The poison seared a lightning-hot bolt through flesh, the bitter tang of the venom burning in the air, but Lord Sesshoumaru Taisho scarce felt it. Death—every reluctant youkai's lover— was coming to claim him at last on this barren, deserted stretch of Japanese road.
Taisho leveled his own poison whip at shadowy attackers who melted into clumps of bushes behind outcroppings of rock, seemingly from the mist itself. Three of them. Maybe four. Scenting his blood.
He could almost taste their victory. He'd have to make this lash count. It might be his last. Anyone familiar with his poison whip knew as well as he did that it would take precious seconds for him to retract and fling back out, seconds in which they could close in for the kill. And in the twenty minutes he'd managed to keep them at bay, these snake youkai had shown themselves practiced in every method of dealing death.
It was a miracle he'd held them off this long. If he could fight them blade to blade, he might stand some chance. But they had no interest in a fair fight when they'd ambushed him here in Inu Yasha's forest close to the Bone-eater's Well. They didn't want a battle. They wanted a corpse. His.
He objected, of course, though not out of any grand passion for life. He'd been barely sixty years old when he realized that dying was easy. It was living that was far harder. In his years of roaming Japan he had stared into the face of his own death so many times he'd come to dismiss it as a fleeting nuisance, like the faint buzzing of a saimyoushou to his ear. He just figured this would be a damned embarrassing way to die.
The infamous, terrifyingly omniscient Lord Sesshomaru Taisho cut down on a deserted stretch of forest because he'd been fool enough to travel without his usual amount of strength and stamina in a land that would sooner have tea with the devil than with a youkai. Not to mention the fact that he'd been too distracted by thoughts that tugged at him, troubled him, like importunate children no matter how resolutely he tried to shove them away.
He lashed out in a blur of movement, heard a cry of pain. 'At least he'd have company on his way to hell,' he thought with some satisfaction, fighting to swing his arm in another attack.
'Who the devil were they?' He wondered, struggling to flick his wrist and release the toxic fluid from his hand once more. A youkai liked to know who was throwing deadly venom at him.
Who hated him enough to hunt him down? Less capable youkai he'd tramped over on his way to being Lord of the Western Lands; villagers caught in a vise between their well-being and his duty; those who feared him, hated him, or saw him as an impediment standing in their way. A grim smile twisted his lips. It would be far easier to sort out who didn't hate him.
Yes, there were plenty who wanted him dead—but there was a perilous step from desiring it to making it a reality. And a towering leap from a venom whip or sword blade wielded in a fit of passion against an enemy, to the hiring of an assassin. There was something exceedingly cold-blooded in the knowledge that whoever was responsible for this attack might even now be holding polite conversation at a table glittering with crystal, or lounging in a bedchamber seducing some woman.
But it seemed his question would go unanswered.
Only one thing was certain: once this fight was over, there would be no one, save Jaken, to mourn him. Sesshomaru Taisho would slip beneath the silvery surface of life, leaving not so much as a ripple of grief or loss in any other than one living soul.
It hadn't mattered a damn to him in the fifty years of roaming his lands. Why did the thought suddenly leave something hollow, aching in the pit of his stomach?
It was this infernal forest where passions lay so thick it was impossible to breath without sucking them in. It was the memory of one moonlit night when coal black hair tumbled about a woman's flushed face as she danced for another demon, love steady in her eyes. Not even a full demon, but a hanyou, his own half brother. A pulsing ember of life so vivid that for the first time in Sesshoumaru's life he couldn't crush it, even in the name of duty. Kagome Higurashi had made a glaring mockery of everything he'd believed about himself. Had made him question....
Another whistle cut through the air, and he felt the whip tear through his thigh. His eyes bled red a moment as they swept the thinning forest, suddenly glimpsing the worn wooden exterior of the Bone-eater's Well about twenty-five yards distant. If he could reach it, he might be able to.....to what? Escape was impossible, but the well might provide enough shelter so that he could take yet another assassin with him when he died. That would be reward enough.
Sesshoumaru grimaced, scrambling with less than his normal ethereal grace upward, his thigh not healing on its own with near the speed it usually did, causing his head to swim with bitter irony. He'd come towards this direction of Inu Yasha's Forest determined to confront his bastard half brother for the tetsuaiga....tear him and his little group of 'followers' apart and fling them into hell. That way the damn shard hunting group could forget...the absurd search of the shikon no tama shards, the kiss of magic, the tales of where the last piece of the jewel could be found to complete an item that was of no use to anyone. They would accept the future that was inevitable. He'd been so certain he understood the creatures of this place. He hadn't expected that he could be sucked into their special brand of madness.
