A/N: One of my favourite scenes is from episode 162 where Jaken has been roaming the entire episode calling for Sesshōmaru and Rin after she was kidnapped. Finally, Rin and Sesshōmaru are reunited and they find Jaken, and all Sesshōmaru says is "A-Un wa doushita?" (What happened to A-Un?) and Jaken is like "I will get him immediately! AHH!" *scramble* He flies back on A-Un and falls off, grovelling, saying, "A-Un de gozaimasu" (I present to you, A-Un.) It's just not the same in English. The Japanese is best. (And Sesshōmaru-sama's voice in Japanese is purrable, of course. English cannot compare. I'm going to crawl into my hole now and giggle hysterically.
A/N 2: As to the reviewer guest who thinks my story "plot device" is inane and that dogs do not bite each other while mating, I'm not forcing you to read my stories, feel free to write your own and cater to those that feel as you do. Considering I happen to know quite a few HUMANS who like a good neck chomp, who is to say that yōkai can't desire that as well. I write for my own amusement, and I share stories to bring entertainment to others, but I am not so blind as to think that everyone has to like what I write for me to have succeeded in a story. While I am sorry you did not enjoy it, I encourage you to find some other story somewhere that you can like enough to use your real username to comment rather than hide behind a guest review.
A/N 3: It's finals week, and the last few weeks have been hell getting up to it. I had an exam on Monday that was make or break it for me— everything hinged on it… and I made myself sick (literally) due to the stress. Throwing up, GI upset, the whole nine yards. Anyway, that is why this installment is delayed. I present to you now, If Wishes Were Inu Chapter 2.
Beta Love: Hollowg1rl (Yay! I'm not completely unsupervised… She also adds that neck bites are super hot and deserve more love and attention in stories) & The Dragon and the Rose (the wrangler of my grammar, even when I don't wanna!)
If Wishes Were Inu
A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting
on its shoes.
Kagome opened one eye to find Kirara curled up on the bridge of her muzzle.
"Mew," she said, stretching like the typical feline and proving that felines both yōkai and not were truly liquids and capable of fitting into any shape they so desired.
Kagome tried to move, but her body ached a little, and she began to blush as she recalled the previous night's activities.
What would her mother say?
Oh hell, what would SOUTA say?!
The black inu thunked her head to the ground. Not that she'd be able to go back looking like— er, not exactly human. Even if the Bone-Eater Well did let her in, what if it didn't let her back out? Yōkai trapped in the wrong time with the other half of your conjoined soul murdering everyone to try to get back to his mate…
Hrm… probably not a good way to go.
As much as she loved her family and knew they loved her in return, showing up looking very un-Kagome and with Sesshōmaru-sama would probably go over about like how it had gone over with Kaede.
And what if the well didn't let her come back? What of Sesshōmaru, the panthers, and the dragonlings? All—
She counted fuzzy backs… ni.. Ju.. roku… hatchi…
Oh, hell. There were a lot of baby dragons that were not going to understand why their mum ran off and left them.
Okay, and Kirara too.
"Me-ew!" Kirara agreed.
Sesshōmaru dropped an even bigger "something" near the nest, and this time the dragonlings lined up almost instantly, intently watching him as he carved pieces off for each of them, watched them eat it, distributed to the panthers, and then let them free-for-all exactly as nature had intended.
She eyed the carcass hungrily, feeling her stomach growl.
Her mate growled at her as he dangled a heart between his teeth.
Well, wasn't that just sexy.
Kagome's tail was beating on the ground, and she licked his jaw in supplication, shamelessly begging for breakfast.
She could swear he was chuckling as he shared the heart with her as well as the prized liver.
What a lovely, wonderful, skillful mate.
Her tail wagged even harder.
He licked the blood off her muzzle as she did the same for him, and he lay beside her, giving a content whuff as he did so.
Kirara was chewing on a large rib, busily tearing the flesh off the bone with her smaller feline teeth. She seemed both content and happy to be serving no greater purpose than being around and being able to choose what she wished to do. Kagome would never call Kirara uncaring, however. If anything, she thought the little neko-yōkai deserved a vacation after all she'd done.
Now that her restlessness had been "cured" by a certain white inu that did not have the name Inuyasha, her mind was starting to think in more complex ways again. She was starting to remember more of the Kagome before her, but it was an odd distortion, almost as if the there was a barrier blocking the two from ever truly reconciling. She missed certain things, such as her home in the future, but she also realised she would never abandon the things she protected for one chance at jumping through time— not if she couldn't guarantee their safety if she should be trapped and unable to come back.
Kagome nuzzled her mate, pressing her muzzle to his neck to beg his indulgence. The great white inu licked her ear in answer. The remains of her old self tried to remind her that Sesshōmaru was the one that had tried to kill her. She told that voice that the circumstances were a little different. If she was capable of such a strange and alien change, then surely Sesshōmaru was also capable of change? Hadn't he proven that by providing for her and her dragonlings as well as the panthers? Hadn't his courtship— as intense and fast as it had been— proven that he was more than just a scary yōkai with even scarier power?
But, but, he's a yōkai! Her inner voice whinged.
I'm a yōkai, she admonished that voice.
Be quiet, she growled at the annoying inner voice. This Kagome has made her choice in mate, or she would never have allowed him to claim her.
Kagome leaned into Sesshōmaru and yawn-whined, shaking herself from head to tail before taking on her humanoid form. He was beside her in a flash, his arms gathering her up as he pressed his face into her hair and then down to her neck. His teeth pressed into the mark, where the bite of his teeth had injected his yōki and formed his crescent mark upon her skin, just as her spiral marked his neck.
Kagome felt her body heat up the moment he did so, and a soft whine came from her throat.
Her looked at her silently, fully aware of what his touch did to her even as she struggled with the knowledge of what her touch— her very scent— did to him. While intimacy as an Inu wasn't barren of affection, the humanoid form offered certain pleasurable extended benefits that she was beginning to appreciate.
She touched his cheek and wriggled out of his embrace, knowing if she stayed too long, they would probably engage in quite a bit of heavy petting and coupling right in front of the dragonlings and panther yōkai. She had a feeling Sesshōmaru didn't care, but part of her wasn't quite ready to throw all her modesty into the wind… yet.
If he kept looking at her like that, her resolve was going to fail her.
Gods, he was beautiful. So strong and elegant— ah!
He tilted his head to the side, exposing her mark— the invitation was clear. His scent was so alluring.
She was there, her mouth pressed to the mark as her body craved his touch, and he obliged her with a silent, smug smile.
Arrogant jerk— oh, please for the love of— don't stop. Don't stop!
She gave a low moan as he gripped her skin between his fangs. She had to have him. Right now. Right in front of the gods and everyone. Yes, please. Thank you.
She growled, pulling him down on top of her as she rolled into the moss.
The panther yōkai covered the dragonets' eyes with their hands and distracted them again with the only thing that dragonets would choose over curiosity: food.
After leaving the panthers with the dragonlings, safely tucked away in the mountain palace, Kagome finally managed to pry the lamprey that was her mate off her neck and forced her new libido to heel. It was time to travel, and nothing impeded travel like the need to—
Get it together, Kagome!
She stifled her rather annoying neediness, trying to focus on what had to be done.
Sesshōmaru distracted himself by teaching her how to fly, knowing that if he held her as he flew that they would not get very far at all. She was wobbly at first, concentration or the lack thereof causing her to tumble a few times. He was always there to catch her, but his very touch was super-effective at being distracting.
By the time they landed by the bone-eater's well, Kagome had exchanged obsession with her mate with nervousness.
"This is it," Kagome said quietly. Her hand touched the side of the well. "This is where I came from."
Sesshōmaru narrowed his eyes, sniffing at the well. "The bones of dead yōkai rest in this well."
"That too," Kagome said. "When you first met me, I had just fallen through this well— it brought me here from the future because I was connected to this time due to the Shikon no Tama. Then, after Mistress Centipede pulled it out of me, another demon flew away with it only to—"
She sighed. "I really screwed up. I tried to help, and my arrow hit the jewel and not the demon. It shattered."
"And my brother wanted it to wish himself a full demon," Sesshōmaru said, his face sombre.
Kagome struggled with words for a bit, feeling intense emotion that messed with her speech. "This Kagome— felt guilty. Wanted. Make things right."
Sesshōmaru, feeling her struggle and understanding it, touched her cheek with his palm.
She stared up into his golden eyes and smiled. "Was young. Foolish. This Kagome thought it was love."
Sesshōmaru looked at the well and sighed. "This Sesshōmaru thought hate was all he could feel for humans. Hated brother for his loyal pack that he did not deserve. Hated humans for following him. Hated father for giving brother Tessaiga instead of this Sesshōmaru. Only now—hn. This Sesshōmaru sees the truth."
"We're a pair, aren't we?" Kagome said, feeling her emotions for the past get overrun by her affection for her mate.
"Does it still work?" Sesshōmaru asked.
Kagome looked within. "I do not know, and— it doesn't matter," she said fluidly, a touch of her old conviction and sense of self peeking through. "Sesshōmaru-sama is my future now. Pack. Family."
His talons gently traced her facial markings as his real concern was placated.
"You don't have to worry, Sesshōmaru," she said quietly, savouring the intimacy of his name without the title. She saw his surprise and felt the heat in his body rise with the familiar use of his name. "I would not leave you willingly." It was easier to think when he was near. She felt comfortable, accepted. The struggle to speak was lessened; the struggle to refer to herself without third person was also lessened.
"I just had to show you," she said. "So you know… what I came from."
He pressed his forehead to hers, their markings touching. "This Sesshōmaru accepts you as you are. As you were— but also what you will be, together with this Sesshōmaru."
Kagome beamed, pressing her mouth to his chin and giving it a tender lick of affection.
He spread his fingers across one side of her face, his expression stoic, but his yōki trailed across his fingers and against her skin. He bared his fangs slightly, savouring the feel of her against him.
She slid her mouth over his neck and tenderly licked his mark, and he almost crushed her to him with a low growl of possessive heat.
"Sesshōmaru-sama," Kagome breathed, trembling.
"This Sesshōmaru finds your saying his name… pleasing." He nuzzled behind her ear, allowing his breath to tickle her skin.
Kagome let out a soft whine of pleasure.
