Misconceptions And Misunderstandings
Kagome's scream set them all on edge. But it was also a sense of relief they felt. It was almost over now. Inuyasha and Shippo were pacing. Akihiko was staring out the window, hands folded behind his back, with an air of reserved calm. To all outward appearances. On the inside, he was anything but calm.
He was nervous. He was excited. He was a little scared. A sister. He would be a big brother. He wondered if he would be as good a big brother as Shippo was to him. Or his father was to Uncle Yasha. He knew he would have more responsibility since she was a girl. He was old enough now to understand that it would be his duty to keep the boys away from her.
Uncle Yasha said she wasn't dating until she was at least two hundred. That seemed a little extreme to him. One hundred fifty was a much more reasonable age. He would personally make sure that any would be suitor was worthy of his sister, the daughter of the west.
There was another scream from the bedroom and Inuyasha cringed, his ears flattening to his head.
"Damn. I'd forgotten how loud the wench can get."
Shippo smacked him in the back of the head for calling his mother a wench. It was nothing that Akihiko hadn't seen a thousand times before. He restrained the urge to do the same. Sometimes he thought it would be easier if he were more like his mother. But he had been raised knowing that he would someday in the distant future be the ruler of the west. While he loved his mother dearly, human emotions and all, to emulate her personality would not serve him well when that day finally came.
He was not nearly as reserved as his father, but he was capable of hiding his feelings when it was necessary. He knew the importance of concealing his reactions from an enemy. Father had taught him that during his extensive training. At twelve years of age, he was every bit the warrior his father was. He lacked only real battle experience. His mother said that was a good thing. That they enjoyed the peace his father had not known at his age.
The doctor was smiling at Kagome.
"I can see the head. It won't be much longer now. On the next contraction, I need you to push hard."
Sesshoumaru held her hand. At least he deluded himself into believing he held her hand. When in reality it was Kagome who had a death grip on his hand. He was focused on the energy of his mate and pup. His mate's energy was low. She had been in labor for several hours and was understandably fatigued. The pup's energy was strong and steady. His daughter was ready to face the world.
He felt Kagome squeeze his hand hard. He helped her lean forward to bear down as a contraction gripped her again. The doctor nodded.
Kagome fell back exhausted as her daughter slid into the doctor's hands. Sesshoumaru wiped her brow with a wet cloth. The doctor handed the pup to his mate to clean up before introducing her to her parents. He concentrated on taking care of the mother.
The nurse brought his little bundle to the bed and placed it into Kagome's arms. Kagome smiled at the man.
"Thank you Najiro."
"Of course, my lady. She is as beautiful as her mother."
Kagome removed the blanket for inspection. The pup was definitely hanyou, right down to the fuzzy triangular ears atop her little dark head. She opened her eyes to reveal a clear citrine gaze. Once again the Taisho eyes bred true. The rest of the pup's looks, however were all Kagome.
"What shall we name her?"
Kagome looked up at Sesshoumaru. She had forgotten about the ritual. He hadn't accepted their daughter as he had Akihiko.
"Don't you have to name her? You didn't accept her."
Sesshoumaru chuckled. After so many years, his lovely mate still did not understand all of the demon customs.
"She is not my heir. The ritual was only necessary for Akihiko. Of course I accept her. As I will all of our pups. However, you now have a say in the naming of them."
"Oh. I haven't thought of any names. I thought you would be naming her."
"I can if you wish."
"No. I would like us to do this together."
She thought a moment.
"What do you think of Sakura?"
"Too common. Our daughter is anything but common."
Kagome tapped her lip as she looked at her daughter.
Kagome smiled at Kiyomi. Her little 'pure beauty'.
Several hours later, Sesshoumaru sat in his study with a contemplative look on his face. He had made all of the required phone calls to the family, His mother was on her way back from Barcelona where she had jetted off with her latest lover. Kagome's mother was already camped out in the nursery fussing over her newest grandchild while her daughter took a well-deserved nap. Souta was on his way back from a successful bid to retain his world championship title. The Kendo competition had ended last night, or rather this morning Tokyo time. Kagome's grandfather was rarely well enough to leave the shrine anymore, so he had emailed the birth photos and promised to bring her to visit as soon as they could.
He turned in his chair to stare out the window. He couldn't ask for a better life. It was far more than he deserved after almost destroying it before it could begin. His mate had forgiven his foolishness and they had settled into the loving relationship that had produced his two pups.
At last he understood his father's final words from so long ago. He smiled. At the time he thought his father a fool to give his life for a human woman and a hanyou that should never have been born. But now…He finally had something of his own to protect. And he knew without a doubt that if he were called on to do so, he would give his life for them.
