Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha; this is only a fanfic
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha; this is only a fanfic.
Authors Notes: Hi everyone!! Sorry… sorry… so sorry for the late update. Life has been a roller coaster ride of surprises, some pleasant, not so pleasant and some absolutely delightful, but enough of my rant. This is indeed the final chapter of "Forbidden" (I promise) and, again, I apologize for the delay. The end was a bit rushed, but I could not make you guys wait another moment.
I would like to extend a special thanks to all who have read and reviewed. Believe me, I have appreciated every hit, opinion, question etc.; you readers have made this story what it is. Thanks dsavage, Starving Lunatic, Cookbook24, Kikyou Sama, Kikyou Uchiha, Shining Peridot Moon, Soul Raker, katana sohma-demon girl, Cold Kikyou, Kohana, superheroxnerd, Raconteur, AtemuManaLover, fruitcake fairy and Soul of AquaBlue for reviews of the last chapter.
I would also like to thank lonely-dreamlover, Motoko Aoyama and Nefertili for your recent updates. They truly gave me the motivation and inspiration to finish this. I will be reviewing your chapters ASAP!
Please read enjoy and leave a review.
"Somewhere in this world, one lone soul awaits another lonely soul.
Each choosing each through the weary hours and meeting strangely at one unforeseen goal.
Suddenly… they blend, like green leaves with golden flowers into one beautiful and perfect whole.
Life's long night has ended and the way lies open, onward to eternal day."
Chapter 32: Forevermore
Struggling from the most euphoric of slumbers, Kikyou slowly opened her eyes. Rolling onto her side, she put up a hand to shield her eyes from the morning sun streaming through the window. As the events of the night before came rushing back, she sat up abruptly and quickly scanned the room, but… he was already gone.
As she sat naked and wrapped in the tangled sheets, she waited for the guilt to surface… for the self-reprove to begin, but those feelings never came. Her actions last night were so out of character, she could scarcely believe it herself. Not only had she allowed a complete stranger into her bed, but had also allowed a demon to awaken her to the pleasures of the flesh.
Kikyou's body still tingled from his explorations. She had to admit the demon was quite skilled in the seduction of human women. He seemed to know just what to do and where to touch, drawing and demanding a response from her untried body.
Last night, on the patio, Kikyou had been surprised by his presence. She had felt a brief moment of indignation for the intrusion until his lips had closed over hers in a firm, yet persuasive kiss. After a few puny attempts to disengage, she had given in to the heady sensations he created.
It was fortunate for her that the demon was able to maintain a semblance of control. He had seemed content with the act of foreplay, as he did not once try to take what she had offered so freely in her passion induced state. Although he had held back, there was no denying the demon was just as affected by their encounter and that he had definitely wanted her.
With a sigh, Kikyou recalled how his hands had roamed her body… the way his lips and warm breath had caressed her skin. Even though they had not actually made love, the demon had left her fully sated and had promised complete and utter fulfillment once she called out to him.
"But… how can I call for you, if you refuse to tell me your name?" she had asked, as he had laid her back against the cushions.
"How indeed?" The demon had smirked down on her and reached up to tuck a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
"Do not toy with me," Kikyou had hissed and then realized their current situation and position. Refusing to blush, instead she had sent him a threatening glare.
"Interesting choice of words, my lady." The demon had countered smoothly, as he lay down next to her and pulled the woman into the shelter of his arms. "You already know who I am." He had gone on to say. "There is no one who knows me the way you do."
Kikyou had wondered what he meant. The demon's son had mentioned that she had reminded his father of someone. Was he confusing her with that someone? Laying her head on his chest, the doctor found herself thinking about that unknown person.
"Sleep now." The demon commanded; his stoic voice rumbled softly in her ear, emitting a lulling quality.
It had been on the tip of Kikyou's tongue to refuse; however, she had felt herself succumb to the hypnotic effects of the rich baritone and calm under the rhythmic beat of his heart. It had seemed so natural to stretch a lean thigh over his, as she finally fell asleep in the warmth of his body.
Turning to the clock at the bedside, Kikyou realized the conference would start soon. Rising from the bed, she secured the sheet around her, padded into the bathroom and stood in front of the wall mirror.
She looked the same, yet different, Kikyou decided as she peered at her reflection. Large mahogany eyes gazed back, but there was liveliness within them that hadn't been there before. Her normally pale skin was luminous; it glowed with vitality and her cheeks had a rosy hue. The dark, luxurious mane, cascading down her back and around her shoulders, felt good against her bare skin and she was now glad she had never cut it.
Kikyou moved towards the basin and leaned against the counter for a closer inspection. Suddenly, she gasped and drew back from the glass. Her eyes grew wide as she noticed a blue aura surrounding her entire body.
"Come on, Shiisa-chan, open the door!" Kaede yelled from the hall and banged on the door of her room. "I have a few more things you can try on!"
Kagome stood in the hall and watched the exchange with amusement. From the moment Awasumaru had brought the young demon home, requesting they provide proper clothes for her, young Kaede had instantly taken charge.
This morning, the teenager had risen early and her room was strewn with clothes. Kaede had really tried to find something presentable for Shiisa to wear, but her efforts had proven harder than she originally thought.
For one, although the girls were about the same height, the young demon's body was more curvaceous than the teens. The tiger may appear childlike, but that was definitely a woman's body underneath that armor.
After Shiisa had removed her breastplate, they were presented with another problem. For someone of her stature, the girl was a bit overly endowed. Kagome knew there was nothing in her daughter's wardrobe that could accommodate the tigress; therefore, a shopping trip was in order.
Inside Kaede's room, Shiisa sat with her back against the door. The hour did not bother her, as she normally rose early; however, that was usually to practice and not waste time selecting one's attire.
Since dawn she and Kaede had been up trying on something 'suitable', as Awasumaru would say, but nothing had fit. Not only that, but the clothes were frilly, girlish things. There was no way she could fight in such delicate materials.
It was only because Awasumaru had requested it that she had gone along with this, but no more. She was not some dress up doll, Shiisa thought and tapped her foot in frustration. Having put the overenthusiastic Kaede out of her own room, she then bolted the door. The tigress planned to wait around until the hanyou returned from that place called the university and then tell him just what he could do with his suitable clothes.
Suddenly, Shiisa's body tensed as she heard the sounds of battle. Jumping up, she headed to the window and looked outside.
Awasumaru's uncle, the one called Inuyasha, brandished a large sword and was engaged with another warrior. It was a woman and although she was clearly a human, her skills were impressive, as she held her own against the half demon.
Shiisa stood transfixed as she watched the two sparring. Neither held back as they attacked and countered. Her father, Mouko, had told her that there were such humans strong enough to battle demons. Even though she believed him, everyone knew the Lord of the Tora Domain had a tendency to over exaggerate.
But… here, now… watching this Amazon of a woman fight, she knew Mouko had spoken the truth. With her green eyes glittering, Shiisa decided she wanted to test this human's mettle. Quickly donning her armor, she snatched the spear from the corner, hopped onto the windowsill, down to the ground and landed between the two combatants.
"Mind if I join you, Inuyasha-sama?"
"What the…" the hanyou sputtered on seeing the tiger youkai and then yelled, "Yeah, I mind dammit. Now go away and stop interferin'!"
Inuyasha was feeling nostalgic; he was enjoying his battle with Sango (or rather Maiyu) and did not appreciate this upstart coming between them.
"You may want to reconsider," Shiisa began smugly, "It looks like you could use some help."
"Why you little…" Inuyasha muttered, but stopped and ground his fangs on seeing Kagome and Kaede step outside. "Now, see here you…" he began and pointed at Shiisa, but was interrupted by the demon slayer.
"It's fine, Inuyasha," Maiyu said and moved forward. "Let the girl satisfy her curiosity."
Turning to the older woman, Shiisa knew her challenge had been accepted.
"Keh! Alright, but you and I are gonna finish this Maiyu… and soon, so don't go runnin' off," Inuyasha sniffed and sheathed the Tessaiga. Ignoring his outburst, the tiger and the demon slayer were already circling, each sizing up the other.
Watching her move, Shiisa noticed Maiyu's long legs. The woman had a definite height and weight advantage. Having watched her use her weapons with Inuyasha, she assumed she was a long-range fighter.
Maiyu wasn't fooled by the demon's petite form. The girl's arms and legs were toned from practice and battle; the manner in which she twirled her spear was enough indication that she was skilled.
Shiisa stopped and observed Maiyu's attire. The woman's pants and top were made of a coarse material, but they fit like a second skin; therefore, the tiger assumed movement was limited. Without full range of motion, those long legs would do her no good.
Twirling her spear overhead, the demon fell back and crouched in a low cat stance with her weapon positioned behind her. She only needed to avoid the human's dual ring shurikens and move inside.
"Alright," Shiisa smirked. "Get ready, Lady Maiyu!"
Maiyu smiled smugly at the demon addressing her in archaistic fashion and responded, "Bring it on, little one!"
In a flash, Shiisa shot forward, but so did Maiyu's shurikens. Damn… the human was fast, she thought, barely managing to avoid the weapons flying past her head. However, with the woman's clothes restricting her movements, the tiger was confident that on close contact, she could win this skirmish and that… was her first mistake.
Tsuru, Shugoryuu, Raion, Shishi, Sachiko and Hikyuu joined the Akuma on the hillside. The group watched the remaining seven ronin supposedly make their escape into the human realm. The beasts were unaware that, per the daiyoukai's orders, they were allowed passage.
The battle had been fierce; however, due to Sesshomaru's stratagem, Tsuru and Shugoryuu's presence, the youkai had been victorious. The ronin that had penetrated the barrier were defeated, the ones that had survived had turned tail in retreat and now the blockade was being repaired.
"What was the commander thinking?" Shishi asked no one in particular. "As hard as Sesshomaru-dono fights to keep the ronin out of the human realm, I don't understand why he wanted a few to enter."