"However, the other sounds are… equally pleasurable."
Suddenly Sesshōmaru spun and his claws glowed green as he sliced through the air with his claws, a snarl on his face.
There was a terrified POP as Shippō squealed in mid air, running in place but going nowhere as Sesshōmaru's claws slammed him into the trunk of the tree by his neck.
The little fox demon squirmed in terror, his eyes bugging out.
"You dare spy on this Sesshōmaru?"
Shippō made choking sounds as the tree behind him gave way in an almost theatrical flare and crashed into the ground. But it was only when this happened that Shippō make the worst possible mistake he could by attempting to use his yōki to escape.
That little spike of yōki caused Sesshōmaru's to flare, wisps of his power whipping around him.
Suddenly Kagome rubbed up against her mate, her stealthy tongue licking the bottom of his jaw, as her mokomoko entwined with his. She whined suggestively, and Sesshōmaru's eyes widened as his nostrils flared. His eyes went from Shippō to his mate, and his instinct picked his mate. He released the fox kit and took her neck between his fangs, grasping the fold of skin to reinforce their bond and make sure the "interloper" knew who was whose mate.
Kagome's eyes fluttered, rolling back as her mate lowered her to the ground and growled deeply.
"Onee-sama?" Shippō whispered, his voice trembling.
Sanity seemed to trickle back into Sesshōmaru's instinctive surge even as Kagome seemed to be losing her battle against her mate's seductive presence. He seemed to realise that she had brought him back from murderous rage for a reason, and he slowly pulled himself up as he gathered his control.
Kagome leaned into him, pressing her hand into his, allowing his talons to curl around her hand and reassure himself that she was not going anywhere. His golden eyes stared into Shippō, and the little fox yōkai trembled.
"Kagome-oneesama," Shippō said, wanting to grovel due to Sesshōmaru's presence but unsure how.
"Mew!" Kirara said, rubbing up against Shippō's legs. She then trotted over and rubbed up against Kagome and then Sesshōmaru. She walked back over to Shippō and rubbed up against him again, infesting his yōki with hers.
Sneaky cat, Kagome said to herself. She's already pack, and she's laying claim on Shippō so Sesshōmaru doesn't have to murder him just for breathing.
"Mew!" Kirara meowed, smacking Shippō with her two tails so he got a face full of cat tails. She then bounced over to Sesshōmaru and bumped under his hand to get him to pet her, thus getting Shippō's scent to the inu daiyōkai.
Carefully, Kagome moved slowly, pressing against her mate to let him know she wasn't trying to escape him. She stood, pulling him up to his feet. He had always been tall to her— towering over both her and his brother. Rin and Jaken seemed like tiny dots in comparison. But now, she fit just under his chin, and her arms wrapped around his waist— provided she wasn't being prevented by his armor.
She extended her arm to Shippō, struggling to force his name from her lips in unfamiliar company. It wasn't that she didn't know Shippō, but he hadn't proclaimed either independence or a need for protection, and that made him tread on unsteady ground. Sure, he was a fox kit— still a child by yōkai standards— but like any child who wanted to be treated like a grownup, he stepped on toes and then wanted to be protected like a child after making a grownup mistake.
Kagome had always handled this well before as a human having not demanded strict yōkai things of the little kit, but she was no longer human. Instincts, needs, yōkai demands— they all mixed together and wanted their due. Kitsune were the trickers of the yōkai, and they didn't care if you were human or yōkai— and that made them annoying. Images of pranked dragonlings and panthers trying to eat Shippō filled her mind even as the image of one irritated Sesshōmaru taking a bite out of the kit for being annoying and disrespecting him.
"Shippō," Kagome managed to say, bobbing her arm in a beckoning gesture.
She couldn't instruct him or demand— not when it was about begging protection or to be added to the pack. With Sesshōmaru so close, he could not make a mistake, and she wondered if Shippō had become too human while she had gone the opposite way.
"Kagome-sama! Sesshōmaru-sama!" Rin's voice ran out and a blur of bright kimono slammed into both of them at once. She quickly jumped into Kagome's arms and wriggled under her chin, gently placing a lick under her jaw. Then she wriggled into Sesshōmaru's arms and did the same, fearless as usual, but oh so attuned. "Have you come to take Rin home?"
"Hn," Sesshōmaru said, placing one hand on her head.
How had Rin become so learnt in the ways of inu yōkai? It wasn't like Jaken was licking under Sesshōmaru's jaw at any point in his life. Grovelling on his tabi boots, perhaps, but—
Rin snuggled into Kagome, tucking herself into her mokomoko like she'd been doing it all her life. Kagome rumbled, baring her teeth in approval as she took in her scent to figure out where Rin had been and what she had been doing since last she saw her— or at least since she'd had her last bath.
"Rin likes Kaede-baachan but ready to come home with you," Rin announced.
Shippō was standing there, looking pretty gobsmacked, and Kirara bit him on the rump and tail, herding him forward. Shippō did a tentative crawl towards Kagome— the "safer" of the two— and made his way up slowly to her chest and watched Sesshōmaru very, very closely.
Sesshōmaru said nothing, but his eyes never left the fox kit.
Shippō trembled and made his way up to her chin and very quickly gave the bottom of her jaw a lick, cringing as he expected the inu apocalypse.
Rin jabbed him with her elbow and tilted her head to expose her neck.
Shippō shook his head.
Rin glared at him, pointing at him and then exposing her neck.
Shippō struggled to figure out what Rin was trying to tell him.
Sesshōmaru growled, baring his teeth, and Shippō flailed in fright and then planted his hands and knees as he bared his neck.
Kagome pressed her fangs to his neck and pulled back before Sesshōmaru did the same—
And just like that, the tension was gone.
"Kagome-neesama?" Shippō whispered, rubbing his neck where he still felt the ghost of their fangs on his skin.
Kagome said nothing, but she lifted her head in acknowledgement, giving a slight nod.
Kirara mewed and bopped Shippō over the head a few times with her tail and then leapt onto Sesshōmaru's shoulder. Shippō stared, jaw hitting the ground as he saw the feline purr and rub all over the inu daiyōkai. He bared his teeth, and the ornery feline yōkai exposed her neck, throwing herself at his face to accept his fangs.
Shippō saw stars as his legs turned to jelly and he fell backwards, tumbling off Kagome, sliding down, and flopping down into the grass. Kirara jumped down, mewed, circled a few times on top of Shippō's stomach, and then curled up on top of him.
Sesshomaru looked up, casting one last glance at the Bone-Eater's well. He looked at Kagome silently. "Ikuzo," he said simply, walking away, but Mokomoko-sama wrapped around her wrist and pulled her along.
Kagome smiled, picking up the fox kit and Kirara and following behind him with warmth in her heart. Rin danced circles around them both with her arms outstretched, clearly happy to be back with her preferred "people." Only Sesshōmaru could make something as simple as "let's go" sound like a command while holding the warmth of belonging, and she was glad she had come to know it.
Master Ungai stood on the ridge overlooking a burning village, scowling as he saw the screaming people fleeing their destroyed homes. He could sense the powerful presence of yōkai, and he scowled as yet another village was plagued with the evil yōkai. There was someone or something down below, surrounded in angry humans, and he was about to assist when he sensed it— yōki. That thing down there was a yōkai.
The humans were rushing with swords, and the evil spirit was calling their yōki, forming it into a whip, only it seemed as if they were not as adept at control as one used to fighting would be. He saw a figure standing on the higher ridge— white and red with silver hair.
It was him. Lord Sesshōmaru. The only one to have handed him his face and his disciples and then let him live. Beside him was that little girl— the human girl who chose yōkai over human.
Perhaps, this was as before. The yōkai lord would simple watch and pass through like so many other times before. He stared down at the yōkai below and then back to where Lord Sesshōmaru was—
He was gone.
"Master Ungai," one of his monks said. "Shall we deal with the yōkai?"
Ungai nodded. They were yōkai, and they were evil. He may not be able to handle that Lord Sesshōmaru, but he could handle an untrained yōkai.
"Take it out," he directed.
Kagome snarled as the sword cut her side, having lacking experience in hand to hand combat. Her bow remained on her back, despite her familiarity with it. This was a different lesson, despite her ultimate goal— one step closer to realising the importance of multiple weapons.
She let her yōki drip from her talons— the purple and pink poison forming into the long whip that Sesshōmaru had taught her. But manipulating scarecrows and trees and thrown stones was different from true battle— and she had to focus on the people she was saving and her "enemy".
Rin's panicked face haunted her, and she focused on that as she willed her whip into being. Her mokomoko slashed outward, pulling one of them off their horse as she ran them through with her whip. The bandit's head tumbled off into the brush as his body rolled to his companion's feet.
One of them had their pants down— they had been pillaging a villager in a different manner.
Anger flared like molten metal in her veins, and her yōki pulsed. Her talons glowed as she pulled her arm back and jumped, fangs bared as she focused on the bandit whose manhood wilted at the sight of her barrelling towards him with fangs bared and claws dripping with venom. Her poison whip materialised and wrapped around the bandit's body and tore it to pieces, flinging body parts in random directions.
The woman he had been pleasuring himself with screamed and ran away.
Kagome narrowed her eyes but said nothing, her eyes evaluating the remaining bandits, their swords, and their spears. They rushed against her.
"It's just a woman. KILL HER!" someone yelled.
They surrounded her in a ring, and she smelled their smug stench and their disgusting lust. It hung about them like slime, and her disgust rose with her yōki and with it that part of her that still believed in the gods.
Her power pulsed and she guided into a whip— long, precise… surgical. She guided it out even as her mokomoko expanded outward and strangled one of the bandits off their horse. Her whip slashed up, down, diagonal— slicing in arcs far too fast for the human eye to see.
She roared as a spear caught her in the side— the one she missed having sneaked in and found her blind spot, and her clawed hands covered the man's snarling face.
Kagome bared her teeth. She could snarl too, and she had actual fangs.
He desperately tried to shove the spear in deeper, and she crushed his skull with her talons, digging her claws into his flesh and crushing bone.
She grabbed the spear and yanked it out, roaring with the flood of pain before it started to heal. She flung the spear away, panting.
"Kagome-sama!" one of the women whispered, running up to her in a crowd.
They touched her kimono, her arm, even her blood-covered talons.
