Malik stared across the room at the inconsiderate pup sitting across from him. Determined to ignore him Malik continued to eat his slab of meat in silence if not awkward company. The usually stoic boy disappointed though as he broke his usual rules and instigated a conversation, "You will tell me more about the celestials."
Malik closed his eyes is annoyance. He had spoken far too much for one day and was not up for the defiant glare the Western Lord was giving as if he were some defiant errand boy, "There are scrolls."
Sesshomaru's frustration from the wall he stood by was palpable as Malik took another bite. Neither commented on the absurd behavior or out of character action Sesshomaru had made by invading on Malik's space. They had a delicate relationship where they both hated the world and Malik had been around long enough for Sesshomaru to consider him important enough to respect.
Sesshomaru did not step forward but he continued to press the topic in a dominating way, "I am not in the mood for reading."
Malik took another bite and ignored the pup. After another swallow he gruffly responded with, "And I am not in the mood for storytelling. Isn't Inuyasha supposed to be the pesky one?"
Sesshomaru's glare glazed over for half a second before returning to the situation, a fact Malik did not miss, "He is otherwise occupied. This was the negotiation him and I made."
Malik placed the plate to the side and growled. He knew in his bones something had happened with Sesshomaru's broken but tense posture. Half of him wanted to ask how Sesshomaru was doing but the other half of him knew better. Sesshomaru would not tell a soul what was passing through his mind if it could be used against him, and anything related to Touga was prime bait. "I know nothing that could help the situation."
Sesshomaru moved himself from one end of the room and stood near threateningly in front of Malik, "You and my father studied these beings together. He knew how to trigger her into this state perhaps some other knowledge is hidden away that we must pursue."
Malik stood forward as Sesshomaru continued his hostile behavior. He was a cat in his soul and a dog trying to dominate him wasn't going to go over well. Malik grumbled threateningly as his own aura flared slightly. "Touga has a world of the undead to study from and question at his leisure. I had nearly illegible scrolls and fairy tales. This is her fight Sesshomaru, she must face it."
"Discuss what you know of Midoriko then, she is obviously of importance and a priestess that powerful you and father would have investigated," countered Sesshomaru.
Malik wanted to sigh but did not as that might display some form of submissiveness accidentally. The day he bowed to someone else was the day he mated another human, "The witch was never close to us. Her demon lover made sure of that so we were never able to questions her. Besides we were youths with a pension for violence, what truth would she have given us even if we had met."
Sesshomaru cataloged this mentally before responding, "She had a demon lover?"
Malik nodded with crossed arms, "It was not discussed as it was nearly unheard of during that time. If I remember her name was slander and anyone who spoke it in holy temples was beat near to death. Despite how she protected humans some things are considered wrong throughout the ages. He was powerful too and fought many of her battles with her even the ones against her own people. I suppose in that sense she followed tradition."
Sesshomaru blinked repeatedly as he realized both him and Malik were standing as if ready to fight. Actively relaxing his stance he paused, "Yes, demons would protect the celestials, but from what?"
Taking Sesshomaru new approach in stride Malik returned to his chair and stiffly sat down, "From other demons I presume. Celestials were rare and considered majestic, you know of the girl's scent better than most. While they are powerful they were also coveted. It is said the most powerful demons would battle to prove themselves as capable protectors."
Sesshomaru's eyes glazed briefly once again but Malik did not comment. He knew the pup long enough to know that Sesshomaru would only share when ready. It was after a few quiet yet contemplative seconds that Sesshomaru's mouth opened, "Why did you mate your own priestess?"
Malik could immediately feel his heart harden at the topic and instinctively flared his aura, "The witch will not be mentioned as she does not relate to this topic."
Sesshomaru did not move, he did not sit but actively worked at keeping his posture relaxed. Malik could see the slight tension in his ward's eyes and tried to understand what this was for. Sesshomaru, though young had been around when Nori was present and knew the betrayal that happened. It was the ultimate treachery one could do to a mate, the very same which was done to Sesshomaru's mother. Still he saw Sesshomaru's steadfast gaze and inwardly prepared himself for battle. Once seeing the resolve Sesshomaru continued, "Nori broke your mating bond, she was human and did not feel the same impact we demons do when that is done. Why chose to mate someone so different than you along with the stigma of having a human?"
"Drop the-" he started but was cut off by Sesshomaru.
"Why invite betrayal?"
