Title: Light of My Life
Author: kazeko
Series: Inuyasha
Rating: M-15 or so
Archive: Sesshoumaru/Kagome
Characters: Sesshoumaru/Kagome, Inuyasha/Koyama, Sango/Miroku
Disclaimer: No ownership.

Chapter 1: Scream in the Night
Kagome sighed as she stared into her cup, thinking about the battle her life had become. She spent all of her time fighting Naraku or his minions, learning to focus and control her powers in the never-ending search for those blasted jewel shards. There were days when she considered, ever so briefly, going home to the future and never returning. Then she would remind herself that it was her stupidity that shattered the jewel in the first place, so she had to help find and purify the shards, hopefully recreating the jewel so that everyone could be happy again and people could be with their destined loves.

Kagome sighed again, this time dreamily. Everyone deserved to find their true love, and she hoped that she might find her own one day. She had already come to terms with the fact that Inuyasha did not love her romantically, and she was comfortable with his close friendship after so many years. Now she wondered when she would find that one guy who would woo her and love her and take care of her for the rest of her life. She was strong compared to the Feudal Era women, and she was confident and brave in the face of danger, but there were times when she wished that she had someone strong to love and protect her. Someone she could have a family with.

"Oi, Kagome! What are you thinking so hard about?"

"I'm surprised you could recognize an act you have never engaged in," Miroku countered, grinning at his own joke. Sango glared at him before hiding her smile behind her cup. Shippo laughed at Inuyasha's low growl before Kagome cleared her throat to end the matter. More and more she found herself taking a motherly role to everyone in her group, and it made her heart ache to have a family of her own.

"Enough, guys. Miroku, Inuyasha is very intelligent so stop teasing him. Inuyasha, Miroku was only joking, so stop taking things so personally. Shippo, Inuyasha is ten times your size and it would be prudent not to court death on so daily a basis. I will not always be around to protect you if you laugh at the wrong demon. As for your question, Miroku, I was thinking about whether I would have a girl or a boy baby first when I get married and have a family."

Before anyone in the small hut in Kaede's village could ask another question, a shrill scream ripped through the dusk, the noise flattening Inuyasha's large ears and Shippo's small ones against their heads. A low growl from the hanyou answered the call, and he stood as pale magenta stripes appeared on his cheeks. Everyone else joined him as his agitation spread even to the humans. Shippo squealed and ran to Kagome, shaking in fright as he clung to her leg. The miko reached out and touched Inuyasha's arm, surprised that his stripes were showing without his demonic nature taking over.

"What is it, Inuyasha? It sounded like a scream . . ."

"It was an inuyoukai female," Inuyasha whispered, his voice sadder and more subdued than she had ever heard. "That sound . . . is a bitch protecting her pups."

Kagome's mothering instincts swung into full force, and her friends could see the change as she stepped toward the door. "We have to save her."

"There may not be anything to save," Sango whispered. "It sounded pretty bad."

"Well, if she's dead there are pups that might need help! We can't just stand here while a mother and her children are slaughtered!"

Inuyasha growled and headed for the door. "Fine. Let's go."

As the group approached the sound that had rent the young night, a bestial roar of fury and blood rage filled the forest. Sango and Miroku assumed that the female's mate had come to find his family injured or dead and was obliterating the danger that had faced them. Kagome heard a cry for help from a desperate father. From his place in Sango's arms on Kirara's back, Shippo cried at the sound of a family being slaughtered as his had been. He hoped that his mother Kagome would be able to save the pups and raise them as she had raised him. He hoped that they would find someone alive.

They landed in a clearing outside a small cave that was mostly hidden by undergrowth and the hills nearby. What met their eyes shocked them all. Among a pile of bodies that appeared to belong to coyote demons lay a pile of armor and silver hair Inuyasha had never expected to see on the ground. Sesshoumaru growled from his prone position, holding his injured side as he leaned up, red eyes locked on his brother. For a moment, their eyes met and held, something passing between them that never had before, the red draining from Sesshoumaru's eyes. Inuyasha turned to the cave, taking a moment to glance at the bodies on the ground before he walked into the darkness, nose and ears twitching wildly.

Kagome moved to follow, but Sango held her back. "You don't need to see what's in there," the tajiya whispered. She turned to Sesshoumaru, not sure if she should treat him as an enemy or a friend. Kirara and Shippo approached the panting taiyoukai, kitsune kit dragging the jacket he had ripped off the nearest coyote and offering it to Sesshoumaru. "You need to stop the bleeding," he whispered. Sesshoumaru took the offering and placed the cloth over the wound on his side, claw marks marring his normally stoic features. As he sat, Kagome noticed other injuries, none life-threatening, but he would not be able to fight for quite a while. The miko felt a flash of pity as he tried to bind his wounds with one arm, knowing that his injury was because of her and Inuyasha. She felt her blood turn to ice as she realized that he might have been able to protect the female and her pups better if he had use of both arms.