"I don't know," Sachiko answered. "But… those were his orders; Shiisa-san said he was quite adamant about it."
"Oh… who cares?" Tsuru snapped. The crane's dainty foot landed on top of a ronin carcass, kicking it repeatedly as if willing it to revive that she could kill it again. "We all know Sesshomaru has his own agenda… he always has."
"That is true," Shugoryuu sniffed and proceeded, like his comrade, to sort through the carcasses. He too was hoping at least one was still alive and had some fight left. Seeing that every ronin had been eliminated, the dragon turned back to the group. "I am done here," he stated. Without another word, he ascended into the air and then simply vanished.
"I'm afraid I must be going also," Raion began. "I have a meeting in the Southernlands."
Turning to his comrades, the lion bowed elegantly. "Lady Tsuru… Lady Sachiko, as always, it's a pleasure. And you…" he paused and looked to his intended. Lifting Hikyuu's hand, he placed a light kiss to the inside of her wrist. "I will see you later."
With eyes full of promise, Raion gave a sassy wink at the leopard's blush. The lion then turned to his little brother, Shishi. The two bowed to each other, before the elder brother turned and sped off across the plains.
"Well, he's a real charmer," Tsuru sneered at the retreating form.
"Yes… he is," Hikyuu said dreamily and then smiled at the gagging sounds the crane made at her response.
"Sachiko-chan," Shishi addressed the tigress. "That charm runs in the family, you know," he stated suggestively.
"Really?" Sachiko's lips quivered to keep from laughing. "Since we're family now, Shishi-kun, you should practice your wiles elsewhere," she added and patted his cheek affectionately, "I'll be sure; however, to notify the local females that the young lion lord is on the prowl, but… for now…" she paused and turned to survey the area. "You're in charge of cleaning up this mess."
Sitting in the back of the class, Awasumaru watched the other students rise and pile out of the auditorium. Although dismissed, the hanyou stayed behind to speak with Professor Seiji Uhatsu. A few minutes later, Kai and Shippo joined them.
"I just received word from Idzuna that seven ronin were released into the human realm," the kitsune began as he took a seat. "We anticipate they will key into and follow the scent of the mass human population here in the city. They should arrive before nightfall."
"Any word from my father?" Awasumaru asked.
"No," Kai stated. "I checked the hotel this morning, but there was no sign of him; neither his aura nor his scent."
"I see," the hanyou murmured, knowing how sharp Kai's senses were. "He won't be far away. Since my mother has been reborn, his first priority will be protecting her." Turning to Seiji, he asked, "We are in need of your spiritual powers, Professor. Will you assist us?"
"Of course," Seiji smiled. "I wouldn't miss the opportunity. Frankly, it all sounds quite fascinating!" He went on to say. "I will finally get to utilize my exorcism abilities and I'll get to see Miss Maiyu again." The professor gave a delectable shiver just thinking about the woman.
"What you've told me about your parents is incredible, Awasumaru," Seiji stated, putting his hentai thoughts on hold. "To anyone else, the story would seem a bit far fetched and you just may have your sanity questioned." He laughed at his own joke and leaned forward in his seat before continuing.
"You stated that your mother had been reborn," the Professor said. "Does that mean that reincarnation is more than just a theory? And… if so, is there a difference between that and rebirth?"
"Both are more than a theory, Professor, and yes, there is a difference." Awasumaru informed him. "Reincarnation is a soul that returns within another body or form while rebirth is the actual person born again; as in my mother's case."
"Interesting," Seiji murmured as he cleaned his glasses. "I've often wondered if I've been here before."
Awasumaru, Shippo and Kai looked to each other, but no one spoke. Idzuna had warned them not to divulge information regarding their history and past lives. Like Kikyou, Miroku and Sango had been reborn. Those two were not reincarnations; they were the same souls that had lived over four hundred years ago.
"Who knows?" Awasumaru shrugged and then deftly changed the subject. Turning to his vassal, the hanyou stated, "Based on Idzuna's information, Shippo-san, we shall gather later this evening in Shinjuku Square. Is that alright?"
Everyone agreed and Awasumaru sighed. The stage was set; tonight would be his first of many battles in the present day. Tonight he would have to prove himself as a leader, as a man and he would have to prove to Sesshomaru that he was capable.
Golden orbs narrowed as they watched the progress of the seven ronin soaring overhead. Could the fools count, Sesshomaru questioned? When he had said a few ronin were to be released into the human realm, he had only meant three or four… not seven.
Without Mouko present to carry out his orders, he was left with two power hungry fools, two novices and two youkai that, although seasoned, were too love struck to carry out orders properly.
Suppressing his ki, the daiyoukai levitated into the air and followed the ronins progress. The beings had already sensed the presence of humans and had turned in the direction of the highly populated areas, preparing to feast.
However, before they reached the city called Tokyo, Sesshomaru decided to eliminate a few of them. He had intentionally arranged this situation to awaken Kikyou's spiritual powers, but with Awasumaru's small alliance and his mate's powers lying dormant, the daiyoukai could not take the chance of her being harmed in any way.
As Sesshomaru trailed after the ronin, he noticed one had veered away from the others and was headed towards a smaller city.
"Impatient fool," the daiyoukai sniffed and followed.
Just as the being was about to descend on the unsuspecting town, Sesshomaru teleported and appeared in front of the deformed alien youkai. Drawing his weapon, the infamous smirk appeared on the daiyoukai's face and the being drew back and hissed its annoyance.
This would be quick and, undoubtedly, painless for the ronin; however, Sesshomaru could not afford to lose sight of the others. Raising his sword and in one swift slicing motion, he released the energy of the Bakusaiga.
There was a flash of light and then… nothing. No body, no flesh, no bones, not a trace of the ronin was left, the being had been totally disintegrated. Sesshomaru smirked and began to sheath his sword, but the Bakusaiga trembled with resistance.
"Settled down," Sesshomaru demanded of his weapon. The daiyoukai knew his sword expected more from his battles, but not this one. This battle belonged to Awasumaru and no one, not he nor the war-torn, bloodthirsty Bakusaiga would interfere.
Heeding his master's words, the sword ceased all movement and slid dutifully inside its sheath. With a toss of his silver mane, Sesshomaru shot across the sky in pursuit of his next victim.
The conference opened with a summary of the origins of herbal therapy. The speaker seemed quite knowledgeable about her topic; however, Kikyou found it hard to stay attentive.
Since leaving her rooms this morning, the doctor had attracted a lot of attention. She was sure it was due to the incident in the ballroom last night, but it was also the blue aura surrounding her.
Humans could not detect the aura, but the demons could. Although Kikyou ignored their stares, she could feel their eyes upon her. She could sense the wonder, the uncertainty and also the animosity that exuded from them, but not one had dared approach.
Why were her powers suddenly activated? Was it because of the nameless youkai with whom she had shared a bed or was it something more?
Suppressing the urge to blush as she thought of the demon, Kikyou took a deep breath and turned her attention back to the speaker. Although she tried to focus, a few minutes went by before her thoughts began to drift again.
The doctors' eyes did a turn about the room and she wondered where the youkai could be. Had he meant what he had said about returning only when she called for him? He had seemed convinced that they knew each other, but Kikyou knew that could not be true. There was no possible way she could have forgotten someone so compelling, but what were these images that had invaded her mind since the blue aura appeared?
The images reflected a time reminiscent to the school camping trips Kikyou took in middle school. Each year the students were sent into the mountains and, for one week, they had lived similar to their ancestors in ancient times. The forest was their home, the fields their food and it was a time when a young girl had first become interested in herbal remedies.
In her mind's eye, Kikyou envisioned lush green landscapes, rice fields, a quaint little village and a child with doe like eyes, looking up at her in admiration.
There were also demons in her visions. However, they were unlike the ones here in Tokyo cloaked in human form, but strange creatures that appeared straight from the books of folklore.
The doctor recalled sitting on a hillside with someone in companionable silence and experiencing a blossoming happiness, only to be followed by the worst pain imaginable and an overwhelming feeling of loss and betrayal.
The image of a lustrous jewel fluttered in her mind. The gem fluctuated between a pearly white to the deepest ebony, with neither color bringing her any comfort. Flashes of a pathetic figure with a lustful gaze flickered in her mind. There was also a being with crimson eyes whose sinister laugh reflected its evil intentions; and then… there was nothing.
Although Kikyou sensed there was more, the remaining images would not surface. Why was she having these visions, she wondered and, more importantly, were they real?
A round of applause erupted within the conference room and broke Kikyou from her musings. The ovation continued as everyone stood in appreciation of the speaker.
Kikyou stood also with her lips pursed in disapproving lines. "Damn you…" she whispered, leaving the demon's unknown name hovering in the air. She had missed most, if not all, of the history of herbal medicine.
"She's awfully happy for someone who just lost a fight," Kaede whispered to her mother and pointed to Shiisa.
Kagome turned to the young demon walking happily beside Maiyu and watched the two chatting amicably. The women discussed everything from military tactics, strategies to maneuvers.
The battle between the tiger and the demon slayer had lasted all of two minutes. Shiisa had charged, but had made a vital miscalculation. The girl had assumed that since Maiyu used shurikens as a weapon, she was a long-range fighter. She had also presumed that the human's form fitting clothes were restricting. The demon was unfamiliar with the malleable fabric of their time called stretch denim.
As Shiisa had closed in on Maiyu, the woman dropped suddenly to the ground, pivoted on the balls of one foot, followed through with the other leg aimed at the demon's shins.
With spear in hand, Shiisa read the attack, arched back and vaulted over into a reverse handspring, deftly avoiding that long leg. The young demon was surprised by the humans' ability to move about in such tight clothing. Landing on her feet, too late, Shiisa realized Maiyu had closed the distance between them and had delivered two open hand strikes to her midsection.
