The rennaisance faire is frickin awesome. So is the three hour freaking drive to get there. Rofl. So this was written in a car, listening to ... uh... I have no idea what the hell I'm listening to, but it involves my roomie singing along (It's "Black Parade" apparently). Anyhoo, this was written in a car and for some reason my laptop hates letting me see the screen when it's not plugged in so here's hoping this makes sense 'cause I'm quite literally typing without looking. I apologize for the lateness; I meant to put this up Sunday but it didn't quite work out that way.

The Only Way

Chapter Thirteen

"We there yet?" Came the voice of one incredibly frustrated half-demon. Again. He'd been whining for the last four hours, asking about every fifteen minutes if they were "there yet." Quite honestly it was beginning to piss everyone off. Except Shippou, who had taken up residence on his chest and gone right to sleep.

Sango glanced back at the wagon they'd stuffed Inuyasha in and then enlisted Kirara to haul, clearly annoyed. "No, for the love off all that is holy, we are still not there yet." She was really beginning to hate him. Kagome better appreciate the hell it was keeping Inuyasha safe and stopping him from bull-headedly throwing himself into Sesshomaru's castle while demanding the return of his shard detector.

Miroku patted the demon huntress' arm with a sympathetic expression on his face, rolling his eyes as the half-demon swore a blue streak. "This would be so much goddamn faster if I weren't being hauled around by a stupid damn cat why can't I just walk?" Inuyasha worked himself back into a tantrum.

"Because if we let you walk you'll get us killed. Sesshomaru didn't even demand the Tetsusaiga when he kidnapped Kagome this time – so what if he has other plans? What if he just wants you to come racing in to "rescue" her so he can kill you?"

"I highly doubt it. He isn't that smart." Inuyasha snorted.

"Well isn't this cozy." Came an arrogant voice that brought them all to an abrupt halt. Kagura, from whom they hadn't heard in quite a while, was standing just up ahead with her arms crossed and her fans in a lazy grip.

"What do you want, bitch?" Inuyasha called from where he lay, feeling absolutely ridiculous. It was impossible to be intimidating while trussed up and bespelled.

"What do I always want?" Kagura chided.

"We don't have the shards. Go make trouble somewhere else." Miroku interrupted, frowning at the woman with narrow eyes.

"Loathsome monk." Kagura muttered, rolling her eyes. "Guya!"

Guya? They all stood still for a moment, trying to figure out where this rather random word had come from, and that moment cost them as lightening seemed to explode from everywhere at once, upsetting Inuyasha's wagon and pitching him to the ground – which he swore about, of course – and knocking his companions to the dirt as well.

A mad cackling filled the air, Kagura suddenly gone, in her place a large man with no hair and glowing white eyes. He wore robes that mimicked Miroku's monk garb, only in a blood red colour, a heavy amulet around his neck. Sango tried to stand and fling her Hirakotsu, still shaky from the minor earthquake they'd all suffered, and missed.

Guya gave them no chance to recover and attack, he began to move his hands in a complicated pattern, eyes narrow as he chanted under his breath and lifted both hands suddenly into the air, dropping them with just as much abruptness.

Everything turned upside down.

"Spell..." Kagome hesitated, drawing out the word as she considered her options, "Hmmmm... spell flower."

Rin narrowed her eyes in concentration, chewing on her lower lip contemplatively – a nasty habit she'd picked up from Kagome – and slowly offered, "F – L – A – W – A – R."

"Nearly." Her tutor praised, correcting her, "But the ow sound comes from an O, not an A, remember?" At the nod she waved a hand, "Go on, try it again."

"F – L – O – W – O – R?"

Dammit. "Right, right," Kagome praised again, "But since O makes the Ow sound, what leteter makes an Er sound?"


"Eh. Eh." Kagome coached, wriggling her fingers promptingly, trying to coax the correct spelling before both of them lost their patience.

"F – L – O – W – E – R?"

"Yes!" Kagome practically shouted, leaping to her feet and spinning Rin in a circle, "Excellent!" They'd spent most of the morning moving Rin beyond "Cat" and "Dog" and now she'd managed to spell "flower" mostly by herself. "You've got it!"

Rin squealed, and escaped Kagome's arms, racing to throw her arms around the legs of the Taiyoukai who had approached during Kagome's attempts to help Rin reason the spelling of "flower."

"Rin spelled it, Rin spelled it!"

"So I saw." Sesshomaru rested a hand on her head, "Didn't Miss Kagome teach you about how to refer to yourself though, Rin?"

"I." Rin corrected promptly, "I spelled it."

"Very good. You've been hard at work all morning, why don't you go to the kitchen and get something to eat?"

Rin cheered and raced from the room, leaving Kagome and Sessshomaru alone. Things had been a little awkward since a few days before when Sesshomaru had admitted his ulterior motive for helping her get the shards – which were back safely around her neck – back. Kagome coughed quietly as she gathered the papers she'd been using to teach Rin her letters, tapping them together and putting them on one of the small desks. "You're doing wonderfully with her, Kagome." Sesshomaru praised quietly.

