Obligatory Disclaimer: The "Inu Yasha" series and its characters are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Sunrise, Shounen Sunday, Viz, and other corporate types. I am none of those entities. I'm just a silly fan writing silly stories because it's fun. Suing me would only be a waste of time and funds, so please don't. Any original characters that show up belong to themselves. Just ask them.
Author's Disclaimer: Thoughts and opinions expressed in this work of fiction do not necessarily reflect those of the author.
I CHOOSE NOT TO WARN
This story contains material that may be disturbing or outright triggering to some. Reader discretion advised.
Rated: M for safety due to adult themes and content, but no lemons this time around. Sorry!
Author's Note: This is the first oneshot I'm posting here that was originally written for the firsttweak Livejournal community. Apparently I don't totally suck at shorter works, since people seem to like what I've been doing. I am still hard at work on the sequel to "One Plus One", don't worry!
This is also my first attempt at writing Sess!Mom in a canon setting, so please forgive any OOCness.
The Gift of Life
"Inu Yasha-sama! Inu Yasha-sama!"
Inu Yasha shook himself, still unused to being addressed so formally. Yet no matter how many times he asked the residents of the village to stop it, they blatantly ignored him. "Yeah?" he asked.
The man who'd been calling him came to a stop, bending over slightly to try and catch his breath before replying. "It's terrible!" he gasped.
"What is?" Inu Yasha asked, his eyebrow twitching at the thought of a game of twenty questions to finally get to the point.
"The path between here and the next village.. there's been a rockslide."
Inu Yasha's blood turned to ice water in his veins. Kagome had gone over to the next village early that morning to trade a few things with their village healer. Before he was even conscious of it, he was sprinting out of Kaede's village, taking to the treetops to move all the faster without the fear of stumbling over any hapless humans in the way.
It took him five, maybe ten minutes to spot the area. The entire cliff face had crumbled, smashing the well-worn track, making it impossible for anyone to travel that way.
Inu Yasha never prayed, but he offered up whatever pittance he had that Kagome was still in the neighboring village, and her only trouble would be having to get carted home by her gruff hanyou husband, returning to Kaede's village on his back, rather than on her own two feet.
Part of him wanted to just continue on; ignore the pile of rocks and reassure himself that Kagome was all right. However, he couldn't bring himself to do that. If there was even the smallest chance that she'd been caught beneath the stones and boulders blocking the path, he had to make sure she wasn't.
Even through the dust, Inu Yasha's worst fears were confirmed. The scent of Kagome's blood was unmistakable.
He attacked the pile of rock like a man possessed, tossing them off to the side with adrenaline-born super strength. By the time he reached her, his own hands were bleeding, several claws having been torn off in the struggle. The formerly white sleeve of her haori was grey with dust, her hand lying at an impossible angle.
Inu Yasha removed the last few boulders with great care, doing his best to ensure he didn't accidentally make her injuries worse. He found it difficult to breathe, though the dust was annoying, the lump in his throat nearly cut off his windpipe. She looked so pale and broken. The blood came from her split lip. What was worse was the way her limbs lay, and he fought back the urge to throw up when he found the second source of blood: her right leg had been broken, and the bone of her shin had breeched the skin.
He could just hear Kagome screaming at him to wait for the villagers to arrive with something to carry her, but Inu Yasha didn't think she had that much time. She was breathing, but just barely, and her heartbeat was terrifyingly faint to his hanyou hearing. He picked her up in his arms as carefully as he could before returning to Kaede's village the same way he'd gone.
Kaede puttered around her hut, pretending to take care of this and that, but the truth was, at her age there were very few things that rendered her speechless. The cruelty of fate in that moment was one of them. The sight of Inu Yasha staring at Kagome's body, as if willing her to fight, was heartbreaking. She could already see the shadows creeping up in the depths of his eyes. He'd already lost her sister, several times over. Could the kami be so cruel as to bring Kagome from five hundred years in the future, only to take her away after a few short years of happiness?
She wished she could say otherwise, but she knew the answer, having seen it time and again.
What she didn't know, however, was that the other usual occupant of her hut had gone off on a very important mission of her own.
