Raising The Phoenix

Summary - Soon the flicker grows, and life, like fire, spreads.

Author's Note - I'm having difficulties with the internet... sorry about the lateness.

Chapter 10 - For the Fear of Apathy

Everything felt soft... soothing. It had been years since life had allowed him to relax this much. He couldn't remember a time that his sleep was this deep or this pure. It was heaven... or as close to it as a soul like his could get. His eyes slid open lazily, his body unwilling to leave its peaceful state... but all vestiges of peace faded when he took in his surroundings.

His brother's pet lay on the ground pale and unconscious. Flashes of something ran through his mind - something like fear, pain, but the harder he pressed his mind for answers, the more fleeting his memory became. In irritation, he shook his head, but still, his thoughts refused to materialize.

His hands found the ground and propelled him upward, but it wasn't until he was standing that the oddity of the situation struck him - hands? But there they were, both, as if he'd never lost his arm. For a moment, he forgot himself and stood there, twisting his new found appendage in the light. It looked like his missing hand, and certainly, up the sleeve of his hoari, it continued, every marking in place, every inch of skin just as he remembered it.

In wonder, he balled his fist, not quite certain if her should believe what his eyes were telling him. His arm was back. But his wonder was derailed by the flying body of his charge.

"Lord Sesshoumaru! You're alright!"

He caught her deftly, regardless of her surprise attack, "Yes, Rin, I'm fine." Her eyes sparkled with joy, and her little arms tried their best to choke the life out of him. It was awkward for him, but in his dazed state, he let this affront to his nature pass. His arm was back.

Once more he was interrupted, but this time by the monk that traveled with Inuyasha, "Lord Sesshoumaru." His tone was polite and his bow low, so regardless of his low birth, Sesshoumaru nodded for the human to continue. "From what Lady Rin has told me, it seems your arm has been healed through the combined efforts of Lady Kagome and the sword Tensaiga."

Again he found himself looking to the fallen miko. Only the day before was her power a forgotten thing, and yet he stood repaired by her gifts. He felt disquieted... off balance. Certainly in his time he had seen awesome feats of power and magic, and yet this simple demonstration of skill had struck him more than any other. Mikos were to hunt youkai like himself, to keep them from murdering her kith and kin like the rodents they were, not to heal them. Yet certainly he'd learned by now that the woman child was like no other soul he'd ever met. It made him pause.

"Monk, look after my charge, I will see that the miko Kagome is returned to Inuyasha quickly, and I will depart. I thank you and your friends for aiding Rin in her time of need. But for now, I feel that the girl should be returned to her own, and quickly." He said no more, instead, he passed the small child clinging to him to the waiting arms of the monk and gathered Kagome to him. He fed his jaki slowly, willing himself upward and away from the scene of so much confusion.

Warmth shrouded Kagome, a lazy warmth that made her think of fat Buyo curled in the sunlight. The thought made her smile. She couldn't remember much of what had happened to her, only that she new she was incredibly tired, yet incredibly comfortable. As she pried her unwilling eyes apart, she nearly screamed at the sight of trees passing underneath her, clutching at what felt to be a precarious perch, but turned out to be Sesshoumaru.

"What happened?" Her voice sounded thready to her, but whether it was the wind that rushed past them, or her exhaustion, she didn't know.

His eyes flicked to her own, and she could have sworn that she saw something within their depths, but what it was, she had no answer, "Of that I am uncertain myself, Kagome."

She filled with shock at the sound if her own name coming from the mouth of the great Sesshoumaru. Certainly her mind felt foggy and unclear, but she knew she'd heard it, and she was almost perfectly certain that he'd never called her by her name. But she didn't press it - she let the sound of the wind overtake the conversation and tuned into her own little world.

