A/N: This is the last chapter, hope you enjoy. I may write an epilogue, but I haven't decided yet.
My next project will be a fun little thing with the regular characters, no OC. I hope to have the first chapter up in about a week.
Thanks to all who have read this, whether or not you reviewed. Not many will take a chance on an OC fic and I appreciate that you stuck with this one. I hope it didn't disappoint.
FFnet: MoonSister – good to hear from you! Tora Delerium – I'm glad you didn't have an accident… Gothic-Ember – I did mention that I liked happy endings… Neisha
Disclaimer: I do not own any character created by Rumiko Takahashi.
Chapter 22 – Bundle of Joy
"You should be in bed," Kagome admonished as Charlotte polished off another helping of raw venison.
"I'm fine," she said between mouthfuls. Actually, she was starving, having not had anything to eat the prior day. She'd eat the whole deer if they'd let her. Unfortunately, a haunch had already been sliced up and was bubbling in Kaede's stew. Kaede clicked her tongue but didn't comment as she swatted Shippo's hand from the stew pot.
Try as she might, Kagome could not get used to the idea of someone eating raw red meat. Fish was one thing, but venison? Just the blood smell turned her stomach; she doubted she could get a piece to her mouth without retching. She winced as Charlotte tore off another chunk from the large thighbone with her claws.
"So, ah, are you leaving with Sesshomaru?" she asked, trying not to notice how the meat shone wetly in the firelight.
"Not until after the pup is born. Speaking of which, where is that jerk, Senichi?"
Kagome grinned. "Jaken ran him off with that staff of his while you and Sesshomaru were…sleeping. Singed his tale and everything."
"I guess the little bugger comes in handy, after all."
They were interrupted as Sesshomaru swept into Kaede's hut, an irritated hanyou a few steps behind him.
"Where is Kato?" he demanded of his mate. She was struck by the change in his demeanor toward her when others were around. Alone with her, he was gentle and affectionate in a subtle, quiet way. If anyone else was present, he was distant, emotionally and physically. She let him have the space he wanted, but she missed the soft nuzzles he gave her.
"I told you, she said she took care of him," Inuyasha exclaimed, annoyed that his brother was grilling the nekoyoukai so soon after her ordeal.
"He's safe," Charlotte frowned at him.
"Well, we're safe from him, really…"
"Where is he?" Sesshomaru repeated icily.
Charlotte had had enough of the attitude. "I put his youki in a boulder in the forest."
"And his body?"
"I ate him," she said slowly and distinctly.
"You ate him?" Inuyasha repeated in disbelief. "I thought you just beat him up or killed him!"
"He died eventually. He should have kept his cloven hooves to himself! And I was hungry."
Sesshomaru was beginning to see red, not at the consumption of his scout but the fact that said scout had tried to take what he must have known was his lord's. "He touched you?" the question rumbled through the hut like an oncoming thunderstorm.
She calmly met his eyes, sending a pulse of reassurance through his mark. Should she tell him the truth? He obviously wanted to know what happened and could probably smell a lie. "He tried to rape me, active word being 'tried'. I took care of it."
"How awful," Kagome shuddered. "It must have been terrible for you."
"Well, gutting him was pretty cathartic."
"You are not to leave my sight," Sesshomaru snapped, incensed despite Charlotte's efforts to sooth him. Maybe she should have kept the details to herself, but she'd wanted to start this new phase in their relationship with honesty, no more secrets.
"I hardly think that's practical," Charlotte remarked at her most reasonable, trying to keep a reign on her own temper. She certainly didn't want to get into a fight with her new mate before they'd even been mated for twenty-four hours but she had to nip this crap in the bud.
He barked sharply, stilling her. "This is not my mansion, this is a filthy human village that is not fit to house you, and is shown to be dangerous. If you insist on delivering the pup here, then you will do as I say."
Inuyasha brandished a fist under his brother's nose, "It was your fucking vassal that attacked her!"
Kaede stood, her aura filling the room with spiritual power. Her words were calm but authoritative, "There will be no fighting in my hut. Inuyasha, ye will lower your voice. And as for ye," Kaede fixed the tai-youkai with a stern stare that only old women could master, "Ye would do well to keep her best interests in mind." He opened his mouth but was unceremoniously cut off. "Don't think I don't know what ye have been up to. Mounting a woman so heavy with child, ye should be ashamed of yourself." She bustled out of the hut, leaving in her wake a roomful of abashed adults.