Sesshoumaru gave the impudent girl his most cutting glare, but she blithely ignored it, as always. "You are unharmed," he stated.
"I know you said only to use it for emergencies, Sesshoumaru-sama," Rin said, holding the silver whistle tightly in the palm of her hand. "This is one! Kagome-onee-sama was trapped in a rockslide, and she's..." Rin trailed off, the veneer of her remaining innocence giving way to the wise eyes of a healer in training. "She's dying."
"What ails her?"
"Her bones are all broken, and there's blood in her belly. Kaede-sama says that means she won't last through the night."
Sesshoumaru attempted to say that it was not his concern, but the words refused to form despite his best efforts. Rin looked up to Kagome as an older sister, and although he'd never admit it out loud, he was grateful for her guidance now that Rin was becoming a young woman.
Swallowing the desire to sigh, Sesshoumaru simply stalked off toward the village.
Rin beamed, quietly following in his wake.
The scent reached Inu Yasha even before Sesshoumaru made his presence known, but it was a testament to how heartsick he was that he couldn't find it within himself to care. Once again, he was losing the woman he loved to something beyond his ability to prevent.
Neither brother spoke a word, but Inu Yasha shifted enough to give Sesshoumaru room. Sesshoumaru stared down at Kagome, marveling at the fact that she still lived. He'd seen humans in much better condition succumb to their wounds. Yet somehow, his brother's little miko clung to life. Rather like his brother was doing to her hand.
"You're a little early," Inu Yasha quipped.
"Tenseiga's powers come with a price," Sesshoumaru said. "If there is a way to prevent its use, it would be advantageous to do so."
"I don't see how," Inu Yasha said bitterly. "I can't see it, but I can smell it. She's bleeding on the inside."
"Then we mustn't waste any more time. Bring your miko, and follow me."
Inu Yasha frowned. "Where're we going?"
Sesshoumaru's next words struck terror in Inu Yasha's heart.
"To see my mother."
"The things I do for you, Kagome," Inu Yasha muttered under his breath. Somehow, someway, she had survived the trip to the castle where Sesshoumaru's mother lived. If anything, Sesshoumaru looked even paler than usual, and Inu Yasha wondered if transporting three people at once had actually taxed his reserves.
"And I thought the company you kept last time quite odd, Sesshoumaru," a disembodied voice seemed to float on the air.
Inu Yasha traced the sound, and his eyes widened a fraction at the elegant throne that sat atop the stairs of the main building that was the heart of this particular castle. He tamped down the resurgence of his nerves. Why was Sesshoumaru so convinced his mother would help them? Kagome was human, and he.. he was the half breed son of her former mate. It was a wonder she didn't strike them down on the spot!
Sesshoumaru did not deign to answer, leading Inu Yasha up the stairs in a manner that was almost protective. He knew his mother's sense of smell was as keen as any inu youkai, so she would have already assessed the situation. He could also smell his brother's unease, and he was startled by the pang of guilt that assaulted him. Then again, hadn't he set the example for how a youkai would react to him, especially one "wronged" by Inu Yasha's very existence?
Once they were on the same platform, Inu Yasha resisted the impulse to go down on his knees. He wouldn't bow to anyone.
"It seems the blood of your father runs true," Sesshoumaru's mother said. "I would know you by scent, even if your face and bearing did not give you away, Inu Yasha."
Inu Yasha tilted his head downward just slightly.
"I take it you are trying to save your brother from the fate you have carved for yourself? How noble, Sesshoumaru. Perhaps you are not quite as lacking in charm as I thought."
Sesshoumaru's mother rose. "Bring your miko and follow me, Inu Yasha. This is a conversation best held in private."
"Are you gonna help her or not?" Inu Yasha burst out.
The slightest hint of an amused smile touched Sesshoumaru's mother's lips. "Indeed, you are your father's son. That is what we must discuss. Come. And don't you narrow your eyes at me, Sesshoumaru. All will be explained in good time."
Inu Yasha started forward, only to be halted by Sesshoumaru's voice.