The demon landed with a thud on the grounds of the Higarashi shrine. Shiisa looked up just as Maiyu's shurikens returned. The weapons spiraled in the air and the demon could only marvel, as the woman lifted her arm and gracefully caught the ringed weapons.
Shiisa's green eyes shone with admiration as they looked up at the Amazonian warrior standing over her. Without a word, Maiyu reached down and offered her hand, which the young demon clasped firmly in her own and was pulled roughly to her feet.
"Satisfied?" Maiyu inquired with a smirk.
"Not quite." Shiisa gave a cheeky grin. "And… although you won, I must insist on a rematch, Lady Maiyu," she said and leaned forward to examine the human's attire. "I would like to acquire the same type of clothing that you are wearing. Where can I find such garments?"
Kagome had to smile as she watched Shiisa in her new clothes. The young demon was dressed similar to Maiyu. Slender legs were encased in form fitting blue jeans; she wore an emerald green tee shirt accompanied with a white hooded sweatshirt for the weather and sneakers on her feet. The young demon's silver hair gleamed in the sunlight and her long ponytail bobbed in unison with Maiyu's dark one, as the two women walked side by side.
"Lady Kagome," Shiisa turned to address her. "I would like to see Awasumaru's place of study. Would you take me there?"
"You mean the university," Kagome corrected and the girl nodded happily. "I would love to, Shiisa-chan; however, Kaede and I have another appointment. Maybe tomorrow."
Green eyes so full of excitement, dimmed momentarily. Secretly, Shiisa had wanted to impress Awasumaru with her 'suitable' clothes, but it seemed she was to be denied.
"I'll take her," Maiyu stated and Kagome noticed a slight pink tinge both her and Shiisa's cheeks. "The campus is not far from here."
"Well… if you're sure?" Kagome smiled knowingly and steered Kaede in the opposite direction. It felt good to see her two friends together again. "Tell Professor Uhatsu hello for me," she tittered, as she waved and Maiyu blushed even harder.
In the center of the campus green, Awasumaru and Shippo sat as Kai reclined in the grass with his arms folded beneath his head. Between them, the three had demolished their lunch and the bento boxes lay empty and pushed to the side.
"Shippo-san, what are you eating now?" Kai opened one eye and peered at his friend.
The kitsune pulled the hard confection from his mouth and held it up for the wolf's inspection. "Candy!" he exclaimed. "Wanna try some?"
"Ugh!" The wolf made a face. "I'll pass."
"It's really good," Shippo persuaded.
"I'll take your word for it," Kai refused.
Awasumaru smiled at his two friends. It was Oba-Kagome who had first introduced Shippo to sweets. Even as an adult youkai, the kitsune still favored the sugary confections and Kai was still adjusting to human food.
Looking over at them, Awasumaru realized these two had been with him through thick and thin. They were there for him when his mother had died and during his isolation from his father. They had grieved and clung together with each death of the humans they had all come to love and admire. Not only that, but… they had stood by his side in many battles and this time was no different.
"Are you alright, Awasu-san?" Shippo asked.
"Who me?" the hanyou asked, surprised.
"Yeah… you, baka!" Kai never opened his eyes.
With a smirk at the resting wolf, Awasumaru turned to the kitsune and shrugged. "It's nothing, Shippo-san… you know how I can get sometimes."
"Of course I know," his friend and vassal replied. "You think far too much and you worry even more. There is no sense in tying yourself in knots, Awasu-san, you have always known your fate… you have always known it would come to this."
"Knowing does not make it easier, Shippo-san," the hanyou stated. "I just wonder if I'm ready."
"You've been ready for quite some time, my friend," the kitsune informed him. "From the day of the battle off the Izu Isles, you've been ready. We've all known… Kai-san, Mouko-dono and even Sesshomaru-dono knew as well."
"He's right, you know," the wolf injected softly. "During that battle… when that ronin beast slammed into me, without a thought, you turned and took it on single handedly." Kai sat up, turned to Awasumaru and continued.
"Although the being was greater than anything you had ever faced, you didn't hesitate… you didn't back down or rely on your father's strength. You only knew that a comrade had been struck down," the wolf said.
"With the exception of Kouga-dono, no one has ever put their life on the line for me, not even my own clansmen, but… you did, Awasumaru, and I'll never forget that," Kai continued solemnly. "I've sworn my allegiance to you, my friend, and I await the day that you step out of your father's shadow and walk your own path."
"I couldn't have said it better myself." Shippo clapped his hands in agreement and saw the hanyou turn to him with wide eyes. "You will never be a full-fledged youkai, Awasumaru, and you will never match your father in strength, but you are the half demon prodigy of the Inu clan and you represent the best of your youkai father and human mother."
"In your own way, you are as impressive as Sesshomaru-dono," Shippo continued. "However, what he lacks in humanity and compassion, you have an abundance of, my young lord. You inherited those traits from your mother, Kikyou-sama and they will serve you well in this upcoming human/demon war."
"Don't get me wrong, Awasu-san," Shippo pressed. "Although we all hold the Lord of the Westernlands in high regard, his goals are not ours."
"During Akujikumo's attacks on the slayers village, it was obvious that Shun'ei was the best choice at that time to lead in Kohaku's place," the kitsune continued. "Even as a child, he was intense, mature beyond his years and the most intelligent amongst us, but now… it's your turn to lead, Awasu-san. This is our time to bring about peace and you… you are our commander."
"Shippo…" Awasumaru breathed and looked to his vassal. "I never knew you felt that way, you… you've never said anything before."
"Well… I'm saying it now," the kitsune smiled.
Looking at his two friends, Awasumaru felt as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. His comrades believed in him and the hanyou knew, from that point on, everything would be fine. Together, they would make this a livable world for both humans and demons alike.
"There you are," a feminine voice said. "We've been looking all over for you."
Awasumaru looked over his shoulder to the demon slayer striding towards them, followed by a drooling Seiji.
"Ah… Miss Maiyu, I was planning to come see you…" The hanyou's words petered off, as he noticed Shiisa a few steps behind. The girl was decked out in modern day clothes and was twirling around to get a better view of the campus.
If Awasumaru thought the tigress was stunning in battle gear, he found her equally so in her current attire. Although those beautiful, shapely legs were covered, they were no less appealing in the formfitting jeans. Without her armor, the hanyou realized there was more to the tiger's anatomy than met the eye.
"Awasu-kun!" Shiisa gasped on seeing him. She stopped twirling and brushed past Maiyu and Seiji to stand in front of him.
"This place is amazing!" she began. "Does every human study here? There are so many people! You must have a huge class! Which rooms are yours?" she gushed and twirled again to look around the facilities.
As he looked down on her upturned face, Shiisa's green eyes glittered with excitement and the hanyou had to remember to breathe. This was her first time in the human realm and everything was new to her, as these sensations were new to him.
"Shiisa-san…" Awasumaru began softly, "You look… nice. I really like the new clothes; they are very becoming."
The young youkai's entire demeanor changed. "You had better like them!" she spat, as she bared a fang, rose up on her toes and planted her face into his. "If you only knew what I've been through trying to find something 'suitable' for you," she ranted. "Why… if it hadn't been for Lady Maiyu here, I don't know what I would have done!"
"Oh… um," Awasumaru gulped and stepped back from her increasing aura.
It didn't help matters to hear Shippo and Kai guffawing loudly from behind him. Glancing over to Seiji for assistance, the hanyou was relieved to see the professor send him an encouraging wink.
Turning back to Shiisa, the hanyou recalled his mother's cool mahogany eyes when displeased with his father's stubbornness; he recalled Sango's stormy brown orbs after one of Miroku's outrageous acts and finally Suiren's steely blue's directed at anyone in her path and he could only smile.
"My apologies, Shiisa-chan," Awasumaru cooed soothingly. "I have to confess that I know nothing of women's clothing. I had no idea selecting them was so tedious. It seems I will have to make it up to you."
"Make no mistake, Awasu-kun…" Shiisa warned, clearly undaunted by his attempts at flattery. "You will make it up to me."
The gleam in her eyes was captivating and the hanyou found it hard to look away. There was a challenge in those green depths that Awasumaru thought would be interesting to take on.
"I look forward to it," he smiled, as his gaze held hers.
Ah… hem!" Seiji coughed and broke the spell between the two hanyous. "I am one who hates to spoil a moment; however, I think we should inform Miss Maiyu and young Shiisa of our plans for this evening," the professor said.
"Of course," Shippo said with a grin and indicated a spot on the grass for the women. "Have a seat," he offered.
As the two women moved forward, Maiyu let out a surprised squeal. The others turned in time to see her thrust back an elbow and ram it into Seiji's stomach. The professor, who was standing slightly behind the woman, grunted in pain and then doubled over and fell to his knees.
Maiyu caught the rimless glasses the professor wore, as they slipped from his face contorted with pain and tossed them to Awasumaru. Striding forward, she plopped down in the grass, ignoring Shippo and Kai's amused grins and Shiisa's baffled one, all the while muttering something about perverted scholars.
"Professor?" Awasumaru leaned over his mentor, who was down on the ground on his hands and knees. "You should really stop doing that," he gently reprimanded. It was obvious that the cursed hand had also been reborn and had found its way home to Maiyu's rear.
"I can't help it, Awasumaru," Seiji managed to croak, as he struggled to his feet. "Whenever she's around, I have this urge to… ah… well, you know." He grinned sheepishly.
Yes… the hanyou did know; all too well, in fact. Shaking his head, Awasumaru handed the professor his glasses. As he turned to take his seat with the others, Seiji placing a hand on his shoulder stilled him.
"This woman and I have a connection, Awasumaru; I can feel it," Seiji sighed and slipped on his glasses. "Miss Maiyu… is the woman … that will bear my children."
Later that evening…
Kikyou stood on the penthouse terrace and looked up at the darkening sky. After the sun had set, one could see the stars in the distance. Although it was going to be a beautiful night, there was an ominous presence in the air.