His elbow slammed into wood, pain jolting through him. He gritted his teeth, pushing harder with his good leg, his hand now clamped tight over the wound in his other. He heard a shout, glimpsed the pale flash of a youkai's face. Near. Too near.
They were closing in on him....he could smell it.
The old well gaped before him, dark, cool, unearthly as he dragged himself onto the rim. As if there were anyplace dark enough to conceal him!
Black haze tugged at him, drawing him deeper into cold, still waters of near unconsciousness. Why had he decided to start this venture now, when he knew his strength was greatly depleted from a sickness he had caught a month earlier. A flu type illness that had run completely through his castle, which drained the victim and left them needing almost twice as long as it lasted to recover fully. Sesshoumaru, having the opinion that he was superior in everything to other youkai, had assumed the paltry amount of weakness he had felt upon setting out would have left by now. Apparently, he had been wrong.
He heard vague shouts and hisses of confusion, but it didn't matter anymore. They would find him. And when they did....death.
Images swam beneath his half-closed lids. Inutaisho....his father's battered armor and sword, its shiny length lain upon a crimson cloth, useless at last. Fear clamping tight in his belly, the need to tuck his own clawed hand in his father's strong one. But father's hands were busy holding on to the frail blue-veined ones of a middle aged human woman. Holding his human mate's hand within his own as the life slowly faded from her wounded body. The great Lord of the Western Lands, Sesshoumaru and Inu Yasha's father, showing deep mourning and regret over the second loss of a loved one in his life.
Sesshoumaru winced at the twisting pain somewhere deep inside him where no injury could touch. No one would come from heaven to take his hand in this barren well. Even his compassionate father would turn his back on the youkai his son had become.
Sesshoumaru closed his amber eyes, fighting back a wave of quiet despair, waiting for the end. He was tired. So tired, the sharp edges of emotions bleeding, his very body seeming to fade away, a piece at a time. Soon there would be nothing left. But then, had he ever really been anything....anyone at all?
Redemption–the word flashed through the red haze of his pain, shimmered there, but he turned his face away. He'd be wiser to put his faith in kitsunes and magic, in destiny and fate, than to believe in forgiveness for a youkai like him. There would be no hand stretching down from heaven to welcome him.
"To the devil then," he muttered in a rasping breath, falling forward into the blackness of the well in a swirl of dark mist. "Take me, if you dare."
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Her senses were whispering the faintest of warnings, which tingled along Kagome Higurashi's alabaster cheeks and settled deep into her bones. She braced herself against the outer wall of the well house at the shrine and gripped her yellow bag tighter. Eyes the warm glue-grey of a mountain stream searched the neat tidy landscaping of the front shrine courtyard. The towering majesty of the Goshinboku, the tree Inu Yasha had been pinned to for so long and kept unearthly watch over the grounds, met her questing eyes.
"Don't let your imagination run wild, Kagome," she chided herself as a flashing image of the hanyou stuck to the tree seemed to dance before her as she dashed a wayward lock of raven hair from her cheek. "There is nothing wrong. You're only reacting to this place. Echoes of old pain, old sorrows. They grow louder when you're alone or near any reminder of Inu Yasha." The thought should have offered comfort.
After all, her reasoning might be valid enough. From the dawning of her first memory of the hanyou, Kagome had felt an invisible ribbon stitched into her breast that bound her to the heartbeat buried deep in sad tales form the Sengoku Jedai, a link carrying a piercing sweetness, sorrowful yearning, a joy and a curse. Stark awareness of things seen and unseen beyond the drab veil of most people's reality—ghost-shadows of ages long vanished, silent cries of wounded woodland creatures, the fragrant magic of a shikon shard and herbs that mikos had gathered when the earth was new, and the irresistible pull of the tides of destiny.
It was the gift of miko-born, Kaede had told anyone who would listen of Kagome's abilities since she had fallen through the well. The same talent that had caused her to know Inu Yasha and all her other friends 500 years in the past.
A pang of sadness arched through her heart at the familiar image of the hanyou as he passed through her mind, bringing the same feelings of bittersweet love that always followed ponderings of him.
