|A Simple Legacy
Author: elle6778 PM
COMPLETE. Inuyasha's erratic youkai transformations forced Kagome to seek help from Sesshoumaru in more ways than one. Unsurprisingly, the taiyoukai balked at the idea...until Kagome offered him something in exchange for his help.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Drama - Kagome H. & Sesshomaru - Chapters: 9 - Words: 39,647 - Reviews: 319 - Favs: 692 - Follows: 150 - Updated: 01-06-07 - Published: 12-13-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3287614
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Inuyasha and its characters are created by Rumiko Takahashi, not me, but the new plots are mine. This fanfiction had been written for entertainment purposes only and without intention of infringing upon any copyright.
A/N: Thank you for reading and reviewing the last chapter. This is the last chapter of Part 1. Get comfortable, because it's almost twice as long as the normal chapters. And oh, I've written an offshoot from the spring scene in chapter 8. It's a PWP (grins), so if you're 18+ and would like to read it, it's called Simply Hard and it can be found on my homepage.
A Simple Legacy by elle6778 - Chapter 9
Sesshoumaru approached his target the way he did everything else in his tightly controlled life. His steps were measured, his expression showed nothing of his intent as he reached the wooden hut.
A black furred, three-eyed beast stared at him suspiciously but undaunted, Sesshoumaru just pushed the door open and walked in. The old blacksmith's jerked up, startled by his unannounced visitor. Then the look of annoyance was replaced with apprehension as recognition dawned on the old blacksmith. His overly large eyes flitted left and right, no doubt looking for some means of escape. Sesshoumaru resisted the urge to smirk.
Finally, Totousai's gaze landed on him. "S-Sesshoumaru-sama. What can I do for you this fine day?" he stuttered nervously.
Even though he was there to seek assistance, it would not do to give Totousai any reason to feel secure in his presence. After all, the old blacksmith had previously denied him a new katana. So Sesshoumaru stared at him expressionlessly, waiting until he felt a spike of fear in the old man before he reached down. With his half-formed left hand, he yanked Tetsusaiga together with its sheath from his waist. With a flick of his wrist, he tossed the katana to the old man.
"Fix it." His tone made it clear to Totousai that it was an order, not a request.
Totousai caught the katana and his eyes widened further, his eyeballs looking as if they were in danger of falling out. He looked at Sesshoumaru's left hand, and then he back looked down at the object in his hand.
"Inuyasha's Tetsusaiga…Your arm…" he muttered, obviously confused.
Sesshoumaru was growing impatient. "You need this Sesshoumaru's fang?"
A quick nod came from the old blacksmith.
Without further ado, Sesshoumaru opened his mouth and forcefully yanked out a gleaming fang. Blood instantly gushed into his mouth, thick and rich. He grimaced a little, disgusted with himself for spilling his superior blood for his hanyou half-brother. He knew that the fang would grow again in half a day, but that did not make this any easier to take.
Totousai gaped. "I only need a chip. Not a whole fang."
Sesshoumaru placed his bloodstained fang on the table. "Take the whole fang. Perhaps then that baka hanyou would be better controlled."
Totousai looked at him thoughtfully, then his eyes shifted down to the katana. Hesitantly, he began, "Then maybe…If you don't mind…"
Eyes narrowing impatiently, Sesshoumaru waited for the old blacksmith to continue.
Shaking his head, Totousai went silent, appearing to be battling something within himself. He looked confused and torn.
When the silence dragged on, Sesshoumaru ground his teeth in irritation. "Speak your mind, Totousai," he ordered harshly.
Totousai raised a pair of startled eyes at him. Then, resolve seeped into his expression. Taking a deep breath, he began, "Your father infused a bit of his youki into Tetsusaiga to make it stronger. If you could do the same, then Tetsusaiga will be stronger than ever in subduing Inuyasha's youkai blood."
Sesshoumaru stiffened. Every youkai's youki was precious to them. It was not something they would just hand over, however little. Totousai was asking him for too much. Not to mention this was not part of his agreement with the miko.
