Chapter 14: Taking Care of Her

by wasurera (aka Icdragons)

Lyrics from "It's The Fear" by Within Temptation

It waits for the day I will let it out.
To give it a reason, to give it its might.

I fear who I am becoming,
I feel that I am losing the struggle within.
I can no longer restrain it,
My strength it is fading,
I have to give in.

"Taking care" of Kagome proved more difficult than Sesshoumaru anticipated... but then, he had learned to expect the unexpected from the strange girl. Instead of simpering and thanking him when he showed up the next morning to accompany her to school, she glared at him, her dark eyes snapping with annoyance. When he offhandedly mentioned that she might thank him for his thoughtfulness, her "thank you" left him thinking she would have substituted a much cruder word for 'thank' were her mother not looking on.

In their classes the girl did well enough – she knew her history, math and science, and in theory she understood magic.

Her first attempt at performing a simple defense charm, however, led him to wonder why she was attending the Mahou Meiro School at all, until he remembered the Star Room. It also had him renewing his internal promise to keep her safe, the resolution sitting too comfortably with him.

"Remember, all you're doing is closing the circle of energy," the instructor's monotone voice echoed through the vast, empty Magical Practices room, "we've already prepared the runes needed to complete the protective circle – you're just providing the energy to activate the spell. For this spell you are just the battery, powering the circle." He gave them all hard-eyed looks. "We won't be focusing on un-anchored magic until we cover advanced spell-casting. For some of you this may be easy," he nodded to Sesshoumaru, "and for others..." he cocked an eyebrow in Inu-Yasha's general direction, and Sesshoumaru muffled an amused snort. They all remembered his brother's last attempt at magic. He was much better at acts of brute strength than magic, and the whole school (and everyone within a ten block radius) knew it.

Sesshoumaru ignored the instructors continuous droning, instead finding Kagome where she stood waiting next to her carefully drawn rune circle. She looked nervous, and something in the slump of her shoulders told him that she was not looking forward to the coming spell-casting.

Why? Between meeting her yesterday and today, he had developed a sensitivity to her aura – a familiarity, almost. The energy around her swirled and glowed with a subtle golden radiance, shot through with brighter streaks, like streaks of sunlight breaking through clouds. Sesshoumaru had never seen an aura quite like it.

It was impossible to tell exactly how much magical ability she had, but that aura told him she had more than enough latent potential to easily master a rune-structured spell – all she would need to do was channel her power and release it. Like pulling the trigger on a pre-loaded, pre-aimed gun, or throwing a blade that had been spelled to always hit its target.

A booming crash interrupted Sesshoumau's thoughts, rattling through the room and almost shaking Sesshoumaru's footing.

He instinctively took a step toward Kagome before his senses alerted him that there was no danger present. He heard a low growl in his head and his fists clenched against his will.

After assuring himself Kagome was unharmed he surveyed the room, his eyes coming to rest on his brother, who stood in the center of what was left of his rune-circle, ankle-deep in pulverized floor tile. The black-and-white tiles had been reduced to a gray powder, and his brother was covered in black soot from head to foot, his hair smoking and smelling of sulfur.

"While I appreciate your enthusiasm, Inu-Yasha," the teacher's voice took on a dry tone, "perhaps we could do with a little less of it."

Sesshoumaru wrinkled his nose with distaste, then caught Kagome looking on, trying – and failing – to stifle her laughter. Their eyes met for a moment and he lifted an eyebrow at her. For some reason that sent her into more laughter, and he almost found himself wanting to laugh with her.

Instead he scowled, hiding the instinct to smile with her, and she stuck her tongue out at him.

What would he have done if there really was an attack on her?

A pinching pain in his hand made him look down. Blood dripped from his fist, and he opened his hand to reveal that his claws had dug into his own palms. He frowned. An inkling of uncomfortable suspicion trickled through him.

He was always in perfect control of his body, except when...

No. Not possible.

He shook himself out of those dangerous thoughts

No one could attack her on school grounds, He assured himself. She is safer here than anywhere else.

A dark, gravelly voice rumbled inside his head, and he silently cursed as his suspicions were confirmed.

Except at the Palace of the Moon, his beast whispered to him, she would be safest there. We could lock her up, keep her all for ourselves.

For a fraction of a second Sesshoumaru agreed, but then he rebelled against the long-silent voice of the dog-god in him, warring against the unexpected upsurge of possessive greed within him.

His beast rarely spoke directly to him, and it had never reacted in such a way, especially to a human.

He hated the feeling of not being in complete control of his body, so he had always avoided situations that brought the dog-god to the fore. He would remain in control of his own actions. He knew the consequences of losing control.

We will do no such thing, he told his beast, She's a human.

She is ours! His beast snarled at him. Sesshoumaru felt his fangs and claws lengthening, his jaw aching as it tried to lengthen.

There would be no arguing with his beast. It was his Id, oddly childlike and yet so powerful that if left uncontrolled it would cause unbelievable mayhem. Sesshoumaru was always powerful, but with his beast unleashed he became more. He became the god he was, the scion of the Moon... and uncontrollable, even unto himself. Part of why he kept himself detached was to avoid emotions that might rouse his beast. He would not be like his brother, lacking in control over his own emotions... could not be like his brother. When Inu-Yasha let his beast take over, he became a monster; when Sesshoumaru lost to his beast, whole cities would become rubble.