Kagome had returned to her time era two weeks ago after Inu Yasha had chosen Kikyou over her. Yes, after all the time spent together, everything they had been through the last few years hunting Naraku and the shikon no tama, her first love had chosen his old lover. A lover that wasn't even technically alive any more.
When the hanyou had voiced his decision to their small traveling group Kagome had fought back tears of pain and sorrow long enough to congratulate him on finally finding happiness before fleeing with a quick message that she had to go back home for academic reasons.
For the first time, Inu Yasha had not voiced any protests at her sudden departure. That in itself spoke volumes to Kagome on just how effectively she had been removed from his thoughts and worries. Apparently, the woman she had been reincarnated after held a higher status in the half demon's eyes than the friend who had stuck by him for so long.
Casting an apologetic glance to Shippo, Sango, and Miroku Kagome had hefted her over sized yellow pack and ran through the forest until she had all but flung herself into the murky depths of the old well.
That had been two weeks ago, and now she felt that even though she did not particularly wish to go back to the feudal era to witness the hanyou's and dead priestess' progressing relationship, she knew she had an obligation since she was the one to shatter the jewel in the first place. After days of crying and ranting at how unfair life was, she had made the decision to simply distance herself emotionally for a while from others. It was the safest thing for her considering how hard she had taken Inu Yasha's choice.
However, even she knew that it had always been a possibility that he would choose Kikyo over her. After all, she was his first love and she knew first hand just how difficult it could be to attempt and forget them. Hell, she was going through it right at this moment.
The nights of staying awake and thinking of what had transpired had not been totally kind to the young woman. In place of the once happy gleam that used to shine in her eyes there was now a cooler reflection of poise and indifference. No longer was she the open trusting person who had originally come through the well three years previously. What Naraku had been unable to accomplish the one closest to the miko had done with one simple sentence.
Quite astonishing, really.
Smirking to herself she thought how envious and impressed the dangerous hanyou would be to see how effectively Inu Yasha had managed to depress her. Not to say that he had broken her spirit, but even she could acknowledge to herself that it was damn close to have been an actual fact. If not for her determination to see this whole thing through, Kagome wasn't sure she wouldn't have simply locked herself in her room to whither away to nothing. But she was stronger than that...and she would prove to the world she was as well.
Moving away from her spot against the old well house, she sighed heavily while repositioning the heavy bag onto one shoulder and turning to the rickety door. Smoothing the soft fabric of her grey hooded sweatshirt back in place, she lightly grasped the rough handle of the door and opened it, preparing herself for the dark contents inside.
Stepping gingerly down the old warped steps, her tennis shoe clad feet came to a stop right beside the well as she gazed down unblinking into its ebony depths. The bottom was completely obscured in darkness and could not be seen by the human eye, although Kagome was sure that a youkai would have been able to clearly see the hard packed dirt that resided there.
Wiping suddenly sweaty palms on her jean clad thighs, Kagome doubtfully eyed the abyss as another tingle of something that felt almost like apprehension skitted along her nerves. Shivering involuntarily at the feel of strong magic, she considered whether or not she should actually make the jump through the well today. After all, these bursts of warning she was receiving from her miko senses did not bode well for some reason that she could not fathom.
Something very powerful was close...she could sense it.
Taking her lower lip between her teeth, she nibbled at it in indecision as a frown marred her usually smooth brow.
'Damn,' she thought to herself. 'Part of me wants to go over there and just get this over with, while another part is screaming at me that something is not right.'
As she continued her inner debate a sudden bright flash of bluish light shot from the bottom of the well.
Grey-blue eyes widening in disbelief, Kagome felt a surge of panic run through her body as the all too familiar portal to the Sengoku Jedai began to open.
'Oh Kami, please! Tell me this isn't Inu Yasha coming back to get me!' she thought frantically as she took a step back.
It was one thing to go and confront him of her own free will, and quite another for him to just show up on her doorstep.
Taking a deep, meditative breath, she resolutely clamped down on her rampaging emotions and took a calm step back to the lip of the well. If nothing else she was going to meet him head on. She didn't want him to think she was hiding from him, even if that was what she really longed to do.
Surprise quickly replaced the indifferent expression on her face when instead of the red haori and white eared figure of Inu Yasha appeared, the graceful beauty of Sesshoumaru did instead.
