Disclaimer:    Inuyasha characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi.  Other characters are property of Kidoairaku.

Rating:         PG-13: for language and just in case

Summary:    [Sess/Kag] Eventually, one comes to know when they're not wanted, and Kagome has come to that realization: Inuyasha doesn't want her.  Whatever the reason, she finds comfort with Sesshoumaru, seeks him as an outlet for stress.  Thus, under a kitsune's enchantment, Sesshoumaru finds himself trapped in a childish game of lust with Kagome.  It is only later, when a bond begins to build, that his own realization graces him: was it just a game?  Or maybe, was there a purpose underlying their shows of physical attraction…?  Either way, he begins to find himself lost in the captivating blue-gray eyes possessed by the girl named Kagome.

Genre:            Romance/Drama

A/N:            Hey all!  I decided to jump back on this one since it's the most popular of my fics, and I wanted to get the plot moving along here.  Contrary to what may be believed, there is a plot, lol.  Right now, I'm undergoing some kind of major revising period.  I never actually realized how drab my stories were up to this point, you know.  I'm thinking about dropping my little sentence variety bit and just –writing-.  Anyways, enough of me, here's the chapter…

Enchanted

Chapter Three

May 2003

He held the brush centimeters from the pearly white paper, willing it to stroke of its own will, to continue this superfluous practice of meaningless words.  It would not move.  Only one elegant character was written on the sheet.  Even then, it was not one of his best works.  Excess ink dripped from the coarse wolf hair, marring the blank expanse of rice paper.  He sat upright, staring blankly at the splotch.  It was a flaw, an imperfection…inhibiting the work from being balanced, flawless, and otherwise perfect.  He carelessly stroked the paper, sending a streak of black across the unsightly blotch.  The bamboo brush twirled in his hand once.  Twice.  On the third whirl, he set it down and began idly sketching whatever came to mind.  By the time he was finished, the simple outline of a girl's face stared up at him.  Beside it, he had unknowingly drawn her name.  Kagome.

It had been two days since he last saw her striding away resolutely, grimly.  He had thought to himself that it would be safer not to approach her in her state of mind.  And, even if he did go near her, what was his purpose?  The brush slipped from his fingers to clatter on the low table.  Somewhat startled, he stared down at it and then over the crude drawing he had created; his artistic skills were not that of a master by any means, but the drawing represented her well enough.  Her features, although not ornately detailed, were sculpted quite accurately.  It made him wonder how much of her he had actually observed.  A polite rap at the door raised his head.  Jaken hobbled in with a low bow, leaning heavily on his staff.

          "Sesshoumaru-sama," he started, "the Eastern Lord demands your audience."  The servant glanced up expectantly, awaiting his answer.

He gave a nonchalant glance once more to the drawing, releasing an imperceptible sigh.  The nonsensical drone of political matters had never interested him much, but he had naught to do, naught to accomplish at the moment.  Swiftly, Sesshoumaru rose from his place at the table, gliding out the door in the way characteristic to aristocracy.  Jaken struggled to keep pace as the taiyoukai made his way to the entrance.  There, his caller waited impatiently, casting observant glares to the furnishings of the Western Lord's home.

          "Nomura-san, I believe you requested my audience."

The man turned alertly.  It was obvious he was not one to mince words; his expression was plainly candid with no hints of generosity.  He was fit to be one of the Four Lords.

          "Yes, I did."  He strode to Sesshoumaru.  "I have noticed a recent jump in the human population.  Furthermore, humanoid youkai are difficult to find these days.  Should not something be done?"

          "I have no qualms concerning the matter.  The Western Lands are stable in population ratios."  His answer was curt.  No lasting friendship stood between them; if anything, they were bordering on war.

          "Very well, then."  He scowled and turned aside.  "There is also the land dispute."

          Sesshoumaru's gaze narrowed fractionally.  And this was the touchy subject.  "May I remind you, Nomura-san, you stand on Western land.  Any dispute that may arise is cause for bloodshed, as you are not on neutral grounds.  Continue if you so wish, or leave."  A fair warning.  If the Eastern Lord wanted to risk his tail, it was his problem.

          A frown twisted his lips, and his head tilted tersely.  "Very well, then, Sesshoumaru-san.  Another time."  He disappeared, as he was prone to doing, leaving Sesshoumaru alone in a threshold of silence.

