Disclaimer: Sadly I don't own Inuyasha or any other character. They all belong to Rumiko Takahashi
Summary:"You are unfit to protect this miko, Inuyasha. She will remain under my protection, for I cannot let the hanyou, Naraku, get the upper hand in this war. But believe me when I say I will kill you if you are foolish enough to try and stop me."
A/N: Wow, two years? Has it really been that long? My goodness, the time flies by doesn't it? Well, let's see what the fuss is about in this chapter—
Sesshoumaru allowed another growl to escape his lips as the girl looked up at him with an innocent smile. How dare the insolent fool defy him? Had he not been clear on his commands? No, he knew that this girl had a particular problem with following rules. Apparently, by accompanying his hanyou half brother, of who did not have any decency nor respect and courtesy in following any form of order, had rubbed off on the little wench. For this, the taiyoukai was most certainly not pleased.
He let his fixated glare rest upon her face and almost instantly as he did, she shrunk back into the furs in a foolish attempt to hide from his rising youki. This action however, only sparked more of his anger. He dug his arm into the basket and grabbed onto what seemed to be the girl's arm, and yanked her free from the pelts. She let out a frightened squeal and landed with a loud THUD on the forest dirt. Serves the wench right.
"Ouch," she exclaimed rubbing her now sore back and behind. "What did you do that for?"
The taiyoukai merely had to growl in response and Kagome shut her mouth without hesitation. Jaken, who had risen from his shocked state, remerged and took no time in shouting insults at the young miko.
"How dare you defy an order of one as great as Sesshoumaru-sama? Just who do you think you are, human?" he bickered.
Kagome rolled her eyes mentally at him, she would have loved to yell back, if it were not for Sesshoumaru's piercing glare. It convinced her that there was nothing more she could say in the matter that could alter her fate. Oh yes, he was angry. She wondered what he would do. He could possibly bring her back to the castle; that was an option, but they were far too close the south already—at least that's what she had predicted. It was either that or he sent his claws diving towards her neck—either way, both options would not do her so well.
The girl stuttered with her words, trying to seemingly find the correct ones to use. She did not want to initiate any kind of insult, although she had guessed by defying him, that she had already done so.
To what seemed like an eternity, with Kagome's flushed face, Sesshoumaru's piercing glare, and the insufferable toad youkai's loud ranting, the taiyoukai gave one last low growl and continued forth towards the south. Ah Un followed in pursuit, and the miko girl cringed before slowly following them.
She hated it when he was like this. Maybe it was because she had grown so accustomed to Inuyasha's loud bickering and overly overconfident ways in insulting her that she did not know how to react with one's silent anger. The hanyou, if he were in his brother's place, would bellow out and proceed in mouthing her off. She of course, would yell back. It was how it always went for them. With Sesshoumaru however, it was entirely different.
How could she have been expected to say anything at all to him? She could not yell-- that was certainly out of question. She could apologize, but she had a feeling that he would only mock her in the little silent treatment he always did by turning around and refusing to look at her. Kami, sometimes he really infuriated her. It would be so much easier if he would just bark at her, and for her to just tell him to 'sit.' This wish however, would never come true.
Well if he wanted to ignore her, he was free to do so. It wasn't as if she were to stop him. Kagome glared upon his back, her eyes digging into white, pale hair. Far back, Jaken lagged behind, cursing her being as he tried to catch up. She suppressed the urge to simply turn around and kick the little green thing square in the face, but once again stood her ground. Ah Uh, who was to her right, nudged her with its nose and pushed her towards Sesshoumaru's way, when she slowed her pace.
"H-Hey, stop that!" Kagome said, startled.
Ah Uh nudged her again, this time just a little harder, and the young miko almost squealed aloud when her foot came into contact with a rather large rock on the forest floor. She toppled and tightly gripped on what she supposed was Sesshoumaru's hair and haori to steady herself. Face flushed and hands shaking, the young miko bit her trembling lip. Goodness. He had stopped walking, that was a good thing...or was it? She didn't really know. Now all she had to do was look up and maybe see his expression. Or perhaps his head was not turned her way. She certainly hoped so.
Slowly, Kagome lifted her eyes and was met with only the back of his head. She heard a faint growl emit from the now probably pissed off taiyoukai and stepped back almost immediately, her hands to her side. Now if it were Inuyasha, she could probably just have laughed it off and played dumb, but again, this was not Inuyasha; thus this option was out of question.
Why did she keep talking about Inuyasha anyways? Sigh...
"S-Sorry," she mumbled. '—for almost yanking your hair off.' As much as she wanted to add that to her finishing sentence, somehow she came to a conclusion that he probably wouldn't like the last comment at all and shut her mouth.
