Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Inuyasha cast. This is purely fan-based material. Enjoy .
A/N: Sequel to Athelas. I must apologize, it's entirely too long for a fanfic! There's four more stories to go for this particular series, and the next installment will be posted shortly. Hope you like it, and any reviews would be welcome! Oh, and I would like to thank my new beta, Miss Artemis D
Forget-Me-Not: Tiny, flat, periwinkle blue blossoms which grow profusely on jagged stems of dark green. The Forget-Me-Not is said to be a traditional symbol of remembrance and love.
Azure eyes twitched beneath pale lids as fierce rays of sunlight streamed between the trees. Dainty hands were entangled in a mess of silky fur, clinging desperately to its warmth. Still damp hair hung in untidy black waves, framing the soft face of Kagome Higurashi.
She rolled over, burying her nose in the furry protection wrapped around her like a blanket. She mumbled incoherently into its softness, cursing the sunlight and all it represented. Then, in a jerky movement she would soon question, she turned back to face the harsh light.
Kagome blinked dazedly, inching her eyes slowly open. After that excruciating task was complete, she would figure out exactly what she was doing here, lying on the forest floor.
She stared at the treetops swaying in a quiet breeze, a million thoughts racing through her mind, painful memories of yesterday. Slowly, she managed to piece them all together in somewhat manageable bits. Battle…Sango and Miroku flung… Inuyasha… Kiky-
Fresh tears began to pour, sliding in shimmering lines down her cheeks. She remembered that bit a little too well. She sniffed audibly, and forced herself to continue. Running away… walking in a storm… Sesshoumaru hurt…
Ah yes, that was what she was looking for. Sesshoumaru was, shockingly, the reason she was lying in the middle of the woods. Instinctively, she wrapped his white pelt around her body.
Kagome remembered a vague conversation with him early that morning. The sun certainly wasn't as annoying then, she thought sourly. Yet, she couldn't help but wonder why he chose to leave her with his pelt. Some odd custom of thanks, perhaps?
But, whatever his reasoning was, she really didn't have the time to dissect it now. She shifted her weight, moaning as her muscles shrieked in protest. "Serves me right for sleeping so long."
After a long debate with her will power, Kagome managed to stand, albeit shakily. The bottom of her green skirt was wet; most likely from the morning dew. She also noticed that her white socks and t-shirt were incredibly muddy, and that her shoes had mysteriously vanished.
She hoisted the massive fur around her neck like a boa, almost toppling over under its sheer weight. How the hell does he carry this thing around all the time? she wondered. I wish it wasn't so heavy… but I would feel bad just leaving it here.
She managed to take two graceless steps, before sinking to knees. No way can I do this. Maybe if I ask it nicely, it will just float along beside me-
She blinked once as she felt the pelt lift off her shoulders, and proceed to follow her like a dragon. Or a soul collector, she grumbled inwardly. As if there weren't enough similarities between Kikyou and herself!
"I wonder what I'm going to do now…Should I go home? But, I owe it to everyone to keep looking for the jewel shards…" she mused, ignoring the snake like appendage gliding through the air.
"Will you help me?" she asked the pelt, feeling rather absurd after the fact. Kagome giggled charmingly as one end nodded. It helped to have something to talk to, even if it was a strand of fur.
Kagome stopped abruptly as loud voices called throughout the forest. While she was too far away to even begin to understand what they were saying, she couldn't resist calling back.
"I'm right here!" she yelled, immensely proud by how far her voice carried. "It's one of my talents you know," she told the pelt, "loudness that is." She was sure she heard it sigh.
"Ah-Oh-eh!" came the calls again, this time much closer. Kagome closed her eyes, straining to hear what was being said.
"You don't suppose…" she started, once again addressing the pelt. "YES!" she called out. She knew those voices.
"Sango! Miroku! I'm here!" she called back joyfully, listening to the sounds of her friends crashing through the woods. Branches crackled mercilessly under their anxious footsteps, their calls now perfectly audible.
"Sango! Miroku I'm so glad you're-" Kagome stopped abruptly as they appeared, less than twenty feet away. However, it was not their dirty faces or ripped and bloodied clothes that caught her attention. No… it was the third person standing with them, grinning arrogantly from behind a set of white fangs.
"INUYASHA!" Kagome shrieked before launching herself into his arms. Uncontrollable sobs wreaked havoc on her small form as she buried her face in his fire-rat haori.
