Disclaimer: Inuyasha and its characters are created by Rumiko Takahashi, not me, but the new plots are mine. This fanfiction had been written for entertainment purposes only and without intention of infringing upon any copyright.
Title: A Simple Legacy II
Summary: Sesshoumaru and Kagome had parted ways after their agreement. They met again when Sesshoumaru decided that it was time to collect on what Kagome owed him.
A/N: Hi everyone! This is Part 2 of A Simple Legacy. For those of you who didn't read Part 1, things will make more sense if you do so. I hope that you will enjoy this chapter.
A Simple Legacy II by elle6778 – Chapter 1
The frigid wind howled over the bare landscape generously blanketed by layers of white. Here and there, smatterings of leafless trees were the only objects which broke the monotony of the never-ending spread of snow.
The swirling blizzard did not hamper Sesshoumaru's movements or his sight as he made his way to the eastern end of his territory. Accounting for the harsh weather, he had decided to leave Rin at his castle under Jaken's dubious care.
A faint scent stopped him in his tracks. It was already dissipating, but there was no mistaking who it belonged to.
"Ryokusen," he growled almost inaudibly.
The Lord of the Northern Isles had been spying on the Western Lands. It was not anything new but it was still unacceptable. About half a century ago, the neko youkai had attempted to overtake the Western Lands, but had failed to do so. Was Ryokusen planning on doing the same this time?
Sesshoumaru took a step forward and then immediately stilled as another scent hit his senses. The faintness of the scent suggest that had been deliberately masked but he was not gullible enough to be fooled to easily.
Suspicion grew thick and heavy in Sesshoumaru's mind. The hanyou had been there as well. What was going on between the Lord of the Northern Isles and the despicable hanyou?
A slight furrow marred his brows. With Naraku so close, it was more than clear that he had to bring his plans forward. He had hoped that he would have a few more months to deal with it. It would seem that it would be wise to hurry.
His gaze was drawn to his arm and the miko who had returned it to him. It had been a simple agreement, one which he had managed to gain the advantage of. His fang for Tetsusaiga and training for the miko in exchange for his arm, a vow which meant that she could never stand against him and a debt he had yet to collect. She had left immediately after the completion of his arm with the kitsune and his hanyou half-brother last month. He had not seen her since, so they must have left the Western Lands.
For the past month, his home had felt oddly quiet. The silence that usually permeated the grounds prior to her arrival had never before been felt so acutely. To his consternation, he had more than once looked out of the window expecting to find the miko playing in the courtyard with the kitsune and Rin. How odd it was that her one-month stay had affected his dwelling this much. Jaken, amidst his usual groveling, had been noticeably more irritable since his reinstatement as Rin's babysitter. Even Rin seemed subdued, an odd behavior indeed for his usually bubbly ward. It was clear that the human child missed the company of the kitsune and the miko.
Recently, he had found it hard not to notice that Rin was growing up fast. According to his estimation, his ward would soon leave her childhood behind to embark on womanhood. The thought gave him an odd pang. Soon, he would have to decide if she should rejoin the humans or continue with her sheltered life as his ward.
But right now, he had to deal with Naraku and Ryokusen. He had to tighten his plans. Mistakes would not be acceptable.
It had been a month since they had left the Western Lands. Since then, Kagome had only returned once to her home to retrieve some books and the paperwork for the application of her new course. After that, they had embarked on a few weeks of fruitless shard hunting before they returned to Kaede's village.
At the moment, she was sitting alone on a felled tree trunk at the outskirts of the village, her mind straying aimlessly from what she knew she had to do. With a frustrated sigh, she looked down, frowning in concentration as she perused the book in her lap. She had to get through the thing. The entrance test for her application to a long-distance learning course in medical sciences was in a few weeks time and she intended to pass it. It was a wonder that she had even managed to scrape through high school considering the amount of time she had spent in Sengoku Jidai in the past three years.
Her hand reached up and absently scratched behind her ear just as the sound of footsteps reached her. Her eyes closed in resignation at the interruption. It would seem that fate was against her studying for the test.
"What's wrong with your ears?"
She looked up to find Inuyasha eyeing her curiously. Ever since they had left Sesshoumaru's place, the hanyou had been back to his usual self, mainly. The Tetsusaiga had never left his side from that moment onwards, much to everyone's relief. Curiously, she had noticed that he seemed to be a little more restrained now. She wondered if Sesshoumaru's fang had anything to do with it. Grinning inwardly, she tried to imagine Inuyasha's character morphing into Sesshoumaru. The imagery failed miserably.