He sensed his mate stirring from her sleep. There would be another time for reflections on his life. He stopped on the bottom stair as he heard the argument between Inuyasha and Shippo about who would be the first to hold Kiyomi. He shook his head with a small smirk as he resumed his trek to his mate's side. Yes, he would give his life for all of his family if necessary. Even the brash loud mouth he now openly called brother.
Sesshoumaru entered his bedroom to see his son seated in an armchair reading. He looked up when his father closed the door.
"Mother is waking up. May I see her?"
"You have waited here all this time? I thought you would be downstairs with Shippo and Inuyasha."
"They are fighting again. It gets old after a while."
Sesshoumaru understood. It was a feeling he'd had many times.
"Have you seen your sister yet?"
"Yes Father. I held her while Grandmother got settled in the rocker. Then I had to give her back."
"Do you understand your new responsibilities?"
"I do Father. Kiyomi is my sister. She is pack. I will protect her until another is allowed to claim the right to do so."
Sesshoumaru nodded. Satisfied with his answer. He would not allow his son to make the same mistakes he had made. His son would understand the meaning of pack and what it meant to be responsible for one as its leader.
"Let us see if your mother is fully awake."
He opened the door to see his mate sitting up, the bedding tossed aside.
"And just where do you think you are going?"
She settled back against the pillows.
"I was going to the nursery to check on Kiyomi."
"Unless she becomes hungry, your mother has everything under control."
Akihiko put his arms around his mother and gave her a hug. He rarely indulged in such emotional displays in his father's presence. But he would make an exception this one time. He pulled back to look at her smiling face.
"How are you feeling, Mother? Can I get you anything?"
She brushed his hair out of his face. Both so much like his father's.
"I am a little hungry. Could you ask Cook to send me a plate?"
Sesshoumaru put a hand on his son's shoulder.
"I will go. You may spend some time with your mother."
Kagome moved over and patted the bed beside her. Akihiko sat down next to her. A soft click told them that Sesshoumaru had left the room. Once she was sure he was out of hearing range, she turned to her son with a smile.
"Ok. He's gone. We have a few minutes. You can relax."
Akihiko grinned and threw his arms around his mother for a real hug. He was sure that his father would understand, but it made life easier if he allowed his sire to believe that he was following in his footsteps somewhat. He knew that his father had changed since he mated his mother, but he still held to some of the old values when it came to raising his heir. There were, after all, traditions to uphold.
"Sometimes it's hard to control it all. I feel pressured to meet Father's expectations."
Kagome stroked his hair as she held him close.
"I know. You don't have to hide your feelings, you know."
"Your father was born in an era of war. He was raised to be a warrior."
"He has raised me to be a warrior too."
"Yes. And you are quite powerful. But you must remember that your father had to use that battle knowledge almost daily to survive and to protect his people and lands. Our time is more peaceful. There are other skills you need in this time. While your father understands this, he insists you be prepared if our peaceful existence changes."
"Father says the other houses have grown soft. They are more concerned with money and the power that comes with it than being able to protect what is theirs. He said that he had a hard time learning this lesson from Grandfather Inu. He wants to make sure that I don't make his mistakes."
"That's true. But you don't have to limit yourself. You can be other things and still be a strong warrior. Look at your father, your brother, and your uncle. They are businessmen. But they are also the most powerful warriors alive today."
"You have a point, Mother."
"Don't I always?"
He nodded and she grinned.
"So what would you like to do? Join your father's company?"
He shook his head.
"It is enough that I will one day lead the Western Lands. Shippo and Uncle Yasha can take care of the company."
"Then you do have an idea of what you wish to do with your life?"
"It's a dream that I…" He cocked his head to the side. "Father is coming. Come to the attic later."
He scooted off the bed and walked to the door without waiting for her answer.
Kagome was beyond curious, but it was obviously not something he wished to share with his father at this time. She would have to wait.
Akihiko opened the door for his father and then left the room. Sesshoumaru carried his burden to the bedside table where he set the tray down. Kagome's eyes widened.
"Did you bring every scrap of food in the house?"
He chuckled as he filled her plate.
"Hardly. This is all that Cook would part with."
He handed her a plate piled with cold meat, cheese, and fruit.
"I can't possibly eat all of this."
"I thought I would share your meal here since you probably won't feel like coming down to dinner."
"Oh. That's sweet of you."
He placed a piece of meat between the slices of bread on his plate. It was overdone for his tastes, but he wanted to spend time with his mate. After adding a few items to the meat, he now had an acceptable sandwich.
"Hm?" He answered around the bite he'd just taken.
"Do you ever think that maybe you are pushing Akihiko too hard?"
"Why? Has he said something to you?"
"No. He would never complain. He knows his duty as your heir and has accepted it. I just… I don't know. I think he might benefit from some normal activities for a boy his age."