They pet her kimono and her hand in respectful caresses.
You saved us.
Even as she stood there, dripping blood, her fangs bared, her eyes blazing with rage, they overcame their terror to thank her.
Respectful. As it should be.
She let out a low grunt, all she could manage as she struggled to keep her instincts in line and to respond to their respect rather than their fear. Fear fed the yōkai— it was exciting.
Words were still too hard. Too many people. Too much fighting. She had to be close to her pack to be at ease enough to speak without struggle— and even then she did not require it.
She nodded, starting to walk away and let them rebuild their lives.
She heard the scream from behind her, and she whirled, only to see a flurry of monks surrounding her with their spinning dance around her. They chanting their mantras as they thrust their holy beads in front of her.
"Ungai-sama! No! She saved us!"
"That is an evil spirit!" Ungai yelled. "It will be dealt with!"
The circle of monks stopped their spinning as a number of ofuda flew toward her.
"You," Ungai accused. "I know you."
Kagome narrowed her eyes, silent as the paper talisman on her forehead stuck to her face and partially covered her vision.
"You were the priestess," he accused.
"Ungai-sama, I cannot sense its yōki!"
"I can," Ungai replied, jabbing his shakujō into the ground. The staff glowed as Kagome found she couldn't move. Energy crackled all around her. He touched his shakujō, and it sent out a blast of holy energy that exploded in the spot where Kagome was standing and collapsed the poor building nearby.
The dust was thick, and it took some time to dissipate. Kagome stood in the crater with nothing but mokomoko-sama to cover her explosion-devastated body. Kagome looked down, her lips twitching. She cracked her fingers as she curved them into a claw formation. "This Kagome really liked that kimono."
Anger caused her yōki to spike, and the monks gasped as they tasted her previously subtle power.
Kagome decided fighting a group of monks in front of the people she had just saved would probably cancel out the good feelings she'd only just gained. She closed her eyes, centered herself, and shoved her anger back behind the mask. She turned and walked away.
"You don't get to walk away!" Ungai yelled, willing a stack of ofuda to go after her again.
A blur of white and red smashed down between them as Bakusaiga slammed down on the ground and a swirl of Sesshōmaru's yōki blew the ofuda to shreds. His arm went around Kagome as his golden eyes glowered at Ungai as he pulled his sword from the ground and summoned his yōki into a different blast that bowled every one of the monks over.
"Hn," he said, pressing his fangs to his mate's mark, his golden eyes flashing. He then flew up into the air and disappeared, taking Kagome with him.
"Him," Ungai said as he pulled himself off the ground. "Why is it always him?"
The unfortunate villager that had owned the sole un-destroyed house only to have it leveled by Ungai's attack against Kagome fell to his knees and wailed, "My house! My beautiful house!"
Ungai's fist clenched. "I will put an end to this yōkai infestation!"
"It it wise to annoy Sesshōmaru-sama?" one of his disciples asked.
"I hope he doesn't come back and punish us," one of the villagers wailed.
"What if the bandits come back and Kagome-sama lets us all die?"
"She has no reason to come back and protect us now!"
"What are we going to do?"
"Enough!" Ungai yelled. "They are evil spirits. Monsters. You do not ask help from monsters."
One of the women, whose kimono was ripped and her one eye bruised, walked out of the crowd. "She saved my life and my honour. What did you do?" Her husband wrapped a protective arm around her as he glared daggers at Ungai.
Ungai twitched, having no answer with which to reply.
Kagome snuggled into Sesshōmaru's mokomoko, feeling a bit agitated for having made so many mistakes over the course of one night, but the white inu daiyōkai was not allowing her to sulk. He silently combed her hair with a comb, pulling it back and to the side. He uncorked a bottle of earthy oil and rubbed her shoulders and back, tending to her stress with touch.
He voiced no disapproval for her mistakes, only commenting on how she needed to adapt for her blind areas. If anything, he seemed proud that she had done what she had. Protecting the little villages would be crucial to sealing her domain over the East to the humans as well as the yōkai, and they both agreed that the less trouble with humans the better.
Once, Sesshōmaru's father had great trade routes with humans, gathering goods from all over Japan, and he had confessed, begrudgingly, that in thinking of the future it would be good to be on better terms for the future pups.
Kagome blushed at the thought of belly swollen with her mate's pups, wondering how they would arrive into the world. Would she give birth as an inu or in a more humanoid form?
The entire situation with Ungai was troublesome. He could be trouble if he found one of her panthers out hunting or one of the dragonlings. She wondered how they were going to protect their new home as a united western and eastern territory. If Ungai was rampaging around, they would have to protect the loyal yōkai from Ungai and the humans from bandits and the not-so-loyal yōkai. It was more complicated than she had realised.
On top of the list was fortifying the mountain fortress once more and making it into a home that was safe for the pack, especially Shippō, Rin, and the many dragonlings. The panthers could protect themselves, usually, but their safety was also a concern. All of those they protected deserved to have a safe place to sleep, hunt, and raise their families. Happy families were loyal families.
Kirara mewed and curled up in her lap, enjoying Kagome's pets as Kagome enjoyed the warm touch of her mate.
Eventually, she wanted to have a talk with Sango and Miroku as well, especially since Kirara was sticking around more often and probably worrying Sango sick. She remembered that one day when Sango thought Kirara had left her due to not appreciating her enough.
Kagome's claws gently stroked Kirara's ears. She really couldn't blame the nekomata for preferring a pack, even if she wasn't an inu. For once, all of her needs were being met. Companionship, the hunt, a safe place in which to settle—and perhaps even a little rest and the ability to relax. And maybe the little yōkai would shamble off to keep Kohaku company, or maybe she would enjoy travelling with Sango again— but it would be on her terms, much as Kagome was doing with her own life.
Purr. BONK. Purrpurr. BONK.
Kirara made it known that Kagome was neglecting her duty as an ear scratcher.
Her mate's teeth latched onto her neck as he pulled her into an embrace to cuddle by the fire. Kagome squeak-yipped, giving a soft growl of approval as her mate's warmth reminded her of other more pleasurable priorities— such as providing an heir to the lands of the east and west.
Sesshōmaru knew he had to patrol their combined lands, but he did not like it. He did not wish to leave his mate's side so soon after their bond was made, but he also knew that his presence had to be reinforced, lest lesser yōkai think it was safe to arrange a coup. Their combined yōki was hardly a small reminder to those travelling through their lands, but boundaries would be tested often in the early days. It was to be expected.
Kagome was nestled against him, their combined mokomokos wrapped together and around her in a protective embrace. The memory of her hands working the oil into his skin as she massaged him the night before filled him with contentment. Things were as they should be— as what mates should be. Kagome did not crave power as he once had, but she did not shun it either. She accepted his tutelage in training herself, even when frustrated and feeling herself inadequate. Even when her temper flared, she calmed to his fangs upon her throat, surrendering to the bond and his role as her mate. Even when his temper flared, she stood up to his ire and flashed her fangs at him, reminding him that she was no simple yōkai he could order and demand obedience from. And when her fangs pressed into his throat, that blessed peace of the bond flowed between them and his anger and turmoil transformed into acceptance in her role as the temper to his ire and the soothing touch he never realised he craved until she had given it.
He understood his father's drive to protect, but even more importantly, he understood why Tōga could no more keep himself from his desired mate's side than control the winds of the typhoon. Both yōkai and human mates had denied his father the seal of the true mating bond and the peace it brought. Perhaps, had the dragon not killed him, Izayoi may have finally allowed him to seal the mark or at least denied him formally and allowed the wound to heal, but alas, it had not happened.
While his mother had cared for him in her own way and even respected his father, it was clear that something had kept Inukimi from taking that final step and had ultimately denied him the bond— driving him into the arms of Izayoi. But Izayoi was too human, too ignorant of the inu yōkai's need for more than just her carrying his pup and loving him.
Love was not enough.
Proof was in the bond, and Kagome had yielded to his passion as she surrendered to her own.
Sesshōmaru closed his eyes, pressing his face into his mate's black hair. He would patrol when she woke, but he would not leave her to wake alone without some warning or important reason.
And nothing was more important than her at that very moment.
Sesshōmaru's golden-eyes regarded his mate, who had somehow gained a nekomata on her head, and both Rin and a fox kit nestled beside her sometime when he'd last closed his eyes.
"Why am I not hungry?"
He tilted his head. "We do not require human food," he answered. "As you grow in power, you will eat less." He looked out over the still-sleeping panther yōkai. "The young and the less powerful require food as humans do."
Kagome was silent as she pondered yet another thing that would have made Sesshōmaru think that both Inuyasha and his friends were lesser beings. Whether it was true or not for humans, it was true for yōkai— so it would have been logical to make the connection in thinking humans or even his half-brother was weak solely on the fact that they ate more. Even Rin, to whom Sesshōmaru felt affection, was "weak". She was a child, a pup, and they were, by definition, something that needed to be nurtured and cared for.
So, that was why the token offerings of the heart and liver, relatively small in comparison to the whole kill, were so valued as offerings to the leaders and the territory holders. A true leader amongst yōkai that was strong enough to defend a territory was usually a daiyōkai, and they did not have to eat as their protectorate did. Pups, children, or the very old and infirm were given the softer meats for they would struggle to eat the tougher areas on a carcass, while all the rest was fair game for the adults.
But for some yōkai— they did not grow more feeble as humans did. They grew stronger.
And what did that make her, she wondered, having finally aged to young adulthood as a human only to be transformed into something not human in the slightest? As a yōkai aged, she was but a pup still— younger even than Shippō. How confusing.
Sesshōmaru touched her face, gently lowering his head to rub his markings against hers. She could feel them flare to life even though she could not see them glow. "This one must patrol our borders."
Kagome smiled as a strange mental image of Sesshōmaru in inu form peeing on the borders of his territory jumped into her head and refused to leave. "Wakata," she said, channelling her warmth into her gaze and her touch.
He gently nuzzled her, clasping her neck with his teeth before rising even as his clothes and armor seemed to glide on his effortlessly.
Kagome looked down, finding herself sans clothing once more. She sighed. She really needed to learn how to keep her clothes on.
Realising what she'd just thought, she blushed. Damn it all and her nimble-fingered mate.
A opalescent dragonling slammed into her head, hugging her. "Hahaue!" Koba cried, rubbing herself all over her inu mum. "May I come with you today?"