Gasping in shock, Kagome's eyes widened in disbelief as the Lord of the Western Lands' body was gently placed on the well bottom by the bright light, before it vanished completely, leaving them both in sudden darkness.
The hazy white of his silk kimono stood out from the inky blackness as she gripped the dry wood of the well and leaned down a bit to better see him.
She waited a few moments to see if he would stir, or perhaps at least make a lunge upward towards her, but he remained motionless.
Frowning in a perplexed fashion, she dropped the pack to the ground with a dull 'thud' before swinging herself over to climb down the ladder to the Taiyoukai.
Fear blanketed most of her senses, causing her breath to be released in short pants of trepidation as she cautiously made her way down the rickety ladder, glancing down every few seconds to make sure Sesshoumaru wasn't suddenly going to spring into action and slice her in half.
'Not that I could stop him,' she admitted to herself. That didn't mean she had a death wish, though. Self preservation had managed to keep her alive this long, and she would like it to stay that way.
Finally touching down onto the hard earth, she turned to face him and took the hesitant steps required to get her to his side. Straining her senses as much as possible to detect any movement from him, she slowly kneeled down next to him and ran her eyes over what she could see of his form in the dark.
Kagome couldn't make out much. The most blatant things her eyes could see were his long silvery hair, his tail that looked oddly matted and darkened in spots for some reason, and the white clothing he always wore.
Come to think of it, his tail wasn't the only thing that looked a little less than immaculate, she noticed with a scowl.
Reaching out, she softly ran a hand over one of the dark spots of his kimono, one that was lying over his thigh closest to her. She made a sound of surprise when her deft fingers became wet, and she brought them closer to her face while rubbing the sticky substance between them. Trying in vain to recognize just what dotted the Taiyoukai's clothes and tail.
The metallic smell of blood filled her nostrils, causing her stomach to flutter a moment in protest, before settling back down. Swallowing audibly, Kagome realized that blood was what was splattered in odd designs all over Sesshoumaru, and she had a sinking suspicion that it was the Taiyoukai's own. Which would explain his continued inert body laying there with nearly no signs of life.
If it hadn't been for the muted sounds of his breathing filling the confined space she would have thought him to be dead.
In the dark, the miko's eyes softened to a dove grey as she looked in the general direction his beautiful face would be.
She couldn't just leave him here to die. For some reason his youkai healing was not working properly and he was now injured and unconscious in her time era.
Hey, if he had to be here in Tokyo, better he be passed out and relatively harmless rather than awake and wreaking havoc.
Making her mind up to get him out of the cold dank well house and into the safety of her house, Kagome quickly scaled back up the ladder to leave the old building and run to the back door. Entering into the homey warmth of her house, Kagome called out to her family.
Almost jogging down the hallway, she came to a sliding stop when her brother's dark head peaked out from the living room.
"What's up, sis?"
Panting a bit from her exertions, Kagome held a hand over her heart and said breathlessly, "I need your help. Inu Yasha's brother just came through the well and is badly wounded. Come on!"
She noticed the widening of her brother's cinnamon colored eyes before turning away and running out into the darkness once more. Relief washed through her when she heard the pounding of feet behind her, denoting that her brother was following her.
"Sis, Inu Yasha has a brother? I thought only you and Inu Yasha could get through the well. How come he got through?"
Shaking her head in impatience, she answered a bit sharply, "I can't answer those questions now, Souta. Just help me get him into the house and then we can figure this all out."
Cowed by his sister's snapped reply, Souta followed her silently to the well house, skipping stairs on his way down to meet her at the side of the old well.
Peering down he saw what looked like a blob of white at the bottom, the darkness of the building keeping any other discerning features of their 'guest' from him.
Kagome had already climbed back down into the well and watched as her brother soon joined her. Souta was quiet as he watched his sister kneel down next to what now looked like a very large body spread out on the cold dirt ground.
"Sesshoumaru," Kagome began to call while gently picking up his arm and pulling him into a sitting position. She was hoping she could get him at least lucid enough to help them get him out of the well. A six foot something male youkai wasn't precisely the most easiest thing to maneuver. "Sesshoumaru, can you hear me?"
Souta came to kneel next to his sister, awaiting her instructions. He could see the sweep of long silver hair, much longer than Inu Yasha's, as his sister pulled Sesshoumaru up into a sitting position and talked to him.
