Quote: - Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute. Josh Billings (1818 - 1885)
- Men stumble over pebbles, never over mountains - Marilyn French
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.
Chapter 16: Heaven in Reprieve
Okay, no, there was no need to panic. Everything was fine. I hadn't just set a bloodthirsty villain loose on my hometown. No really, nothing could possibly go wrong if Sesshoumaru was out and about, flying from roof top to roof top in broad daylight. I mean, pfft, what were the chances of someone spotting him out? And even, in spite of the slim chances of it, if someone was to spot him out or come across him, it's not like Sesshoumaru had a history of violence or particularly disliked being confronted by humans. Nah, I'm sure everything was fine.
Yeah, I know, I'm absolutely nuts. Thankfully, I knew not to rely on my brain to be at its most useful at the moment.
In fact, even as it feebly attempted to look on the bright side of things, I was already halfway back across the yard toward the well house, knowing full well that my only chance was Inuyasha. Or maybe once I was across the well, then the spell would be back in tact. Then I'd have time to consider what the hell had gone wrong.
I dashed past through the already ajar screen doors, and without a second thought, jumped right into the well.
Sadly, I didn't get the soft landing I'd been hoping for. Instead, I fell with my full weight, hot pain shooting up from my ankles to my knees. Worse than that, no blue light appeared and the roof of my well house was still over my head.
My first instinct was to check and make sure I still had the jewel shards with me, which I did.
Okay, so technically I should've gone through.
But I hadn't. And I was willing to bet that it was because of the taiyoukai flying loose somewhere in Tokyo. Apparently, he was needed for me to get back through. Then again, maybe God had decided to choose this opportune moment to add a twist to my life. I mean, God knows, I was just desperate for a little excitement in my life. Just a little though you know, to spice things up.
Ignoring the pain in my legs, I pushed back onto my feet and climbed the ladder halfway up, then let go only to fall back onto solid ground again.
Okay, maybe there was a chance that Inuyasha had figured out where I'd gone off to and was on his way to fetch me back even as I stood there on the other side of the well. The important thing was not to give up hope.
But clearly, standing in the dark and stomping my foot was neither going to bring Inuyasha to me, nor was it going to undo this whole thing with Sesshoumaru. I had to think of something else to do.
Limping just a little, I ran back out of the well house and towards the kitchen screen door that led to the yard. But the door was locked and I couldn't spot out my mom anywhere. I knocked but no one answered. Okay, seriously, I wasn't finding this to be funny at all. I had no paper or pen to leave my family a note to warn them of Sesshoumaru having left my bag on the other side of time. Frankly, I was going to do serious damage to the pen and notepad I could see sitting on the kitchen counter once I was able to get to it. But I was just wasting time again by standing out there. If my family wasn't home right now, the best I could do was hope that Sesshoumaru wasn't going to come back before me and surprise them with a visit.
Okay, let's think, where could he have possibly taken his royal ass? I'd seen him go towards the town centre, but seriously doubted how long he'd last there what with the concentrated pollution and large number of people around. Inuyasha never liked it much there. And as I couldn't see smoke rising from that general direction from the top of the shrine steps, I doubted he'd gone psycho and destroyed the whole place. But then, that left me without a lead. I was sure though, if he was to be seen, even for a few seconds, he would make the news. So what I really needed was a TV or a radio. But as both of those were locked safely in my house, I had to go to town myself and see what I could overhear.
I hoped with all my heart that I wouldn't run into anyone that I knew just now, knowing that I hardly had any time to spare. Half walking, half jogging, I made my way into town, occasionally looking at the sky to see if I could see a fleck of white. Each time I would see even a hint of white, I would get excited and at the same time my anger level would shoot up, only for it to turn out to be a seagull or some other blasted thing that wasn't Sesshoumaru.
