The Taming of the Stubborn Inuyoukai
It's been one week since you looked at me
Threw your arms in the air
and said "You're crazy"
Five days since you tackled me
I've still got the rug burns on both my knees
It's been three days since the afternoon
You realized it's not my fault
not a moment too soon
Yesterday you'd forgiven me
And now I sit back and wait til you say you're sorry.
—One Week - Barenaked Ladies
"I beg you, let me show you I love you enough to let you go, Sesshoumaru."
He allowed her to hold him, to grasp his cheeks in her hands, to press her forehead to his as the request washed over him. There was a very real part of him that just wanted to go on that way, allowing the tears to subside—to ebb and flow even—as they stayed here. Right now. Because this moment was better than the next. The next was a moment in which he would have to have an answer. And he didn't.
He loved her; he knew the affection was there. But he still couldn't say if he were in love with Kagome. But that feeling, the tenderness he had towards her—as if she were one of his own packmates—desperately made him cling to real want to protect her even as he could not protect himself. Not because of a curse, no, but because he wanted to. He finally recognized that desire for what it was, for what it was that day when she'd first brought up the divorce.
He didn't want her to die. Not for him. For anyone.
But he also understood the ache to want to make things better for him—her compassion. Love. It flowed into him indiscriminately, unrestrained. Kagome didn't have a shut off valve when it came to how much she cared about someone. It was both her greatest strength, and in many ways, her greatest weakness in the wrong hands.
And so he exhaled a long breath and pulled her back into his arms. He conveyed what was so difficult for him to give a name to still. All he really knew, truly, was that none of this was right. None of it.
"Sesshoumaru?" she whispered finally.
"Give me a moment to collect myself," he murmured into her hair, along the crown of her head. That would allow him some time to think; with so many emotions rushing through him it was no easy task—his own, hers.
She wanted this so desperately, and he... he wanted freedom. He did. It was all he'd wanted for four centuries. And she was offering it; albeit, the terms were impossible to swallow... but it was there. Real. Tangible. He'd not let himself truly think about it for a very long time, not consciously. He'd given up on it ever happening. But Kagome was asking him to take a chance on her—on her strength and herself and as a miko. And he... he just didn't know if his freedom was worth the asking price...
Slowly, Sesshoumaru pulled away from her and met her swollen and tear-stained gaze. He didn't release her; however, he kept her just as close. He refrained from speaking immediately. She gave him time as he swallowed once and again collected what it was he wished to say, all the while brushing hair out of her face... fingers caressing over her cheek and just barely along the cuff of her ear.
In the silence of the house, the darkness and dim lighting around them he said softly, but not in a whisper, "What you are asking me to consent to... it goes beyond a mere offering of freedom. Mating is meant to last until death, Kagome. While it will not leave any... emotional wounds past the first few days, or weeks, it goes against the very grain of what I am."
She nodded slowly, but still did not speak.
"I need more time to consider what it is you are asking."
"But," he interrupted her calmly, "know that I will not make you wait long. A time limit—five days. I will tell you then. And know, regardless of my decision, that it will be mine. And that... that is not something I have been offered in quite a long time. Not in regards to my imprisonment."
Kagome hesitated, closed her eyes, and then nodded once more; though, he could tell just by her body language alone that, while in agreement, she was not entirely sated. "That's better than I hoped for. Better... better than an outright no." She hugged him again. "I just... I just want you to be happy."
When he embraced her it felt more natural than it ever had previously. "I know."
He'd gone on ignoring her request for days, but now... now he really needed to think it over. He really needed to measure how great his desire for freedom was against her strength. And he... he didn't know if such a thing was possible.
It was Wednesday; she had an irregular day off. Since Himura and Kagome had sorted things out she'd had weekends off—at least since that Sunday that Sesshoumaru and she's really talked, but today he'd called and told her not to bother coming in. Someone had opened a crate without inspecting the labels and there was a thick coat of toxic dust covering a portion of the primary work room. She'd offered to work in her office, but he'd said that the whole section of the building had been cleared to decontaminate and to avoid spreading something that could make others ill. It wasn't deadly, but it could be if not treated immediately. Plus, it made you sick as all hell, according to him, regardless.
