Disclaimers: Inuyasha and Yu Yu Hakusho belong respectively to Rumiko Takahashi and Yoshihiro Togashi.
A/N: Rather than go into long, arduous detail, I'll just say that there were a few complications in my treatment that caused some problems. I'm sorry to have been away for so long, but… -shrugs- I didn't have a whole lot of say in how things have gone. For now, I'm feeling a bit better, so I thought I'd get this out there for all of you who've been so encouraging and wonderful. I even was sent fanart, and that was a real kick! Thank you to everyone who's sent me such sweet emails and reviews. Also, to those of you who seem to be looking out for me and letting me know if anyone starts taking parts of my story without crediting, again thank you so much. It really makes me feel like I have people who are watching out for me. All you guys have just been wonderful.
By Any Other Name
-:Accidentally On Purpose:-
"Don't let these assholes fill your head with stories about Kagome." Inuyasha folded his arms up into his sleeves and scowled at Sesshoumaru's back as they walked through the silent caverns. Quickly losing interest in the sight of his brother walking nonchalantly ahead of them, he turned his attention down to Hiei. "If you have questions, come to me first. They all like to forget that none of them would have ever even met her if not for me. I'm the one that found her and saved her from the fucking centipede-bitch."
Hiei's brows drew together at the new piece of information. "Centipede?"
"Kagome was running away from her when she ran into me." Inuyasha shrugged one shoulder and shook his head. "She dragged Kagome into the woods to eat her and thought nothing would come to stop her from doing that."
Inuyasha rolled his eyes at the flat command in Sesshoumaru's voice. "I got it, all right? I'm not as stupid as you like to think I am."
"You have yet to prove that to this Sesshoumaru's satisfaction." Sesshoumaru glanced over his shoulder at them for a moment before turning his attention back to the path.
"Pompous, self-righteous sonofabitch," Inuyasha muttered under his breath. Shaking his head to clear his own annoyance, he continued, "Like I was saying before his royal-highness had to make sure we haven't forgotten his supreme presence, I met her before anyone else in the family. I saved her life, and we… she and I became friends. The others came into the picture later. A lot later for some of us."
Sesshoumaru didn't bother to turn around, merely reached back and gripped Inuyasha by the throat. Lifting his brother off his feet, the taiyoukai pulled him forward without once breaking stride. "Inuyasha, you are being entirely too disrespectful."
"You could have mentioned she was home and safe!" Inuyasha snarled at him furiously, not even batting an eye at the potentially dangerous position he was in. "Would it have killed you to send me a message, you jackass? Hell, a phone call! Two fucking seconds. I had to find out from the lands drawing on that hybrid's soul when they called him here!"
Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed ever so slightly, and he set Inuyasha back on his feet with bone-jarring force. "Now is neither the time, nor the place for this discussion. You and I will speak alone this evening."
"Lucky me," Inuyasha snorted, reaching up to rub his throat absently. "Fucking prick."
"Then it was an attack that alerted you to her existence," Hiei interjected before the brothers could start arguing again. More interested in finding out more about how they'd discovered the miko in this era than in the vague accusations and deferments. Whether or not Sesshoumaru had been punctual in informing his brother of Kagome's return from wherever they had sent her and his reasons could come later.
"Which attack?" Inuyasha grumbled and let his hand drop to his side as he fell in step beside Hiei again.
"That's how you discovered her in this time," Hiei clarified when he was certain he had Inuyasha's complete attention. "You found her because she was attacked."
"Yeah," Inuyasha verified and nodded. "That dirty, weakling bitch was trying to tear Kagome's stomach open, and I-" Inuyasha paused, a pained look chasing across his face before he managed to subdue it under a humorless smirk. "I thought she was someone else. Someone I had known a long time ago."
"Houshi-sama's second wife," Hiei finished, making sure this youkai knew he wasn't so stupid that he hadn't figured out just who Kagome had been in her past life. His eyes narrowed, suspicious at the strangely off note to Inuyasha's depiction. Not a lie, but still… for all the details, it wasn't exactly the truth either. Here too. They all speak this way when they're discussing her, or their pasts. They're all synchronized in their deception.
This time the smile that crossed Inuyasha's lips was genuine. So full of affection and nostalgia that it sent an unfamiliar twang through Hiei's heart. That smile felt… private. Almost as though he was intruding on a moment never intended for his eyes.
Sesshoumaru pointedly cleared his throat and Inuyasha roused from his memories enough to actually verify Kagome's former position in their group. "Bouzu was so damned proud of himself. He hovered over 'his girls' so much that even youkai were surprised by it. Damned if they didn't love him even more for being such a paranoid fucking lecher."