Malik stopped to argue, possibly leave the room with how his frustration was growing, when he noticed something different. While it still held the usual tone so known to the Lord there was genuine curiosity in his question. So Malik halted his argument and tried to see where Sesshomaru was coming from. The boy had always struggled with attachments which was no wonder to anyone but it seemed as if this ordeal had brought a few questions to light. Remembering that in truth the boy had never had a father and Malik would never categorize himself as a role model he pushed his own anger aside and gruffly gave a response. "I didn't care; I didn't care what it might cost me."
Sesshomaru glanced around the room as his posture remained stiff, "Father presumes to know me and my actions. He believes I will work to save the girl but to what end? You and I know that father always has an end goal."
Malik nodded, "That he does, it is to help you and Inuyasha."
Sesshomaru growled, "Is it? Or is it to punish? To toy with his pray? We have long ago established that happiness does not come to people such as you and me."
Malik kept himself from staring at the corner of his bed where he kept the fraction of small string he had stolen from Kagome's necklace. He had believed happiness wasn't possible as well but circumstances were proving a different possibility. Perhaps his future self had sought her out in order to complete the time line knowing that she dies. Perhaps she defeats all odds and lives to join the world in a new form. Either way he recognized the adoration the young woman had in her eyes for her Uncle Ken and that was something he thought himself never to be privy to. From what he gathered she saw him infrequently but treasured those moments more than most. Was that his own future? That of a family if even for a short moment? And hadn't Kagome mentioned this Uncle having a daughter? Did he end up mating again? He had barely survived the first betrayal and the idea of a second made him want to rip his innards outside of him. Or was this idea of future happiness all wishful thinking?
"I will choose to believe that even if it is brief, demons such as us can be happy as well." Malik finally stated.
Sesshomaru did not respond at first but instead stared at what he would consider his mentor. Eventually he voiced a solid and stead statement, "This is not something you have previously believed."
Malik gave a smirk before stating, "I guess the girl hasn't just impacted you then."
Before Sesshomaru could counter a large banging sounded and the building shook. Standing firm Sesshomaru looked towards the direction of the source, "Must everyone destroy my castle?"
Both demons pushed the conversation to a later date as they walked towards the commotion. In the middle of the castle they reached what looked to be a brawl of sorts. Uza and Shiho were nowhere to be found but in the middle was one of the noble families looking scattered and mad with rage. They were being led by one of the eligible females that had been pestering him on a near daily basis. She had in her hand an ice pick and had attempted to stab another demon with it. The ground was covered in the solid substance as two children cowered in the corner. Sesshomaru stepped forward but immediately had a hand placed on his shoulder. Looking to his comrade he growled a warning until Malik squeezed, "They have initiated the rights, look at the burn mark on the wall. They are vying for your mark and title to pursue the West, one must have challenged the other. Only another contender can intervene and make them submit."
Sesshomaru glanced around as he tried to decipher who was so foolish. This fight would do nothing but prove dominance as it was an outdated tradition not used since his father's era. They would fight to the death and give up all ownership of their land to impress him? Complete foolishness.
The demon with an ice pick quickly formed a sphere until it collided with a nearby wall as the other contender's brother dodged an attack. Packs were allowed to assist to demonstrate power and strength if they so choose. Often times they did as a way to prove said power and connections within the family. Briefly he saw one of the demons aim towards the two cowering children and felt his anger rise. This is why he hated this, the children would be slaughtered if given the opportunity and no one would say a word. Flashes of his own upbringing charged his mind and Sesshomaru turned his head angrily. Malik was right; per demon custom nothing could be done.
One of the children, a boy that had spoken to Kagome before her collapse, pushed himself out of the way and rolled on the floor. The girl from an opposing family was not as lucky as she was hurled into a wall. The impact nearly shattered the wall and Sesshomaru felt his frustration grow. Though he could still hear her heartbeat she was injured by the attack and would benefit from medical attention.
It was barbaric and reminded him why demons, though a superior species, were dying off. They took too long to reproduce and they killed each other over meaningless situations. While he knew he was more cold hearted than most children should not be placed in the line of battle.
"I must stop this," he growled, "she will be killed."
Malik nodded, "A fact the family was aware of; they are desperate for power and were willing to sacrifice her. She is weaker than her sister and they undoubtedly thought to use her as a distraction. You forget Sesshomaru, this tactic use to be used to demonstrate ruthleness and cunning in battle."
The castle shook again and Sesshomaru growled, "I am a Lord, I can intervene."
Malik shook his head in a no manner, "If you were it would be declaring your intentions to the other side as favoritism and they would hold you to it. Do you really feel one of these demonesses would make a proper Lady of the West? Look at how they treat their own."