He continued onwards as if she did not exist, and Kagome felt a sudden urge to hit him with something. If it were really that possible that is. He would probably sense her anyways and throw her against a tree if she did. Yes, she was very much disappointed. If he was really going to keep silent the whole way then Kagome was sure that she would die of boredom.
As usual though, Jaken broke the silence with his constant babbling.
"You wench! You better not disgrace Sesshoumaru-sama's name once we arrive within the southern realm!" he squealed out holding his head up high, a confident look upon his face. "A lot of very important taiyoukai are going to present there, but no worries! I'm sure that they'll get a good whiff of your horrid human scent and have you for dinner! Why I bet that you'd probably be the main course for tonight!"
Kagome rolled her eyes and tipped her foot slightly to the right sending the toad toppling over. There was a loud cry and once again the horrid thing started complaining.
"How dare you-you—"
"How dare you! Listen here, I'm coming along whether you like it or not, so if you've got a problem then just do something about it!" Kagome yelled back.
"Do something about it? Ha! You make me laugh! This Jaken doesn't need to do something horrid to a human like yourself! You see, humans have their own natural, stupid way of killing themselves! I'm not worried at all!"
"Well that's what you think! Let's just say that in five hundred years or so, your pathetic old toad self will be reduced to nothing but a tiny little thing bobbling on top of lily pads!"
"Lily pads? How dare—"
Sesshoumaru closed his eyes for a brief moment, his eyebrows forming a quick knot at the loud, screeching voices. Kami help him, if the two didn't stop arguing he would have no choice but to turn around and perhaps break all the bones in their little necks. Although the action would probably make him feel less aggravated with the whole situation, he had come to a light compromising solution which was: Don't kill miko until the war was over. It wasn't exactly a solution, but it could certainly satisfy his raging beast for the mean time. Hopefully with his threatening growls, she would get the clear message and keep her distance, but if she didn't stop...
"Enough. We have arrived."
Kagome halted so suddenly that Jaken almost knocked into her. She stared at his back, then at the forest clearing. Had Sesshoumaru lost it? Perhaps his youkai vision was failing him, because there was simply nothing there. Unless he had decided that the Southern kingdom consisted of a bunch of furry bushes surrounded by abnormally large trees.
"We are?" she asked hopefully not sounding stupid.
Sesshoumaru glanced at her and shot a glare. "Takasuma takes extra precautions... although this Sesshoumaru finds them unnecessary."
As soon has the words left his mouth the clearing blurred and slowly the trees and branches began to peel away. Kagome kept her ground, mouth open in surprise as the trees faded proving that Sesshoumaru was indeed correct. They were standing in front of the tall wooden gates, the entrance to the Western kingdom. The doors creaked in an almost ear shattering noise as it opened.
Kagome hesitantly followed the taiyoukai as he graced through the gates. A market place was found just across the large doors with hundreds, no, at least thousands of youkai flaunting about. The little shops were staged almost like tents, with stands, as youkai yelled about to those offering their collection. A small gasp escaped her lips and immediately Kagome found herself trailing behind rather closely next to Sesshoumaru. Only then did she manage the courage to glare at the passing youkai. Not only were they giving her strange looks, but she could almost hear their hurried whispers.
'Isn't that Sesshoumaru-sama?'
'What is he doing with a human?'
'Perhaps she is his concubine.'
'Her stench is making this one nauseous.'
Kagome shot the passing crane and bear youkai a quick glare, but kept Sesshoumaru near. Kami forbid the youkai attacking her. She was surprised that none of them had sensed the presence of the Shikon no Tama, instead, their eyes were too preoccupied with the something around her mid section and near her thighs. Now her clothes may be a strange sight for them to see, but it was no reason to stare! Sesshoumaru's concubine indeed. The thought was utterly offending.
The taiyoukai however, either didn't hear them, or chose to ignore the silly youkai's loud whispering. He kept his pace throughout the crowd who made way for him to pass and acknowledged him with short curt bows. Not so much as a twitch appeared on Sesshoumaru's face, and Kagome suddenly felt the urge to go up and grasp the ends of his haori. The youkai had their respect for the lord, and cleared their way for him to pass, but only for him.
The miko pushed passed a rather sulking looking youkai on her way, barely making out Sesshoumaru's pale hair in the growing distance. He didn't seem to care that she was lagging behind, a fact that made Kagome's blood rage. What if she got lost, or worse—mutilated by some power hungry youkai after the Shikon no Tama? Perhaps her death would never leave Sesshoumaru's conscience. Ha!
"Lost, little one?"
