Disclaimer: I do not own the Inuyasha characters, manga, anime, movies, etc. They belong by copyright laws to Rumiko Takahashi et al.
One Hanyou Too Many
She hated the rain, really she did. It made her fur soaking wet and gave it an odor that left a lot to be desired. The dog demoness paused under a large tree and adjusted her pelt slightly while contemplating the person responsible for putting her in her present condition. It was all her son's fault. If he had just answered the summons like he should have instead of killing her currier in a fit of pique, she could have been securely at home out of the rain and away from the mortals that roamed the dirt roads of Japan.
The next time she had a message for him, she'd be sure to send someone that he could not kill. The Lady Mother wasn't entirely sure who that would be but by the time she got back to her castle in the sky, she'd know exactly who to make play messenger. Giving a gusty sigh that no one was around to hear, the female dog demon glanced around and spotted a cave off in the distance. The scent of minerals whispered on the breeze and a slight smile graced her lips. There was a hot spring in that cavern and she was determined to make use of the soothing water.
Someone had once asked her why she enjoyed the hot springs if she didn't like getting her fur wet. Needless to say, that person was no longer among the living. She'd never felt it necessary to explain to anyone, much less a man that getting rained on and soaking in an onsen were two very different things.
It was as she was getting comfortable in the water that she heard loud arguing coming from another room in the cave. Glancing towards the entryway of another chamber, she was surprised to find that a group of travelers just as unlucky as she had taken refuge out of the weather. Wondering how she could have missed their arrival, she allowed her superior senses to tell her that there were two entrances to their present sanctuary. If she hadn't noticed them, it was unlikely that they had noticed her. Figuring that she'd leave them be, the inu taiyoukai rested her head against the edge of the spring and went back to amusing herself with their conversation.
"I told you to hurry up, Miroku. If you hadn't decided that trying to touch my bottom was worth being unconscious, we'd be home by now instead of stuck in a cave while a torrential downpour outside made traveling impossible."
"My dear Sango…"
"You should probably shut up, Miroku. Kagome says that if Sango keeps beating you over the head with Hiraikotsu, she's going to cause brain damage."
"Shippou has a point and the gods know you need all the brains you can keep."
The adults were obviously a couple of humans who were courting while the child in their midst was acting as a chaperone of some sort. A soft mew came after the young woman's words and the dog demoness' eyes widened in surprise. A demon cat was with them so she supposed that the feline was the true chaperone of the group. She sensed no other companions and figured that whoever "Kagome" was, she was not among the people in the outer chamber.
"Humans can prove amusing on occasion," the Lady Mother murmured and closed her eyes in contentment. As much as she'd hated getting stranded, at least she was getting a free soak and entertainment.
"Come on, Shippou, let's take a bath and get warm," the young woman's voice floated to her and golden eyes sprang open.
"Oh, how amusing this shall prove to be," the demoness said, not bothering to lower her voice. Two figures appeared through the water vapor, and she tilted her head as the smaller of the two was significantly tinier than she'd anticipated. Hmm, must be a kitsune cub, she mused, spotting the tail.
The young woman stopped short at the sight of the female demon, eyes going wide at the sight of their unexpected company. Trying to make herself as nonthreatening as possible, the Lady Mother raised an inviting hand.
"Do come in, pups. The weather has made it inhospitable to a number of creatures this evening. Thankfully, no pests have decided to take refuge here." The fox demon child stared at her but didn't say anything, instead looking up at his surrogate caretaker. The human was dressed as a taijiya and somewhere in the back of her mind, the demoness thought she might know who was staring at her with such suspicion.
"You are a relative of Sesshoumaru's," the statement was said without hesitation.
"Rather obvious, is it not? And you? Why is it that a demon slayer and a kitsune cub are together? Do you not fear for your life, little one?"
"Keh, of course not. Sango's like a big sister to me. She and the others take care of me now that my parents are gone."
Color blossomed on Sango's cheeks, the compliment catching her off guard. "Thank you, Shippou. Perhaps we should wait until this lady is done before taking our own bath."
"Do not be foolish, pup. You're soaked to the bone; I can tell by the way you're standing. I give you my word that I will not harm you or your companions. Besides, I have a feeling that your demon cat would rip my throat out were I to try."
"Uh-huh," Shippou agreed and grinned, his little fangs flashing in the dim light cast by the fire in the other room. "And right now she's wet so she's really mad. A mad Kirara is a dangerous Kirara." Tugging on the pants leg of Sango's uniform, he started forward. "Come on, Sango. I didn't smell a lie when she promised so we'll be okay. And we should hurry too. Hanging that rope and changing isn't going to take Miroku that long. You should take a bath while you can."