"Be wary," he said. "She is youkai in the truest sense of the word, and her aid always comes with a price."
Although Sesshoumaru's expression never changed, Inu Yasha could feel the tension in his words, as if he knew exactly how high that price could be.
"See? Isn't this a much more comfortable place for your miko?"
Inu Yasha scanned the room. It was definitely more private, obviously a room for high ranking guests. That in and of itself put him on his guard. The only thing that kept him in place was the weakening flutter of Kagome's heart.
"Sesshoumaru brought me here so he wouldn't have to use Tenseiga," Inu Yasha growled.
Sesshoumaru's mother laughed, a high-pitched sound that grated on Inu Yasha's nerves. "So impatient. Again, like father, like son. There are many ways in which I can help, but I believe one particular path will be most beneficial for both of you in the long run. As it stands, even if your miko recovers today and lives a long, happy life, it will be a short one compared to yours."
"Doesn't matter," Inu Yasha said, shaking his head. "I knew that going in."
"Well, then, I shall give you a choice." Sesshoumaru's mother went over to what looked like a solid wall, until she pressed a spot and it slid back. She pulled a vial filled with a sparkling, golden liquid out and shook it slightly. "This potion will heal her wounds. Exactly what you asked for. However, that is the, dare I say it, more human way of doing things."
Inu Yasha growled deep in his chest, baring his fangs without truly realizing it. "If you have something to say, say it!"
Sesshoumaru's mother's patient smile only pissed him off more.
"If there was ever anything your father might have regretted about his feelings for a human, it would have been their fragility. If your mother had powers of some sort, both of them might be alive today."
Inu Yasha froze, his heart nearly stopping in his chest. "What?"
"When two youkai are extremely devoted, they choose to bond with each other. Literally becoming one body. I was fond of your father, that much is true, but it would have been dreadfully inconvenient to keep being dragged into the trouble he always sought out." She shook her head in mock exasperation. "From what I have heard, though, your little miko follows you whether you will her to or no."
Inu Yasha subconsciously tightened his grip on Kagome. A fact that did not go unnoticed.
"The human way is easy. The youkai way is not. The question is, which reward is more valuable?" Sesshoumaru's mother said.
"What is the youkai way? This bonding thing?"
Sesshoumaru's mother shrugged. "There is an exchange of blood, and the blessing of the head of the family. Quite simple, really."
"What's the catch?"
"Her life will be tied to yours. Literally. You will both be stronger and weaker than before. Her power will enhance yours, and yours will bolster hers. However, if one of you dies despite that, the other will, too."
"And how does that save her now?" Inu Yasha demanded.
Sesshoumaru's mother put the vial back and closed off the hidden alcove. "Once you are bonded, you can take her organs into your body, and vice versa. You can use your youkai healing abilities to repair the damage, while your organs keep her alive."
"She doesn't have much time left," Sesshoumaru's mother pointed out. "Normally it is the forearm where the incision is made, but in this case, ridding her body of the bad blood would be best." Sesshoumaru's mother placed her hand on her stomach to make her point perfectly clear.
It was an outrageous choice to be made. One that he had to make by himself. He never considered himself a spiritual sort of being, but he found himself praying to any kami that would listen to help him make the right decision. The one Kagome would hate him for the least.
In that moment, the scent of death began to overwhelm her natural one, and it galvanized him into action, consequences be damned. He gave Sesshoumaru's mother a look that told her plainly he didn't trust her one bit, but he was backed into a corner, and he would figure out the details later.
Sesshoumaru's mother nodded slightly. "Lay her down on the futon, and we shall begin."
Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed, and he sprang into action, startling the guards around him. They were far too slow to stop him, however, and he threw back the door to the room where his mother had taken Inu Yasha and the miko with a violence that left it shuddering.
His mother raised one eloquent eyebrow. "And here I thought you'd learned better manners than that."
Sesshoumaru's nostrils flared delicately, taking in the scent of tainted blood coming from the miko, and fresh from his brother.
"It's okay, Sesshoumaru," Inu Yasha said through gritted teeth. "She hasn't killed me yet."
