A/N: Note at the bottom! Time lapse warning.
Mizuki trailed her brush across the paper. Her eyes were locked on her project, for the most part ignoring her surroundings. She was alone with Shou, which was typical of her days when she was not working with her soldiers. In the field she was the vicious Commander. Off of the field, she was a silent lady that stayed to herself. The Eastern court had not adapted well to the idea that their heir had taken a hanyou. She did her job and stayed out of sight for the most part.
Her thoughts frequently roamed to the West. What was shatei doing now? How were her father and mother? Was Cho dealing with the chaos that seemed to follow the Lady of the West wherever she went? She wrote messages and avidly read the responses, but sometimes entire days would go by when she would say nothing that was not an order.
"You are not going to like this."
The secret heir to the East looked up, watching as Seiji came into her study. Even after five years of living with him as his mate, she was still uncertain of how to act around him outside of an official capacity. "And what is that?"
"There is a new group looking to take control."
She sighed softly, taking the missive that was offered to her. "They are like vermin."
She read the pages, flipping through them quickly. "My unit is rested enough, we can leave tomorrow." The dramatic sigh of the dragon wrapped around her arm was not missed. 'Sorry, little one.'
"I was intending to deal with this one, since you dealt with the last one."
"Your unit needs more time to recover. They are not in any condition to march yet."
Seiji gave her a look. "You are keeping a close eye on my soldiers, Mizuki."
"It is always wise to keep a close eye on those that might be a threat."
"I did sign your truce, which included not attacking each other with our soldiers but only with our own claws." The dragon smiled. "You do so hate waste."
"True. This does not change the fact that I will be the one to leave tomorrow."
A thoughtful expression crossed Seiji's face. "Since you came here to live with me, how much of that time has been spent with both of us in residence?"
Mizuki tipped her head slightly. "We do alternate dealing with these problems, so we are usually separate. One of us is in the field, and the other is here."
"Unless, of course, we are attacking each other."
The silver haired female blushed, a memory flashing behind her eyes. "That will not be repeated. We have a truce now."
"A pity. Negotiations were quite enjoyable."
Another memory played across her mind, distracting her. Images of herself and Seiji in a tent, locked in an embrace. "It has only been two weeks since you signed it. You cannot possibly be considering breaking it already, no matter how much you enjoyed negotiations."
"No, even if it is tempting to face you across a battlefield again. Next time I will know better then to let you capture me."
Returning her attention to her desk, while trying to ignore her burning face, Mizuki dipped her brush into her paint. She heard Seiji come around her desk to stand behind her.
"Another painting. You have taken to your old hobby with vigor."
She forced herself to concentrate as her mate knelt just behind her, watching her work from over her shoulder.
"You seem distracted. Should I leave? Perhaps we should discuss this later."
Mizuki set her brush down, repressing a slight shiver when his breath ghosted past her ear. "There is no need. This is completed."
"It would scandalize the army to know that the Commander they fear can also create such art." Seiji set a hand on her shoulder and felt her muscles tense. 'Still. She still reacts like this to even the most casual contact.' His voice dropped to a whisper. "One day I hope that you will not tense at a touch from me."
"Perhaps." The hanyou set to work cleaning her brush. Her mind was distracting her with thoughts that she was trying to push away. 'I do not want to spend the next several moons in the field while he is here. We only returned two weeks ago, and that is not enough time. We see so little of each other, and I . . . I think I miss him.'
The dragon gave Shou a quick scratch before rising to his feet. "I will let my mother know that you are leaving tomorrow."
Seiji turned away from the door, looking back at the female still kneeling behind her desk. "Hai?"
"Perhaps you could come with me as I hunt down this rebellion. Your unit may not be ready, but I would suspect that you are." Mizuki hated the hint of uncertainty in her voice, and the fact that she could not meet his eyes. 'I am practically begging him to humiliate me. After spending so many years telling Katsuro to think before he opens his mouth . . . '
The dragon walked back towards her, studying her. "Are you not feeling well? Are you unable to leave? I thought that your human night was some weeks off still, not that this has stopped you before."
"It is not that."
"What is it, then, Mizuki?"
Mizuki felt her claws prick the palm of her hand and stopped herself from sinking them in. "I am offering for you to accompany me."
"Why?" He knelt beside her, turning her face with a finger against her chin so that her eyes met his.
