|Gone to the Dogs
Author: Tally Mark PM
Kagome needs help, and there's only one dog who can do it. In which Kagome learns a thing or two about dogs and Sesshoumaru learns a thing or two about fun. SessKag.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Romance - Sesshomaru & Kagome H. - Chapters: 12 - Words: 21,457 - Reviews: 840 - Favs: 893 - Follows: 1,047 - Updated: 01-22-11 - Published: 12-22-08 - id: 4735705
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
ugh. crappychapter is crappy. sorry. bear with me while I remember how to write.
"Race you to the rock!" Kagome challenged. Her brush-like tail swept back and forth as they loped along, enjoying the feel of dirt and leaves crunching under her paws and kicking up behind her. A day had gone by since their departure and they'd set an easy jogging pace, one that let them go for miles at a time without tiring. She'd never been able to run like this as a human. The wind was alive with smells and she ran straight into it, tongue lolling out. Running was freedom, running was…fun!
"You cannot possibly think to defeat me," he blandly retorted.
"I know I'll lose," Kagome said. "That's not the point. The point, is I like racing." The rock she'd picked was already past them so she swung her muzzle around looking for a new target. For a dog as old as he was, he sometimes didn't get the simplest things. Which was funny because now that she was a dog, everything made perfect sense! Running was fun. Sesshoumaru was Not Running. Therefore, Sesshoumaru was Not Having Fun.
Which is why it was absolutely imperative that he race with her. Also, she liked racing.
"Aha! Race you to the…other rock!"
"It does not count as a race if I do not participate."
"Last one there is a labradoodle~!" she sang. Kagome tore ahead of him, launching herself at the boulder—and suddenly it was no longer there. Sesshoumaru had somehow gotten ahead of her, and had lifted the entire thing out of the ground. He held it high over his head, far out of reach.
"Aw, phoo," she said. "I didn't think you'd know what a labradoodle was."
"I do not," he answered, gravely. "But the name alone is unacceptable."
Kagome laughed and he tossed the boulder aside.
Traveling with Sesshoumaru was surprisingly nice. She didn't know why it was nice, since he was so stuffy and fussy and hardly talked to her at all. Sometimes it was so frustrating she just wanted to chew things. But she was glad for the companionship, stuffiness and all.
There was only one thing that gnawed at her, and unfortunately, it only got worse as the day dragged on.
Sesshoumaru stood quietly with his eyes shut while they took a break from the heavy mid-day sun, resting by a stream. It let him focus on the scents, filtering them out of the air and reading the messages they had for him: the dust of the trail they followed, rain days ahead on the breeze, distant wolves hunting distant deer, rabbits burrowed in the riverbank, a miko whose scent brimmed with question standing in front of him.
He opened his eyes.
"So, um…" she scuffed her paw on the ground, "…when are we going to eat?"
Sesshoumaru looked down at her, blankly; she looked back up with a small hopeful wag of her tail.
Sesshoumaru did not understand what her point was. She could eat any time she felt like it. There was plenty of food running around. Was this another game?
"It's just, we haven't stopped for a meal since we left Rin and the others, you know?" she continued. "And...I'm hungry."
"Have you not teeth?" he said. "Have you not claws?" He idly held up his own claw-tipped fingers.
"Well, yeah," she said. She stared at up him. A long moment drew out between them; her tail gave a few idle thumps. He stared back. "I don't see what you're getting at."
Sesshoumaru breathed a silent sigh. "What do you suppose teeth and claws are for?"
"Oh." The miko blinked. "Oh!" She looked suddenly panic-stricken. "But—you don't expect me to use them! I can't do that! I don't know how to hunt things!"
Startled, Sesshoumaru asked, "You have never caught your own food?"
"Of course not!"
Sesshoumaru was taken aback. To not know how to hunt for yourself was…unthinkable. A first hunt is like a rite of passage. A basic life skill—like learning to walk, and write, and slaughter enemy hordes. He'd been hunting for himself since he grew milk teeth.
"Do humans not hunt meat?"
"Yeah, but not with their teeth," she replied, appalled. "And…and just a few people do all the hunting for everyone else. I don't hunt food, I buy it. In a store. With money."
She may as well have just told him she was an orphan raised by wild goats. (Not wolves, wolves would have the good sense to teach their pup to hunt). Where was the pride in eating food someone else caught? Did human parents completely ignore the basics? What good was math and writing and other educational nonsense when you couldn't feed yourself?
"Come, then," he instructed, straightening.
He almost smiled.
"Your first hunting lesson."
"I…I did it!"
The miko-dog stood over her kill, looking almost as amazed as he was. They spent the better part of the afternoon at that riverbank, where he took her through the steps of scenting her prey, tracking it, flushing it out, the chase, the strike. Methods for catching small prey—things she could hunt on her own.
The first time she gave herself away too soon ("Why on earth are you barking at it?" he asked, bemused), the next the wind changed and exposed her scent, the time after that it simply outran her, the time after that she stumbled. But now Kagome stood there with a rabbit at her feet, its neck broken in one bite.
She seemed slightly dazed. "I did it," she repeated.
Sesshoumaru knelt and peered down, inspecting her prize with a critical eye. "It is small," he said finally. "And old. It is probably why you were able to bring it down with so little practice."
An alarming thing happened then.
The miko began to cry.
A whine rose up in her throat, her ears flattened, and she threw back her head in a wail that was the canine equivalent of someone sobbing their eyes out.
Sesshoumaru felt something akin to panic.
"It is a very nice rabbit," he amended quickly. "You made a fine kill."
To his confused dismay, this only made her cry harder.