There was something up. There was definitely something up. Sesshoumaru was carrying her.. Being quasi-nice to her, and to top it all off, had addressed her by her name. Absolutely none of these things came anywhere close to being normal. Add on to this his previous history of talking with her, listening to her as she spoke of Inuyasha, being almost sympathetic, and it sent red flags flying. But the most haunting bit of it all was his angry declaration as he'd left earlier that morning. "He reeks of earth and death - you know what he does in the still of the night, and yet you still protect him? Foolish human. This Sesshoumaru would do no such thing, and yet I am like him?" Was it merely anger that spoke those words - certainly it had to be, but the mere implications of what he said were too much to ignore.

She eyed him suspiciously. She felt as though he were trying to butter her up... like Souta would for a video game, like Shippo would for candy. But what for? What could she, lowly human as she was, do for Sesshoumaru that he couldn't do better or easier? It made no sense at all.

Her head ached, whether it was from the thoughts running around in her head like yapping dogs, or from whatever it was that had knocked her out, she didn't know. She only knew that she wished it would knock it off. Without really thinking about it, she curled deeper into Sesshoumaru's embrace and drifted off to an uneasy sleep.

Attachments were things that Sesshoumaru had learned early on to avoid. His father had been the prime example of this lesson. His first mate - the mother to his first son and heir, had been lost to illness, and the Lord of the West had grieved for many years. His second mate, however, his second mate had been the hammer to drive home that valuable message to Sesshoumaru.

He'd been only a pup, but clearly he could remember her face. He supposed for a human she was beautiful, but too many years of hate and mistrust had harden his eyes in the course of aesthetics in humans. She'd been his own nurse, a girl called from a nearby village to look after the Lord's son. Sesshoumaru himself had ignored her, hating her for trying to be a substitute for a mother who was never coming back, but slowly, his father had welcomed her into his heart, and obviously into his bed. Inuyasha was proof enough of that. It was after the birth of his brother that Sesshoumaru's whole life had changed.

The grief that struck his father so deeply healed in the time spent with his human mistress, and Inuyasha became a cherished part of his family... but Sesshoumaru, the lingering reminder of the first Lady of the West, was ignored.

His father had met his death protecting that weak human and his hanyou son. The last of his family taken from him by their own ineptitude. Attachments brought death and foolishness, but most importantly, they brought pain. Pain in a son who lost his parents. And thus was he galvanized for the world.

But something in his chest had tightened when the human in his arms had fallen back to sleep, her ear pressed to his heart, her hair tickling his cheek. No adult old enough to recognize danger ever came so close to him, and yet she lay sleeping in the arms of a killer.

He could drop her, sever whatever had pulled in his chest, end the confusion that had taken up permanent residence in his mind since he'd first become involved with the damnable girl. She always had him on his toes, always had him second guessing himself, and in the few days they'd been together, she'd managed to incite an anger in him he'd not experienced in years. The girl was chaos embodied, and yet, a stray glance at her sleeping face brought him nothing but peace.

It was incredibly frustrating. Never mind how Kagome tolerated his brother, how the hell did the hanyou put up with the girl! She changed demeanor so quickly it was as if several people lived within her, not just one very confusing girl. She was loud, disrespectful, obnoxious. It was unbelievable. Just further proof that his brother was a moron.

He adjusted his grip, reassuring himself that the arm behind her back, and the one supporting her knees were firmly in place. A wry smile passed by his lips as he thought again of dropping the girl. Knowing his luck, she wouldn't die, but be very, very angry at him. He could practically hear the yells now, and strangely they brought a smile to his lips.

His landing was smooth - graceful, just as it always was. He ignored the out of breath panting of his brother, he avoided the questioning eyes of the hanyou's companions. He was the Lord of the Western Lands, they had no right to question.

His steady golden surveyed the ground, trying to find an acceptable place to put his burden. Once found, he adjusted her carefully, insuring she would continue her rest in comfort. He honestly didn't know why he bothered, but he chalked it up to an unwillingness to listen to her complain, choosing to ignore how peaceful he felt watching her sleep.

I'm sorry to can the review responses for this chapter. Please don't get the idea I'm not grateful - honestly I'm blown away by the feed back I got this time around, but my internet has taken to failing on me lately, and I want to make sure I get this posted. Thank you everyone, and once more, I'm really sorry for not responding.

Please Forgive Me