A riot of emotions clamored against Sesshoumaru's impenetrable shell, now that the sight before him registered in his mind. Crimson stained the originally pristine white fur of something Sesshoumaru believed to be long lost.
"Even in death, your father continues to guide us. This is what he would want," Sesshoumaru's mother said.
That was something Sesshoumaru could not deny. Not now. It was clear to him how foolish he'd been before not to understand that his father wanted both his sons to grow up strong, and such was no threat to Sesshoumaru. The miko was obviously a great source of strength for his hanyou half-brother.
His father's final words echoed back to him.
"Do you have someone to protect?"
"He would likely be making a spectacle of himself," Sesshoumaru said.
"Humph. You remember your father well, Sesshoumaru," his mother replied.
Inu Yasha listened with half an ear, the majority of his focus on monitoring Kagome's vital signs. Already, the scent of death was leaving her, his own lifeblood trickling into her through the newly made wound on her belly. What had been drained out smelled of sickness and poison, and he could feel Kagome's heart beating ever stronger as he held her in a death grip that he would never relinquish.
He only hoped she could forgive him when she opened her eyes again.
Draped over his arm and her abdomen was a cloak made of similar fur to Sesshoumaru's fluff and the trim of Sesshoumaru's mother's karaginu. The end on the far side of Kagome was split in half, allowing for two separate tails.
Sesshoumaru's sudden appearance had actually surprised Inu Yasha, and only went to prove how much the full youkai had changed. Not that he would never openly acknowledge it. Still, Inu Yasha breathed a little easier with the reminder that Sesshoumaru was no longer actively trying to kill him.
Sesshoumaru gave his mother a level look. "You told them about Bonding."
"That is what you hoped I would do, is it not?" Sesshoumaru's mother replied.
Sesshoumaru's silence was all that needed to be said.
Dealing with his own injuries was such a fact of life for Inu Yasha, he never paid much attention to it. Yet, every time another piece of Kagome entered his body, he felt like it was going to kill him. It wasn't so much the damage, but the extent of it. The reminder of how fragile she was. Had been. Seeing her so pale and still was bad enough, but being able to actually feel what happened brought Kagome's ordeal into stark relief.
He still didn't know exactly how it was happening. All he knew was that after the bonding was complete, the impulse to curl up with Kagome skin to skin had been overwhelming. Sesshoumaru's mother had turned her back with a sound of amusement that would have been undignified in a female of less breeding, informing him that the urge was completely natural, given what must take place to finish healing her.
Sesshoumaru's mother hadn't been joking when she said the bonding would make it so it was as if they shared one body. Inu Yasha knew the organs, though not the names of the less common ones. During one of the times Sesshoumaru's mother checked on them, she'd even answered his unasked question that made him blush bright red. Even now, his hand rested just beneath the scar created by their bonding. Thankfully one thing he did NOT have to give had been spared. They'd just been beginning to talk about starting a family, and that dream was still alive and well.
If only she would wake up.
Inu Yasha snapped out of his light doze at the sound of Kagome's voice. It was weak and hoarse, barely above a whisper, but her eyes were open, and she was staring up at him in confusion.
Kagome squeaked as he crushed her against him, able to feel through their bond that her body was now fully whole and hale once again, his body having healed her organs, and his blood repairing the rest.
"What happened?" she asked, her lips moving against the skin in the hollow of his shoulder.
The sensation sent a mild tingle of arousal through Inu Yasha, but he ruthlessly tamped it down. No matter how much she may have helped them, Sesshoumaru's mother was still full youkai, and they were in her house. He couldn't afford to be so distracted in a possibly dangerous place. Instead, he contented himself with breathing in her much healthier scent.
"There was a rockslide along the path between our village and the next," he said.
Kagome's eyes widened, the memories coming back. "That's right. I was on the way home, when all of a sudden, the ground started shaking. Then I heard rocks starting to fall. I tried to run, but..."
"Shhhh.. it's okay. You're safe now," Inu Yasha said.
"But, where are we? I know we're not in the village, or our hut. What happened?"
"You..." Inu Yasha swallowed the sudden lump in his throat. "You were dying, Kagome."
