raising a deadly hand, the Killing Perfection blurred through the air towards her.

Gasping, Kagome stumbled back on her heels. His speed was phenomenal- and he was surely going to kill her if she didn't do something!

Inuyasha, ever her knight in dulled armour, leapt up behind Sesshoumaru and snarled, swiping his claws. Forced to move aside, Sesshoumaru didn't get the chance to strike, silently sneering as he floated out of reach. Inuyasha dropped down protectively before her.

"Get out of here, Kagome!"

She blinked, a little high off the power of commanding the Daiyoukai's presence and wielding a weapon, (both new and concerning sensations she'd never experienced before; she was not bloodthirsty) but decided to listen. A strange pressure weighed in her stomach, skin pricking with the awareness of eyes upon her. As she ran off to find Shippo and Miroku, she glanced back out of curiosity and stiffened. Sesshoumaru stared after her. He'd looked as if he could have cheerfully strangled her right there and then.

Shivering in delicious shock, Kagome faced forward and smiled to herself, hurrying off with a rather triumphant skip in her step.

However, the strange magnetism between them pulled demon and miko together again not long after.

Kagome grit her teeth and fired, her arrow shattering his spiked shoulder armour into pieces.

Once again it was in service of protecting Inuyasha. Kagome stood with Shippo beside her, adrenalin coursing through her veins. She liked it. She liked the power of staring into his wide, disbelieving eyes as his armour crumbled like broken clay to his feet.

Slowly, Sesshoumaru collected himself, expression frosty.

"Inuyasha, make her stop," he quietly demanded.

Inuyasha yelled something about backing off but Kagome didn't listen, high on the hubris of fighting. She let another arrow fly- and this time Sesshoumaru lifted a hand, catching it deftly between his claws mid-air.

The smoothness with which he'd acted knocked her world off its axis.

Her reiki coursing through the arrow was snuffed out by the dominating coat of green, deadly acid hissing out of his fingers. Soon enough the arrow was melted.

The colour drained from Kagome's face. Shit.

With his own arrogant look, Sesshoumaru's heel scraped over the earth, drawing his arm high and swinging Tetsusaiga down, hissing out; "now I will put an end to your interference."

Kagome froze upon seeing the blast of golden energy skittering towards her like a fissure cleaving through the earth. She could vaguely hear Inuyasha shouting and feel him grabbing hold of her, but squeezed blue eyes shut. They were flung through the air- her head striking the earth soon after and causing everything to drain away into darkness.

Sesshoumaru grunted, hissing and lifting a hand to the back of his skull and feeling slight wetness. It was the same type of sensation that had scuffed his knees and hand, and bitten into his skin- so he did not intend to heed it. However… he could not stop staring at where the miko had fallen. She lay unconscious. Her dark hair looked slightly damp at the back of her head.

Inhaling, he caught the scent of blood.

No… it couldn't be.

Sesshoumaru stared.

Could it?

Taking a few steps closer, he frowned. He sought to scratch her skin, to see if there would be some sort of impact on his own body- but Inuyasha soon blocked his view of the woman.

"Leave her alone!"

Irritated, Sesshoumaru fought his brother, losing himself in scrapping until the subject of the miko was at the back of his mind for the time being.

Instead, he thought of the sword. It was his reason for being there, after all. Foolish girls in short garments with blazing, somewhat bewitching eyes were beneath his notice. Father's sword took precedence, always.

Striking his hand through his brother's chest, Sesshoumaru stiffened as Inuyasha took the opportunity to rip his artificial hand from his body- claiming the sword back. Even as the whelp bled out, he did not yield the blade.

Soon understanding that Tetsusaiga was beyond his reach now that the wounded, unconscious Inuyasha kept a death grip on it, Sesshoumaru gave a sigh of frustration.

Summoning clouds to his feet, he and Jaken ascended into the air and left the battlefield. As they flew, his thoughts inevitably began to stray back to the coincidence of his head hurting the same time the miko had been knocked out.

"Gah! Mi Lord!"

Sesshoumaru blinked and calmly shifted the parting of his silks open, baring his shoulder.

The stump of his left arm was currently ablaze.

"It burns at the joint!" Jaken fussed, gawking at the burning mortal arm Sesshoumaru had attached at Naraku's suggestion.

His brow twitched, lips thinning. "This wretched arm threatens to burn me alive," he stated lowly, grabbing it and ripping the limb away from him.

Sesshoumaru quietly decided Naraku would pay with his life for the offence.

Kagome gasped, crying out and clutching her left arm while sitting atop a youkai giving them transport. Miroku's friend, Hachi, had graciously given them a lift from the battlefield. Not again, damn it.

"Kagome, what's going on?" Shippo asked, putting his hand on her arm and quickly ripping it away. "Ah! Why's it feel hot?!"

Gritting her teeth, Kagome forced a wobbly smile even as what felt like flames licked at her flesh.

"I-I'm okay," she hissed.

Shippo eyed her with concern, but she could barely focus on him. The flames felt like they were a concentrated ring around her upper arm. Like she had a stump. It felt just like before, when Sesshoumaru's arm had been severed.

"Is everything alright?" Miroku weakly croaked from the front of the youkai, while Inuyasha lay silent, still passed out.

Concentrating on breathing while sweat dotted her brow, eventually, the pain subsided. "'s fine," she mumbled.

Kagome was once again left in the dark on her situation.

The next time they faced one another, dread pooled in her stomach while vague intrigue sparked within his. Nonetheless, Sesshoumaru ignored it. He antagonised his whelp of a brother, sneering about his superior knowledge of the wind-scar technique mere moments before Inuyasha unlocked it.

And then Kagome lay screaming, her cries mingling with Sesshoumaru's as his form became consumed in pure golden light.

By the time she regained consciousness, Shippo had blabbed about the incident with Kagome's burning hot arm the last time they'd encountered Sesshoumaru.

Sitting up from the make-shift futon they'd placed her on outside, she looked between Sango, the new addition to their group, and Totosai. Both looked to be deep in thought, sitting by the fire while sunset painted the sky in gentle, firey hues.

The proverbial cat was out of the bag.

"I-I'm fine. Nothing to get worked up over," Kagome squeaked in vain, waving her hands.

"Passing out for no reason isn't nothing," Sango gently chided.

Miroku hummed, stroking his chin. "Passing out makes it sound peaceful. What I saw was our dear friend screaming with agony and collapsing, almost like her brain couldn't take the amount of pain it was feeling and briefly shut down to save itself."

Inspecting Tetsusaiga, the old swordsmith clicked his tongue, bulbous eyes raising to Kagome. "And from what this old codger saw, Sesshoumaru was screaming at the same time. Funny that."