Walking to the edge of the patio's perimeter, the former priestess felt an intense awareness take hold and she crossed her arms as if to ward off a chill. There were demons nearby; Kikyou could sense them, but these were unlike any she had ever encountered.
Their aura was not as strong the unknown youkai from last night, but she sensed an unstable force, bordering on insanity. What kind of strange youkai were these creatures approaching and what would happen once they arrived?
Suddenly, there was slight vibration and Kikyou pushed back from the railing, as the air seemed to pulsate around her.
"Fox magic…" her mind cried out and she blinked in confusion.
How did she know that; Kikyou wondered? How did she know about the strange sensation and mystical shield erected around the hotel tower? Looking down, she expected to see the streets of Tokyo, but there was nothing except a thick mist obscuring her view of the ground.
Looking back up, Kikyou saw beasts descending from the north. They were huge, monstrous things and headed her way, but she felt no fear.
Of its on volition, her aura rose and radiated throughout her body. The former priestess was sentient of the evil emanating from the beings above and, intuitively, Kikyou moved forward instead of back.
Yoippari-dono had said that she would know when to unleash the powers she possessed and watching the beings bearing down on the city, she decided this must be the time.
From their vantage point at the top of Shinjuku Square's tallest building, Sesshomaru stood alongside Awasumaru and his forces. Father and son watched as Kikyou stepped out onto the patio and keyed into the demons approaching.
"She senses them, father," Awasumaru said and smiled.
"Yes," Sesshomaru said simply and his eyes never left his mate.
"Does this mean her powers are fully restored?"
"Not quite." The daiyoukai responded and then turned to his son. "Is that for her?" Sesshomaru questioned, looking at the yumi and arrow holder Awasumaru held.
"Yes," the hanyou whispered. "Kaede-chan asked me to bring it."
"Did she also ask you to bring him?" the daiyoukai sniffed and nodded in the direction of Inuyasha, who was standing next to Shippo. The older hanyou's dark hair blew in the wind and his gray eyes were focused on the horizon.
"No… Oji-sama is serving as my back up," Awasumaru said and felt, rather than saw, his father quirk a questioning brow. With a sigh, the hanyou swept his hair from his eyes and then turned to face Sesshomaru.
"I love you, father," Awasumaru's words came out in a rush and then he grimaced at the daiyoukai's expression at the confession.
Lifting an elegant brow, Sesshomaru withheld a cynical snort yet remained silent as his son continued.
"Although I am the one part human, I don't believe I've ever said that to you," Awasumaru finished. Sensing both their discomfort over the sentiment, he changed the subject and plunged ahead.
"For centuries you have prepared me for this day." the hanyou said, deciding to make this moment brief. "Since I was a child you have told me repeatedly that this battle was not yours."
"This used to confused me, but over time, I finally began to understand and I realized that you were right." Turning to his comrades, the hanyou continued. "It is my duty to ensure that my kind is accepted into society. As a hanyou, I must fight for the rights of the ones like Kaede-chan, Shiisa-san, even Oji-sama, and I vow to make a place for us in this world. This is our time, our era and our fight," he stated passionately. "This is also my fate, father… this is what I was destined to do."
On that note, Awasumaru turned to his vassal and began his first round of commands. "Shippo… we need a barrier," he barked out.
Heeding the new authoritative tone, the kitsune closed his eyes and pressed his fingers together, forming a steeple with his hands. The air hummed and suddenly, a pulsing wave stretched across the skyline, encasing the tower in a strange mist.
"Shippo's fox magic will cloak the battle from the humans below; once the beings enter the zone, we will attempt to keep them trapped inside," Awasumaru explained to his father. To keep the beasts contained would cause less destruction to the city below, he thought. "Five ronin," the hanyou spoke to himself and stroked his chin, as he looked up at the sky.
"Professor…" he addressed Seiji standing close Maiyu's neko companion, Kira. "I need you to protect Shippo in his meditative state. Breaking his concentration means breaking our shield, revealing the populace to our battle and exposing them to the demons. Maiyu…" Awasumaru turned to the demon slayer. "Use your shurikens to keep the ronin corralled within the center of the barrier."
"Kai… Shiisa…" The hanyou turned to the battle ready youkai. "You two know what to do," he ordered. The wolf had been impatient for such a battle and Awasumaru smiled to see the master of the Tetsu Tekken clench his fist in anticipation.
Shiisa appeared at ease and relaxed, but Awasumaru knew that was a ploy. Mouko's boast about his daughter's prowess as a warrior was not just talk. The demoness may lack her father's physical power, but her speed, agility and previous encounters with the ronin made her an asset to his group. Not only that, but as Awasumaru continued to look Shiisa over, he felt a strange feeling of contentment just having her there.
"Oji-sama…" The younger hanyou turned to his uncle. "I need you to bring up the rear and provide multiple protection. Can you handle that?" Awasumaru chuckled.
"Keh!!" Inuyasha spat and unsheathed the Tessaiga. "Don't be a smartass, kid! I've killed more demons than you and your father put together, so don't be so damned condescendin'!"
The instant the sword was withdrawn, the older hanyou's dark hair turned silver and his gray eyes turned to the molten gold of his demon heritage.
"Your diction has improved with time, Inuyasha," Sesshomaru sniffed and spared a glance to his sibling. "Much better than that guttural rubbish you usually spout," he replied coolly.
Inuyasha instantly bristled, but before he could respond to his brother's gibe, the first of the ronin youkai entered the fox magic zone.
Shippo's barrier might have obscured the demons from the humans view, but it did not; however, cloak their human scent. As soon as the ronin passed through the barrier, they dove and spiraled towards the ground. With their keen noses locked onto the prey below, they moved in for the kill.
With a nod from Awasumaru, his forces engaged in battle. Maiyu quickly mounted Kira and sailed her shurikens, cutting off the ronins path to their human victims. Kai and Shiisa shot forward as Seiji gathered spiritual energy in his palms. Inuyasha, who had been as restless as Kai, had a gleam in his eyes as he followed after the younger youkai.
"Father…" Awasumaru looked over his shoulder to the still and majestic figure standing silently behind him. Extending his arm, he held out the yumi and arrow holder. "I know there's no need for me to say it, but…"
"No need at all," Sesshomaru interrupted, anticipating his son's words regarding his mother. "I always protect what is mine," he responded gruffly and took the offered weapon.
"That is true," Awasumaru chuckled and recalled the rare occasions his father had come to his aid. Removing the 'Tsuiwonasu' swords from his back, he turned to his paternal parent.
"I have always sought your approval and I won't fail you, father," he said softly. "I want you to be proud of me."
"Fail?" Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed on his only son. Throwing his shoulders back, the daiyoukai's countenance was formidable and his words were laced with something akin to passion.
"On my return from the 'Sphere of Reflections'," Sesshomaru began. "I came upon the most obstinate creature I have ever encountered with the exception of a certain human priestess. This small being despised me, challenged me and would rather have had his fangs extracted than spend one second in my presence."
"From the moment we first crossed swords, Awasumaru," the lord of the Westernlands continued. "I have known that failure was not an option for you… nor is it an acceptable trait for any descendant of our clan," he said and then added in a low monotone. "You have no need to seek nor to want what you already possess."
Awasumaru stared in awe, as Sesshomaru turned his back, dismissing him. Those words would remain with the young hanyou for the rest of his life. Just as quickly as it came, that moment of father and son bonding passed that it might not have occurred at all.
A slight smile graced his lips, as Awasumaru kneeled on one knee and bowed to his father. "Chichi-ue… I… thank you," he whispered. Overwhelmed by emotion and not wanting to embarrass either of them further, the hanyou rose and much to his father's surprise… he vanished.
Sesshomaru's grip tightened on the yumi he held as he stood in stunned silence. How was it possible that Awasumaru, a half demon, had managed the maneuver taught to him by his mother, Lady Kisai; a maneuver that he, a full-bloodied youkai, prided himself upon? At what point during training had his son learned and was able to execute the 'Shunkan'idou'?
The ronin pulled up short just as Maiyu's shurikens whizzed by, cutting off its descent to the humans below. Rearing back, the beast roared at the interception. It bared several rows of teeth and made attempts to clamp down on Kira's tail as cat and rider sailed past.
Maiyu herded the beast right into the path of Kai's iron fist. The bare knuckles of one hand slammed into its gut while the other hand followed through with an upper cut to its jaw. The wolf grinned with satisfaction on hearing something shatter inside that massive head.
It was Shiisa's turn next. As the demon slayer drove the next ronin toward her, the tiger twirled her spear through nimble fingers and charged. Advancing with lightening speed, she managed to puncture the beast several times, in vital areas, before it felt the first thrust of her blade.
Shippo's body rocked each time a demon was slammed into the barrier's perimeter, but the kitsune stayed focused and held firm. The moment he could release the shield, he would be able to use his alternate abilities to further assist his comrades.
With its path cut off from the feast below, one ronin sensed Seiji's human presence. The being turned and attacked the lone professor protecting the kitsune.
As it approached, Seiji calmly removed an ofuda from his breast pocket. Holding the spiritual note high, he began a rhythmic chant before tossing it in the ronin's direction. The professor smiled knowingly as it plastered to the beings grotesque forehead.
The air cackled with energy; the beast howled in pain as it was thrown back and away from its prey. Recovering from the shock, it hissed. However, it kept its distance as Seiji removed another note and waved it threateningly in the air.
"Hah!" Inuyasha spat as the Tessaiga sliced into the flesh of the strange youkai. "These guys ain't so tough!" Too late, the older hanyou sensed something approach from the rear. Before he could react, Awasumaru appeared from nowhere and severed the tail aimed at his uncle's back.
"Careful, Oji-sama!" The younger hanyou cautioned. "The demons from the outer realm are a bit trickier than the average youkai."
"Hmph!" Inuyasha sniffed. "They're all the same; these are just bigger and more freakier lookin'!"