There was no sign of him wherever I looked. No sign of a fight, no wreckage, nothing, not even a bent branch (well actually, there were a few bent branches but I doubted that actually being a lead). I stopped by an electronics store that was displaying the noon hour news over fifteen of its thirty televisions and watched for a whole hour, desperate for a story even a little suspicious. But apparently it had been a slow day today and most of the news concerned the big fire that had burnt down a factory last night. There was nothing that could've possibly been Sesshoumaru. That was both good news and bad news. Good that there was no sign of him and bad for just exactly the same reason.
I gave up on the main city, and headed towards the parks thinking that maybe he'd be looking for a break from the sounds and smells of downtown Tokyo. I went from park to park, the day getting colder and darker and I more tired, but there was still no sign of him. By this time I was close to tears, and I would've cried too if I weren't so mad.
What had I been thinking even showing him the well? Inuyasha was right, I was loosing it. How could I have possibly been so stupid as to think that he would let anything be on my terms? Even so, even if I wanted to show him the well, just to let him know about it, I should've had the sense to keep out of its range. But no, stupid Kagome had to go ahead and bring hell onto herself.
And what did the universe have against me? How come Sango, Miroku, or even Shippo couldn't get through, but Sesshoumaru could? Even if the well only let him through as it opened for me, why couldn't I go back now? I supposed that had to have been because of the curse. Blast Naraku and the inconvenience he brought to my life. I swear, the minute I get back I was going to skewer him on a butter knife just so that it'll be that much slower and more painful. And why, why had the curse been lifted?
Around sunset, cold and exasperated more than I've ever been in my life, I collapsed down on a bench by the beach. It was no use. My ankles were actually swollen by now and there was no sign of him. And still, there was the dim hope of going back to see that he's returned. Then again, if I was going to hold out hope for that, I may as well be wishing this day had never happened.
"Inuyasha has a brother?"
I dug my spoon into my pudding with savage vigour. "Yeah, but don't let either of them hear you say brother."
Mom offered a weak smile at my comment though I doubted very much that she picked up on the humour. In her defence, I was currently watching the news anchor with a look reminiscent of Sesshoumaru, himself.
"And you brought him with you?"
I blinked, momentarily giving up on the TV to look at my mother. "No," I said with a little impatience. "He pushed us through."
She gave a nod to her head but I knew she really didn't see the difference. "But why did he leave?"
"I don't know," I said as I took another spoonful of my pudding. The chocolate was a little comforting, something that I really needed just now. "But I can't go back to get Inuyasha's help."
My mom was silent for a minute, her eyes watching me. She'd hardly looked anywhere else since I showed up at the door and I felt guilty for having made her wait so long to see me and then looking so ruffled when I did show up. Then again, I knew exactly who to blame for both problems.
I nearly jumped with surprise as my mother pushed away from the kitchen counter suddenly. But she only went to the fridge and when she came back, she had a cup of water in her hand which she then put in front of me.
"Kagome," she said in her gentle voice. "You shouldn't worry so much. I'm sure your friend will be fine."
There could've only been surprise on my face at her words. Hadn't she been listening to me at all?!
"Mom! It's not him I'm worried about!"
She quickly put her finger to her mouth. "Shhh, Ji-chan and Souta are asleep!"
I took a breath as though in protest, but realised she had a point and that maybe I shouldn't start yelling at midnight. Plus, it took too much energy to argue just now. "Look Mom," I said more calmly. "Like I said, Sesshoumaru can be…" I paused to think of the right word. It wouldn't do to make my mom worry too. I just had to keep her on the alert. "…sensitive."
I tried not imagining Sesshoumaru's face were he here and had heard me call him sensitive; I wanted to keep a serious tone to this conversation.
"He gets moody…real fast. Kind of like Inuyasha, but worse."
Good, she didn't look too worried. But was that really a good thing?
"I'm just saying if at any time you see him, come find me immediately. And don't give him reason to…uh…get upset."
Again, my mom nodded as though in understanding. She leaned forward and held my hand. "I understand. I won't bother him at all. And there hasn't been anything on the news yet. I'm sure everything will be fine."
She smiled reassuringly and I almost had to believe her. I definitely felt a lot safer if for just that moment and I tried to smile back at her.
"I hope you're right."