Lowering her book, Kagome sighed inwardly as she realized that Sesshoumaru had popped up in her mind again. She guessed it could not be helped, seeing how much time they had spent together. It was unnerving to realize that she might even miss him a little. Just a little.
"Hey, I asked you a question!"
She blinked, momentarily lost. Oh, yes, her ears.
Frowning a little, she replied, "I don't know. It just itches." Actually, it did not, she realized suddenly. It just felt comfortable for her to do so, almost soothing.
"Keh! You've been doing that for more than a week now. If you don't stop that, your ears will fall off."
Kagome rolled her eyes at his exaggeration. "I don't think so, Inuyasha. I probably got bitten by a bug or something."
Inuyasha stood up and walked towards her. "Let me see," he said gruffly.
With a small smile, Kagome tilted her head to one side. Inuyasha knelt beside her and brushed a lock of her hair away, his fingers lightly brushing the sensitive skin of her neck. A shiver ran through her, making her aware that she still had some feelings for him, although somewhat diminished by what he had put her through in the past three months. Now that his youkai blood was firmly sealed by the enhanced Tetsusaiga, she wondered if her previous feelings would return.
Inuyasha had never brought up what he had said to her about being his mate again. It was as if he had forgotten it. Either that or the poor guy was so embarrassed at his outburst and in his typical manner, had decided to ignore it. Kagome would bet that it was the latter.
As he ran his fingers over the lobe of her ear, she suppressed another shiver.
"I don't see anything there," he told her.
Twisting away from his hand, she said, "It'll probably go away in a few days. I think it must be from the hot-spring we visited the last time."
Inuyasha's nose twitched.
"What?" she asked, wondering what else he had detected.
"You smell funny ever since you got back from that bastard's place," Inuyasha grumbled. "What did you do over there?"
A nervous laugh escaped her lips. None of them, bar Shippou, who had been sworn to silence, knew about the rigorous training she had received under Sesshoumaru's supervision. And she was not about to tell them. It would be a surprise for them when she finally showed them what she was capable of. Kagome grinned inwardly, imagining their faces when they found out. So far, Inuyasha had given her no opportunity to try out her new skills. He had been protecting her with even more zeal than before, probably because of what had happened with Tetsusaiga. So much that she was beginning to feel smothered.
Inuyasha's scowling face suddenly appeared in front of her, startling her out of her thoughts. "Hey, why are you so distracted? I asked you a question!"
"Oh! It's probably just the lingering scent from Sesshoumaru's place. I did stay there for a month," she replied, keeping her expression even.
Inuyasha's expression turned sullen. "You shouldn't have done it."
Kagome groaned inwardly. "But we got what we want in the end, right?" she chirped, not wanting to go into another argument with Inuyasha about this particular topic.
Inuyasha pulled out the Tetsusaiga from its sheath, his golden eyes studying the rusted blade. A smirk slowly grew on his lips. "Now Sesshoumaru will be defeated by his own fang. That's what I call justice."
Kagome rolled her eyes in exasperation. "You know, this rivalry between you two is just childish. I mean, what are the two of you fighting for? It's definitely not over Tetsusaiga. So what is it?"
"Keh! He's an annoyance."
"He saved your life, Inuyasha," Kagome pointed out in dryly. "He could have just refused to hand over his fang and watch you go mad. It makes me think that he's not as bad as you think."
Muttering under his breath, Inuyasha averted his gaze. It was a sure sign that he felt uncomfortable about his brother's role in saving him from turning into a mindless beast.
Her eyes twinkled mischievously. "You just don't want to admit it, do you?"
"I don't want to owe the arrogant bastard anything," Inuyasha grumbled.
"Well, too bad for you, 'cause it looks like you already do," she teased mercilessly.
Inuyasha stood up abruptly, glowering at her. Without another word, he turned to leave.
"Hey, Inuyasha!" she called out.
His footsteps halted.
"I need to go home to pick up a couple of books today."
He immediately turned around, looking incredulous. "What? But we're been hanging around here for weeks now. We're supposed to be looking for shards."
Kagome rolled her eyes. "It's just for one day, Inuyasha."
Before Inuyasha could protest, gusts of wind swirled around them, throwing snow in the air. Alarmed, Kagome inched closer to Inuyasha and felt his reassuring arm shielding her. And then her eyes widened when she picked out the telltale glow of two Shikon shards.
"Shards!" she exclaimed.
When the swirling stopped, the snow drifted back down to reveal their visitor.
"Kouga," Kagome breathed out, relieved that it was her friend, the wolf youkai rather than an enemy.