"Has he always been… odd?" Hiei struggled to find an appropriate word that would ask the right question without being too disrespectful in light of Yuusuke's experience. He had no desire to find out if the strange god's influence extended into the Makai as well.
Inuyasha arched and eyebrow and started to chuckle at his attempt to make the description respectful. "I suppose that's one way to put it. So you met him already, have you?"
"He is a confusing individual."
"That's part of his charm," Inuyasha emphasized and made a rude gesture up at the sky as though the deity would somehow see it. "He was like that when he was alive too. Got worse after he died and some genius up there decided he should be turned into a god. At least they were smart enough to keep those two together or fuck knows what damage he would have done. Sango always did keep him in line."
"You knew them? How close were you with Sango-sama and Houshi-sama during their human lives?" Hiei tried to keep the worst of his curiosity from his voice, but the smirk on the youkai's lips showed it hadn't been entirely successful.
"They were my friends, closest thing I ever had to a real family back then. In the end, they were the only humans I would trust with my life," Inuyasha answered, resisting the urge to taunt the uncomfortable hybrid. Maybe later, after he'd had time to adjust to everything he'd been hit with since his unexpected initiation into the family. Instead, he decided to expound on his answer. Unaware of the way his voice softened with blatant affection, "I spent my life protecting their families until the fucking barriers made us go underground and I agreed to supervise here. I was there to see every single one of their children born. Bouzu… he made beautiful kids."
Hiei glanced up at the youkai when he lapsed into silence. One brow arched in open curiosity at the melancholy look that crossed Inuyasha's face before he regained control of his emotions. "Were they killed?"
Inuyasha's brows lifted, a bit startled at the assumption. "Hell no! Bouzu and Sango both passed on peacefully, and so did their kids. We've had a few in the bloodlines lost to more violent ends… but not so many. Our family has been lucky that way."
"Our family has taken precautions and maintained the same traditions from ancient times," Sesshoumaru corrected sternly. "Luck has nothing to do with our survival. We have lived and thrived by adapting to this way of life humans created for themselves without growing lax in our own ways or forgetting that we are more. Only weak blooded creatures allow their power to die simply because they feel there is no need to cultivate the abilities of their ancestors."
There was silence for a moment until Inuyasha slanted a look at Hiei and explained his brother's impromptu lecture. "Sesshoumaru is disgusted by anyone who has the potential to be great and is simply too lazy or stupid to develop their soul."
Hiei looked between the brothers, not even entirely sure what the sound that came out of his own throat was supposed to mean.
"Splitting this plane of existence into three realms only further encouraged the degeneration of the old lines," Sesshoumaru added with a heavy tone of disapproval. "Life may be more 'peaceful' for these humans, but most of them are so ill prepared for dangerous situations, they may as well be infants."
Inuyasha snickered slightly at the way Hiei's eyes narrowed. "We don't have any plans to try changing things on any sort of grand scale. But we're not going to lie either and say that we don't miss the old days now and then."
"Particularly when there is a kitsune presenting."
"Miroku would be rolling in his grave if we didn't let her have some harmless fun, Sesshoumaru," Inuyasha scolded with a quiet chuckle. His chin kicked up, silently taunting his brother when the taiyoukai frowned back at him for making light of Kurama's position. "If I can accept that, you shouldn't have any difficulties."
Miroku. Hiei gritted his teeth at the easy way that name was spoken even here in Makai. He had to have been another human in this family for them to have been so readily accepting.
"This kitsune is the most inconvenient 'harmless fun' the miko could have possibly selected," Sesshoumaru countered his brother's dig. "Perhaps I'll make a rule to prevent this from occurring again once she moves past this… relationship."
"If you try that, Shippou will introduce her to every kitsune he knows just to piss you off," Inuyasha pointed out. "It'd be easier to just bring someone around that you can stand for longer than an hour." He tilted his head, the corner of his lips curving up in a smirk. "That is… if any youkai exists that you consider acceptable."
"Why not a human?" Hiei asked curiously.
"This Sesshoumaru's miko is no more human than we are." Sesshoumaru rejected that disdainfully. "The only humans with the strength or even the awareness to come close to providing acceptable defense are too closely related by blood. No, there will be no more humans granted access to her graces in that way."
Inuyasha frowned sharply at the cold finality in his brother's voice. He shared a glance with Hiei, silently demanding to know if he knew the reason behind it. At the negative shake of the hybrid's head, Inuyasha redirected to Sesshoumaru. "What happened?"
"A foolish matter that will be resolved shortly." Sesshoumaru made a dismissive gesture with one hand, turning the last corner that would take them out of the labyrinth of caves. "Your human companion tells me there has been a pretentious individual making personal inquiries at our offices."