She patted me on the hand. "There's a good girl. Now, you should get some rest. I don't like those dark marks around your eyes. You're looking more like a raccoon by the minute."
I tried not to huff at her words, failed, but smiled anyway and got up. She was right. I needed some sleep if I was going to go after Sesshoumaru in the morning. I was almost out of the kitchen before I remembered to go back and clear up after myself. So I went back, picked up my somewhat empty pudding pack and dumped it into the garbage can, taking care to spill the left over pudding over a certain notepad I had previously made sure to throw away.
Okay, so I definitely felt a lot less calm than I did a few hours ago when I sat in the kitchen with Mom. I couldn't fall asleep – partially due to eating two packs of pudding right before bed – I mean that's a serious dose of chocolate for anyone. All I could think about was Sesshoumaru roaming around in Tokyo, doing God knows what. Was he not on the news because he'd killed everyone that had even seen him? No, there would've been the report of the bodies turning up. But then again, maybe he'd evaporated it all with his poison…
I knew there was no point mulling over it when there was so little that I could do. But you try and relax in my situation. No, clearly, now was not the time for sleep. But I couldn't very well go out again at this time of the night to go looking for him. It would be more than stupid when I couldn't find him in broad daylight. And the crime rate being as high as it is, it would be more than just dangerous. Logically, it would be best if I used the night to rest. With that in mind, I turned resolutely onto my side, determined to fall asleep.
An hour later, all my resolution was in vane as I lay on my bed, eyes clamped shut but my brain wide awake. And as I was pushing on four hours of trying to fall asleep, I knew I may as well give up. With a sigh, I pushed back my blanket, cursing Sesshoumaru for not letting me enjoy my first night back at home where I could have for once slept properly.
Now that I was up, I still had as little a clue as to what to do next. Like I'd said, I couldn't go look for him in the middle of the night (although it was getting pretty close to dawn now), and it wasn't like I could go back and get Inuyasha's help. At the thought of Inuyasha, I looked out my window toward the well house. He should definitely know by now that Sesshoumaru and I were missing. And I was sure that despite the snow, he would be able to follow our scents to the well. What I wasn't so sure about was whether he was able to deduce what had happened. He might think that I'd brought Sesshoumaru over willingly. But then if that was true, I would bet all the feathers in my pillow that he would come barging over, demanding for us to get our butts back over to the right time.
But he hadn't so far.
Without a doubt, if he even suspected that Sesshoumaru had pushed me through, he would come for me. And the fact that he wasn't here yet scared me. It could only mean that he couldn't get through either. It meant that I was left here to protect my home and family from Sesshoumaru all by myself.
Without stopping to think, I pushed away from the window, grabbed my blanket and wrapping it around me, left.
A minute later I was to be found pushing open the door to the well house with my flashlight already lit. There was a mixture of nerves and expectance in me as I took my first glance inside the well house, almost as though I expected Inuyasha to be there waiting for me. But the well house was deserted. As though to make sure, I shown light down the well itself, but it too was still, waiting to be used. Carefully, I put the flashlight on the ledge of the well then with a steadying breath, jumped in.
The sound echoed hollowly up the well, but I sat very still at the bottom of the well feeling disappointment wash over me again. Clearly I couldn't go back. And either Inuyasha wasn't coming or he couldn't. The combination of the spell and Sesshoumaru being forced through had probably made the well malfunction. Could it be possible that the well was permanently blocked?
That, I didn't even want to consider.
Giving my head a good shake, I thought it best to climb out. Once out of the well though, I again had no idea what to do. But at the same time I knew I couldn't go back upstairs to bed. So instead, I just sat on the stairs, leaning my head against the railing, trying to will Inuyasha into appearing out of the well.
I blinked, acutely aware of how cold I was.
"Kagome, wake up," I reached up and rubbed my eyes. When I opened them it was to see my mom squatting before me, looking very concerned indeed.
"Mom," I said uncertainly, not sure when I'd fallen asleep. "What time is it?"
The light on her face was still pretty dim though it had to be past sunrise.