Kagome rumbled. "Yes." She wondered what it would be like if human children imprinted on their parents as strongly as baby dragons did— even to the point of learning their first language right from the shell.
Her eyes widened. Lady Izayoi was a foul-mouthed rude woman, if Inuyasha had imprinted on his mum. She snorted in amusement. Even though she knew it was all in jest, the idea of a woman who was as dirty-mouthed as Inuyasha both amused and horrified her.
"I'm hungry, mum!" Koba said, her little stomach growling.
Kagome touched her head and soothed her line of cobalt back fur. Her scaled pups required food, and food they would have.
Shippō couldn't help but feel awkward as Kagome silently led the way through the Eastern Lands. It was both familiar and yet alien to him— her strange new silence and her equally odd habits she had started take on.
She would stop, completely still, cocking her head as she sat listening. The dragonling that had affixed to her— Koba— mirrored her every movement as she anchored herself around Kagome's neck with her long tail. She would pick up dirt in her talons and sniff, sifting through it as she inhaled the scents, but she would say nothing. Most often she would stare into the horizon, keeping her thoughts close but her voice locked away. It seemed to be a struggle for her to talk as she once had— so freely giving her opinions and never being afraid to speak her mind. Yet, he wondered if he just wasn't listening to the right things. Koba seemed to have no struggle in understanding her inter-species mum, even with the differences between them.
Kagome had done a lot of growing up while with Inuyasha's group, and while she had seemingly come into her own towards the end of Naraku, it had never seemed so obvious as when he watched her now. He could sense her gaze raking over him and taking in where he was, where Koba was, and where sounds came from around them.
Even if she was still learning what it all meant, the instinct was already there: protect. Perhaps it had always been there, only now it had a natural outlet.
She had always been a compassionate being that nurtured and cared for others, even if she had almost always been too easily swept up in helping others to the point where she forgot to take care of herself. He had accused her of abusing Kirara when she'd actually been swept up by her family on the other side of the well—
Could he have done any better?
No… if he had the chance to see his family again, he would have been just as easily distracted if not more so. He would do almost anything to see them again.
Kagome turned, her blue eyes tinted with that strange overlay of purple-pink. "Hrm?"
"Did you adopt Rin?"
Kagome frowned. "She has always been pack to Sesshōmaru-sama."
"But is she like you and me? I see you as my big sister. Do you see her as a little sister or a daughter?"
"Rin is pack."
"But—" Shippō trailed off, frustrated. "What do I call her?"
Kagome tilted her head as if she were listening to something. "Rin," she said, nothing more.
Shippō kind of missed the older— er, younger— Kagome, who gave him such elaborate explanations.
"Kagome—" he whinged, desiring a little more conversation.
Kagome shoved a Koba into his arms, weighing him down.
"Be silent," Koba whispered.
The dragonling stuffed her fluffy tail into his mouth, cutting off his complaint as she used her weight to cause him to fall to the ground. As Shippō looked up, Kagome had leapt away from them, leaving them in the grass. Koba wrapped her tail a round Shippō's head and dragged it down to the ground.
"What are you doing!?" Shippō muttered into the ground.
"Shh!" Koba said.
It was silent. Too silent.
All he could hear was the thumping of his own heart against the dirt through his chest and the annoying cricket somewhere in the grass. What use was having improved hearing if all you could hear was a bunch of nothing?
Shippō struggled up, sticking his head out of the grass to see a looming lizard-like head staring at him.
"Hello, lunch," the yōkai said, exposing a smile of countless pointed teeth.
Shippō's face drained of all blood.
The dragonling rose up and used her tail to throw dirt into the yōkai's face. "Run, Shippō!"
Shippō was running— running so fast he couldn't even feel the ground him, faster than he'd ever run from Inuyasha or anyone else. He dodged trees. He jumped boulders; he threw acorns behind him to distract any and all pursuers. He begged forgiveness for not having kept his head down like he had been told. He promised that he'd never be so stupid again, if he'd just live through it.
His legs were feeling like rubber. His body ached.
He didn't dare look back and waste time that could be used for fleeing.
"Hey! The only one that gets to pick on the runt is me!" a voice yelled.
Shippō screamed as Tessaiga's attack went over his head and destroyed the ground behind him. The blast threw him up into the air and away as Inuyasha plunged Tessaiga into the following yōkai's back.
The lizard yōkai screamed as his spine exploded, sending bits of lizard flying in all directions.
"Keh!" Inuyasha scoffed. He plucked Shippō out from under the bush he was hiding in. "Where have you been, runt? Sango was worried sick about you."
Shippō covered his eyes and squirmed, one hand pointing behind Inuyasha.
The hanyou turned around slowly to see an even larger lizard yōkai's head, fangs bared and saliva dripping down.
The beast's head fell in front of Inuyasha as its body fell the other direction.
A black inu yōkai's muzzle rose behind it, blood dripping from its jaws.
Inuyasha hoisted Tessaiga with a snarl and leapt to the attack with a yell.
"Inuyasha, no!" Shippō screamed even as a— something— slammed into Inuyasha's head and knocked him flat.
Inuyasha pried himself off the ground and removed a mass of white scales and blue fur off his head. "What the— who the hell are you?"
"I'm Koba!" the dragonling said. "And I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to murder my mum!"
"That's an inu."
"Yes?" Koba said.
The massive black inu yōkai lowered its head and snarled as Inuyasha didn't let go of the dragonling.
"You might want to let me go," the dragonling said. "Mum doesn't like it."
"Why the hell can't I hear her talking?"
The dragonling cocked her head. "She is."
"Inuyasha!" Shippō cried, running up. "That's Kagome-sama!"
Inuyasha's ears flattened against his head. "Don't be an idiot. Kagome is not an inu yōkai, and if she was alive, don't you think one of us would have known?"
"I'm telling you I know!" Shippō cried, bonking Inuyasha with an acorn. It exploded into red powder and caused the half-demon to sneeze radishes.
Inuyasha released the dragonling to pummel the fox kit.
Koba zoomed over to attach herself to the black inu's head, snuggling up between her ears.
Kirara rubbed up against her legs, and Kagome lowered her head to give the nekomata a good nuzzle and slurp.
Inuyasha dropped Shippō. "What the hell is going on here?!"
Kirara mewed again, hopping up to sit on top of the dragonling who was sitting on top of the inu's head, making the entire thing look like some strange stacked statue.
Shippō sighed. "Inuyasha, this is Kagome-sama."
"Since when have you started calling her Kagome-sama, anyway?"
Shippō sighed again, scratching his head a bit madly like he had fleas. "Since she allowed me into her pack and her territory."
"She was with us already, runt," Inuyasha said, "and that doesn't explain why you are hanging on a giant inu yōkai!"
Shippō hit his head against the inu's ears a few times. "So stupid."
"What did you call me, runt?!"
The black inu had enough, and she scented the air and curled her lips back from her teeth. She turned and began to walk away.
"Hey, where are you going, runt?! Didn't I say Sango is worried sick about you?"
"Tell Sango I'll visit soon!" Shippō said, waving.
"Where the hell do you think you're going!?"
"I have no idea, but it'll be great!" Shippō yelled back down at him.
"Bye, bye, Scary Dog Human!" Koba said, doing a loop-de-loop with her body.
"What did you just call me?!" Inuyasha yelled, chasing after.
An arrow sang through the air and embedded into the black inu's rump.
"Mummy, there's an arrow in your butt," the dragonling announced.
The black inu's head whirled around to inspect her butt. Her teeth wrapped around the shaft and pulled it out.
The arrow came free and the inu let it drop. She took off running, her body rising into the air just before she started to fly and blazed a path through the sky both far and away.
Kikyō stepped out of the forest line, her bow lowered.
Inuyasha frowned. "Did you forget to charge the arrow?"
Kikyō frowned. "Who was that you were yelling at, Inuyasha?"
"Shippō," Inuyasha replied. "Making some stupid friends."
"Those were his friends?"
"Hard to believe, right?"
"Why didn't you kill that inu yōkai?" Kikyō asked.
"Keh," he scoffed. "It protected Shippō. Didn't seem right to kill it when he was screaming at me not to."
"And you trust that kit?"
Inuyasha shrugged. "He's young, but trust me. If something wants to eat Shippō, they'd just eat him, not carry him around." He approached Kikyō and wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close, snuffling her hair. "I'm going to go hunt to bring something back. Kaede-baasan has been overworking herself, and Miroku hasn't let me forget it. Do you have a preference?"
"Boar, I think," Kikyō said after a bit.
Inuyasha smiled. "Alright. Let me know if you sense anything troublesome that you need help with."
Kikyō nodded. "I will."
They went their separate ways each with their minds on something else.
Inuyasha found himself conflicted— again.
Ever since that driving compulsion to "be with his true love" his initial rapture had been joined with confusion, an itch that demanded scratching but then moved the moment he tried to locate and identify the cause.
At first, he had no doubt that his wish would put him with his true love and thus end the years of conflict that had started with Kikyō and Kagome existing in the same era.
Initially, Kikyō had been a warm, compassionate being, helping others and even accepting him. He had sworn to protect her— had been driven to be at her side as long as he drew breath. But after Naraku's betrayal, she had changed, that warmth becoming indifferent and cold. Even then, he was driven to be at her side, drawn to her, even when part of him found Kikyō's old warmth in Kagome. He had been drawn to that as well, but it had never quite been right. Something inside him had always driven him back to Kikyō's side, even when Kagome's warmth and compassion told him he could have had so much more.
Part of him had succeeded— growing in power to protect Kagome rather than Kikyō, but…
He always ended up thinking of Kikyō when the battle was over.
Now, it seemed, Kikyō was slowly starting to thaw again and relearn what it was to be human, but it was still strange, still off.
But his body seemed determined to be at Kikyō's side, driven to protect her again and be with her. He thought that was because Kikyō and Kagome had united as one person, but now Shippō was claiming Kagome was that black inu—
Had the kit's grief finally made him go off the deep end? Had he refused to accept that Kikyō was the original being? Why was he so set on Kikyō that he couldn't be bothered to investigate Kagome's disappearance?
His thoughts were broken by a crash through the forest as a deer went barrelling by him. He started to give chase, unable to stop himself from pursuing such a prey item that just fell into his lap, but he was quickly plowed over by a fast moving opal and blue streak.
