DISCLAIMER - The ownership and general brilliance that is the original Feudal Fairy Tale remains the property of its honored and rightfully revered creator Rumiko Takahashi without whose brilliance, we would not have fodder.
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Edited by: Meara the Celt
Chapter Nineteen is dedicated to my beloved Meara the Celt for her unstinting patience and humour, preferably expressed in smaller thoughts *chuckle*. She knows what I mean lol…
" With each lingering sip
I cannot help but see
all that makes tea
as well make me..."
The Minister of Leaves
Chapter 19 – The Minister of Leaves
Sango lowered the kick stand with practiced ease and glared at the two monoliths that stood erect outside of The Art of Tea with expressionless faces.
She knew they had noticed her; if only because she had nearly caused one whiplash as he reached for something in his jacket before being tapped by another tall, lean figure in the open doorway. That familiar, irrepressible smug smile could very well cause her to commit murder one day.
"Sakura Blossom, I never thought to have the pleasure of your company twice in one day."
The coach gritted her teeth and removed her helmet to glare at the handsome wretch with the too perfect teeth who leaned casually against the door frame like a fixture. He even had the utter gall to usher her in, casual as you please, as if he owned the damn place.
She snorted audibly at his mauve colored silk socks that clashed with the tatami and kicked off her unlaced boots without thinking just she has always done upon entry.
Her cheeks reddened instantly.
A big toe curled self consciously under the intense scrutiny of amused pale amethyst eyes. Miroku wiggling well clad toes companionably in turn.
Sango raised her chin defiantly. The coach was having none of this overly convivial wriggling of appendages. "Where's Kagome?"
They were her last clean pair and she hadn't done her laundry yet, so what? She didn't owe him any explanations as to the current state of her socks.
Never lifting his eye from the adorable, little porker, Miroku casually closed the door on the two listening guards. "Did you have an appointment with Miss Higurashi? You are welcome to wait."
It was one thing to be left high and dry without a proper explanation over their impromptu luncheon, interrupted by that self-satisfied anorexic bitch, it was quite another to take this autocratic tone. Kagome was her friend, not his.
"I did offer, but there were no takers at the time," Miroku retorted with a long suffering sigh.
For the umpteenth time Sango acknowledged that speed and agility were unfortunate strengths of this man-whore. Her boot just missed connecting decisively with the back of his silken well coiffed head.
She followed close on his heels with her helmet swinging by its chin strap, determined not to miss again as he took the most obvious route of escape through to the back of the store and into the kitchen.
Several sets of surprised eyes met hers as she charged through the door with blood and vengeance in her eyes.
"Miss Sango, would you like some tea?" Oshi offered, nervously watching the helmet held like weapon.
The coach cleared her throat and took in the kitchen's occupants with menace, refusing to look into shrewd mauve eyes that watched from the relative safety of the back door. One of his hands carefully placed on the doorknob that led to the garden, just in case.
He had won this round.
"Yes, Oshi, that would be nice," she answered, slouching dejectedly into the chair offered by another monolith that apparently went by the name of Tatsumi. He had rather beautiful eyes and there was nothing smug in his expression as he pushed the tray of sweets toward her, carefully.
Miroku's audibly sighed with relief and returned his attention to the squirming red-head that sat to her right.
"Continue, Shippou. You are not the only one that escaped the property those many years ago and remained unaccounted for."
Sango's focus abruptly changed as the tea cup rose to her lips and she quietly studied the small red-headed male next to her, who would have preferred in that moment that the Earth opened to receive him.
Nightfall was imminent.
Cool air-tousled, silken strands of white that framed a handsomely rugged face schooled in thought. Soft, silky white ears perked, listening intently to the sounds of crickets and the other denizens of night returning to life at the close of day.
Evenfall had come to be Inuyasha's favored time on these grounds. The worlds troubles seem to fad in the diming light of dusk. A peace settled over the estate and, most importantly, in his soul. Rich amber scanned the distant tree tops for signs of movement but saw none, though he could feel the other demons in full wakefulness; some hunting for their meals under the protection of darkness. For now, things were right, but he knew all too well, how soon this studied peace could change.
His eyes narrowed.
'So much for peace.'
The air about him began vibrating with a new presence as a gentle gust of wind heralded the approaching footfalls on the gravel path beneath Rin's bedroom; familiar footsteps and a distinctive scent.
"What do you want, Kagura?"
"Good evening to you too, Lord Inuyasha."
Her footfalls ceased mere inches from his current position atop the hillock that gave an expansive view of the glen below and the woodland beyond that held its own secrets.
"You always come out here at night. Why?"
Inuyasha growled softly, turning slightly to look at the pale silhouette that had crept next to him with a surprisingly querulous expression on a usually stony yet beautiful countenance.