"Just after seven. Have you been out here all night?" she asked, disapproval in her tone.
I shivered and pulled my blanket higher over my shoulder. "No." I didn't much feel like getting into that.
"Kagome, you're freezing. What were you thinking spending the night out in the middle of winter?"
Figured it would be a warm night after feudal Japan, I thought to myself shivering yet again. "I couldn't sleep."
One look at her was enough to let me know that she had more to say on this. But she held in her breath and instead handed me a cup of hot tea. "Drink this," she said shortly. "And you're going inside now."
I didn't feel like arguing so I pushed to my feet.
My mom put her hand on my shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "Honey, I'm sure there's no need to worry so much. Your friend will turn up soon. You said he's related to Inuyasha, right? Even if he's lost, I'm sure he can smell his way back home."
This is about when I snorted into my tea, and consequently coughed until I was red in the face.
"What?" Mom asked, a look of complete confusion on her face. "Did I say something wrong?"
"Uh…no, no, you're actually right." I giggled despite my situation. "I…uh would love to see him sniffing his way back."
My mom smiled and patted my shoulder. "Can't be much different than when Inuyasha does it."
I gave her a little laugh, feeling brighter with the image of Sesshoumaru on all fours, sniffing the road. "I'm sure you'll change your mind once you see him."
"We'll see, dear, we'll see. Ready to go inside now?"
"Yeah, sure. Is anyone else up yet?"
"No, dear," she said turning toward the door. "There's no school today and Ji-chan likes a bit of a…,"
She drifted off, looking toward the door. I didn't need a minute to find out what was the matter. In fact, I'd realised what the matter was a few seconds before my mother had even realised that something could be the matter. I was already turned towards the door and I could very well see the white clad form leaning against the door frame. The only problem was I'd seemed to have forgotten the world existed.
It was hard to tell the expression on Sesshoumaru's face in the semi-dark, but I could tell he was looking at me, his gold eyes bright and alive with an inner light. I could only look back, my brain sluggishly working to remember why we were here. I don't do well with surprises, you see.
My mom was the first to break the sudden silence. She stepped forward, offering her hand and a smile. "Hello, I'm Kagome's mother. You must be Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha's brother."
Oh yeah, I know, this was going to turn ugly.
His cold eyes rested on my mother's face briefly before returning to me, my mother's outstretched hand completely ignored.
This was what I needed to snap back to the present, eyebrows falling into a frown at his rudeness.
Looking uncertain and a bit confused, my mom let her hand drop to her side though she kept her smile in tact. "Right…well, you must've had a cold night last night too. Why don't you come inside and have a bit of tea? I can even make you some of those sausages that Inuyasha loves so much."
She wasn't making this easy.
Once more Sesshoumaru turned his cold stare onto my mother, his eyes slightly narrowed. I think my mom could realise that he was mad, but didn't seem to be catching onto what was making him mad. After a moment's silence, she spoke again, now sounding a bit nervous, "I must say, you really do look a lot like Inuyasha, doesn't he Kagome? I mean the resemblance is —,"
"Mom," I cut in as Sesshoumaru pushed away from the door frame, eyes now firmly fixed on my mother. As quickly as I could, I walked up to her, making sure to stand in front of her should Sesshoumaru decide to do anything. Of course that was completely useless as I was sure Sesshoumaru could make it around me before I had time to notice he had moved. But I kept my place, keeping my eyes on him as I spoke to my mother. "Those sausages sound good. Can you go in and get started on them. I need a minute with Sesshoumaru here."
She didn't move and I turned to see that she was looking at Sesshoumaru with her calculating look. Good, at least, I could expect her to be completely cautious about him. Though it didn't matter much; we weren't staying long now that Sesshoumaru was back. I was set on that.
"Mom," I said, catching her attention.
With a nod, my mom looked at me. "Right, I'll see you in a bit."
She gave a small wave to Sesshoumaru which was ignored as she walked out the door. There was a moment's anxiety as she passed by him, but nothing happened and I exhaled. The minute she was gone though, I turned my eyes onto Sesshoumaru, determined to be as apparently detached as I could be, only to find that he had an eyebrow raised. I ignored it.