Wincing, she held her tongue. A thrill of unease and panic raced down the miko's spine. She hadn't wanted anyone to know about her weird connection with the demon lord.

Totosai rolled his shoulders, making a dusty grunt. "But what do I know? Probably seein' things."


Of all people, Inuyasha spoke up. While frowning hard at the ground, white ears pressed down against his head. "This kind of thing has happened before. When I cut Sesshoumaru's arm off- Kagome, you were…"

Biting her lip, she opened her mouth to protest but Shippo beat her to it. "Ah, and it was Kagome's left arm that was burning hot when I touched it after Sesshoumaru fled from battle that one time Inuyasha got a hole in his chest! There must be a connection!"

This seemed to solidify everyone's opinions on the matter. Silently screaming, Kagome curled trembling fingers into the material of her skirt.

Inuyasha stood, walking away from the group.

Heart fluttering, the miko quickly rose and followed. She didn't exactly know how she felt about Inuyasha but at the very least a small crush had been blossoming in her chest. Sesshoumaru having any kind of link with her felt like a death sentence on their possible relationship! They'd had enough hurdles so far what with the resurrection of his ex-lover and wow…

Kagome stopped beside a stream, staring at Inuyasha's back.

It looked sturdy and strong, reliable. But a lot of evidence was starting to pile up for why she should wisely consider that back her friend and not something to wrap her arms around. This Sesshoumaru stuff is just one more thing in the way. If I keep trying to bridge the distance between us, I know I'm going to get exhausted. And you even want me to reach you?

White triangular ears twitched. Inuyasha glanced over one shoulder, scratching his cheek. "Listen, Kagome-"

"It's okay," she cut in softly. From the look in those golden eyes, it was easy to see he'd placed an invisible barrier between whatever they'd almost been. A line drawn in the sand.

"I'm gonna see if it's possible to break whatever connection that bastard has to you," Inuyasha muttered, curling his hands into fists. "But I've heard of somethin' like this before. This pain connection thing. I remember Myoga talkin' about it. If it's anything like what he said, then…"

"Then what?"

His ears lay flat. "I don't wanna talk about it anymore. It ain't that. It can't be that."

Kagome relented, deciding not to ask any more questions. Not if it meant seeing that torn, harrowed look in his eyes.

Despite not wanting to discuss it, Inuyasha had dragged the group around the country on a detour. It proved extremely irritating and difficult to find Myoga since he usually found them. Looking for him was like searching for a...well, flea in a haystack.

They happened upon some information on his whereabouts after some time and headed in the direction of a village. Upon reaching it, however, all plans for talking to the flea demon fled, Kagome whisked away by a wolf demon instead.

Derailed, any thoughts concerning Sesshoumaru's link with Kagome were abandoned until they happened upon the Daiyoukai again.

The rest of the group may have briefly forgotten but the miko hadn't.

During their time apart, a peculiar flicker had been warming her chest. She'd experienced it for herself when hugging Shippo and squeezing him tight, laughing at his jokes and ruffling his mess of wild red hair. Fondness. Cherishing something small.

Except this warm glow had been happening when Shippo wasn't around. The only conclusion Kagome could draw was that the flicker belonged to Sesshoumaru. His feelings, not hers. And they weren't that of pain or distress, but contentment.

Kagome panted, staring up at him.

Inuyasha had lost control of his demon blood, going on a murderous rampage and facing Sesshoumaru in a fight- but now he lay silent and still. Kagome's leg's had carried her forward, blind to everything. Throwing herself atop her unconscious friend and acting as a shield, Kagome now glared over her shoulder at the approaching Daiyoukai.

"Stay away, stupid!" She snarled, tears pricking her eyes. "Don't come any closer!"

The sword he held glinted, catching the light of afternoon sun. Her back remained open and vulnerable to attack. Sesshoumaru could easily cleave her in two in order to slay his brother. Kagome knew that, but she remained on all fours, braced in a protective stance.

He watched her for what felt like an eternity. Golden, inhuman hues, so much colder than Inuyasha's fierce gold eyes- slid over the fall of hair from her shoulders. They roved down her arched back, then travelled further still over the curve of her ass. Kagome stiffened, heat creeping up her neck.

What the hell is he doing?!

Her blue eyes hardened, fingers curling tighter around Tetsusaiga in one hand, the other in Inuyasha's robe. Sesshoumaru's cool stare seemed to crinkle, those eyes appearing to smile. Amused.

Since he didn't look like he planned to kill her, (a conclusion she wasn't so sure about) then there had to be some other reason. He didn't like her, didn't understand her. And that, she suspected, was why he watched her. He looked considering, briefly frustrated, before tilting his chin up and settling on 'haughty' as an emotion.

"If you wish to reverse the transformation, use Tetsusaiga."

Blue eyes snapped wide, breath freezing in her lungs. It was Kagome's turn to stare, heart swaying. He doesn't intend to kill?

An invisible thread tugged, wanting her to rise, to move closer- but Sango and Miroku quickly rushed between them.

"You could've killed him just now," Miroku questioned. "Tell me, why didn't you?"

Sesshoumaru's attention slid away. "I will slay him," he dismissed impassively. "Some other time. There is no point when he does not know himself," pivoting on one heel, he smoothly turned and began walking away.

Kagome peered between her friends, watching him go thoughtfully. It's almost like...he came here with the intention of helping Inuyasha.

Prin pricks tickled and scraped her palm. Jolting, her dazed attention locked on Sesshoumaru's single hand resting at his side- sharp claws imperceptibly twitching and dragging over calloused skin.

They met again one humid afternoon, golden with sun and rich with the smell of honeysuckle. It was an experience neither would share with another soul. Undocumented in even her diary.

Whether or not Kagome happening upon Sesshoumaru within the forest on her way to the village after briefly returning home had been a coincidence, she did not know. The timing seemed just a little too perfect to be happenstance.

He stood, a pure white figure save for the bloom of red patterning his shoulder like blood. Armour suspiciously absent. He seemed languid, not intense like the boys who'd sought her affections before- those loud, snarling, bickering wolf princes and hanyou's who talked of rescuing her like she were a maiden to be protected.

Between one moment and the next, he'd cornered her, the miko's back meeting a tree. Kagome snarled, fumbling with her bow, an arrow- anything- but Sesshoumaru knocked them aside. A firm hand locked on her chin, hot breath fanning over her parted lips and causing them to sweetly sting.

Twin pools of molten hues stared at her, a blaze of rich colour amidst the humble greens and browns of the forest.

"This one will never accept it. I refuse," he uttered, calm voice feeling like a physical caress of the inner thigh. She'd never been so close to him before, not since their first meeting when he'd curiously but intently asked 'what are you?'