"Foxfire!" he heard.
Inuyasha stopped pursuit, his breath caught in his chest as he looked out into the clearing to see that dragonling was struggling to drag the deer down by its neck. Baby teeth and claws scrambled on the deer's hide as the baby dragon tried to find the right place to throttle the prey, its smaller body unable to snap the neck immediately.
The foxfire was surrounding the clearing, making escape seemingly impossible for the deer, and Shippō was trying to wrap his arms around the deer's head to force it down and make it easier for the dragonling to do what it needed.
At first, the deer seemed to be winning, but they clung to the animal desperately.
"Don't let go, Koba!" Shippō said, grunting as the deer's head thrashed and beat him up as it slammed down on the ground to dislodge him.
Inuyasha's eyes widened as the giant Inu watched but did not move or attempt to help. It would have taken but a swat of the paw to kill the deer, but it was doing nothing. In fact the great dog was yawning, tongue lolling, as if it was completely bored.
Shippō seemed to realise that what he was doing was attempting to wrestle with something against his smaller size and thinking like a larger predator when he should be thinking like a kitsune. He fell off the head and grabbed vines and wrapped it around the deer's legs, tying them tightly. The deer struggled and rolled over, but couldn't move otherwise, giving Koba time to refasten herself to the animals jugular.
Shippō, convinced that the deer wasn't escaping, focused on helping the dragonling. He focused his energy, the spike of his yōki finally manifesting through the redness of his teeth, and he clamped onto the bottom side of the deer's neck even as Koba was still on the top. They both slammed their combined weight down, refusing to let go until the deer finally collapsed.
The dragonling and the kitsune kit panted on top of the dead deer, lowering their heads. "Thank you, shika-sama for your life," they chimed together, leaning on each other as they caught their breath. Their fur was spiked with excitement even as their bodies were already weary.
Shippō looked down at the deer with a dawning realisation. "I really should carry a knife," he said. "Until I have better claws and fangs."
Koba cocked her head. "You seemed to do alright."
"But—" Shippō started.
"You just tend to forget you're yōkai," Koba said as she licked the blood off Shippō's face.
Shippō seemed lost in thought. He stared at his claws and felt around in his mouth with his tongue. "Oh."
"And you used your head instead of your size," Koba said. "Mum likes when you use your head."
Shippō grinned. "Help me get the heart, will you?"
The pair struggled to open the carcass by the belly. Shippō's claws were sharper, but he needed a start, and his teeth were dull in comparison to the dragonling's. Koba tore into the hide with her teeth, breaking the first skin, and Shippō dragged his claws down the belly to open the carcass.
Shippō stared. "Um…"
Koba tilted her head. "Maybe we keep looking until we find it."
Shippō scratched his head. "I was never allowed around the hunts before, and mum and dad always brought back small things. Rabbits and birds."
Koba shrugged, the movement travelling down her serpentine body like a wave. "I'll look for it," she said, diving into the belly of the carcass with a SPLORK sound.
Shippō's eyes widened as he fought with different emotions.
Suddenly she tumbled back out, covered in gore, but she had the heart by the aortic arch, looking mighty proud of herself. "Fwond dit" she muttered, mouth full.
They carried it together to the foot of the great Inu, barely but a speck on its paw— the heart seeming even less so.
They placed the heart in the grass by its feet.
"We brought you the heart of our first kill!"
The pair bristled with excitement.
The inu's head lowered slowly, and her tongue slithered out to clean off the pair until they were both floofy. She took the offering between her fangs and her tongue slipped out and around it, dragging it into her mouth. She swallowed, and it was but a paltry offering, yet—
The inu lifted her head and howled, and the kit yipped while the dragonling roared and a pulse of powerful family yōki blew outward. Far, far in the distance, a lone howl answered.
Inuyasha felt his stomach tighten almost immediately. That was Sesshōmaru's howl.
"Kagome-oneesama!" Shippō cried. "Can we share this deer with Kaede-obasan, Sango, and Miroku?"
Kirara transformed as she jumped down from the Inu's head and grabbed the deer, leaping up to place it on the inu's shoulders.
"Who's Kaede, Sango, and Miroku?" Koba asked.
"Um… well, I travelled with them along with Kagome-oneesama and Inuyasha. We went after Naraku, who wanted to become a full yōkai and destroy everything."
Koba blinked. "So, they are your pack?"
Shippō made a face. "They're my friends."
"But, not your family pack? Your weyr?"
Shippō scratched his head. "Um, sometimes you just have really close friends. But we weren't pack or weyr."
"But you call mum oneesama," the dragonling asked.
"Well I always thought of her like a big sister, but now she really is," Shippō said.
"Oh." Koba rubbed her head with the tip of her tail. "Ok!"
"Hahaue!" Koba yelled up. "May we ride on you?"
The inu lowered her head and allowed them to ride on her head. The great inu turned and jumped into the air, taking off into the sky towards the village.
Inuyasha struggled as his nose tried to make sense of what he was smelling rather than what his eyes were seeing. There was something familiar in the black inu, but he couldn't accept that it was Kagome. Not the Kagome he knew. There was no way. She was human.
Humans didn't become demons. It would have taken a wish from the Shikon no Tama, and that didn't exist anymore. He'd made the last wish on it—
Inuyasha's eyes went wide.
Sango's jaw hit the ground as the black inu towered above the cooking fire outside their home. Shippō jumped off the beast's head as he leapt into her arms.
"Sango!" he cried, giving her a hug. "I found her!"
An opal and sapphire dragonling peered around nervously, but the inu lowered its head and flicked an ear to encourage dismount. The dragonling slowly crept off the inu's head.
"Come meet Sango and Miroku, Koba-chan!" Shippō said.
Kirara leapt down from the inu's back, delivering the hunt to Sango's feet.
Sango stared, speechless.
The dragon's eyes whirled as she took in the area. "This one helps bring first kill to share with Shippō-niichan no…" She made a face as she tried to think of the word. "Not weyr-pack."
"Friends, Koba-chan!" Shippō corrected.
"Frrrriends," Koba sounded out, slightly conflicted.
"This is Koba!" Shippō said, pointing to the dragonling. "She's my sister!"
Sango and Miroku eyed the kitsune dubiously. "Mmmhmm."
Miroku tired to speak first. "We weren't aware you had a sister."
"Brothers and sisters, but Koba is the only one with us today," Shippō said, a bright smiles on his face.
"This one prefers soaking in hahaue's attention," Koba said. She grinned, all fangs. "This one was firstborn."
"Spoilt is what you are," Shippō said with a grin.
"Hn," the dragonling answered.
Shippō bounced off Miroku and pounced Koba, and they tussled together in the dirt. Shippō tossed acorns at the dragonling, and she jetted flame and electricity at him until his acorn bonked her on the head, and her electricity zapped his tail.
They both fell to the ground rubbing their wounded parts and pride, then, almost immediately, started up again.
The inu grabbed them both between her fangs like a cage and growled.
"Awww," the two cried together. "Playtime over."
She opened her jaws to let them out, and they sat together by the fire, looking this way and that.
Sango and Miroku looked a little gobsmacked and sat down by the fire.
The kit and the dragonling eyed the inu's tail, and they pounced on it together, making mock growls and pounces to capture it only to have it escape and have them try again.
"Oniisan! Oneesan!" Rin's voice broke the silence. She ran out from Kaede's hut and beelined towards them as a frustrated kappa ran frantically after her.
"Rinchan! Don't just go running off! It took me forever to find you the first time!"
Rin scampered up to the black Inu as her head came down to the ground, fangs exposed.
"Rin! No!" Sango said, instinctively thinking the worst.
Rin paid her no heed, slipping out from Sango's hands and rushing up to the Inu's head and bumped her cheek against her jowls and very purposely gave her a tiny lick. "Konbanwa, Hahaue!" she greeted joyously. "Kaede-obasan taught me how to make pickles today!"
The black inu gave the girl a slurp, plucking her up by the kimono and plunking her down with Shippō and Koba. The trio squirmed together, rubbing cheeks and giggling, then all three of them played with the inu's tail. Kirara joined in, unable to resist the twitching tail.
Sango and Miroku exchanged glances, their minds trying to put together simple math and coming up with an imaginary negative number.
Jaken finally made it up the path and collapsed by the fire with a tired moan.
The "kids" saw Jaken, and surrounded him, propping him up, putting a drink in his hand, and drawing a shawl over him before going back to their play.
Sango and Miroku eyed Jaken. Jaken looked at them through half-lidded eyes. "What?"
"Um, so, Jaken," Sango said.
"Eh?" he replied.
"Could you possibly tell us who that is?"
"Eh?" Jaken said, obviously too tired to even notice where he was. He looked around blearily, having perhaps exhausted himself to the point of obliviousness. His eyes widened as he took in the black inu. He leapt up and the promptly slammed himself down to the ground. "AH! Kagome-sama! I did not see you there in the dark because you are also dark. Forgive me, oh great Kagome-sama, for my shameful inability to see in the dark!"
The black inu flattened her ears, but then she yawned wide, showing all of her fangs in great, vivid detail.
"Jaken-sama!" Rin said. "You don't have to grovel. Just say hello!"
The trio was sitting on the twitching tail together, moving up and down with it like they were on a see-saw.
"That would be greatly inappropriate after failing to make proper greetings when I first arrived!" Jaken stammered.
The kids shrugged together. "Okay."
"Wait, this is Kagome? The real Kagome?" Sango gasped.
"That is Lady Kagome?" Miroku said at the same time.
Jaken mumbled into the ground. "Is there another Kagome-sama in the territory of the East and West?"
"Wait, what does the east and west have to do with it?" Sango asked.
Rin was cuddling Koba as they slid down the inu's tail and sat by the fire. "Because those are the only two territories that matter."
"But, the Western Lands are ruled by Sesshōmaru-sama," Sango said.
"And the Eastern Lands don't have a ruling yōkai," Miroku said.
The black inu rose to her feet, teeth bared, and she leapt into the sky and shot upward only to collide with the very familiar and imposing true form of Sesshōmaru. They twisted around each other, fangs bared, plummeting towards the Earth like falling stars.
