Couple of things I'd like to address. First of all, I've had several comments about the manner in which I've written this story. Some people don't like that I've split up the points of view of Kagome and Sesshoumaru. I felt that it was important to do so, first of all because of my writing process. I tend to focalise through one character when I write. So writing from both perspectives helped me to allow you (the readers) see the thought processes of both characters. So while the dialogue was, of course, all the same, I wanted you all to see the differences in perspectives from Kagome versus Sesshoumaru. And then also, since they weren't together all the time, I wanted to show their thoughts while being apart. So while it may have been a bit tedious, I really urge you to reread the parts that you've skipped (if you did, and I know some of you didn't—you rock.) if only to see where the characters differ in their view of events. Also, I couldn't very well just up and change the style of the story in the middle of it.
In this chapter, however, I changed some of that. You'll see what I mean. This was really just stylistic choice. So thanks for reading, and thanks for being patient with me throughout my writing of this story. I'm pretty proud of myself because this is the longest thing that I've written that will be complete. (And this is the last chapter, thanks.) So, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who prompted and prodded me to keep updating! You guys are what made me finish this, and I hope you enjoy the ending that I've concocted. Thanks!
Thanks for all of the responses already, guys! I changed my mind, and there WILL be an epilogue. :)
His body was warm against hers, making her feel almost feverish. Or perhaps that was only the beer. Kagome sat back, afraid to meet his eyes, just in case the question was written in them. Biting her lip, she lifted her eyes as far as his jaw, the magenta stripes across his cheeks tempting her touch from her peripheral vision. So she lifted her hand, tracing the smooth shapes on his smooth cheek. After a quick glance at his eyes, she dropped them back to where they wouldn't meet his.
"Kagome..." His voice rumbled like distant thunder, purring her name.
She didn't answer, instead her finger keeping in contact with his skin along his jaw to trace the stripes on the other side. Why was he so beautiful... Her finger paused at the corner of his eye before hesitantly tracing along his eyebrow, marvelling at how still he held, hardly even breathing. Moving to hover over his forehead, Sesshoumaru's hand grasped her wrist before she could trace the half moon etched on his forehead. Kagome met his eyes, stilled.
"You do me honour," he murmured, golden orbs boring into her. "Yet,..." he continued with a wry smile, "I doubt you know it."
"I—" She was transfixed.
His warm smile stopped her as he brought her hand to his mouth, kissing her knuckles gently. "I have something I wish to show you."
"Show me?" She echoed. "What—" He left her on the couch, rising with that natural feline grace. Taking the sudden absence as a chance for reprieve, Kagome smoothed her hair and schooled her emotions back under control. "What is it?" she called to the open hallway. There was no reply for a moment and then Sesshoumaru moved out into the hallway, holding something to his chest. As he approached, his eyes looked open, almost vulnerable. "Sesshoumaru? What's this?"
He sat again, beside her, their thighs flush, an old photo album held reverently in his hands. Catching her eyes, Kagome could see the swirl of emotion there, more than she'd ever seen from the usually-stoic man she had once feared.
He cleared his throat. "Inu Yasha..."
Kagome couldn't help the sharp intake of breath as he said that name.
"Inu Yasha says "hi." He... missed you."
Her eyes burned and watered. "When...?"
Sesshoumaru shook his head. "I apologise for not telling you sooner. I had forgotten."
"It's okay, it's okay," she assured, clasping her hands tightly, hanging on his words.
"He also said that Hojo is, and I quote, "a fucking wimp and no good for you."" Sesshoumaru gave a melancholy chuckle. "He would be glad that you two did not "hook up," as he said."
Kagome shook her head, the tears sliding down her face. "I know!" Why was he bringing Yasha up when the two of them...
The man next to her took a deep breath. "I have a few photos I wanted to show you... Would you...?"
"Yes! Yes, I want to see them!" Move faster! Kagome was perched already on the edge of the couch cushion, waiting to see what it is he would show her.
His long fingers lingered on the cover of the album tenderly before flipping it open. Inu Yasha stood next to a perfectly groomed Sesshoumaru. Both held austere expressions, the years showing their toll on Inu Yasha's face and in his eyes. Both men had their hands clasped before them in stiff poses, but Kagome couldn't help but think that Sesshoumaru's eyes held a lighter emotion than the frequent dislike and derision she had seen there before.