"YOU IDIOT!" she said, stepping away. Cerulean orbs narrowed as she glared at the half-demon, and unknown to her, the pelt too became straight and stiff. "Do you have any idea what you put me through? Disappearing with Kikyou, who was about to drag you to hell? Speak dummy! No, wait, don't speak! SIT!" she ranted, between hiccoughs.
With a half-hearted curse, Inuyasha found himself in a rather large hole in the ground. He welcomed the pain; it was proof that he was still alive. Shaking the dirt from his hair (much like his canine family), he turned his amber eyes to the shivering girl before him. Said eyes widened as he watched her mouth open again. Sure, he knew deserved the first one, but he'd be damned if he let it slide again.
He dove forward and covered her mouth with a calloused hand, muffling her words. He expected to be plummeted back into earth, and thus was pleasantly surprised to himself still standing. "Well, what'd ya know? Didn't expect that to work."
Unfortunately, he realized his mistake too late. Another sit was promptly shouted, and he was once again ironed into the ground.
Red eyed and fuming, Lord Sesshoumaru stalked through the halls of his castle. He had successfully dismembered at least ten of his 'faithful' palace guards, and was rather pleased that the horrendous feeling of guilt had yet to plague him.
Elegant claws clenched as he remembered the feeling of fresh blood running across them and down his wrists. It was rare that he indulged his more feral side in mass murder, but today was an exception. Today, he would allow his instincts to guide him in the kill.
Sesshoumaru knew he must look terrifying, even without his ancestral pelt. He smirked as he felt massive fangs scrape the bottom of his chin, dripping acidic saliva on the wooden floor. He passed a cracked mirror, stopping only for a moment to observe his bestial reflection. He was a sight to behold.
He raised his nose slightly, catching the swampy scent of his soon-to-be dead retainer. Grinning manically, he sprinted forward and blasted open the door to the library. His crimson gaze widened in maniacal glee as he caught sight of the little toad huddling in the corner.
"This Sesshoumaru does not take kindly to traitors, Jaken," his deep voice hissed hoarsely, with the sole intent to inspire fear in the heart of the creature before him. He would torture the little maggot until his filthy skin melted.
With a maniacal grin, he deliberately lifted his hand, allowing his sharp talons to lengthen menacingly. He licked the blood from his fingers, inwardly cringing at the taste of impurity.
Sesshoumaru allowed for small traces of his lethal poison to seep from his claws, the stench of toxins leaking into the air. Small drops fell to the floor, burning miniature holes through both the carpet and wood. His smile widened as he watched the little worm press his rounded body into the wall, yellow eyes bulging.
He moved so fast, Jaken didn't even have time to blink. The little toad felt his dwarfed body being lifted from the floor by his neck, large feet dangling in dismay. He released a strangled squeak as acid trickled into his jugular, before becoming washed over in wave after wave of unbearable agony.
Sesshoumaru nearly shuddered in pleasure at the pained shrieks emitted by his retainer. All rational thought left him as he was overcome with the urge to torture; blood lust. He squeezed tighter, delighting in the flailing of short legs.
After several minutes of exquisite punishment, Sesshoumaru felt the toad still for the last time. He stared wildly at the wide, yellow eyes and beaked mouth, before snarling in disgust. He wiped his sullied claws on the scratchy cotton of the toad's robe, before tossing the vermin in a bloody heap.
With a triumphant howl, the beast tore from library, intent on exterminating every last creature breathing within his walls.
Kagome sat against a large tree, curled comfortably around what was now fondly dubbed "The Pelt." She ran her fingers through the soft tendrils absentmindedly, smiling softly as the creature seemed to purr in delight. I can't imagine Sesshoumaru ever purring. She laughed inwardly, her thoughts turning to the stoic demon lord for the first time since this morning.
Night time had fallen several hours ago, and her companions lay fast asleep, blissfully unaware of her inner turmoil. She hadn't told them about her encounter with Sesshoumaru; Inuyasha had been foul enough after his morning sitting. Sure, he had interrogated her like a cop about the Pelt, asking 'where the damn thing had come from.' She, in turn, lied through her teeth, calling it a gift from her grandfather.
Yeah right. Grandpa couldn't even enchant a root, she mused inwardly. Nonetheless, she was quite proud with the lie. It was fool proof. Inuyasha never liked going to the future; in fact he constantly made up excuses to keep her away from the well.
But she couldn't help but notice the suspicious glances from Miroku and Sango. Her dear friends weren't nearly as gullible as the half demon, but they had, bless them, decided to keep their silence. Oh, Kagome knew it wouldn't last; they'd trap her sooner or later and force out the truth. But the longer they took, the more time she had to spin a better lie, and discover any impending loopholes.