"A human boy, you mean?"
"Well… he is half human. But what I mean is… a break sometimes. You know… Just to have some fun. Maybe with boys his own age. I think he's way too young to be so serious."
"I was the same at his age."
"That's what I mean. You still won't let yourself have any fun. It's almost like a foreign concept to you."
He arched a silver brow.
"You do not wish for my heir to emulate me?"
"In some ways, yes. In others… no. You know I love you. But it took a long time for you to change into someone I could love. You had a lot of negative personality traits. I'm just afraid that if you insist on raising him the way you were raised, that he will become cold and aloof. As you were when we first met."
"Hm. Is that the first impression you got?"
"No. That was the second one. The first was that you were trying to kill me."
"Why is it that you always dredge up my failures when we argue?"
"I wasn't aware we were arguing. And …"
She stopped mid sentence.
"Hey! Are you saying you regret not killing me?"
He chuckled and ruffled her hair.
"You worry too much, mate. As long as he has your influence to balance mine, he will be fine. If it will make you feel better, I will try to let him have a little fun once in a while. Though I will not allow him to neglect his training."
Once they had finished eating, Sesshoumaru took her plate.
"I have some business calls to make, so I won't return for some time. Get some rest and I will see you later."
Once he was gone, Kagome got up and pulled on her robe. Belting it, she slipped out the door into the hall. It was quiet. She turned toward the end of the hall where the attic access door was.
Kagome opened the door and softly called out to her son as she climbed the stairs.
"Akihiko? Are you here?"
Just as quietly, he answered.
"Yes, Mother. Come in."
She moved further into the room and searched for her son. What she saw caught her completely off guard. She walked over to the window where Akihiko was seated in front of a canvas.
She walked around to the front so she could see what he was working on. She couldn't contain her astonishment. There on the canvas was a rough charcoal outline of a woman in a rocking chair holding a baby.
"Did you draw this just now?"
"It's Grandma Higurashi and Kiyomi. She was in the nursery earlier and I thought it would make a great painting."
"You drew this from memory?"
"Wow. You said a painting. Have you ever done one before?"
He nodded and got up. Taking her hand he led her to a corner where a dust cloth was covering some things. He pulled it off and there was a stack of paintings. Kagome carefully tipped each one forward until she had seen them all.
He shifted from one foot to the other.
"Couple of years now."
"They are amazing. I never knew you had this talent. I wonder where you got it. It certainly didn't come from my side of the family."
"You really like them?"
"Of course I do. Is this the dream you didn't get to tell me about? Is this what you want to do with your life?"
"Yeah. I'd like to apply to art school. But I don't think that Father will agree. He wants me to go to college after high school to get a business degree."
"Well, even at your accelerated rate, graduation is still two years off. That gives us time to work on him."
"You mean you'll support me in this?"
"Of course I will. If this is what you want to do. You certainly have the talent from what I've seen. It's not like you will be taking over for your father anytime soon. I think he can indulge you for a few years."
"Thank you, Mother."
She winked at him.
"Just make sure I get to see that one," she pointed to the new canvas he'd begun, "as soon as you finish it. I think I may have to ask you to give it to me."
"I might consider it. Perhaps a Mother's Day gift?"
She made her way back to her bed with no one the wiser. But she was more than tired by the time she got there. She tossed her robe over the chair beside the bed and climbed in. With a yawn and a stretch, she rolled to her side and was asleep in minutes.
From his vantage point in the hall, Sesshoumaru waited until the door closed behind her before casting a glance at the attic door. He had known for a while that Akihiko painted. He'd even carefully taken a peek at his son's work, making sure to mask his scent so that no one would know he had intruded.
His nose had detected the odor of the paints and turpentine clinging to his son long ago. He was quite familiar with the modern painter's tools and supplies. His own had been water colors in his youth. He remembered the solitude and the peace he experienced while painting. He'd reluctantly given it up long, long ago. After all, it did nothing to enhance his battle skills, nor did it gain him greater power.
His father would have never understood. So as he grew older and the trips accompanying his father to battle grew more frequent, he stopped. He missed it occasionally. It was something he had never told anyone. Not even his mate. Although she would understand. There were none of his works left. Unless of course his mate managed to stumble across one as she had Rin's tapestry. They had all been in his fortress. Destroyed he was certain.
He knew, now that his mate had seen Akihiko's talent, she would try to persuade him to allow their son to pursue his dream. He had already decided to allow Akihiko to choose his own path in life until the time came for him to become Lord of the West. But he would enjoy his mate's efforts to persuade him to her way of thinking. He also had every intention of taking advantage of the situation. He certainly had no intention of giving in easily. He smirked. It would be… fun