"This was about twenty years before his death. I begged a picture of him," Sesshoumaru related ruefully.
"Why is that something to be ashamed of?" Kagome asked, wondering where this was going.
"Because..." He turned to meet her eyes. "The last photo I had not been prepared, and so I wanted to look my best when—"
"Aah, no wonder all of the shining splendour," she teased quietly.
"Hn. Yes. However,..."
She looked at him, but his eyes were focused on something within the photo album that she couldn't see. When she leaned over, Sesshoumaru shifted the album slightly so she still could not see.
"However, there was another photo the photographer took that day. I... I never even showed this one to him. This is... This has been my treasure for many years. You will be the first to see it."
Nodding at the gravity of that statement from one such as the former Taiyoukai of the Western Lands, Kagome sat back and waited until he was ready to show her. Even if curiosity burned through her veins like fire on dry grass.
Finally, he handed her the photo album.
"Oh..." she could only breathe.
"I didn't know it had been taken until the photographer came to deliver the photos."
"Ha..." Emotion welled up in Kagome, feelings of both pain and pleasure to see the two brothers together, interacting like brothers should. Yasha's face darkened in the black and white photo with embarrassment, Sesshoumaru's smile pure and bright. "This is... beautiful. It's beautiful Sesshoumaru. Just beautiful..." And then she began to cry.
"Kagome... Kagome," he whispered in earnest, setting the album aside. "Don't cry."
"I wish..." Wish what? Wish she had been there? But then she would never have seen this side of Sesshoumaru, have met him like this. But did that mean that she would rather be with Sesshoumaru than Inu Yasha? She shook her head. She didn't know what she wished. She wanted both parts. But knew that was already impossible. "Oh Sesshoumaru, I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say."
"I didn't show you to make you cry, Kagome." His large hand cupped her face. "I wished to share with you this. Not to make you cry."
For a moment, there were no words. Kagome could only stare at the man before her. "Sesshou—"
"Kagome," he interrupted. "Would my brother accept me loving you?"
There really was no space to stop and breathe tonight... Kagome opened her mouth and shut it several times, waiting for the correct words to come. What response was there? "I..."
"Would he accept if I could make you happy?" His words were soft and tender, eyes imploring.
"Would he allow it if I promised to always care for you and protect you?"
"Sesshoumaru... I don't..." Kagome watched as the hurt tickertaped across his eyes briefly. "No! Don't take that the wrong way, Sesshoumaru, I—Inu Yasha... He..." The words kept tumbling from her mouth, making no sense, so she silenced herself against his lips as the decision was made in her heart. When she had to pull back for air, she whispered, "If there were anyone who Inu Yasha would want to care for me, then it would certainly be only you."
His head dropped onto her shoulder as his shoulders slumped. "I am glad to hear you say that, Kagome, because I don't think I could handle it if you were anyone's but mine."
Kagome felt her face get hot, lifting one of Sesshoumaru's cool ones to her cheek. There was nothing to say... Except... "I'm glad you've waited for me."
Sesshoumaru's shoulders trembled with soft chuckles as he raised his head and met her eyes. "It seems that we are the perfect pair. One from the past trying to live in the future, one from the future unable to escape from the past."
Kagome laughed. "Yes." There was a moment of silence between the two, awkward between them. Then...
"Would you spend then night?"
"I..." Frozen, Kagome could only stare as she felt her cheeks once again flame up.
"Sorry, was that too forward?" Sesshoumaru took her hands, pressing a kiss to her palms.
"Don't... don't be coy now," Kagome found herself murmuring, dropping her eyes to their linked hands.
He stared at her for a moment before a grin spread across his lips. "Very well, Kagome."
And before she could ask what came next, Sesshoumaru had scooped her into his arms, striding towards his bedroom. "Sesshoumaru!" Didn't this... This was really fast! Wrapping her arms around his neck, Kagome's mind raced with all of the reasons why not to do this, why going this quickly was a bad idea, why she couldn't do this. But then... these were the results that Katy had been talking about, weren't they? Breathing in his scent, Kagome's fears eased as she closed her eyes. Ready. I'm ready. I'm ready. I started this; I'm ready. Tucking her head into the crook of his neck, Kagome licked her lips and then kissed his neck, eliciting a low groan from the man.
