Chapter 3

It had been a week since that day, when he'd held her and drawn from her lips the promise that she would stay. She'd kept from him though, never letting a time come when they were together alone. Kagome always had Rin near her, and had taken to locking the door to her chamber at night, as though she didn't trust SesshouMaru to leave her be.

Rightly so, he thought, because given the chance he would seduce her completely. He had plans for it, and as time wore on the need for it would become more apparent.

The demon lord made his way through the extensive caverns of his castle home. Her scent was part of the very walls now, and as he went about the daily business of overseeing his domain, thoughts of Kagome constantly invaded his mind. Whether or not she was the miko of legend would be seen, but she had certainly developed a special place in his life, just like Rin.

He'd seen her playing with Rin a few days back, the two dressing up in all of the extravagant cloths and kimonos SesshouMaru had provided for her, and he had caught the sight of her naked back. She was shrugging into another garment facing away from the door, but he thought that might have been for the best. Had he seen her from the front, or even more than just the creamy, smooth expanse from her waist to her shoulders, he might not have had the control to back away.

Dreams had plagued him since, of seeing all of her, actually having her withering in pleasure beneath him, above him, mounted before him. Always she cried his name, begging for more of the passion that only he could give her. But he never could feel his own finish for always he'd awaken, covered in a thin sheen of sweat and fully aroused, cursing the need he felt for her.

Today would be different, he thought while taking the stairs two at a time, a very un-lordly habit he'd picked up after seeing Kagome do it once. Today he planned to follow her around, corner her if need be into talking with him about their tentative agreement, and then tonight... Tonight he would finally get to finish.

SesshouMaru felt his body tingle with anticipation but his demon heritage gave him patience as well as control. He practically flew through the halls now; his nose and heart leading him to his miko bride.

~~*~~*~~*~~

Rin had gathered an amazing number of flowers for the table and Kagome could only smile at the little girl's enthusiasm for it all. She was an endless supply of energy and curiosity, more so now that Kagome had taken over watching her during the day hours. She would sleep with the child beside her if given the chance, but not only to comfort Rin when she woke from nightmares. She also wanted to keep SesshouMaru at a distance for as long as possible.

Kagome was well aware of the youkai lord's brooding. He was being denied something that apparently meant quite a bit to him. She had thought at first he only wanted her to get back at InuYasha and for ransom, despite what he'd said. But if that had been the truth, then wouldn't InuYasha have been called to the castle by now?

From the very vocal and frequent grumbling of Jaken, Kagome knew that her hanyou friend had not even been mentioned by or to the demon lord since the night she'd awaken. SesshouMaru had spoke of InuYasha then and afterwards closed the subject completely, obviously not even tolerating the suggestion from Jaken who had arrived one morning with a new set of bruises courtesy of his lord.

This behavior worried Kagome. Why would SesshouMaru take her into his home if not just to look after Rin? And when did he start to care for humans past their usefulness in matters concerning the Tetsusaiga? And...

"SesshouMaru-sama!" Rin cried as she raced across the room to hug her guardian.

Kagome turned to face him, her expression one of prey facing down a much larger predator. "And how long have you been standing there?"

He raised one graceful eyebrow to her. "And...? Something on your mind, Kagome?" He could only imagine what she was thinking with such a troubled look in her eyes.

She shook her head in dismissal and reached out to take Rin's hand as the child walked back to her, SesshouMaru in tow.

"Rin spent all morning picking flowers. Do you like them?" The child pointed to the tastefully arranged bouquets on the table as Jaken walked in.

"SesshouMaru-sama does not like weeds," he said in a snide fashion, turning his nose up at the blossoms. The glitter in Rin's eyes dimmed only slightly as she waited her 'father's' response.

SesshouMaru turned his attention from Kagome to the new centerpiece for the main dining table. He wanted more than anything to just dismiss the little girl, needing to begin satisfying his cravings for Kagome, but realized that such callousness would only cause a greater rift to develop. Rin needed his approval before he could just send her on her way and Kagome seemed to expect it.

Glancing about the room he noted a side table that was completely unadorned. There were many such pieces of furniture in the castle, being neither SesshouMaru nor his father before him particularly cared for trinkets of material wealth, and it was the perfect excuse to give to Rin. Let her pluck every flower from the gardens to be placed on tables, he thought, so long as Jaken accompanied her and Kagome didn't.

He walked with a measured pace to the side table. Looking back from it to the flowers Rin had already collected, he motioned for the child to come to him.

"Why is this table without flowers but that one is not?" He kept his voice neutral and pointed to the tables in question while addressing her.

Rin wrung her hands together, a look of total concentration coming over her face as she regarded the two tables. "Umm, because Rin has not picked flowers for it?" That she asked a question told SesshouMaru she was worrying if he approved.

He tried not to smile and turned towards where Jaken and Kagome patiently awaited the outcome. "Jaken. Take Rin to the gardens to pick more flowers."

"S-SesshouMaru-sama?" The toad demon was obviously confused.

Rin giggled with joy as she raced back to Kagome, throwing herself into the older woman's arms. "He likes them Kagome-chan! SesshouMaru-sama wants me to pick more for that other table!" She clarified by pointing, as though Kagome had not been present for the conversation.