"Actually," Shippo piped up, "Pregnant youkai females can be mated up until they give birth. You should've seen my Pa-"
"Okay, Shippo, we get the idea," Kagome broke in quickly, pressing her hands to her burning cheeks. Sometimes she forgot how different the demon world was from the human world, and then Shippo would bust out with something that a youngster really shouldn't know.
"At least it won't be born a bastard," Charlotte remarked.
"Keh. With his sire, it's a guarantee he will be."
"Inuyasha!" Kagome had that tone in her voice, the one that promised a humiliating face plant on the floor of the hut.
Inuyasha stomped out of the hut, grumbling under his breath about bastards and hentai cats. Charlotte watched him go, wondering if he'd ever get over the fact that she was with his brother again. Licking the blood from her claws, she eyed her impassive but irritated mate from under her lashes. Stay within his sight, oh?
Kagome cleared her throat awkwardly, then reached into her ever-present yellow backpack and pulled out a small plastic package. "I almost forgot; I brought you something, Charlotte."
Charlotte's eyebrows raised and her eyes widened as she accepted the package. Squealing in delight, she reached over and gave the girl a hug. "Chocolate kisses! Kagome, you are a saint."
"I wish you'd let me bring back some baby stuff." The teen returned her hug with an embarrassed grin, and then slung her backpack over her shoulder, following after the hanyou. Shippo glanced from the unopened bag of kisses in Charlotte's claws to Kagome's retreating backpack. With a small frown, he jumped to his feet and ran after her.
"Wait, Kagome! Did you bring me any Pocky?"
With a wide grin plastered over her face, Charlotte tore into the bag with her fangs and extracted a silver-wrapped kiss. Sesshomaru sat next to her, sniffing at the strange items with a suspicious glint in his eyes.
"What is that?"
"Never mind. Chocolate isn't good for dogs."
"Then neither is it good for breeding bitches," he moved to take the package and sweet smelling thing in her hand, but she leaned away from him, extending her arms and moving them out of his reach.
"Lioness. And I don't think there's been any research done on the subject." She was tall for a woman in the feudal era, but he was still taller and had longer arms. With a slight shift, he almost succeeded in snatching the package from her hands; would have if she hadn't twisted her arms behind her back, moving the bag around her body. With a quick, altogether unexpected movement, she stuffed the bag of chocolate down the front of her kimono to nestle between her breasts.
Shocked, he stared at the new lump in her kimono, not sure what to do next. His hesitation gave her the time she needed to finish unwrapping the lone kiss in her hand and pop it in her mouth.
"Ha. Foiled." She balled the silver wrapper between her fingers and flicked it at him, hitting him between the eyes.
Growling, he told her exactly what he thought of her challenge. She grinned at him, showing the tips of her fangs between her lips as her eyelids dropped to half-mast.
"Impertinent woman," he stated coldly, but his eyes held a strange gleam as he formulated a plan. She thought she'd won, did she? Not only would he get the sweet stuff from her, she would give it to him willingly; feed it to him, if that's what he wanted.
"Maybe you should have thought of that before you knocked me up and mated me," she retorted as she fished another chocolate out of the bag in her kimono.
"Indeed." He gave her a long stare, and then swept out of the hut.
Smirking to herself triumphantly as she sucked on the kiss, she muttered to herself, "'You are not to leave my sight', my ass." She knew he wasn't that angry but she had no idea what he could be doing. However, she still had her chocolate and he had willing left her. He could play dominant dog in the bedroom all he wanted, but hell would freeze over before she became one of those obedient little things up in his mansion. Two points for the cat.
Kaede entered the hut, casting her a look askance when she saw the expecting lioness munching on candy, a small pile of wrappers near her feet. "Ye should not be eating that," the old miko scolded her as she gave the venison stew a stir.
"Not you too," Charlotte sighed, pulling the bag of slightly melted treats out of her kimono. Wherever her mate had gone, he didn't seem to be returning any time soon. Perhaps she shouldn't have thrown a candy wrapper at him. But he shouldn't have tried to come between her and her chocolate.
A minty aroma wafted by and she sneezed, her nose tingling with the aftereffect. "Kaede, what did you put in that stew?" She sniffed at the steam rising from the surface but it wasn't the source of the smell. It was coming from the doorway. Oh no. He didn't.