"What friend?" Inuyasha's frown nearly turned into a full on scowl. "I haven't been up on that layer in-"
"You are not the only one in attendance, Inuyasha," Sesshoumaru interrupted his brother's tirade with a sardonic smirk.
"Kurabara," Hiei supplied, unable to prevent his own quiet chuckle at the mix of annoyance and embarrassment on Inuyasha's face.
Sesshoumaru dipped his head to affirm the source of his report.
"Who is that?" Inuyasha growled in open suspicion. "You hired a human? Why didn't you run this past me first?"
"Kurabara is a harmless human," Hiei grudgingly offered when Sesshoumaru remained silent despite Inuyasha's continued questions. "He was recruited by Reikai as a boy. Hardly a great mind, but he can be trusted to be loyal, and to fight beyond his limits to protect anyone he's responsible for."
Inuyasha's jaw tightened at the reassurance, shooting another glare at Sesshoumaru. "You're certain of that?"
"I do not give humans praise if I can avoid it." Hiei's lip curled up in extreme distaste.
One brow arched high, until Inuyasha narrowed his eyes and searched the hybrid's face for a long moment. Finally, he muttered a curse under his breath and returned to his habitual glaring at the back of Sesshoumaru's head. "You broke something in her head, asshole. That's the only explanation for it."
"This Sesshoumaru is responsible merely for refining the tastes the miko already harbored." Sesshoumaru slanted a smug look over his shoulder before lifting his face to the open air of Makai. "If anything, it was your influence that encouraged her to accept substandard companions."
Hiei was only half listening to the traded insults the longer they dragged on and gained volume on Inuyasha's part. Content enough instead with looking around intently when they followed the taiyoukai out of the cave mouth. Still, he blinked in surprise at their emergence into dense foliage practically on top of the narrow entrance. Shaking his head, he followed the brothers and cast a brief glance back to take in all the ways the cave was being concealed.
He could feel the Jagan stir once he expanded his search, spreading its senses to pinpoint their location. Definitely somewhere well inside the Western Lands. Consciously extending his senses out in a wider radius, Hiei's brows rose sharply at the strength of the demonic auras spread out through the thick forest. Auras that felt inexplicably… familiar?
"All those 'substandard companions' are working for you now, so there had to have been something about them you considered worthwhile," Inuyasha countered.
"Once they received proper training from a true lord." Sesshoumaru turned right sharply to bring them away from the mountain as the rock face shuddered and seamlessly closed the cave behind them. "Even you have turned out to be relatively useful to me. After extensive work to correct everything you taught yourself in growing up as embarrassingly feral as you did."
"It was good enough to take your arm," Inuyasha lifted one clenched fist at his brother's back. "And more! If you hadn't had Tenseiga-!"
"I never once said you were lacking the potential to be a powerful opponent," Sesshoumaru drawled sardonically. "You simply lacked the adequate control to be considered a worthwhile one until the miko forced you to face your weaknesses and move beyond them."
"Who is in the woods?" Hiei interrupted when he felt Inuyasha's ki rising in aggressive offense at Sesshoumaru's words.
Distracted by the question, Inuyasha frowned down at Hiei then out in the surrounding forest. He snorted with faintly amused resignation and shook his head. "The kids are curious. Don't mind them." That said, Inuyasha turned a speculative glare out to something Hiei couldn't pinpoint and raised his voice, "They know better than to slack off from their assignments just to sneak a peek at the new carrier."
It was almost laughable how quickly several of the auras dispersed with the indirect censure, most probably back to the posts they'd wandered in from. Or at least, it would have been laughable had it not only served to deepen Hiei's curiosity and confusion. "Is it-?"
"The fucking jewel is old, and there's only six-"
"Five," Sesshoumaru corrected in sharp disapproval. "Her husband is dead."
Inuyasha flinched slightly and cursed under his breath, "I knew that before you, jackass. I was-"
"Five of us," he corrected himself with a hiss at Sesshoumaru for the insulting insinuation that he didn't know what to say and what not to say. Determined to ignore the taiyoukai, he pointedly turned his attention down to Hiei before Sesshoumaru could slip in one of his more cutting insults. "Not many youkai are capable of surviving taking her in like that and you're the first one to be accepted from outside the family. They're curious."
At least I'm not the only one. Hiei's lips compressed as he bit back the urge to speak that out loud.
"If you are to be trusted with the safety of my miko-"
"Kagome," Inuyasha corrected with a frown.
"My miko," Sesshoumaru repeated and brushed a length of his hair back over his shoulder with a superior tilt of his chin. "You-"
"Dammit, Sesshoumaru, you can't say that just because she's in you more than us," Inuyasha growled at him, clenching his hands into fists. "Just because she isn't here to get angry that you aren't using her name, isn't an excuse for you to pull this supreme lord bullshit."