No, not just a miko. Not with that youki she carried around with her lately. But she was still a miko in his mind.
"The miko said nothing of my youki."
Totousai nodded. "I did not tell her because I did not expect to obtain it. A chip of your fang will be adequate, but there is still a danger of the same thing happening again when the power of the fang runs out. With your youki binding it, it would be much harder to break the spell."
"Hn." Sesshoumaru turned away.
The last thing he wanted to do was to make Tetsusaiga stronger and further empowering his half-brother. The hanyou would probably repay this favor by trying to slash him with Tetsusaiga anyway.
But did it really matter?
A smirk brushed across the taiyoukai's lips. It would not be anything the great Western Lord could not handle. Perhaps by wielding a stronger Tetsusaiga, Inuyasha would prove to be a more worthy opponent, thus making it more satisfactory when this Sesshoumaru defeated him.
Yes, it would be pleasant to look upon Inuyasha's face when the hanyou realized that he, Sesshoumaru, could not be defeated even with a more powerful Tetsusaiga.
With a flash of white silk, Sesshoumaru swiveled around and gave Totousai a commanding look.
"Commence the procedure."
After more than a day of fruitless searching, she had finally snapped and went for the nearest available target. Jaken had been his usual unforthcoming self initially, but after a few thumps on the head, the toad youkai had finally surrendered Inuyasha's location.
Jaken had told her that Inuyasha had been secured in the warded mountain cell behind the compound. Not wanting to waste another moment, she had set out only to find her path blocked by a little kitsune.
He eyed her nervously. "Are you sure this is a good idea, Kagome-neesan?"
"I have to see if he's okay, Shippou," she explained patiently.
A small frown grew on his little forehead. "Sesshoumaru specifically said not to look for Inuyasha. He's going to be mad when he finds out. Don't go."
It surprised her that Shippou was the one who stood in her way. How had Sesshoumaru managed to gain his support in such a short time? The taiyoukai had barely interacted with the kitsune in all their time there.
She waved a dismissive hand in the air. "He can't do much to me, can he? After all, he still wants his fingers back."
"He can withhold his fang," Shippou pointed out.
Shaking her head slowly, she stated with certainty, "I don't think he'll stoop so low. But if he tries, I'll fight him for it!"
Shippou gave her a curious look. "You're not scared of him, are you?"
Kagome grinned. "Overexposure kind of took care of it, I think." Giving Shippou a reassuring look, she said firmly, "You stay here with Rin, okay. I'll be fine."
With that, she turned around and marched towards her destination. The mountain was close, and it had taken her less than half an hour to reach it.
A slight shimmer at the entrance of the rock cavern prison told Kagome that she had found what she was looking for. Slowly, she made her way towards it, unsure of what to expect when she neared it. One thing she knew for sure was that Inuyasha would greet her in his youkai form since Sesshoumaru had kept Tetsusaiga from Inuyasha.
Not that the katana was actually doing its job of binding Inuyasha's youkai blood any longer, she thought wryly as she picked her way towards it.
When she arrived in front of the barrier, she stopped. Her heart clenched in sympathy when looked in.
Inuyasha was pacing the width of his prison, snarling murderously with each step he took. She could see his blood-red eyes flashing behind his white bangs. His face was twisted in what could only be described as animalistic rage.
The instant he sensed her presence, his movements stilled and he rounded on her.
Kagome crouched down in front of the barrier, careful not to touch it lest the wards repelled her or worse, disintegrated. Even though she found it cruel that Sesshoumaru had caged Inuyasha in like this, she could see the sense in it.
"Inuyasha?" she called out softly. Unsure if he knew her, she added, "It's Kagome."
Recognition flashed across his features and he darted forward. A loud bang followed as the barrier repelled him, making Kagome wince in sympathy. He fell backwards onto the ground, snarling angrily as his claws dug into the dirt.
"Inuyasha, don't come too close," she urged, her eyes burning with unshed tears. She hated to see her friend like this. She hated the loss of his usual cantankerous self.