Well... she supposed she shouldn't complain too much. If he really had anything she needed to do, he could email it over. And, besides, she mused as she and Sesshoumaru stood in front of the door to both his mother and Rin's home, it gave her more time for the reunion.
Butterflies danced in her stomach, but not from nervous energy. She wasn't afraid, she supposed. Excited, heartsick, and then some. She'd met with Inuyasha and Rin again... but Shippou was supposed to be here today.
She recalled how he'd tried not to cry when she'd left, brave little boy that he was. But he had. In some ways, it had been harder to say goodbye to him than Inuyasha.
She was so engrossed in her own thoughts that she nearly jumped when Sesshoumaru hit the doorbell.
"Do we need to use the doorbell?" she wondered out loud. "I mean... it's kind of your house too, right?"
"Any house that is my mother's will never be my own." A single brow was raised as he looked at her, hands held behind his back. She supposed he painted quite the picture, in black hakama and haori. For days on end he'd worn reds and blues, sometimes with a splash of white tossed in. Idly, she wondered if the black was a sort of sign that his laundry needed to be done. He never wore it; not since giving Souta back his box of clothes.
She'd find out later, and frowned instead. "Sorry. I'm not quite myself. I don't feel nervous, but..." She paused. "Well..."
He squeezed her hand once, grasping it long enough to do so.
"Alright," she exhaled, "Maybe I am nervous. For what, I don't know. Maybe for feeling like some kind of errant mother? I couldn't exactly take him with me back home. He knew that."
"It has been a long time; your anticipation is understandable."
That was likely it. Excitement, as she'd assumed. Nothing more.
When the door opened Kagome was smiling; Rin, in turn, smiled back before taking her in a hug and then Sesshoumaru.
"You guys have perfect timing, we were just about to have lunch." She was looking at Kagome now, eyes alight. "You have no idea how happy I am you could get the day off today—even by happenstance."
"Me too, honestly. Apparently someone opened the wrong box and now the whole department has to be decontaminated."
"Their loss is our gain," she said with a wolfish grin. "Come in though. Please." She waved at them then and stepped out of the way.
Kagome quickly found a tall man with dark hair offering to take her thick coat. Blinking once, she let him help her and thanked him.
"You'll be happy to know that grandmother won't be in residence at all today," Rin went on as she shut the door. She looked really comfortable, and, Kagome was glad that she hadn't dressed up. Dark jeans donned the older woman's legs and a white and blue long-sleeved shirt covered her upper body.
"Was it difficult to manage?" Kagome asked, because she just couldn't picture it. Despite the hurt she felt as a result of Kimi's meddling—if that were her real name—she'd seen how genuine her own hurt and regret were. Kagome couldn't imagine her even wanting to be here and risk an altercation. Not even just for Sesshoumaru's sake, but for her own.
"No, not at all. Even if things were not... strained," she said, seeming to look for the right word, frowning as she did so, "there's always a ton of things for her to sort out with extended family. Regardless of how I feel about her, I don't envy her duty."
Kagome nodded, not understanding. Not really. She'd only gotten bits and pieces between what Sesshoumaru and his mother had told him, but it sounded as if being head of the family was... overwhelming.
"But enough of that, let's go see everyone else." Rin stepped ahead and led them through the large lobby area of the home and to the left where the whole of the dining room and kitchen were one unit—wide open and done up in various shades of blue with copper accents.
And the moment Kagome stepped in was the very moment a voice shouted her name and a body came quickly to her—too quickly for her to register anything notable before being engulfed in a hug.
She was taken too off guard to stiffen and found herself staring at mature green eyes as they took a step back just as swiftly, hands still on her upper arms—grinning with a flash of fang. "They told me you looked the same, but I guess I didn't believe it."
Long strands of brownish red were tied back, and bangs were a mess around his strong features. But he had a boyishness about him... one she could never forget, even as she eyed the way he'd filled out—muscular, a little broad, but still fox-like.