"There are things that you will be required to learn," Sesshoumaru continued, turning his focus on Hiei and ignoring Inuyasha's ranting completely. "Mistakes were made in our history, and this Sesshoumaru will not permit such things to reoccur through either ignorance or inattention. Becoming a part of our family means you will accept all responsibilities necessary to protect our way of life."
Hiei's senses sparked again at the way the lecture was worded. He was back to this, the vague hints of something deeper, missing pieces of the puzzle that were stopping him from figuring out the whole damn thing. Ignoring his natural urge to balk at the imperious command in favor of getting more of the answers he craved, Hiei urged him on. "What mistakes?"
Sesshoumaru paused, waiting for Hiei and Inuyasha to come to a stop as well before turning an expectant, piercing stare down on his uncharacteristically silent younger brother. Hiei frowned, taking a deep breath to keep himself from grinding his teeth the longer he looked back and forth between them.
Neither of the brothers said a word, or made a single sound. However, Inuyasha's shoulders seemed to hunch ever so slightly the longer Sesshoumaru stared at him. Unmoving and unfazed, Sesshoumaru didn't even blink until finally, the younger youkai looked away.
For several minutes, Hiei thought neither of them were going to answer his question. The tension between the two had become nearly tangible, youki rising chokingly thick and clashing in a silent battle. Inuyasha bristled visibly in his agitation, hands clenching to fists at his sides before he stuffed them into the deep sleeves of his haori to hide the sign of stress. Sesshoumaru maintained his stoic silence, but even Hiei could feel the weight of his disapproving stare.
The single growled word snapped Hiei out of his observations, and his attention swung around to find Inuyasha staring down his brother challengingly. Loathing his growing confusion, Hiei's frown deepened and he tried to keep the emotion out of his voice, "What?"
Inuyasha set his jaw hard enough that the muscles in his neck twitched in protest, but he refused to look away from Sesshoumaru's eyes. Determined to prevent his older brother from twisting this into a reason to keep him away any longer, he lifted his chin proudly. Despite his best efforts to stop it, his lip started to twitch up in a sneer of derision all directed at himself.
"I'm the one who almost killed her."
This is heaven.
'Hush. You're spoiling the mood.'
Kurama ignored Youko with ease, sighing long and slow in deep appreciation for the pleasure of what was rapidly turning into an ideal afternoon. He turned his head slightly, guiding Kagome's fingers as they stroked through his hair over and over. Half wishing he could just sink into her lap and stay there like this forever.
Kagome chuckled softly at the relaxed contentment radiating off the kitsune. She lightly brushed her fingers over his forehead and across his cheekbones, tracing the finely sculpted features lingeringly. It was almost impossible not to at least slightly marvel at him. At the proof of how genuinely he took such delight in having his head in her lap and his hair more or less petted. Not that she was planning to complain when it allowed her to indulge one of her own favorite pastimes as well.
Kurama peeked one eye open to look up at her, drinking in the way her eyes had gone so soft and warm as she watched him. Her hands moved with fluid grace, almost as though she was playing an instrument rather than simply threading her fingers through his hair. From his position, he had a fully unobstructed view of her face. Unaware of the way his own eyes lightened steadily to gold the longer he watched Kagome.
She was perfectly at peace here, like this. Sitting back against the trunk of a tree and hidden from the eyes of all the other tourists and visitors by the roses he'd 'encouraged' to grow together over their chosen spot. Every so often, she'd close her eyes and lean her head back against the tree. Just soaking in the way he had so expertly manipulated nature around them back into a pristine state.
'She's even more beautiful when she's relaxing for us,' Youko observed with satisfaction and sent out a light brush of youki to make sure the grass was acting as a proper cushion. Languidly, he stretched their body and used that motion to bring their head higher into her lap. Smiling up at her, he lifted one hand to trace a fingertip down the center of her throat. 'You can tell now. The way she's letting her guard down for us so much more easily. She's starting to admit to herself how good we are for her, that we'd never let anything hurt her.'
Kurama wanted to laugh at the smug pride in Youko's voice, but managed to refrain. They'd already had enough of an argument this morning after Kurama had been more or less bounced awake by an overly-enthusiastic Youko. The kitsune was practically bursting at his boundaries, wanting to be certain that today they took Kagome to the rose gardens. Plotting and scheming so rapidly that it nearly gave Kurama a headache just to listen to all the ways Youko wanted to impress their new lover.
It had just been too much.
Unbidden, the mental image had crept into his head of a pint-sized version of Youko running circles around Kagome. Enthusiastically demanding her attention and willing to do anything it took to earn a word of praise or one of her adoring smiles turned down on him. He'd made the mistake of openly sharing the thought, as well as offering a flippant remark that Kagome didn't need a baby when she had Youko around to fill the part.