Almost against her will, she turned her head, the heady aroma creeping into her brain like mist through the rice patties. Sesshomaru stood in the doorway, framed by the night with his hair glowing in the light of the fire. To the casual observer, his expression was aloof, but to Charlotte he looked…smug. And positively delicious. The tip of his Mokomoko-sama fluttered enticingly in the breeze and she had the most overwhelming desire to pounce and wrap them both up in that white fur, lick it and him clean of the minty scent that emanated from him.
Sesshomaru struggled against the twitching of his lips as he watched the cat's eyes glaze over and her slitted pupils dilate. He stroked the soft fur of his boa, ruffling it with his claws and watching her watch him with an almost predatory glitter in her eyes.
Kaede felt the tension in the room and glanced between the two. "Have ye been rolling in catnip?" she asked the dog demon in disbelief, who blatantly ignored her.
"Not fair," Charlotte whispered huskily, inching closer to him despite the knowledge that he would take away her chocolate. But she had to run her claws through that fur, that hair. Her fingers positively itched.
He raised an eyebrow, then stepped away from the doorway, keeping his stride fairly brisk so that she would have to hurry to catch up. Sure enough, the sounds of her scrambling to her feet and running after him, as well as Kaede fruitless protest, met his ears and he let himself smile into the night.
Charlotte crouched down behind one of the low growing bushes along the path to her hut. Holding her body perfectly still, except for the occasional kick within her, she watched him approach the entrance to her hut, then pause. Scanning the night, raising his head slightly to scent the air, he languidly ruffled the fur of his boa.
Still she waited for the right moment, body tense and ready to spring. So he thought he could manipulate her with catnip, did he? It was a challenge to her youkai, if she'd ever seen one, and she was more than up to it. She shifted her feet slightly as a rustling erupted from the forest next to her hut.
Moments later, Kirara shot through the brush, heading straight toward Sesshomaru, her kitten eyes sparkling with catnip glow. Sesshomaru turned to the firecat, giving Charlotte the distraction she needed. Running as quickly and low to the ground as she could with her large stomach, then springing forward, she hit Sesshomaru square in the back, knocking them both into the hut.
Kirara ran after them, but put her brakes on quickly when Charlotte growled at her, "Mine." She back out of the hut forlornly, then sat on top wooden step and yowled.
"Woman," he said sternly, trying to throw her off, but she captured his wrists behind his back so he had no leverage and she was rather heavy, especially when she went slightly limp. It was a mysterious trick of the feline species, to increase the body weight on command. Grinning toothily and purring as she straddled his back, she brushed his silky hair away from the back of his neck, running her claws over his scalp. With a long, rough tongue, she licked the tender flesh at the nape of his neck.
"Cat," he warned, almost freeing his wrists, so she sat on those, too, laying her entire body over his back and squeezing his hips with her thighs. Digging the claws of one hand into his side and running her other claws over his scalp, she licked the delicate point of his ear with her sandpaper tongue.
The side of his face was exposed, one golden eye glaring up at her. She met that eye with heavy-lidded green ones and proceeded to try to lick the stripes off of his cheek.
This was not what he'd had in mind when he'd rubbed catnip on himself. An adoring, pliant cat was what he'd been after, not a tongue bath. The infuriating thing was, aside from being held immobile with his stomach pressed against the floor of a crude hut, that everything she did tickled in a painful sort of way and he had to struggle against the rumble that was building in his chest. A disturbing thought occurred to him; a breeding female had overpowered this Sesshomaru, the Lord of the West. However, he really didn't want her to stop. So, he relaxed, stop struggling, allowed her ministrations. It was much more honorable that way.
Inuyasha sat with a thump next to Kagome, who had to steady her bowl so that the venison stew didn't slosh out.
"What's eating you?" she asked the hanyou, who looked quite put out.
He tucked his arms into the sleeves of his haori and gave her a truculent look out of the corner of his eyes. "You can't leave me here alone with those two perverts," he jerked his head in the direction of Charlotte's hut. He'd wanted to make sure his brother wasn't picking on her but had stopped short at the smell of catnip and that other scent, the one he'd smelled on Charlotte and his brother before. He hadn't recognized the musky, tangy scent when he'd first smelled it all those months ago, but now he knew exactly what it was.
"I think it's good for him, your brother settling down with someone. He's changed, don't you think?" Kagome handed him a bowl, which he took grudgingly.