Kagome nearly jumped at the old croaking voice. She peered to her right and saw an elderly youkai sitting at one of the booths. Her mother had always warned her about talking to strangers, but this youkai was seemed... friendlier enough. Perhaps she could ask him for directions. Sesshoumaru had disappeared throughout the crowds, and her only lead was that he would stay at the castle. Now where the castle was, she didn't know.
Slowly she approached the aging figure of the sickly-looking youkai. He smiled up at her before beckoning the miko closer with a clawed hand.
"I-I um, do you happen to know where the, uh, kingdom is?" she asked.
The youkai peered at her through his pale amber eyes. "Ah, now is it the kingdom you seek for or is it the castle? I assure you, girl, that these are the edges of the Southern kingdom that you are standing on," he answered.
"Oh! Yes, I'm sorry. I meant the castle." Kagome flushed. Now how would she know that they were within the kingdom? It wasn't as if she were accustomed to living in ancient palaces.
Chuckling softly, the youkai gave her a pointed stare. "Follow the direction of the crowd. I guarantee you that they are headed for the castle. Everyone I hear is off to celebrate the arrival of the taiyoukai. Are you one of those who wishes to be one of their concubines?"
Kagome nearly choked. Did she seem that indecent? Even this old, stumbling, nearly blind youkai thought of her as a whore.
"N-No!" she managed to say. "I-I am with...well not really with him, but kind of, and not really... I merely follow him..." She trailed off within her sentence, pausing ever so often to think over whether she should mention Sesshoumaru's name or not to the oddly looking youkai.
The youkai's face however, didn't falter. He kept his smile. "I thought as such that you were not a concubine. You seem like a very wealthy young lady, yes?" Kagome blinked at him. "Now see here, I have many jewelry for pretty humans such as yourself... see here, have a look."
Opening the hinge around a rectangular shaped box, Kagome gasped. Now it wasn't as if she weren't into the whole jewelry thing or anything, but she was a girl, and girls did love the jewelry.
"Wow, these are beautiful," she gaped, slipping a crystal bracelet onto her wrist.
The old youkai howled with laughter. "Why of course it is! It is crystal made by the elves that live in the Northern forest mountains. They have beautiful hands you see, therefore they make beautiful things...jewelry...weapons...clothing...you name it. That one of course I believe," he peered through his squinty eyes at Kagome's wrist before continuing, "has some rather peculiar spell...very ancient yes, but once you are the concubine of the taiyoukai you seek, then you will have all the protection you need, and no need of this jewelry, yes?"
Kagome took in a few seconds to register the word "taiyoukai" in her head, before she bolted upright with a sudden squeal, her head jerking in every direction. Never mind the concubine comment, but if she didn't get to the palace before the meeting, Sesshoumaru would certainly behead her upon arrival.
"I-I'm sorry, but I've got to go!"
Giving another panicked squeal she darted passed the crowd. An otter youkai snarled at her angrily as she pushed pass him, but Kagome ignored it and kept running. The otter's anger was in no way in comparison to Sesshoumaru's, and if she did not make it into that blasted castle, she knew that she would learn the extent of his patience.
The entrance was in frenzy with the majority, Kagome noticed, was female. No doubt that they wanted a good look at the taiyoukais, or as the old merchant youkai had said, a longing to be one of their concubines. She shuddered at the thought. The palace was like a maze, and the bustling youkai did not help at all with finding the right directions. They seemed to be everywhere all at once! Kami, how she wished that she had stayed closer to Sesshoumaru. She could already imagine the toad's ramblings and loud accusations on how she probably tried to lose them on purpose. This thought infuriated her even more. Not only was she lost, but the sun was setting.
Turning around a corner, she found herself alone in a stone sculptured pathway, with what seemed to be leading to what she supposed was a garden. It was hopeless now, she knew. She had been trailing after a few pebble stones that were on the ground. Following it seemed endless, but at least it was something. Or maybe she was just going crazy? How could this be happening to her? First her fight with Inuyasha, Sesshoumaru's odd sort of kindness, and then the fight with Naraku... It didn't make sense at all. How is it that she always found herself in these kinds of predicaments? Kagome groaned, and settled herself sitting on a rock near the curb.
She was lost, tired, hungry, and possibly waiting to be pierced by Sesshoumaru's sword. What a wonderful way to end a negatively horrible day. Sighing and burying her face in her knees, she thought of how Inuyasha and the others were faring off without her. She knew that he must have been injured. Sesshoumaru had refused to answer her when she asked this, but there must not have been another way for the taiyoukai to make a grab for her if Inuyasha was still left standing. And what of Sango and Miroku? The monk had been badly injured by Kagura. She hoped that they found a healer for their wounds. They were simply hopeless without her.
A small smile appeared on her thin lips. Yes, it had only been a day, and she missed them already.