"Sad, but true," Sango sighed and put the bag she'd been holding down. "Go on then, Shippou. I'll be there in a second." The kitsune child needed no second urging, tossing off his wet clothes and jumping into the hot water, all wariness of the new demon gone. He ignored the soft growl that let him know he'd gotten the demoness in the face with water and began to swim to the edge of the pool while Sango slid carefully into the water. "Apologize, Shippou," Sango admonished, knowing that Kagome had been trying to teach him more manners than he'd shown thus far. He was a sweet child but prolonged contact with Inuyasha and Miroku was starting to have an adverse affect.
"What for?" he asked, pushing his dripping bangs out of his face.
"You splashed me with water, pup. Such impoliteness reminds me of my son."
"Sesshoumaru," Sango guessed, snagging the child and dumping some kind of soap onto his head. "Scrub," she commanded the cub when it became obvious that he wasn't going to do as she demanded.
"Indeed. Such a cold one, isn't he? He never visits and any time I try to communicate, he always ends up killing the messenger."
Shippou squeaked at the news that he was floating next to the demon lord's mother and hastily apologized. "I'm sorry, Sesshoumaru's mother." He finished washing his hair, dunking under the water so that he could rinse the soap out and avoid the Sesshoumaru lookalike.
"You may address me as 'Honorable Mother," the demoness replied, allowing Shippou's faux pas to pass without punishment.
"You seem to have a different personality than your son," Sango said, wetting her own hair to wash the cold out.
"I do," the dog demon said, amusement curling her lips. "He finds it hard to deal with me."
"Hmm," Sango hummed, keeping her thoughts to herself. The elder woman's attitude was vastly different to the disdainful scorn that she had faced with Sesshoumaru.
"Yes, it's so disheartening when your beloved child will not listen to you. I have such wisdom to pass on but he won't come home."
Sango felt her lips twitch in amusement and couldn't help the chuckle that escaped her. Gold eyes echoed her laughter and the slayer figured this was exactly why Sesshoumaru didn't deal with his maternal parent well. The "Honorable Mother" was clearly a parent who liked to toy with her son and with the demon lord's uptightness, there wasn't much of a chance that Sesshoumaru would enjoy his mother's games.
The Lady Mother turned her head towards the doorway of the other chamber when Kirara came forward, exchanging a look of understanding with the nekomata. Ruby eyes blinked slowly and the feline turned when the male they were with called out to Sango. "Your intended seems concerned."
"I told you it wouldn't take long," Shippou said, pausing in his washing to wave to Kirara. "You should have used that rope to tie it him up or something. Maybe put a leash on him so that he couldn't enter here without you letting him go."
"I'm sure that's the real reason Inuyasha put it in the bag but it'll be far better for us to dry our clothes before going home. If you're done, dry off and change into those night clothes Higurashi-san bought you."
"Go keep Miroku company. It would be very bad if he came in here while the Honorable Mother was still in the hot spring."
"That would be funny," Shippou retorted, giggles and snorts of laughter following him out of the water. "The look on his face when he found out that he'd seen Sesshoumaru's mother bathing."
"Excuse me?" the female inuyoukai objected.
"Shippou!" Sango exclaimed, aghast. "I may find his lechery irritating but I don't wish him dead. No amount of spiritual power would save him if he tried spying on her ladyship."
"Indeed," the older woman agreed. "You are having trouble training him," she commented next, a thoughtful tone in her voice. A strange thought had been running through her mind upon hearing her son's half brother's name and had decided to prod for a little more information before coming to a conclusion.
"Well, he's better now that she's agreed to marry him but he still goes for her butt sometimes when they're alone. That's why Kagome sends me along to watch him when she and Inuyasha go back to Kagome's home. Usually Sango will hit him or knock him over the head with her weapon but Kagome thinks that'd hurt him in the long run so unless she finds another way of teaching him manners, he's a hopeless case."
"Miroku's not the only one who needs lessons in manners," Sango said in warning. Honestly, Shippou was a worse gossip than the oldest women in Kaede's village.
"Well, it's true," Shippou defended, pulling the odd top over his head. Kagome's mother had bought him a pair of kid's pajamas and this was the first time he'd worn them. "The only way you won't hurt his brain is if you have Kaede-baachan put a rosary on him."
"As appealing as that sounds, a rosary is not going to work on a monk," Sango sighed.