"He's still a bastard."
"Besides, you can hardly blame him, with a willing woman like that…" Miroku glanced hopefully at Sango, who pretended not to notice but was belied by the faint blush dusting her cheeks.
"I ain't staying here smelling that!" Inuyasha burst out, then closed his mouth with a snap, scowling.
Kagome blushed bright red, realizing that the hanyou knew exactly what they were doing and when they were doing it. The thought conjured images in her mind of snowy hair and triangle ears with an egregious lack of firerat clothing. "Well," the word came out as a squeak and she cleared her throat. "Why don't you come back through the well with me. You can hang out at home while I take my tests."
"A fine invitation," Miroku said, hoping that he'd take her up on the offer. He did not want the hanyou coming with Sango and him to the demon exterminator's village. He had some new lines that he wanted to try out on the taijiya and the hanyou would only get in the way.
"Fine," Inuyasha snapped. He did not like Kagome's era, but anything was better than smelling his brother rutting with…his sister. Then, that bastard would take her and her pup away, and he'd loose the only blood family that could have cared about him.
Days passed, the warmth slowly leeching out of air as autumn encroached. The village was quiet once again, now that Inuyasha's group had scattered to do their own things. Jaken had been sent back to the mansion to fetch a carriage to carry mother and child in comfort. Kaede had her own chores to perform and Shippo to help her out.
That suited Charlotte just fine, since she was left alone with Sesshomaru who was now true to his word and didn't let her out of his sight. They spent the days sitting in companionable silence or lazily making love. She had made a point to learn every inch of his body intimately, having lathed it with her tongue the other night, but what made up Sesshomaru, the man, was still somewhat of a mystery.
Sometimes, they'd share stories of their lives, since they really didn't know each other that well. Most of her stories were met with a raised eyebrow and an air of disapproval, which she found amusing. His tales were violent and often disturbing, but altogether fascinating. He could have walked out of one of her science fiction novels. A scant two weeks in each other's company and now they were mated and expecting. Which was also fine with Charlotte, because she was hopelessly, madly in love.
She sat in the circle of his arms, leaning her head against his chest, devoid of armor, and enjoying the stillness of the afternoon. One of his hands stroked her belly, the other rested on a straightened leg. His sandalwood scent surrounded her, silken hair caressing her cheek as he leaned slightly forward and whuffled hot breath across her face. Letting her eyes drift closed, she rubbed her cheek along his.
"Are you ready for this?" she asked quietly, opening her eyes when his hand stopped moving. He was staring off into the distance, a slight wrinkle between his eyebrows. "What is it?"
"My mother died in childbirth," he admitted. The hand on her stomach tensed and tightened, though he was careful not to prick her skin with her claws.
"Oh. I'm sorry." It sounded lame, but she didn't really know what else to say. "Well, my mother didn't, and I'll be fine. It's funny to think that my own pup will be born before my mother and I were."
He nuzzled her cheek, resuming the soft caress of her stomach. "Do you miss your previous life?"
She shrugged, twirling her fingers in a stray lock of his hair. "I miss Charlie. Sometimes I feel a little lost, not having a job to go to, but this one will keep me busy, I'm sure." She untangled her fingers from his hair and covered his hand with hers, lacing their fingers together.
"A female of your station should not work."
Squeezing his hand firmly, she looked at him out of the corner of her eye. "I'm an engineer, you know. Software engineer. I could learn engineering more appropriate to these times, maybe teach it to the pup."
He snorted. "Women are not engineers, and my son will be a warrior and a Lord."
Charlotte rolled her eyes and gently nipped his ear. "It might be a girl," she reminded him.
"I'm glad you came back when you did. It would suck having this pup without you," she said in a light, teasing voice.
He buried his nose in her hair, inhaling deeply. He was glad he'd found her as well, though if she'd already mated that panther, he would have killed him and taken her anyway. "When you left me in the woods near Yukio's tower, you said something but didn't finish. Tell me what it was."
She twisted in his arms in order to get a good look at his face. Molten eyes slightly narrowed, his head cocked to the side, she read avid interest in his features though anyone else would have mistaken it for a passing curiosity. "You remember that?"
"I thought it to be a dream but now I know that it was not." She moved to untwist so that she could hide against his chest, but he caught her chin with his free hand, forcing her to meet his eyes. "You will tell this Sesshomaru."