"Kami, I hate this place," she mumbled.
A rustle behind her told her that someone had been watching, and Kagome whipped around in alarm.
"Then perhaps you shouldn't be here, if you find this place so unpleasant, human."
The voice belonged to a rather tall looming male youkai with fierce red hair that flared outwards and reached partially down his waist. He was in full body armor, Kagome noticed, her eyes drifting to the two katanas around his waist band. She gulped, before glancing at his face. His markings were very similar to Sesshoumaru, but replaced with harsh red streaks instead of magenta stripes. He didn't appear to be glaring, or angry of any sorts, but with the slight frown on his lips, told the young miko that the youkai seemed mildly irritated.
She stood up and held her ground. "W-Who are you?"
The youkai kept his hard stare and approached slowly, looming over her petite figure, his eyes narrowed.
"You should show more respect for those who are in higher rank than yourself, human," he said, eyes searching her face. Although he glared, Kagome sensed a sort of confusing as he took in the sight of her clothing.
She took a step backwards, before glaring. "I was being respectful!" she said. "Just who are you to talk to me as if you're superior, huh? Just because you're taller and er—slightly more built d-doesn't mean anything!"
The male at first, seemed utterly shocked by her words. He stared, blinked, and then glared. "I," he began in a drawl, "am Lord of the South. Perhaps before insulting me and my lands, you should have taken extra precautions on how you plan on speaking with the youkai here. I am taiyoukai, who are you to raise your voice?"
Kagome gaped, and took another step back. Now this was quite a predicament. So this was Takasuma of the South. She should have known that he was taiyoukai. Was it just her, but did all demon lords have a some what Sesshoumaru-likeness to them? Cold, expressionless, tall and er, slightly intimidating? Odd indeed.
At the moment, the miko wished that she would duck taped her mouth together. She really should learn to think before she spoke. Yes, she really had to keep that one in mind.
Deciding that she would not answer his question, the taiyoukai advanced slowly, but was stopped by a loud, painful cry. A strange youkai suddenly burst forth through the path, running at incredible speed and waving his arms about.
It was the old beggar youkai that was near the stands, Kagome noticed, except that he neither looked kind and brittle, but was panting heavily. He raised a long crooked finger at the girl, his eyes forming a glare.
"You!" he exclaimed causing Kagome nearly cover her ears at the screeching noise. "Treacherous! Deceiving! Vile! Loathsome—M-My Lord!"
Takasuma, taiyoukai of the South, remained unfazed by the sudden outburst. Instead, he looked over the youkai kneeling at his feet with bored eyes.
Kagome took a step back. Maybe if they started a conversation, she could very well find a way around them and make way to the castle. Silently she cursed under her breath, realizing that the intense glow of the sun had disappeared behind the mountains. It was nearly dark.
"M-My lord," the old one started, giving a short, but low bow. "This vile woman has stolen something of mine! She is deceiving! Plotting! She wishes to be concubine! Do not be fooled by her innocent looks, your greatness, she is most certainly a spy!"
His insult made Kagome gasp in shock. Concubine? She thought that they had gotten over that little bit.
"Hey! Now listen to me," she snapped. "I told you before that I'm not a concubine, okay? And second of all—"
"Milord! She is here Milord! This one recognizes her foul scent from a mile away!"
The miko cringed as Jaken emerged from a nearby bush brandishing his staff. He gave a long pointed look at Kagome's face. "You!" he cried. "How dare you try and run away and deceive Sesshoumaru-sama? Have you no idea what kind of trouble you have caused by getting yourself lost? Honestly! You humans! You are all worthless, a pathetic excuse—"
"That is enough, Jaken."
A tall figure clad in white had stepped out from the shadows. Kagome swallowed and gulped nervously. Sesshoumaru's eyes screamed that he was terribly irritated and annoyed by the situation.
"Sesshoumaru," the red haired taiyoukai greeted. "How very fortunate that you could join us. Do not tell me that this girl is a...companion?" He seemed unsure of his words as he raised an eyebrow in question.
Sesshoumaru didn't reply. He simply glared.
"C-Companion or not---er..." the elder youkai bellowed out in interruption. "F-Forgive me my lords, but this human wench has stolen something of great value to me. I demand punishment."
Kagome had had enough. It was one thing to insult her, but this youkai wanted her punished for some absurd reason. She had been overly polite to the strange one naught but an hour ago, and now he was here wrongfully accusing her of theft.
"For the last time, I didn't steal anything!" she exclaimed, arms crossed over her chest.