Sango and Miroku stepped forward to catch Kagome as she joined the taiyoukai, kneeling beside the pool of blood his body had already lost. "I'm no use to Inuyasha in those dark caves; let me bind your wounds. I'm very practiced at that." Sesshoumaru paused, eyes narrowing as he tried to detect any pity or weakness in the woman's voice, but it was strong and steady as always. He nodded his acceptance of her assistance as his eyes lost the last of the red and returned to their usual gold, nose twitching. "Where . . . where is Rin?" Kagome was afraid that she had been a victim of the slaughter, that her innocent light was forever gone from the world.

Sesshoumaru snorted, answering the only way his high position would allow. "This did not concern the child." Kagome sighed and relaxed. Rin was safe.

"The female is dead," Inuyasha announced as he emerged into the light. "They tore her to shreds; there is nothing recognizable left." He looked at his brother and closed his eyes briefly in sorrow. "But her pups live."

Sesshoumaru let out a growl as he tried to move toward the cave, restrained by Kagome's light touch on his shoulder. "They are too young. They will die, without their mother. When the rest of the coyotes come, I will not be able to protect them again." He looked at Kagome, gold eyes full of an emotion she had never seen in him before, and she found herself nodding. She stood and glared at the others, gathering her nerves to enter a cave that stunk of death.

"We have to protect them. We have to take them all somewhere safe where the coyote demons cannot follow. We could not save their mother, but we can help her pups." Inuyasha moved to object, deep hatred for his brother bubbling to the surface and clashing with his instinct to protect the innocent, but Kagome's glare halted his words. She appealed to the demon part of him, the inuyoukai blood from his father that would make him see his duty to his father's pack. "Inuyasha, they are children of your father's house. They are your family, your pack. You have to help them. They're innocent."

That one small word, the one a human should not know how to use so effectively, filled the hanyou's mind as he glanced back into the cave, the scent of the dead mother filling his nostrils. The pups were too young to have a scent, but seeing them, hearing their pitiful squeaks, had ignited the pack instinct he had thought long dead. Sesshoumaru looked up at Kagome, amazed that the human miko knew how strong the pack instinct was for inuyoukai. His brother was a hanyou, but he still asserted himself as Alpha of his small pack, and he still wanted the structure and stability the inu pack could provide. The pups were the future of any pack, and the taiyoukai watched his hanyou brother step into the role of Alpha. Inuyasha grunted and pointed at Miroku. "Finish tending his wounds, houshi, and get him on Kirara and back to the hut. There's nowhere else to go. Sango, you and Kagome will help me gather the remaining pups. One was killed but the rest—"

"Which one?" Sesshoumaru demanded. "Which pup was killed?!" He was almost . . . frantic, and that confused the group.

"The small boy with dark fur and a black tail," Inuyasha answered. He was shocked at his half-brother's reaction, the taiyoukai slumping ever-so-slightly in . . . relief? Had he been afraid that a particular pup was killed? They were only three days old at most, so there should be no attachment yet. As a matter of fact, until weaned, inuyoukai pups were the responsibility of the female and the male rarely responded even to the shrill cry the group had heard earlier.

Sesshoumaru let Miroku and Kagome help him to his shaky feet, the few steps to the waiting neko youkai harder for him than anything in his life. He managed to balance on Kirara's back, feeling weak for the first time in his adult life as he caught Kagome's hand. He ignored for a moment that she was human, the race he utterly despised, and caught her gaze. "Thank you," he whispered, unsure where the words had come from. He looked up at his half-brother, his packmate, and nodded toward the cave. "Thank you for coming, Inuyasha." With that, Miroku, Shippo, and Sesshoumaru flew away on Kirara, toward the village and safety.

Inuyasha grunted, shocked that his brother had thanked him, more shocked that he had seemed almost kind in his interaction. The hanyou led the two women into the dark cave, listening for the slight mewling that marked the nest of the inuyoukai bitch and her pups. He located it quickly, grunting when Kagome pulled her portable torch out of her pocket and lit the area. Among their mother's blood and the remains of their scattered nest, six tiny dog-shaped masses squirmed, moving toward the scent of life. Kagome cooed as she lifted the nearest one, a female with golden fur and silver points, cradling the puppy to her chest. She began to purr, nuzzling closer, and Kagome felt her mothering instincts take over. She took another one, a male with black fur and white-tipped ears, as Sango and Inuyasha each grabbed two more males. Not willing to stay anymore, Kagome balanced the pups in one arms arm and turned off her flashlight, stowing it as she shifted the pup back to the other arm and followed her friends back into the night.

Kirara returned for them a moment later, letting all three climb onto her back as she returned to the village once more. Along the way, Kagome stared at the tiny pups in her arms, wondering what they would do and how they could care for three-day-old babies. Sesshoumaru would have to find a wet nurse he could trust, and they would have to delay their shard hunt for a while until they could find another hiding place for the pups and until their father was healed. She smiled at the thought of Sesshoumaru as a proud father, and she wondered if he would change now that he had children to protect and rear. She had a lot to ponder on the way back to the village.

To Be Continued