She was trapped; those pools of golden fire brooked no argument. Why did he want to know so badly? He wasn't big on words. Besides, she'd told him many times already with her actions, even before she left that morning three months ago. "Sesshomaru, I…"
His eyes bored into her, the crease reappearing between his eyebrows. He wasn't pleased by her hesitation and she didn't know why she would hesitate in the first place. He was her mate, after all. She would bear his children. The time for protecting herself against him, of hiding this one little bit of information even though it was blatantly obvious to everyone else, was long past gone.
She brushed his bangs out of his face and traced the blue crescent moon on his forehead, then smoothed the crease that drew his regal brows together. Smiling shyly, she realized she'd never said these words to a man that wasn't family. "Sesshomaru, I love you. But you already knew that."
The light in his eyes softened, bathing her in a radiance that warmed her blood and made her heart race. His pale lips quirked and she couldn't help but kiss the corner of them, nibbling tenderly.
Sesshomaru let her attend to him, his hand releasing her jaw and snaking around her waist to settle over his mark on her lower back. Sighing in contentment as she placed feathery kisses over his face, he closed his eyes and leaned into her touch. She wasn't with him because she carried his pup or because he'd mated her. She wanted him like he wanted her.
She pulled away suddenly, a startled look in her wide, distant eyes. He barked a terse question and she blinked, focusing on him.
"So, are you ready?"
He cocked his head. Yet again, she had not answered his question. "For what?" he asked. She patted her round belly and pursed her lips in a wry smile. "Now?" She nodded solemnly. Nervousness shot through his system and his arms tightened around her. "Do I have a choice?"
"Then this Sesshomaru is ready."
Sesshomaru stared down into the face of his daughter, gently tracing the blue crescent moon on her forehead. Her eyes were closed but he knew they were gold; the pupils slitted like her mother's. So beautiful, so tiny, he was almost afraid he'd crush her in his arms. She yawned and stretched, pale, rosy lips stretching to reveal naked gums. A tiny claw tipped each finger and gracefully pointed demon ears were framed by curly, white hair that glinted gold. Only a few hours old, she'd managed to capture his heart just as surely as her mother had.
He felt the warmth of his mate at his back, sitting behind him and holding his sons but resting her chin on his shoulder to also gaze down at their daughter. He nuzzled her cheek with his nose without taking his eyes from the pup's pudgy face.
A quiet snort announced the arrival of his half-brother and Sesshomaru glanced up at him. Inuyasha was slouching against the doorway of the hut, watching the pups and their mother with a wistful expression. So the hanyou had returned with his human wench.
He was glad that his brother had not been around to witness his loss of control as his mate had birthed his pups. The blood scent and agonized groans coming from the hut from which he'd been barred had driven him into frenzy. The old miko had finally placed a barrier around the hut and he'd taken out his frustration on a copse of innocent trees. The harsh cry of a newborn pup had broken through the rage and he'd rushed back to her, clawing at the barrier until it was lowered. A village woman, quaking with fear, handed him a small bundle of cloth that wailed heartily: his son and heir. A dusky-red crescent-moon, stark against the pale skin of his forehead, showed the strength and nobility of his bloodline. A matching cinnamon whorl graced each pudgy cheek, curling over the high cheekbones and curving up to his temples. Overcome by such a little thing, he dropped to his knees, nuzzling his face to comfort him. The pup had opened his eyes, golden like his father's but slitted like his mother's, and then quieted.
But the blood-smell had still hung thick in the air; his mate's hoarse moaning still tearing at his ears. He'd stayed where he was, clutching his son to his chest until another shrill cry rent the air. Climbing to his feet, he'd approached the hut, only to have another pup thrust into his arms and the entrance barred.
Twins? His second born son had burbled up at him, his crests the same as his brother's but his eyes a starling green. Bowing his head and gritting his teeth, he'd sheltered his sons against the suffering of their mother with a curtain of silver hair. Charlotte had finally shrieked in triumph and he'd thrown his head back and howled. A light touch on his shoulder almost cost the old miko her hand, until he'd realized he was being invited into the hut. He'd entered slowly; his sons nestled against his chest, his eyes piercing the gloom in the hut and his sensitive nose protesting the strong smell of blood and fluids.
