Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
Instinct To Run
The cloud descended through the trees, and Kagome breathed a sigh of relief when the movement was smooth and slow. She didn't think her poor stomach could handle another upset, and looking up surreptitiously at the stoic demon lord beside her, Kagome concluded that throwing up would have been a very bad idea indeed.
She turned, sensing movement from the corner of her eye, and glanced over fully to see Rin getting up and moving over to her guardian. Kagome's eyes widened when the white, fluffy boa draped over Sesshoumaru's shoulder moved, sliding down to pool in a silky pile around the little girl. Rin giggled and sat down, snuggling into the silvery-white fur. Kagome simply gaped, her mind still trying to process the idea of Sesshoumaru's boa being able to move. Disbelieving eyes watched as the tip of the boa twitched. Her eyes travelled up the length of the boa. Kagome stared at where it was attached to the demon lord, and then blushed vividly. Mortified, she realised exactly what part of the lord's anatomy she was staring at before hastily looking away.
So, Sesshoumaru's boa was actually a tail. She cast another sneaky look down to the tail, wondering what it would be like to curl up in the silky fur. Kagome nearly slapped herself at the direction of her thoughts. So what if his tail was incredibly gorgeous? The young priestess turned instead to survey the face of the silent demon lord, and the idea of what he would do to her if she dared lay a hand on his royal person was enough to make her drop the thought. Kagome did cast one last puzzled glance at Rin. It wasn't exactly cold up here, so why was the girl clutching at the fluffy tail?
She found out why when the energy cloud disappeared from underneath her feet – literally.
Kagome opened her mouth to shriek out in surprise and fear. A loud "Oomph!" escaped her mouth instead as she hit the ground. Next to her, Sesshoumaru alighted softly on the grass, his tail curled up around Rin as support. Kagome's eyebrow twitched in irritation.
"Why, you did that on purpose, you – " Kagome broke off her own irritated shout, paling suddenly in realisation. Fear replaced the anger, lodging in her stomach as a cold ball of anxiety. "Where's Shippo?" She spun around frantically to look for the tiny fox demon. "Shippo!"
"I'm here," A small voice piped up. Kagome whirled to face Sesshoumaru and promptly gaped incredulously at the demon lord, who was carefully lifting Shippo from his shoulder, before dropping the fox demon to the ground. Shippo landed on all fours like a cat, and scampered over to Kagome.
"Kagome!" He cried, clambering into her lap and hugging her around the neck. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Shippo." She shot Sesshoumaru an irritated look, though. Sesshoumaru ignored her, turning his head instead to gaze blankly into a copse of trees.
"Inuyasha is approaching," Sesshoumaru said flatly, moments later. "I can smell the inferior half-breed from miles away."
"He's not inferior," Kagome snapped back without thinking. She inwardly cringed when the demon lord slid his eyes towards her, breathing a sigh of relief when he went back to ignoring her.
"Lord Sesshoumaru?" Rin was looking up timidly at her lord. "Are you staying with Rin and Lady Kagome?"
Rin's lower lip trembled dangerously. Sensing waterworks, Kagome spoke up. "Don't worry, Rin, you'll have lots of fun with Shippo and I, and Lord Sesshoumaru won't be away for too long." She glanced nervously at Sesshoumaru. "Right?"
"Hn." Sesshoumaru patted Rin's head, then disentangled her from his pants and turned her towards Kagome. "I will return for you, Rin."
Rin suddenly smiled. At Kagome's look, Rin cheerfully explained. "Lord Sesshoumaru always fulfils his promises to Rin!"
Kagome smiled. "Well, in that case, there's nothing to worry about!" Kagome glanced at the darkening sky, aware that it was getting late. "Well, Rin, I know it's pretty late, and you and Shippo need to be in bed, but I figure you're probably hungry, too."
"Yes, Lady Kagome," Rin glanced up at her, then at Sesshoumaru. "Should Rin go pick some berries now?"
"I've got a better idea," Kagome said cheerfully. "How about I make you some noodles?"
"Yeah!" Shippo bounced around Kagome, giving the silent Sesshoumaru a wide berth. "Me too! Please, Kagome?"
Rin glanced up towards Sesshoumaru, unsure. Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed, but then he nodded. Rin smiled brightly, clapping her hands and running over to Kagome. "Thank you, Lady Kagome – oh!" The little girl gasped as a red-clad figure dropped into the clearing.
Inuyasha growled, and Rin's eyes widened in fear. Kagome frowned, and laid a comforting hand on the little girl's shoulder. Rin turned to her with a tiny cry and wrapped her arms around Kagome's leg. Rin kept a wary eye on the new figure who was still growling.