Both hanyou's sprang apart as the ronin's sharp talons lashed out, missing them by a hair's breath. Inuyasha landed on the rooftop of the next building with Awasumaru dropping in front of him.
"We've got to end this quickly Oji-sama!" the younger hanyou said to his uncle. He watched Kai drive a beast into the side of the one of the buildings, causing it to shake and debris to fall to ground below. "The city's no place for a battle and Shippo's shield won't hold forever."
On saying this, Awasumaru turned to see his friend and vassal straining to keep the ronin within the barrier. The kitsune was strong, but the hanyou could tell his psyche was taking a beating.
"Shippo can handle it!" Inuyasha read his nephew's thoughts. "But… you're right, we'd better end this quick or it's gonna make the news," he smirked. "Besides…" he paused, "… Sesshomaru's watchin'."
The older hanyou turned to where his brother stood across the way, seemingly oblivious to the battle. However, Inuyasha knew Sesshomaru was as in tuned to son's progress as he was to Kikyou's presence at the penthouse.
"Alright!" Awasumaru eyes gleamed with determination and he flashed a smirk reminiscent of his fathers'. Clutching his swords tight in his hands, the younger hanyou dove into battle.
Following behind, Inuyasha smiled gruffly. Awasumaru did not fight to obtain the greatest power nor did he crave more power. He did not fight to find a place for himself, but to have both worlds accept those of his kind. The young man fought to maintain peace between the humans and demons, using force when… and only, if necessary.
Even though he had promised Sesshomaru over four hundred years ago, Inuyasha was more determined than ever to aid his nephew. It was not because of his brother or because of Kikyou that the hanyou's decision was reinforced, but because of the man, and the youkai, Awasumaru had become.
From the terrace patio, Kikyou watched a full-scale battle erupt in the air above her. A human woman with ring-like weapons riding astride a neko youkai with two tails intercepted the strange demons.
A tall, muscular demon with short-cropped hair appeared next. The youkai's fists appeared made of steel as he pounded the deformed bodies of the enemy; the blows reverberating off flesh and resounding through the air.
A slip of a girl wielding a spear seemed to attack from every angle. Her weapon sank deep and tore through the beings flesh before they noticed her presence. And then… Kikyou noticed a silver haired figure.
He carried a huge sword, swinging it in wild abandon and was dressed in the fashion of the traditional samurai. Although there was a pang of recognition and a slight similarity to her mysterious youkai, he was not the one she sought. As she looked on, Kikyou saw the young man from last night suddenly appear behind the other demon, saving him from a blow to the back.
For some odd reason, Kikyou's chest swelled with pride on seeing him. As with the father, it was strange how strongly she reacted to the son's presence. What was it about the two demons that she felt so drawn to both, she wondered?
Watching the ronin's talons lash out at the young man, Kikyou felt her heart skip a beat. However, the demon avoided the intended strike and relief flooded within the former priestess and she continued to watch him. With dual swords in hand, the young man fought with calculated precision, defying time and space as he simply disappeared and then reappeared.
Suddenly, Kikyou sensed a ronin approaching and it was instinct that had her moving out of its path. The being swept past and the woman sidestepped, pressing her body against the metal railing. The air tugged at her skirts and released her hair from the bun gathered at the back of her neck. As the demon circled around the penthouse with its penetrating gaze trained on her, it swooped down to make another pass.
Watching the beast advance, Kikyou centered her energy as Yoippari had taught her. Extending her arms, she raised both hands with her fingers spread wide apart and aimed in the direction of the ronin youkai.
The former priestess could feel the power coursing through her body and as her aura rose, she saw that it had changed from blue to the purest white. With the ronin barreling down on her, Kikyou focused and released the power of the 'Hama no Reiryouku'.
Immense spiritual energy spurted forth from the palms of her hands, pushing the woman back with the ferocity of it. The blast caught the youkai on a massive shoulder and ripped its arm cleanly from its socket.
Squealing in pain, the ronin struck out with its tail. Kikyou ducked as it flew over her head and slammed into the penthouse railing. The impact tore through the metal fence surrounding the penthouse and left a gaping hole.
Kikyou stayed low until the beast retracted its tail and attempted to move out of range. In her haste, she stumbled and fell back through the damaged railing. The ex-priestess hands clawed the air, grasping nothing, as she plunged to the depths below.
Their bond was still strong and Sesshomaru felt the full, mimicry force of his mate's spiritual energy pulsing through his veins. He could feel Kikyou's courage, her resolve and her unwavering sense of duty.
Although the daiyoukai could sense the physical, he had yet to tap into his mate's mind. Sesshomaru stood stationary, as the ronin keyed into her scent. He remained unmoving as the beast turned to assault the woman he had once thought lost to him.
From where he stood, Sesshomaru felt Kikyou key into the ronin, perceive its attack and then gracefully dodge it. Although unaware of her full capabilities and having no knowledge of the beasts, the woman showed not a trace of fear.
The ronin circled the penthouse and then dove again, heading straight for Kikyou. Sweeping its massive tail around, it struck out, but missed the human by mere inches and that brought a smirk to Sesshomaru's face.
That insolent smile was short lived; however, as the daiyoukai noticed the damaged rail. To make matters worse, the woman then stumbled and fell through the opening with the ronin diving after her.
With a snarl, Sesshomaru instantly disappeared. As his body teleported, he recalled the day he had come upon Kikyou's lifeless form during the Sengoku Era. Against his will, he remembered the flood of human-like emotions that had overwhelmed him that day.
The daiyoukai recalled Jadoku's sudden appearance on the battlefield, with the news that Kikyou had been injured in battle. Silently, he had cursed Awasumaru as he left Mouko in charge and he and Jaken had returned to the Westernlands.
On entering the human realm, Sesshomaru felt the first stirrings of concern. Reaching out with his mind, he could not detect his mate's presence. Jaken had barely gotten a tight grip on his boa, before the daiyoukai shot into the sky and headed home with the speed of light.
As he had traveled, Sesshomaru realized it was unreasonable to blame his son. After all, he knew first hand how stubborn Kikyou could be and nothing was more precious to her than human life.
How many times had they argued over her presence at the slayers village? Their confrontations had been endless and yet, Kikyou had prevailed. Not only had she aided the village in their time of need and against his wishes, but she had returned almost daily to train her predecessor and had been a constant source of support to Rin and Kohaku during their troubles.
"You have less than one month to retrieve Kikyou-sama and awaken her memories," Sesshomaru recalled the words Shun'ei had advised him.
"She must not reside in the human world or you will lose her once again. The upper realm is where she must live the rest of her days," The demon slayer had begun to fade as he added; "Kisai-dono has sacrificed her very existence to return her to you."
Once again, the daiyoukai gave silent thanks to his mother. Kisai Inu Tenno had kept watch over his mate in the netherworld and was instrumental in returning her to him. Although he had yet to understand her reasons for leaving him, his father and the Westernlands centuries ago, he would always be grateful for her parting gift.
Appearing behind Kikyou's falling form, Sesshomaru was surprised, yet again, as the woman looked over her shoulder and straight into his eyes. Mahogany orbs turned to him in recognition and a ghost of a smile curved her lips.
"Sesshomaru…" Kikyou's voice caressed his name. In that moment, the daiyoukai's senses reeled as the full force of their mental link returned.
Obsidian tresses mingled with silver, as their bodies descended. Without a word, Sesshomaru handed his mate the yumi and single arrow. Sliding an arm about her slender waist, the daiyoukai pulled her back against him as they 'free fell' through the air.
Kikyou savored his touch and leaned into him. The moment her spiritual powers reached their pinnacle, her memories came rushing back with the impact of the tempest winds of a tsunade.
Memories of Sesshomaru, Awasumaru, Juun, Rin, Yoippari, Jaken, the Westernlands, the families of the slayers village and even Inuyasha had returned and were finally complete. The former keeper of the Shikon no Tama recalled her arch nemesis, Naraku, and their final battle at the cave of Onigumo.
Kikyou recalled her summons and arrival in the Westernlands, meeting Mouko, Jadoku, the members of the council and, of course, she recalled her mating with Sesshomaru.
Memories of Natsumi returned; Juun's grandmother was the first close friend Kikyou could recall having in her life. She remembered Shinpachi and Isamu from the village that had welcomed a pregnant, and seemingly, unwed mother.
With sadness, she thought of Dr. Naganori, the good-hearted doctor she had assisted and his son, Daisuke. The young man had finally overcome his fear of blood and had followed in his father's footsteps. With his father gone and their village destroyed by Tomoaki, Daisuke had stayed and replaced Kikyou once she had left to take her place at Sesshomaru's side.
With memories intact, Kikyou eyed the ronin youkai descending from above. Lifting her arm, the woman prepared her bow and took aim. She felt Sesshomaru's arm tighten about her waist as, even while suspended in air, hers fingers remained poised on the strings of the yumi.
There was a soft twang as Kikyou released the arrow and let it fly. The sky, once again, lit up as the apparatus, charged with spiritual energy, sailed towards the target and hit its mark. The arrow entered the beasts' chest and seemed to ignite from inside. The ronin threw back its head and let out a horrific howl before it exploded; the force of the energy disintegrating its deformed body.
Lowering her weapon, Kikyou closed her eyes and relaxed against the solid wall of her mate's chest. Their 'free fall' had ended and she now felt him turn her gently in his arms as they levitated in mid-air.
Serene mahogany orbs met and held those of arctic gold. Kikyou's expression was as impassive as Sesshomaru's was stoic. Although they observed each other in silence, their mental bond intensified, breaching the couples' impenetrable emotional walls and releasing their suppressed passions.
"Kikyou…" The daiyoukai's mind reached out to his mate. "Meito oi… mother of my son and mistress of the West, you have returned to me," he transmitted his greeting.
Sesshomaru's mental welcome struck a chord deep within the former priestess. Kikyou's eyes softened and never left his as their bodies descended and felt her feet touch the solid pavement of the penthouse.