"Kagome," he hissed as he stood back up, his claws clenching spasmodically beside his hips. "Let me out, Kagome."
She shook her head. "You'll harm yourself. Sesshoumaru put you in here to keep you safe until we get Tetsusaiga to work again. It shouldn't take long. When he comes back, I'll get him to give us his fang."
Inuyasha's eyes hardened at the mention of Sesshoumaru. "I'll kill him! He touched you. No one touches you," he snarled. "You're MINE!"
Kagome shrank back at the intensity of his expression. It occurred to her that once, she would have given anything to hear those words from Inuyasha. She did not know at what point her feelings had changed, but what mattered was that it had. She no longer felt the same for Inuyasha as she had done for the last three years.
So what did she feel now?
With that thought, something broke inside her and the tears she had been holding back seeped out of the corner of her eyes.
"Kagome…" Inuyasha hissed desperately. "Don't cry. I'll protect you."
Choking back a sob, she shook his head. "It's not that…"
"When I get out, we'll be together," he said, his voice sounding almost normal now. The sight of her tears must have dampened his raging youkai blood. "You'll be my mate."
Her eyes grew large at his words. "I don't understand…" she whispered haltingly.
Mate? A flutter began in her heart. What should she say? Inuyasha wanted her as his mate? Or was this his youkai self speaking?
Either way, knowing what she knew about her own feelings now, she just could not accept just yet. At least, not until everything went back to normal and she had a chance to think things through.
Shock temporarily made her dismiss the sudden flaring of her senses which told her of Sesshoumaru's presence in the vicinity. She had no time to deal with the arrogant taiyoukai now. Right now, she needed to make something clear to Inuyasha.
"I'm sorry, Inuyasha, but I can't. Not yet." Her voice was soft as she looked at him, pleading with her eyes for him to understand.
Inuyasha snarled angrily, his chest heaving with rage. "It's Sesshoumaru! He took you away from me. I'll KILL him!"
"This has nothing to do with Sesshoumaru," she insisted, her voice raised. "Don't you get it, Inuyasha? You're not in your right mind now. And I've seen you in this state more times than I would have liked."
His confused red eyes stared at her, but he did not say anything.
"And it all got a little too much," she finished wearily. "It made things…difficult. I'm sorry, Inuyasha. I'm just a little confused. I need time to think."
Inuyasha fell back on his haunches, looking stunned.
He did not know when it began but at some point, he had gained an understanding of the girl who was now practically his apprentice. Everything about her seemed larger than life; her stubbornness, her high spirits, how fiercely she defended those she considered as friends and last but not least, her absolute refusal to know her place.
So it hardly surprised him to find her crouching down in front of Inuyasha's cell after he had specifically told her not to seek out the hanyou.
Leaning back against the side of a protruding rock, he kept his presence hidden from them as he listened to the miko talk to his half-brother. Sadness and despair emanated from her, making him uncomfortably aware of her emotions. Now that she had that odd youki, the effect was much more pronounced. Where before, her human emotions were like a dull grating on his nerves, it was now sharp and piercing. And annoyingly insistent.
He had come to return the reforged Tetsusaiga to Inuyasha. Under his persistent observation, the old blacksmith had worked without rest until the katana was done, complete with Sesshoumaru's fang and a small amount of his youki.
Sesshoumaru's lips tilted slightly as he touched the hilt with his right hand. With his youki firmly embedded in the katana, he could now wield the Tetsusaiga with both hands. His half-brother's expression would be priceless when he realized that.
It occurred to him to just keep the Tetsusaiga for himself, especially now that he could wield it. The urge was almost overwhelming, even if it meant that the hanyou descent into complete madness. Sesshoumaru glanced a little resentfully at the miko. However, he had given his word and it would be dishonorable to break it.
Sesshoumaru heard the hanyou whisper brokenly to the miko. "Why? Is this because of Sesshoumaru? How could you trust that youkai?"
Pathetic, Sesshoumaru thought derisively.
The wench hesitated. "No. My feelings for you have nothing to do with Sesshoumaru. And he had done nothing to betray the trust I give to him."