Then there was the matter of the Pelt itself. What exactly was it? It seemed to not only sense her feelings and emotions, but have some kind of mind of its own. She stifled a giggle upon remembering how it almost strangled Inuyasha. Yep, it was definitely a part of Sesshoumaru.
Speaking of Inuyasha, how had he managed to escape Kikyou's grasp? He wouldn't tell her, no matter how much she manipulated him. Threats, sits, and even tears had no effect. Usually, all she had to do was break down in believable sobs and he became a pile of stuttering goo. Not that she liked to use that card often… it was dishonorable, although sometimes quite necessary.
Kagome gave the Pelt a final pat, before resting her head against it. She could just bet that Inuyasha would wake her up bright and early, demanding ramen like an insolent child.
Sesshoumaru looked around his massacred castle, his raging blood calming at the sight. He was far from in control, but felt he could restrain himself if needed.
Pristine white clothing was stained with the crimson blood of many, but he regretted nothing. He was only thankful that the bastards hadn't managed to kill him before he killed them.
Funny, less than a day ago he had regarded his imminent death with something close to indifference. But now, as he gazed at the demolished palace in his wake, he felt a strange feeling of peace.
A gust of wind toyed with various patches of fire, coaxing the flames to spread. Sesshoumaru cared not, the ancestral home of his father meant little to him, he visited occasionally only to uphold the tradition. Scoffing, he turned from the grizzly combination of wood, bodies, blood and flame before slipping like a shadow into the dark forest.
Kagome awoke early in the morning due to constant tugging on her white t-shirt. Groaning, she peeped through tired eyes to see her new pet wrapping itself around her waist, begging her to awaken.
"All right," she whispered angrily, allowing the Pelt to drag her to her feet. Soundlessly, she moved across the camp, praying that her friends would remain asleep. As she passed Inuyasha, she heard a loud grunt, causing her to still.
Slowly, she turned her head to look at the cross-legged half demon. His head was bowed, coarse hair obstructing his eyes from view. Kagome gave a little sigh of relief. He's just sleeping.
Finally, Kagome stepped into the surrounding forest, releasing the breath she didn't know she was holding. The Pelt nudged her forward, almost lovingly. She smiled softly, and allowed it to whisk her away.
They soon arrived at a small pond, the perfect size for bathing. However, it was the large tree overlooking water that caught her attention. She mentally assessed one of the larger branches, determining whether or not it could her weight. With an affirmative nod, she proceeded forward, only to be lifted off her feet.
The Pelt brought Kagome several feet into the air, before gently settling her on the branch. She reached forward, giving the fur a pat of thanks.
"You know, I'm going to miss you when you leave," Kagome began. She felt the fur twitch beneath her hands in curiosity. "When I return you to Lord Sesshoumaru, of course."
The Pelt visibly drooped at her words, wrapping one end around her wrist in silent protest. "Oh, don't give me that. You belong with him, you know."
"Belong with whom?" a deep voice asked from behind. Kagome shrieked at the sudden interruption, and promptly fell off her perch. Before she could blink, she was safely within the only arm of none other than Lord Sesshoumaru.
"Oh my God, what happened?" she asked, glancing at his bloodied clothing as he landed. The stench of death clung to his body like a musky cologne. She couldn't help but choke.
"Nothing of consequence. This Sesshoumaru was merely relieving stress. Now, to whom were you referring?" he asked, motioning towards the fur.
"Why, you of course," Kagome uttered.
"Nonsense. It now belongs to you," he replied, as if the answer was obvious.
"I can't accept it, Sesshoumaru. I adore the Pelt, but… it would be better off with you." The arm around her body tensed, before suddenly releasing her.
"If that is your choice," he said testily. With complicated gesture, the pelt returned to his side, curling around his left shoulder.
"Sesshoumaru?" Kagome asked, as he turned on his heel to leave.
"What, wench?" he bit angrily over his shoulder. What more could she possibly want? He kept his eyes ahead, refusing to look back.
Kagome was taken aback at his suddenly harsh demeanor. It was like before… when they were still enemies. As if the night in the forest had never happened. She felt hurt… sad even. She thought they were friends. Well, maybe 'friends' was too strong a word. But she believed they would be, at least, civil to each other.
"Um… nothing then," she mumbled.