"Because I want you to."
He was so close, his ice blue eyes gazing at her so intensely. Her attention was focused on his lips. 'Why is it that this takes more courage then any battle I have fought?' Mizuki leaned forward, closing the distance and bringing them into contact. It was not one of their kisses where they tried to devour each other. This was not one of their battles for dominance, or the intense, explosive embraces that would occur when they were reunited after a long separation. It was gentle, almost soft. Seiji slid his hand to cup her cheek, holding her close.
When the kiss ended, Mizuki leaned very gently against his shoulder. His hand was resting against her back, almost afraid he would spook her back into her usually aloof demeanor.
"We must discuss our schedule with your mother."
The dragon smiled, snagging the end of her braid and unbinding it. "And why is that?"
"I am not interested in being alone in this place for the grand majority of the year. There is no reason why we cannot work together in dealing with these rebellions. It would be more effective to have the both of us working on the problem, even if our units must rotate."
Her hair fell free, and he trailed his claws through it slowly. He loved her hair when it was loose. "As you wish, Mizuki."
A part of Kagome's mind was listening to Kumo, but most of it was not even in the same building as the miko. Her mind was focused on the East, and a disturbing story she had heard from both Mayu and Akira. Her daughter had been with Seiji for five years now, and things had still not settled.
What had started the latest fight was still a mystery, but Mizuki had taken her unit and marched out. When Seiji awoke that morning, his mate and her unit were both gone. Mizuki had left the message that she was going to hunt down a group of troublemakers, but Seiji jumped to his own conclusions. He took off after her with his own soldiers, chasing her across the East.
Mizuki had not wanted to waste resources by setting the Eastern army against its self. She halted, letting Seiji think that she was bracing herself to fight. Seiji had also settled in, planning to attack at the first light. The dragon should have known better then to expect Mizuki to just stand and fight.
The hanyou's unit had taken the name of the Inu's Guard, although they were just as frequently referred to as the Bitch's Guard. Mizuki had modeled them after the Lady's Guard and had included the unusual skills that the Captain had taught her. Seiji had woken up the morning of the battle to find himself in his mate's camp, bound, gagged, and surrounded. The future Lady of the East was sipping her tea and watching him, flanked by her officers.
The soldiers were ordered out so that Mizuki and Seiji could work out a truce. The details were still a mystery, but the couple had marched home together. Akira had been furious at the nonsense, and at Seiji's defeat, but it was tempered with the fact that Mizuki had returned and was still a resource that she could use. Mayu had been rather amused with the whole thing, and made no secret of the fact that she supported Mizuki's choice of actions. Kagome had hit the ceiling when she found out, and only a quick thinking Katsuro had kept her from charging off to rescue her daughter from what she saw as a completely unacceptable relationship.
Grinding her teeth a bit, Kagome tried to focus on what Kumo was saying. She was certain that it was important. At least, Kumo thought it was important.
"Kagome-sama, are you still here?" Kumo waved a hand in front of her lady, noticing that her eyes had gone blank.
"Gomen, Kumo. I was just thinking."
"I don't have your father's hearing, but I'm not deaf, Katsuro!" Kagome did not miss the flinch from Kumo at her shout. "Gomen, Kumo."
"I just thought you would want to see the latest message from your only daughter." Katsuro waved a sealed package as he came into the room. "But if you're too busy. . . "
"Give me that, you brat." Kagome held out her hand, shaking her head at her son's antics. "Cho-chan was looking for you earlier."
"I know, and she found me. She seems to think that I would skip out of a meeting with some of the nobles that have been making a fuss about their activities being restricted."
"And where were you?"
"In the storage area behind the kitchens. I should have never taught her how to track. She's getting much too good at it." Katsuro dropped the package into his mother's hands. "So, do I get to hear about what Ki-chan is up to now?"
"After I finish reading it. Here, I need someone to run these down to the messenger." Kagome handed a small stack of messages to her son. "Take care of this and I'll be able to finish reading this faster."
"I am being had. I just know it."
Kagome broke open the message, ignoring her son's grumbling as he left. "She better have an explanation for herself in here."
I am certain that word has reached you regarding my altercation with Seiji. I am also certain that it has been blown all out of proportion. It was a misunderstanding. It did yield a benefit, in the form of a truce between the two of us. Things have settled considerably since then.