Kagome resurfaced from her thoughts to hear; "A bratty miko cannot be my other half. My Soul Mate."

Her throat turned dry. "W-what?" Kagome grit her teeth. "No way is that what we are! Whatever this weird connection is between us, you can't call it something romantic! I'm literally feeling your pain!"

Sesshoumaru tightened his grip, the heat from his body looming closer, pressing against her own. The luxurious silk felt rich and warm and exuded an intoxicating, complex concentrate of his scent, making her head reel.

"Hn, precisely. That is evidence of a mating link. Something belonging to demons. That you should be experiencing it is unthinkable-"

Kagome lurched her head and sank blunt teeth into the skin between his thumb and forefinger, squeaking as her own hand hurt. Snarling, Sesshoumaru ripped it free and tightly wound his arm around her, lifting the miko's feet from the ground- his own teeth biting down into the shell of her ear.

Yelping, she squirmed and growled, heart thundering. Unseen, golden eyes cracked slightly wider as he felt teeth close over his own ear.

His large frame eased forward, parting her legs so that they scrambled and hooked over his hips for purchase. For all the wrong reasons, excitement and heat churned in her abdomen, feeling pressure between her thighs. Or was that emotion his? She couldn't tell, but her body felt hot, burning wherever he touched.

"Let go!" She burst, breath shuddering. What the hell?

Pressing both hands against Sesshoumaru's silk covered chest, she tried to summon her powers. Unlike Kikyo however, brilliant, skilled, trained Kikyo, Kagome couldn't grasp her reiki with finesse. The teenager needed her bow, an arrow, something to follow the pathway of wood like a conductor and allow her power to spill forth. Directly burning demonic flesh with her hands wasn't something she knew how to do.

"Having trouble, miko?"

"Shut up," she sneered.

"Unsurprising that you remain untrained. A barbarian swinging a sword blindly would not take the time to polish a valuable asset in his group."

"Well it's no wonder Inuyasha doesn't know how to use it! From what I've heard, you didn't take the time to teach him either!" She got in his face, practically vibrating from fury. It didn't make her taller than him, and she regretted it instantly, as he caught her gaze and leaned in a little too close, aristocratic nose brushing her humble human one.

How had it gotten this far? How had her wanting to avoid him turned into him pinning her against a tree?

"Inuyasha is a blight upon my blood. Why would this Sesshoumaru train him?" He purred in soft, dulcet tones.

Kagome tried to move her head back- but her skull pressed against the rough bark. Her lips felt dry, aching. For some reason, her cheeks were burning with the need for contact, like two slits were pulsing on either side of her face.

"That's what it all comes down to, isn't it? That's why you're here. You're just frustrated," she muttered, fists pushing uselessly against his chest. "You hate this connection between us because I'm human. It's got nothing to do with me or the fact that I'm a miko," a smirk came to her mouth, fueled by bravado. "Must be humiliating, feeling my cuts and bruises. Does the mighty Sesshoumaru hate feeling so weak? So mortal."

Thin lips drew back, revealing fangs as he panted out a warm puff of air. "I remain largely unaffected by you, do not insult me with such a suggestion."

"A 'blight' isn't something you can just brush off," Kagome gritted out. "Since I'm not exactly thrilled by my connection to you either, let's just resolve to break whatever is pulling us together, deal? And while you're at it, maybe don't take your frustrations out on me, buster."

Sesshoumaru let out a low noise, but Kagome kept her eyes on his, refusing to give in to the instinctual urge to tilt her head to the side and allow him access to her neck, to cower. Instead, she glared, panting softly for no discernable reason as her heart hammered wildly.

He chuckled, softly, so warm against her. Golden eyes flashed.

And then he stepped back. He held her firmly, so that when her feet touched the ground again, it was feather-light. She had no scrapes or bruises, and yet felt rattled like she'd been roughly shaken.

"Very well. Something we can agree on is the utter ruination of this connection."

Kagome folded her arms, clearing her throat. "Right. If anything, you've demonstrated how completely wrong for each other we are. Ha! Soul mates...what a hoot," she muttered dryly.

"Indeed," Sesshoumaru's jaw ticked.

She felt her teeth ache from the action and unthinkingly reached up to touch his cheek. "Stop gritting your teeth so hard-"

A low noise escaped into the air between them, having crooned out from none other than the demon lord. It was almost as if he froze her. Both her hand and her breath stopped for one awful heartbeat.

That hadn't been a noise of disgust.

Kagome stared. His cheek felt smooth under her palm. Touching him for a prolonged period of time felt surreal. A livewire ran down from the pads of her fingers, racing through her bloodstream and kickstarting her heart into overdrive. Her own cheeks blazed again, sweetly pulsing, and she realised they felt in her mind's eye just like Sesshoumaru's twin magenta stripes upon her face.

Sesshoumaru blinked, lifting his one remaining hand and tightly grasping her wrist. Her bone's protested and she grit her teeth. With his thumb resting over her pulse, she knew he could feel it fluttering.

"...There was a pain, many months ago now..." he uttered slowly, gentling his hold. "This one has not experienced anything of the like. As though I were being ripped apart."

Swallowing, she glanced away. "It wasn't as bad as your arm being cleaved off," she admitted.

"At least this one knew what was happening then- could identify the source of the pain. What was it that dug into the very fabric of your being and pulled a chunk loose?"

Kagome lifted her hand from his cheek slightly, curling shaking fingers into her palm. "There was an oni sorceress called Urasue. She...kind of split some of my soul and put it into a fake body, resurrecting someone and animating her. K-kikyo...Inuyasha's lost love. Turns out I'm her reincarnation, so it was kinda like a blood transfusion. Or maybe more accurately an organ donation- an unwilling organ transplant? A-anyway-" she shook her head. "I'm not entirely whole now."

The steel band of his grip loosened and fell away.

Golden eyes narrowed, not comprehending her talk of transferring blood or organs but understanding enough. If he were honest with himself, he'd been irritated ever since that day. A small, niggling sensation in the back of his head, seeking- feeling around for something in the dark. Now he understood why. He'd been looking for her missing piece, discontent with her fractured state.

"Hn," Sesshoumaru tilted his chin up to regard her with half-lidded eyes. "This one will find information on how to sever the soul bond. That will at least be one irritation out of your life. Unless of'd like the other removed as well."

Kagome's eyes widened and her voice turned sharp. "What are you talking about? Don't hurt Kikyo!" she growled, confusion muddling her scent. Neither bridged the distance between them again yet they also did not move back.

"I-I don't get you," she muttered. "Why would you do that? My soul isn't any of your business if you're about to cut off the connection between us."