"Just checkin' that everything is cool, if you must know. Don't you have someone else to annoy, like Jaken or somethin'?"
Her laugh was almost musical in response. "I had no idea you would be out here. I thought you were with the TaiPan and Lady Rin. I was just taking a walk, Lord Inuyasha. It was not my intent to disturb your peace."
A dark brow lifted with suspicion under pale bangs. "Kay….so walk already and leave me be, Windy."
No matter what she would ever do, they could never be friends. Inuyasha had made that perfectly clear, regardless of the fact that he had proved her saving grace that night. He had merely acted on instinct. It wasn't personal - too much history.
Kagura lowered her head in a quiescent bow, suitable to the moment. "As you wish, Inuyasha. I won't trouble your evening further."
Luminous amber eyes regarded her retreating back with interest. Kagura looked very much like a ghost, almost airborne in the fluid movements of her pale kimono that fluttered in the self created breeze about her. Perhaps he had been too hard. She was suffering from his own anger at Sesshoumaru, who still took pleasure in treating him like a whelp. It wasn't her fault that he had been kicked out of the room due to a paternal bout of jealousy.
She was heading for the trees that lined the outer limits of the property and safeguarded from view the ancient well and the cottages of demons beholden to the former Taiyoukai. Some did not hold with her presence on the property and would take great pleasure in 'accidentally' damaging the chauffeur, despite possible retribution from the Master of the estate.
Inuyasha snarled and took off at a slow jog.
Bubbles and the scented warmth of a bath were a welcomed respite, removing Naraku's musky scent from pale limbs in a leisurely soak.
Raku always did her best thinking in repose, preferably with a libation as now. She observed the frosted martin glass held by elegant claw tipped fingers.
Petulant lips slowly shifted to a self-satisfied smile remembering the conversation had with the pathetic hanyou. "Why Sesshoumaru darling, you have been a naughty boy, haven't you?"
Soft thin lips took an abstracted sip.
It seemed she had missed quite a bit, staying away so long. Not that it had been her idea of course, circumstances being what they are she had a bit of checking to do on that uncomely bitch's line. The old man had proved more than she could handle at the time; surprising, really, for a ningen. He was gone now - his spell of holding dying with him.
As for the girl, she was just a girl. She could handle her. A malicious gleam entered Raku's pale green eyes danced with malice as she downed the last of the cool, soothing liquid and reached for her cell.
This was going to be a great deal of fun.
The phone in the shop rang, silencing the party within the kitchen. Sango could feel the tension rise instantly as Oshi looked to Miroku furtively before picking up the receiver.
Few had this number. Only a select few clients, in fact.
"Good Evening, you have reached the Art of Tea, how may I be of service?"
Soft appreciate murmurs followed, while Sango rolled her eyes at the undue deference she heard in Oshi's voice as he took the particulars of the client who clearly wished to take the first available appointment with Miss Higurashi for the next tea service.
Shippou, deciding to take the first available opportunity himself, slowly slid from his seat and made a mad dash for the front. He was forestalled by the looming figure of Tatsumi who placed a firm grip on a small shoulder.
"Not so fast little guy. Mister Houshi asked you a question and you have yet to answer."
The fox demon continued to squirm to no avail, finally giving up as Oshi carefully replaced the receiver. He beetled out of the room purposefully returning moments later with a bemused expression.
"Kami, is this even possible? The amount…the amount, Mr. Houshi; surely Miss Higurashi will be pleased."
Miroku's gaze bore through the little man as he took the sheet of fax paper from the little attendant's nervous hands and read with misgivings.
"What did she say her name was?"
"Oh God, that bitch again?" Sango mumbled irritably. She didn't like the look on Miroku's face. He looked lost, confused and worried but why?
Miroku's eyes turned to Sango, but did not see her as he returned the thin, shiny sheet to the shop's attendant. "Set the appointment as indicated, Oshi."
The coldness the coach witnessed in his now cloaked expression gave her pause. It was as though she were looking deep within murky depths that had seen much and done even worse. For the first time Sango realized that, perhaps, appearances were truly deceiving.
Those eyes that looked to hers were in no way kind, in no way humorous and held a otherworldly glow of priestly violet in aura that spoke of ancient magic. He was someone not to be trifled with.
'Oh dear, Sakura Blossom, but you are more than you appear. You carry your own ancestry well...Slayer.'
She blinked and it was gone as was the voice that had reverberated in her skull. That smile, that smug, well tutored lascivious gaze had returned capped by too perfect teeth.
The voice had called her Slayer, a moniker she had not heard since Kagome's Grandfather's time. He too had called her such in affection.
"Shippou, my little man, I think it is time you revisited your rightful place at home. Come with me. We are both needed elsewhere."