Sesshoumaru's eyebrow arched. The miko just admitted that she trusted him. He did not know whether he should be flattered or insulted.
"The way I betrayed your trust, is that it?" the hanyou's voice rose in agitation.
Sesshoumaru felt a spike of annoyance from the miko. "You need to get over this, Inuyasha. Losing control of your youkai isn't your fault. Tetsusaiga just wore out. So stop kicking yourself over it. When Sesshoumaru's fingers are completed, it will be fixed and we'll get back to shard hunting like normal."
Taking that as his cue to reveal himself, Sesshoumaru stepped out of the shadows, but still hidden from Inuyasha's view.
"It's about time you show yourself," the miko remarked dryly, glancing at him out of the corner of her eyes.
Sesshoumaru stilled. She had detected his presence? Of course, the strange youki he had felt earlier might have something to do with it. Or perhaps she had always been able to do it anyway?
Uncharacteristically uncertain, he settled for a noncommittal, "Hn."
She turned to look at him over her shoulders and her eyes settled on the katana strapped to his hips. "I need to finish restoring you hand. Once more would be enough, I think. We really need your fang now."
He reached for Tetsusaiga and deliberately detached it from his waist with his right hand, his original hand. Hiding his amusement, he watched as her jaw went slack. Her eyes widened in surprise.
"Y-You can hold it!" she exclaimed as she stood up to face him. "I mean, I saw you do it with your left hand, but I didn't know you could hold it using your right one.
Not bothering to explain, he simply gave her a curt nod and stepped into Inuyasha's view.
The hanyou glared at him murderously. "Sesshoumaru…" he growled.
A small hand landed on his arm, stilling him. "What are you doing, Sesshoumaru?" the miko asked with no small amount of trepidation.
"Stay back," he ordered levelly as he reached out to the barrier.
The instant the shimmering film dissolved under his touch, Inuyasha charged. Fully expecting the attack, Sesshoumaru sidestepped and rammed the Tetsusaiga with its sheath hard into the hanyou's chest.
The impact threw Inuyasha backwards against the wall, Tetsusaiga now clutched in his arms. Sesshoumaru watched impassively as the redness in the hanyou's eyes began to fade, turning them back to a golden hue. The jagged stripes under his eyes faded, leaving unblemished skin as the demonic claws retracted.
Throwing him an accusing glance, the miko rushed by him and landed beside Inuyasha.
"Inuyasha?" she called out anxiously.
The hanyou groaned, and then lifted his head. His golden eyes locked onto the miko. "Kagome?" he rasped.
The miko threw her arms around Inuyasha, burying her face in his red fire-rat garment, sobbing her heart out.
Sesshoumaru received a wash of relief from the miko, making him frown. Her emotions were out of control and to his consternation he was feeling all of it. Soon. Soon she would be gone and his life would be restored to its ordered state.
Tired of watching the scene before him, he called out firmly, "Miko." She had a task to complete and she should not be wasting her time here.
Startled, she turned to look at him. Before she could say a word, Inuyasha snapped at him, "What do you want?"
Sesshoumaru's lips tightened in irritation. "Watch yourself, hanyou. This Sesshoumaru would not tolerate further insolence."
Inuyasha glowered at him. "Keh, I'll show you insolence!" he spat as he tried to push himself up.
To Sesshoumaru's amusement, the hanyou had only taken a single step before his legs crumpled under him, forcing him to land heavily on the ground.
The miko gasped and rushed to help him. "Inuyasha! Are you alright?"
Brushing away her concern, Inuyasha just muttered irritably, "I'm fine. Don't fuss."
"The blood of a full youkai consumes a large amount of energy. Your weak hanyou body is unable to cope."
Inuyasha just glared at him.
Turning his attention back to the miko, Sesshoumaru said, "Miko, we have unfinished business."
The miko looked between him and Inuyasha, clearly torn between her promise and her friend. At her continual hesitation, Sesshoumaru's impatience began to grow.
"Miko." His word held a tone of warning.
With a sigh, she stood up.