My first instinct was to question him, ask him where he'd been along a few million other questions that had kept me from sleep last night. But I had one goal and that was to get him back to feudal Japan…pronto.
I was silent, inwardly struggling for a way to get this started when Sesshoumaru … well, did the honours.
"You felt the need to protect your mother from me."
It really wasn't a question, and considering the look he had had on his face at the time, I didn't think it needed an answer. I kept quiet and held him with as cold a stare as I could.
Sesshoumaru tilted his head just a little to the side, his eyes watching me almost studiously and I could feel my anger bubbling. He was trying to gauge me. "You believed me willing of harming your mother."
Again I felt no need to affirm.
To my chagrin however, my silence only served to put a small but almost cocky tilt to his mouth. "I see," he said in a low voice, stepping closer to me. "And you are displeased by our – my presence here."
Oh he knew how to get on my last nerve, this guy did. But no, I had to keep my anger in reign if I was going to persuade him to go back. Let's face it, there was no way I could win a physical battle. "Yes, I'd say I'm displeased. We had a deal," I said in a would be casual voice.
Sesshoumaru merely looked at me.
"We were to respect each other. And you agreed to it." He gave no reaction so I continued. "I think it was pretty clear I wasn't ready to bring you to my time."
He paused in his strides, his smirk wavering. "You have no right to be displeased."
There was power in his voice and I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared. But that only served to raise my own anger. "And you have no right to be in my home. You were not invited."
In a moment his face had its stony mask on, his eyes nothing but golden mirrors. Then he gave a sudden 'ha!' of laughter so out of character for him that it actually made me more apprehensive. "There is truth to that I believe."
I couldn't think of anything to say to that.
But again Sesshoumaru proved ready to speak up himself. "And I suppose you wish me to let you lead us back?"
From the tone of his voice, I could already tell that he planned otherwise. "Yes," I tried saying as strongly as I could, keeping my eyes on his. He was strange. He wasn't acting neither like the cold Sesshoumaru that I had known at the beginning nor the semi tolerable one of the past week or two. This was a new side of him and I found it dangerous in that I had no idea what to expect.
"I have no wish to return yet," he said quietly, eyes fastened on me as he took a step toward me. "There is much to learn here."
I swallowed hard, loosing some of my nerve under his stare. "I didn't invite you here. You forced us here."
He smirked at that, coming still closer and I had to take a step back in return. "You intended to, I believe."
"But I didn't."
He continued his approach, leaving me with no option but to back up even if I felt I was giving away ground by doing so; he was scaring me. "And why did you not?" he asked in his lowest tone yet making goosebumps flare up my arms and neck.
With a silent groan, I felt my heel hit the well house wall. I straightened my back, pretending I had chosen to stop rather than having run out of room to back up. "I didn't trust you enough."
Something akin to anger flashed in his golden eyes as he too came to a stop (probably because he couldn't walk through solid barrier either). His eyes kept their vigilant look on me, but he didn't speak.
"I have a family here," I took advantage of his silence. "Unlike my friends in your time, no one here is adept at dealing with demons. I couldn't in my right mind put them in the danger of your presence." I had to stop here, losing the nerve to speak under the look that he was giving me. It sent a thrill right down to the tip of my toes and back.
Both eyebrows had fallen in a frown, the line of his mouth taunt. If I had to guess I would say he was also displeased. See, I never loose my ability to underestimate the situation.
"And I was right," I said in a now shaky voice however; I thought it best to continue talking even as his frown deepened. "The minute you got here, you left without warning—,"
I swallowed the rest of my words as Sesshoumaru placed both hands firmly on my waist and held me in place. There was a tinkle of breaking china and desperate to distract myself I followed the sound; I'd dropped the teacup that I had forgotten I was still holding.
"Look Sesshoumaru," I tried again in a would-be calm voice but my throat was sand dry again and I kept my eyes averted. "You're breaking our agreement by staying here. I have now expressly told you that I don't want you here and I have good reason for it. If you stay, you're disrespecting me."