"My lord…" Kikyou's mind responded. Reaching up, the woman lovingly traced the crescent moon on Sesshomaru's forehead and caressed the magenta markings on his cheek. "It was by the grace of the gods and the power of a mother's love for her son that I was able to return to this world and to you," she said softly through their link.
Without a word, Sesshomaru leaned down and lifted his mate, causing Kikyou to gasp and clutch tightly to his neck at the sudden movement. Carrying her in bridal fashion, he moved towards the sliding glass doors of the penthouse.
"Sesshomaru…" the woman sighed, her breath a mere whisper. Looking over his shoulder, Kikyou saw that their son and the others were still engaged in battle with the strange youkai. "What of Awasumaru?" she questioned with concern.
"Awasumaru has become a strong taiyoukai," Sesshomaru began. "He is a warrior of the highest caliber and also, what you humans call, a man; he is quite capable of handling his affairs." The daiyoukai informed his mate, as he held her tight against his chest and entered the penthouse.
"And now…" the Lord of the West began in a low monotone. His voice was laced with sensual undercurrents that only Kikyou could detect, as he carried his prize to the bed they had shared the night before. Reassured by his words, Kikyou relaxed under that penetrating gaze. Her fingers sought the sensitive spot at the back of her mate's neck and began to massage the taut flesh until she heard him growl low in his throat.
"It is I, Sesshomaru…" he murmured huskily, lowering her to the plush mattress. "… only I, that you need concern yourself with."
Acting as a propeller, the blades of the twin 'Tsuiwonasu' swords combined with Awasumaru's rapid rotation, drilled a hole through the beasts gut. In a flash, the hanyou teleported out of the way just as the shards of Inuyasha's 'Adamant Barrage' followed through and slammed into the ronin, driving it back into one of the towers.
Awasumaru reappeared in time to see one of the beasts' lunge after Kikyou and saw her brace herself for the attack. He smiled to see her spiritual powers light up the night sky and he hoped that meant her memory had finally returned.
Seeing his mother fall through from the rooftop set Awasumaru's heart aflutter, but he didn't make one move towards her. It was his father's responsibility to protect his mate and he would not tolerate interference.
"Oh no!" The young hanyou heard Shiisa exclaim as she landed beside him. "That woman… we must help her!"
Before the tigress could go to Kikyou's aid, Awasumaru reached out and grabbed her hand.
"There's no need to worry, Shiisa-chan," the young hanyou said softly. "No harm will come to my mother." He heard the young demon gasp on hearing that information. "My father would never allow that," Awasumaru stated.
Shiisa's concerned gaze turned back to the woman's falling form. So… this was Lady Kikyou; the famed human priestess that had captured the heart of the cold Inu Lord of the West.
Mouko and Pyuuma had always spoken highly this woman. It was during a visit to one of the council meetings she had attended with her parents that she had first met Awasumaru's human mother. The chibi-tigress had sat in the spectator seats with her mother, semi-listening to the proceedings when a commotion from the outer chamber drew everyone's attention. Standing there, Shiisa recalled the first time she had laid eyes Kikyou…
The doors of the main hall were thrown open and in strode a beautiful dark haired human. Shiisa stood quickly, pushed through the crowd and then hurried to the end of the aisle to get a better view of the woman.
Kikyou stood tall and regal with her head held high as she surveyed the room. Once her eyes locked on the table in the center of the room, the human proceeded further into the chamber and approached the table of council members. The chibi-tigress watched in amazement as, undaunted, the woman addressed, Lord Kaguma - the great bear youka. Kikyou's melodious voice was soft; yet firm as she delivered her message to the council.
"An evil exists in the human realm," the woman stated. "He is called Akujikumo and he is an incarnate birthed from that dastardly being, Naraku."
"You are aware, Lady Kikyou, it is not the job of this council to fight on behalf of the humans," Tsuru had injected boldly.
"That is not necessary," Kikyou had announced as her eyes rested briefly on the crane. "We humans are quite capable of fighting our own battles." With a delicate sniff she dismissed the youkai and turned back to Kaguma. "What I seek is information to rid the world of this menace."
Lord Kaguma remained silent and a hush fell about the room as everyone awaited his response. The bear's massive elbows were propped on the table, his fingers laced together as he stared at the woman before him. Finally… he spoke.
"Lord Sesshomaru may be an active member of this council, but… that does not mean that, as his mate, you are privy to such information," he began. "Give me one good reason, Lady Kikyou, why I should honor your request."
Shiisa's gaze moved to a deathly silent Sesshomaru. The Lord of the West sat and did not utter one word. He neither spoke on his mate's behalf nor did he attempt to convince the head councilman to aid her cause and the chibi-tigress wondered why.
The dog demon's visits to the Tora Domain were rare and he had always appeared cold and distant. The tigress recalled that although Mouko followed orders, Sesshomaru had never intimidated him. However, Shiisa would cringe each time she heard the youkai speak to her father in his dismissive, superior manner.
Looking over at Mouko, Shiisa was surprised to see her father struggling to contain his mirth. This was not funny, she thought. Sesshomaru may not be supportive of his mate, but she was appalled that her father would find humor in the situation.
"Akujikumo is much like his predecessor," Kikyou spoke softly to Lord Kaguma. "Once he extracts his revenge on the humans, where do you think he will next set his sights?" The woman had smirked knowingly. "I am only offering to eliminate a problem that your council will have to deal with at a later time. Therefore, in truth, it is the humans that will be aiding the council."
A mixture of murmurs rippled through the audience of spectators. Some were appalled that a human would have the audacity to speak so boldly to the head councilman. The woman had all but insinuated that the council was unable to deal with this Akujikumo if the occasion arose.
However, Shiisa had noticed that there were others, like her father, who were amused and actually applauded the woman. Even the chibi-tigress, who was part human, felt a sense of pride at the woman's courage.
Suddenly, a hush fell about the room. Lord Kaguma pushed back from the table, stood and his dark eyes bore down on the woman.
"Jadoku-san!" His booming voice bellowed through the chamber and the snake youkai materialized instantly at his side.
"Provide Lady Kikyou with the information we have gathered thus far." he informed his intelligence officer. Turning back to Kikyou, the bear youkai met her unflinching gaze head on. "We shall leave this Akujikumo to you and your human forces… for now," Kaguma added and then surprised everyone even further. "However, I must insist that you periodically report back to me. Is that acceptable?"
"It is," Kikyou had responded. She simply bowed her thanks and turned to exit the room. The only human in a room full of youkai and the woman had remained calm and serene. She did not look to her mate to assist her and was strong in her own right. Shiisa could not have been more impressed and held Awasumaru's mother in the highest regard.
Returning to the present, the tigress saw Sesshomaru appear instantly behind his mate and hand her a yumi. Shiisa then witnessed, first hand, the powers of the former priestess as the spiritual energy-filled arrow totally destroyed the ronin. Instead joining the battle, the daiyoukai held his mate in his arms, carried her to one of the penthouse suites and disappeared inside.
"Awasumaru…" Shiisa turned to the hanyou with questioning eyes. "How is it possible…" the tigress began, but left the question dangling on seeing his warm bronze gaze upon her.
"Later…" The hanyou's spoke softly and then smiled at his comrade. "A little later I will explain everything, Shiisa-chan, but first…"
A loud roar interrupted Awasumaru's words. He and the tigress looked up to see the remaining ronin had been gathered in one spot. Inuyasha and Kai, with Shippo hovering in the air above, surrounded them. The kitsune had released the barrier and had morphed into the form of a large phoenix, keeping the beings immobilized in one spot. Maiyu and Seiji rode atop Kira, floating just beneath the corralled ronin.
Everyone was in position and Awasumaru nodded to his comrades to proceed. In the blink of an eye, Inuyasha, Kai and Maiyu attacked. The older hanyou's Tessaiga sliced deep, the wolf's fist hammered and the demon slayer's shurikens severed limbs. As the ronin's bodies were mutilated, Seiji's released several ofudas into the air and his hands began to move in circular motions, building momentum.
Awasumaru and Shiisa stood side by side, as they watched the spiritual notes spiral in the air and act as a funnel. A small tornado formed in the palms of Seiji's hands and increased in size, the force attracting, purifying and finally disintegrating the demons' flesh. The hanyou could only smile as he recalled the effective technique born in the slayers village and the three people who had contributed to it.
The spiritual energy was inherited from his childhood friend, Suiren. During the Sengoku era, the female taijiya's powers had grown and had eventually exceeded her father's. Controlling the winds was Juun's specialty and it was his donation to the new skill. While watching Seiji in motion, memories of his foster brother's familiar, graceful movements were forever etched in Awasumaru's mind. And… finally, the technique ended with a revised version of Miroku's Kazaana.
"Look at that, Awasu-kun," Shiisa gasped in surprise to see the ronins body parts sucked into the swirling column of wind. "I did not know that Uhatsu-sama possessed such power. Your human comrades are truly amazing."
"Yes…" Awasumaru murmured absently and his eyes narrowed on the scene before him. As he stood there, he recalled the words of Shun'ei's spirit the night he had visited the Westernlands.
"Our successors have dispersed and grown weak over time…" the taijiya had said that night. "… but, there are a few who still practice the old ways, Awasu-san. You must find them and quickly, they will be the edge you will need in this battle."
"Who are they and how do I find them?" the hanyou had asked.
"You will know them." Shun'ei had said with a smile. "You must bring these individuals together. For your sake and to rebuild the taijiya heritage."
"I will," Awasumaru had sworn vehemently. "But… tell me, how will I know them?"
"My parents," Shun'ei had announced, as his image had begun to disappear. "They will
be returning to help you, but you must bring them together, or else…"
"Or else…" the hanyou had asked breathlessly, but the image of his friend and comrade had already faded away.
Finally, Shun'ei's words made sense to Awasumaru. The reborn Miroku and Sango were not only here to aid him in the demon/human war, but also to rebuild the taijiya heritage. Seiji and Maiyu were indeed destined to be together; without them there would be no Suiren.
