A/N: Yet another chapter. Will the plot go somewhere? I'm not sure. Reading may be required. Many thanks to Musicalsoul for perusing my mistakes :D

Chapter Forty-One

Convincing Sesshoumaru to stay behind proved to be impossible. After many attempts at persuasion and several failed evasions, I gave in to his staunch resolve. He clearly did not trust me, for his attention didn't stray from me for more than a moment over the two days we'd been traveling. I smiled to myself at the thought.

He was sleeping, his back against the wide trunk of a tree. It being just the two of us, there was no need for a fire. I had tried to start one, but Sesshoumaru demanded we not light one. He went on to say that if I was cold, his body produced enough heat for the two of us. I had blushed despite myself.

As it were, he had fallen asleep quite close to me. We were both against the same tree, and, as he slept, his head fell to my shoulder. I nearly jumped as he settled himself, shifting closer to me. I watched him for long moments, taking in the sight of his pale face in the soft moonlight. Just like those first nights I'd spent with him as a human, his expression was gentle and relaxed. I smiled at how ironic the sentiment was for the man. As silently as possible, I raised a hand and it hovered at his brow. Sesshoumaru's breathing was steady; he didn't seem to be anywhere near awake. My fingers brushed his forehead lightly, tracing the purple crescent dyed in his skin. His eyes flashed open and I jumped, pulling my hand away hurriedly.

"Sorry," I mumbled, shifting away from him. Sesshoumaru's clawed fingers wrapped themselves around the sleeve of my kimono and he drew me closer, all the while staring me down. I felt my face get hot as he continued watching me in silence. His hand made its way slowly upwards, his fingers dragging lightly over the skin of my neck and jaw. I felt tingles race through me, and I did my best to conceal their effects; I was sure it didn't work as well as I thought it did.

Sesshoumaru lifted his head from my shoulder, blinking. I felt compelled to look away, yet could not bring myself to do so. He cupped his hand around my chin and what might be called a smile touched his lips. I watched in silence as he leaned minutely forward, his lips parting ever so slightly in a smile. His hand tensed around my jaw as he drew even closer, and I knew what he was planning. With his other arm, Sesshoumaru propped himself up and planted his lips on mine. Despite knowing it was coming, I was flustered by the kiss. His eyes opened after a moment and he drew back with an annoyed frown.

"You do not react," he said softly, removing his hand from my face. I blinked and his eyes narrowed. He placed his hand on my other side, effectively straddling my legs with his arms. I regarded him silently, curious as to what he was planning. I thought I saw a smirk before his mouth was on mine again, and he was much more insistent this time. He leaned into me, and I gasped as I found myself on my back, staring up at his face. For a moment, he seemed as surprised as I was, then the ghost of a grin crossed his features. Lowering himself to his elbows, he effectively pressed his entire body against mine.

"What are you…?" I began to ask, but was cut short by his soft mouth. His bangs brushed lightly against my cheeks and I felt his fingers tangling in my hair. The combination of the heat from his body and the pressure of his lips inspired me to return the kiss passionately, my arms sliding around his slender waist. Sesshoumaru opened his mouth and exhaled raggedly before repositioning his lips on mine. I clenched my hands around his kimono and lifted my head from the ground to meet his mouth. One of his hands found its way to the back of my head and pulled my face closer to his. I couldn't help myself and laughed.

Sesshoumaru's eyes flashed open. He regarded me with a narrow gaze, still holding the back of my head. I blinked with confusion, and he lifted himself off of me. I sat up, staring at him.

"Sesshoumaru…" He blinked, golden irises flicking in my direction. He then looked away.

"You… do not…" he started softly, trailing into silence. He lifted a knee and rested his arm on it, his face turned towards the stars. I heard him sigh. Nodding to myself, I crawled to my knees and went to his side. He watched me from the corner of his eye with what I sensed was great curiosity. I felt the corners of my mouth curve upwards as I settled close beside him. He turned his head towards me, his hand inching closer to me. I closed my eyes and lowered my cheek to his shoulder. My smile grew with his small huff. He wrapped his arm around my shoulders and lowered his head, resting it atop my own.

Not long after that, the silver haired demon was asleep. With my head on his shoulder, I stared blankly into the trees. We were close to where I had last seen Grandmother; I thought I could feel her aura very faintly when I focused. Carefully I lifted my head from Sesshoumaru. He shifted, muttering something, then sighed deeply and continued to sleep soundly. I released my held breath as I stood silently. I threw a cautionary glance at his figure before leaping into the branches of the trees.

I hadn't gotten far before I sensed something following me. I grabbed onto a thick branch and swung myself around the trunk of the tree and into the neighboring one in hopes of throwing my follower off. It was unfazed. I smelled nothing, as it remained downwind of me. With a huff I dropped myself to the ground and darted amongst the trees. From the corner of my eye I saw movement and I launched myself back into the trees. I inhaled with surprise as I saw the thing do exactly the same thing.

I grabbed a branch and changed directions, clinging to the trunk of a tree and barely breathing. If anything, I wanted to avoid a conflict. I cried out as a hand wrapped around my wrist and I was dragged onto a branch opposite me.

"Your game was amusing," he said, golden eyes narrowed with irritation. I glanced at his hand clenched around my arm. He clearly had no intentions of releasing me. "I ask that you inform me prior to your… excursions."

"You were sleeping," I said, pursing my lips. I gazed downwards to the ground speckled with moonlight.

"The lack of your aura drew this Sesshoumaru from sleep," he returned, his hold on me growing stronger. "Can I not trust you?"

"I didn't know this had anything to do with trust," I said. "I am only interested in finding answers to my questions." His fingers tightened yet again around my wrist.

"This Sesshoumaru only asked that you stay within my sight. It is not a difficult task." He turned his head, his hair swaying before his eyes. His aura did not let on he was upset the way his expression did. My eyes narrowed and I wrenched my arm from his grip.

"Then let's go," I retorted, dropping to the ground. "I am near some answers." His arm snaked across my stomach and held me close to his front. His voice was very near my ear and I stiffened awkwardly.

"Your answers will not steal you away," he whispered, warm breath tickling my neck. I closed my eyes as he pulled me closer and his lips pressed against my skin. I inhaled shakily, lifting my chin as he bent his head to kiss my jaw. I grabbed his hands with my own and sighed.

"No…"