"No, not a rosary…" the demoness murmured, her comment seeming to have passed unnoticed by the other two. If her son would not let her fun, perhaps she could play with the group in front of her. Wicked delight flashed in amber orbs, their intent completely missed by the slayer and kitsune.
Miroku called one more time and Shippou reluctantly went when Sango pushed him towards the doorway. "Forgive him, my lady," the young woman said, taking the wash cloth Shippou had used and applied more soap.
"Children, whether human or demon, are often freer with their thoughts than adults would like. He meant no harm," the noble allowed. "What is that substance you are using?"
"Ah, it's soap that our friend Kagome gave us. Would you like to use some? I am sure that she wouldn't mind." Sango held out the bottle, offering the all-purpose body wash.
"The scent is inoffensive enough," Sesshoumaru's mother accepted, taking the container and trying to read what was on the label. "Such strange writing. It appears to be Japanese, but I cannot make out some of the characters."
"Ah, yes, Kagome's written language is slightly different than ours." Sango didn't dare mention the fact that it was because the miko was from five hundred years in the future.
"Hmm," the other woman commented softly. She set the bottle down, her hands going to her hair to take out the ornaments and ties. After completely wetting her hair, she tried the soap, amazed and delighted with the result. "This is such a pleasure. I wonder if your friend would mind bringing me some at my castle."
"Your castle?" Since she knew nothing of Sesshoumaru's home land, she had not realized that the youkai in front of her still lived in the Western seat.
"Oh, yes, I suppose because Sesshoumaru has never spoken of me, you would not know. Inuyasha probably doesn't even realize that I still live. I live in a castle high in the mountains, cut off from the human settlements nearby."
"So you do know of Inuyasha."
"I do. I have never met the pup, but I know of him well. His father and I were not on such bad terms near the end that I did not know of my stepson. Until recently I was under the impression that he had been sealed to a holy tree for all eternity."
"Ah, yes, Kagome is the one who freed him," Sango admitted.
"Then she must be a powerful priestess. It was a powerful one that bound him, only a powerful one would have been able to break the spell."
"True, she is far stronger than many give her credit for. If you truly wish for some of this soap, I can ask her but she will not be back for another day or two. Inuyasha took her to visit her family."
"What a responsible and caring pack leader he has become. How I wish Sesshoumaru to be the same."
"Your son is different from his brother but not as much as one would think. While it is true that they have their differences, they are both strong, and stubborn."
"Gets that from their father," the aristocratic mother sighed.
Sango had a feeling that Sesshoumaru's brand was a lot like his mother's but didn't say so. "They are also fiercely protective of what they consider theirs. Perhaps you have not been told but Sesshoumaru rescued a little girl some time ago and allows her to follow him. For all of his claims about hating humans, he will not let anyone hurt her and punishes all who try. We don't know how she came to be in his company, nor do we know why he did not leave her in a human village after he saved her from whatever situation she needed rescuing from. She follows his directions without hesitation and it's obvious that she has unwavering faith in his abilities."
Her son was allowing a human to trail him? What interesting news. A smile grew on her lips once more. "How intriguing. Now I really must get him to see me. Tell me more," the Lady Mother demanded and she rose from the springs to dry herself off and put on the kimonos that were still dry. Perhaps the humans would allow her to borrow the fire to dry her outer clothes and fur later.
"We don't know much else but Kagome seems to think that she has changed your son for the better and may even see her as some sort of surrogate daughter. He has not tried to kill Inuyasha lately and in fact has saved him on one or two occasions. It is odd now that I think about it."
"It seems that my son is becoming rather soft."
"Not really, he is still harsh and rather unforgiving about things that others cannot help but in due time I think he can become the type of demon lord his father would have wanted."
"You are perceptive. He does indeed have much to learn before he can bear the title of Lord of the Western Lands successfully." The dog demoness held up her pelt and frowned in disgust. It was still wet and was starting to smell.
"Would you care to sit near our fire for a while, my lady?" Sango offered, seeing the other woman's expression. "We don't have much in the way of provisions, but you're welcome to share what we have."
"You are kind. I believe I will enjoy the fire. Dog fur is ever so annoying when wet." Hair was left down to finish drying and the demoness gathered her belongings to follow the taijiya into the other room. Shippou was sound asleep on a bed of hay why Miroku glanced up in surprise.
"Well, well. I felt a strong youki quite a while ago but as Kirara wasn't worried and Shippou didn't come screaming to me that you were in danger, I let things be. Who might this lovely young lady be, my dear?"
