a/n: Just to remind you…there was never a romantic relationship between Kagome and Inuyasha for the plot of this piece. They are just friends. I know my having Kagome tell Inuyasha she loved him might have caused some confusion in the last chapter, but I wasn't thinking love triangle here. I often tell my friends that I love them, because I do. Without them, I'd be lost. So without further ado, I present the final chapter of collared. This one is dedicated to Possessed, one of my dearest of friends and an avid supporter of this piece of fiction (whom I deeply love). Here's your ending!
"Fucker!" Inuyasha yelled, his ears laying back against his head as another cry from Kagome reached them.
"Inuyasha," Sesshoumaru began dryly. Taunting his brother was an art form, a twisting of insulting words that created a beautiful symphony when the half-breed reacted to them. It never failed to entertain or, in this case, distract him from something else. "Your unique choice of vocabulary continues to inspire one to greater heights."
Inuyasha growled at him, his hand gripping the hilt of his sword so tightly his knuckles were white with strain. "What in the hell are you doing out here talking with me? Why the fuck aren't you with Kagome?"
"The birthing chamber," Sesshoumaru informed his brother and reminded himself, "Is no place for a male, brother." There were traditions in place that Sesshoumaru had sworn to himself he would uphold. "Surely even you, with your…upbringing…realizes this."
"If Kagome were mine, if she were giving birth to my kid, nothing would stop me from being by her side."
"But the miko is not yours, brother. You had all the time in the world to lay claim to her and did not act. Now she is mine and I will do as I wish."
"Kagome's not a piece of meat, Sesshoumaru. She's not something to be laid claim to. She's my friend and I protect my friends."
At that, Sesshoumaru arched his brow. "Yes, and a fine job you were doing, too. This one found your friend alone in the forest, in the midst of a battle she would most definitely not have won." A flinch crossed the hanyou's face when he learned of how exactly Kagome had come to be in his grasp and Sesshoumaru smiled to himself. "She would have died had I not intervened. Therefore, her life is mine."
"You took her just to spite me," the half-breed accused. "Low-life fucking bastard."
"I took her because I wanted her. As I had all along."
"You wanted her, huh?" Inuyasha spat back. "Just like you wanted Tessaiga. Just like you wanted me dead. You aware she's birthing a hanyou in there? The great and mighty daiyoukai, Lord of the Western Lands, hater of hanyous and humans everywhere, having one of his own now. What a fucking joke! You can't make me believe you wanted Kagome for anything other than to get at me, Sesshoumaru."
"This one has never stated to hate hanyous," Sesshoumaru answered, calmly and coolly in the face of his brother's anger. "You are just a special dislike of mine, Inuyasha, and the miko a rare exception."
"Like that brat of yours," Inuyasha retorted snidely, knowing how Sesshoumaru felt about Rin. "Only Kagome doesn't worship at your feet. I bet she'd leave your ass given the chance."
Internally, it was Sesshoumaru's turn to flinch. He had been contemplating that less than a day ago and the reminder of Rin rose sharply within him. He had visited his young ward often since she'd decided to stay in the human village, but had curtailed his visitations upon taking the miko. While a youkai's life may be long, a human's was only a short span and he was sure Rin was confused and hurt by his sudden cessation. It was a matter he would have to resolve and soon.
Another cry from Kagome reached them and darkened the rage on Inuyasha's face. He pointed a clawed finger towards the birthing room. "She's in pain now, fucker. All because of you and your stupid pride. You couldn't come to her and ask if she wanted you. No. You had to take her. Force her."
Sesshoumaru said nothing, as there was nothing to say. He had taken her. He had coerced her to accept his attentions, no matter that she had enjoyed them and eventually sought them out on her own. As to whether the miko would have agreed to a union with him, the point was moot. Over and done with. There was no use in contemplating such a scene now. What was done was done.
Inuyasha continued his rant, his hand tightening even more around the hilt of his sword in an effort to keep his anger under control. "You, fucker. Always talking about our pop as if he were some miraculous god, something to look up to and honor. And how are you honoring him? At least my mother wanted our father."
Sesshoumaru felt the urge to shut his brother up rising within him. The half-breed speaking of their sire in such a disrespectful way and comparing him as less when he had clearly surpassed their sire in power was more than annoying. "Enough," he spat.