"Shippou," she said with a grin of her own as recognition washed over her. She hugged him again. "You're so big!"
He laughed at that and hugged her back. "Well, yeah, four hundred years or so will do that to a youkai. We can't all skip through time like you, huh?"
She was laughing now too. "No, no we can't."
"Kagome," another voice said, pulling her focus away from Shippou to look to the left.
Blue eyes that matched her own met her gaze just before Kagome took in the long dark hair, straight and pulled into a tie at the base of her neck, and, the poised grace she'd always possessed. But... what surprised her the most was the hint of a smile daring to break through it all—to shatter the image entirely.
Kagome smiled back fully, well enough to nearly shut her own eyes, and took Kikyo's two hands in her own. "It's been a while." Kagome supposed she shouldn't be surprised. Kikyo had not been an awful person when she'd been alive; living half-dead had done that to her. And after... well... she'd taken the former love of Kagome's life. Kagome supposed it was a given she might be a little stand-offish.
"It has," she agreed, finally smiling softly and seeming to relax.
"Alright, now that you've all got that out of your damned system, can we please eat?"
Kikyo sighed at that and shut her eyes before looking at Kagome once more. "Ignore him. As you well know, he's never been very good at behaving."
"Not once," Kagome intoned in mock seriousness. "Such a shame the beads are gone."
"I can hear you, you know!"
Shippou was laughing again and Rin soon joined him.
"Women," he bit off from where he sat at the long table. "I'm eating." And then he went about putting thing from bowls and plates onto his own dish.
Kagome was still smiling as she looked over at Sesshoumaru to see how he was taking it all in, only to find him in a deep conversation with three people—two men and a woman.
"Come," Rin said, taking her arm as she tugged her over when Kikyo wandered over to scold Inuyasha. "I'll introduce you."
"Are they..." she asked, trailing off as she pointed while allowing Rin to lead her.
"My children, yes."
The butterflies—which had left her quickly after hugging Shippou—were now back in full force.
Lunch had been eaten in relative comfort. That is, if one ignored the way Shippou still baited Inuyasha, and, the laughter and sniping that resulted. But that was normal for Kagome; despite the time that had passed, there was a part of her that felt as though nothing had changed. It had, of course; all of her important people had grown. And... well... Miroku and Sango weren't here to join in, but she wasn't going to dwell on the sad parts. Not when she felt so blessed. Because, in reality, that thing she'd been working towards for six years? She'd accomplished it. Granted, it wasn't all on her own; she hadn't uncovered one of the swords like some detective in a movie. But... she'd accomplished her goal. And that felt good. It made all of her hard work worth it; at least, in some way.
Meeting Jiro, Kai, and Taishi wasn't as bad as she'd briefly made it out to be. The boys were the spitting image Sesshoumaru even if they bore no direct blood relation to him. And the dog ears, ones that so reminded her of Inuyasha's own, were a bit more than adorable. Jiro was the serious one and Kai was a prankster, but it was impossible to take anything either of them said seriously when all of their emotions played so plainly on their own two heads. Taishi, despite her ears, didn't give off the adorable vibe. Graceful, mature, and a little funny—yes; though, Kagome had no doubt she was a creature of many layers.
Really... all of this was wonderful. She could almost forget that Sesshoumaru and she were on the cusp of a very big decision.
Her eyes drew across the room to him from where she sat on the couch. He was leaning back against a wall near the fireplace; Inuyasha was talking to him. And, thankfully, neither of them seemed upset about anything.
"It's nice, isn't it?" Rin suddenly asked her.
"What?" Kagome blinked a few times and looked at the woman next to her.
"Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru-sama." She was smiling as she glanced over at them. But her gaze turned back to Kagome's. "It's wonderful to see them getting along. It' never ceases to amaze me, all considered."
"It's strange, I suppose," Kagome agreed.
"Must be, for you. You didn't get to see them grow into something like this."