"Sesshoumaru's mother," Sango replied, not bothering to hide her laughter at the shock that crossed his face and dropped his jaw. "She's been searching for Sesshoumaru to speak with him but got caught in the storm just as we did. I have offered her a place by our fire to finish drying her fur and clothing and any food we may be able to spare."
"You are a gracious hostess as always, Sango. Please, my lady, sit and warm yourself. There is room still on the rope to hang your things and I will join you after partaking of my own bath." Miroku collected his outer clothing, and took the bag from Sango before retreating into the chamber with the hot spring.
"He has a cursed hand. Beneath that cover is a deadly thing."
"Yes, my lady. I am sure you know about Naraku. It is he who cursed Miroku's grandfather and father before him. If we do not defeat that half demon monster soon, Miroku will also fall to the Wind Tunnel. It is a deadly void that sucks all in its path into it and nothing can escape. While it is a great weapon against most foes, it does have its downsides."
"I see. Yes, I have heard of that travesty that calls himself Naraku. He is the one that seeks the shards of the Shikon no Tama."
"I have seen what lengths demons will go to for that jewel. Someone needs to rid this world of it for good."
"That is part of our mission, my lady. Kagome is the one entrusted with its purification. Sadly, it was accidentally broken one day when she was first given the duty and it has made our job a lot harder."
"So it is her fault."
"I would not say so, my lady. Kagome is not from this land and was not raised as a miko. She had no true knowledge of demons and the jewel. Only stories that her grandfather told her. In the short time she has been searching for the shards, she has done remarkably well and advanced with unprecedented speed. In less than a turn of the seasons, she has learned to shoot an arrow filled with her power accurately and has purified many things with only raw talent. If she had been trained like Miroku or I have, no doubt Naraku would not have stood a chance the first time they met." As much as she was enjoying this strange company, Sango instantly sprang to her friend's defense when the dog demon seemed to blame Kagome for the troubles that had befallen them.
"Hmm, yes, I suppose that is remarkable. Well, accidents do happen. One learns from those mistakes and moves on."
"Yes," Sango agreed and pour hot water from the pot Kagome had lent them into two cups of ramen. She placed chopsticks on the covers and set them to the side for a few moments. Adding instant tea to the metal cups, she made tea and handed one to the noble.
"Thank you," the lady said, taking a sip. The strange contents of that bag the demon slayer had carried were getting odder by the minute.
They ate in silence, sharing another cup of tea with Miroku when he came back. They each took a turn with the comb Sango carried with her and eventually the aristocratic mother of Sesshoumaru watched as they bedded down and slept. Kirara had long since dried out and had transformed into her larger self to provide the humans with much needed warmth.
Ruby eyes stared at her with questions and the "Honorable Mother" merely smiled serenely. "You wish to know why I am so complacent." A dipped head followed her statement and this time the smile became a grin. One fang glinted in the dying light of the fire and one of Kirara's ears perked forward.
"Contrary to popular belief, I mean my stepson no ill will. He cannot be blamed for something that is not his fault. If he had wanted, my mate could have made sure that human princess he loved did not bear him a child, but the truth is that the great lord wanted another child and at the time, I did not. I had my perfect heir, I did not need another. However, Inuyasha was born and that was that. While I never did anything to aid the pup, neither did I do anything to cause him trouble. In fact, it is because of my wishes that no one in my clan save for my son has ever tried to hurt him. These are his pack mates, are they not? There is no reason for me to see them in any other light. Besides, they have given me an idea in how to play a little trick on my son and it's been ever so long since I teased him. Such a stick in the mud, you know."
Large eyes became suspicious and soft laughter was their answer. "I promise, this will be entertaining indeed. You'll enjoy it just as much as I will."
Kirara gave a sigh of her own and put her head down. The dog demon was even more confusing than her son and his brother were. She acted nicely enough but if it weren't for the fact that it was obvious she was Sesshoumaru's mother, the nekomata would swear there was a large dose of kitsune in her. That she liked to play games with her son was probably the reason the demon lord stayed as far away from her as possible.
"Ah, it has stopped raining. I shall take my leave now. Do tell your humans that I shall repay their kindness to them someday." The Lady Mother gathered her things and left, transforming when she was far enough away from the cave that her youki would not wake them up when it surged. There was much she had to do and not a lot of time to do it in. She'd just come up with the most ingenious plan and wanted to waste no time in implementing it. With it she could tease her son and stepson and thank the taijiya who had welcomed her without prejudice. So what if it made her son absolutely furious?
At least he'd speak to her then.