Charlotte lay on her back, another pup curled in her arms. She'd met his eyes, exhaustion washing the green to gray, and smiled, gesturing to him to come closer. He'd sat behind her, handing her one of the boys and propping her up in his lap. Wiping damp strands of hair from her forehead, he'd rumbled his approval.
He was snapped out of his reverie by a soft trill form his daughter. Had Inuyasha been this small when he'd been born? He'd barely spared the hanyou his notice, a wretched half-breed infant in the arms of a human woman who had brought about the death of his father. He'd considered his brother less than refuse, but Izayoi had stared at the pup like his mate stared at this one, as if he were the most precious thing alive.
Perhaps he'd been mistaken to blame his brother for his father's folly. A tiny thing like this couldn't be at fault; he'd simply been caught up and carried away by events beyond his control. A wave of remorse hit him as he considered the miserable life his brother had led and his part in it. He could have sheltered the boy, reared him as the lord he was, but he'd let his anger ferment into hatred and cast the boy away. It had not been honorable, what he'd done.
Someone to protect, his father had said. He now knew what that meant. His father had died to protect his woman and pup. If necessary, Sesshomaru would do the same for his.
"Inuyasha," he spoke suddenly, almost startling the hanyou. "Acknowledge your nephews and niece."
"Keh. I can see 'em just fine from here." He scowled over his shoulder and into the darkness outside the hut.
Inuyasha grumbled under his breath but approached the couple. He did want to see the pups; no one had ever let him this close to their children and these pups were family. He couldn't help but be scared that his half-brother would stonewall him from the little blood family he had left. Unsure of what his brother intended, he stopped an arm's length away from them and crossed his arms over his chest.
Sesshomaru stood; his daughter cradled in one arm, and helped to his mate to stand as well. "My first born son and heir, Haruki." Charlotte handed the infant in her right arm to the hanyou. Hesitating, then taking him gingerly from his mother, Inuyasha held the pup awkwardly against his chest, nuzzling a greeting against his mop of platinum hair.
"My second born son, Kenjiro." Inuyasha swapped pups with Charlotte, holding him more confidently now that he knew that the infants wouldn't shatter when he touched them. Again, he nuzzled the pup, imprinting his scent as pack.
"My third born, Izayoi." Freezing as he handed the boy back to his mother, Inuyasha dragged his eyes to meet his brother's. Again, he was struck by the intensity of the emotion shining in his eyes.
Charlotte took the pup from the shell-shocked hanyou, freeing his arms to receive her daughter. He took the girl reverently, for once not trading insults with his brother. Closing his eyes and inhaling the sweet scent of the pup, he tucked his nose against her tiny neck. Relief flooded him at the thought of being a part of these pups' lives. Yes, Kagome was his home, but to have blood family was a dream that had died with his mother.
"Strong pups," he managed though the thickness in his throat.
Sesshomaru raised an eyebrow. "Of course."
"They're awfully mobile for newborns," Kagome commented as she picked up Haruki, who had wiggled off the picnic blanket.
"Well, they're demon pups," said Charlotte, as if that explained everything. Kenjiro nursed quietly under a blanket that she'd draped over her shoulder to preserve her modesty. She wouldn't have bothered but Jaken had arrived a few days ago with Mamoru and tended to follow his master like a shadow until he was sent away. Not to mention Miroku, who always seemed to come by when she was feeding a pup, though with three pups, that's pretty much all she did any more.
Kagome cuddled the heir of the Western Lands, aware of the sharp eye of his father watching her every move. "You said you had human blood and the pups would too."
"Yeah," Charlotte confirmed, wondering where she was going with this.
"I don't sense any human in these pups."
"That can't be. Are you sure?"
Kagome nodded, running her fingers through the pup's platinum hair. "Kaede couldn't either. They are pure demon."
Charlotte frowned in thought. "Maybe I shouldn't have done all that energy work when I was pregnant."
Mamoru stopped a respectful distance away and coughed quietly to announce his presence. The golden eyes of his lord slid toward him, followed by a small nod. The old bear's heart warmed to see the gentle way his young lord held his pup. He'd been so worried when Lord Sesshomaru had rushed away from the mansion with murder in his eyes. Then Jaken had returned with Ah-Un with the news of his mating and expected pup. Now his lord had two fine sons and a daughter who promised to be a great beauty. Well, it was about damn time.
"My Lord, everything is ready for your departure. The Lady and your pups should be quite comfortable. We await your word."