"Personally," Kai spoke up, drawing Kagome's attention him as he ran a hand through his short and bushy strands, "I'd rather see the two of them knock heads—go all out." Unlike his brother, who chose to keep the traditional long braids, he'd opted for a more modern 'do'. It suited his Hollywood charisma, she guessed. He sat across from her on another couch. The coffee table was between them with cold drinks, coffee, and snacks.
"Before or after they made up?" Kagome asked, feeling playful.
He sighed and his eyes closed with the dramatic action. "Before, obviously." He waved a hand. "You guys got to see all the good stuff."
"I cannot believe you would wish our uncles to fight to the death," Jiro added, but Kagome could tell the look he gave Kai was all for show—to niggle him.
Kagome decided to continue. "It was pretty amazing. Well, aside from the first time I met Sesshoumaru and he tried to kill me with his poison."
Kai's eyes flashed open and he leaned forward as well. "I didn't hear that story." He quickly looked over at Inuyasha. "Oi! Uncle! Why didn't you tell me about time Kagome nearly died?"
"Which time?" Inuyasha intoned dryly. "There were a lot of them."
Rin laughed out loud at this and Kagome rolled her eyes.
"Didn't I disarm you a few days ago?" Kagome asked, huffing.
"I also recall that Kagome was pretty good at making your life a living hell when she wanted to," Shippou added from where he was perched on the arm of the couch.
"Kagome was referring to the time Sesshoumaru and she first met, sort of," Rin interjected, likely before the conversation went too far off in one direction.
"Oh... yeah... that was pretty..."
"Brutal," Sesshoumaru offered. "For all parties. I lost an arm."
"Did ya forget the reason for that, bastard? Poison gas? Making me think my dead mother was back from the dead? Ring any bells?"
"How have I not heard this story?" Kai half shouted.
Kagome laughed softly and relayed the events of that day as best she could. At the time it had just been she and Inuyasha. No one else but the guts they themselves possessed. "I considered your uncle a fairly evil creature then," Kagome said in finality to Kai as she glanced at said uncle.
"I could see that, yeah. The old days were pretty awful."
Kagome hesitated internally as she caught the way Sesshoumaru's eyes softened as she said that. Surely... surely he didn't think...? No. Of course not. There was a tug of sadness, but it wasn't laced with regret. She smiled at him, hoping to offer reassurance. In turn, his small smile was wane. And then he gazed at his brother, once again speaking only loud enough for them two to be heard.
"You really had all the fun, Kagome," Kai went on.
"I wouldn't have minding exploring the cave systems then," Jiro admitted.
"Most of them were full really awful youkai," Kagome said.
"Yes, that they were," Taishi agreed. "And medicine for both humans and youkai was not what it is today."
"Ah... the old days..." Rin hummed wistfully with a wolfish smirk. "You always remember them so fondly, ignoring the lack of indoor plumping, television, computers, and electricity. Not to mention washing machines and dry cleaners."
"And not wearing the same outfit five days in a row," Kagome echoed.
"Thank Kami for that," Kikyo finally spoke up as she slouched back in her chair. It was adjacent to were Rin sat. Her cheek was pressed into her open hand, her elbow on her arm of the chair as she shut her eyes. "It must have been hell for you, Kagome. The smell. I suppose we were just used to it."
"Eh..." Kagome shrugged sheepishly. "There was this one time I seriously considered just bringing a ton of soap with me and passing it out like some kind of religious leader... but, hey... memories?"
Even so, Kagome's eyes once again traveled to Sesshoumaru... wondering... just what he and Inuyasha were talking about. If the sadness and worry she felt from him were any clue... it wasn't entirely good.
"Excuse me," Jiro suddenly said, "I've got a call I need to take." With that, he got up and slipped out of the room, phone in hand.
"On that note—Shippou?" Kai asked, "You up for that game you promised me?"
"You bet! Got it set up in the other room." He jerked a thumb.
"Awesome." Kai glanced at the group. "You guys mind if we bounce for a few?"
"Go on," Rin shooed him. "I know you guys have a running tally on this kind of thing. When was the last time?"
Kai shrugged as he stood. "We used to game online, but I'm so damn busy now... um..." He looked upward, visibly thinking. "A year? I think."