Setting her down on the bed, Sesshoumaru pushed her down, crawling up after her. "You planned this, did you not?"
His husky voice covered her senses, as she blushed again at his touch on her cheek, avoiding his eyes. "I..."
"I know you have. Planned at least some of it," he murmured, returning the favour of kissing her neck.
"I did... I planned part... Katy..." Kagome said in between kisses.
"Katy?" Sesshoumaru paused in his ministrations, pulling back.
With a breathy laugh, Kagome nodded. "Katy gave me... advice..." She lifted her hands to finally run her fingers through his hair. "But, yes... I...did want this, apparently."
"Apparently," Sesshoumaru teased, rolling to lie next to her. "Is this spur of the moment? Should I wait a day to see if you have changed your mind?"
She shivered at his light touches across her shoulders and down her arms. "N-no..." She pressed hands to his chest as she realised how much she did want this. "No more waiting. I have waited too long to be happy, Sesshoumaru."
He held her close until Kagome sat back, eyes downcast. Was it shame? She bit her lip, making him long to bite hers as well. Her fingers were warm when they finally touched his cheek, tracing his markings. He closed his eyes briefly while she wasn't watching and when opening them, met hers before they darted away. Her touch was innocent enough, but entranced him all the same.
"Kagome..." He called her name, enjoying the sound of it on his tongue.
He held still, afraid to break the spell of her touch, allowing her finger to follow the path along his jaw and up to his other cheek. He waited patiently as her finger followed his cheekbone to the corner of his eye. He stayed her hand, however, before she could etch the half moon on his forehead, forcing her to finally meet his eyes. His heart swelling with affection and tenderness, he murmured, "You do me honour. Yet,... I doubt you know it."
"I—" The girl appeared captive to his gaze, unable to speak anything else.
Knowing it would disrupt the flow of emotions and their forward momentum together, Sesshoumaru made the decision. "I have something I wish to show you." It would only be fair to ask her after he had shown her everything.
"Show me?" The girl repeated, confused as he knew she would be. "What—"
He stood before she could ask that question and walked quickly down the short hall to his room. Pulling open the his closet, he dug the photo album from a drawer there, taking a moment to look them over again. "Ah Yasha... I hope this is the right move... I hope my answers come..." Taking a deep breath, Sesshoumaru returned to Kagome.
"What is it?" She asked as soon as he opened the door.
Wondering why he was holding his breath, Sesshoumaru moved towards the couch. Holding the album against his chest, he watched Kagome carefully, unsure of the reaction he would get. He frowned, feeling silly.
"Sesshoumaru? What's this?" Her curiosity burned bright in her eyes.
Deciding, he sat next to her, his leg touching her leg, glad for the support, even if she knew it not. The weight of the album on his lap was more than the weight of leather, cardboard, and film. Get it over with... Clearing his throat, Sesshoumaru began, "Inu Yasha..."
As predicted, Kagome inhaled sharply at the name.
And he could see why she would. The transition from the present, the relationship between the two and the past, Kagome's relationship with his half brother was hardly smooth. But he continued anyway. "Inu Yasha says "hi." He...missed you." And then he smelled tears.
"I apologise for not telling you sooner." He shook his head. "I had forgotten."
"It's okay, it's okay," Kagome replied eagerly, leaning towards him in anticipation.
With a small chuckle, he continued, "He also said that Hojo is, and I quote, "a fucking wimp and no good for you. He would be glad that the two of you did not "hook up," as he said." And Sesshoumaru could not help but be glad as well. If fate would reward his chance.
She was ready. More importantly, Sesshoumaru realised, he was ready. "I have a few photos I wanted to show you... Would you...?"
She practically seemed to vibrate with excitement and apprehension. "Yes! Yes, I want to see them!"
Her eagerness pleased him. Feeling the soft leather cover, he smiled. So he opened the memories, allowing Kagome to see the photo of them standing side by side.
He almost smiled at her shocked expression, watching the play of emotions across her face. Wonder first. Seeing the two of them together, Sesshoumaru was sure. Then tenderness—she could appreciate the magnitude of the two of them standing together for one photo. The wistfulness, of seeing Inu Yasha as an old man. The joy of seeing them together. "This was about twenty years before his death." Sesshoumaru hesitated briefly before continuing. "I begged a picture of him."