Time slowed for the dark haired woman who was left with the attendant and the towering monolith who regarded her anew beneath hooded piercing blue eyes as though seeing her also, for the first time.
"More tea, Miss Sango?"
She nodded. Her body tingled with a sudden flood of adrenalin. That recurring dream she had returned in wakefulness; of flight, soft fur beneath her and a feral growl that spat fire mid air.
They stood at opposing ends of the derelict well, regarding it amidst the brush and vines that partially hid it from view.
"What will become of us, Inuyasha, now that she has come?"
The hanyou blinked at the soft spoken query and gazed at the pale figure across from him, ruby eyes glowed softly in what remained of dusk.
A thin, sad smile graced Kagura's tired face.
"No, I mean, Miss Higurashi. She is a Miko, our sworn enemy. Surely you have thought of this, Lord Inuyasha?"
Trepidation was evident in the spoken words and the timber of her voice. He placed a clawed finger to his lips as he carefully sniffed the air.
Rustling leaves and the snap of twigs caused the hanyou to spin on his heels to face the approaching form. He was not alone in his defensive stance as Kagura quickly joined his side, long onyx tresses billowing in an angry wind that whispered across his cheek seductively.
He glanced briefly in her direction, caught by the sight. Her decorative comb had been removed and now was displayed for what it actually was - a fan with sharp bladed tines that unfurled with a metallic sigh.
"She is not your enemy, yet, Kagura."
Inuyasha sniffed the air anew with a peeved expression. "Stupid Old Bat!"
He stood with a knowing expression as he glared at the bushes that had yet to give up its secret or the person that stood there. "You're lucky you stink of them herbs and shit. I could'a taken your head off just then and you would have no one else to blame."
The staff appeared first then the ample form of the elderly healer followed, holding fast to her staff with an amused expression in the one eye still intact.
"I don't think so, Lord Inuyasha. You both still need me and Lady Kagome will be in need of me soon enough. I came to fetch you both. You will be needed. Miroku is returning as we speak with the kitsune."
Inuyasha paled. It had begun.
The air possessed and electric current that snapped and shimmied about her.
With each step it felt as though her heart would breach her rib cage at the call. She could not hear, she could not speak, as the door loomed ever closer and a growing heat assailed her with the thrum of her beating heart.
Sesshoumaru carefully closed Rin's bedroom door behind him; the child finally having found sleep after the fourth recitation of the damned story of wolves and picnic baskets.
She glowed. It was the one thought he held as he watched Kagome's movements and the careful way her pale, small hand gripped the doorknob and turned it.
The walls shimmered, reflecting the soft light that grew in intensity the closer it coiled about her body and he knew then, she was The One.
Many years had passed since he had come home to find the old Guji standing precariously on the ladder with a mischievous gleam in his small wizened face.
"You are home, Taiyoukai. I had hoped to be gone, by your return."
Sesshoumaru steadied the ladder with large hands and glared at the back of the balding head with a severe countenance that was entirely ignored. The elderly human reached out and held a broad shoulder as he descended carefully.
He turned to face the towering male whose face bore signs of fatigue, anger and confusion that were quickly masked upon recognition of the knowing, penetrating gaze that held his.
A gnarled hand patted the pale patrician cheek gently.
Sesshoumaru flinched but otherwise did not move, despite the familiarity of the gesture.
"I did wonder how in Kami I was going to get down without calling your fussy little attendant. Kind of useless isn't he?"
Finally, something they both could agree upon. "Indeed."
Pale citrine eyes looked up at the chandelier above his desk.
"Is that entirely necessary?"
"Yes," was the simple flat reply from the elderly male, "She will find it, in due time, and take her inheritance and begin the journey with you. You will need each other."
"Come. Sit down, before you fall down, old man."
The priest grasped the forearm barely pro-offered to lead the elderly male to the couch.
Like a whisper of memory he heard the soft voice calling him from reverie.
"Sesshoumaru…Sesshoumaru…I can't breathe...help me, Sesshoumaru. Please, help me."
His hand felt burnt and yet comforted by the gentle grasp. What was fire became a pulsing warmth against his palm. He pulled her to him protectively as he heard the hinges on the doors giving way and planks of ancient rosewood and metalwork splintered and shot down the hallway at deathly speed like arrows.
Their bodies crashed to the floor, unharmed but for the loss of air.
Sesshoumaru looked into the frightened, dazed eyes peering up at him.
"You are unharmed, Higurashi?"
Kagome felt wet warmth on her cheek and hands and began to shake. The substance was sticky and came from Sesshoumaru's back.
He was bleeding and still her heart thrummed nearly beating out of her chest, like the beat of a million butterfly wings caged within her breast.
I hope you are still enjoying this particular tale. Thank you for your continued support. The Ship High In Transit has hit the fan! LOL!