"I am outlawing this barbaric tradition," Sesshomaru growled as he watched the sheer pettiness before him.
"It is the demon way to fight for power, without the support of a mate it will look as if you are trying to stage off choosing someone if you were to voice your displeasure," countered Malik. While it had not been used in a few centuries it was a failsafe for when aggression became too high. Demons had always been known to have tempers and care little for those they injured. This was a controlled setting rather than the mindless killings many lower level demons did when frustrated. Despite what Malik and Sesshomaru were thinking this was evolved based off of the original slaughter that happened when a demon was perceived as looking at one another incorrectly.
Sesshomaru cared very little for the evolution of his species though and paid no head to the flashbacks of far worse entertainment Malik had been forced to grow up in. Sesshomaru, at this point, chose to ignore his own hardships as well and the trainings he endure to solidify a victory when placed in very similar situations. Everyone had been after the title of the West once Sesshomaru's father had perished and no kindness was spared for a recently orphaned child.
Malik glanced at the ceiling as he watched dirt crumble from the additional force of bodies hitting the walls, though he did not comment. For that Sesshomaru was grateful as the situation continued to draw on. Instead Sesshomaru felt as a hand reached for him as it attempted to grab his shoulder. Before they had time to reach him Sesshomaru turned his attention to the offender. Within seconds Miroku had his hand back to his side and the other on a nearby wall to steady himself, "Are all demons this destructive? I thought it was just Inuyasha."
Malik grumbled, "We were never meant to be inside of confined spaces."
Miroku nodded as he steadied himself. While he was not privy to all of the demon customs he knew better than to questions their norm. Kagome was the only one to ever be able to challenge that successfully and while he found their methods gruesome he valued his life more. "Either way I am glad you have been found, though it may not be the best time-"
Malik immediately sent out a fireball to stage off a wayward attack from a misguided tigress demon. Her claws though sharp were no match for the whip of the opposing daughter's father desperate attempt to not lose his lands. In fear she had flung what she could of her power in his direction though miscalculated the angle which sent it towards the standbys.
All this destruction had further damaged his house and Sesshomaru nearly punctured his palms when he saw a wall crumble on top of one of the last remaining children. Once again he heard a heartbeat but broken bones were continuing to be crushed by the weight.
Turning towards the monk after a near fatal incident for the human both demons were surprised to see the narrowing of his eyes on the little girl crumbled against the wall. Miroku's eyes glanced across the room and he took in the rigid stance of those who would normally stop such things. "Well that explains it."
Sesshomaru's own eyes narrowed, "What do you mean monk?"
Miroku pointed to the first girl who was drawing attention to herself as she shook her head after such a forceful blow while crawling from the rumble. Had she been older or more battle savvy the child would have understood to move quickly and without gathering attention to herself but instead a painful cry escaped her lips. Clearly her arm was injured as she clutched the side of it and tried not to cry again in pain. Malik took his own step forward but stopped himself; the bloody nobles could declare war if an opposing Lord from another land intervened.
Miroku for his part pressed himself against a wall and the building shook again, "A child was hurt, of course that is what did it."
Before either could ask again a blinding light came barreling down the hallway as if lightening itself. Everything it in its wake was destroyed and luckily Miroku threw up a barrier fast enough that both demons only felt a moments burning sensation before their vision turned white. Despite the monk's protection the light engulfed the area and drowned out all other things within its vicinity. The roaring of power, the brightness of light and swift approach of control quickly overrode everything.
Miroku's hands clenched as he subsided the power and both demons dropped to the ground as they recognized the influence of purification at its finest. After a few seconds of cool air reaching their bodies and the breeze following the attack reaching them Miroku dropped his own barrier. Not moments after that he felt to the ground in complete exhaustion.
Sesshomaru was also on the ground as he registered the noise of struggled walking before anything else. Cursing himself for looking at the light rather than dodging as he normally would Sesshomaru tried to decipher what was happening. He heard the shuffling and the sound of someone else close behind the new individual, making two possible attackers. In the castle he could briefly hear the sound of the previously fighting demons attempting to stand as well but clearly more stunned then he had been. He registered then that though powerful that shot had been a warning rather than an attempt on anyone's life. The foolish demon tribes had clearly been the target but had been scattered throughout the room causing such a massive display.
The ringing in the demon ears settled and Sesshomaru blinked hoping to clear his vision sooner rather than not. One must know their attacker before fighting.