The silence that ensued had to be one of the most nerve wracking that I could remember. I could almost feel his aura crackling in the air around us and I was far too aware of his tightening grip on my waist. Finally, in a controlled voice that did nothing to hide the vehemence he felt, Sesshoumaru spoke, "This Sesshoumaru does not rely on the respect of one human."
I let the breath that I'd been holding escape me in one slow gush of air. Then, on the brink of panic yet resolved, I said, "I can't respect you if you don't respect me."
My words seemed to echo in the well house or maybe that was just inside my own head, I doubted how rational I was at this point. But I also knew I had meant what I had said.
The command came sharp and undeniable, the threat doubled as Sesshoumaru drove me against the wall with his hands in one sharp move. My head jerked up quite without my consent, but hey, I wasn't about to refute it having heard the deadly ring to Sesshoumaru's voice. But looking up meant seeing Sesshoumaru's face.
Gathering what nerve I had left, I forced myself to look up into his eyes. Within a half second of that however, there was no need for me to have done that as Sesshoumaru levelled his face with mine, gold eyes as intense as it always was when angered. When he spoke, however, it was in the ominous smooth tones I had often heard before. "You made an accord with me. This Sesshoumaru will not allow you to break your word without consequences."
Fury burned through my veins and gave me the means to answer him. My own eyes narrowed as I said right back to him: "Oh so I can't break my word, but you can? We had a deal. I respect you so long as you respect me."
His eyes flashed, a mirror of a blazing fire. "I have not broken my promise. You were in dept to me and I chose to have you repay that dept by seeing your homeland."
"Yes, that's all fine and dandy. But I should be the one to decide who comes to my home. You took advantage of the situation."
Maybe it was my imagination, but somehow there was less anger in his eyes though they were every bit as fiery. "Perhaps," he said and his voice seemed quieter still. "Nonetheless, your consent was not required." he was so close that his lips were millimetres from grazing mine. Were it not for his words, I would have blushed (or maybe just completely flipped out and made a run for it). He smirked suddenly, his eyes telling me he knew exactly what he was doing. "And I chose for us to stay."
He closed the space and pressed his lips firmly against mine. I would've gasped but I had seen it coming the minute he had me against the wall…I had expected it. I didn't stop to think why. Both our eyes were open and we were looking at one another. His stare was watchful, calculating. He was waiting for a reaction. Too bad for him, my brain was currently occupied elsewhere to give him one.
With the smallest frowns – I would've missed it were I not so up close – he pulled back, the anger still in his eyes. He was still watching me minutely, his eyes drilling into my face. I kept my position too busy trying to keep the appearance of calm to say anything. My hands were shaking so I fisted them, determined not to give anything away. Sadly, acting had never been my thing; there was no mistaking the heat in my face and neck.
Then my eyes were caught by Sesshoumaru's hands. I jumped at the opportunity and watched them moved down to his obi, one hand withdrawing both Toukijin and Tensaiga. I could only stare. His free hand untied the obi around his waist. I could feel his eyes still on me as he wrapped the two swords with the obi. Holding the two wrapped swords with one hand, Sesshoumaru reached out and took hold of my right arm above my elbow. At his touch my eyes darted back up to his face.
His features now impassive, he pressed the swords against me. It took a minute for me to catch on to what he wanted me to do and then to hold them. That didn't mean I had any more idea what he was doing. And he wasn't done yet either.
Both hands now free, he took another step away from me and pulled off the broken armour he'd been wearing. He let it fall to the ground at my feet with a dull thud, but never stopped looking at me. His hand reached up for the boa over his shoulder and for one wild moment I thought that was coming off too, but he only adjusted its position so that I covered the old blood stain that had been there since Naraku's attack.
"We stay," he spoke, his sudden voice making me jump even though it was quiet and calm. "I have no intention of causing disorder to your world. I only wish to understand it." He had turned around as he said and started to walk away.