Four hundred yeas ago, the slayers village had flourished under the guidance of the spiritual female taijiya. After Shun'ei's unexpected demise, the reigns had been passed his twin. It was Suiren and her husband who had continued the tradition and training at the village.
As the last of the ronin disappeared into the vortex, Awasumaru saw Seiji center his chi, diminish the winds and close the whirling mass. Only then did the hanyou move forward to address the professor and ask the question in the back of his mind.
"Your spiritual powers are everything I imagined they would be, Professor, but… tell me, where did you learn the fundamentals of the 'Fuudou'kouriki'?"
"Oh… you know about that," Seiji grinned, impressed that the demon had heard of the Spirit Wind method. "Well… you'll be surprised, Awasu-san, but I learned it from a young boy. His parents teach martial arts and run a training dojo on the outskirts of the city; I visit them from time to time. It was this small boy that taught me the wind method and it was during my practices with him, that I discovered I was able to produce a cyclone in the palms of my hands."
"It's really odd," Seji went on to say, thoughtfully. "This young child, his name is Junichi; he's only four years old, yet he's like an an old soul. He's a quiet boy, has a stoic personality and speaks in the archaic dialect of ancient times."
"Is he blind?" Awasumaru blurted out without thinking.
"What?" Seiji looked puzzled.
"The boy… is he blind?" The hanyou questioned again.
"No… he's not." The professor looked befuddled and then asked. "Why would you think that, Awasu-san?"
Lowering his eyes, Awasumaru smiled to himself and murmured, "I was just asking." He had answered simply, but in his mind he had made a vow to visit this Junichi. "And now, my brother," the hanyou said in his mind as he referenced this foster sibling, Juun. "Now… I can finally show you the world as you were meant to see it."
Bronze orbs surveyed the surrounding area before they turned towards the penthouse and then moved back to his comrades. The ronin had been eliminated; Kikyou was safe in her mate's arms with her memory fully restored. Although he wanted to see and talk with his mother, the hanyou would not intrude on his parents' reunion.
"We're done here!" Awasumaru announced as he sheathed his swords. "Let's go home, everyone."
Without a word, Inuyasha, Shippo, Kai, Seiji, Maiyu and Shiisa followed behind their commander.
Staring down on his beloved, Sesshomaru was mute. His throat was tight with desire; the passion he felt and had tried so hard to contain, was strong enough to drive any sane youkai past reason.
Kikyou was the same. The woman stared deep into her mate's eyes, unable to form words or a thought. So quiet, she could hear their hearts beating in unison.
Silently they assessed each other; kindred souls mesmerized by emotions that one could not identify with and the other held in awe, but both were accepting of the other's feelings.
Sesshomaru leaned down and his lips wandered freely, gently kissing her face and then moving to nuzzle her ears. Burying his face in the woman's hair, he inhaled the subtle, verdure scent that belonged only to Kikyou. It was a scent that had long since diminished from the rooms at the Westernlands, but never from his memory.
Elegant fingers plunged under the heavy swathe of silver hair, as Kikyou's slender arms encircled his neck and pulled him closer. Her hands skimmed over his shoulders and down his back, as she melted into him.
It had been far too long for both of them. Kikyou could feel Sesshomaru's heart pounding against her chest and felt the heat of his growing desire along her thigh; in his arms, her body… her entire being felt truly alive.
At that moment, Sesshomaru lifted his head and stared boldly into her eyes. His silvery mane spilled forward, enclosing them in a silken cocoon.
"You are bound to me," the daiyoukai murmured.
"As you are bound to me," Kikyou whispered back. Framing his face in her hands, she lovingly nipped at the cold line of his lips before taking full possession of them.
The shared kiss was warm and hungry; the urgency of it left Kikyou whimpering small sounds of ecstasy as Sesshomaru growled possessively. His mouth felt so good against hers; just the touch of his tongue sent hot liquid waves pooling throughout her body, deep into her belly. The woman shivered wantonly to feel his thigh gently nudge her knees apart, before positioning himself between them.
The daiyoukai's hands roamed over her, seeking the flesh beneath her simple blouse and skirt. With the tip of a clawed finger, Sesshomaru sliced into the soft fabric, peeled it away and wasted no time sampling the exposed skin of his mate. Releasing her mouth, his lips slid to the pulse points at her neck and under her jaw. Finding that delicate vein beating at the hollow of her throat, he lightly touched her pulse before his mouth sought and closed over the mating mark near her shoulder.
Kikyou leaned back and sighed. His warm breath and heated caresses sent her senses reeling. So overwhelmed with sensation, she was unaware of him undressing and being undressed. It registered when Sesshomaru's warm flesh pressed into hers and felt his hands close over her bared breast. Soft moans escaped as she arched up, her body begging, pleading… demanding.
Her mate did not disappoint her. Clawed hands cupped her full breast as Sesshomaru leaned forward and his lips closed over one hardened nub. Pointed ears pricked up on hearing Kikyou's quick indrawn breath and the soft, shuddering pants that followed. For all of her stoicism, the woman was truly magnificent in the throes of passion and it pleased him to know that he was the only one to see her this way.
Slender fingers clutched greedily at broad shoulders. As the night before, Sesshomaru left no part of her unexplored. With a hunger she did no know she possessed, Kikyou toes dug into the mattress, as she lifted her hips and pressed into her mate's form.
Suddenly, the great dog demon lifted his head and glared down on his beloved. His amber gaze clearly reflected his desire and his lean body was taut with barely controlled passion.
"Touch me," he demanded.
Kikyou began to explore. Her touch was tentative at first, but grew bold at his response to her wandering hands. With her memory now intact, she remembered what pleased her mate. Her fingers started with the tip of Sesshomaru's pointed ears, skimmed down his neck, brushed across his broad shoulders and chest.
As Kikyou's fingers splayed across his ribcage, another memory from long ago flashed in her mind. It was centuries ago, a few days after Naraku's demise and Sesshomaru had followed her to the river of miasma. It was there that the priestess had first discovered her resurrection.
As Sesshomaru had been the deliverer of bad tidings, Kikyou had taken her anger out on him. During their heated exchange, she had used her spiritual energy to infuse the Shikon no Tama into his body. The jewel had remained hidden inside the taiyoukai's body until it was passed into the safekeeping of Kohaku and Rin's daughter, Midori. Their child had become the newly appointed priestess of the Jewel of Four Souls and was Kikyou's successor.
Slowly, Kikyou's hands continued their journey. They moved down Sesshomaru's taut stomach and probed lower. Her caresses stoked the burning flames of her mate's desire, rekindling their long, lost passions.
"Kikyou…" Sesshomaru's thoughts reached out and burned into her mind. "I want you… now!" Even his thoughts growled. He could not recall wanting or needing something so badly.
"Then… take me, my lord." The woman responded in kind, her mahogany eyes sultry with challenge.
That was all the invitation needed. Sesshomaru's hands slid along Kikyou's hips, lifted her upward and positioned himself. The woman was his mate; she had borne him a son and although her hands moved over him with a lover's expertise, he had to remember that she was chaste.
Slowly Sesshomaru lowered his head and kissed her, not as lightly as before, but with enough force to match her inner fire. All gentleness was gone, replaced by a primitive yearning that was overpowering. His mouth never spoke his desire, but his thoughts transmitted these feelings unabashedly.
"Look into my eyes, my lady," The daiyoukai spoke through heir mental link as he broke their kiss. "I want to see yours when I, once again, claim what is rightfully mine."
His brazen confidence had always excited Kikyou. Clutching his shoulders, her eyes met his as she lifted her hips in silent invitation. His thrust was gentle, but she still recoiled as he pierced through her maidenhead. Sesshomaru paused momentarily on hearing her muffled cry as their bodies joined and became one.
Slowly the pain subsided and Kikyou felt herself caught up in the rhythm that was theirs and theirs alone. She clung to him, moving her hips in response; slowly, at first, and then the momentum began to build. Their bodies changed; their movements became more urgent… more frantic, as they began their familiar, yet new, ascent to paradise.
"This is where I belong," Kikyou's mind cried out in ecstasy. Her body shuddered and convulsed, as she soared high, reaching her pinnacle before beginning the slow descent back to earth.
"Yes…" Sesshomaru hissed and also lost control. His body arched back and he clenched his fangs tight, releasing four centuries of pent up passion.
Emotionally spent… physically drained, the Lord of the West relaxed and leaned over his mate. As their heart rates returned to normal, he gently gathered her in his arms, rolled onto his back and pulled Kikyou into his side. In the comfortable stillness of the room, there was only one thing left for Sesshomaru to say.
Seven years later, in the Westernlands…
On the tallest peak of the Daisetsuzan Moutains of Hokkaido, Kikyou stood on the hillside overlooking the cliffs. The winds whipped furiously around her, tugging at her plain hakamas, keso and the fluffy boa thrown over one delicate shoulder.
Staring down into the Sugatami Pond in the valley below, the woman had no need to wonder what was going on in the human realm. Thanks to Yoippari-dono's parting gift of sight, Kikyou had first hand knowledge of her sons' progress. The waters below formed and reflected visions of Awasumaru's next ventures in detailed clarity.
As she stood there, Kikyou recalled the morning after reuniting with Sesshomaru. The daiyoukai had seemed in a hurry to leave the human realm and had planned to leave the very next day, but she had blatantly refused. It was impossible for Dr. Fujiwara Kikyou to simply disappear into thin air. Although it took some explaining, Sesshomaru finally understood the rationale.
It was over two weeks before Kikyou and Sesshomaru were able to leave. The doctor had resigned her position and the hospital. Her excuse… an abrupt marriage and the decision to travel abroad with her new husband. Although the hospital Chief of Staff was reluctant to accept her resignation, the man had no choice with Sesshomaru's chic, but menacing form standing nearby.