She felt Sesshoumaru's piercing glare and decided that it was best to not look him directly in the eyes. It was bad enough that she had gotten separated from him, which by the way, was entirely his fault since he was the one that took no notice of her lagging behind, but now she was stuck in a very uncompromising situation in front of two taiyoukai and a morbidly insane and frantic, old youkai. Kami, oh how she desperately wished that she were back in her own era where she didn't have to listen to youkai ramblings and what not. Really now, Kagome would rather have been watching her pretty little television box.
The elder youkai puffed his chest, a smug look coming upon his face. "Then what is that piece of jewelry on your wrist then?" he said.
Shit. Kagome nearly choked on her tongue. She had been prepared to rage on the youkai with a handful of insults, but instead, her mouth snapped shut. How could she have completely forgotten about that damned bracelet? She really wasn't the type to steal, how could this be happening to her? What had she done to deserve this? Sesshoumaru would surely throw her to the lions, leave her to be punished or perhaps eaten for dinner just as Jaken had explained so earlier. The miko felt her stomach turn. The unpleasant feeling was unbearable. Still...she refused to look him right in the eye. It would serve no purpose. Sure she could very well have laughed it off, saying that it was a great mistake and that she was in a terrible hurry, which she was—but somehow Kagome figured that Sesshoumaru wasn't in the mood for humor, or how ever way he would view it.
There was an awkward pause, as she shifted in her spot, fingers twisting around the hems of her skirt.
Kagome looked up at the sound of rustling silk and found that Sesshoumaru had taken a tiny pouch from his sleeves. He tossed it to the ground where it landed in front of the old youkai's feet. From the look in his eyes, the miko could tell that he wanted this whole thing over with just as much as she did.
"For your silence," he drawled and turned his back to walk briskly back into the castle.
The youkai didn't complain but nearly pounced on the pouch like a predator hunting for his food. After giving him one last glare, Kagome hurried passed the confused looking taiyoukai of the South to trail behind Sesshoumaru. Kami, he had really saved her back there, and it wasn't just by using violence. Come to think of it, it was actually the very first time she noticed Sesshoumaru show any kind of civility towards any other living creature, other than herself, Jaken and Rin. She rather thought that he would have drawn out his Tokijin to impale the youkai's throat.
She bit her bottom lip after giving a sideways glance at his face. He remained impassive, unreadable, and yet something in his eyes told Kagome that she had better hold her tongue. Silently, she wondered how much Sesshoumaru had paid for the tiny little thing around her wrist. She could have just given it back, although something told her that the nasty little youkai would still have demanded some sort of punishment. The miko nearly snorted at the thought. Stupid, ignorant youkai. As if Sesshoumaru would let that thing touch her. A small satisfied smirk came on her lips, causing the taiyoukai beside to glare her way. On second thought...
The miko was lead into a rather remarkable looking room. A luscious bed with satin sheets and curtains, the floor lined with soft furs and the walls painted a dark navy blue. She stepped in looking slightly confused that Sesshoumaru stayed near the doorway. She blinked.
"Your clothes are on the bed," he said. "Change. Your appearance proves to be a distraction."
The door slammed shut behind her so suddenly that Kagome gave a startled jump. Jerk. What exactly was she supposed to do now? Get dressed for what exactly?
Growling in frustration, the miko threw herself onto the bed. Either the cushions were extremely soft and comforting or it was that she was overly exhausted. She gave a heavy sigh into the pillows before glancing at the laid out kimono to her right. Her fingers ached to touch it. She honestly had never seen a kimono so elegantly crafted. The dark blue linings and the soft pink sakura blossoms traced a pattern on the sleeves and had a bright red sash bow. A small smile appeared on Kagome's lips. Here she was in an exquisite palace filled with taiyoukai, youkai, and many nobles, and she was to be dressed like some sort of princess. Really, it was a dream come true.
She sat up groggily and rubbed her eye. Now how was she going to put this on by herself?
Sesshoumaru was pissed at her. No, that couldn't be the right word to describe it. Sesshoumaru did not get pissed. Usually he was emotionless, blank or extremely angry. So basically, the miko made him irritated. Yes, very irritated indeed. And annoyed. Yes, very annoyed as well. How long did it take for human women to dress themselves? If he were not already seated, the taiyoukai would have marched back up the stairs and dragged her down into the hall. Unfortunately, he was already seated, which meant that he couldn't possibly leave the table without Takasuma asking another insufferable question. He almost growled at the thought.
After he had emerged from the taking the miko to the room, the Southern taiyoukai had stepped out from the shadows and the questions that followed were...somewhat of a nuisance.
"Does something trouble you, Sesshoumaru?"
His eyes flickered to the far left where a stern looking water youkai sat. Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed.
"It is nothing that concerns you," he replied closing his eyes.