There is some concern, since the unrest here is not ending as quickly as Akira-sama would like. It seems that each time I stop a rebellion from forming, yet another begins. It is becoming rather difficult to avoid the notice of the ningens as you desire. Even now I am preparing to march in order to stop an uprising. Seiji is accompanying me on this mission.
Despite my hectic schedule, I have found time to pick up one of my old habits. I hope that you and shatei enjoy them.
The miko sighed, rubbing her temples. 'What were we thinking? We should have never let her go.' She opened the rest of the package and gasped. She carefully pulled out several paintings, spreading them out on her desk.
"Hey, that looks like Ki-chan's work!" Katsuro came back into the room and studied the paintings with his mother. "That's me and Cho, and that looks like you and father."
"And this . . . "
Katsuro's eyebrows went up. "I've never seen Ki-chan include herself in a painting, even if she looks pretty tiny on Shou."
Kagome touched the picture gently, trying to figure out what her distant daughter was saying. "Katsuro, read this."
It took her son no more then a moment to read the short note. "Sounds like she has her hands full."
"Now, you know I don't speak Mizuki. Can you translate this for me?"
Katsuro looked at the note again, and then down at the pictures. "Well, that's a surprise. I didn't know the dragon had it in him."
"Mama, I think Ki-chan is in love." He reached down and pulled the third picture to the front. It depicted Mizuki and Shou, dressed for battle.
Beside them was a navy blue dragon.
The miko stared at the picture, certain she was hearing things. "There is no way, Katsuro. They almost went to war against each other!"
"Look at what she sent you, Mama. Picture number one, showing me and Cho." The first picture was pulled to the front. It showed Katsuro and Cho under a cherry tree with petals falling around them. While Cho read from a book in her lap, Katsuro dozed against the tree. "I had no idea that she had seen us. Cho-chan was reading poetry to me."
"Well, it makes sense. You're her brother, and Cho is her best friend. She's done more pictures including you then anyone. How does that say she's in love?"
"Wait for it. Picture number two, you and father." The second picture featured Sesshomaru watching his mate while she picked a flower. "This has to be one of the walks that you two go on."
"And she's seen that hundreds of times. Of course she would paint that. It also means she gets to paint the gardens, and she does enjoy that."
"And picture number three."
Kagome leaned forward, carefully studying the third image. "She's charging into battle with Seiji."
"Hai, not charging in against him, but with him. Like you said, we've never seen her paint herself before. She also mentions in the note that Seiji is coming with her on this latest mission on hers. For Mizuki, that's just about as romantic as she gets. I'd guess that even she doesn't know it yet, but I'd bet anything that she's fallen for him."
"Are you sure?"
"Positive. I'm an expert in speaking Mizuki, and this one is pretty clear. You can stop worrying about her."
"So they're going to stop fighting?"
"No way in hell."
Kagome sat outside, enjoying the cool air that blew across her face and watching the sunset. Her flowers were beside her in their basket and she could see her son and his mate down the hill under a tree. Everything was where it should be.
'Almost.' Flopping back into the grass, the miko from the future thought about her daughter. 'So, Katsuro thinks his Ki-chan is in love. Is it possible?'
As if that was his cue, Sesshomaru walked up the hill to his mate's side. He sat next to her in companionable silence and studied the sunset. He knew about the message from his daughter, since he had also received one. Of course his message had dealt more with the locations of rebellions that were near the border and might spread to his lands, but there had been mention of Seiji now accompanying her on her missions. That, combined with the story of her capturing Seiji, was enough for him.
"They're cute." Kagome sat up on her elbows and looked at the young couple below them.
"I know it's lost on you, so you'll need to take my word on it."
"You are starting to ramble."
"You know me too well." She dropped back into the grass. "Mizuki wrote me."
"Katsuro thinks she's in love."
"It is a possibility. She does seem committed to Seiji."
Kagome looked over to the inu-youkai. "That's the youkai version of 'in love', right?"
"The definitions are similar enough."
"So she fell in love with that dragon. I guess that means you were right. Damn."
Sesshomaru gave her a smirk.
"You are going to be impossible to live with now. I've got Katsuro dealt with, and Mizuki seems to be fending for herself. That leaves me with Yuriko."
"Huh?" A note was being held out, and Kagome took it.