I took in enough to understand that he was about to leave again.
"You want to understand it?" My voice came out small and uncertain, so unlike his.
Sesshoumaru stopped, turning to look at me and I could see his eyebrow raised.
If one thing was clear, it was that Sesshoumaru did not intend to go back just yet. Given his size and reputation when angered and my current state of total mental disarray, I didn't think I had a chance of persuading him either.
Carefully, I placed the two swords by his armour then walked up to him. "I can understand that. But…"
He waited silently for me to continue.
I sighed, giving up for now. "How long did you want to stay?"
A few seconds of silent consideration then, "No longer than necessary."
Oh good, so long as he wasn't being too vague. I frowned but continued as I'd intended. "Do you remember when I told you there were no demons here?"
"Well I wasn't kidding. Even if there are any, the people don't know of their existence. You're a mythical creature to them. You don't exist. And if people were to see you walking down the street looking the way you do, you will attract attention."
Sesshoumaru considered this for a moment, his eyes still steely. "If I choose to remain unseen, it will be so."
I wasn't sure what that meant and had a creeping feeling that it was about as sinister as it sounded. "Sesshoumaru, you can't kill them. I mean you can, but if you do, you'll only attract so much more attention. People here are a lot different than what you're used to in the Feudal Era."
"Yes, so I was able to observe."
"Don't take this the wrong way, but they are just as dangerous to you as you are to them." I paused for a moment, watching him watch me, giving him time to digest this. "If you're going anywhere, then let me come with you."
At my words, he turned around in his spot so that he was fully facing me, one eyebrow now raised in a familiar gesture. "You no longer object to my remaining here?"
With an impatient sigh, I said, "Of course I still object. But you're not giving me much choice here."
Silence reigned as he read my face and I waited until, "You will teach more about your people and time?"
Goody, this sounded promising. "Yes, as much as I can."
"…So long as it does not interfere with your studies."
I was silent, unsure how to react. I had actually quite forgotten about my tests and all the reasons I'd originally wanted to come back for. Some of my surprise no doubt showing on my face, I nodded.
"Then it is settled."
Again, I nodded, my heartbeat slowly falling to a normal pace. He had given me both his swords and his armour. It had to be a good sign; at least I knew he was being rational – well somewhat anyway. And while I was here, I finally had a chance to get a few things done.
"I guess I'll go inside now," I pointed to my house through the open door. "Those sausages really are good."
Keeping my eyes schooled on my house, I walked past Sesshoumaru, somewhat eager to be out of his presence. That is until I reached the well house door and remembered one more, rather crucial problem. Resolutely, I turned around to face Sesshoumaru.
"When you left," I started out, glancing at the still well then back at Sesshoumaru. "I tried going back."
Poker face on, Sesshoumaru too glanced at the well. Then, with a slight raise of his eyebrow and another one of those inscrutable looks in his eyes, he looked back at me. "Tried?"
I nodded. "And obviously, the well didn't let me through…not alone anyway."
"I see," came his answer, but there was just that hint of a scowl again on his face.
"I need to make sure that the well still works…that there is a way back."
I half expected him to outright disagree, but he didn't, well at least not immediately. Instead he looked from me to the well again, coming off more analytical than unwilling.
Finally he looked back at me. "Very well then. We will test the well."
Surprised by how easily I had gotten this wish, I was hard put not to smile and nearly floated to the well where I waited for Sesshoumaru and his placid strides.
"On the count of three then?" I asked once he had reached me, but he only gave me a blank look. "Right, sorry. I count up to three, then we jump in, ok?"
As he gave no objections, I climbed onto the lip of the well, the thought that maybe I'd have time to get Inuyasha after all hovering at the forefront of my thoughts. "One…two…three."
I hoped the well would open up this time as I had no wish to crash into the ground again and to my joy, the blue light sprang around me. But I only had enough time to say a "Yes" in an undertone before I felt Sesshoumaru's hands on my waist again and the stable support of ground beneath my feet.
The light dimmed and I was left in the semi dark inside the well house, more than a little surprised. I was sure I had just been about to go through.