A demoness with wild green hair gave a small chuckle. "Oh? Does it have something to do with that human that you've brought here? I hear she's the talk of the castle." The youkai smirked, leaning her chin at the back of her palm. She gave Sesshoumaru a coy look.
"This Sesshoumaru suggests that you control your tongue before it is ripped from your mouth," he drawled back.
The youkais seated in the table gasped at the insult causing Sesshoumaru eyebrow to give a slight twitch. He was never a big hit at meetings.
"Now, now, let's not get touchy." Takasuma raised his hands to silence the whispers and the thunderous glares that were being sent to the taiyoukai of the West. "Perhaps, Sesshoumaru, it is time to explain the reason why the human is here. I myself wonder why you of all people have taken business with a human." He raised a delicate eyebrow.
Sesshoumaru kept his eyes closed. "There is nothing to know. The miko is under this Sesshoumaru's protection," he said.
The table gasped, and hushed whispers broke out. A miko was most certainly not allowed in the home of a taiyoukai, surely Sesshoumaru knew that.
Takasuma's eyes narrowed before he spoke, his voice cold. "I do not recall you asking my permission to bring your filth into my home, Sesshoumaru." He gripped the goblet in his hands tightly. "If you wish to bring concubines into the South, be very aware of who you bring. This miko is not welcome." Taking a sip of his drink, as if holding back his anger, the taiyoukai inclined his head to the eagle youkai sitting across him who seemed to be the only one unaffected by the recent turn of events. "Do you not agree, Sakutso?"
Sakutso, a broad expressionless, bald youkai glanced up, a smirk tugging at his lips. "If I am not mistaken, this is the same miko that now guards fragments of the Shikon no Tama, am I not correct, Sesshoumaru?"
The demoness spoke again. "It seems now that you are mildly interested, Sakutso." Her expression dimmed. "Perhaps it is wise to remember that the Shikon had been ripped from the body of Midoriko, enemy to all youkai. Surely you don't desire it as those lower class youkai do, hmm?" She threw her head back in mock laughter, before twirling her finger around an emerald lock of hair.
"This one did not start conversing with your pathetic weak self, Aki." Sakutso snapped.
"It's Akima-sama to you, fool!" she snarled back, youki flaring.
The Southern taiyoukai raised his hands again to calm the whispers. "Let us be calm," he said, sneaking a glimpse at Sesshoumaru. "Such things should not be discussed at my dinner table. If anyone has any pending grudges, save it for tomorrow's meeting."
A large bear youkai roared in jolly laughter. "Ah, speaking of dinner, why aren't we being fed?" His eyes danced mockingly. "All this excitement is making this one hungry." He puffed his chest out, a smile breaking out on his face.
"I believe that it is impolite to start dinner without everyone being seated," said a petite pointed looking demoness. She straightened her robes and gradually twisted her fingers in a circular motion in mid air, her face remaining expressionless. Thunder roared outside the walls of the palace.
"Calm down Noriko," someone blurted out with a chuckle. "You're giving us bad weather."
"Tell me to calm down again and I'll send a whirlwind through your Eastern forests," the demoness said in a drawl.
Takasuma slumped back into his seat and sighed. "It seems that we are all tired from the journey, but I advice everyone to shut their mouths until the representative from the East shows his face," he said in growing frustration.
"I say we start dinner without him!" the bear youkai bellowed. "We are all starving! These young ones these days, they really don't show much respect, hmm? Showing up late to a gathering and all, tsk, tsk, tsk." He shook his head in disappointment.
"Yes, a bother indeed," Takasuma drawled out lazily and took another sip of his drink. He turned his head towards a servant standing by near the doors and nodded his head in approval to bring the food in.
Sesshoumaru remained stoic. He very much wanted to slaughter all the blundering youkai at the table at the very moment. The weak, pathetic cowards... If it were not for his father's long time allegiance with the fools, he would have Takasuma by the neck the minute he had stepped passed his barriers. The pathetic excuse of a taiyoukai had the audacity to question him on his methods with the miko. A concubine indeed... His eyebrow ached to twitch. And speaking of mikos. He could sense her presence drawing nearer to the great hall where they were all seated. His eyes narrowed.
"Your miko approaches," Sakutso stated eyes turning to the door.
Entirely obvious. Sesshoumaru drew his eyes shut for a moment. Her scent and aura was coming closer. The youkai at the tables turned their heads. Takasuma frowned. The green haired demoness chuckled, and finally the doors slowly creaked open.
Sesshoumaru refused to turn his head. His irritation was getting the best of him. Almost... The wench had better have changed into something decent. Reminded of Takasuma's reaction earlier that day upon seeing them within the gardens, Sesshoumaru at least thought she would be smarter than to go off gallivanting around in that tiny little thing that she called her uniform.