Slowly a figure came into focus. They were leaning up against a wall and had labored breathing as if severely injured. He could not read their size quite yet but they appeared to be shorter than him. Sesshomaru stretched his claws and evaluated his depth perception but before striking out a familiar scent reached his nose.
Then it happened, she came into focus. Before him stood a tired, barely breathing and inured Kagome. Her body was doing a poor job supporting her and the slayer was standing behind her fretting about the woman. He could watch the slayer's mouth move but his hearing was still slightly impaired leaving him with muffled noises. He did not care though, instead he focused on Kagome. Sesshomaru's claws retracted as he saw the bow in her hands before it dropped to the ground due to lack of strength in her hold.
Placing her hand against the wall and with a painful push she continued to walk towards the debris. Keeping eye contact with her awake form Sesshomaru watched as she stumbled into the room he had been in previously. Tripping over her own feet Kagome latched onto the rumble where the ice had started to melt, her forceful cough doing nothing to help with her balance as the strength of the exhale nearly toppled her.
But there she stood…awake.
Inhaling Kagome glanced around the room, "What-" but stopped herself to take a breath of air. After a few more seconds, and the surrounding demons looking at her in shock, she tried again, "what is going on?"
Her voice was raspy and only audible to the demons in the room. He doubted Miroku could hear her though perhaps the demon slayer could since she still stood so close. He on the other hand could hear the pain it took to speak, the way her throat cracked with agony.
It took more than a few seconds but eventually a demoness found her ground and stood unsteadily and with burn marks on her face. Based on that Sesshomaru assessed that she had been closer to the arrow than the others. Clearly ignoring her own fear at the power displayed by the injured human, the demon herself standing on shaky legs due to the force of the spiritual blow, the woman tried to remove the human that had bested all of them from the situation. "A tradition, this is a fight you know nothing of and should leave. Only contenders and their family can intervene."
Kagome glanced around the room until her eyes locked on the still struggling child. The first was cradling their arm, the second had pulled themselves from the rock but was clutching their ribs. The spiritual blow had not hurt them but clearly stunned just as much as it had the others in the room. No one mentioned their fear of the powerful woman who had bested a room of demons and nearly drained them of their abilities; a warning shot indeed.
Eyes narrowing briefly Kagome returned to matching the woman's gaze with another giant flare of her purifying aura, "Screw that."
Then it happened.
The castle was bombarded at once as hundreds of demons flew into the area. The windows, open walls and doors were flooded as over a demons filled the remaining space. Screeching noises permeated the air and wind seemed to come from every direction at the force of the flying creatures wings filled the room. They were specifically circling Kagome as if hell itself had a quarrel with her. Then suddenly the demons landed as their wings cascaded over them like drapes revealing that it was not just a swarm, but a hive of bat demons. They littered the area and the nobles were immediately surrounded, their fear palpable as they recognized the animosity in the room.
The elder woman placed her threatening claw down as she was surrounded by hissing, sharpening of claws on broken furniture and wings flapping in anticipation of a fight. The closer ones shoved and pushed the previously aggressive demons closer to the ground as they tried to stand. Some of the demons had their face harshly pushed into the ground with a heel as they had attempted to struggle. Eventually the previously confident demoness backed slightly and the cornered demons pushed themselves against whatever was available to them as they recognized the impossible odds. "What are you doing? This is a right among demons you cannot interfere unless you are a contender. Make them stand down!"
Kagome scoffed but when she did so lost her balance. Immediately latching onto Sango to prevent the fall the surrounding bat demon's tension grew. All eyes turned towards the woman accusingly until one spoke in a graveling voice, "She has hurt mistress Kagome, and she must be punished."
Another voiced his own concerns, "Kagome is part of the colony, she is family and no one touches family!"
Kagome pushed herself off of Sango's shoulder and stopped the discussion with the movement. Instead of directing her energies to the anxious bat demons she directed it to the elderly woman, the same one that had given her a rather nasty glare when they first met. "Leave this castle, you have lost your fight."
Another demon shakily stood before being hastily shoved back to the ground by an aggravated bat. He made eye contact with the demons as if they would somehow protect him or set the human straight. When he garnered nothing but threatening motions he redirected back to Kagome. They obviously initiated her as family and even at his family's full strength they would be no match for this number of creatures. It would be best to fight with their leader, the human Kagome. "No, we have a right unless you are a contender, it is demon law."
Kagome glared, "I guess I am a contender then."