"Thank you." She responded immediately, slightly flustered as she smoothed her kimono and headed for the door.

"You haven't seen my kingdom." Sesshomaru interrupted her attempt to escape, "You've been locked up in my castle for weeks, you've seen those of mine with disputes, but you haven't seen my lands."

Well, she knew that... "Yes."

"I will be making a circuit of my lands today – would you like to come with me?"

Surprised, Kagome's eyebrows shot up, "Really?"

"Yes. Rin would happily spend the rest of the day playing and I think you would like to see the Western Lands."

"Do you really think so?" Kagome inquired softly, "I guess I could come with you... don't see any reason why not." She smiled faintly and glanced down at herself, wishing for the millionth time that she either had her uniform or the jeans her mother had given her just before Sesshomaru had snatched her from the well. The kimonos were nice and all, but they were... odd. She always felt slightly uncomfortable.

"Yes. Come along." Sesshomaru escorted her silently to the front doors and then through, letting Kagome enjoy her first taste of the outside without being trapped in the inner walls of the castle, in weeks. He led her to a waiting carriage and helped her within.

Kagome settled, smoothing the skirt, and waited to see if he would join her. He did, making sure the curtains were wide open on both sides, and settling back on his side of the available seating. The carriage was nice, as they went, and plenty large enough for both of them to fit comfortably without touching knees or something else of the sort.

The carriage started with a jerk a moment after Sesshomaru rapped his knuckles on the roof, and Kagome nearly fell from her seat. Cheeks flushing, she closed her eyes and rubbed her forehead. "Watch." Sesshmaru murmured, "You should appreciate the beauty of the Western Lands."

She stirred from where she'd leaned her head against her hands and lifted her face again, peering out the window, waiting to see what was so wonderful about these lands. It didn't take much longer for her to discover the beauty of Lord Sesshomaru's lands and when she did a grin spread over her face.

Green. Everything that could be green, was, to a fault. The trees, to the grass, to the bushes covered an entire spectrum of emerald hues in a dazzling display of midday flourish. The houses and shops appeared as if by magic; minstrels raced about the streets, dancing about as lutes and fiddles sang into the air. Children either clapped for them, giggling, or ran alongside them juggling and tumbling.

Women strolled along the streets, smiling for the minstrels, wearing delicate kimonos and fanning themselves with delicate feathered fans or shading with dainty parasol-like umbrellas. Kagome was fairly certain parasols weren't the fashion in the Sengoku Jidai, so she wondered what to call those umbrellas and finally just stopped worrying about it, eyes flickering to the shops.

Jewelry, fabric, kimonos, snacks, restaurants, fresh fruit, fresh meat, all sorts of wares called for Kagome's interest, she found herself jerking back and forth from side to side in the carriage, eyes wide as she admired each store, asking question after question.

At first he seemed annoyed, but after a while Sesshomaru's face relaxed into faint amusement and he just answered her questions as simply as possible, watching her with mild fascination. She was so very excited, to see something so simple. He'd expected her to be eager, but had not anticipated her squealing over things as simple as latrines.

"And this--"

"Alright, Kagome, that's enough – we will walk the town later, alright?" Sesshomaru rubbed the bridge of his nose, "Take a rest, and breathe for a moment, girl. Your cheeks are purple." He chuckled and leaned to pat her knee, "We will simply ride around the rest of the lands and then stop where you are interested, alright?"

"Okay." Kagome whispered, staring at her knee as if he'd stung her.

Sesshomaru half-smiled and leaned back, continuing to gaze out the windows with no interest. He'd seen it all before; although it was nice to see it through the human's eyes. To see the place where he'd grown up suddenly fascinating and new.

The ride continued much more calmly; the carriage stopping at predefined meeting areas so Sesshomaru could slide from the carriage and meet with whomever led that area. They covered four cities just like the first one Kagome had squealed over, and by the time they were done she was beginning to get seriously tired of being in the damn carriage.

"Okay." Sesshomaru's sudden voice jerked the dark-haired girl up from where she'd been leaning, "Which city would you like to walk through?"

Upon Kagome's request they were walking through the first city, which had left the most lasting impression on her, and she was racing from store to store like a teenager in a mall. Squealing over kimonos and a pair of hakama pants that she adored and matched that haori over there so well! and those hair pins were so beautiful...look at those wonderful earrings! Oh, and the shoes, oh those ones looked so comfortable and much more supportive than her slippers!

It wasn't until she'd worn herself out and finally admitted to Sesshomaru that she was about to drop, that Kagome realized everything she'd pointed out to him in her giddy excitement was being taken to the carriage.

Seeing the look on her face the Lord started to laugh, "They pleased you, I must keep Rin's tutor happy, yes?" He shrugged and kept walking. Kagome gazed after him with wide eyes and then followed him.

This was how Kagome Higurashi found herself sitting in her room, wearing the hakama and haori that had so fascinated her, staring at a pile of boxes and bags... when an arm wrapped around her throat and hauled her backwards.