Unlucky for Kagome, the demon showed no signs of stirring, and was leaning heavily against her and the arm she had a hold of.
'Ugh, he weighs a ton!' she thought to herself.
Cursing mildly under her breath, she pulled his long arm over her slim shoulders and wrapped her own as best she could about his back, being careful to place the appendage under his tail. The last thing she needed was for him to complain that she had abused it while he was sleeping.
Glancing sideways to Souta, she told him, "I'm going to need your help once I get him to his feet. Apparently he is injured bad enough where he can't regain consciousness. When I tell you to, go to his other side and support him best you can. We are going to walk him to the ladder and while you lead I will follow behind you, pushing him up."
Nodding, Souta stood up and waited as he heard Kagome grunt with the effort of lifting both herself and Sesshoumaru from the floor.
Sweat quickly broke out on her body as she strained to stand, the dead weight of the demon pushing upon her smaller frame. With a smirk of triumph, she finally gained her feet and instructed Souta to then move to his other side.
She ignored her brother's slight noise of surprise upon finding out up close that the youkai was lacking in an arm. Dismissing it as something else to explain later, she began half dragging the passed out Sesshoumaru to the ladder.
Panting heavily, Kagome took a short breather by leaning on the side of the well, and readjusting her grip on Sesshoumaru. Her sweatshirt now clung damply to her back, making her uncomfortable with its cloyingness.
'I am so taking a hot bath after this.'
Inhaling deeply, she said to Souta, "Okay, now begin climbing up the ladder and as you do keep one hand on the spiked bone shoulder of his armor."
Searching around for a moment, Souta finally came into contact with something hard and skinny that felt like it had large sharp points on it.
"Okay, got it sis. Now what?"
"Now, start climbing. I will take the majority of his weight and push from behind."
Nodding again, Souta began the arduous task of pulling the large body of Inu Yasha's brother out of the well.
Many minutes later, with much cursing and heavy breathing from the two siblings, the battered form of the Taiyoukai of the west emerged from the well.
Setting him to lie down once more on the ground, Kagome and Souta took a moment to regain their breath before attempting the what seemed to be 1,000 mile trek to the house.
Just thinking about it made Kagome groan.
Squaring her shoulders in determination, she set her chin at a defiant angle and once more hefted the body of Sesshoumaru onto her side.
Her fingers splayed across the silky material of his kimono, the fur of his tail soft and inviting to her hand as it passed under it. Digging her fingers in to grip him tighter, she vaguely noticed that even unconscious he didn't lose the solid feel of corded muscle.
'Damn, this guy is built,' she thought fleetingly as Souta once more took up his post on the other side and helped her get Sesshoumaru out of the well house and into her own home.
Once inside the cozy confines of the little house, she was met by the wide-eyed stare of her grandpa, who looked like he was reaching for some scrolls to chuck, and her mother's worried gaze.
"Kagome! Who is this and what happened?" came the soothing tones of her mother.
Face red from all the exercise she was getting, she didn't stop walking towards the stairs where the bedrooms were kept and replied, "Mom, this is Sesshoumaru, Inu Yasha's half brother. He's a full blooded youkai." At this her grandpa frowned and started to reach inside his sleeve. "Don't even think about it, grandpa. He isn't going to hurt anyone. He's too messed up himself to start a fight."
Silently, she prayed that she wasn't telling lies as she navigated with difficulty the steps to the upper floor.
'Man, you would think he would at least have the decency to wake up and help me with this part!' her inner voice complained.
She could hear her mother walking behind the struggling trio and said over her shoulder, "I don't know how he got here, but he's injured and I couldn't just leave him there."
"No, I agree dear. You couldn't just leave the poor man out there to die."
"Youkai," Kagome corrected absently as she sighed in relief at finally reaching the top.
"Where to now, sis?" Souta asked breathlessly. If his voice was anything to go by, the teenager was just as exhausted as she was. Kagome reminded herself to get him some extra candy for his help.
Motioning with her head, she pointed him to the direction of her own room. After all, she couldn't very well kick one of her other family members out of their own beds just for Sesshoumaru. He was her 'guest' technically, so it was only fair that she have him in her room.
Besides, she wanted to be the one to take care of him. She didn't trust that if he suddenly woke up he wouldn't be like a wild animal that is hurt and blindly attack her family.