"Hn. You will no longer address this one, human. Any dealings, from this moment, are over. The next time we meet, it will be as enemies." With that, he stalked into the woods, leaving her alone.
Kagome's aura radiated hurt and sorrow. How could he be so cruel? Who was I kidding, thinking things would change? She felt a sense of emptiness wash over her body. She already missed the Pelt, but it felt like something more… like a chunk of her soul had left with the demon lord.
The sounds of someone approaching caused Kagome to look up. Maybe he's coming back to apologize, she thought cheerfully. She schooled her features in an impressive imitation of his impassive look. She wasn't about to forgive him right away.
Her happiness soon changed into distress as a feminine figure stepped from the trees instead. For the first time, Kagome was disappointed to see Sango appear before her.
Her friend rushed to her side. "Kagome… what's wrong?" the older woman asked gently. "Where's you're furry thing?"
Kagome felt like a child being scolded by her mother for losing a toy. "S-Sango… I gave it back!" she sobbed.
"To who? Your grandfather?" Sango asked, completely confused.
"N-No!" Kagome howled. "Inuyasha's b-brother!"
"You mean Lord Sesshoumaru? Did he steal it from you?" Sango asked angrily, reaching for her Hiraikotsu. "Did he hurt you, Kagome?"
"No," Kagome sniffed. Well at least not physically. Kagome looked at her best friend sheepishly, finally remembering that she had never told her the story. "You see…" she began hesitantly.
As the conversation progressed, the two moved from the river bank to the hot spring. Sango was a fantastic listener, and had yet to attack Kagome for keeping the information secret. She nodded at the appropriate times, sucking in the story like a particularly large sponge.
"So, let's go over this again," she said as Kagome finished. "You found Sesshoumaru wounded, and decided to help him, right?"
Kagome nodded silently, allowing Sango to continue. "And you two talked; carried on a conversation?" Another nod. "And he allowed you to sleep with him?" Another nod, this time much slower and more suspicious. "And then, he gave you his pelt?"
Sango turned the information over in her brain, before nodding once herself. "Well, I'm not expert Kagome, but I think you just rejected the Lord of the West," she commented flippantly.
"WHAT?" Kagome shrieked, causing hundreds of disgruntled to birds to flee from their nests.
"The pelt he gave you. It was the first stepping in demonic courting. Don't hold me to this, but I think the pelt holds his emotions. Dog demons are naturally social creatures; they can't retain their feelings as we can. Surely one as powerful as Sesshoumaru needs an outlet for his feelings should he choose to hide them. If not, they would consume him. In fact, I'm surprised he didn't go ballistic without it; he must have remarkable control."
Kagome chose to ignore this last comment, conveniently forgetting the red stains on his hair and clothing. "So, what does it mean?"
Sango sighed in exasperation. "It means that he wished to give himself to you."
Kagome reddened at Sango's choice of words. Perhaps it meant something different in the Feudal Era? "So I… wasn't supposed to give it back?" she asked meekly.
"Eh? No, it's fine that you did. All it means is that you rejected his suit, and have no desire to be with him. It was the right thing to d-… you don't like him do you?" Sango asked suddenly.
"What? Oh, uh… no, of course not," Kagome answered, her thoughts elsewhere. No wonder he didn't want to talk to me! He thought I rejected him! Poor guy.
"That's what I thought," Sango stated with a confident smile. "Come on Kagome," she said, "all this water can't be good for you." Kagome was chuckled blandly at Sango's ignorance, still thinking of Sesshoumaru.
She rejected this Sesshoumaru! That filthy, common, impudent wench rejected this one, Sesshoumaru inwardly raged. How dare she?
Sesshoumaru could feel the early stirrings of his bloodlust returning. Red waves of anger pulsed in his brain, to a point that it was almost painful.
He stalked the forest, stilling only when a frightened whimper shook a leafy bush on his left. The scent of terror wafted passed him, causing his nose to twitch in understanding. Less than three feet away from him, a little life was just begging to be exterminated.
Quick as lightening, Sesshoumaru struck. A single, graceful slash and he once again held a small creature in his grasp. It would be so easy to end the insignificant creature's life.
The small fox kit shivered under the crimson gaze of the demon lord, watching in horrified awe as once smooth facial markings became jagged. He curled his tail around himself as a protective shield, sharp green eyes darting around wildly for any sign of help.
Seeing nothing, he opted to scratch the white haired beast with his tiny paws, hoping to shock his attacker out of the madness consuming his soul. He dug his needle-like nails into the demon's pale skin, calling out as he was thrown high into the air.