A gasp was followed as the knowing demons stood in shock and outrage. The bat demons stomped in their own rage and excitement of Kagome joining in on a fight, though they did not know what for. Gathering her strength Kagome pointed at the direction of the door, "Take them to the boarder and leave them there, but the children stay until they have been tended to. Anyone who would put the lives of innocents at risk will deal with me!"
Within seconds the bat demons were taking flight as they grabbed each noble, some being carried by up to two or three depending on how demeaning it looked. The colony had found great pride in their role and the impulse to protect a friend as well as one who had helped them towards freedom. Within seconds the grounds were cleared and only twenty or so bat demons remained. Before anyone could respond a small girl with white hair came running up to Kagome and gave what could only be described as an engulfing embrace.
Kagome all but collapsed into the small child's arms and slowly the woman put her down. After a few seconds and blushes later Shiori finally spoke. "We felt your energy flare and thought you might be in trouble."
Sliding rather ungracefully to the ground Kagome nodded, "Thanks Shiori, you couldn't have come at a more perfect time." Kagome placed her quivering palm against Shiori's cheek in a near motherly manner, "You know how I get when children are being hurt."
The girl blushed as she brought her own hand up to the shaking one on her face. She remembered quite well how Inuyasha and Kagome had defended both her and her mother. Kagome had been one of the people to save the colony from Shiori's grandfather who was also in league with the spider demon Naraku. "Thank you for saving me, you and Inuyasha are amazing," came her quiet voice.
Kagome attempted to smile but it came out more as a grimace as a new pain in her side made itself known. Briefly she wondered where Shiori's mother was then remembered they had come thinking Kagome was in trouble. Shiori would never bring her human mother near anything similar to danger.
Glancing around the room Kagome looked up and saw the three individuals standing near the doorway. With a tired look she frowned at Sesshomaru. She didn't say anything else, her throat being in too much pain to properly ask what had happened. Part of her felt that she should be embarrassed for removing his guests from his home without consulting but another part of her was furious that he had stood by and done nothing. An even larger part of her felt the need to dig into his ego that this many bat demons had been hiding on his territory and his great and powerful senses clearly had no idea.
She didn't remember much before waking up but when she was an overwhelming sense of frustration and love had engulfed her. She had needed to protect because no one else was.
Sesshomaru, sensing this conflict within her, answered the unasked comment, "I thought I could do nothing, it is an outdated demon custom. The children will be tended to and taken care of with the option to stay if they would like."
Kagome nodded briefly before voicing her opinions. As painful as it was Kagome wasn't going to pass up the chance to share her views on the matter, "I hate how they would be returning to a family that puts them in danger like this. I don't care how flipping outdated it is, putting children in harm's way is barbaric."
Malik brushed some invisible dirt off him as he recognized the familiar spark of defiance in the woman. He found it odd how comforting the glare in her eye was but passed the concept of possible joy at this particular time. "You own their lands now, they cannot return without your permission. All of their possessions are now yours."
Blinking repeatedly Kagome felt her dizziness return with the information. She owned lands? If only this was her own time, she would be a very rich woman if that were true. Still, something had been left out of that statement, she just knew it. Scowling she turned to Sesshomaru when none of her other options were available. Shiho had always been a strong source of information and Uza was when you could decipher through his playfulness. Malik had already spoken which left option number four, "Did I do something stupid again?"
Stepping forward Sesshomaru carefully rolled a boulder out of his way with a gentle shove, "Perhaps."
"What am I contender for?" she pressed.
He smirked. Sesshomaru smirked and he had the gall to do it right in front of her like it wasn't the sign of death approaching, "My mate."
Kagome inhaled as she berated herself for once again acting impulsively. Glancing over to the side again she watched as the three small children who had been privy to everything, one boy and two girls, where helped by Miroku and a few of the bat demons. She knew it had been worth it, the demonic killing intent was noticeable from her room. She had no idea what woke her up but a thudding noise and a small whimper had somehow reached her ears while unconscious. After that nothing had seemed to matter other than getting to that room, to the one who needed her. It was as if instinct pressed her forward and even through the pain Kagome had known what to do. She needed to protect them, she needed to protect them from pain and war and suffering and possibly even from themselves.
Kagome inhaled deeply as she tried to imagine Sesshomaru's inner monolog to a human accidently vying for the title of his mate. "You going to kill me?"
Another smirk, "No."
Keeping eye contact Kagome suddenly felt the urge to run but knew her legs had given out while standing and would be of no use to her while leaving the room. Deciding to make the transition to something less life threatening Kagome looked at Shiori, "Well then, this is Shiori, the Queen in training of the bat demon tribe. She has been scouting Naraku and his actions for us so it would probably be good to get her information in the war room."