Youko's response had been to just as flippantly declare he decided the baby wouldn't have any of Kurama's features after all.
There was no telling where the internal battle would have gone from there had Kagome not picked that moment to press a bowl of rice into his hands and kiss him lightly on the mouth. Both sides were quite effectively jolted to silence, much more interested in enjoying the warmth of emotion in the kiss. By the time Kagome sat back and served their tea, the anger had completely melted out of them both.
Youko had been more than willing to blow off their argument, predictably chalking it up as Kurama's fault. Before that could turn into something on its own, he'd eagerly prodded at Kurama to finish breakfast quickly, and even told Kagome to leave the dishes for the evening. Kurama had been torn between the same exasperation and amusement when the kitsune had hauled her out the door to the trains.
They'd both known Kagome was laughing at them. But at the same time, she'd held tightly to his hand and let him lead her at his pace. Every time he turned to look at her, she was smiling up at him. Really smiling…
'I told you she needed us,' Youko interrupted his recollection as he continued his caressing stroke down between her breasts. 'No one else can give her this. No one can bring her the satisfaction she'll find as our lover.'
You have been all sorts of full of yourself this morning, Kurama teased, smiling warmly up at Kagome when she covered his hand to stop him from going lower. "No one can see us, honey."
Kagome laughed at the pouting defense and
squeezed his hand. "Aren't you a little old to be necking
in a public garden?"
'Oh we're going to get her for that one,' Youko arched up and wrapped their other hand around the back of her neck.
'I'm fully aware of that.' Youko rolled his eyes, but kept their outward expression a soft, seductive smile as he pulled her down. "The day I find myself too old to play with you -wherever we happen to be- is the day I lose all respect for myself as a kitsune. And most especially when we find ourselves in a garden, public or otherwise."
Kagome's lips quirked up against his, keeping her head just high enough to deny him the kiss he wanted. "Or a kitchen?"
"You provoked me."
"I provoked you?" Kagome gave his hair a yank, arching one eyebrow at the charge. "Who was the one who decided we needed to have sex against the wall?"
"I would have been fine with a bed, but you had to go and say you wouldn't have a relationship with me," Youko pointed out, schooling their expression to look wounded at the memory. "You left your handsome lover no choice but to take drastic measures to change your mind."
Kagome struggled with her desire to respond for a moment until she was certain she could make her voice sound as unaffected as she wanted. "Is that what you call that?"
Youko tugged their other hand out of Kagome's and slipped it into her hair to keep her from moving any farther away from them. "It was enough to convince you to become my future wife, so obviously it was the right course of action."
The smile faded from Kagome's face at the serious note that had entered Kurama's voice. Her eyes fluttered closed, lips parting when the tip of his tongue traced across her bottom lip. "For two weeks."
"For now," Kurama blended together with Youko, their words heavy with promise.
'Forever,' Youko whispered his declaration in their mind, nudging Kurama to brush just the faintest hint of a kiss across her mouth. 'I could keep her here like this forever.'
Kagome sighed against his lips as she lifted her head, unable to prevent a slight giggle at the smirk on his face. "Oh you think you're real smooth, don't you?"
"Think nothing." Kurama winked at her, his smile widening when the giggle turned into a full laugh. He reached up and cupped her cheek in his hand, stroking his thumb across her cheekbone. His eyes devoured the warmth in her eyes. It isn't possible that she's not noticing the way we make her feel.
'She notices,' Youko assured him.
Kagome reluctantly tugged against his hands to
sit back up. At his frown, she poked his forehead. "You
were at a comfortable angle. Much more of that and my spine
might have permanently locked that way."
"I could have lifted myself higher for you," Kurama scolded, demonstrating his point by rising up and twisting until they sat face to face. Before she could answer, he reached out and hooked his hands under her arms. Lifting Kagome up, Kurama shifted his position to put his own back against the tree while settling her in his lap. Sighing in contentment, he wrapped his arms around her and tucked her up against his chest. "There. Now we're both comfortable."
There was something in the smugness of his voice, like a subtle demand for praise at his display of cleverness and strength. With the way his chin tilted up ever so slightly, and his eyes gleamed, Kagome had to bite back a laugh. To see such a boyish expression on that beautiful face sent warmth straight to the heart of her soul.
The smile slowly faded from Kagome's face as her eyes traced over his features. Barely aware of her own actions, one hand lifted and lightly cupped his cheek. Tracing the pads of her fingertips across Kurama's cheekbone, she watched the rich green of his eyes fade to intense gold. His gaze dropped to her lips, and the moment his arms tightened, Kagome stopped him with a soft-spoken request.
"Tell me about you."