Sesshoumaru snarled in rage as the little brat scratched his hand, and wasted no time flinging him into the air. He called his acid into his palm, and molded it into a tight ball with his mind. He went to launch the toxic ball at the weak infant as it fell to earth.
The fox-child saw the demon lord blink, his crimson eyes widening with a murderous intent. He watched as deadly fingers clenched and glow a thick green. The sickening stench of poison leaked into the surrounding air, causing his short fox fur to spike.
With a flick of paws, he transformed mid-flight into a large, pink hawk, complete with a tiny, green bow. He flapped rapidly along the wind currents, placing as much distance between him and his assailant as possible. He shuddered upon hearing a loud howl of anger in the distance, and decided to pick up his pace.
Several weeks had passed since the potentially dangerous encounter with Sesshoumaru and Sango couldn't help but notice the slight changes in Kagome each day. She rarely instigated conversations, choosing instead to keep to herself. While her incessant babbling could become rather annoying, it was still proof that Kagome was herself.
Sango turned her brown eyes to the younger girl walking ahead of her. Her once shiny black hair was dull, and her clothing hung from her body loosely. However, what bothered Sango most was Kagome's stride; it was short, submissive and lacked confidence.
Kagome could feel Sango's eyes boring into her figure, but chose to ignore them in favor of stroking Shippou's tail. Ever since the Pelt had been reclaimed, she had developed a fetish of sorts for all soft things. Not only that, but she desired to shower her little friend in affection.
Three weeks ago, she had found Shippou tracking them through Inuyasha's Forest. The group had decided to leave the young fox kit with Kaede as they went to confront Naraku; it was simply too dangerous for a child. He had protested and screamed, begged even, but they would hear none of it. So, in the dead of night, they abandoned Shippou at the village.
Needless to say, when she found a dirty, scared Shippou spying from a nearby tree, she felt incredibly guilty. She noticed the dried streaks of tears staining his cheeks and how his aura was tinted yellow from fright. He had stuttered a strangled story about a confrontation with a bestial Sesshoumaru, having just escaped with his life. Kagome couldn't help but feel she was responsible for both situations.
Sesshoumaru, she thought sadly, not for the first time. Lately, her thoughts turned the stoic demon lord, hoping that he would forgive her. She wondered that, had she known the true purpose of the Pelt, would she have accepted his suit? She glanced to Inuyasha. I might just have.
Even though Inuyasha was alive, Kagome felt betrayed. Does he regret staying with us? Of losing his only chance to be with Kikyou? She noticed the sad gleam in his eyes every time he looked at her, if you could even call it that. It felt as if he didn't even see her; that he was looking through her body, searching for any underlying layer of Kikyou. And when he spoke to her, it was polite, formal even. This was not the Inuyasha she knew.
"Guys, we're um, gonna to take a break," Inuyasha mumbled. He too could feel the dejected atmosphere, and it haunted him. He couldn't even look Kagome in the eye; memories of Kikyou flooded his mind each time. The wistful smile, the softening of her eyes... they belonged to her. The only problem was, he didn't know who 'her' was any more. "I'll… be back soon."
Kagome gazed at the half demon with a heavy heart, bowing her head as he leapt onto a sturdy branch. Clawed feet sprung into the air, propelling Inuyasha through the air, until he was nothing but a scarlet blur, slowing fading from sight.
Miroku watched Kagome's form slowly sink to the ground as Inuyasha took off. He was rather perceptive when he wanted to be, and these recent problems just happened to be his specialty; love problems. With a dramatic twirl of his robes, he plastered a seductive grin on his face, and boldly strutted toward Kagome's downcast body.
"My dear Kagome, allow this humble monk to ease your suffering," he offered, grasping her smaller hand in his larger one. Softly, he brushed his lips over the smooth skin, allowing his pink tongue to trace small patterns along her palm. "Your heart is plagued, darling, with the burdens of love. I hereby offer that any wayward affections, any deep desires you may have… be directed at me-"
A loud slap echoed throughout the forest, as a jealous demon slayer punished her fiancée. Sango prepared her Hiraikotsu to give him another, more painful, smack, when a charming and almost forgotten sound reached her ears. She turned slightly to her left, her narrow face breaking in a beautiful smile as she watched Kagome's shoulders shake in laughter.
"So," a stunned Miroku called from the ground, "I see that there is method behind my madness." Sango gave him a half-hearted swat just for measure, before allowing him to regain his footing. "But, my Lady Kagome, should you ever need a comforting embrace-"
"Stop while you're ahead, monk," an angry Sango interrupted, her brown eye twitching.