Kicking her door open, she staggered a few more steps forward before depositing her heavy burden awkwardly onto her red comforter covered bed.
Souta let out a heartfelt groan of relief as he stepped back and rotated his aching shoulders.
Recovering as quickly as she could, Kagome laid Sesshoumaru out flat on her bed, smirking a bit as she noticed how his feet hung off the end a bit, and took stock of his injuries.
Her mother gasped behind her as she took in the sight of the mess that was the Lord of the Western Lands.
Kagome grimly surveyed the multiple lacerations and the deep gash on his left leg and shoulder area. Moving forward she moved the cloth of his kimono out of the way to inspect his wounds closer.
The acrid smell of acid burns filled her nostrils, causing them to sting slightly as the stench invaded them. There was not only gashes, but also severe burns that were red and angry along the outline of his wounds. It looked almost like hot poison had been thrown on him.
Frowning, she pulled back to a standing position and leveled a calm look at her mother.
"Mom, can you please get me some bandages, burn cream, ointment, and anything you can think of to treat burns and lacerations. I am also going to need some water and washcloths to clean him."
Nodding, Mrs. Higurashi departed quickly on her mission to retrieve the items Kagome had requested. Turning to Souta, Kagome saw him studying the youkai spread on her bed, making it seem much smaller than it actually was. It was a full size, for crying out loud. It wasn't like she had put him on a single. Yet, his tall frame made it seem like a baby's cot almost.
"Souta, thanks for your help. Can you leave now so I can work on him?" Her brother opened his mouth to protest and she quickly added, "I'll tell you anything you want to know as soon as I get him situated. Okay?"
Reluctantly, Souta nodded before saying, "Alright. But you had better promise."
Grinning, she said softly, "I promise. And thanks for helping me get him up here."
Souta waved away her thanks. "Aw, it was nothing sis." Casting her a teasing smile on his way out he added at the doorway, "Besides, I couldn't let a wimpy girl like you try to drag a guy around by herself, could I?"
Sticking her tongue out at him, Kagome smiled to herself as his laughter faded down the hallway.
Shaking her head in mirth, she turned once more to the peaceful countenance of the demon lord. Pulling her desk chair to the side of the bed, she positioned it so it would be readily available once she took up residence in it tonight when she watched over him.
'My, what a comfy night this is going to turn out to be,' she griped to herself as she took a pair of large metal scissors from her door and made her way back to him.
Sighing in regret, Kagome began cutting the ruined silk from Sesshoumaru, throwing the scraps in a heap on her floor as she worked.
Removing the armor was a bit difficult, but after finding the leather straps used to keep it on, the front came off easily enough. It was the back portion she was dreading.
Reaching out, she pulled his swords from the sash at his waist, almost holding her breath as she did so, afraid that he would somehow sense their absence and awake to attack her.
An audible sigh of relief left her as she placed the Tensaiga and Toujikin side by side on her desk, the lacquered surface of their sheathes gleaming faintly beneath the desk lamp.
Returning back to him, she finished with the rest of his garments, shoes and all, except for some cloth wrapped around his groin area.
Blushing, Kagome thought to herself while putting the scissors away, 'Okay, there are just some places on a person's body I need to know nothing about.'
The armor she placed on the floor at the side of her desk, and made a mental note to clean it the next time she got a chance. She figured she could fill some of the hours she was going to spend nursing the injured youkai working on it; it would provide just the opportunity she needed. Boredom was not something she dealt well with.
After everything was removed, Kagome went to her closet and got a long velour blanket from the top, shaking it out and hanging it over the back of the chair. She would cover him with that as soon as she was done administering the medicine and bandages. Those wounds didn't look like anything more confining than the light blanket would feel good against them. Which meant no 'clothes' for him for a while.
'Not like he would appreciate human clothes of this era anyway,' she wryly thought to herself as her mother came back into the room laden with all the utensils she had requested.
Her grandfather had retreated to his room muttering about demons taking over his home and how he got no respect from his family.
'At least he won't be throwing scrolls at Sesshoumaru,' Kagome thought in relief while washing away the caked blood from his skin.
Mrs. Higurashi remained with her daughter, silently watching as Kagome gently ran the green saturated cloth over the well-muscled form of the passed out man before her.
'Youkai,' Mrs. Higurashi silently corrected herself.