"We will depart when the Lady is ready," Sesshomaru stated firmly, careful not to imply a timeframe or rush her in any way. His mate was still quite weary from birthing the pups and the constant nursing was draining her further. There was no real cause for concern, but he was taking no chances.
"We'll miss you," Kagome told her as she planted a noisy kiss on the Haruki's forehead, much to the infant's delight. A trill from Izayoi answered his happy yip. Kagome laughed and repeated the kiss and was rewarded by several more high-pitched barks. His sister cooed, catching her tiny claws in her father's hair and yanking hard. Sesshomaru pried his hair out of her grasp with a low rumble, which fazed the girl not at all. Kenjiro grunted, but stayed attached to his breakfast.
"Come visit! You know where to find us."
"You bet. Inuyasha's quite taken with the pups, you know." Kagome gazed at the demon lord holding his daughter, his armor having been discarded in favor of a burp cloth even though the pups didn't need burping like human babies. It was strange to see the youkai who had tried to kill them handle an infant with such tenderness. "It really means a lot to him, what you did, Lord Sesshomaru," she said respectfully.
"Okay, I think we're all done here," Charlotte said as Kenjiro disengaged from her nipple. She adjusted her clothes and pulled the blanket from her shoulder. "I suppose now is as good a time as any to leave." She sighed, glancing around the grounds of her hut. It had been quite homey, had been the sight of her mating, and her pups' birth, but it had outlived its usefulness. She gazed sidelong at Kagome, who was blowing whoopee cushions on Haruki's stomach. Maybe someone else would find it useful, she thought hopefully. Not that she thought Kagome and Inuyasha should run off and have babies, but she'd love to see them get closer. The hanyou had a void in his soul, one that Kagome would be more than happy to fill.
Taking Haruki from Kagome, she kissed each boy's downy platinum hair, and then leaned over kiss Izayoi's curls. Mamoru took his cue and led the small group to the waiting carriage, where a small group of people had gathered.
Charlotte eyed the contraption warily; a covered cart with drapes for doors and two large, spoked wheels. Ah-Un was yoked to the two front bars, looking less than pleased. No windows, she thought to herself. She didn't like the idea of not being able to see where she was going. Then again, she would probably sleep most of the time, so maybe it was okay.
Sesshomaru stopped next her, glancing at her out of the corner of his eyes. "It is not to your liking?"
"It's fine," she assured him, pulling away the drape that covered the door. The inside was wall-to-wall bedding, soft cushions and blankets forming a nest on the floor. A short lip at the door would prevent anyone from inadvertently falling out. "We'll be fine."
"Who knew you'd have a fucking litter," Inuyasha spoke by her elbow. Mamoru harrumphed in disapproval, but his lord did not act, so neither did he. Inuyasha nuzzled the cheek of each boy, who yipped at him in unison.
"Well, I was bigger than a house." She gave him a tired smile, fatigue lining her normally bright eyes. "Thanks for looking after me."
He grunted. "Bastard doesn't deserve you," he directed a glower at his brother before tousling the girl's curly hair.
"What would a baka like you know of it?" Sesshomaru asked with a raised eyebrow, but without any rancor in his voice, allowing the attention his brother was bestowing upon his daughter.
"Okay," Charlotte broke in, forestalling another snippy argument between the brothers. Like her own mother would say, she was Not in the Mood. She finished her goodbyes with Miroku and Sango, giving Kaede, the woman who had delivered her pups, a big hug. She hugged Kagome last, who was looking a little misty eyed.
"Come," Sesshomaru took one of his sons so that she could easily get into the carriage. Then he handed her both son and daughter, and watched while she curled up with her three pups. Satisfied that they were comfortable, he dropped the drape and gathered his demon cloud around his feet. Mamoru and Jaken would drive the cart, not that Ah-Un needed much guidance.
As they rose into the air, he glanced around the crude little village and its inhabitants. Four months ago, he wouldn't have given a second thought to demolishing it, but now…he could see why his brother fought so hard to protect it. There were a few things more important than power and conquest, and Tenseiga might not be as useless as he once thought. Rin's face came to mind, grinning brightly at him. It had been that girl who had convinced him to go after the cat in the first place, and Tenseiga who had prompted him to resurrect the girl. His hand crept to the hilt of the sword he'd inherited from his father. 'No,' he thought, 'definitely not a useless sword.'