"Of course, my darling." He bowed elegantly, before turning on his heel. "I should like to meditate for awhile. I did, however, notice a hot-spring, not too far South from here. Why don't you beauties indulge in the pleasures of the-"
"Fine, we'll go," Sango rushed, her face turning a rather deep shade of red. "Come on, Kagome," she chirped merrily, "let's check out the sick water!"
"Right-O," Kagome sweat-dropped, mentally sighing. Note to self: Refrain from using slang from the future while in the Feudal Era.
Kagome sighed in delight as the warm, clean water soothed her tired muscles. Yet, despite the calming steam, she couldn't relax. There were simply too many questions left unanswered.
"H-hey Sango?" she asked, twirling a lock of hair. "You know that conversation we had awhile back… the one about Sesshoumaru and the Pelt?"
"Yes, Kagome…" Sango asked, slightly suspiciously.
"I was just wondering… could you tell me a little bit about demonic courting rituals? Like, for dog demons?" she asked timidly.
"Why Kagome? I thought you said you didn't have any feelings for-"
"I don't!" Kagome exclaimed, a little too defensively. "I- Just in case… Inuyasha ever tries to court me…" Kagome said. She knew she was lying through her teeth, but hoped to coax Sango into answering her out of pity.
"Oh, Kagome!" Sango said sadly.
Perfect, Kagome thought, too anxious to be ashamed. Once again, while dishonorable, she found it completely necessary. She made sure to school her features into the perfect mixture of sadness and hope.
"All right, let's see. Just remember, I'm from a demon slayer's village. We weren't taught much on demonic rituals… nobody expected us to ever mate one," Sango began. "But, I do know that all relationships are instigated by the male. He presents his chosen female with something personal, to gain her trust. The female then accepts or rejects him, by accepting or rejecting the gift. Should she accept him, she gives him a personal gift in return." Sango licked her lips before continuing.
"That's the first stage of courting. I don't know much more, I'm afraid. All I know is that they then get to know each other, and if all goes well, they eventually mate."
"What's 'mate' mean?" Kagome asked innocently. Sango couldn't help but blush. Here was the naïve little school girl she loved, back in full force.
"They consummate the relationship," Sango tried, too embarrassed to go into details.
"Consummate? Meaning they…?" Kagome asked, her cheeks also reddening.
"Yes," Sango cut across. "Well, so now you know!" she finished abruptly. Kagome nodded her thanks, and allowed her head to fall back onto the rocky river bank. Sure, her big question was answered… but why did she feel more confused than ever?
Kagome wandered, unsure of where she was headed. Inuyasha had yet to return, and yet, he was far from her mind. Her bath with Sango this afternoon had been… enlightening, she supposed. That was the only way to describe it. Not exactly useful, but gave her a helpful push in what she hoped was the right direction.
She reached to her chest, searching for the small, golden locket within the confines of her shirt. Trembling fingers found the smooth surface, rubbing smooth, circular motions on the metal. It was dear to her, this locket. It was the final present given to her from her late father.
Dear to me, her thoughts echoed. She smiled softly, the face of her father giving her strength, secretly telling her what she must do. Yes, it was risky… but how could she ignore this one chance at happiness when it was nearly in her grasp?
With a brave nod, she released her senses, searching the surrounding wood for the one she needed. She pinpointed his swirling aura of white and red, pure yet tainted with sin, less than a mile to the West. She then recalled her power rather unsteadily, for it was much more difficult to contain than release.
She turned to her left, before sprinting forward. She felt the familiar swell of exhilaration burst in her veins; running made her feel free! Sure, something was usually chasing her at times like these, yet she couldn't help but whoop in excitement. For the first time in three weeks, she felt alive.
After half an hour of relentless running, she collapsed in a meadow, thoroughly exhausted. While she was used to exercise (trekking across Feudal Japan in search of jewel shards would do that to a girl), she was from the future… a time of cars and public transportation! 'Running' wasn't exactly the most civil way to travel.
Panting heavily, she crawled towards a large rock, directly in the center. Bit of shame, really, she thought while hauling herself up, the boulder kind of takes away from the whole place. However, she had more important things to worry about than the scenery; like how she was going to survive this little interaction. But, at the moment, there was nothing she could but wait; he'd pick up on her scent soon enough.