She wasn't at all sure it was proper to have her 19 year old daughter keep a full grown male in her room....in her bed no less. But seeing the extent of his injuries she didn't think she would have much to worry about. No male would be feeling amorous with those kinds of wounds.
Kagome was grateful that Sesshoumaru was unconscious throughout her tending him. She was wincing enough for him as it was every time she had to scrub a little at a particularly stubborn crusted laceration. That just could not feel good.
At last, the task was done, and she then moved to the pile of white gauze and ointments littered on the floor by the scraps or ruined silk. Rummaging through, she picked out a few rolls of gauze and some ointments. Standing, she unscrewed the small tops on the metallic tubes of medicine and placed the rolls of gauze on the bed by his hip.
Putting the tops into her jeans pocket, she leaned over him to closely examine the cuts, watching in a bit of morbid fascination as his muscles twitched as his body slowly regenerated itself back to his usual healthy self. But even she could see that it was going much slower than it should have been.
Something just wasn't connecting as quickly as it should be to heal the Taiyoukai, and Kagome silently wondered at what that could be.
When dealing with a demon of Sesshomaru's caliber it would take something powerful and deadly indeed to get to the great Taiyoukai this badly.
Shaking her head in bewilderment, she squeezed a generous portion of the thick white cream into her palm and began lightly dabbing it over and in his injuries. It was supposed to cool burns and prevent any added irritation after bandaging over said areas.
Kagome ignored the nasty feel of greasy film that was coating her hands, and put a large amount of medicine over the worst injury he had, the long deep cut on his leg. Out of all the nicks and cuts on his body, that one looked the worst, going almost to bone and exposing muscle and tissue to the naked eye.
A wave of queasiness passed through her stomach again, but she steadfastly ignored it as she grabbed a piece of his ruined kimono to wipe her hands clean on. It wasn't like he could ever use it again any way, and besides she was going to throw the remains in the trash as soon as she was able to.
In fact, it looked like her mother already found the offending soiled scraps more than her house-cleaning could handle, and was gathering them up with a wrinkled nose, holding them at arms length in one hand while leaving the room.
Smiling softly at her mother's antics, Kagome then grabbed up the webbed material of white gauze and began tightly wrapping them around his arms, shoulder, leg, and even his chest, to protect the wounds on his back. Those ones proved particularly annoying to dress, considering she had to sit on the side of the bed, pull him up so he was leaning fully against her front, his forehead resting on her shoulder with his warm breath fanning her neck, and clumsily wrap the gauze around his torso.
Blushing the entire while she was performing this task, she constantly reminded herself to ignore the close contact she was keeping with a mass murderer, true one of the most handsome mass murderers she had ever seen, but a killer just the same. The only other guy she had ever gotten this close to physically, without her life being in jeopardy, was Inu Yasha. And those times were fleeting and far between with nothing more than an embrace passing between them.
When the familiar jab of bittersweet pain shot through her system, Kagome firmly pushed it away and instead focused completely on what she was doing.
Securing all of the bandages with white strong tape, she got up and grabbed the thin blue blanket. Laying it over him till it covered him to his shoulders, she couldn't prevent herself from gazing at the ill Taiyoukai softly and running her fingers in a caress over his crescent marked forehead. Moving the tips of her fingers, she lightly ran them over the blue symbol gracing his white skin, continuing on to trace the maroon stripes slashed across each cheek.
It just wasn't fair that someone could have tattoo like marks on their face and still manage to look good. Life was just too unfair sometimes.
Grinning at her random thoughts, she moved back to take her seat on the hard surface of her oak colored desk chair. Crossing one jean clad leg over the other, she regarded her grey socked feet a moment before raising her eyes to study the slumbering Taiyoukai on her bed.
"If someone had told me I would be sitting here watching you sleep on my bed 500 years into the future I have to admit I would have laughed at them and probably figured them as insane," she commented offhand to the motionless male.
Of course, he didn't show any sign of actually hearing anything she said, and Kagome began questioning her own sanity at even talking to a passed out youkai that had attempted to kill her more times than she could count.
Running her soft blue-grey eyes back over the length of him, she saw a few spots of blood still marring the white fur or his tail and decided that she might as well clean it while he was passed out. She didn't think he would have appreciated her efforts if he was awake.