He turned his gaze to a half-open door leading to the outside world.  A shaft of light gushed through, staining the wooden floor with its golden hue, the swaying of trees speckling the light with shadows.  Sauntering to the door, the taiyoukai stepped out, basking in the late warmth of the sun.  His head tilted upward, observing the sky flecked with clouds.  Time passed indefinitely before he returned to his study, to the drawing of the girl.  As he stared at the picture, silence pervaded the room, drawing on his nerves.  Solitude usually did not bother him.  In fact he reveled in it.  Today it had an unnerving effect, pushing him to the edges of his sanity.  Sesshoumaru turned when he heard his name.

Nothing met his searching gaze.  He heard it again.  This time, it held a strangely familiar breathy quality that set him on edge.  His claws instinctually lengthened and flexed.  Sesshoumaru, it whispered over and over.  Closing his eyes he breathed deeply, attempting to calm his senses, only to become more confused.  Her pleasing fragrance assaulted his nose.  Cherry blossoms, spring breezes, rivers, rain, summer, and roses all rushed to him along with a general comfort that came with her.  She smelled…clean, familiar, fresh…everything.  It drove him mad.  Where was she?  His hearing pricked.  Her light footsteps echoed in his mind.  The demon lord felt her slender hand rest against his neck, and he looked down, expecting to find her before him.

There was no one there.

The wind rustled outside, and it all disappeared.  What in seven hells was that?  Sesshoumaru exhaled sharply and carelessly shrugged it off as a result of stress.  Some sleep and several well-placed injuries on Jaken would wear it off.  It was no big deal.

~*~*~*~

At one point, he had thought imaginary entities were just that: imaginary.  One could not touch them, feel them, smell them, hear them, nor, much less, see them.  He was, to be perfectly blunt, wrong.  Five days now since he last saw Kagome, curse the girl.  In sleep the demon lord conversed openly with her.  When waking she lay beside him.  During the day she followed his every step, and in the night she haunted his shadow.  Sesshoumaru concluded that he was crazy—if not that, then very verging on it.  And to add to that, he had a burning desire to see her, to be able to touch her.  Every time he cared to turn around, she would disappear like a puff of smoke.  But still, he could smell and feel her presence.  Perhaps, she had actually died, and her ghost haunted him.  Somehow, the notion did not bring the most pleasant thoughts to mind…

Damn it to hell.

Uncharacteristically slashing the door down, he shot into the air, determined to bring an end to this.  His need to see the girl had not dissipated, and, since it held firm, he would just appease it.  There was nothing to this; up and away he went.

`        `        `

Kagome sighed, turning tired eyes to the painted horizon.  She had no idea what was wrong with her these days.  Her eyes drank in the warm colors, expressing a silent wonder at the simple beauty of something so simple as a sunset.  Kagome had settled on her sleeping bag near the fire, hugging her knees to her chest.  They were on another shard hunt; news of a powerful demon lured them to the east, away from the Western Lands.  From what she had gathered, they were going quite close to the coast, where, perhaps, they would find white sandy beaches and clear cerulean waters.  It was something she would have normally looked forward to, but her mood had dropped in the past few days.  Whether it had anything to do with Kikyo and Inuyasha she was no longer sure.

The hanyou expressly stated in more ways than one that he would protect her, indirectly claiming her as his property.  Yet Kagome found no relief from this proclamation; it only served to cage her, bind her to him.  Of course, it wasn't entirely unwelcome; after all, she did hold quite a place for him in her heart.  Then again, her opinion of him seemed to lower just a notch every time she saw him with Kikyo.

Kagome sighed again, closing her eyes and lowering her head.

She understood, really she did.  Inuyasha still loved Kikyo, and to some measure, loved her as well—just not as much as he did Kikyo.  It irritated her to no end, but she was by no means a selfish person, so she resolved to convince herself that no, she did not hold any serious feelings for the hanyou.  In short, denial was her destination.

But then, if she didn't love him, then why did it bother her that he was gone again?  She snorted.  Sniffing once and giving no indication of where he intended to go, Inuyasha had left but fifteen minutes ago.  She could only guess from the serpent-like spirits that passed occasionally overhead that he was after Kikyo.  Not only that, but there was a stiff silence about the group that belied everyone's suspicions that, indeed, that was the case.