During those weeks, Kikyou ignored her mate's dark moods. Sesshomaru was most disagreeable. Kikyou had informed him that he could return to the Westernlands alone with the promise to join him later, but he had outright refused. For the most part, the daiyoukai was aloof and brooding the entire stay, but between she and Awasumaru, they had managed to keep him from maiming or decapitating a few humans.
Kikyou was also able to spend ample time with her son. From the moment she laid eyes on him the next day, Yoippari's gift of sight was revealed to her. Her son's entire fate was laid before her, as clear as the blue-sky overhead. Through sheer will and determination, Awasumaru would eventually obtain his goal. It was not without its setbacks, but her son would be victorious in his quest to bridge the gap between the human and demon relations.
Sesshomaru had done well by his son, Kikyou realized. As the daiyoukai had said, Awasumaru had indeed become a strong fighter as well as a proficient and just leader. He was surrounded by the best and most loyal comrades of the new generation.
Shippo was Awasumaru's appointed vassal. The kitsune was loyal, dedicated and the best possible candidate to guide their son. The ex-priestess had to applaud Sesshomaru's insight on choosing someone who understood the hanyou's feelings and was sympathetic to his cause.
Kai, the wolf demon, kneeled at Kikyou's feet on seeing her again. The young man had grown, but she still remembered the youkai that had befriended Awasumaru at the slayers village. According to Sesshomaru, Kai was just as strong, if not stronger than his mentor, Kouga.
There was also Mouko's eldest daughter, Shiisa. After a few visits with the tigress, the girl announced her intentions of becoming Awasumaru's mate. It was not the bold declaration that determined the truth in that statement, but Kikyou's own premonitions. Shiisa was indeed destined to become the woman to stand at her son's side.
The last night before Kikyou and Sesshomaru's departure, they dropped by the Higurashi shrine to see their son and return young Kaede her precious yumi. Meeting with Inuyasha's family was a cordial gathering, as the couples had long ago come to terms with their choices in life. Sesshomaru traded insults with his sibling throughout the evening with an exasperated Awasumaru constantly refereeing. Kaede took Kikyou and Kagome outside, showing off her prowess in 'kyudo'.
Kikyou smiled inwardly, as she watched Inuyasha with his wife and their child. Thanks to Kagome's love and patience, the hanyou was finally happy, secure and self-assured. Looking over at the 'Tree of Ages' on the grounds of the shrine, the former priestess realized that everything was as it should be.
On their return to the Westernlands, for reasons unknown, Sesshomaru informed Kikyou she could no longer reside in the human realm. However, that did not keep the woman from occasionally aiding her son's cause through her visions. Although careful not to abuse the power given to her by her mentor and friend, the ex-priestess also aided the youkai council on certain matters and was the first human ever to do so.
Sesshomaru continued to patrol the outer realms. It seemed that as Awasumaru's peaceful negotiations were a success on earth, they had caused a quite a stir amongst the ronin. The attacks on the four barriers surrounding and protecting earth were increasing and her mate was busier than usual.
The grounds of the Westernlands were now situated on the highest peak of Mt. Asahidake. The winds were boisterous here, but thanks to her mate's boa, Kikyou was never cold. The grounds were bountiful with plant life in which Kikyou frequently indulged and, as Yoippari had before her, she ran the estate of the Westernlands with unrivaled efficiency.
Residing here with Sesshomaru these past years, Kikyou had never felt so content… so complete. Although she did not see Awasumaru as much as she would like, Kikyou had no complaints. As both she and her mate were strong willed individuals, they often clashed; however, the foundation of their union was solid. Living with Sesshomaru was better than before and indeed a challenge, but there was one more challenging than the Lord of the West himself.
Kikyou produced a silent sigh on hearing footsteps approach. Closing her eyes briefly, she inhaled deeply and took a moment to compose herself before turning to the source.
"My lady," the voice addressed her. "My lord has returned and request your presence."
"Really?" Kikyou sniffed daintily and then stated in a bored tone. "I shall come as soon as I am finished here." Her tone left no room for argument; she smiled to hear the deliverer sigh in frustration and could imagine the smirk upon that cherubic face.
"Mother… you are being more difficult than usual!" The second child of the Lord and Lady of the West barked. "You never do anything father says," Ainoko Inu Hime huffed.
Kikyou turned then and looked down at the tiny image of Sesshomaru. The front section of the child's beautiful, silver hair was plaited in a single braid and circled around her small head, like a wreath. The rest flowed down the six-year-old hanyou's back, the soft tendrils blowing in the wind. Her golden gaze was mutinous, as she stared unflinchingly at her mother.
"That is not your concern," Kikyou reprimanded gently. "Your father and I know each other well." Meeting her daughter's eye, she stared back until the child looked away, uncomfortable.
Unlike, Awasumaru, Ainoko was truly a child of the west and demanded to be addressed by her title. Although she was part human, the child was more youkai and matched her father in demeanor. She was intense, stoic and could be demanding on occasion. Poor Jaken, thought Kikyou; even at Ainoko's tender age, she had the demon toad shivering under her intense stare.
Ainoko loved her brother dearly and looked forward to his visits; however, she did not share Awasumaru's interest in humans or the realm of earth. This hanyou had claimed her youkai status and no one would make her feel inferior.
The child worshipped the ground her father walked on and declared there was no one stronger, smarter or more handsome than Sesshomaru (or rather) the execution officer - Sessho no Shikkoukan. There was no time to learn herbal remedies or practicing 'kyudo'; for Ainoko, hers was the way of the sword and that was just as well.
As foreseen in a premonition, Sesshomaru and Kikyou's second child would soon be the owner of the combined swords, the Tenseiga/Katsuninken. Lady Kisai had passed the weapon to Sesshomaru, stating that it would, one day, choose its owner and it had… it chose Ainoko.
Although the inu lord knew of this, he did not know why. Only Kikyou knew the destiny of the young child standing next to her. Just as her grandfather - the Inu no Taisho, her grandmother - Kisai Inu Tenno, Sesshomaru, Kikyou and Awasumaru, Ainoko had her own destiny to fulfill.
Both mother and daughter turned to Sesshomaru's rich monotone. On seeing her father appear, Ainoko flushed guiltily and hurried forward to explain.
"Father, I am sorry, but mother…" the child began, but the daiyoukai quelled her speech with a look. The child cheeks turned a becoming shade of pink before lowering her defiant gaze. Although her young mind could not comprehend how her father tolerated such disobedience from her mother, the child could only hope to one day emulate her maternal parent.
"Leave us, little one," Sesshomaru stated firmly, using the endearment to soften the tone.
Without a word, Ainoko bowed abruptly and turned in the direction of the manor. The daiyoukai lifted a brow and inwardly smiled, knowing it was strict discipline that kept his daughter from stomping her feet as she abided his request. The child walked at a measured pace, with her head held high, her nose in the air and her back ramrod straight.
"Obstinate child," Sesshomaru huffed and moved towards Kikyou. "Takes after her mother."
"I beg to differ," Kikyou sniffed in return and turned back to the valley below. "Ainoko definitely has her fathers' genes."
Feeling Sesshomaru's warmth at her back, the woman felt an arm slid about her waist and was pulled back against the solid wall of her mate's chest. With a sigh, relaxed in his embrace. Together, they stood looking down on the world below. They communicated without words; they were content and at peace in this place called home.
Suddenly, a gust of wind blew and both Kikyou and Sesshomaru stiffened. Sensing a presence, one of the daiyoukai's hands tightened on Kikyou's waist, while the other grasped the hilt of his sword. One of Kikyou's hands covered her mate's while the other poised to generate her spiritual power. With the aura lingering close by, the couple stood at the ready.
As suddenly as the aura appeared, it vanished just as quickly. Relaxing once again, the daiyoukai and his lady continued to stand in silence until the golden rays of the sun, set low in the sky. Then and only then, did they turn and head home.
"We should not be here, my lady," Yoippari's spirit admonished her mistress.
"Oh… let me be!" Lady Kisai snapped and waved her friend away. "I just had to see her." The inu spirit tittered and floated above her son and his mate to follow behind little Ainoko.
"Isn't she a darling," the spirit exclaimed, looking down on her high-strung granddaughters' stately march home. "What do you think, Totousai, doesn't she remind you of me."
"Yes, my lady," the spirit of the demon forger chuckled. "She got your temperament, that's for sure."
"She will need it," Yoippari said solemnly and foresaw the same vision that Kikyou had while pregnant with her second child. "Not many full-bloodied youkai would take on the reclining dragon in his own den, but that is Ainoko's fate."
"It is ironic, isn't it?" Lady Kisai sighed. "Ainoko, like Awasumaru, will be involved in a war that will eventually lead to peace. Only this time, it will be a more personal battle."
"Unfortunate," Totousai also sighed. "It is Ainoko, the warrior inu princess and wielder of the Tenseiga/Katsuninken, that will save the Westernlands from total destruction. Not to mention the stormy alliance between her and Shugoryuu's son, Garyou. That'll be enough to set Sesshomaru's teeth on edge," Totousai laughed. "Why I can just imagine…"
"Enough!" Lady Kisai interrupted the demon forger's fun. "That alliance will bridge the gap between the dog and dragon clans; it will repair the damage and heal the animosity that Ryukotsusei inflected upon them." The former lady of the West turned and looked down on her grandchild one last time. "And… this girl, my granddaughter… Ainoko Inu Hime," she said with pride, "… will pursue her destiny with honor."
"Yes…" Yoippari smiled at her two friends, before their spirits turned to head back to the 'Land of Reeds'. "Ainoko will fulfill her duty to her clan and make her father proud, but that… is another story."
Authors Notes: As you can tell, there is an original in the works regarding Awasumaru's battles in the present day and there are also tidbits of information leaked regarding my other fic, "Worthy of Redemption". At the close of this chapter, I also envisioned another possible original project for little Ainoko, but that is in the far and distant future.