"Indeed," he snipped, frowning slightly as though agreeing with her. Turning gracefully to stalk away, silver tresses fanned out behind him.

Kagome let out an aggravated noise, stamping her foot. "You didn't answer my question!" she yelled.

The Daiyoukai remained conveniently deaf to her observation, walking back into the greenery of the woods from whence he came. With every step, both registered their auras straining out to reach for the other. Kagome flushed red and quickly hurried away in the opposite direction, touching her burning mouth.

Chapter Text

Kikyo was dead within the week.

Freezing mid-step, Kagome knew the exact moment it happened. Like a puzzle piece slotting into a jigsaw and making it whole and smooth- the missing part of her soul had shot straight into her being and settled in. Despite herself, she gave a long breath of relief.

However, then the anger started.

Perhaps it was somewhat unfair to immediately blame Sesshoumaru and not Naraku for it, but she knew it to be him. It was just too soon, too convenient after her blatant order not to touch Kikyo. Inuyasha's continued ignorance became the worst part. In every village they visited he'd take the time to sniff the air and ask around. None had seen the undead priestess.

Sneaking away from the group and ducking into a small cave, the air felt sharp and static on her skin. Humidity puffed up her hair slightly. Pitch-black clouds rumbled on the horizon. A storm. Kagome exhaled a puff of air and willfully pinched her left arm.

She kept this up even when answering claws nicked her stomach, scraping her shoulder. The miko didn't stop until a whirl of scorching youki blew back her hair from her face and an imposing presence loomed close.

Blue eyes sharpened on his cruel, handsome features. "You killed her."

Sesshoumaru stared back, unfazed. "She was already dead to begin with."

The ensuing slap echoed loud and ugly within the confines of the cave, soon swallowed by a deafening growl. Golden eyes blazed alight with outrage, seizing her hand still paused mid-air and squeezing until she gasped.

"Why do you care if she perished? She is not of your pack or kin."

"She was important to Inuyasha!" Kagome burst, shaking with anger. "They were lovers! He- he never got the chance to resolve things with her, and he never will now! She could've helped us against Naraku, did you ever stop to consider that?"

Sesshoumaru inclined his head and sneered. "Ah yes, the picture of innocence, giving over a large chunk of the jewel into his very hands- yes, I know of that," he said after reading the surprise on her face. Taking a step closer, power radiated off his form, but she did not cower. "There were also numerous souls of women absorbed by her because of the youkai she commanded. Your chunk was the only one that escaped her empty, broken vessel. The rest of the souls had been consumed into nothingness."

"Don't try to justify it!" she barked, struggling in his hold now. "You'd have killed her either way, even if she'd been a good or bad person. You didn't do it for moral goodness or for me- it was for yourself!"


"My name is Kagome," reiki began to glide over the surface of her skin. "And you kind of fucked up when you gave me back my full soul, buddy. Because I might be untrained but I've never felt stronger."

Sharp white teeth gleamed in the grey light of the dour sky. Suddenly their cheeks were brushing, Sesshoumaru leaning in with a hissed; "yes, and we are both the better for it," right into her ear.

Kagome clamped a hand over his striped wrist in warning, seconds away from burning him when she gasped. Something wet and soft dragged over the delicate skin of her throat, causing a confusing rush of heat to race down to her abdomen. Swallowing only made the sensation of teeth pressing against her jugular all the more real. But then the slow, languid drag of a hot tongue came again. Her thighs pressed together.

He enjoyed her taste, nostrils flaring with the smell of her. He gave a throaty chuckle. Close. Too close. She could feel it vibrate from his chest and rumble out into her toes. Kagome caught the smell of him in the moist, hot air - the odour of power and youki mixed with curling smoke from a pipe.

"Why-" she grit out, far quieter than she'd like. "Why did you kill her?"

His mouth pulled away from her skin, flushed with goosebumps, flesh wet and pricking from the air. "Tell me this: if you did not know Inuyasha yet still felt what he caused to this one- the continuous phantom limb pain, would you not wish him ill will? Building on that, killing him in this hypothetical scenario would give me my arm back, thus saving you from further discomfort."

"It's not the same."

"Perhaps not. The lack of an arm does not bother me and I can take physical aches easily. However, the...invasive feel of my soul- your soul being incomplete was bothersome. Killing the undead miko presented the opportunity to gain something back," he uttered, gaze dropping to her mouth. "I do not have that luxury with my limb."

Swallowing hard, Kagome toyed with the idea of letting her power loose. To see what she could really do. Not worry about harming Inuyasha, Shippo. Not focus on Naraku or tracking jewel shards. Just pure, exhilarating energy rushing out to consume everything. Sesshoumaru wasn't like them. She didn't need to hold back. He was cruel, a self-serving enemy who had as good as admitted he'd killed Kikyo just because an incompete soul had felt 'bothersome.' She probably wouldn't have thought of doing him harm if his golden eyes didn't seem to invite it.

Slit pupils dropped to her wrist, sharp nailed thumb dragging over her pulse, daring her to answer with reiki. Crackling auras rose into the narrow space between them, pushing and gliding like livewires waiting for the current to implode.

Kagome looked up at the prideful demon. Her foot shifted forward-


"Lady Kagome!"

"Wheeree are youu! Inuyasha keeps picking on me!"

Releasing a breath, blue eyes dropped away. The touch on her wrist disappeared, and she was still rubbing it absentmindedly by the time she'd returned to her searching friends. Deciding to do the hard thing; she told Inuyasha of Kikyo's demise there and then.

Neglecting to mention Sesshoumaru's involvement.

As she tried to console him through his gruff, standoffish grief, Kagome tried not to let the guilt win out.

Sesshoumaru followed through on his word to look for information, returning to Bokuseno not too long after he'd been there to inquire about Inuyasha's blood.

"Back again so soon, pup?" wizened eyes laughed at him.

Sesshoumaru sneered, "be silent. You will tell this one everything you know about Soul Mates."

If the tree possessed a hairline, it's grizzled bark brow would've disappeared beneath it. Jaken looked between the two, utterly lost while Bokuseno paused as though deep in thought. Rin swung her feet while perched atop Ah-Un not too far away, not particularly interested in whatever they were discussing and instead braiding the dragon's mane.

"It is a thing steadily becoming lost to time. There is no rational explanation behind the bonds, and fewer are experiencing the pull and pain link these days. In the old times, we thought those bonded had been touched by the Kami. Hand-selected to be paired and breed unusually strong offspring. Your Father was sired by Soul Mates, little pup."