Raising her head, Kagome glanced again at the sky before turning to the still forest.  I wonder where they're at…  What they would be doing she had no idea; she had heard that Inuyasha had already vowed to protect the woman multiple times.  What else could they do after that?  Inuyasha was not the type of person to jump in sexually and also was given to remain silent about his feelings.  Although, Kagome reasoned, there was that one time when she was tied to the tree while witnessing their…second meeting.  She nearly gagged.  Seeing something like that again was not on her list of things to do.  Although it was sweet and all, she felt like she was invading Inuyasha's personal space.

And everyone was entitled their personal space, weren't they?

          "I'll be back," she tossed to Sango.  "Just going for a walk."

          The taijiya nodded.  "Kagome-chan, are you alright?"

          Kagome indicated that she was and rose.  "Here."

The tiny vial tinkled when Miroku caught it.  He eyed the shards once, nodded in understanding, and placed it safely within a sleeve.  Kagome silently cut a path into the wood, the muffled snapping of twigs sounding underfoot.

          "What do you think, houshi-sama?"  The demon exterminator was seated across from him, so that the fire separated the two.

          "Kagome-sama seems to be preoccupied," he pointed out, glancing thoughtfully at her abandoned sleeping bag.  Shippo lay curled up to one side of it, clutching a fistful of the blanket in his small hand.

          Sango inclined her head grimly.  "Inuyasha and she don't seem to be so close anymore."

          "I would imagine, especially after that encounter with Sesshoumaru."  He paused, looking to the sky.  "Have you noticed Kikyo's increasing visits?"

          She rested her chin on a propped hand, thinking.  "No, but now that you call it to my attention…she does seem to be coming on a regular basis.  What do you think she wants?"

          Miroku sighed sullenly.  "I don't know."

`        `        `

Kagome kicked along the trail, watching her feet as they trudged through the dirt.  It seemed like she was being forcefully propelled in one direction, not that she cared.  Wherever she went was fine with her…just as long as she didn't bump into Kikyo or Inuyasha, or both of them, doing whatever they were doing.  Kagome sighed.  She was moping and she knew it.  What was there to mope about, though?

The branches in the forest canopy thickened, and it become harder to see where she was going.  Muttering under her breath, Kagome broke into a relaxed jog, hoping she wouldn't run into anything too sharp and harmful.  It's just my luck, you know?  I'll probably run into this thorny bush and cut myself up, whaddya know, and all the cuts will get infected with this unknown virus that doesn't exist in the twentieth century; I'll be sick for real, and then I'll be stuck in a bed forever.  Go figure.  Or maybe…  Kagome slowed, spying a break in the wood several paces ahead.  I'll run into a big, BIG demon that'll want to eat me.  She sketched said demon in her mind, and her mood lightened.  Maybe things wouldn't be so bad…what she pictured was quite comical.  Large and bulky, the creature had one eye, red as blood, and horrendous orange fur covering its entire body.

But…apparently the demon had encountered some sort of vicious battle.  All of its appendages were quite severed; in fact, it didn't seem to have appendages at all.  In a way, it reminded Kagome of a live hairy orange potato, hopping around quite helplessly and falling flat on its one eye.  It didn't seem to have a mouth, either…

          "Oof!"

Oh no!  The potato was attacking her!  She had bumped into its downy orange body, and she was falling onto it!  It was gonna eat her!  She could see it now, portrayed vividly in her mind's eye.  The sharp canines sinking into her…or maybe…she would be swallowed whole…down its dark throat and into its stomach, where the digestive juices would devour her alive…

Firm hands clasped her shoulders, and she squeezed her eyes shut.  I love you, Mama, Souta, Grandpa…Buyo, Ayumi, Yuka, Houjo…Sango, Miroku…that cute guy at the café…Eriko—you were the best little kid I ever babysat for…Tanuki-sensei—darn you and your quizzes, but I actually learned something from that class: procrastination isn't all that bad…Shippo, how could I have forgotten Shippo…

Wait…

An eye cracked open and glanced at the pale skin of the hand that grasped her.  Her monster was furry…carrot-like and furry…with no hands!  Yes!  She was saved!  Her knight in shining armor had come to her rescue!  Her gaze trailed up the thin wrist to the silky kimono sleeve, to the shoulder, up a neck, and to…

Him.

The half-cheerful mood she had procured was lost to her, and her shoulders slumped.  Talk about being delirious.

          "What do you want," she demanded softly, shrugging his hands off.  Some knight in shining armor.