At that, Inuyasha laughed, the sound mocking. "And now to prove just how superior you are to the rest of us, how honorable and noble you are, you're gonna try and beat the shit out of me to shut me up. Come on, Sesshoumaru. Just try and stop me."
He watched as Inuyasha withdrew the Tessaiga, the blade of his father flaring to life within his brother's hand. As much as he wanted to shut the half-breed up, he would not now. "You will cease speaking of our Sire in such disrespectful terms, Inuyasha," he said instead.
"If the old man could see you now, Sesshoumaru, he'd be rolling in his grave, pissed the hell off. You might have surpassed him in power," Inuyasha replied snidely, eyeing Bakusaiga at Sesshoumaru's side, "But you're nowhere near as great as he ever was."
Previous thoughts be damned, Sesshoumaru struck out just as Inuyasha raised Tessaiga in defense. His fist landed against the blade, knocking it aside as his other connected with the half-breed's face. The blow sent Inuyasha flying backwards, but the half-breed was light on his feet. He corrected the flight of his body easily, landing in a defensive stance. "You're such an asshole, Sesshoumaru," he laughed, spitting out a mouthful of blood as he did. "No wonder Kagome could never fall in love with you and I've never met a more forgiving person than her."
Sesshoumaru's lip curled, baring slightly his fangs elongated with anger. "You know not of what you speak, brother."
"The fuck I do! Has Kagome told you she loved you, Sesshoumaru? Has she said she wanted to stay with you for the rest of her life?" Inuyasha's smirk grew as Kagome's voiced reached them. "Maybe if you give her your balls like she's demanding now, she might find some smidgen of forgiveness in her for you raping her."
"As soon as she is ready and willing," Sesshoumaru answered, stressing the word willing to let his brother know the miko had sought out his attentions at times, "I'll be giving her much more."
"You never change do you, fucker," Inuyasha replied, his anger deflating before Sesshoumaru's eyes. "I almost feel sorry for you."
"You envy this Sesshoumaru. You always have and always will, half-breed."
"Fuck you, asshole." The Tessaiga in his hands reverted to its rusted state and Inuyasha sheathed it once more. "I'd rather be dead than be anything like you. You live in this pathetic world you've created for yourself and damned if you don't think everyone else wants to walk in your shadow. Arrogance, asshole. That'll be your downfall."
Sesshoumaru opened his mouth to respond when a sound he'd never thought to endear reached his elfin ears. It was the sound of his pup crying out and was the sweetest he'd ever heard. He snapped his jaws shut, his eyes looking to his brother before him. "Enough of your pathetic ramblings, brother. There are other matters more important."
He turned his back to his brother, a parting insult, and began walking towards where the miko was housed with his newly born heir. "You pathetic fucker," he heard his brother say as he left. "All you wanted was to be loved…"
Youkai do not love, Sesshoumaru thought to himself. He did not remain to hear what else Inuyasha had to say.
Sesshoumaru entered the room where Kagome and his pup lay. She was seated in the middle of a massive bed, cleanly dressed and freshly washed. His pup lay swaddled in her arms and she was staring down at his offspring with wonder in her eyes. Though he knew she was aware of his presence, she did not lift her eyes away from the small life before her. Tentatively, her hand reached up and stroked softly down the side of the pup's face. "It's strange," she finally whispered. "To see him now."
There were a thousand thoughts running through his mind at that moment; Inuyasha's word ringing unfortunately clear in his brain in the midst of it all. While he would never apologize for his nature, he knew that this woman was worth it all to lay claim to.
Not use to such things are regret, Sesshoumaru troubled himself trying to classify where his emotions lay, his golden eyes never leaving the scene before him. Then Kagome raised her blue eyes to meet his. "Would you like to meet your son, Lord Sesshoumaru?" she asked.
Her sentence was more telling than she knew. As was the protective stance of her body. She was afraid, worried. She was angry and yet wanting some measure of reassurance. He also recognized that she was craving some sort of love, but would she accept this from him? Would she welcome from him love? "This one would be honored," Sesshoumaru answered shortly as he proceeded towards the bed.
Kagome may not be inu, but her protective mothering instincts were in full flare as he approached.