Nothing he said had any effect and Sesshoumaru found himself increasingly distressed, and not because he had any sort of weakness for tears. He realized then that he had wanted to share this with her—the exhilaration, the pride. The self-fulfillment that came with knowing you depended on no one; of being the source of your own survival. He was pleased to share it with her. If there was anything untainted in his life, it was the satisfaction of a good hunt. He thought she would enjoy it. That it had made her unhappy made him unaccountably unhappy.
"I apologize," he tried. "First kills are sentimental, I should not have criticized."
"It's not that," she sniffled. "I killed it."
"…That is usually the goal of a hunt, yes."
"But what's the difference?" Kagome said, looking up at him with soulful eyes. "What's the difference between those wolves that hunted me, and me killing this poor rabbit? Aren't I just as bad as they are? To this rabbit, I'm the big bad wolf. And I killed it." Her eyes squeezed shut. "Poor bunny," she mumbled guiltily. "Bad me."
"There is no difference," Sesshoumaru said firmly. "But you are not bad." She stopped sniffling and looked up at him, head tilted. "The wolves were not bad. Hunting for food is not right or wrong, those are human words. Morals are human things. Surely it is not immoral to survive?"
"But…the poor defenseless bunny."
"If rabbits were so defenseless, you would have caught the first one," he retorted blandly. "Think of it as such: you and the rabbit engaged in a fair battle to the death—you to not starve and he to not be eaten. You won."
"But then…" Kagome said, clearly at moral unease, "then there was nothing wrong with the wolves wanting to eat Rin?"
"With wanting to? Perhaps not," Sesshoumaru answered, getting to his feet. "But," he added darkly, "there was something wrong with trying."
"Because their prey belonged to a much bigger predator." His smile was all razor teeth. "Had they kept to their own territory, they would have lived."
Kagome snorted. "I should've known it would come down to 'might is right' with you."
"Of course. It is the reason I am always right."
"Excuse me?" she choked.
"This Sesshoumaru is the most fearsome predator in Japan," he answered haughtily, enjoying the indignant look she wore. "Thus, my word is law. I am right because I say it is so."
The miko-dog's expression was decidedly skeptical, if not outright disdainful. There was a flash of rebellion in her eyes and Sesshoumaru waited, highly entertained, to see how she would respond, knowing he'd goaded her where she couldn't help but bark back. If she were born a dog Sesshoumaru was certain she'd be the alpha of her own pack with a temperament like hers.
"Oh yeah?" Kagome jumped and grabbed the end of his trailing pelt in her teeth. For a moment Sesshoumaru was too stunned to react; this was not what he had expected out of her. "Then now I'm the top predator, because I've caught you!"
"Hardly," he huffed, giving his pelt a sharp jerk away from her. But to his surprise she held fast to it, digging her paws in. "Let go."
"Nope!" She yanked on her end, prancing side to side. "I caught you, I caught you!"
He tugged again and she growled and pulled back, but her tail was wagging furiously. Sesshoumaru had the dark suspicion she was enjoying this. The situation was absurd: just like a lion tolerated a cub chewing on its tail, her hold on him was only because he allowed it: he could easily stop her. What he was unsure of was how to stop her without accidentally dismantling her.
Several minutes passed of testing her hold, including a brief stint where he held it high over his head and Kagome dangled in midair, tail wagging. At this point Kagome was definitely enjoying herself. "Tug of war, yay!" she cried, shaking it gleefully.
A declaration of war. Hnn.
"Release it at once."
Kagome was also feeling reckless.
Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes at the challenge. So be it, then.
And he turned and set off at a calm walk, dragging Kagome along behind him. She dug all her paws in but it was no good; his stride didn't even waver. He might not be able to make her let go (unmaimed) but she couldn't budge him an inch and she knew it.
"Where are we going?" she said around the mouthful of pelt, the tall grass blocking her view of anything as she slid through it.
"To the river."
"Why the river?"
As the grass gave way to open riverbank he strode right up to the water's edge—and over it.
Kagome had just enough time to yelp before she was pulled into the water after him—except she, of course, sunk.
As she dog-paddled up and surfaced, sputtering, she could now see the cloudy puffs of youki beneath his boots that held him just inches over the water's surface. The sodden end of his pelt lifted from the water in front of her as he pulled it up; she'd let go in surprise when she hit the water. Evil old dog. She'd been sure he was bluffing when she saw the river—he wouldn't walk into it with his nice clean clothes—but she'd forgotten he didn't have to. "Nice trick, Mister Fearsome Predator" she said, "but your evil plan is flawed, you know. I like baths."
"My intent was to make you lose your hold; I achieved it."
"And now your pelt is all wet and swampy."
"So are you."
"Hm," she said. "Truce, then?"
"Does this mean you are conceding defeat, miko?" he drawled.
"Don't make me bite you." So much for peace offerings, she sighed. She sloshed back onto the shore and shook herself off. Sometimes it was hard to navigate the balance between them; there were times she wasn't sure if they were playing a game or fighting, and he didn't seem to know either, maybe because he didn't properly know how to play. Maybe he'd never learned. And sometimes she wasn't sure if he was pushing her buttons to be a jerk or because he was being nice in his own roundabout way, because apparently he'd never learned how to do that either. "By the way, thanks," she said, glancing at him.
"Hn," he said. "If it pleases you so much, I shall have to throw you in rivers more often."
"I mean for the lesson, and for, you know…talking to me. I needed it. So…thanks."
As usual Sesshoumaru did not seem to know what to do with himself when faced with gratitude, so Kagome saved him from from having to deal with it.
"Right, then! Last one back to the rabbit is a puggle~!"