Inuyasha reached out for her, but failed to rise. "Kagome, don't listen to him."
"I need to go, Inuyasha. I promise I'll be back soon."
With that, she turned and walked out of the holding cell. The moment she passed the opening, Sesshoumaru called forth the barrier. Inuyasha instantly move, his face twisted in concentration.
"Let me out, Sesshoumaru!" he snarled, scrambling weakly.
Deciding that he would not waste his time in petty arguments with his half-brother, Sesshoumaru just ignored him and stepped away.
The miko gave him a worried look. "Sesshoumaru?"
"He will remain here until you complete this arm," he told her in an uncompromising tone.
She frowned. "But-"
"Miko. Our agreement."
Slumping visibly, she nodded.
This basically signaled the end of her stay there. Soon, she would be back to hunting shards with Inuyasha. Somehow, she could not help but feel a little sad at the thought. How strange was that? Sesshoumaru was not her friend or anything like that. She frowned. Or was he? After all, he was the one who had saved her from the hawk youkai and later, from Inuyasha's youkai self.
Her lips tilted. Sesshoumaru would not appreciate being called her friend.
Out of all this, what did he get? A new arm, a promise not to fight against him and a debt to collect from her?
She supposed it was fair that she had been the one to return his arm to him. After all, its loss had been indirectly her fault. As for not fighting against him, after spending all this time with him, she did not like the idea anyway, unless it was just training.
And the debt? It still could be anything, but somehow, Kagome was not overly worried about it. She had a feeling that Sesshoumaru would not ask for something unless it was important. She just knew it. Because that was the way he was. She just hoped that it would not involve Inuyasha or any of her other friends. Or the Shikon jewel.
She felt that somehow, somewhere along the line, the tables had been turned. Instead of him, she was the one getting the better end of the deal, although half the stuff he had done was probably more to help him at first.
It had taken just over five weeks to give Sesshoumaru back his arm. It would not have happened in such a short time if he had not taught her to manipulate her powers. That lesson in controlling her power had been priceless. Without Sesshoumaru, she would still be the fumbling miko, always dependent on Inuyasha, Sango and Miroku to protect her. Now, armed with her new battle skills and her powers, she would be able to do more.
She looked up to find Sesshoumaru looking at her intently. Giving him a small smile, she said, "Well, it looks good, doesn't it?"
Sesshoumaru lifted his newly completed arm to his eyes, flexing it and clenching his fingers. Although he looked just as blank and disinterested as ever, the waves of satisfaction emanating from him made her smile grow.
Knowing that Sesshoumaru had no need for her presence any longer, she stood up. "Well, I'd better get my things then," she threw over her shoulders as she made her way across the dojo mat. She would pack and then leave with Inuyasha.
His voice halted her in her tracks. Frowning in confusion, she turned around.
"You are not leaving."
Her jaw dropped, and her temper flared. What did he mean by that? What reason could the sneaky bastard come up with to keep her?
She frowned. Unless he wanted to collect on that one last part of the agreement.
"You want to collect that debt, don't you?" she ventured.
Confused, she frowned. "Then what do you mean I'm not leaving? Apart from that, I've done my part!"
He unfolded his legs gracefully and stepped towards her. "It would be wise for you to complete your training in this final lesson."
Her eyes widened in surprise. She had thought that he would have written off their last session. After all, he had gotten what he wanted. The fact that he had said what he said made her feel sheepish for her earlier outburst.
"Oh. Right," she muttered uncomfortably. Quickly regaining her composure, she flashed him a bright smile and took a step towards the weapons rack to retrieve the kodachis.
Stilling at his words, she turned around. "What do you mean?" she asked, feeling a little baffled.
"There would be times when you have to fight using only your natural weapons."
"I see," she acknowledged nervously, her eyes drawn to Sesshoumaru's ten perfect claws. What he said made sense, but the thought of dodging those poison claws gave her shivers.
Seemingly aware of her anxiety, he said firmly, "You are prepared for this."