Kurama stopped and blinked, staring down at Kagome in confusion. "What?"
'Brilliant return, genius.'
Knock it off, Youko, I wasn't the only one thinking of something else.
'I was thinking that we're in a nice secluded area, and it wouldn't be all that hard to slide those pants-'
Stop it. Kurama bit down hard on the side of his tongue to keep his renewed exasperation with the kitsune from showing on his face. Fighting to ignore Youko treating him to one of his finer insults, Kurama reached up and slid his fingers through Kagome's hair. When she closed her eyes and relaxed to let him cradle her head in his hand, all the annoyed tension melted out of his muscles in a rush that nearly left him light-headed.
Youko chuckled, stroking their thumb across her cheekbone and taking advantage of Kurama's distraction to take over speaking. "What do you want to know about me, Kagome?"
"More," Kagome answered, smiling again, but without opening her eyes just yet.
"More?" Dipping their head, Youko purposefully lowered the timbre of their voice and purred out, "Ah, but how much more do you want? Say the word, Kagome, and I'll give you everything. Anything you want of me is yours."
There was too much promise in that declaration, and Kagome inwardly steeled herself against the dangerous seduction he couldn't know it offered her. She turned and ducked her head to rest her forehead against the side of his neck, sliding her arms loosely around his waist. Something easy… Ask something harmless.
"Why this?" Kagome murmured.
His brows rose at the question, and he absently brought up one hand to draw lazy strokes up and down her back. "This-?" he trailed the question off, waiting for her to clarify.
Relaxing against him and just savoring the caress, Kagome couldn't resist letting her own hand wander back to his chest. Resting her palm over the center of his chest to feel the way his ki curled through his body, she obliged the unspoken request. "Why did you pick this illusion out of everything you could have been?"
Youko's lips quirked up. "Why human?"
"That too." She spread her fingers, feeling safe to let her eyes adjust enough to actually see that vivid energy so close to her skin while he couldn't see her. Distractedly, she studied the unique pattern, attempting to commit as much to memory as she could without actually taking it in more directly.
'I suppose that's easy enough.' Youko made a vague, indecipherable sound in the back of his throat.
It's perfectly natural for her to be curious about it, Kurama scolded, unable to completely keep the irritation out of his "voice."
'I never said it wasn't.' Youko turned up his nose at the mere suggestion he would think such a thing. 'I just expected her to start off with something else. You know she still doesn't understand why we want her.'
"I was killed," Youko admitted bluntly, smiling to himself at the way her arm tightened around his waist in a subconsciously protective gesture. Cuddling her closer and brushing a kiss over her forehead, he continued cheekily, "But I wasn't ready to stay dead. So I sacrificed a considerable chunk of my power to become a spirit."
Kagome's hand traced down to the base of his spine. "Your poor tails."
'Have I mentioned how incomparably wonderful it is that our lover understands so much about us already?' Youko basked in her touch, savoring the mix of soothing and arousing tingles it spread through their body. 'We'll have to thank Shippou for it after we kick his ass.'
Kurama grunted a vague acceptance or denial to that, he wasn't sure. He had to make a conscious effort to keep himself focused on their conversation as it was. Wanting nothing more than to wrap himself around Kagome and see where else her hands might go, he frowned inwardly at Youko's soft chuckle.
Youko clucked his tongue in a teasing scold. 'I warned you to have more sex when our body was younger, but noooo. Someone insisted that he didn't need to "indulge" as often as his incontinent, debauched-'
Shut up and get back to your damn story or I'm taking over, Kurama growled out, fighting the rise of color in his cheeks at Youko's very obvious amusement over his distraction.
Twisting their lips into a much wider smile, Youko brought their head down until were resting their cheek on her head. "There are a number of demons able to still sense and destroy souls, so I used all the confusion to escape somewhere safe. Somewhere they wouldn't think I would go."
"The human plane," Kagome finished with a faint snort. Shippou was right. He's a survivalist.
"I might not have hated humans as much as others, but I still wasn't known for being overly friendly with any of them," Youko admitted with a grin before silently adding, 'Outside the bedroom.'
Amoral bastard. Kurama rolled his eyes at the smugness in Youko's tone.
'I happen to have a very strong sense of morals,' Youko turned up his nose. 'My morals.'
You're forbidden from teaching your "morals" to our son, Kurama informed him sternly.
'HA! I'd like to see you-'
"What happened when you crossed?" Kagome's voice brought them back to the present.
"I searched." Setting aside the parenting argument with Kurama for another time, Youko trailed his hand higher to slide a fingertip up the back of her neck. Strong fingers manipulated the muscle there until she had all but melted in his arms. "I'm very picky, you know."
They could feel her lips curving against their neck. "Of course you are."