As if she saw through him, Kagome leaned forward to peer at him. "Why is that something to be ashamed of?"
"Because the last photo I had not been prepared, and so I wanted to look my best when—b"
"Aah, no wonder all of the shining splendour." Her voice was soft and teasing, quietly ribbing him and pecking away at the armour of his pride.
"Hn. Yes. However,.." He pulled the album back towards himself to flip the page. He really should have showed Inu Yasha this second photo. He felt her shift more than saw, and scooted away to keep his distance for a moment, keep his privacy. Keep his own thoughts. Then... "However, there is another photo the photographer took that day. I... I never even showed this one to him." Regrets. So many regrets. "This has been my treasure for many years. You will be the first to see it." The threshold. He was there. Cross it. He watched Kagome as she could only breath one syllable.
"I didn't know it had been taken until the photographer came to deliver the photos," Sesshoumaru admitted, tracing the outlines of the forms with his eyes.
"Ha..." She breathed.
He let her to her thoughts a moment, while he took advantage of the time to organise his own. He wondered at hers though... What she thought of this photo—this tenderness between brothers not seen before. This was right. Showing her. Letting Kagome make this decision after seeing everything. Seeing the past and seeing the possibilities open to her.
"This is...beautiful. It's beautiful, Sesshoumaru. Just beautiful..." Her soft tears startled him. Beautiful? He smiled. So she found beauty in their togetherness? Guilt stirred him.
"Kagome... Kagome... Don't cry." He set the album out of the way, set aside. What were these tears for?
"I wish," she began and then trailed off helplessly.
He reached forward in a helpless gesture to stem her tears.
"Oh Sesshoumaru. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say."
Emotions roiled through him as he reached out. "I didn't show you this to make you cry, Kagome. I wished to share with you this." He cupped her soft cheeks in his hands. "Not make you cry." And he met her eyes while the silence sat between them, scooting out of the way to make room for something else. If he didn't ask her now, he wouldn't.
"Sesshou—" He couldn't let her speak first. It had to be him.
"Kagome. Would my brother accept me loving you?"
When her mouth only opened and shut several times, he tried again.
"Would he accept if I could make you happy?" Leaning into her space, he crooned to her, willing her to see the sincerity of his question with his eyes.
When she still was held speechless, he continued. "Would he allow it if I promised to always care for you and protect you?"
Words finally seemed to come for her. "Sesshoumaru... I don't..."
But they weren't the ones he wanted, and Sesshoumaru couldn't help the hurt that flashed briefly through his heart. So she did still love him too much...
"No!" She back-pedalled. "Don't take it that way, Sesshoumaru, I—Inu Yasha... He..." She babbled on, making little to no sense, but lighting a fire under hope's burner in his heart. And no one was more surprised that he when it was she who kissed him. Then she pulled back. "If there were anyone who Inu Yasha would want to care for me, then it would certainly be only you."
His heart almost stopped and he couldn't... Swelling emotion made his throat grow tight, dropping his head onto her shoulder. Keeping himself grounded in the warmth of her body and heart. When he could speak, his heart followed his words. "I am glad to hear you say that, Kagome, because I don't think I could handle it if you were anyone's but mine."
One of her small hands found his and took it gently up to her cheek. They were warm to the touch, and though Sesshoumaru couldn't see, he could tell that she was blushing. He smiled, everything returning to normal. He felt her jaw move as if about to say something and then changed her mind. Eyes drifting closed, he barely heard her murmur, "I'm glad you've waited for me."
Waited? He chuckled. It did seem as if he had waited all of this time for her, hadn't it. Without even realising it, Sesshoumaru had waited for her to come back around from his dusty past. Lifting his head to meet her warm blue eyes, he spoke. "It seems that we are the perfect pair. One from the past trying to live in the future, one from the future unable to escape from the past."
She laughed, and it was refreshing. "Yes."
Silence once again moved in between the two of them while it seemed that Kagome had nothing more to say and Sesshoumaru searched for the right ones. If he asked her now, she would say yes, he felt. So... "Kagome..." He searched her face.
"Yes...?" She blinked.