The gold of Sesshoumaru's eyes flashed, a sneer marring his lips. The implication that he was weaker for not being sired by 'special' mates made his blood boil. His parents had been a perfect match, approved by all and mated beneath the crescent moon just like his ancestors. It was her lineage that had introduced poison into his genes and allowed the Killing Perfection to strike with poison claws, raining acid on his victims.

"Such an arbitrary bond sounds foolish, though I have heard tell of it between demons before. It is a wonder anyone heeded it."

The tree youkai chuckled, branches shaking. "They did not have much of a choice. Such a bond is not easily ignored."

Sesshoumaru glanced away.

After a beat of silence, the old demon inquired; "was there a reason you wished to-"

"Do not pry. You have neglected to tell this one everything you know as requested," he smoothly cut in, voice crisp and cold. "Can the link be severed?"

By now the tree was looking at him as though he'd become very transparent. A sort of grave consideration filled Bokuseno's next words. "No. Though it is not impossible to ignore it. If the match is undesirable, keeping distance would be the only way to keep the bond unfulfilled. Should the pair mate and accept one another into their bodies the Soul Mates would be bonded for all time."

So I must ignore and keep away from the miko. It sounds simple in practice but in execution...

Sesshoumaru's thoughts were interrupted by Jaken clearing his throat, who had been silent up to that point. "I-If I may, there is also another way to keep the bond unfulfilled that seems quite obvious to me."

Bokuseno gave a hard stare, his deep rumble disapproving; "mn...though, if ignoring a Soul Mate is ignoring a gift from the Gods...outright killing them is no better than spitting at the divine's feet. I should not wish the possible repercussions on any living being."

Jaken snorted, "superstitious nonsense in my humble opinion."

Turning on his heel, Sesshoumaru gave a slight nod of respect to the wise tree. "You have given me much to think on."

"See to it you think long and hard about the subject before acting rashly, pup."

"As if this one could be rash," he quietly huffed, boots carrying him further away before he stopped, looking at the forest floor. "Tell me; have you ever heard mention of a demon and priestess being Soul Mates?"

A breeze swept through the clearing, causing the leaves of the magnolia tree to gently rustle.

"Never, though demon and human pairs have been possible in the past. When they fully bonded by laying with one another, it even extended the mortals short life spans to match that of their beloveds."

Sesshoumaru frowned and continued to walk, lush grass cushioning his feet.

Their next meeting had been a confusing blend of circumstances. Kagome's attention had largely been torn that night, but when she witnessed Kohaku raise a weapon to an unconscious little girl her heart had near leapt out of her throat. Mind-controlled by Naraku though the boy was, Sesshoumaru wasn't usually inclined to mercy. Luckily she and Inuyasha had arrived just in time.

Hurrying to the little girl, Kagome knelt down and lifted her small body into her arms slightly, feeling her breathing. Glancing up at Sesshoumaru's tense back, Kagome gentled her voice; "it's alright. She just fainted."

She didn't know how it had happened; how a girl had come to be in Sesshoumaru's group, but Kagome alone had noticed the little girl with the orange and yellow yukata many times. Sitting astride Ah-Un and helping Jaken, then again with Kohaku earlier riding a demon. Kagome didn't know what it meant, but Sesshoumaru protecting the girl didn't feel so out of left field.

Inuyasha looked downright floored.

Blurring through the air- Sesshoumaru grabbed Kohaku by the throat, knocking the boy's weapon loose from his hand.

Kagome stiffened. "Stop Sesshoumaru!" she yelled, putting strength into her tone.

Golden eyes briefly snapped in her direction, narrowing, before sliding to the mind-controlled boy hanging limply in his hold. Kohaku didn't struggle or make a sound, even when Sesshoumaru tightened his grip over his windpipe.

With a level stare and not a flicker of emotion, the demon lord considered him for a moment. Coming to a silent conclusion, he let his grip loosen. Kohaku fell to the ground.

Releasing a breath she didn't know she'd been holding, Kagome felt a strange mix of relief and warmth. The girl in her arms stirred, rubbing her eyes and cracking them open, immediately smiling at the pale figure.

"Lord Sesshoumaru!"

She sounded ecstatic. Kagome let her go, a little amused as she glanced Sesshoumaru. So you hate humans but you're looking after a little girl, huh?

Standing, she decided to be civil and give credit where credit was due. "...Thank you, for forgiving Kohaku," she said.

The proud demon shifted, looking over one broad shoulder at her. "I do not want to play into Naraku's treacherous hands, that's all."

Inwardly rolling her eyes, a smile came unbidden to her lips, though she quickly wiped it away. How very like the arrogant jerk to reply in such a holier than thou manner It didn't surprise her when he began to leave, walking gracefully, but what did throw her for a loop was the little girl hurrying after him without a hint of hesitance.

"Bye, bye!" she called back to them. Sesshoumaru didn't acknowledge the child shadowing his footsteps.

Kagome and Inuyasha stared. "She went with him," she pointed out intelligently.

Her friend made a noise of affirmation, attention fixed on the bizarre sight.

The morning was tentatively warm. Kagome had wandered away from camp with the excuse that she was going to freshen up after feeling his aura briefly brush up against hers.

Pushing aside some bushes and stepping out beside a creek with many pebbles dotting the trail, Kagome rose a brow.

"You wanted to talk?" she said, having assumed that was the reason he'd made himself known.

Sesshoumaru watched her, figure as unnaturally still as ever and a shock of white amidst the forest.

"Have you found any information on how to sever the link between us?"

Kagome chewed the inside of her cheek, watching his jaw clench in retaliation. "Myoga said it wasn't possible," she muttered, folding her arms and kicking a small stone into the water with a soft 'plop'.

Humming, he observed her absentmindedly brush more pebbles into the stream, golden gaze travelling up her long, bare leg. "This one has heard something similar. Apparently, the best course of action is to keep distance from one another."

Kagome let out a breath, catching his distracted stare and feeling her cheeks heat for no explicable reason. She cleared her throat in order to arrest his full attention on her face, feeling a little weird. "I was wondering...did you feel a scuff on your knee last week?"

He rose a brow and shook his head slightly.

"Okay, interesting," she frowned. "I was back home at the time. Was wondering if you'd feel it if I hurt myself, obviously not. Guess it makes sense since I only started feeling your pain when I reached this time period."

Sesshoumaru stared, unblinking.

"Oh, right," Kagome said with a weak giggle. "I'm, ah...from the Future."

She went on to explain the Bone Eater's Well and how she'd come to be mixed up with the Shikon jewel.

In a lot of ways, the revelation made sense. It explained her strange garments, speech and woeful understanding of social etiquette around one such as him. He'd put her blind defiance down to sheer foolhardy idiocy, but now he understood it had merely been ignorance. Still, since she ignored any respectful honorifics and never lowered her gaze, Sesshoumaru wagered she'd walk all over propriety around him anyway.