Sesshoumaru had tensed as soon as Inuyasha had made his appearance, but now his shoulders relaxed. "Half-breed," He acknowledged.
"Bastard!" Inuyasha returned, stepping out from the shadows into a patch of moonlight. "What the hell do you think you're doing, kidnapping Kagome like that?" He drew Tetsusaiga, smiling grimly as it transformed into the huge fang.
Rin whimpered at the sight of the massive sword and clutched tighter at Kagome's leg. Kagome ran her hand through Rin's hair to comfort her, her other arm pulling the girl closer. Shippo, not wanting to be left out, leapt onto Kagome's shoulder. Sesshoumaru's eyes flickered towards them, and softened slightly upon seeing the picture the trio made. He was satisfied – he had his firsthand proof of how good a mother-figure the priestess would be to Rin.
Inuyasha followed Sesshoumaru's line of vision, and snarled in rage at Kagome's untidy state, and at the girl, clinging to the priestess, who reeked of Sesshoumaru. "Oi, Sesshoumaru, get your brat away from Kagome!" He demanded rudely.
Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed. Kagome interrupted before things got ugly. She glared at her half-demon friend. "Inuyasha!" She snapped.
His furry ears reflexively went back. "What?" He growled back.
"Don't be so rude," Kagome scolded, and then gave his sword a pointed look. "And put Tetsusaiga away – you're scaring Rin."
"Keh!" He snorted. "She stinks of Sesshoumaru – she must be used to seeing him slaughter things by now. My sword stays." Inuyasha narrowed his eyes at Kagome. "Get his ugly brat away from you, Kagome."
Rin sniffed, and Kagome felt her anger whoosh up as thought she'd been punched in the stomach. "Sit!" She screamed out. "And for good measure – sit, sit, siiittt!"
Sesshoumaru watched the proceedings silently, very pleased at the priestess' response. He was now assured that her maternal instincts would override even her loyalty to the half-breed.
Kagome, meanwhile, was fuming quietly whilst glaring at the newly formed hole in the ground. "Inuyasha, you're such a jerk. Can't you see you're upsetting Rin?"
"Indeed, foolish half-breed," Sesshoumaru finally spoke again, "Haven't you learnt not to insult a pup in front of a mother in your dealings with the kit?"
Inuyasha growled out something from his place sprawled in the dirt. Kagome slapped a hand to her forehead. "Sesshoumaru, you're not helping the situation."
The demon lord shot her a dark look for daring to talk to him in such a manner, but subsided after seeing the picture she made, furious and protective all at once, one hand now on each child. "Hn."
Kagome sighed. She was in no mood to deal with another of the brothers' infamous fights. "Right! Rin? Shippo? Let's go to camp so I can get you guys something to eat." And get changed out of this stupid towel, she thought with a scowl.
"What about the loud man?" Rin whispered, turning her eyes to the newly-formed crater.
"I think I'll leave him there to think about his behaviour for a while," Kagome said darkly, giving the kids a smile to lighten the mood.
"Isn't he hurt?" Rin wondered. Kagome fell in love even more with the little girl for her kind nature, even towards the currently undeserving half-demon.
"He's just fine, Rin. Inuyasha is a very strong half-demon. Besides, he sort of deserved it."
"Don't worry, Kagome sits Inuyasha all the time when he's being mean to me!" Shippo informed Rin.
Kagome turned to Sesshoumaru. "Er… I'm going to take the kids back to camp."
The demon lord inclined his head, then turned swiftly, long hair swaying elegantly, and walked to the edge of the clearing.
"Um, wait," Kagome stuttered. The demon lord paused, but his aura was icy as it swirled around Kagome. "Are you… I mean, when will you return for Rin?"
"When I choose to, priestess."
"But…" Kagome hesitated, and then kept going. "Sesshoumaru, I have other duties…"
"You will take Rin with you wherever you go. I entrust her to you alone, priestess." He didn't need to elaborate on what would happen if Kagome neglected her babysitting duties. She gulped.
"Yes, but I can't take Rin when I go to my family, or for some priestess duties."
"Then you will not perform such actions when you are guarding Rin, priestess. Perform only those duties which you allow your kit to accompany you on."
"But – " Kagome broke off. The demon lord's glimmering silver hair had disappeared into the gloom of the forest as he walked away. Great.
Kagome stirred the pot containing the ramen noodles, smiling at the excited children sitting beside her, both staring at the pot as if to make it boil faster.
"So…" Sango trailed off, still staring at Rin.
Beside her, Miroku looked just as perplexed. "It is most surprising to learn that Sesshoumaru keeps company with a human child."
"I know," Kagome said quietly.
"And…he wants us to look after her?"