Malik stepped forward as he took in a large sniff of air. After a few seconds he looked down at the girl, "You are a half-demon and a child."
Kagome felt Shiori shrink next to her as the half- demon's own insecurities about her heritage flared. Kagome attempted a reprimand for the fire cat demon but immediately broke out into a coughing fit instead. Before she could regain herself Malik spoke again, "I have no difficulty with this as long as she is competent."
"Either of you two know hundreds of bat demons were within five minutes of the castle? I count that as competent," she argued.
Malik scoffed, "Clearly someone has trained her in stealth."
She scowled, "You berate Inuyasha all the time," while stating a straight fact.
"Like I indicated, competency," he countered. After another pause he stated, "speaking of fools who appear after the battle has been won."
Silence was quickly followed by a rather irate dog demon whose howls could most likely be heard in the training grounds.
"What the hell did you do to me Sesshomaru!" came a booming voice. Shortly afterwards Inuyasha came through a hole in the roof with an angry look on his face and leaves throughout his hair. "I have a raging headache, the castle is destroyed and it smells like bats. Why the hell did you even-"
"Inuyasha!" came the familiar timid voice. Suddenly he was nearly tackled to the ground and with an 'oof' steadied his feet. Stumbling only slightly he was surprised to see the silver haired girl latched onto him as her wings flapped to keep her steady feet hovering off the ground.
Blinking slowly he looked down, "Shiori?" Looking again he saw Kagome sitting on the ground and felt his heart soar. In a much quieter tone he whispered a breathy "Kagome."
With a small smile she nodded. With an understanding nod between the two signaling they would talk later Inuyasha wrapped his arms around the small half demon and flung her into the air. She giggled briefly and he placed her back on the ground, "You've grown."
Blushing again she nodded.
He placed his clawed finger tips on her head and ruffled her hair almost affectionately, "So I'm guessing you have some information for us kid?"
Looking at Inuyasha then at Malik she pulled at his shirt slightly and looked at Malik again. Inuyasha glanced at the older demon in understanding, "Don't worry, Kagome says his bark is way worse than his bite."
Carefully looking at the older demon, who still had his arms crossed while surveying at the scene in true warlord fashion, Shiori nodded her head in understanding. Then she peeked at the oldest silver haired demon and pointed, "He smells like you."
Glancing back up at Sesshomaru Inuyasha smirked, "That's my fucker of an older brother. Now his bite is way worse than his bark because he attacks without warning. Son-of-a-bitch knocked me out today like it was no big deal."
"Inuyasha!" Kagome reprimanded, "Do not use that kind of language in front of her! You are such an inconsiderate child!"
Inuyasha scoffed, "Are you kidding, I'm getting it on both ends now? This is going be way worse with Shippo, Rin and Shiori being here."
Immediately Kagome's face lit up at those words her quarrel with Inuyasha completely forgotten, "Rin is here? When did she get here?" Trying to stand but failing miserably until Sango helped her, Kagome turned to Shiori, "You are going to love this little girl Shiori, she is sweet just like you and is about your age if not a a few years younger."
Inuyasha immediately jumped towards Kagome when he saw her struggling to stand again, "Wench do not push yourself okay. Shiori and I will go to the war room to talk about stuff and you can go say hello to the kid. She is probably in her room away from whatever happened here."
Kagome glanced around the room as she remembered the details of waking up. Sharing a look with Miroku, since he had tried to train her on different known demon customs for about a year now, Kagome looked back at her friend, "Oh this, I think I accidently proposed myself to Sesshomaru for marriage."
By then Inuyasha had his hands on Kagome's shoulders to help steady her but felt his entire body go limp. He glanced briefly at Kagome then spun to face Sesshomaru. He opened his mouth once but wisely kept it shut with a low nearly inaudible growl from the older brother who enjoyed causing sibling misfortune sounded. Once again Sesshomaru was shutting him up and disregarding any discussion of feelings.
Kagome pushed herself, or fell, into his arms and wrapped her arms around him before the brothers staring contest could continue much further. Sighing briefly she inhaled his regular scent. Kagome had not known what happened while she slept, or how long she was out for, but his warmth was familiar when he had felt absent for so long. Everything felt off aside from when she was walking down that hallway towards the source of chaos but she knew this would feel right. Shockingly, while it was comfortable it did not feel right.
Since when was Inuyasha not her home base?