"Kaede said you were bleeding inside, and several of your bones were broken."
Kagome frowned, and although Inu Yasha couldn't see it, he could feel it. "So what am I doing here? Where are we?"
"At the castle of Sesshoumaru's mother."
Kagome's head shot up. "Sesshoumaru's mother?"
Inu Yasha nodded. "Never met her before, but Sesshoumaru brought us here, saying that," he paused to get himself back under control, "Tenseiga's abilities came with a price. One that should be avoided at all costs."
"If anyone would know, it would be him," Kagome said.
"Kagome I..." His words trailed off in a growl of frustration. "You weren't conscious. You were dying. I was given two options, and I had to make a choice."
A sliver of ice settled in the pit of Kagome's stomach. "A choice?"
"You were dying, but I was selfish, and stupid, and if you never forgive me, I don't blame you."
"Why? What did you do?" Kagome asked, starting to panic.
Inu Yasha brought his hands up, bracing them on her bare shoulders, fighting not to let his claws sink into her flesh in his agitation. "She gave me a choice. A potion that would restore you, or a youkai ritual that would bond us together."
Kagome's frown deepened. "Like a youkai marriage?"
"Sorta. Kinda." Inu Yasha took a deep breath. "It allowed me to heal you, using my own youkai abilities. Y'know how you once said that married couples were like two halves of one whole?"
"That's what the youkai ritual does. It literally makes us one body, so I could take in the parts of you that were hurt and heal them, while temporarily replacing what I was healing with my healthy ones."
Kagome's hand came up, coming to rest over his heart, and she could feel the racing of his heart beneath her palm as her fingers brushed against his skin. "What else does it mean?"
"That you'll live as long as I do."
The last thing Inu Yasha expected was Kagome's free hand coming up to tangle in his hair, pulling his head down for a searing kiss. But that was exactly what she did. It took him a moment to respond, but when he did, it was wholeheartedly.
"You jerk," Kagome said once their lips parted, smacking his chest with her hand. "You scared me!"
"I scared you?!"
"I thought it was going to be something horrible, but..." Kagome took a moment to compose herself. "This is wonderful!"
Kagome nodded. "Wonderful. I was so scared of what would happen as I aged. What would happen to any children we had, with me dying so early on in their lives? Now I don't have to worry." Tears leaked from the corners of her eyes. "I really can spend forever by your side."
"Kagome," was all Inu Yasha could say. So instead, he let his lips speak for him in other ways. It wasn't until he felt Kagome's thigh purposefully brush against his burgeoning erection that he pulled back.
"We can't," he said.
"Why not?" Kagome asked.
"It's too dangerous."
"Adds a bit of thrill, doesn't it?" Kagome said, giving him a sultry look.
She silenced his protests with more kisses, and Inu Yasha gave in. He would divide his attention, loving his mate while he protected her with everything he had.
A tiny smile touched Sesshoumaru's mother's lips as she raised her hand to knock on the wooden frame of the door. Her nose and ears warned her that now wasn't the time to interrupt them. A youkai bedding his mate was a fearsome opponent, and although Inu Yasha was hanyou, the blood of the Inu no Taishou ran strong and true in his half-blooded son.
A few half-formed memories gave her a sense of wistful nostalgia as she turned away, letting the lovers fully reunite.
She met her son halfway down the stairs.
"I'd let them be, if I were you. Give them twenty, maybe thirty minutes," she said.
Sesshoumaru halted in his tracks, the implication clear. "So the miko is awake."
"Yes," Sesshoumaru's mother replied. When Sesshoumaru made no move to turn and descend, his mother spoke again. "Has what you have seen this past week affected your resolve regarding your own human?"
To anyone else, they would think his expression didn't change a bit, but his mother noted the very slight descent of his brows. "No."
Sesshoumaru's mother sighed. "I may not understand the fascination you and your father share, but having seen them in real life, I do find those dog-like ears rather adorable. Make sure to give me at least a couple of grandchildren with them, won't you?"
Sesshoumaru's mother smirked as she continued her descent. He'd always been so much fun to tease!