Stretching her tired arms above her head, she moaned softly at the pull of overtaxed muscles, before slouching in weariness and grabbing up the washcloth once more. Wringing it out, she gently unwound his tail from around his shoulder, pulling out the long length till it rested over her lap to pool with its tip wrapped around her feet on the floor. She smirked as the soft fur tapped against her foot, his tail tip acting like a cats and flopping up and down in his sleep.
"You're nothing but a big puppy, aren't you?" she asked the slumbering Taiyoukai. His unconscious state gave her the courage to voice thoughts that she would never have dreamed of if he had been lucid and aware. Hell, in the past she had but looked at him and he had tried to kill her. She couldn't imagine what he would have done if he had heard her say something that insulting in person.
Thanking Kami for giving her the reprieve of him sleeping, Kagome methodologically cleansed the ivory hair on his tail and hummed to herself while doing it. She didn't want to turn on the radio in the fear that, being as canines had such a better sense of hearing than other animals, the vibrations and noise from the speakers would wake him up. That was the last thing she wanted.
Her mother had not returned, and Kagome assumed she had wisely left her daughter and her new 'guest' alone so that she could take care of him without further distraction. Handling a Taiyoukai caused one to devote their full attention to them. Arrogant creatures that they were, she doubted if Sesshomaru would take kindly to being cared for by a human.
Two hours later, Kagome placed his now pristine tail by the bed so that it trailed onto the floor from under his blanket. Raising from her bent over spot again, she muffled a curse as her neck screamed out in protest from being hours in the same position. Putting a hand to his forehead, she breathed a sigh of relief at feeling how cool it was, brushing the silver bangs back from his skin.
Tapping his nose playfully, she said in a teasing tone, "Alright, Sesshy my boy, you stay here while I take a quick shower. Don't move!" Giving him another tap for emphasis, she retrieved a pair of blue and red plaid pajama pants and a red thermal top from her closet. Getting the appropriate undergarments, she glanced once more at his quiet form before going into the bathroom that was attached to her bedroom. Leaving the door open so she could keep an eye on him, she suppressed a blush at taking off her clothes in the sight of a male and instead focused her mind on running the water for a shower and putting her dirty clothes in the hamper.
Stepping inside and pulling the plastic curtain covered in blue and yellow fish, she let out a blissful sound of enjoyment as the warm needles of water massaged her abused body.
Washing her body quickly, she didn't linger in the shower longer than necessary, very aware of the demon lying on her bed but a room away. She could just feel the embarrassment of being seen in the buff by the Taiyoukai of the West.
'Ugh, I'm not even going to joke about that,' she thought to herself while rinsing the last of the conditioner from her black tresses.
Turning off the water, she grabbed a large white towel from the rack beside the bathtub and wrapped it securely around herself before leaving the safety of the shower cubicle. Looking into her bedroom, she breathed a sigh of relief upon seeing Sesshoumaru still in the same spot she had left him in, not even a hair seeming to have moved in the few minutes she had taken to get clean.
Drying herself quickly, she wrapped the damp towel around the heavy cape of her hair and put on her pajamas. The nights had begun to get a bit colder since Fall was now approaching, so no longer could she get by with just shorts and a tank top. Yet another thing for her to be grateful for....the weather making it so she didn't have to wear something skimpy to be comfortable during the night time. That would have been beyond torture.
Putting the now saturated towel in the hamper, she combed out her hair and braided it before padding over on silent feet to sit again on the hard chair. Shifting around a bit, she couldn't resist patting his tail like she would a dog's.
"Well, you were a good boy for once. Thanks for staying in here and not getting into any trouble while I took a shower."
In a very odd way Kagome was beginning to enjoy talking to the unconscious Sesshomaru. It gave a certain amount of freedom to be able to voice her opinion and say what she wanted without fear of painful death. Quite liberating really.
Settling back fully onto the chair, she picked up his heavy breastplate and checked it over.
"Ugh. What have you been getting into?" she wrinkled her nose in distaste as she asked, grimacing at the splotches of dried rust colored blotches on the strong bony structure. Glancing to the night stand, she noticed with pleasure that there was a clean bowl of water, a new pink washcloth and some matching dry hand towels sitting together.
"Thank you, mom!"
Happy that she wouldn't have to get up to get those items herself, Kagome began cleaning and polishing Sesshoumaru's armor. Her work taking her long into the night as she watched over an oblivious Lord of the Western Lands.
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