Lord Sesshoumaru's nose twitched as the familiar scent of Kagome drifted through the air. Vanilla and thunderstorms; sweetness with a touch of danger. While unusual, he had always taken a liking to it. That was until today.
This Sesshoumaru told her the next time we met would be as enemies, he thought, trying to convince himself that he was well within his rights to kill her. She is alone and defenseless. It will take but a second to run her through… and then she will cease to plague this one's thoughts.
Yes, it was the right course of action; he was sure of it. Sesshoumaru tried in vain to call forth the blood beast, choosing to believe that it would make the job faster rather than question his ability to execute the girl himself.
Disgusted with his own indecision, the demon lord surged forward, attempting to purge his brain of weak thoughts. That little bitch would die by his hands today.
Silently he hunted his prey, stopping every couple of minutes to catch her scent again. Purely for purpose of precise tracking, not because he enjoyed her scent, he assured himself. No, the only scent of hers he would enjoy was that of her spilled blood.
He couldn't help but wonder when the sudden hatred of the wench had occurred. He assumed it was his wounded pride demanding vengeance, yet he couldn't help but wonder if something else had triggered it.
Ah yes. Her devotion to the half breed, he thought, momentarily forgetting himself. Her pathetic 'love' of the dirty creature. It was most definitely not jealousy, merely disgust at her at her misplaced loyalties.
Sesshoumaru put his thoughts away, intending to examine them at a later date; once she was dead, of course. He focused all his attentions on finding the human girl; she was close now… very close. Her scent was extremely powerful.
Gliding to the edge of the forest, he peeked through the trees. He snorted inwardly; the Great Lord Sesshoumaru resorting to skulking behind trees! He would approach her and kill her; it was that simple. He tore his golden gaze away from her small form, refusing to acknowledge the enchanting way her black hair swayed in a soft breeze.
Forcing his powerful legs to move, he dashed forward and clenched his claws in a deadly point. He called forth his acid; the purpose of revenge was to make it painful. He flew forward, poising for attack, when suddenly, he smelled something… something which made him still instantly.
Salty water. The scent of her tears washed over him, and he felt the irritating urge to comfort the girl. The same girl he was prepared to gut mere moments ago. It was her soft, wavering voice that snapped him back to reality.
"I- I know you're there, S-Sesshoumaru. And- and I kn-know you want to k-kill me," she sniffed. "B-but before you do… I n-need to tell you… I'm so sorry!" she sobbed.
Ok, she had him. He looked at her curiously, his apparently forgotten hand still glowing a putrid green. To an onlooker, the scene might appear almost… comical. Of course, he would kill them moments later.
"Sorry for what, wench?" he snapped, desperately trying to keep his voice cold and emotionless. It was much harder than he imagined.
"S-sorry that I rejected you!" she cried. "I-I didn't know anything about demonic rituals… I thought it was your way of thanking me or something. B-but, I didn't want you to be without your pelt! I've seen it protect you before! What if you got hurt?" she stammered, frantically trying to explain herself.
Kagome watched his eyes widen in shock, wondering if he'd understood anything she had said. She'd been told on many occasions that when she was scared or anxious her words seemed to blend into an incomprehensible mess. Yet, seeing as she was an equal mixture both, they may have cancelled each other out.
"I-I know you probably won't want it or anything, but I thought I might as well…" she mumbled, pulling a delicate gold chain from around her neck. "My father gave it to me… but I want you to have it. It's called a locket," she said almost inaudibly handing the precious object to Sesshoumaru.
Inside, her heart was pounding. Would he accept it? She wouldn't blame him if he didn't. She cast her cerulean eyes downwards, one arm still extended. They fell upon a small spring of violet flowers, almost hidden amongst the lush strands of grass. Forget-Me-Nots.
Her sweet face shot up as long fingers splayed across the back of her hand hesitantly. Her black curls cascaded down her back as she titled her head, searching his eyes for a sign of forgiveness. To her disappointment they remained impassive, though perhaps not as cold as before.
Sesshoumaru's only hand clasped the locket firmly, tugging it gently from her hands. His head titled a fraction in question. What was the purpose of the peculiar object he held? He allowed his eyes to belay a small bit of curiosity, a small show of emotion only for her.
She smiled lightly as his eyes changed. Somehow, she knew what they were silently asking. "You put something inside it, anything that you wish to hold close to your heart. Then clasp it around your neck."
It then occurred to her how difficult actually fastening the necklace would be for a one-armed man, demon or not. She cursed her thoughtlessness. "If you sit, then maybe I can put it on for you?" she suggested shyly.