"Would you spend then night?" He'd asked, and now waited while holding his breath for her answer.
He watched her flush bright red again, eyes widening in surprise. She had not expected...? "I..."
Back-pedalling immediately to save his pride, he forced out, "Sorry, was that too forward?" Kissing her palms as a distraction, Sesshoumaru avoided her eyes to take the pressure off. Her scent was fluctuating wildly as she appeared to be making the decision.
"Don't... don't be coy now," she murmured
His eyes snapped to hers, a bit shocked by her statement. But he grinned slowly, realising his prey was in his hands. Right where both he and she wanted it. "Very well, Kagome." There was, now, no going back, so he scooped her up, in long strides making his way into his bedroom.
"Sesshoumaru!" She her arms around his neck, despite the protesting tone.
He paused in the doorway, waiting while she nestled her head under his chin. Scooting towards the bed, however, he groaned as her warm lips settled on his neck, tingles shooting down his spine making him curl his toes into the rug.
Sesshoumaru put her down on the bed and crawled up over his prey, anticipation burning through him at what awaited them. "You planned this, did you not?" he accused, hungry for his her skin, her touch, her voice. She blushed easily, apparently as the flush once again conquered her cheeks.
"I..." she excused.
"I know you have. Planned at least some of it," Sesshoumaru crooned, dipping his head to taste her neck before moving to kiss her lips.
"I did... I planned part... Katy..." Kagome got out.
The name threw a wrench in his momentum, pulling back. "Katy?"
"Katy gave me... advice..." Her laugh was breathy as she lifted her hands. The feel of her fingers through his hair soothed him. "But, yes... I...did want this, apparently."
"Apparently," Sesshoumaru echoed. He rolled down to one elbow so that he was lying next to her. "Is this spur of the moment? Should I wait a day to see if you have changed your mind?" Curiosity begged him to ask, the doubt niggling into his actions.
To his delight, however, she quivered at his touch, her skin soft beneath the pads of his fingers as he caressed her arms. "N-no..." Her small hands moved to his chest then and he bit his lip, wanting more. "No more waiting. I have waited too long to be happy, Sesshoumaru."
"Then you should have come to me sooner," he whispered thanking his luck that this woman wanted from him what he longed to give, pushing her cami up with one hand, the other caressing her cheek.
Giving him a playful shove, Kagome blushed again. "Where do these lines come from? This is... Unlike anything I have ever heard from you..." As she spoke quietly, Kagome allowed him to remove her cami and then slide her skirt down over her hips. "And now I'm all undressed while you are fully clothed..." Running her hands over his chest and arms, Kagome's hands lingered on the buttons of his shirt, undoing them slowly. Sesshoumaru waited patiently, allowing her to assert her own desires. When finished, she moved to his waistband, pulling his belt free. Where this forwardness was coming from, Kagome couldn't tell, but instead stopped thinking about it in case she had second thoughts and wished to pull back or end the game.
Sesshoumaru stilled her hands finally, pulling her against his chest and kissing her soundly. Passion erupted in Kagome as she squirmed closer to him, pulling frantically at his pants as he finished undressing her. He wanted to throw her back and take her, but he waited, going at her pace. Then they were pressing together, and Sesshoumaru was rolling her over, kissing her, stroking her, inciting need and want and and and... Kagome gave a hushed cry as he entered her, stilling until her hands clawed at his back and then he moved. He moved and she gasped and he moved and she moved and they moved until she finally arched up against him and her voice joined his, sweet in his ears. "Kagome!"
His weight was heavy on top of her, but she clasped her hands across his wide back, waiting until she regained her breath. "Sesshoumaru... I..."
Breathing in her scent, Sesshoumaru rolled over so she lay on top of him, still joined. "Kagome. I'm in love with you," he whispered to her hair.
Knowing she was once again a bright shade of red, Kagome could only giggle breathlessly. "I..." Could she say it...? "I love you too," she rushed out.
"Would you..." Could he be so lucky as to get everything he wanted in one night? Was it fair to ask?
Kagome nibbled on her lip. "Would I...?" His fingers traced lazy patterns on her still-heated flesh, and it was a while before he spoke again.
"Kagome..." he began again, thoughts racing to wonder how this sentence was going to come out. "Kagome, would you stay with me?"