"Heh heh." Her laughter was forced. If Sesshoumaru thought she could do it, perhaps he was right. He would not kill her, she told herself. After all, she still owed him something. But there was nothing stopping him from hurting her, her inner voice told her morbidly.
Much to her consternation, the taiyoukai sounded almost amused. Kagome closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. Feeling a little calmer, she opening her eyes and placed her feet in the correct stance.
As always, his attack came without warning. This time, Sesshoumaru simply zipped towards her with his claws extended. For a moment, he looked exactly like how he had appeared years ago when he had tried to kill her.
Her eyes widened in alarm but she recovered her composure in time to call forth a barrier. A shimmering purplish glow surrounded her and Sesshoumaru's claws were instantly repelled, forcing him to take a few steps back.
She needed to attack before he decided to do anything. Dropping the barrier, she extended her powers to her fingers and released them. A series of pearlescent orbs shot out from her fingertips, flying straight at Sesshoumaru. For a second, she feared that she might have overdone it. Sesshoumaru relieved her fears by deflecting her orbs using his Whips of Lights.
She did not have time to ponder the odd flash of something from him which felt like suspiciously like approval. Her eyes were trained warily on the strands of golden whips headed straight at her. With a squeak of horror, she summoned her barrier again and crouched down reflexively with her hand over her heads.
"Miko. That is not an acceptable position," he barked. "Keep your eyes on the enemy."
Gritting her teeth at his condescending tone, Kagome lowered her arms and jumped to her feet. Fine, since this was the last session, she would give him all she got.
"Don't blame me when you get purified," she warned.
He snorted. Elegantly. "Those powers do not affect me."
Oh yes, she blinked in remembrance. How unfortunate. Her eyes landed on the golden whips on his fingers and an idea came to her. She would fight Sesshoumaru with an equivalent weapon.
"Shield your thoughts," Sesshoumaru ordered in a bored tone. "Your intentions are written all over your face."
Groaning out loud, she retorted, "You can read me so easily just because you're the one training me."
"It matters not. The element of surprise is important. It is your best attack against your enemy," he told her haughtily.
Kagome resisted the urge to roll her eyes, knowing that Sesshoumaru would not take too kindly to it. Still, she had to admit that his words made sense. As usual. His habit of pointing out her faults was annoying. However, in the time she had spent with him, she had come to understand that he always demanded perfection in every way, not only from others, but also from himself.
Deciding not to go ahead with her original plan as he had already figured out what she was up to, she settled for another. She had not attempted this on him before and she was curious of the result.
With an inward grin, she willed her powers to her hands. Making sure that she only let out a small fraction of her power, a narrow beam of pearlescent light shot out from her palms, heading straight to Sesshoumaru. Knowing that he would easily sidestep the shot, she immediately followed the first shot with a twin blast of energy from both palms, aiming some distance to his left and right.
As she expected, Sesshoumaru sidestepped the first direct shot. Kagome grinned in elation when she noted the instant Sesshoumaru realized that he had zipped straight into the path of the second blast. The fractional widening of his eyes was the only outward indication of his consternation, but Kagome could feel the disgust and irritation emanating from him in waves when he found himself locked within her glowing miko barrier.
Figuring that her barrier would not last long against him, she quickly ran towards him.
"Ha! See? I could do it," she mocked gleefully.
Unsurprisingly, Sesshoumaru gave her a disdainful look. What was surprising though, was again the feeling of approval she detected from him. Odd, she thought, wondering since when she had been able to read him so clearly. It had been happening on such a regular basis that she was beginning to get suspicious of her new ability.
"You barrier would not last long, Miko," he drawled. "By releasing three attacks, you have diluted the power."
And true enough, as he spoke, her barrier began to waver unsteadily.
"But while you're in the barrier, I would be able to cause you some damage," she pointed out with a grin, still riding on a high from being able to subdue Sesshoumaru. Even if it was temporary.
"Perhaps you should begin to think about your next action when this Sesshoumaru steps out of this barrier," he said calmly, but there was an unnerving glint in his eyes.