He smiled slightly, having been called a brat by ancient beings many times for similar reasons. In that way they were alike.

And taking everything into consideration...the miko from the future was quite impressive, baring a responsibility that was not her own.

The one-sided conversation died down and Kagome held her hands behind her back. "With all that in's going to be tough to avoid each other, since we both want to make Naraku pay."

"Hn," golden eyes briefly flickered. The idea of the miko full of bloodlust never failed to amuse him.

"So, how about this; as soon as Naraku is defeated and the jewel is gone, I'll leave the feudal era," Kagome said.

For some ridiculous reason, his chest tightened- and he knew she felt it because those blue eyes briefly cracked a fraction wider and flew to his face, searching. But he would yield no secrets. Even Sesshoumaru did not understand his reaction. Instinct, he supposed, to keep his Soul Mate close.

"Your idea has merit," inclining his head regally, silver hair slid down past pointed ears. Her fingers twitched at her sides. "Since the link cannot reach me here, it would effectively sever us from contact in more ways than one."

Kagome nodded, lips thinning. "Glad we agree."



Sesshoumaru shifted, feeling a little strange. Perhaps it was the novelty of agreeing so much with the irritating girl. Deciding to make use of what time together they had, he asked; "there were certain trivial pains this one wanted to inquire about."

"Oh yeah?" she seemed surprised he was taking an interest. "Shoot."

Not understanding her odd wording but ignoring it, he asked; "there are random times when a spasm comes from in here-" gesturing to the area just below the lungs and heart, he rose a brow. "It is mildly annoying."

"That's the diaphragm," Kagome hummed, tapping her chin thoughtfully and soon brightening. "Oh! Does it feel like a quick burst?" seeing his nod, she continued, "it's probably my hiccups you're feeling. Weird, do demons not hiccup?"

Sneering, the demon lord tilted his chin up. "We do not deign to do something so foolish."

"You don't deign to have involuntary spasms of the diaphragm muscle? That's some willpower you've got," she teased, soon seeming to sober and realise just who she was joking with. "Anything else you wanna ask?"


Her silence prompted him to ask; "there is also a pain that lasts for about a week each month, located in the lower abdomen." For some reason, the miko had flushed red, embarrassment fanning into her scent, but he continued undaunted. "It is an ache that throbs and tightens. An inconvenient nuisance that is continuous until the week is over, though the aching lessens after the first few initial days-"

Kagome raised a hand, "stop! Stop. Y-yeah that's my uh..." she trailed off, mortified. "That's my period," the last part came out as a confidential whisper.

Sesshoumaru tilted his head slightly to the side, causing her to groan and bury her face in both hands. "You know- I uh...bleed. For about a week. It's just my body-"

"Going into heat," he finished for her.

Stilling, Kagome felt a little taken aback by the sudden intensity of his honeyed gaze. "W-what? No! It's nothing like that. Completely different with humans!"

Since he shifted his weight closer almost imperceptively she hurriedly explained; "i-its possible to get pregnant at any time of the month! O-of course, to get pregnant, women need to have sex during the days leading up to and around the time they ovulate."

"It seems there are many human terms this one is unfamiliar with," he hummed.

"No kidding," she took a breath, briefly placing a hand over her racing heart. What a weird guy! He'd looked so strange for a moment, unnaturally intent.

Making to leave, he was stopped by her soft voice gently inquiring; "I have a question of my own. Who is the little girl?"

"She is called Rin."

Kagome hopped over some larger stones to cross the distance between them, serching his face. "You're protecting her," she pointed out, fighting a smile.

"Only because she sees fit to follow me."

"Riiight, it's not because you've formed an attachment to a human. Nope, never," Kagome teased, holding up both hands when he shot a frosty glare her way. "Just an observation. I'm glad she was unhurt. She seems like a trooper, able to shrug off a bunch of bad stuff easily like that."

Sesshoumaru's golden eyes roved over her, less guarded, like winter easing into snowy spring. "Hn, you do not know the half of it," he grumbled. "She did much the same after this one resurrected her from death."

"S-she was dead?!"

"Mauled by wolves."

Heat hooked low in his stomach then, witnessing the dark look swamping the miko's features. She took a moment to collect herself, "by any chance...was this shortly after you were blasted by the wind scar?"

Nodding the affirmative, warm amusement stirred within his chest. She looked ready to strangle someone. "Problem?"

"It's nothing. I've just got a Wolf Prince to chew out," Kagome grumbled, turning on her heel. "By the way; I told Inuyasha about Kikyo but not about your involvement."

"Hn, this one heard Naraku taunt him about it during our last encounter."

"That evil jerk must not know you did it then, or he'd have gleefully told Inuyasha," she sighed. "I don't know why I didn't rat you out. It's not like you'd care," glancing at him, bewitching blue eyes turned a little sad. "Maybe I'm not such a good person myself, fearing the pain that Inuyasha would definitely inflict on you if he knew."

The wave of farewell she gave was halfhearted at best, mind obviously preoccupied, and yet there was a strangeness about the familiarity with which she treated him. How she turned her back and trusted him not to attack. Sesshoumaru lingered, frowning slightly. She was correct, he did not care. And yet, the cool disapproval radiating off the miko whenever the subject of Kikyo arose niggled at an unknown part of him.

Sesshoumaru had rid himself of the irritating sensation of being bereft of a soul fragment, yes, but the victory did not taste as sweet as anticipated.

Winter lashes lowered, recalling the drag of his tongue along heady, flushed skin.

She had tasted like thunderstorms.

Keep distance.

That sounded quite plausible to him, even if she hadn't thought so. Ignoring the little cuts and scrapes littering his body in the following months, Sesshoumaru congratulated himself. He'd successfully resisted the urge to gravitate towards the miko. Instead, he'd focused all attention on finding Naraku's whereabouts.

He endeavoured to continue staying away from the miko, and would've done so successfully- had it not been for the agony of the very air being choked from straining lungs, spouting fire up his throat.

Sesshoumaru stopped and coughed, pressing a shaking palm to his lips. Without explanation, the feeling in his limbs seemed to be lost, and he staggered, fighting to stay upright. His joints ached, throat and mouth burning as he struggled to breathe.

"Lord Sesshoumaru!" twin exclamations of concern reached his ears.

Swallowing bile and panting, red eyes glared ahead. "Jaken, remain here with Rin."

Not waiting for an answer, the Daiyoukai blurred through the trees at a breakneck speed. His heart thundered, an alien emotion clawing its way down his windpipe and nestling into his chest.

Fear. Hers.