He wouldn't let a human girl ruin his hard-won calm. He would protect her, as he had promised, but once he had destroyed whatever threatened her he would have to distance himself from her again.

Fool, his beast snapped at him, too stubborn to see a gift within our hands.

That is enough. Sesshoumaru smothered the voice, knowing he would pay for it later. Fighting with his beast always left him with a wicked headache.

Sesshoumaru's foul mood became even fouler as he watched Kagome dig a handkerchief out of her blazer pocket and hand it to his brother. His chest knotted up and his fangs pricked his bottom lip.

The sight of his half-brother wiping away soot with Kagome's pretty handkerchief, dirtying its pristine lace with black smudges, had his beast snarling within him.Sesshoumaru pushed and shoved the voice into a mental box. Even after he had the dog-god sedated within him, he felt the urge to pull Kagome's attention away from his fool brother.

Show her what a real demon can do. Sesshoumaru frowned. That voice hadn't come from his beast.

Showing off to impress a female – especially a human one...

His brother sneezed, further dirtying her handkerchief.

Then again, my fool brother does need a role-model. He will never learn, otherwise.

The teacher, well used to Inu-Yasha's small disasters, had been continuing down the line of students, and now he was in front of Sesshoumaru, nodding at him to begin.

He stepped into the protective ring, pausing long enough to make sure that Kagome was paying attention, and effortlessly gathered just enough energy to trigger the protective spell.

With a flicker of concentration he released his energy into the spell, and the circle and runes marking the floor around him flared to bright white life. A dome of silver light surrounded him, a shimmering field of energy that would deflect any aggressive magics and a substantial physical attack. The teacher nodded with satisfaction.

"Very good, Sesshoumaru. As expected."

With a flick of his hand, Sesshoumaru dispersed the shield, hiding a satisfied grin. Clearly his beast was still close to the surface, because he found himself enjoying the impressed look in Kagome's eyes.

From the ventilation window above the door a fangirlish sigh went up, accompanied by the sound of clicking cameras. Sesshoumaru nearly snarled as Kagome's attention moved away from him, focusing on the blasted Fluffy Fan Club members who now made themselves known.

The teacher, animated for the first time that day, moved to the door with astonishing speed for one so advanced in years.

"Shoo! Scat! This is the last warning you're getting. Next time I'm sending you to Principal Kaede – the whole lot of you!"

A collective groan accompanied the trudging of many feet as the Fluffy Fan Club dispersed. In their wake a lonely piece of paper fluttered down the hallway.

Kagome caught Sesshoumaru's eye again, mouthing 'Fluffy' with a smirk. He ignored how it drew his attention to her soft pink lips – drawing a rumble from his beast – and narrowed his eyes at her, silently promising retribution should she feel the need to comment.

Returning to his usual near-inanimate state, the teacher moved in front of Kagome.

She stood up straight, and Sesshoumaru could practically smell her anxiety.

For the first time that day, Sesshoumaru sensed real nervousness from her, and he frowned. She seemed so confident in most matters that seeing her unbalanced now, over such a simple spell, left him troubled. It wasn't as bad as her panic and fear the night before – even the memory of that had his hackles rising, and his beast growling – but it was still disturbing to him.

Kagome carefully stepped into her circle. She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. Sesshoumaru felt her drawing energy to herself, slowly, laboriously.

Something was off. The flow of that golden energy seemed weak, almost... tainted. The clouds-and-sunlight of her golden aura roiled into mostly clouds, the bright golden rays smothered nearly out.

After a long pause a thin, stuttering tendril of sickly yellow light rose from the circle, and after a few moments another joined it. They wafted into a dome shape that, rather than a solid field of energy, shifted and moved like smoke – her 'shield' filled with gaping holes that any enemy could use to breach her defenses.

Sesshoumaru could pick up the smell of sweat, and saw perspiration dotting Kagome's forehead. Her brow was wrinkled so deeply in concentration that she nearly seemed to be in pain.

This is wrong, he thought, disturbed. This not simply weak magic. This is... something else.

The teacher shook his head, looking confused. "Ms. Higurashi, is something blocking your energy? Your power almost appears to be atrophied." His brow puckered, a bothered look coming into his expression.

Kagome slitted her eyes open, shook her head, and dropped the shield. She was breathing heavily, practically gasping out the words. "I don't... know... I used... to be... able to do this."

The teacher shook his head. "This is unusual. Your powers almost seem to have been-"

With a groan, Kagome fell to her knees, and then to her side.

Sesshoumaru found himself kneeling next to her before he thought about it. He ignored the teacher's shocked "Oh dear" as he lifted her in his arms. Her eyes were closed, her narrow ribcage heaving as she gasped for air. A fine sheen of sweat had broken out all over her body, almost as though she had run a marathon, and goosebumps ran up her arms and legs.

Something is very wrong.

Strands of hair clung to her flushed face, and he brushed it back, watching the rapid movement of her eyes under her eyelids. She was unconscious, whimpering as though suffering from nightmares. What malady ails her?

Inu-Yasha drew near, and Sesshoumaru found himself growling without even looking up from the girl. He could smell his brother's confusion and concern for her, but he did not care. She was his responsibility, and he would be the one to see her safe and protected.

"I will take her to see a physician," he informed the teacher as he left, his human charge cradled in his arms.