A golden glow began to surround him and his youki flared outwards. The barrier rippled momentarily in protest before it disintegrated into nothing, leaving Sesshoumaru standing in front of her with a raised eyebrow.
Her eyes widened as she took a step backwards. He took a step towards her, the expression in his eyes warning her of the retribution which would follow.
"Erm…" she gulped. "You remember your promise, right?"
There was no visible change in his expression, but she could still feel the annoyance radiating from him. "You doubt this Sesshoumaru's words?"
She quickly shook her head.
Then he began.
It turned out that the retribution doled out by Sesshoumaru was far less painful than she had expected. All he did was to aim his whips continually at her, forcing her to dodge his attacks and at the same time, trying to retaliate every chance she had. It forced her to be more inventive in her attacks. Not that it was easy, considering the speed at which those whips came at her, but she had expected to be completely flattened after her stunt earlier. Instead, he appeared to be holding back.
When rivers of sweat had dampened her clothes and her breath came in ragged pants, Sesshoumaru finally called a stop to it. Her shoulders slumping in weariness, she tried to get her breathing back to normal.
That was it then, she thought, eyeing Sesshoumaru through her lowered lashes. A small stab of sadness pierced through her at the thought that this was their last lesson. There would be no more sparring with Sesshoumaru, whether it was with her wit or with her battle skills. There would be no more taunting him to see how far she could push him. There would be no more feeling of exhilaration when she managed to grasp something new.
She knew it was coming, but she still could not help herself from feeling this way.
His deep voice broke into her thoughts. "It is time, Miko."
She was going to miss that voice telling her off on a regular basis, she thought wryly. How odd.
Sighing, she said, "I guess I'll go pack now."
The miko's sadness washed over him, making him frown. It left a bitter taste in his mouth. Why was she sad anyway? Truly, humans were a mess of uncontrollable emotions. It made him glad that he did not suffer the same malady as that inferior species.
He looked around the dojo and suppressed a sigh. The place was in need serious of a repair, especially after their last session. Blackened holes littered the bamboo lining and the mats, making the inside of the dojo appear as if something had exploded from within.
He had deliberately chosen to run the training without weapons because he wanted to know the true extent of her skills.
And now he knew.
He allowed a smug smirk to surface. Her raw strength, he had to admit, as far greater than he had expected when he had commenced her training. The energy she displayed today without the weapons was a sight to behold, even if she had been still somewhat unfocussed. The strange darker youki he had sensed from her a couple of days had been there, intermingling with her previous one. However, it did not look as if the additional youki had played a part in her strength.
Sesshoumaru knew that without his training, her powers would have remained dormant. Dormant and wasted. That was no longer the case, he thought as he tried to ignore the rising feeling of pride in the achievement.
Her skills would prove to be useful when he decided to collect the one request she owed him. He already had an idea of what she could do for him. The fact that she owed him something and that she had agreed never to stand against him gave him no small amount of satisfaction. Not that he was overly concerned about fighting against her. He knew her moves well enough to handle her should she decide to dishonor their agreement.
But somehow, he doubted that she would stoop so low.
Right now, he had one last thing to do before the miko left. Inuyasha was still restrained in the rock cavern. With Tetsusaiga back in the hanyou's hands, Sesshoumaru supposed that it would wise to release him before the impulsive hanyou decided to blow the entire mountain apart.
Letting his eyes sweep over the dojo one last time, rueing the pending repair work, he began to make his way out. At the last second, something caught his gaze.
A thoughtful expression settled on his face as he studied the objects of interest.
Closer to her, Shippou was midway between them, chatting animatedly to Rin. The little girl was obviously reluctant to see her newly acquired friend leave. Kagome's eyes softened. She hoped that Rin would not be too sad.
She turned to find Sesshoumaru staring at her with his usual mask of indifference. Somehow, she felt melancholic standing here saying goodbye to her ex-enemy turned teacher. Her eyes swept over his aristocratic features, memorizing him before they dipped lower. Suddenly, she wanted to look at the result of her efforts.
"Let me see," she said, nodding towards his left arm.