Kagome grimaced. "Not exactly. He said she is in my care alone, but that she's allowed to stay with you guys since I'm here."
"I take it he would not be pleased to learn you had left her alone in our care to do something else?" Miroku guessed.
"Your family," Sango gasped.
"Yep. I can't visit them while Rin's here. And I thought Inuyasha caused enough trouble when I wanted to go back home." Kagome groaned. "And refusal isn't exactly an option with Sesshoumaru."
A loud snort came from a tree nearby, but Inuyasha, still sulking at Kagome's perceived betrayal, was refusing to rejoin the group. Kagome glared in his general direction, before turning back to the campfire.
"Still," Kagome's eyes softened as they landed on Rin, "Even if I could, I wouldn't refuse. She's absolutely adorable, I'd offer to care for her anyway."
Sango smiled. "Kagome, you'll be an excellent mother."
"Why, Sango, what a coincidence you brought this topic up. I happen to believe you would also make a wonderful moth – " Miroku fell off his perch on the log, clutching at his sore ribs. Sango pulled her sword hilt back, looking smug.
Rin gasped, staring at the fallen monk. Shippo nudged her. "It's okay, Rin, Sango does that all the time when Miroku's being dumb."
"What did he do, Lady Sango?" Rin asked shyly, still in awe of the demon slayer.
Kagome and Sango exchanged a look. "When you're older, you'll understand, Rin," Kagome said. Neither of the older girls wanted to imagine what Sesshoumaru would do to them if Rin got an education in some things too early.
Kagome glanced into the pot. "Okay, guys, dinner's ready!" She breathed a sigh of relief at the timely introduction as the two young ones cheered. She ladled the soupy noodle mixture into five bowls, leaving the sixth one empty in case Inuyasha decided to join them.
Everyone except Rin started eating immediately. Kagome watched the little girl eye her bowl uncertainly, and then sniff. She grabbed some noodles with her chopsticks and took a tentative bite. Her eyes widened comically. "Rin likes this very much, Lady Kagome!"
Kagome grinned. Ramen never fails to please in the Feudal era. "I'm glad you like it, Rin. I have more, so we can have it for dinner tomorrow as well, if you like."
Rin's eyes widened even further, if possible. "Really?"
"Thank you, Lady Kagome!" Rin smiled brightly.
"It's no problem, and you don't need to call me 'Lady', Rin. You can just call me Kagome."
Rin shook her head. "Rin cannot, that would be bad manners. Lady Kagome is a lady."
Kagome sighed. "Rin, it's my wish that you just call me by my name, okay?"
Rin still looked unsure. Sango decided to help Kagome out. "Rin, you're still being very well mannered if you pay attention to your guardian's wishes."
Rin nodded, but turned her eyes back to her bowl, shy once more.
Later that night, Kagome snuggled into her sleeping bag. She sighed quietly, able to relax now that Rin and Shippo were bundled up in their respective blankets and asleep. Across the fire, Sango lay in her own sleeping bag courtesy of Kagome, Kirara in her arms. Miroku, knocked unconscious once again by the demon slayer, had been dragged to 'sleep' under the tree Inuyasha was still perched in. Kagome looked into the tree's branches, trying to catch sight of the half-demon, but had no luck. Inuyasha, please understand…
Kagome was shaken from her thoughts by a small figure burrowing into her sleeping bag. "Wha – Shippo," she whispered softly, smiling at her adopted kit. Automatically, she shifted to give the young fox demon room to curl into her chest, his tail tickling her neck. Kagome sighed, one arm reaching up to hug Shippo.
Eyes beginning to close, Kagome was startled awake once more a few minutes later by an unexpected scuffling noise nearby. Looking up, Kagome saw a shy Rin peering at her from beneath her eyelashes, hands clasped behind her back.
"Rin? What's wrong?" She asked quietly, giving the little girl a puzzled look.
"Rin is lonely." The little girl sniffed. Kagome caught the envious look Rin shot Shippo. Oh.
Kagome sat up, and unzipped her sleeping bag. She held out a hand to Rin and smiled at the girl. "Would you like to sleep with me?"
Rin hesitated, looking embarrassed. It was the second longing look she cast the pair in the sleeping bag that cemented Kagome's decision.
"Will you stay with me, Rin? Because I'm lonely, too," she coaxed gently.
"Rin would like to, if La- Kagome doesn't mind."
Kagome grinned. "Come on, then." She patted the space next her not occupied by Shippo. Rin lay down beside the older girl, and Kagome zipped up the sleeping bag. She was unable to hold back a smile when two small bodies snuggled closer for warmth.
Kagome yawned, drifting off to sleep. Her last thought was that she would do anything for the two young ones now under her protection.