"Sounds about right," Shippou agreed with a shrug.
"Have fun, ladies." Kai waved before sauntering off with the redhead.
"You really do make beautiful children, Rin," Kagome said once they were gone.
"I do, don't I?" She grinned, winking at Taishi.
Her daughter smiled on as she brushed shoulder length strands out of her face and tucked them behind one ear.
"So... now that the boys are gone... do you mind if I ask how he's doing?"
"Sesshoumaru?" Kagome asked. She glanced at the only other women remaining—Kikyo and Taishi.
"You don't mind talking about it do you?" Taishi asked. "You certainly don't have to."
"We all tend to air our husband-laundry when we get together," Kikyo said. "Well, boyfriend-laundry in Taishi's case."
"What? I like keeping my options open. Mating is literally for life. A huge decision." She was frowning. "I'm not even sure if a ten year engagement is enough. I can't imagine the arranged marriages of old. I was blessed to have the parents I had."
"Thank you," Rin replied.
"It's a very big deal," Kagome finally got in. "But... um... I think I'm ok talking about it. Did Inuyasha..."
"He didn't tell us much of anything," Kikyo said. "He's an ass, but he keeps secrets really well—things people talk to him about that they might not want spread."
Kagome sighed long and hard, but she didn't give into the desire to look at him as she had before. "I told him I wanted to do the mating... but... that I also thought it would be best if we did a divorce. I don't know what the name is for that, but..."
Kikyo inhaled sharply, her blue eyes locked on Kagome's own. "Wow... I mean..."
"We assumed it would just take more time for you to get used to one another," Taishi said softly.
"I love him," Kagome admitted openly. It felt good to say it to others; people who understood the depth of it all apparently. She was leaning forward, elbows on her thighs. Her fingers were half woven together; she was staring at them. "But I don't want him to feel like this is his only option—that he can't choose someone else. He's been trapped for a very lone time, at the mercy of others. I want him to be able to... I dunno... It's not a choice if the only other one is more of what he's already had—subjecation."
"Agreed," murmured Rin. She reached out and squeezed her arm. "I really do think Inuyasha was right in selecting you."
"What does Sesshoumaru have to say about it?" Kikyo asked.
"He kind of ignored me for a week until I confronted him. Now we have a time frame for him to make a decision about it."
"It's good you didn't lie to him" Taishi said. "From the stories I have been told... my impression is you might have. It's all very risky."
"I considered it, but it in the end... I just didn't feel right."
"You'll have to talk to grandmother about it," Rin sighed out before reaching for her glass, the one sitting on the coffee table half full of a sweet wine. "She's the only one I know who has knowledge of the logistics."
"Inuyasha said as much," Kagome agreed with a nod.
"She's also the only youkai I know of that's been through the process."
Kagome wanted to ask about that, quite curious, but it was then that Jiro returned from his phone call and rejoined the group. All conversation about Kagome or Sesshoumaru and their mating came to a halt. There was a part of her that was envious of how easily the other three ladies did that.
AN :: I should apologize, but you've gotten used to that by now. Suffice it to say I've been in a slump for fanfiction. I've felt lackluster about it. But I refuse to leave the three fics I have undone. Hopefully I'll be able to update Enemy Mine and Vicissitude sometime this week as well. If all goes the way I'd like it -fingers crossed- I'll be able to get back to updating at least once a month.
You'll also be happy to know I have all the final chapters planned out. 'Cause, you know, when I have a plan things are easier. Ha.
Honestly, a big issue for me was making time to write fanfiction between what I did with my original work and school. (God, fuck school. I finish with my BA at the end of Feb and start my MA five months after that—woot! BREAK!) And the latter I've nearly got done. It'll be romance this time. Hope you guys decide to check it out when I release this year. That's the hope anyway. It'll be a fantasy story set in modern times that deals with reincarnation. The other romance series will be vampire stuff. More details to come, but if you want to keep up with that find my facebook back under my pen name Kit Roe.
Regardless, I do so hope you enjoyed this chapter. Thanks for waiting, like, almost—what—a year?! , Ja ne...~