He stilled at her words, particularly the third one. Warning bells sounded throughout his brain as he backed away. "The necklace you have given the half-breed-" he started, causing Kagome to giggle quietly.
"No, this isn't like that; it's not a subjugation locket. I won't be sitting you any time soon. But, sometimes the clasps can be a little tricky."
He visibly relaxed at her words, choosing to trust that she would not enchant him. He knelt down before the priestess, a first for him, and moved his silky hair to one side. He almost purred as the gentle hands fluttered across his skin.
After several moments of struggle, she gave a triumphant squeal and the locket clicked closed. The gold center gave a slight ping as it bumped against his armored chest.
As Sesshoumaru admired the glinting object against his chest, Kagome bent down and plucked a single blue flower. She then offered the tiny blossom to the demon lord, which he slowly accepted.
"It's called a Forget-Me-Not. My father told me about them before… before he left. He told me that when you give someone you love a Forget-Me-Not, they'll always remember you, no matter what," Kagome began, hardly realizing the implications of what she had said.
"I thought, maybe you could put it inside the locket… until you have something better to put in of course!" she explained hastily. She felt rather childish afterwards; it was kind of a dumb idea. The stoic demon lord with a flower?
To her surprise, he nodded once, his eyes momentarily flashing a 'thank you.' With a bit of help from Kagome, he managed to open the locket and place the blossom inside, before closing it with an audible snap.
"Now, you'll always remember me!" Kagome grinned, tempted to hug him. Oh wow, she realized, I have a demon lord for a boyfriend! Yep, despite all the adventures, she was still a teenager through and through. Eyes gleaming in ecstasy, she flung her arms around his shielded chest, pressing her cheek against him.
Sesshoumaru stood there awkwardly, completely at a loss. He had killed people for less. Did she know nothing about demonic culture? To embrace royalty was strictly forbidden! He mentally sighed, remembering her little performance earlier and the whole courting ritual fiasco; that was proof enough. He brought his arm up and patted her once on the back.
Suddenly, she choked against him, causing him to withdraw his hand abruptly. Had he harmed her? Pulling away, he looked into her frightened blue eyes.
"Something really bad's coming," she whispered, eyes clenching in pain. "My powers react when a dark aura approaches, but it has to be really strong…"
Sesshoumaru raised his hand, automatically silencing her. His ears twitched, finally noticing how the forest had fallen oddly quiet. The hair on the back of his neck spiked as the air around him tingled. He now felt it too.
He looked over her shoulder, sharp amber eyes catching sight of what appeared to be dark rain clouds. Yet, they were moving fast, too fast… and against the wind.
Instinctively, he moved to shield his chosen one from the oncoming danger. But, he could feel her weakening from behind him, her breath coming in uneven pants. Snarling, he allowed his power to slowly leak into the surrounding air. He was careful not to transform; it simply would not do to trample the little priestess.
A small thump indicated the frail creature behind him had collapsed, and her screams of agony almost caused him to lose control… the same screams he had delighted in mere days ago. The wind changed direction as his eyes widened and streaked with crimson.
Suddenly, he felt it; a strong tug on his mental barrier, calling forth the beast. He reeled back… this was not his doing. His hand shifted to Tokijin, tightening as he felt the wrapped hilt. He went to draw his deadly weapon, mid-transformation, but found his body no longer obeyed.
The dark storm cloud had almost reached them, bolts of lightening striking the tallest trees in bold chains. Powerful winds caused the small rocks imbedded in the ground to lift and fly several feet away. Sesshoumaru grunted as they repeatedly bounced off his armor, desperately searching for a way to escape the creature's grasp. With a gargantuan effort, he managed to shake the intruder from his mind.
Kagome whimpered behind her protector, the dark aura piercing her very soul. She forced her left arm to extend and grip Sesshoumaru's empty sleeve. Her fingers slipped several times along the smooth fabric before catching.
Sesshoumaru turned to the priestess, acknowledging her pained eyes and fevered skin with a small twinge of worry. He knelt to brace the small woman against the storm, but paused as he felt the aura pass by. He waited for the mysterious foe to circle and attack again, but only watched the dark cloud move on, leaving clear, blue skies in his wake.
Little by little Kagome felt the impurity lessen, until it was naught but a distant memory. Gradually, her strength returned until she felt well enough to stand. She was helped to her feet by Sesshoumaru, her breathing still erratic.
"What the hell was that?" she asked frantically.
(Over and Out. End of Part II)