Sesshoumaru moved her to their chamber himself, as soon as she was ready. Seeing her comfortably settled felt right inside. A piece that had been floating freely connected to the rest and Sesshoumaru knew what he had been missing in life. While having Rin had briefly filled that gap, now the space was filled entirely and securely. He had his heir and the mother of his pup safely ensconced within his home and all seemed right in the world.
Yet still the half-breed's words rang in his mind and Sesshoumaru could not shake them. Did Kagome love him? Would she ever forgive his treatment of her? Now that he knew her as he did, Sesshoumaru knew that there were a thousand different ways that his goal, his desire to have her, could have been pursued from. While he would never apologize for what or who he was, he was capable of feeling the regret of his actions. He had done her wrong from the moment he'd taken her innocence, according to her ways, and it would be a steep hill to climb to find himself back within her good graces. But he knew, deep within himself, that this woman was worth it. She was worth everything…and more than. There would be no fear of failure with her, there would be no fear of leaving. If he won her, there would never be fear again. She was his perfect mate, in every faucet and way.
Studying her was intriguing, but Sesshoumaru turned his back towards the miko laying in his bed, her arms wrapped around their pup. She was cooing softly to the pup and he could sense the pup's ease with her presence…and his. "Miko," he intoned, taking a deep breath and steeling his resolve.
"Yes?" she queried innocently from her position. He knew she was aware that he felt troubled. While she may not know as to where his troubles came from, she could read him well enough now and her guard was up.
Sesshoumaru chanced a glance over his shoulder, watching the woman he loved. Her eyes never left the pup in her arms and he found himself struck with a moment of jealousy he quickly pushed aside. Turning away from her once more, he continued. "Miko, do you believe you could ever come to love this Sesshoumaru?"
He felt her pause, heard her breath hitch. She raised her head, looking towards him, and it was as if hot coals were burning into his back as she stared at him. "Love?" she whispered in return.
Needing to look at her, unable to keep his back to her and wanting to lay his eyes upon the woman who mattered most in his world and always would, Sesshoumaru turned to face her once more. "The Dog Demon of the Western Lands wishes to be loved?" she continued.
There was a catch in her voice, something off. Sesshoumaru not help but hear a scathing tone—and perhaps imagined laughter—hidden in her words and flinched slightly. Admittedly his schemes and designs with this woman had all been from the wrong angle, but he was a creature unused to such things as emotions. He hadn't known another way to approach the matter and the woman in the center of all this did come from a different background than he knew. "This one wishes…" he began, his voice cutting off as his eyes connected with hers.
"To be loved by me?" she finished for him.
He found himself unable to move, captivated by the very sight of her. The sunlight poured in through the window, highlighting infinitely the detail of her face and body. Looking at her was like watching the stars in the sky; a thousand different faces upon one smooth surface. She turned her face back towards the pup in her arms, her blue eyes alight with love and tender concern for the life before her. Slowly, her lips pursed, as she weighed her words within her mind.
Sesshoumaru could feel the conflict within her and it tore him inside to know this weight was placed upon her slender shoulders…but he would also have it no other way. Her word would be his law, this day forth. "My Jiji once told me," she began, pausing slightly to take a breath and smile at the pup before her, " That only a fool builds his house upon the sand."
His breath stalled, anger and sorrow swelling up within him. Then she continued. "But neither you nor I are a fool."
His eyes widened fractionally as his mind registered her words. While she was not exactly giving him an answer, the interpretation allowed was broad and his mind immediately spun down the path that gave him all he desired. It was then that Sesshoumaru realized the truth. He was the one truly collared—not she. He had fallen into his own trappings, but it was an end he found himself welcoming…for better or for worse…as it closed finally around him.
Inuyasha's words, ringing clear in his mind until now, faded to the background as she turned her head once more to lock eyes with his. The unusually deep blue of hers, calm and soothing, settled him and calmed him instantly. Their pup fidgeted in her arms, reaching towards his mother for nourishment and love. Moving towards the bed, towards his future, Sesshoumaru's lips curved into a smile.
There is always hope…
Thank you all for your support and reviews concerning this story. It wrote itself from page one and my muses played havoc. My thanks to lrdrandallslady for reading over this and giving me the go-ahead (with prodding). It's been ready for months now, but I felt something was missing and so delayed posting it. Thanks to her, the missing bit was found…well, for me at least. You're awesome to me still, woman.