A head poked out, and bright blue eyes scanned the room.
Kagome gave a sudden, 'eep,' when the bear youkai Kuramoto, began to howl in his deep laughter.
"Is this the miko, Takasuma?" he said between chuckles. "Why...she is but a child!"
Takasuma, lord of the South, kept his narrowed eyes on Kagome's tiny frame. "What is the human doing in my dining hall, Sesshoumaru?" he asked between clenched teeth.
He didn't answer, but kept his eyes momentarily closed. He didn't want to have to explain himself to Takasuma in the presence of all the others. Takasuma was lord of the South, thus he was one of the four regional taiyoukai, and Sesshoumaru could not trust any information regarding the miko with the lesser few. In truth, Sesshoumaru did not trust anyone at all, Ryuukotsusei's betrayal only proved that. The dragon was once the ruler of the North, this he remembered. But the taiyoukai was too hateful and thus challenged his father. No, not even the four regional taiyoukai could be trusted.
Kagome took a step closer. She spotted Sesshoumaru's form between the seated youkai. His back was turned, but it was clearly his. She had never before felt this uncomfortable in her life. She knew who these youkai were. They were not the ones her and Inuyasha would normally meet. These were of noble class...er...of some sort, and they were all staring at her. The taiyoukai of the South, sat at the head of the table, she noticed, and was glaring her way—so were several others. Damnit! She hadn't meant to barge in on their little dinner party. Her stomach growled.
"Tell me human, are you really the possessor of the Shikon no Tama?" the eagle demon, Sakotsu said.
"Uhh..." Kagome wasn't certain what the right answer was. At a time she would probably declare openly that she was the proud owner, although in the situation she was currently in, it was a different matter. A room filled with powerful, or if not, the mostpower taiyoukai from around the world surrounded her, and even if they had the capability of rejecting the jewel, she doubted that she could trust them. But this was the thing about youkai. They always had a sense for extremely powerful objects. She was sure that they had already sensed it in the bottle hanging around her neck. She blanched. "Yes," she continued. "I have only fragments of them..." She was unsure what to say. Sadly she looked onto Sesshoumaru for advice, but his back was still turned.
Kuramoto laughed. "Oh Sakotsu, you're frightening the girl. Don't ask such silly questions! It is dinner time!" He beckoned for Kagome. "Come girl, sit," he said. Takasuma shot him a glare, but kept his lips firmly shut.
The miko girl's lips slightly twitched. There was an empty seat beside Sesshoumaru and she slowly approached. The table was dined with some of the most decorated cutlery and the most delicious smelling food that she had ever smelt in her life. Her stomach growled again. She hadn't had anything to eat for barely a day now—but how could she be sure that the food on the plates weren't actually roasted humans served along with creamy soup? What exactly did taiyoukai eat anyway?
Before she could firm place her bum on the seat, Sesshoumaru had gotten up and in an instant her wrist was gripped around his hand, claws digging rather painfully into her skin. Kagome winced and looked up at his expressionless face.
"We will retire for the night," he declared and began hauling her from the delicious smelling food and out the doors.
"Well that was...interesting," the green haired demoness said with a chuckle. "I don't suppose they're sharing a room?"
Takasuma remained glaring at the empty seats. "Sesshoumaru should learn that associating with such beings are unforgivable," he said.
The demoness spoke up again. "What about Inutaishio, hmm? I seem to recall that you had no problems when he bedded that female of his," she said.
"Inutaishio, may he rest in peace," the table murmured.
"Or perhaps," she continued, "you know that Inutaishio could cut you in half without even blinking. But Sesshoumaru—" She giggled. "I've heard that he's quite the warrior now and possibly even stronger than his father."
"Inutaishio, may he rest in peace," the table murmured again.
The doors flew open and a loud voice shouted out through the whispering youkai.
"What the hell is all this ruckus about?"
Kuramoto drank from his goblet and peered over Sakotsu's head to get a better look at the newly arrived youkai.
"Kouga!" he exclaimed. "How good for you to join us! Sorry we started dinner without you dear boy! You know how this one has quite the appetite." He gave a low chuckle, his large belly rumbling. "You missed the show! Seems that Sesshoumaru-sama has gotten himself into quite the pickle."
The table nodded in agreement.
"This one has heard that he even bought her a present this afternoon! Isn't that right Takasuma? You saw them didn't you?" someone blurted out.
Kouga scoffed and placed his foot on the edge of the table, chest puffed out. "Fehh... Sesshoumaru, huh? I'm surprised that he even showed up," he said.
Takasuma glowered. "Take your foot off my table, wolf," he said.