Wondering if her mind were mistaken, she shifted, letting out a breathy gasp. "Oh..." Sesshoumaru grunted. Letting her hair fall forward to cover her grin, she did it again.
"Miko!" His voice came out hoarser and needier than he wanted, but he needed his answer. Her response was only a giggle. "Kagome..."
"Yes?" she replied sweetly, just to tease him.
"Would you answer my question, please?" he breathed lowly, reaching up to cup her face in his large hands.
"Of course I'll stay, Sesshoumaru. My room-mate's not home and all," Kagome replied glibly, choosing to ignore the deeper meaning.
In the darkness, Sesshoumaru frowned, tucking her hair behind her ears. "I meant...Hn! Kagome!"
She arched an eyebrow, squirming. "Oh yes, great taiyoukai?"
Sesshoumaru growled. Allowing no more of this nonsense, he flipped her, pinned her, and gave a firm thrust.
Kagome mewled, tugging at the iron grip on her wrists. She found Sesshoumaru's eyes, glowing slightly in the dark. Abruptly a half-moon of teeth appeared, making her shiver as he pulled out.
"So this one cares to play games this time?" he taunted in a crooning voice, enjoying the power play. "Shall we play master and slave?"
Eyebrows shooting up, Kagome blinked before settling herself, with another look full of coyness and hooded eyes. "Oh master, don't hurt me..."
The grin disappeared as his head dipped, nipping at the curve of her breast, scraping his teeth along her hip.
The anticipation heightened the slow build-up, leaving Kagome writhing again, gasping. "Hn! No... no more games!" Yanking at her wrists, she breathed his name.
Sesshoumaru paused his ministrations, sliding back up her body, nails dragging lightly along her one hip. As soon as he lightened the pressure on her wrists, her hands were cupping his face, caressing his chest, stroking his shoulders, running through his hair and then they were writhing together again until he was panting with the effort of holding back until he felt her clench around him.
Lying back in the sheets, Kagome cracked an eye at the former taiyoukai.
"Hm?" He queried, fingers idly turning her hair. "You have the look of a sated cat in the warm sun.
Kagome chuckled, happiness swelling her heart. "Not so much as a warm "sun," but a warm moon..." Her hand reached out and traced the outline on his forehead.
He joined her chuckles, pulling her hands against his chest. "Kagome... What I was asking earlier..."
The hesitancy buoyed between them, so Kagome scooted closer to squeeze it out. "Yes?"
"Kagome, would you stay with me? Not just for tonight." He met her warm blue eyes, seeing the past mirrored back at him, but also the future edging in.
Kagome closed her eyes while all of the implications of her answer swirled in her head. The dust finally settled, and she opened her eyes again to meet his worried molten gold ones. She smiled. "Yes." She had only seconds to see the joy flood his face before she was crushed to his chest.
Breathing in her scent, Sesshoumaru curled himself around her. "I'm so glad. Or else this would have been very awkward," he murmured next to her ear. He heard her breathy giggle against his skin and then released her. "Kagome, I would like you to stay with me always. I've fallen in love with you."
Her heart turning over, Kagome felt her eyes go wide. "You... Me...? You... love?"
"I... yes," Sesshoumaru managed to get out, his mind back-pedalling sharply, hoping he hadn't gone too far too soon.
"You don't have to tell me right away; I just wanted to tell you my feelings," he rushed out.
"No... No, I was just kind of..." she dropped her gaze, giving an embarrassed laugh. "I didn't expect that... to be honest... But Sesshoumaru?"
He dropped his head to find her eyes. "Kagome?"
"I..." Biting her lip, Kagome hurried onward to push past the nervousness. "I love you too." And at the audible utterance, her heart felt full, felt right, sliding exactly into place, like it were meant to be. Her love for Inu Yasha had been real also, and she would never forget her first love. But Sesshoumaru was here and now and right.
Kissing her slow and deep, Sesshoumaru closed his eyes to the world, feeling only Kagome, smelling only Kagome, being with only Kagome. He pulled back and smiled against her temple. His brother's voice floated through his head, words unintelligible, but he was sure that Inu Yasha was happy that Kagome was happy. Giving her another slow kiss, he was sure that he was happy that she was happy.
"I'll stay with you forever," she murmured.
"Forever," he agreed.