The ground quaked, and a giant cloud of dust slowly faded. Two humanoid figures walked side by side together, close but not touching save for the lightest brush of their mokomokos between them.
"Sesshōmaru-sama," Sango said in a gasp, bowing immediately.
"Kagome-no-kimi," Miroku whispered, bowing his head with haste.
"What?" Sango's head jolted up to see Sesshōmaru's cold expression hit her full on, causing her knees to quake without her permission. Even as her head jerked, and she almost bit her own tongue, she saw the human form of the black inu at last.
Kagome's face remained much the same, only slightly more feral and sharp of cheek. Her hair was now down to the end of her spine, and blue markings adorned her wrists, ankles, and cheeks. On her forehead there was a single spiral, but on her neck was the familiar crescent moon half hidden by her hair.
"Haha-ue!" Koba and Rin cried.
"Ane-ue!" Shippō cried, scampering up.
The all looked way up to Sesshōmaru, his tall stature making them strain to do so. "Sesshōmaru-sama!"
"Sesshōmaru-sama!" Jaken cried, going back to prostrating himself in the dirt. A spark from the fire set his sashinuki hakama on fire, and he yelped, frantically fanning his rump only to make it worse.
Sesshōmaru and Kagome looked on impassively, but Kagome looked slightly more concerned when the kappa started running towards the village and the dry crop field, but then the poor yōkai trip-slid across a puddle getting himself covered in mud.
The fire went out, though—
Koba shook her head. "Jaken-sama will require a bath."
"And how," Shippō said, shaking his head in agreement.
"Should Rin go and help?" she asked.
"No," Sesshōmaru and Kagome said together.
"Okay!" Rin said cheerfully and sat down again.
"Kagome?" Sango said tearfully, her emotions surging. She looked at her with same heartbroken expression she had once had the day she thought Kirara had left and been killed by the gorilla-yōkai. She ran towards her and engulfed her into an embrace, crushing her against herself, sobbing.
At first, Kagome stiffened, but then, as her body remembered Sango's touch and the memories they had shared together. She struggled with words once more, torn between putting her effort into controlling her stronger and more powerful emotions and expressing herself in words.
"San-go," she whispered, her talons gently tapping on the taijiya's back.
"It is you!" Sango cried. "It IS you!" she hugged Kagome even tighter, and the inu yōkai relaxed a little, allowing the woman to come undone.
Miroku started to creep over for a hug as well, his arms extended to get in on the hugging action, but Sesshōmaru's index talon plunked in to his forehead as he growled.
The monk found himself on his rear end, slumped, a sigh of disappointment on his lips. "Why does Sango always get in on the action. That's not fair."
He spied Sango's rather shapely arse and reached out to touch that instead.
Sango's hand connected to his face and he went tumbling to the side. "You choose NOW to do that, you… HENTAI!"
Miroku lay flat on his back, wheezing with a pained face. "Nnngh."
The tiny trio looked back and forth together, heads bobbing like they were watching an intense game of racquetball.
"No wonder mummy isn't talking," Koba said. "Human social customs are so strange."
"They're not normally this odd," Shippō said, trying to defend them.
Kirara's head went back and forth as she watched the drama unfold.
"See? Kirara agrees!" Koba said.
Kirara mewed, rubbing up against Koba.
"I wonder if we'll get dinner anytime soon," Koba said, her tummy growling noisily.
"I could get you some off the carcass," Shippō said.
Koba shook her head. "Can't eat before mummy and daddy."
"Oh," Shippō said, scratching his head. "I'm too used to fending for myself around these guys."
Sesshōmaru let out a low growl. "You will extricate yourself from this Sesshōmaru's mate so we can share food that the pups may eat."
Sango fell backwards with a gasp. "Mate?"
Sesshōmaru's eyes narrowed dangerously into slits. "Are you ignorant as to what a mate is? Do you require visual aids?"
Sesshōmaru placed his talons around Kagome's neck, ever so gently rubbing his cheek against her jawline. His teeth bared as he attached himself to her neck like a lamprey and drew a rumbling growl of lust from Kagome. Their yōki pulsed together, and the beacons across the Eastern and Western Lands flared and strengthened, sending an even bigger pulse of yōki across their combined territories. From the Eastern Lands the panthers roared, and from the Western Lands the vassals of Sesshōmaru howled. Mixed within were the tiny roars of the dragonlings.
"Arou!" Rin chimed in.
"Yip. YIP!" Shippō cried.
"Rawwrrr!" Koba roared.
Sango shuddered as the spike of power flowed through her, and she turned to see if Miroku felt the same—
Miroku was getting off on watching the two daiyōkai reinforcing their bonds as mates.
Sango flushed, summoning her boomerang. "Hiraikotsu!"
"AHHHHHHHHHHHHH SANGOCHAN WHYYYYYYY!" Miroku cried, fleeing from the campfire as the boomerang chased him across the rice fields.
Sango returned to the fire to see Sesshōmaru and Kagome sharing something bloody between them. Her eyes widened as each of them took time to lick the blood from the other's mouth, a rumble of appreciation sounding off from their throats.
Then, Kagome turned, using one talon to slice the second carcass that had appeared as if by magic (thanks to Sesshōmaru), carefully fed Rin, Shippō, and Koba and watched them eat their portions completely before she turned her back on the carcass, allowing them to do with it what they willed.
Surprisingly, Koba dive into the carcass first and did some "rummaging" before coming out with the tenderloin in her mouth. She slithered out and put it in Rin's hands before diving back in, pulling out the ever tasty and coveted liver.
Shippō looked at it, but the little dragonet growled, curling her body around it as she hurriedly gnawed on the end of it. Shippō, mollified, cut a bit of the ribs off the carcass and carried it over to the fire to cook it.
Koba's face twisted into disgust as she realised Shippō was going to cook "perfectly wonderful raw meat."
Koba watched Rin who was skewering the tenderloin to put it over the fire to cook. The dragonling sighed. This simply wouldn't do.
She sidled up next to the girl, taking her liver with her, and she ripped off a chunk, chewing it thoroughly and them bonked her muzzle into Rin's face and shared.
Rin's eyes went wide as the offering went into her mouth, and she swallowed.
Encouraged, Koba flared her yōki and did it again.
Rin swallowed again, looking a little baffled. Then, she seemed to get the idea, and she took a piece off the liver and chewed it and offered it back to Koba.
Koba did a loop de loop, flaring her yōki and the tendrils of it went into Rin. She licked Rin's face clean, rumbling in approval.
Sango busied herself, neatly spitting the kill that Shippō and Koba had gifted her and Miroku, her face wrinkled as she considered what she was learning. She stroked Kirara's head and back, and the nekomata mewed appreciatively. More importantly, she showed no sign of aggression or fear, which gave Sango much to consider, even without the strangely alien sense of caring that Koba showed for Rin, the detached and silent way Kagome seemed to watch over them, and the even more unexpected raw protectiveness demonstrated by Sesshōmaru.
Kagome stood, extricating herself from Sesshōmaru with a silent rub of her cheek against his, her talons ever so gently brushing against his chin line. She said nothing, but he nodded as if she had, and she turned and walked in the direction of the Bone-Eater's Well.
Sango, finishing eating the roasted meat she had skewered on a bamboo skewer, put some more near the fire and left it so she could follow Kagome.
Kagome walked slowly, almost as if she were feeling the very ground beneath her as she walked. They came to the well, and Kagome sat on the edge, her fingers brushing against the wood and stone, her eyes cast down in thought. "Sango," she said, seemingly rolling the name around in her mouth like a foreign object.
"Kagome, what happened?" Sango gushed.
Kagome winced, struggling with speech, but she seemed to focus her will into making it work for her. "Pain," she said. "Emptiness. Then— warmth inside me. It flooded inside and I woke up as I am."
"Did you wish—?"
Kagome shook her head. "I didn't even get the chance."
Sango stared into her lap. "Is it difficult? Connecting to your past?"
Kagome frowned, one ear twitching. "Emotions are very strong. Words are harder to focus. You speak with words. Say one thing, mean something else. Your body betrays your words. It's— hard to focus."
"You never had problems talking to us before," Sango said.
Kagome's eyes narrowed. "I could never see then. Feel. Sense. There are no small emotions, only strong ones. Good or bad. Or the emptiness between." Kagome shook her head. "That's not— not usual," she corrected. She clenched her fist together. The truth was when she wasn't around familiar yōki, or very familiar energies, such as when Rin had greeted her the first time after her change, it was difficult to communicate with words. It took serious effort.
Sango was suspicious, as much as she wanted to believe that Kagome was still Kagome, but a long time being fooled by Naraku again and again had not helped any of them learn to trust easily.
Kagome wanted to talk to Sango like she always had, but the words got tangled in her emotions much as they did back home in her own time when forced to do public speaking. Even thinking of her family back in the future made her feel conflicted. Would they even consider her family anymore?
"It worries me," Sango said. "Inuyasha knew what a selfish wish could bring. If he did wish for something selfish, does that mean the Shikon no Tama will simply show up again?"
Kagome shook her head. "No. It made a wish."
"When someone makes a selfish wish, the jewel itself can make one of its own." Kagome stared up to the sky, staring at the stars. "Usually, that wish has always been to restart the cycle anew so the yōkai and Midoriko battle again forever."
Kagome sniffed. "The jewel had been purified— the yōkai and Midoriko dormant. The jewel made the wish, not them— I think, maybe," she said, frowning as she tried to put it to words. "Maybe it wanted to save me."
"Somehow you are both miko and yōkai." Sango said it plainly, trying to get it sorted in her own head. "That should not be possible."
Kagome's lips curved into a predatory smile. "Do you think Kirara vicious and bloodthirsty?"
"Do you think she'll be a murderer?"
"So a yōkai can choose to be—" Kagome searched for the word she needed. "Civil."
"Of course they can, you know that!"
"Then, why could they not also have faith?"
Sango's jaw dropped, and she swore she could feel her tongue rolling out like a bedroll. "I—"
Kagome chuckled, the first sign of her old humour returning.
Sango, seemingly realising what a fool she was being, laughed, and she flung herself around Kagome at last, hugging her tightly. This time, however, she held nothing back, and the stress in Kagome's shoulders and body finally melted away as she returned the fond embrace.
Sango felt a profound sense of relief as the pair of them chatted well into the night— long enough to get a bit chilled.