"This is why I hate coming here—I feel like I'm surrounded with the elderly," Kouga declared.
"Ouch! Let go! You're hurting my arm!" Kagome shrieked as she struggled against his hold. It was bad enough that Sesshoumaru had dragged her away from the sweet aroma of the food, but his claws were doing a real number on her arm.
"Silence," he said. "Your bickering is painful to my ears."
He had led her back into the room. Kagome cringed. This was it. They were alone and there was no way out.
He didn't seem to hesitate. "You disobeyed me on numerous occasions all in this one day," he began. "Has your squabbles with my half brother deafened you, or is it that you have a very peculiar way of following orders?" His eyes narrowed as he towered over her small figure.
Kagome stubbornly crossed her arms over her chest and looked to her side. "I told you before that I wouldn't stay behind in that lonesome castle of yours!" she started
"You believe that it is wise to have it here—with the presence of many youkai? Even the most innocent of hearts can be corrupted," he said. Was the girl really that naïve?
"Well I'm not going to stay in the West when Naraku can attack anytime! I don't feel safe there, okay?" she snapped back.
The girl was angry now. Sesshoumaru could feel her aura blazing around her form. The wench had the nerve to be angry with him—when she was the one who disobeyed orders? But the taiyoukai could not help but feel the small twinge of male pride crawl up his skin. She felt safe around his presence and he had vowed to protect her.
"And your recent theft?" He almost smirked at her reaction.
"I did not steal!" she exclaimed. Good. She was positively seething.
"Then Kami is against you," he replied glancing at her wrist.
"It was your fault! I was lagging behind and you didn't even notice! I was merely asking for directions—a-and happened to try it on!" Her arms were by her side now, fists clenched.
"And you know the extent of my patience," he responded.
Kagome could almost throw her arms up in frustration. "Yes! That's why I hurried to the palace! And yes, I completely forgot that the blasted thing was still around my—"
"Enough," he interrupted and walked swiftly past her.
The girl turned around to face him, eyes glaring daggers on his back. "Did you bring me here just to lecture me?" she asked.
He didn't reply but simply began to remove his armor.
Her eyes widened. "H-Hey! W-What are you doing?" she said in alarm.
Face flushed, Kagome brought her hands to her face. H-He was going to take his clothes off! The nerve! She heard a rustle of silk and a loud thud as his armor hit the floor and then there was silence. Slowly she peered from between her fingers. Her legs wobbled. "W-What?"
He was sitting on the bed fully clothed glaring at her.
"Why do you hesitate, miko?" he drawled.
Kagome had her hands at her hips. "Hesitate in what?" she stammered. "Just what do you want me to do now? I'm angry, starved and tired!"
"W-With you? On the bed?"
"Where else do you suppose?"
Sesshoumaru was getting impatient. He was the one who had to share a bed with a human and she was the one complaining. For once he wished that she would just follow what he said without any objections. Never before in his life had he encountered such a disobedient woman. Now if she were inuyoukai, he would already have her by the throat to teach her a lesson in obedience, however, with her tiny human form, he was sure that he would damage her. Not that he minded. The more she spoke, the more his patience thinned.
"I-I'm not sharing a bed with you!" she exclaimed.
"There is plenty of room." When would she shut her mouth? What more did the miko want? "And cease your irritating babbles."
"No! I'm not sleeping next to you!" Kagome closed her eyes and turned around her arms once again crossed over her chest.
Just who did he think she was? She had never slept next to a male before—well other than Shippou and that did not account for anything at all. Shippou was a baby kit and there was always a written rule and exception with children. But with cold ruthless taiyoukais---that was another matter. It was disrespectful and dishonorable. She rather thought that Sesshoumaru knew all about that.
"Very well," she heard him say and heard the bed sheets fumble.
She turned around sharply. "H-Hey! And where exactly am I supposed to sleep?" she exclaimed as she saw his head disappear underneath the covers.
"The floor," he drawled out.
The lights blew out.
This chapter wasn't what I had imagined. It was a particularly hard chapter to write because it shows a side of Sesshoumaru conversing with others other than Jaken, Rin, and Inuyasha. The taiyoukai are hard to write as well. I would have thought since Inutaishio seemed like a nice enough demon to get with Izayoi, that other taiyoukai could act like that as well. Also! People have been asking as to how Kagome and Sesshoumaru first met—or first encountered each other and started their 'relationship.' My answer to this is that everything will be explained in flashbacks in later chapters. But I hoped that everyone liked it. It's a rather boring chapter with new characters introduced. I'm sorry that Sesshoumaru seemed a bit OOC near the end, but it's just that it's so hard to write him conversing with someone since he doesn't usually do so in the series. Please review and tell me what you think!