He did not answer, stepping back to allow her some space.  Kagome observed him warily and, seeing no emotion evident in his countenance, crossed her arms and sighed.

          "Look, last time you came, you had no objective," she stated bluntly, meeting the golden eyes, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm out on a walk right now.  I don't need you ruining it for me."

She had suddenly reverted to being moody and she couldn't imagine why.  After all, he had saved her from her fuzzy orange monster.  Maybe it would've been better if an innocent tree rescued her, but it probably would've been a little more painful, not to mention embarrassing.  Whoosh!  BAM!  Straight into the abrasive bark!  Kagome grimaced.  She probably would've ended up giving a prolonged apology to the plant.  Not only would it not understand her, but the squirrel up in the branches, poor fellow, would be confused by her foreign tongue.  Who knows, though?  Maybe she would've come across a new mutated species, you know?  She would bring one back to the future and become famous for discovering a squirrel who could speak the human tongue!  Kagome shook her head, attempting to dispel the ridiculous lines of thought.

Yes, she was delirious.  Maybe she should get back to camp…a good night's sleep could do wonders.

~*~*~*~

A perfect brow rose in silent query.  The object of his obsession seemed to be gazing somewhere over his shoulder, but by instinct, he knew there was nothing and no one there but trees.  Her eyes seemed to glaze over somewhat as her jaw slackened.  Perhaps she was somewhat ill?  He had the impression she was not thinking quite straight.  In fact, her line of thinking might have been anything but a line.  It was possible that she was thinking rather more in a circle with not a point touching on the boundaries of sane thought.

Although…he might have been crazy himself.  Her rosy mouth was slightly parted and seemed to beckon him.  Come to think of it, he'd been aiming to actually touch the girl for a while, especially after the ghost incident.  She had to be alive, he reasoned.  Kagome was standing right in front of him!  Then again, she had been standing right in front of him quite a few times.  Perhaps, if he touched her, she would disappear again…it was a risk he was willing to take.

The distance between them quickly diminished as his mouth found hers.

~*~*~*~

She had been about to apologize profusely to the tree for running into it, but for some reason, it moved and she found herself kissing it.  Kissing a tree.  For a moment, she thought it was Sesshoumaru; in fact, she could've sworn it was Sesshoumaru, but she dismissed it as a trick of the eye, and she had enough of those for the day.  She brought a hand up and attempted to push away, but the tree, of course wouldn't budge.  And, come to think of it, it felt extremely soft.  Who'd have thought bark could be that smooth?  It was like she was touching silk…  Sometime in the course of her tree-hugging, her eyes had fluttered shut, and some sort of writhing vine had wrapped around her waist, pressing her rather intimately against the body of the tree.  The demon lord's image flashed before her closed lids, and she took the chance to bring her hand across it harshly.  Instantly, she was released from her delirium (as well as the tree's embrace), and her vision cleared painfully.

She felt hot and her head ached.  Her hand rose to her forehead instinctually as her temple throbbed.  Gasping, she felt her legs weaken.  She toppled to the ground in a dead faint.

~*~*~*~

If he had ever seen anti-climactic, that was it.  Through the osculation, Sesshoumaru had felt the rising of her body temperature.  He had dismissed it as the result of their contact, and continued as if nothing had occurred.  It wasn't until her lids had closed lethargically that he realized the true extent of her feverish behavior.  The slap had caught him off guard, and she fell from his hold.  There she was now, lying prostrate on the ground, flushed and also somewhat pallid at the same time.  Her respiration was hitched and forced; something had to be done.

Seeing no other option, he lifted her into his arms and took once again to the air.  His half-brother would just have to suffer from suspense until he chose to bring the girl back…if he chose to bring her back.  Sesshoumaru sped up.  He could feel her fever even through her clothing.

A/N:                I recommended the story before, but I'm doing it again.  ^_^  Huzzah!  Anyways, "Shadows Against a Shoji Screen" by cappie.  ^_^  I forgot if I was allowed to say it, but anyways, there's an interesting twist between Sesshoumaru and Kagome in there.    There'll be two more parts, the titles of which, I think, cappie is still unsure.  ^_^  Read it, please?  Um, and in other news, I realize this chapter was a bit…wonky…for lack of better word.  It does lead somewhere though, and incorporates an idea I was fiddling around with.  It'll circle around soon, I hope.  Probably add some complications to the Sess/Kag relationship.  Yay!

-kidoairaku