Youko's brows shot up in startled pride when Kurama took control of their hand to give her a light, chiding pinch. "You wouldn't be patronizing the man you adore, now would you, Kagome?"
Kagome's grin turned into poorly-muffled giggling, and she leaned back to look up at him with the utmost innocence. "I would never."
Kurama dipped his head to brush his lips across hers, pausing to murmur against her mouth, "I think you might be trying to lie to me, lover."
"Miko are too holy to lie," she managed with a straight face.
"Mmm, just like they're too pure for demons?" Kurama slipped his hands down to her legs, lifting her just enough to make it easy for her to turn and straddle him. Satisfied with the more intimate position, he splayed his fingers across the small of her back and pulled her flush against his chest. "Don't you know I'm too old to fall for faerie stories?"
"I'll have to settle for listening to the rest of yours then." Kagome leaned back as far as his hands allowed and flashed him a brighter smile. "You can't get me that curious and then try to distract me with kissing."
'Why not?' Youko sulked, much more interested in deepening their intimacy than in reliving his own history.
You wanted to come here today instead of spending all day at home naked in bed, so I don't want to hear it from you, Kurama pointed out while shifting his weight in an attempt to get more comfortable. It might have worked too if not for the way it ground him up against her, making her eyes flutter closed and her lips part on a gasp. Oh, goddammit.
'That's just cruel.' Youko presence strengthened, making their fingers twitch with the need to pull her closer. 'How am I supposed to focus on something else now?'
"Don't do that." Kagome's legs tightened around him for just a moment before she forced them to relax.
Just like that, Youko's amusement was back. "No?"
"Later." Kagome pinned him with an unbending stare.
Kurama's brows shot up in surprise until a dawning realization had both himself and Youko turning their expression into a heart-melting smile. Someday our children will quake at that look. Both his hands lifted to cup her face, and he tipped his head to rest their foreheads together. Kurama could feel her shiver at the subtle showing of his feelings, followed by the fleeting brush of her eyelashes as her eyes closed. Her hands curved over his shoulders and drew lingering caresses down to his elbow, then up to clasp his wrists.
"Where were we?"
Kagome had to swallow hard at the husky question, bracing herself against the urge to tell him to just shut up and keep holding her just like that. Like she was something infinitely precious to him, precious and cherished. "You were saying how picky you are," she reminded him softly.
"Ah, that's right." They brushed the backs of their knuckles along her cheekbones and slid their fingers right back into her hair. "Do you know how long it took me to find the perfect woman? I was almost getting worried, but then I happened to find Shiori-kun."
"What made you pick her?" Kagome couldn't stop the very real curiosity from coming out through her voice.
A nostalgic smile tugged at Kurama's mouth with Youko's memories. "Shiori had been involved with a foreigner who died shortly after she discovered she was pregnant. Being the way I am, it was less suspicious. Everyone would assume I took after 'my father' to look like this."
Instead of being a fox demon with a rose-fetish? Kurama taunted.
'Hush, I'm not speaking with you.' Youko brushed him off. 'Besides, I only tweaked a few things.'
You lie so much it's a miracle you can even tell when you're telling the truth anymore.
Youko decided to more actively ignore him, purposefully focusing all his attention on Kagome. "I hadn't considered actually being born again until I decided to hide my soul in her baby. I wasn't exactly looking forward to that part, but I figured I could sleep through it. Not to mention, the baby was all she had after her lover died. I would be the center of her world, and that kind of focus and affection in my condition was… ideal."
In your condition, my ass. Kurama scoffed. You always want to have that kind of attention.
Youko had barely started to form his response when Kagome snorted and thunked him on the chest. "Like you don't love all that 'focus and affection' no matter what condition you're in."
There was a beat of silence in their head until Kurama snickered.
Youko tried to look abashed, right up until she arched an eyebrow to show she wasn't buying it. Giving up, he settled on giving her a charming grin and shrugging their shoulders. "I was being selfish. I didn't want to end up sharing the woman I wanted to play my mother."
Kagome rolled her eyes. "You're impossible, you know that, right?"
Youko rubbed his cheek across hers, lightly nipping her earlobe. "But you love that about me."
Rather than get into that territory with him, Kagome diverted his attention back to his story. "She's married again, though. If you didn't want to share, couldn't you have influenced that?"
'Ah… this part is…' Youko tugged her closer and rested his chin on her shoulder so she wouldn't see him frown. Sighing, he struggled to gather his thoughts and tried to figure out just how to put his thoughts into words. "That's a little harder for me to explain," he admitted.