It wasn't until Sesshoumaru used his hold to make me face him that it really occurred to me that Sesshoumaru was holding me for the second time in less than an hour. Trying not to react to the feel of his breathing so close to me but all too mindful of what had happened the last time he'd held me like that, I looked at him. "The well didn't work." It was all I could think up to say as a mixture of disappointment and panic washed over me.
It was hard to see his expression in the dark, but the voice he used was his normal, calm baritone. "I believe it was."
Frowning, I tried to understand. "But…"
"I prevented the transfer," he supplied calmly.
"You…you stopped it?" Why wasn't he letting go of me?
"Why?" I asked almost sharply.
"I agreed to test the well; not to go back." Almost ominously, his eyes flashed for a millisecond.
I frowned, panic having left me but leaving me in disappointment. "And what was wrong with going all the way over?"
Even in the dark I saw Sesshoumaru's eyebrow arch. "You underestimate me, Kagome, if you assume I would not guess Inuyasha would be involved."
Odd as it was to hear him say my name quite so casually when he so rarely used it (mind you he had yet to let go, if anything his hold was even more persistent), I knew he had a point.
Withholding a sigh, I figured there was no use trying to deny my plans. "Well, at least I know the well works. That's a comfort."
There was a moment's pause as Sesshoumaru looked at me, eyebrows still raised. "You are a strange human."
Well, that was off topic. But here's another one, he was still holding me. "And you never get tired of saying that. Listen, Sesshoumaru…," I drifted off, unsure how to do this without adding to the tension. I tried looking at him for a clue but…well he was just staring back and you know it's really unfair to expect anyone to be able to concentrate when…well, he was not very helpful. Yes, that was the problem, Sesshoumaru wasn't helpful.
Yet still, Sesshoumaru stood with his hands on my waist, his features seemingly calm, and his eyes anything but. The more he stared at me, the redder I could feel myself go and the more sure I was of what was about to happen again.
When his right thumb made the smallest moves, I felt it as strongly as though I'd been slapped. Dropping my eyes to the dark ground, I placed a hand on each of his wrists and tried not to react to the sudden tautness of his arm muscles. Unwaveringly, I used my own hold to remove his from my person.
Painfully aware of the silent tension in the air, I stepped away from Sesshoumaru. "My brother and grandfather should be up by now too, and it's been a long time since I've seen them. And Souta, that's my little brother, would love to meet you."
Sesshoumaru made no answer or comment. I plundered on.
"And breakfast sounds really good just about now and I don't know if you had a chance to eat anything yesterday, but my mom's cooking is way better than mine. You just might like it. And, well…Ji-chan can be pretty…interesting – that's once you've had time to get past all his nuttiness—,"
"That will do," Sesshoumaru cut in quietly though there was no mistaking the censure in his voice. I noted that he had his hands by his side now, fingers held loose and straight. At that moment I wanted nothing more than for him to be gone, lost somewhere in Canada if it meant having a minute to get things straight.
Swallowing hard and gathering what nerve I could, I looked up at him. "I…uh…I've never…," I took in a deep breath. "Do you want to come in for breakfast?"
Surprisingly, this chapter had to be one of the hardest ones to get out. I've been working on it for weeks and I still have difficulties with it. Now, before anyone comments, Kagome is not under-reacting…more forthcoming.
Thanks to all those who reviewed. If you write yourself, you know just how fun it is to get the reviews. Right now I have a tally going to see how many reviews/chapter I can get. Unfortunately, a lot of you reviewed right in the middle of my finals so I'm sorry I didn't reply. I still loved seeing your comments. Firediamond-chan, um…in regard to your 'comment', hmm…without giving anything away, yes. Hahaha, that gave it away. zoooey1991, sorry, no, Kikyo doesn't inspire me much at that would be giving her way too big of a role in my fanfic. That's not saying she won't make an appearance. I'm glad you're thinking out the possibilities though maybe you shouldn't do it during a test…
Okay, um, there isn't much else to say other than REVIEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!