"Kagome!" the wolf youkai grinned in greeting. And then his eyes narrowed when he saw Inuyasha's arm around her. "Let go of my mate, you mutt!"
Inuyasha immediately snarled. "She's not your mate, you mangy wolf!"
Kagome tensed, feeling her aura expand in her agitation.
Kouga narrowed his eyes as he studied Kagome critically. With a low growl, he pinned his eyes on Inuyasha. "What did you do to her? What's with her youki? It's darker than usual."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Inuyasha retorted heatedly, glancing over at her. Then he frowned and confusion swept over his features.
Kouga pointed at her. "Her youki, you mutt!" he repeated.
Growling at him, Inuyasha unsheathed Tetsusaiga. "Of course I can see it. But it got nothing to do with you, so butt out!"
Oh, no, Kagome thought in dismay. They were going to go at it again. "Stop it, you two!"
Kouga's eyes narrowed as a menacing smile crossed his lips. "I heard about your transformations, Inuyasha. What? The little mutt can't control himself without his leash?"
Inuyasha bristled. "I'll show you control. Prepare yourself!"
"Inuyasha, OSUWARI!" Kagome yelled in reflex.
When Inuyasha turned to face her with a smirk, she sagged. She had forgotten about the rosary again. A groan escaped her lips. Belatedly, she wondered if Kaede would teach her to create a new one.
"KOUGA!" A feminine shriek echoed through the air as a blurred form approached.
Kouga instantly froze. Spinning around, he faced the red-haired girl who had just skidded to a stop between him and Inuyasha.
"Ayame!" Kagome exclaimed excitedly, happy to see the female wolf youkai.
Ayame grinned a greeting at her before turning her attention back to Kouga. A scowl settled on her face. "You ran off," she said accusingly.
Kouga just glared at her. "I told you not to follow me, Ayame. Don't you ever listen?"
Fire flared in Ayame's green eyes. "The elders of my tribe insist on you honoring your words, Kouga."
"How many times must I tell you? Kagome's my mate-to-be. Not you!"
"Kouga…" Inuyasha snarled in warning.
Kagome interjected quickly. "No, Kouga. I've never agreed to that." She gave him a pointed look. "Remember our conversation?"
Wearing a stubborn look, Kouga brushed her off. "You'll be my mate, that's it."
"Shut up, Kouga!" Inuyasha snapped angrily as he clenched his fists.
Kouga replied with a snarl of his own and prepared to charge, but Ayame grabbed his arm. Kagome watched in horror as Kouga tossed off the female wolf roughly. The red-haired female was thrown to one side and would have hit a nearby tree if Inuyasha had not caught her. Shocked, Ayame just remained in Inuyasha's arm as she glared accusingly at Kouga.
"That was unnecessary, Kouga," Kagome admonished quietly, but there was no mistaking the anger in her voice. Kouga's behavior towards Ayame had gotten worse since the last time she saw them.
Obviously realizing his mistake, Kouga stilled. Turning to Ayame, he said, "Look, I'm sor-"
"Shut up, Kouga!" Ayame yelled harshly, her eyes brimming with tears. "I've had enough of you being unreasonable and your refusal to keep to your promise."
With that, she yanked herself away from Inuyasha and ran off.
Worried that the distraught wolf might do something stupid, Kagome turned to Inuyasha. "Go after her. She's too fast for me to catch up," she urged.
Inuyasha's eyes widened. "What? But-" He looked at Kouga, then back at her.
"Please, Inuyasha," she pleaded with him, widening her eyes. "What if something happens to her?"
With a muttered curse and a heated glare at Kouga, Inuyasha launched himself in the direction Ayame had disappeared to, leaving Kagome and Kouga alone.
She gave the wolf youkai a stern look. "That was mean, Kouga. Why do you treat her that way? And anyway, what are you doing here? And don't say you're here to claim me."
"We both know it's not going to happen," she interjected firmly. Sometime last year, she had told Kouga to forget the entire mating thing. Her words had been more than clear then and he had reluctantly agreed. So why was he back with this?
"So what is it, Kouga?"
A small smile flitted across Kouga's lips. "It's a shame that you will not agree to be my mate. You'd do well on the throne."
Kagome rolled her eyes. Yeah, sure. She would do well on a throne presiding over a pack of hungry wolves.
Kouga finally sobered enough to say, "I'm here to bring you news about Naraku."
Kagome's eyes widened. "We haven't seen him for a while. Months, actually. He's around?"
"My scouts found his scent across our mountains to the border between my lands and the Western Land. He must be up to something. The bastard had the nerve to hang around for some time." Kouga explained with a low growl.