He flew through valleys and glided over streams, rivers, weaving around trees and bursting out into a clearing, attention zeroing in on a lone, wooden hut.

Sesshoumaru landed behind a stout man, scenting poisons colouring the air and the foul, putrid stench of Kagome's fear seconds before sharp talons ripped into the strangers back. The human gave a cry- collapsing to the floor in a heap. Flicking the blood from his nails, Sesshoumaru lowered his hand, gaze landing on a prone Kagome.

Blue eyes stared, mouth slightly agape.

Sesshoumaru noticed the Slayer and Monk within the hut, also seeming unable to move. Scenting the fumes within the air, he tried to ignore the burning within the lungs that were not his own. Those were her lungs suffering. Her limbs paralysed.

Long claws twitched, and Sesshoumaru did not know what he'd have done if Inuyasha hadn't shown up- jumping to conclusions and immediately blaming him. Wintery golden eyes narrowed, fangs aching with the need to lengthen- eyes on the verge of dying red.

"No," Kagome croaked. "He...he saved us, Inuyasha."

Ignoring the shock on his brothers face, Sesshoumaru quickly refuted her assessment of the situation. "No, I did not save you. He was in my way."

Some doubt seemed to colour her expression, and he felt severely thrown when a smile curved her lips slightly. Demanding to know information on Naraku's whereabouts from Inuyasha and gaining a half-assed answer, Sesshoumaru stalked away clinging to what little reputation he had left.

That night, lounging against a tree within the light from the campfire Jaken had made, Sesshoumaru flexed his claws with contemplation. He could still feel the sticky residue of the filths blood. Still scent Kagome's fear, disquieted by it.

Mother did not approve of humans; scantily furred, baby skinned creatures trapped within one form she'd called them. They were to be pitied for being unable to shift between appearances and scorned for being weaker than the perfect forms of his kin. The Killing Perfection had been raised to believe this, knew it to be true. Humans were greedy, selfish, weak.

Warmth seeped into his chest- the affection not his own. It was shortly followed by the light scrape of tiny claws dragging on his collarbone before they vanished.

The miko was cuddling the kit.

He knew this, because the demon lord had wondered about this common late evening ritual and decided to investigate. Watching the group in the shadows had yielded answers. Every night the two shared a bed and she'd nuzzle and care for the fox as though he were her own pup. Kagome would inhale wild red hair and pet his fluffy tail, lapsing into dream while curling around him protectively.

Hearing movement, Sesshoumaru glanced down at his side. Rin huddled against the bark of the tree. She shifted, trying to get comfortable, small fingers tucked up near her chin.

Blinking, long deadly claws unfurled from his palm. They paused just shy of her hair, twitching, and slowly retreating. Shifting mokomoko off one broad shoulder, Sesshoumaru placed it in her general vicinity and glanced away.

He didn't react when the little girl made a happy noise and wrapped both arms around the fur, pressing her face against the softness and falling asleep.

Yes, humans were to be despised.

"Please wait, Sesshoumaru!"

He stopped dead. Kagome shouldn't have felt butterflies take flight the second he heeded her voice. It had been a long stretch of time since they'd crossed paths, too long. Like an elastic band pulled taut, she teetered on the brink of snapping and moving closer. Keeping distance had been hard. Too hard to admit to.

The impulse to touch his skin was fiercely repressed, hands balling into fists at her sides.

Her friends exchanged various looks, waiting with baited breaths. A decapitated otter demon lay sprawled on the moonlit grass, his pup crying beside him. Various spears and arrows were embedded into his hide.

Absentmindedly raising her hands to press against her racing heart, Kagome looked at his back pleadingly. "Your sword..." she murmured. "Please, use Tenseiga..."

"This has nothing to do with me," soft, dulcet tones replied.

Disappointment thrummed, heavy and real through her body. You involved yourself the day you saved me, she thought. But she understood him a little better now.

'Why do you care if she perished? She is not of your pack or kin.'

The otter was not important to either of them, so the demon lord did not offer aid, drifting forwards with the intention of leaving. A small form darted in front of him then, trembling violently.

Wide green eyes stared at Sesshoumaru's impassive features, Shippo quickly folding into a deep bow that pressed his forehead to the ground. "P-please!" he burst, pleas babbling into almost incoherent begging.

"Step aside," came the Daiyoukai's taciturn response.

Kagome's chest tightened as she hurried around Sesshoumaru to kneel at the kit's side, gently laying a hand on his small back. "Shippo," she said gently, trying to urge him to rise. If the demon lord wouldn't listen there was no need to prolong things.

Shippo blinked up at her, tears rolling down rosy cheeks, "but-" his voice wobbled.

Gathering the kit close, she hugged him, feeling tiny claws bite into her collarbone as he nuzzled into her comforting embrace. His muffled wails tore at her in new ways.

Hearing the scrape of blade against sheath, she jolted.

Raising her head and turning, Kagome's breath caught.

Tenseiga had been drawn, glowing with a humble radiance that belied its god-like power. Sesshoumaru stood over the corpse, long hair rising with a phantom breeze to flow out into the air.

Kagome's eyes widened, staring at the creatures Tenseiga's light revealed. Small, ugly little kappas crawling around the corpse holding chains. Shippo didn't react, and she wondered if she were the only one who could see them.

Sesshoumaru swept the blade in a quick, blindingly fast swing. The afterimage of Tenseiga's light cut through the youkai, severing them in two. They faded away then, the head of the otter demon inexplicably attached.

Groggy eyes then slid open- and Shippo gasped in joy. The young otter demon cried out and threw themselves into their resurrected father's arms.

There were rounds of exclamations and happy relief from her friends, though Kagome could barely hear them. She was left stunned- so shaken that words of thanks tumbled out of her mouth belatedly.

"Ah- Sesshoumaru," she turned. "Thank-"

The demon lord had already taken his leave, by now a distant, pale figure on the horizon. Moonlit hair gently swayed, teased by the breeze.

Dark brows drew together and Kagome felt a pang.

This resounding sense of discontentment stayed with her long after everyone departed from the two otter demons. It stayed the day after that, and the day after that.

Sitting up from her sleeping bag, she felt the static brush of familiar youki in the air.

Following the pull of an invisible thread in the air, Kagome snuck out of the slumbering camp.

Adjusting the straps of her tank top, she held her bow loosely in one hand, mostly forgotten. It was an unnecessary precaution against lower demons. His presence loomed close, likely chasing them away long before she set foot in the forest.

Her footsteps sounded too loud in the quiet. Cool, refreshing air fanning out from nearby falls brushed her exposed legs, shorts high on her thighs.

I shouldn't be doing this.