"Kagome, don't you want to go home even for a little while?" Sango asked.
Kagome, who had moved to sit on the lip of the well as she once had many times before. "This Kagome cannot risk leaving and abandoning her territory." Her expression had turned sombre and more stoic.
Koba appeared, thumping into her mum with an oof and nuzzling under her chin in placation and apology, silently making sure she didn't forget she was there.
Koba snuggled into Kagome before sitting on the edge of the well. Her eyes widened as she looked down, tongue flicking as her curious nature overwhelmed her. Her baby claws clenched the side of the stone, but her rear end was a little heavy, and it tried to push the rest of her over. She slipped and made an eep sound, her claws scrambling and flailing for purchase on the slippery well stone.
A sibling appeared in a cloud of yōki, clamping his mouth on Koba's tail. Another appeared behind that clamping her mouth on their tail. They formed a chain to keep themselves from falling in.
Kagome leaned over, using her arm to gently lever them up.
Kagome sighed, her head shaking. She bared her teeth, pressing her face to each of her dragonlings' necks, sniffing them over as she gave each one a tender slurp of affection. Each dragonling sang their name to her, perhaps as a reminder or even instinct.
Sango stared, unsure what to think. She wasn't a dragon specialist, and while her family were all about yōkai hunting— dragons were kind of a 'don't ask, don't tell and run like you're going to die' topic.
Koba— that was the one who seemed attached to the hip (or shoulder in her case) to Kagome. Her distinctive pearly scales and vibrant blue body fur made her rather flashy in appearance. Kiba was an emerald green with purest white mane-fur, and he had flashy golden teeth and a bright orange tongue that he flicked in and out when he wanted to know what was going on. His eyes matched his tongue, glowing like twin suns. Kawa was a dark cobalt blue with an aquamarine mane and eyes, and he sported extra floofy back-fur that reminded Sango of the mokomokos. Kona was earthen-coloured, and her body seemed to be mottled like sun between the branches on the forest floor. Even her eyes matched the mottle, barely even allowing an onlooker to tell which end was the biting end.
Sango wasn't ready to even guess what she should think. What did you call baby dragons? Dragonets? Little dragons? Mini blighters? Bother…
Kagome was watching her carefully, evaluating what Sango was thinking, perhaps. Sango found herself unsure about a lot of things.
"What's down there?"
Kagome looked over the edge. "Time, but when, I am not quite sure."
The dragonlings whispered to each other.
"Kagome, how is it that dragonlings can talk so young?"
All four dragonlings stared at her, looking at her like she was a tasty morsel.
Kagome frowned. She made an egg shape with her hands and pantomimed it cracking open as a shower of something from her head had flowed into the egg.
Sango blinked. "Neee?"
"Mum says it's because we imprinted on her," Koba said.
"It's a dragon thing," Kona said, bobbing her head. She did a wave with her body in mid air before hopping back down on the rim of the well. "There were a lot of us."
Kawa and Kina bobbed their heads in agreement.
"When you're family is really big, you need an advantage," Kawa said.
"Being cute isn't enough," Kona said in agreement.
"We do have cute down though," Koba said.
"Indeed," the dragonets agreed together.
"Cute keeps Chichiue from murdering us."
The dragonlings nodded together happily.
Kagome snorted in amusement, startling Sango.
"Mew," Kirara said, hopping into her lap and purring.
Sango realised Kagome was smiling again, really smiling, and it warmed her heart to know that the miko was able to.
Miko? Yōkai? What was she, and did it really matter?
"Hahaue?" Kawa asked.
"Hm?" she replied.
"If we drop a rock in the well, will it hit someone on the head in the future?"
Kagome's eyebrow shot up into a steep angle.
Sango couldn't help herself. She laughed loudly, startling the dragonlings and causing Kagome to give her a "look".
"It's hard to remember they are kids when they speak so easily but then they remind us all that they are still very young."
Kagome smiled and shrugged silently, but the smile was genuine.
Kina yawned, all fangs and tongue. He peered over the well's side, staring at the swirling not-water below. His tail twitched as his back fur rose as his curiosity was piqued.
Kagome watched him closely just as a soft, almost undetectable tink of a notch from an arrow falling onto a string sounded out.
"Brother, no!" the other dragonlings cried throwing themselves onto his tail to pull him back even as Kagome leapt to shield them from whatever was coming their way, knowing her chances of survival were far greater than theirs.
Kagome's arms went around her dragonlings as an arrow hit her straight to the chest where the jewel had once been buried. She roared in pain, and her body thrashed, her humanoid form not as resilient at her great inu one. And explosion of wild reiki mixed with yōki poured out from the area.
The nova of power shattered the outside of the well even as Kagome's body fell into the depths.
"Kagome!" Sango screamed as she rushed to the rubble of the well, staring down into depths of the Bone-Eater's well as she looked to see— praying for— Kagome having somehow stopped her descent into the well's magical vortex.
"No!" Sango cried.
The well was empty; the glow was gone.
A horrible, bone-chilling howl pierced the air with the kind of despair that made the idea of falling on one's sword seem like a wonderful idea.
A mottled dragonling crawled out of the well's ruins, crying in pain, scales dull and back fur tangled with stone powder and plant pieces.
The dragonling seemed to wilt, body slithering onto the ground as she radiated distress. "Hahaue!" she whimpered, her voice cracking. "HAHAUE!" she let out a wail of despair.
Sango's heart beat like a wild thing as Sesshōmaru landed on the ground with enough force and power to level a patch of trees. His lips pulled back from bared, pointed fangs as his talons curved around Kikyō's neck.
"You will tell this Sesshōmaru what you have done to his mate," he snarled, the venom in his claws glowed and dripped from his talons with a pale, green aura. His golden eyes had been swallowed in crimson, shifting into the unnerving teal of his true form.
Kikyō's eyes were wild and filled with emotion as she let out a laugh. The complete presence of emotions seems like a strange, alien contrast to the colder, almost unemotional being that had once been formed of clay and fed by soul eaters.
"The soul was mine, not hers," Kikyō muttered, not even seeming to see the position she was in. "She's where she belongs," she said. "Away from here. Away from us."
Sesshōmaru's talons clenched tighter. "Kagome belongs with this Sesshōmaru."
Kikyō's smile was delirious. "Feel free to follow her."
Sesshōmaru' fangs dripped his poison, even as it simultaneously trickled down his talons. He started to crush her throat. While Kikyō's eyes were filled with a sort of emotion-fueled insanity— too much where once was so little— Sesshōmaru's expression was utterly cold, dispassionate, and lacking of a remote flicker of emotion.
A rumbling blast shot through the air as Tessaiga's attack blew them apart. Kikyō went one direction and Sesshōmaru the other. Kona affixed herself to Sesshōmaru's leg, trembling and eyes wild.
"Inuyasha, no!" Sango yelled, standing between them with Kirara, who had transformed into her larger and more ultimately brassed-off form.
She dropped to her knees in front of Sesshōmaru, bowing. "Please, Sesshōmaru-sama. She has always returned before. She will return!"
Inuyasha stood over Kikyō, his face twisted between instinctive protective anger and confusion. "What—" he began to say. "What happened?"
Kona stared accusingly at him. "Your intended attacked my brother, and Hahaue shielded us from the arrow. But she fell into the well and disappeared!"
Inuyasha blinked, his eyes flicking to his half-brother's stone-cold face. "How do you—"
The dragonling bared her teeth at Inuyasha. "You haven't sealed your mating bond. It's no wonder you're both messed up! You're going all possessive violent, and she's going all mental because only half of her is connected to you!"
Inuyasha let Tessaiga's blade drop to the ground. "What?"
"Halfbreed," Sesshōmaru growled. "You have been living for how many years with an incomplete bond, and you did not even notice?"
"What the hell are you talking about, Sesshōmaru?" Inuyasha yelled as he helped Kikyō up.
Sesshōmaru's eyebrow seemed to twitch along with his ear tip. "It is in our blood to focus on one female, who can either refuse us or accept our courtship. We cannot focus elsewhere for long while that incomplete bond remains so— but you—" Sesshōmaru curled his lip, his fangs showing slightly. "You not only allowed the little miko to think there was a possibility, but you were still attached to the old, fake one."
"She is not fake!" Inuyasha roared, looking ready to leap out at him again. He leapt, unable to control his temper.
Sesshōmaru grasped his half-brother by the throat, talons clenching as his other hand crushed his opposite wrist. "You are in the grips of the madness, hanyō," he said through gritted teeth. "Either mate the human or have her deny you, or your combined insanity will kill you both."
He flung Inuyasha away, causing him to topple into Kikyō in a crumpled heap.
Sesshōmaru turned and started to walk away.
Kikyō drew back her bowstring, setting an arrow.
"Kikyō what are you—!" Inuyasha yelled.
Sesshōmaru had turned, his hand grasping the arrow shaft as it turned to ash in his hand. "You could not hurt this Sesshōmaru when you were a miko, human. Why do you think your pathetic arrow could do so now?"
His eyes narrowed as he scowled at Inuyasha. "And you, hanyō, are pathetic to not have realised her deceit."
Sesshōmaru turned slowly and left, and Kirara followed behind. Sango, torn between her friend and Kirara's judgement, made a tortured face before dashing after the nekomata.
Inuyasha stared at Kikyō. "What does he mean 'when you were a miko'?"
The strange insanity in Kikyō's eyes faded when they were alone once more. She shook her head as if to clear it by force. She seemed to wrestle with her emotions as her eyebrows knit together. "I—" she started to say. "I haven't had holy powers since you made your wish."
Inuyasha felt the weight of a thousand stones around his neck. "That's why you didn't remove the Kotodama no Nenju the night we were going to—" he trailed off, face twisting in anguish. "I was so angry that you didn't trust me enough to take them off, I never realised you couldn't take them off."
Kikyō stared at the ground.
"Kikyō, what did you do? Sesshōmaru was going to kill you!"
Kikyō fisted her hair with one hand. "I—" She stared at the well— or what was left of it. "I was so jealous, I—" She shivered. "I don't remember. I just… I just wanted her to go away."
Inuyasha walked over to the partially destroyed well. "I can't tell if it's working. He perched on the ledge that wasn't broken and looked down. He stared at Kikyō. "Was it really Kagome?"