A look of surprise flashed over his face before it disappeared under his mask. His confusion was palpable when he extended his arm towards her. Almost gingerly, she held his hand and ran a finger from the wrist to the tip of his shiny new claw.
Then she squeezed his new hand, right where it was adorned with the magenta stripes. "I'm glad things worked out well."
"Hn." His reply gave away nothing.
She studied his stoic expression. Knowing that under the mask, he was feeling uncomfortable at her touch, she reluctantly dropped his hand.
"Thanks for…" she gestured vaguely. "…you know. Everything. I didn't expect it to be fun but you made it enjoyable. I hope you did not suffer too much through it."
He looked at her with a slightly stunned expression, as if he could not believe what he was hearing. Slowly, he nodded. "Your skills are acceptable. For a human."
Kagome grinned, knowing that it took a lot out of the proud taiyoukai to say even that. But somehow, she could almost feel that he was actually proud of their achievement.
Then she remembered something. "Um, Sesshoumaru. About that request, that one last bit of the agreement? When do you think-"
He cut her off. "You will know when it's time."
"Oh." She still had no idea what he would ask of her, but she guessed she would find out whenever he was ready. Somehow, she did not think that it would be something which would harm her.
Anyway, it was time for her to go. She could practically feel Inuyasha's stare boring holes in her back. Taking a deep breath, she gave the taiyoukai a small smile. "Take care, Sesshoumaru," she said as she turned to go.
"Miko," he called out suddenly, halting her in her tracks.
She gave him a questioning look, wondering what he wanted. To her surprise, he drew out two objects from his sash. Her eyes widened when she realized that he was holding out the two kodachis which she had been using.
"This Sesshoumaru has no need for these," he stated expressionlessly.
Speechless, Kagome could only stare at him as she took the kodachis. It was a gift. However much Sesshoumaru tried to disguise it with his words, she knew him well enough by now to know that this was actually a gift for her. Waves of discomfiture came from him, betraying his unease at his own action, in complete contrast with the bland expression he was wearing.
Giving him a grateful nod, she said, "Thank you. I'll take care of them."
She looked to one side, suddenly feeling awkward. "So, I guess I'll see you around, huh?"
She stole a glance at him to find him looking at her with an unreadable expression. But his gaze, unlike before, was no longer disdainful. In fact, she could have sworn that she saw a twitch to his lips. Suddenly feeling lighter, she gave him a bright smile.
He blinked, obviously surprised.
Her smile grew into a happy grin. "Yes. We'll see each other again. Bye, Sesshoumaru!"
Turning around, she proceeded to walk down the dirt path. She had only taken three steps when she heard his voice.
"Your time as my apprentice… it was not displeasing." His tone was gruff, almost grudging.
She stilled. That was the first time Sesshoumaru had practically admitted out loud that she was his apprentice. Let alone finding her company pleasing. Well, kind of. But when she turned around, he was already gone.
Sighing happily, she made her way back to a scowling Inuyasha and a bouncing Shippou.
Inuyasha's eyes immediately went to the kodachis. "What's that?" he growled.
The wheels turned in her mind. She did not want Inuyasha or the rest to find out about her training just yet. It would be a surprise. Flicking a meaningful look at Shippou, she said to Inuyasha, "Something Rin wanted me to have as a present."
Inuyasha gave her a doubtful look, but he did not continue with the line of questioning. "Feh! Let's leave this place. I'm sick of the bastard's scent." With that, he turned around and walked away.
Rolling her eyes at his back, she glanced back one more time at Sesshoumaru's home.
One day they would meet again. Yes, they would, considering that she still owed him a debt. Vaguely, she wondered if he would continue being like how he had been in the last couple of weeks, or would he be back to his old self.
Whatever it was, Kagome knew deep inside that the past five weeks or so had changed her outlook on the cold taiyoukai. She no longer feared him. She had even developed some form of respect for his sense of honor and his demand for perfection. Not to mention that without him, she would have never managed to gain so much in such a short time.
Perhaps one day, when they met again, she would tell him all this.