Pulling away briefly, but only after the small hug that Inuyasha was willing to give in public, she moved back towards the supportive hold that was Sango. Nodding she looked towards Shiori before tapping the small girl's head. "I am going to find Rin before I lay back down, let me know when you are done."
The girl nodded slowly as she watched the second of her idols be all but carried away by the nearby demon slayer.
Sesshomaru was walking away from the war room as he left the remainder of the group to untangle the details of what to do next. While normally he would participate to make sure every aspect was carried out perfectly a large portion of him had felt the need to check on Rin and Kagome.
No one could truly guess what had woken the girl up when so many other disastrous things had not done so and he would be lying to state he wasn't curious. He took a turn towards the familiar room and a sense of nostalgia washed over him. He had briefly remembered being avoidant of this hallway after he had sent Rin to live with human relatives in a faraway village. Still within west territory but far enough away as to not be a distraction or easily found. It was strange to purposefully be walking its floors now when he had avoided it for months.
As he silently walked his ears picked up on what could only be described as laughter. Halting momentarily Sesshomaru recognized the oddity of that sound. His castle, even when he was young, was not known for laughter. As he resumed his direction Sesshomaru's eyes registered the source of the sound his ears had been privy too.
Rin was discussing her favorite doll and excitement at having someone to play with her. Kagome was humming along with a random statement as the small child continued speaking. As he approached the door he was greeted with the sight of Rin sitting on Kagome's lap as the older woman brushed her hair. He had not seen Rin so content in such a long time and felt a new feeling arise, though he knew verbalizing it was beyond him.
"And then this village boy told me that demon are bad," said the small child as she continued to tell her tale.
Kagome continued to nod as she prompted the girl to continue, "And you corrected him?"
Rin nodded enthusiastically again, "Of course, I told him that Lord Sesshomaru is the best and he saved me when everyone else ran away. And that Lord Sesshomaru always saves me no matter what."
Kagome smiled as she placed a small intricate braid in the side of the girl's hair, "That is because Lord Sesshomaru loves you very much."
Rin's eyes seem to brighten when Kagome spoke that and she laughed happily. Before either of them could say something more Rin turned towards Kagome, which left her with direct eye contact with said Lord standing in the doorway. Happily Rin jumped off the bed and ran to him skipping to a stop just before she reached his thighs. Placing her hands behind her back and rocking on the balls of her feet Rin bowed, "Lord Sesshomaru."
He slowly positioned his own hand above her head and placed it on the top of her skull, an inner thought registering just how small she was in comparison to his own form. "Rin there is another child a few years older than yourself that wishes to meet you. Both her and Shippo are in the yard if you wish to join them."
Rin quickly darted away at the idea of being able to play with someone new. Within seconds it was the demon lord and dying priestess left alone in the child's living quarters. Sensing her discomfort and wanting to limit it Sesshomaru motioned towards the bed where she sat, 'Thank you, I am not affectionate with words and it is good for her to hear."
Kagome smiled briefly, "It is very clear that you do. Her room could not fit more toys or clothing if she tried."
Sesshomaru stepped into the room as he glanced around. He was surprised to see that no one else was present with them. Given the woman's medical history he did not think she would be spending time by herself. Before he could verbalize the thought he had been cut off by the very woman he was thinking of, "I am sorry I had them escorted out like that, I do not know how to describe what came over me."
He dismissed the statement immediately, "You were correct in doing so, Malik and I had both struggled with what was happening but were limited due to demon customs."
Kagome sighed, "I guess I missed a lot while I was out. Inuyasha seemed too frightened when he saw me there. I was also told about Kikyo, about what happened to her." Her hands once again reached for her chest and rubbed gently.
Sesshomaru took another step into the room. While he did not know the exact pain Inuyasha experienced he did understand loss. Since Inuyasha was not present Sesshomaru was inclined to convey it for him, "Inuyasha has been sullen but moving forward."
Kagome's eye brow rose, "That, that right there is what I don't understand."
Sesshomaru stopped moving closer as he saw her body tense. He waited and true to Kagome form she did not disappoint and resumed her talking.
"You two seem closer somehow, he even called you some names and didn't end up thrown into a wall. Did something else happen while I was asleep?" she tried.
Sesshomaru felt his own anxiety start again as he realized what the topic was potentially moving towards. Both him and Inuyasha had a long standing loathing between them that did not disappear overnight. What's more she had not been informed of her celestial status or their knowledge of Touga in her life. Her mind must be spinning with questions as she caught up on events while sleeping, most likely contemplating how it would impact Touga's goal. Taking the initiative to direct the conversation in his favor he changed her thinking process, "Inuyasha and I have both realized that family bonds, while frustrating, are more tolerable than some others. I offered a pack position and he accepted."