Kikyō frowned. "It was a yōkai."
"But was it Kagome?" Inuyasha pressed.
Kikyō sighed. "She looked— similar."
An acorn his Inuyasha on the head. "Inubaka," Shippō said sleepily. "Where is Kagome-oneechan?"
Inuyasha turned abruptly. "Keh. She went down the well," he said, hoping like other times that Shippō would take it as he always did.
"WHAT?" Shippō cried. "You're lying!"
Inuyasha konked Shippō on the head and rubbed his hair with his fist. "Do I look like I'm lying, runt?"
Shippō squirmed and escaped, but he eyed Inuyasha suspiciously. "She wouldn't have," Shippō said seriously, his brows knit together. "She promised not to leave me alone like when my parents died! She promised to teach me how to be a real yōkai! She promised she wasn't going to go in the well again!"
"Since when do you think Kagome can teach you how to be a real yōkai, runt?"
Shippō gave him a steely glare. "Since Sesshōmaru-sama almost murdered me for mucking up my yōki and accidently challenged him in front of his mate!"
"You must have hit your head pretty good, runt," Inuyasha said. "My half-brother doesn't have a mate."
Shippō looked skyward and sighed. "You really need to solidify that something something you have together," Shippō said gesturing at Inuyasha and Kikyō with two hand puppets. "Maybe then you'd realise that the reason I knew you were lying was that Kikyō smelled of guilt— I'm betting she's not used to having all those genuine human emotions again, so she's equally not able to hide them like she once did." The fox kit stormed away, his disgust plain to see on his face.
Kagome woke to find herself staring at the bright gold eyes of an inuyōkai pup who was poking her with a branch he had fashioned into a sword. As she stirred, pulling herself up from the ground, the dragonlings unfurled from under her after having flattened themselves against her body for protection.
Her nose worked, and her eyes narrowed.
The pup, however, was not impressed. He puffed himself up and pointed his sword at her, trying to look impressive.
Kagome scented the air, pulling on the lessons her mate had given her as she sorted through her instincts. The pup should not be alone, yet she smelled nothing— heard nothing else like a parent being nearby.
He stared at her defiantly, seemingly undeterred by his smaller stature.
Kagome stood, silent, but she gave the pup a nod of acknowledgement.
Suddenly, the pup's entire demeanour changed. Her small nod brought out a drastic transformation, and he began to follow her.
The dragonlings, clinging to her body and hiding in her Mokomoko, stared at him as they exchanged silent curious glances.
A rustling caught her attention, and Kagome dropped down, nose working. A buck was limping nearby, having been gored by his fellow male in an attempt to impress a female. His loss would feed her dragonlings, and she knew they would be hungry due to their growling stomachs.
She pulled her bowstring back as the arrow formed between her fingers, and then she released.
The arrow took the deer straight through to the other side, piercing through the lungs and heart. The deer, having lost much of his fight in the battle to mate, staggered a few yards before falling over.
Kagome walked closer as the deer breathed its last. She knelt down and touched the wound area. Her yōki-arrow disappeared into the air with a shimmer.
"This one thanks you for your life to feed my family," Kagome said quietly. She quickly sliced down the belly and found the two pieces she was looking for. Plucking a broad leaf from nearby, she wrapped the heart and liver in the leaf and bound it with braided grass.
"What's that, Hahaue?" the dragonlings asked, wondering why she would give such tasty things to the leaves and dirt.
Kagome scowled, trying to put things into words for the dragonlings to understand. "This is not our home."
They stared at her in confusion. "Yes it is! It's the East!"
Kagome shook her head. "It is not this Kagome's East."
Her dragonlings were obviously trying to wrap their minds around that.
Kagome used a foot to sweep out the peace circle on the ground. In the near-center she placed the wrapped bundle of heart and liver. She built a small fire in the center, using her power to ignite the tinder into a small column of smoke. She allowed the mixture of her power to drip off her talons, casting it over her smoking fire to mark it as hers.
She nudged the dragonlings over. "Put some of your yōki into the fire," she guided.
Koba attempted it first, concentrating hard and making her fur stand on end. Her yōki flashed, and part of it caught on the fire. She stared up at her mother hopefully, and Kagome nodded in approval. Koba smiled, beaming, and curled up back on her mum's neck.
Kina and Kawa tried next, feeding off each other's competitive nature to outdo each other. Kina focused his yōki well, but Kawa ended up channeling a gush of water instead. Kagome plucked the dragonling up and scowled at him.
"Sorry, Hahaue," Kawa apologised, embarrassed.
Kagome sniffed, thumping the dragonling on the rump before putting him on her other shoulder to cling there— and drip water somewhere else. Kagome redid the fire, concentrating her yōki to keep the flame lit but not burn, much like the fires that glowed back in her Eastern fortress. She then carefully carved the carcass with her claws, making sure each mouth had an equal share. She cut some of the tenderloin and placed it on a broad leaf along with some of the tastier bits and thumped it down in front of the inuyōkai pup, saying nothing.
The pup looked like he was going to dive right in, but the dragonlings all looked at their mother expectantly. Koba tore off a piece of her share and climbed up her mum's chest and thunked the offering into her mother's mouth.
Kagome raised one brow but chewed and swallowed, giving Koba an approving slurp upside the muzzle.
The dragonlings dove into their shares with abandon, hungrily making it all disappear. The inuyōkai pup seemed torn between wonder and hunger, and decided to go with hunger first. The dragonlings yawned, flashing fangs.
"Hahaue," Koba protested, "may we sleep?"
Kagome took in a deep breath and let it out. She used her foot to draw out an extension to the peace circle and then leaned against the trunk of one tree. The dragonlings distributed over her lap as Koba claimed her neck, snuggling into her mum with a happy sigh.
As she watched the sky, the inuyōkai pup stared at her, making no effort to conceal his rudeness. She slid her eyes sideways to regard him.
She watched his emotions threaten to control him, and he beat them down with his force of will. She tilted her head, strangely amused by the effort the pup was putting into self control at such a young age.
He squared his shoulders and tilted his head up defiantly. "This one thanks you for the meal," he said.
Kagome nodded, offering silent acknowledgement.
She closed her eyes, allowing her ears to do the listening as she rested. After a few minutes, she felt the distinctive touch of one little pup nestling into her mokomoko for warmth with the dragonlings. A small tug of a smile moved her lips as she relaxed.
When the badger yōkai scented the wrapped parcel, he smiled, knowing he wouldn't have to hunt for dinner for himself. His claws scraped at the slickly wrapped meat, his nose telling him everything he wanted was inside. His jaws wrapped around the cord and gnawed, attempting to pull or snap it open to release the hidden treasure.
The jaws of a great dragon snapped up the badger in one bite, viscously shaking the body until it hung limp. It made a widening motion with its jaws and then snapped one more time, swallowing both the honor offering and the would-be thief in one go.
The dragon sniffed the fire, nostrils flaring as he noted the scents, memorising they who would not forget to pay respects to the ruling Lord of the East. The great dragon sensed eyes upon him, and he raised his head, looking closer to see a figure leaning back against one of the trees.
The figure stood, and the dragon saw the pup beside her and—
Hatchlings? How was that possible?
The scents were familiar. This mysterious female was teaching the ways of honor to her unorthodox pack. Perhaps she, too, was a dragon, and this was her weyr. Odd that he'd never scented her before.
He rumbled thoughtfully. "I am Ryūkotsusei, Lord of the Eastern Lands, and you have honoured the Old Ways of respect and peace. What is your name, that I may call you by it?"
The female approached and bowed lowly. "This one is known as Kagome," she replied. She unfurled Koba from her neck.
"This one is Koba!" she announced, puffing up, but not forgetting to bow her head.
"Kina!" the emerald dragonling said.
"Kawa!" the cobalt dragonling said.
They all bowed, emulating their mum.
The dragon lowered its head, eyeing the inuyōkai pup. "And you are?"
The pup arrogantly lifted his head, not bowing. "This one is Sesshōmaru."
The three dragonlings snapped their heads around. "Aren't you a little tiny to be Sesshōmaru?"
The pup looked at them strangely.
The dragon, unimpressed with Sesshōmaru's lack of manners, pulled back his muzzle as his yōki built up, jaws parting to blast the rude offender into paste.
Kagome, eyes widening, did the only thing she could think of to stop what was going to happen. She threw herself in front, tossing Sesshōmaru into the peace circle, and then rubbed her jaw along the dragon's muzzle in an appeal for protection.
The yōki and jaki faded as the dragon's eyes widened, having been startled by the bold move.
Her throat was bared as she waited for his answer. She did not tremble, but she did not move.
Ryūkotsusei considered the situation.
She had stepped out of the peace circle to throw the pup into it, sacrificing her safely for the insolent pup under her protection— a pup he knew was not hers. She had taught her dragonlings well, and they had emulated her grace and politeness. She had appealed to his protection, begging his acceptance and the price of her independence— knowing if he accepted her into his weyr, he would be responsible for her and she would in turn have to bow to his wishes.
Respect was hard won and those willing to honour the old ways was even more rare.
To slaughter her would waste that— and the dragonlings that would go mad with their mother's death.
Ryūkotsusei pressed his teeth to her neck, allowing his yōki and jaki to pour through his fangs as he bit her, just enough to instill his mark upon her and claim her for the Eastern Lands. Purple swirls, the mark of his line, moved across her skin to join those that were already there.
"I accept you into my weyr," Ryūkotsusei said, pulling away, noticing how she did not move, even as the blood trickled down her throat.
She waited as the wound healed before she bowed to him.
Ryūkotsusei found it strange how easily the respect came from this new inuyōkai, the likes of which he had never seen before. He liked what he saw.
"Climb upon my back and I shall fly you to our yōsai, where your weyr awaits your introduction," he said.
Kagome nodded and climbed up, beckoning her dragonlings, and they all flew into her arms and around her body, tucking themselves into her mokomoko. Sesshōmaru looked at her with conflict, perhaps not understanding the vastness of what she had done for his sake, nor why she would have to.
Coming to a decision, he followed her, tucking himself into her warmth as the mighty Ryūkotsusei took to the air and flew east.
End of Chapter 2
A/N: Thank you for all your support on chapter one. I hope you enjoyed this chapter as well. Please let me know what you think. I enjoy hearing from you.