Kagome couldn't say what dark magic had possessed her to seek him out. Light scrapes from claws kept dragging over her hip, stomach and thigh- gliding over the underside of her breast. Perhaps she'd initially left camp with the intention of telling him to cut it out.

Upon reaching the crest of a waterfall and peering down below over the edge, she stilled. The moisture within her mouth dried up, tongue like sandpaper. And then the wetness returned with a vengeance, twisting in other, more intimate areas.

His pale back was turned to her, and she copped an eyeful of long legs and well-muscled thighs, the curve of his ass, powerfully broad shoulders, long silvery hair spilling over them in wet, shiny locks. Kagome allowed herself to appreciate his tall frame and long-fingered hand, and the thought crossed her mind that she would enjoy him touching her.

It was the sight of his stump and the scarring lining the damaged flesh that made Kagome pause. She felt young then, too inexperienced to encroach on his personal space. He'd shown a rare glimpse of vulnerability, allowing her to see him stripped bare.

She thought to leave. To not take the plunge. They were supposed to be keeping their distance, not giving into the odd, continuous impulse to touch.

A tawny, golden gaze raised to her.

Sesshoumaru half turned, water droplets gently dripping down snowy bangs to land in the pool. Nostrils flared, lips twitched. When her heel drew back, heart hammering in her chest- his jaw clenched hard.

Kagome's teeth ached, and she hissed out a breath. Pushing off from the edge, the miko free fell into the water below. Landing with a splash and quickly kicking up to the surface, she huffed. "Stop that, you know I don't like it."

Sesshoumaru lifted his brows, standing in a shallower area where the water lapped around him. With a sharp smile, he repeated the action, until Kagome's hand was touching his cheek.

Panting, she stood before the demon, clothes soaked and hair plastered to her shoulders. "You could just ask me to touch you instead of doing that-"

Firm lips crashed to hers.

Kagome thought her first kiss would be given to a clumsy, appreciative boy, not claimed by a hungry demon. But no, he hadn't wickedly charmed her. The miko pushed herself against him willingly, wanting the newness. Experimentation. If someone asked she wouldn't be able to verbalise it, and wagered neither could he.

"This really isn't- hah- keeping away from each other."

"A small indulgence should be fine," his voice rumbled like lazy thunder, teeth scraping her bottom lip. "Provided we do not go all the way and claim each other. We should, stoke and taste one another."

He lightly stroked her cheek with fingers that could easily crush her throat. Kagome paused, before touching his shoulders. She then slid her arms around his neck, body sighing against him as they kissed.

Sesshoumaru allowed her to run her human palms along his back, his chest, abdomen, feeling the lean, taut muscle. His tongue brushed inside her mouth, that crooning noise muffled the second she touched the stump. Freezing, Kagome felt she'd gone too far, been too intimate.

He turned her then- wrapping his arm around her waist in a steel grip and yanking her back against his chest.

The heat of him scorched her from the backs of her knees, running up to the nape of her neck. Hot breath fanned into her hair. "Do not make the mistake of thinking we are lovers, Kagome."

His voice, drawling and elongating the syllables of her name made her shiver.

"My bad- b-but..." feeling the sensations thrumming over her hips, just as before with the cheek stripes- she reached behind her to stroke one of the magenta stripes on his hip. "You might want to remind yourself about that too," she said quietly, hearing his ensuring groan. The electric thrill of pleasure racing through his gut was felt within her own.

A harsh nip on her ear made her jump and shiver. Lifting his hand, Sesshoumaru leaned over her shoulder to bite at his sharp nails, making two of them rounded. Kagome only had a moment to wonder for what purpose- before her shorts were being tugged down.

Her ensuing moans when he touched her sex were lost under the roar of the waterfall. Squirming, Kagome reached behind her to trail inquisitive fingers down from his pelvis, following the v shape on his abdomen down to his shaft. She hadn't properly looked at it and his cock felt alarmingly large, weighing into her palm. Stroking her thumb over the semi hard-on, a thrill raced down her spine when he hissed.

"I hope someone catches us," he said, and leaned in, biting her shoulder.

She bit her lip to keep from making noise. "That's a terrible idea."

"You think so?" A long, lithe finger entered her, causing the miko to gasp- back arching. Her ass rutted back against his crotch. "Gn- I should like to see the ashen look of loss on the Wolf Prince's face, seeing you mewl and shiver for me alone."

Kagome grit her teeth, stroking him more forcefully and feeling him grind into her hand.

"I won't mewl and shiver for you alone forever," she muttered, a bait.

Sesshoumaru rose to it, with a ferocity and intensity she hadn't anticipated. His snarl rattled in her eardrums, warmth disappearing from behind her and reappearing close, palm meeting her collarbone and shoving her back into the stone wall of the pool.

And then Sesshoumaru was kneeling.

Blue eyes shot wide.

He pushed a finger in again, fucking her as he licked her clit. Kagome cried out, clinging to his silvery hair and bucking needily against his wicked mouth. It was unlike anything she'd ever felt before. Even with one hand, she never felt bereft of his touch. Rubbing his thumb over her hip and then reaching up to her breast, pinching her nipple, Sesshoumaru curled his tongue within her, sucking at her clit. It was all too much, too fast; it was perfect. All she could do was try to keep standing and not to make too many embarrassing sounds - but even that was futile because she could smell herself and hear herself, horrible wet noises filling the air. She felt like she was on fire.

Her pleasure was his, in more ways than one. And the demon lord's blended into her own, snowballing.

He fucked her with his fingers. He ate her out like she were exquisite fruit to be sucked, the taste savoured. And she felt him moving his own hips, his tension, how much he wanted it. He'd have lain her out and fucked her right then if she allowed him to.

When she came Kagome squeezed her eyes shut so tight she saw stars, toes curling.

And then she returned the favour.

By the time dawn painted the sky, they were panting against the rocks. Their bodies were plastered together, Kagome nestled on his lap. He looked rumpled and warm, as if he had just woken up, eyes half-lidded. The thought of him in bed made her flesh heat all over again. Sesshoumaru's hand curled in her hair, shifting to her cheek in a thoughtless caress.

She leaned into his hand then, eyes fluttering shut with a sigh of contentment. It wasn't to last though. She didn't want to worry her friends by having them awake and find her absent.

Picking herself up and away from him made her feel cold, but it was necessary. They hadn't completed the bond, refusing to go all the way. Kagome fished out her sodden clothes from the pool, dressing in them and shivering.


Glancing over her shoulder, she waited, and when he didn't move to close the gap between them she left, the falls a deafening roar behind her.

Chapter Text

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..."

Use Tenseiga?

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.

Foolish miko.

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. 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 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.

Sesshoumaru waited.

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.