"We should go get them then. Don't you think?"

Rin nodded quickly. "And more pink ones this time. I like the pinks best, don't you Kagome-chan?"

She nodded in response and turned to follow a sulking Jaken out the door when SesshouMaru caught her with a hand on her shoulder.

"Rin, you go ahead. Kagome and I need to speak for a minute."

He felt the jump in Kagome's pulse at this suggestion, but noticed she hid her nervousness from the child quite well. With one last look of complete happiness, Rin bounded out of the room, throwing back promises to pick Kagome's share of the flowers too.

Together they stood there, Kagome waiting for whatever it was SesshouMaru wanted to say to her and SesshouMaru really just enjoying the chaos he'd obviously caused her with his nearness. It was flattering that his proximity alone could raise her heart rate so much and by just touching her he could increase the potency of her scent to a point where it almost made him dizzy.

But this was not quite the time for that. Later, he promised himself.

"What were you thinking about earlier?" He came closer behind her and slipped his arms around her waist, nuzzling in her hair while waiting for her to reply.

She tensed in his arms, apparently uncomfortable with the youkai lord of the Western Lands snuggling up behind her and asking questions she didn't want to answer. Kagome had to fight the feelings inside her, of just wanting to curl into him and lose herself to his gentle touch. He had not always been so, she reminded herself over and over. He had wanted her dead for the longest time and such a drastic change had not something happened overnight. It was a result of something but to what, she needed to find out.

"How come you're suddenly so nice to me?" It hadn't come out as eloquently as she would have hoped.

His eyes crinkled with a smile hidden in her neck. Kissing his mark on her, which he hadn't done in a full week, SesshouMaru turned her in his arms and focused his gaze straight into her eyes.

"I am using you, remember?" His tone was even more sarcastic when he continued. "To get the Tetsusaiga and then afterwards I will probably kill both you and my hanyou brother, just for fun." She stared at him, blatant horror in her eyes and her hands clenching his arms. "That's what you want to hear, right?"

She had to tear her eyes from his, from the actual hurt she saw there. Her question had stung him, but obviously deeper than the simple insult caused by her disbelief. She had touched him at the core and was now killing that frail link they'd established the previous week.

"I don't know what I want anymore." She said, trying to turn out of his embrace so he wouldn't see her cry. He let her go, reluctantly, but more concerned about driving her completely away, than over a temporary loss of contact.

"Perhaps I should not have given you so much time to 'think about it'." He sighed with defeat laced into his voice. He was questioning his own actions now, and not her indecision. "It has only seemed to put us back where we first started and that means it will take more time to get where we should be going."

When she did not turn around, instead hugging herself to replace the warmth she'd lost by moving away from him, SesshouMaru lost a tiny bit of his control. It felt to him as though she had already quit.

"Do you know what I want?" He asked, a thread of impatience finally weaving its way into his voice.

"No."

"You, Kagome." She turned around quickly to face him, and he understood that she needed to see him say it to her without any other distraction. "I want you," he said, coming to take her in his arms again. "More than I want my father's fang or InuYasha's demise, I want you."

"But I'm human!" She yelled, jerking away from him only to be held firm. He pulled her back and caught her wrists when she began hitting his chest with tiny fists. "You hate me, remember?" she croaked and collapsed against his hold.

Rage poured through him finally as SesshouMaru pulled her up in his arms and kissed her hard. He forced his way into her mouth, running his tongue over her teeth then adjusted to suck on her lower lip. How dare she disbelieve him and his intentions towards her. She was his, marked and ready, and if he had to banish any previous memory of his former self from her by force of passion, then so be it.

The salty taint of her tears melded into the sweet taste of her mouth as Kagome responded. She stiffened but then hesitantly relaxed when he gentled the pressure on her mouth, finding the control to subdue his own inner demons. Her own tongue found its way into his mouth and he tightened his hold around her lithe body, reveling in the feel of her arms at his neck and shoulder.

This was beyond simple lust, he thought, finally releasing her when she gasped for air. "Does that feel like hate to you?"

Kagome couldn't feel her own feet let alone the sensations necessary to hate. She shook her head slightly and then buried her face in the fine silk at his shoulder. What was happening to her?

"I have changed, Kagome," he said, cupping her head in one hand and clasping her to him with the other. "Rin has taught me much, but only the little bit a child can teach. I want you to show me the rest." She looked up to meet his gaze again and SesshouMaru came nose to nose with her, only a couple inches of space separating the two.

"Love me Kagome, so I can know how to love you. Can we have that?"

"I..." don't know if I can love, she thought, her eyes tracing every line and feature of his beautiful face. I want to though...

"I will ask this again, and please don't run from me for it. Will you stay?"

She looked torn, suspended between what she considered a responsibility and all the things he was offering her. Was it selfish to enjoy the way it felt to be held, or the taste of a lover's offer on her lips? Could she afford to turn from him and still know love another time, with another man? Would that be possible?

"Kagome?"

No. This would not come again.

"Yes, SesshouMaru," she said on a whisper, tipping her chin to his kiss again and giving in to her heart.