Blinking, Kagome just stared at Kouga as his words sank in. Western Lands? That was Sesshoumaru's territory. And then something else he said hit her. "What do you mean your lands?" she asked curiously.
Kouga looked surprised. "The Eastern Territories, of course."
"The Eastern Territories belong to you?" she asked, incredulous. Surely Kouga was kidding. "And we're in your territory now? I thought you're the leader of the Eastern Wolf Pack."
Kouga gave her a confused look. "You did not know I am the Prince of the Eastern Territories? Yes, I'm still the leader of my tribe, but I watch over the other packs as well. Well, sort of." He scratched his head, frowning. "I thought the mutt knew. But I guess not. After all, my father handed over the reins while Inuyasha was still bound to that tree."
Kagome gaped speechlessly at him, unsure what to say to his revelation. It was hard to imagine the brash wolf being a prince. Somehow, she had this preconceived idea that the lord of any lands should have a regal bearing somewhat similar to Sesshoumaru.
Startled out of her thoughts, she jumped. "Um…" What were they talking about? Oh, yes, Naraku. "Is he still around?"
Kouga brow furrowed in thought. "I believe so. But he's behind some barrier, so we can't track him."
"I'll have to tell Inuyasha," she said worriedly. "Can you tell us where you last saw him? Then maybe Inuyasha can follow the scent."
"With his useless nose?"
Kagome gave Kouga a look of admonition.
To his credit, Kouga had the grace to look sheepish. Waving his hands around dismissively, he said, "Alright. I guess the mutt has some uses."
Kagome allowed herself a small grin.
Sesshoumaru stood at the window, staring out into the courtyard. His eyes were trained on the solitary figure by the flower garden. As if she sensed his perusal, Rin turned around and waved at him with a smile on her face. A nod was all he gave her in acknowledgement of her greeting.
It was clear that she made a lonely sight without her playmates, but there was nothing he could do about it short of bringing the miko and her kitsune back to his dwelling. He realized that to humor the child this way would be to spoil her. Would it be such a bad thing?
It was not beyond his means to bring the miko and the kitsune back. After all, with the debt the miko still owed him, she would have no choice but to comply. He had a far more important task for her than to ask her to be Rin's playmate.
Perhaps he should find a way to combine the two.
Removing himself from his position by the window, he pulled out a small pouch from the folds of his kimono. The strong barrier which surrounded it was evident from the slight golden glow tinged with green. There was not much in there, even though he had scoured the entire Western Lands for the past one month. But soon, he would have more.
Clenching the pouch in his fist, Sesshoumaru's mind went to the root of his problems. Naraku.
His patrol rotation had brought him back to this border between the Western Lands and the Eastern Territories for the second time this week. To Sesshoumaru's relief, there were no longer any signs of Naraku or Ryokusen.
However, he knew that he would be a fool to disregard the potential danger.
He wondered if the Prince of the Eastern Territories was aware that Naraku was trespassing on his lands. One could never be sure with the wolf youkai. Sesshoumaru had thought more than once that the young wolf was too brash and irresponsible, but there had been more than one occasion when Kouga had given him reasons to doubt his assessment.
An unsettling thought came to him. Perhaps the Eastern Territories were granting aid to Naraku. In that case, he had to be careful with his dealings with the prince. He could trust no one when it came to Naraku and his greed.
Sesshoumaru knew that there was only one thing he could do considering the situation. He had to seek out the prince and find out what he knew. And while he was out there, he would seek out the miko and collect the debt she owed him, seeing that Inuyasha and his companions tended to remain in the Eastern Territories.
He could guess what her reaction would be when he told her about his decision. There was no doubt in his mind that she would not agree readily, debt or not. The corner of his lips lifted. It would be a challenge, but in the end, she would submit to his wishes. After all, he was not about to give her a choice.
Pushing back the odd feeling of anticipation at the thought of arguing with the stubborn miko, Sesshoumaru stepped out and launched himself up into the air.
Kagome huddled closer into Shippou who was tucked in with her under her thick woolen wrap, trying to ward off the cold. She glanced quickly to the two males flanking her on each side, astounded that they did not seem to feel the biting cold of the blizzard.
Up ahead, Sango and Miroku were practically melded together and for once, the lecherous houshi kept his hands to himself. A smile flitted across Kagome's lips. Something had happened between them when she had been staying with Sesshoumaru, but the taijiya refused to talk about it.
Further front, Ayame was walking with Kirara by her side. Kagome's smile dissolved as she looked at the proud set of the wolf youkai's shoulders. Ayame was hurting and Kagome felt bad for her. Before they departed, Ayame had told her that she could not return to her tribe, and that she was too shamed that she had not been able to secure the mate she wanted.