Greetings. I am contacting you to let you know that we are moving my court to the Far Shores palace. I did not want any of your messengers to return with the news that we had all died. The Far Shores is much more isolated and most ningens do not realize that it is one of my homes. I am certain that this will please Kagome-sama.
I hope all is well with your pack and your lands.
As a parting note, please tell your lovely mate that if she hears any rumors about Yuriko being kidnapped by a Northern lord to not be concerned.
"Kidnapped?! What the hell is that hawk talking about?" Kagome flipped the note over and back again.
"Perhaps the Northern lord that spent time with her in the exterminator's village."
"Kouga? Kouga kidnapped Yuriko? Merkamou is going to slaughter him, and probably his entire tribe while he's at it!" Jumping to her feet, Kagome stared at her unmoving mate. "We have to stop this!"
"I believe his exact words were to not be concerned about this rumor."
"How could I not be concerned about a rumor that . . . Oh, I get it. It's just a rumor, right?"
"I suspect that Merkamou has the situation in hand."
"Okay. Merkamou is just about the most protective father out there. If he's saying not to worry, then I'm going to guess that it's not true." The miko sank back down to the grass. "What would start a rumor like that? Maybe Kouga is courting her?"
"It is not my concern."
"But I promised Rin-chan I would make sure she got her happy ending." She sighed. "Maybe she's like Mizuki, and she's finding a happy ending all on her own."
Sesshomaru almost sighed with relief. He was not interested in trying to restrain his mate from racing off into the northern mountains to find Kouga's tribe.
"If that's true, then each of them is set. That's such a weird thought. I spent so much time worrying about them, and now it's done. I don't have any more to worry about until the next generation." Kagome cringed a bit at the thought of being a grandmother.
"What do you mean?"
The gold eyes caught the light of the dying sun as they slanted over, seeming to glow. "You could always have another."
"Oh, no you do not! I just got this group settled! I'm on vacation until further notice. I am going to enjoy my freedom."
"You will be coming into heat soon."
"Are you even listening to me?"
"No." Sesshomaru reached towards her.
"You stay away from me!" Kagome jumped to her feet, her flowers forgotten. "Don't even think about it! I'm way too old to be having more pups!"
"No, you are not."
"Get back, you evil youkai!" A barrier jumped to life.
"You know that will not last forever."
"Eep!" The Lady of the West took off towards the palace, keeping up her barrier and hoping that she could come up with a plan. "Keep your claws to yourself!"
Cho looked up from her koto to watch her mate's mother and father take off towards the palace, with the miko yelling very odd statements. "Katsuro-kun?"
"You'll get used to it." Katsuro did not even open his eyes. "I just hope Mama makes it inside. There are some things I never, ever want to see my parents doing."
The leopard missed a note, her eyes shooting over to the snoozing male. "You must not be serious."
"Completely." The emerald eyes cracked open, shining with humor. "Comments like that? I know exactly how this is going to end."
"That is almost scandalous."
"Your parents never fight?"
"Certainly not like that."
She rolled her eyes, beginning her music once again. "Your family is quite unusual, Katsuro-kun."
"I know." He let his eyes slide back closed. Between Cho's soothing presence, the cherry blossoms, the beautiful music, and his mother's fading death threats to his father, his world was just about perfect. "I wouldn't want them to be any other way."
A/N: Yes, you read it correctly, that's the end of Fire and Ice. –ducks tomato- Alright, alright, let me finish typing here. I have to say thank you to all of my reviewers that are still with me, I love you all! There are just too many to list, and if I just list some the others are going to get offended, so I'm just going to say Thank You!!! You guys are the reason I keep doing this. And my muse needs the exercise.
For those of you that are wondering about Yuriko (you know who you are, with your frantic notes and e-mails and begging), she is going to get her own short story called 'Just Say You Love Me'. The story of Shippou, Kouga, and Yuriko warrants an off shoot. For the sake of the Kags and Sesshy fans, I'm going to take that story off to the side.
If anyone likes Kagome x Miroku, I have a one shot out there called 'One Less Regret' (not on Single Spark, of course). –blushes over advertising her story-
And, before the Kags and Sesshy fans decide to lynch me for being unfair, the next story in my saga (I think I'm going to rename it 'The Western Lands') is going to be called 'Guardian'. Almost completely Kagome-centric.
See you after my break!