Surprised at the sudden anxiety she could feel inside him, Kagome wrapped her arms around his neck. She pulled him closer and nearly staggered under how quickly his youki expanded to twine itself around her body. Threading her fingers through his hair with the same slow, comforting strokes he'd seemed to love earlier, Kagome waited to see if would actually continue.
Why is this so difficult for you to say, Youko? Kurama inwardly tilted his head quizzically. She means a lot to us and we decided she needed to be happy more than we needed to hoard her all to ourselves.
'I want to say it right,' Youko insisted stubbornly. 'I want Kagome to understand.'
You're being completely paranoid for no reason. Kagome will understand even if you make a muck of it. Waiting for a response, Kurama finally offered, Do you want me to tell her this part? After another long beat of silence, he shifted his focus and picked up where Youko had left off. "There was an accident."
Kagome flinched, closing her eyes at the tangled emotions those four words brought to the surface. Flashes, images… voices echoing in her head and tangling over themselves until the memories were tripping over each other at nearly dizzying speed. Tears stung her eyes, but she forced herself to take a deep breath and calm the souls instinctively rising to defend her before they could get out of hand.
"I was trying to do something I wasn't big enough to do." The familiar sense of guilt and embarrassment rose, but Youko helped him push it aside for now. "It would have been bad, but Shiori saved me. You said it yourself, sometimes youkai forget that humans don't heal the way they do, but she knew. She knew that she would take the injury for me, just to protect me from my own mistake. She didn't even hesitate."
The awe and even confusion in his voice was enough to give Kagome a stable hold out of her own memories, and enough to bring a rueful smile to her lips. Youkai… If they were half as smart as they thought they were, they'd stop being surprised by what humans are capable of doing.
"In the end, it was more important for me to see her happy than to have her all to myself." It was getting easier. The more he told her, the more the words seemed to just flow. Of course, that might have had something to do with Kagome's hand making its way down and back up underneath his shirt to caress his back.
Kurama chuckled softly and arched his back when she found a particularly nice spot, relaxing into her touch. "Shiori met a man she wanted to be her husband, and once I was sure he would do everything in his power to make her happy and take care of her, I let her go."
Kagome's hands immediately stopped, and Kurama couldn't help but frown, glad she couldn't hear the way Youko whined his protest in their head. He leaned back, taking in the shocked expression on her face with no small amount of confusion.
"Kagome, honey, are you all right?" Kurama sat up straighter in concern when he noticed just how pale her face had become.
'What did you do!'
I don't know!
"You let her go," Kagome repeated, almost disbelieving.
"It was important to her." Kurama nodded, not at all understanding what was making Kagome react so strangely. "He made her smile, and I liked the way their ki felt when they were together. They were-"
The hand in his hair clenched into a fist, and Kurama's eyes went wide when Kagome forcefully pulled his head down. Her mouth slanted across his, sliding her tongue into his mouth so quickly he actually jolted in surprise. Before his brain could catch up, she was consuming him, her lips and tongue moving against his in a way that sent a jolt of heat from his head all the way to his toes.
'Don't fix it,' Youko growled dangerously, pushing past Kurama's surprise to crush her up against them and actively take part in the almost desperate kiss.
I still don't even know what we did, Kurama protested weakly just before her nails dug hard into his shoulder and made his mind go completely blank. Reluctantly taking one hand off Kagome to press his palm against the grass, both he and Youko blended to quickly, meticulously form an illusion around them that would keep any stray visitors from coming too close. Or hearing the sounds he didn't have any real desire to muffle.
'Belt,' Youko barked out the command more insistently. Tugging against Kurama's resistance until their hands were sliding down Kagome's arms and encouraging her to let go of him. He gave her hands a squeeze and brought them down to bump her fingers suggestively against his belt buckle. Kurama had a moment of trepidation, thinking that perhaps they were pushing too hard, moving this too fast. But then those beautiful hands were moving without his help. Working the buckle open, she brushed his stomach with her knuckles as she grasped his jeans and slipped the buttons through each hole agonizingly slowly.
We're really going to do this here? Kurama groaned into her mouth, his hands already sliding down the front of her pants.
'Why do you insist on asking me stupid questions?' Youko hissed at him impatiently. 'I need to be inside her. We need to be inside her. You feel it, Kurama, don't pretend you don't. She needs us just as badly too.'
But what did we do? Kurama asked again, but even he admitted to himself that he cared about that just about as much as Youko did.
'I can live a long, happy life surrounded by little golden-eyed babies not caring.'
'This is me doing just that,' Youko cut him off firmly, rumbling his approval when Kurama finally got her pants open enough to get her out of them. 'Now stop whining and focus on what's most important. Those are coming off.'
And then- Kurama drawled out, just to irritate the highly distracted kitsune.
Youko adamantly refused to rise to the bait, answering instead with dark intensity. 'And then we make her ours.'