Kagome sighed as she let her eyes drift towards Kouga. The wolf was stubbornly rejecting Ayame's pursuit. But what Kagome did not understand was why. It was not as if Kouga still thought that he had a chance with her. Did he?
A strong gust of air blew against her, making her stagger unsteadily until Inuyasha grabbed her. In front of her, Sango and Miroku had stopped as well.
"We need to find shelter," Inuyasha said as he tightened his arm around her shoulders.
Kagome glanced around but the swirling snow in front of her hampered her vision. "I don't see any shelter, Inuyasha."
Kouga turned to them. "I think there is a cave not far from here. Stay here. I'll go find it."
With that, he blurred off.
"Hope he'll suffocate under all that snow," Inuyasha grumbled under his breath.
Kagome tossed him a horrified look. "Inuyasha!"
Inuyasha gave her a stubborn look. "What? He's a pain!"
"He's helping us find Naraku."
"Keh! We'll find that bastard without help."
Knowing that it was pointless to continue the argument, Kagome fell silent. A shiver wracked through her form at another frigid gust of wind. She immediately felt Inuyasha's arm going around her, wrapping her and Shippou up in his larger form. She gave him a look of silent thanks. Although Inuyasha's actions were still accompanied by his usual gruffness, she was increasingly convinced that he was a lot more attentive than he had been previously.
What worried her a little was her lack of excitement over it. Yes, she was happy that he was treating her better but it was almost like her subconscious kept telling her that 'this' was how he was supposed to treat her in the first place. Not being yelled at and being ignored as and when Inuyasha felt like it.
A little paw pressing against her neck brought her out of her contemplations.
"I can't breathe…Let go, Inuyasha." came a muffled complain from Shippou, who was now squashed between her and Inuyasha.
"Stop whining, brat!" Inuyasha snapped. "Would you prefer to freeze?"
Kagome grinned, suddenly feeling warmed by Inuyasha's grudging protection towards the kitsune. There was still hope for Inuyasha after all.
Kouga returned in his usual manner, throwing up snow behind him. "I found the cave. Let's go."
"It's about time," Inuyasha muttered.
"Inuyasha…" Kagome warned.
Struggling through the blizzard, the group followed Kouga as he led them into the wooded area. It took them another fifteen minutes before they found themselves at the mouth of a cave, sheltered from the harsh weather.
It was pitch black and the sudden silence seemed loud in comparison with the howling wind outside. Kagome sighed in relief as Inuyasha removed his arms from her. Shippou immediately bounced off her, leaving her staring blindly in the dark.
Pulling out her torch from the bag, she flicked it on and shone it inside. The cave was spacious enough for all of them to use it as a shelter with some modicum of privacy in the little alcoves to the side. Further in, the inky blackness stretched on, not giving way to the ray of light from her torch.
Kagome shrugged. It was not as if they had much of a choice. She looked around to find that everyone was shaking the snow off themselves. Wordlessly, she dropped her backpack and began to rummage around for a dry jumper.
Dimly, she heard Ayame announcing that she would try to gather some dry wood.
At Shippou's excited call, Kagome looked up to find the excited kitsune bouncing back to her.
"What is it, Shippou?"
Green eyes shining excitedly, Shippou tugged her hand. "Come on. Let me show you something."
Inuyasha looked at them. "I'll go with you."
Shippou immediately stopped pulling at her, his expression displaying an odd hesitation. "Um…I want to show Kagome something," he said nervously.
Sensing that Shippou did not want Inuyasha around, Kagome told the hanyou, "We'll be quick. You don't have to worry."
Inuyasha's indecision was clear in his eyes.
"Look, Ayame needs help finding wood," she told him softly, hoping that he would get the idea without her spelling it out.
"Feh! Where would anyone find wood in this blizzard? And anyway, Kouga's around, isn't he?"
She rolled her eyes. So much for being subtle. "I don't think we should leave the two of them alone. And I don't think Kouga's going to go with her either," she said pointedly.
Inuyasha gave her a disgusted look. "You want me to look after that mangy wolf's mate?" he asked, looking offended.
Kagome's lips tightened. Without the rosary she could not even subdue the guy, which made it hard for her on occasions like this. It left her no choice but to appeal to his softer side. "Inuyasha. Please."
His golden eyes flickered. After a moment of silence, he harrumphed and crossed his arms over his chest. "You owe me for this."
She beamed. "I'll bring more ramen for you the next time I go home."