Kagome rubbed her chest again and he could see the physical pain reflected in her eyes. At the same time he could see the hope in them and he suddenly understood what that action on his part would mean to her; both with Touga and on a personal level. She had always cared for Inuyasha and never been shy about wanting to protect him. It was probably one of her goals just as much as people presume for it to be Touga's.
The exhaustion was still there though and her normally happy statements were absent. Knowing that she must need to sleep to combat the fatigue, but worried she may not wake again, he continued. "I suppose that is one lesson my father was finally able to teach me."
Her hand immediately stopped and recognition was bright as day across her face. Her eyes snapped up to his as something akin to fear overtook her features, "Your father?"
Pushing his discomfort aside but remaining standing as he needed to assert his dominance over his own history Sesshomaru conveyed usually private information. "My father was a difficult demon to please and had little time for me throughout the majority of my life. It was not until he met Inuyasha's mother that his attitude towards others changed. Before he passed he tried to convey to me the importance of a pack among a few other life lessons. I ignored him out of spite. Over two hundred years later it seems to be a life lesson again."
Kagome remained still and his suspicions were confirmed. The woman knew who plagued her and had been suffering silently. After a few seconds more Kagome glanced at the ground and sighed, "I don't think your father is a bad man; I think he is single minded. I am sure he would do anything to make up for his mistakes now."
Sesshomaru felt his heart harden again but realized she had just as much right to be angry as he did but had chosen to not hold it against the spirit. She was a more compassionate person than he was. Bringing back to light her own medical impairments Sesshomaru motioned towards the room, "Are you feeling well, there is no one to assist you."
Kagome shook her head indicating a resounding no, "I am actually feeling pretty terrible but Miroku and Sango were so tired I couldn't keep them here. And Rin, she just wanted someone to hold her for a bit. I think being away from you shook her more than she wants to say."
Sesshomaru remained rooted in his standing position but recognized the familiarity of the situation; of her placing others above herself as usual. "Thank you, for taking care of me while I was sick."
He watched as her blush formed near immediately and he was surprised at the excitement he held watching the color return to her face. "You were fine."
Sesshomaru scoffed, "I was a child who forced you to bathe with me and you obliged because you knew it would calm me. I was not fine."
Kagome's hands immediately went to her face and the pink color deepened to a distinctive red, "Oh my god you remember? He swore that you wouldn't. That two-faced-dog-eared-liar! And I can't even run away like a normal person because my feet hurt!"
Sesshomaru inwardly acknowledged that Touga had indeed been conversing with Kagome and about him of all things. While he was curious as to why and what they had discussed a larger part thought it best to add as little stress on Kagome as possible. She was crucial in a multitude of things and was already at a breaking point. "I assure you Kagome, I am more appreciative than you know."
One hand remained on her face and the other tried to wave him away, "You need to leave, like now because this is to embarrassing!"
He did not know how to respond to her flushed and embarrassed state. Grooming was an instinctual and trusting task typically performed between pack members. In the demon culture his acknowledgement and acceptance of such assistance was of the highest compliment but now she wanted him to leave. What had he said to set her off? Surely she could recognize the value of his words beyond her own insecurities.
"Oi! Stop picking on Kagome," came a sarcastic voice from behind him.
Not bothering to turn around since he had scented him as he left the war room Sesshomaru crossed his arms, "She is broken and will not accept this Sesshomaru's compliment."
Inuyasha scoffed, "Well we already know the broken bit and the compliment thing doesn't surprise me."
Sesshomaru nodded, "I had never properly thanked her for taking care of me while sick. Her ability to help groom calmed me near immediately and prevented further chaos."
Inuyasha stopped moving forward as his eyes honed in on Kagome, "You what? You don't even brush my hair!"
Kagome's arms dropped to her side as she focused on the indignation in Inuyasha's voice, "That is because you never brush it and then whine like a baby when anything other than fingernails goes near your ears."
Inuyasha nearly yelled back until he remembered that Sesshomaru had been sick for weeks. Stopping abruptly Inuyasha studded, "Wait? Did you help him bathe? Did you see him naked?"
Her hands were immediately back up to her face as the redness returned, her anger at Inuyasha's accusation completely gone from her mind. After a few seconds of deep breathing Kagome turned a new glare towards Inuyasha, "He was dying! Don't look at me like that."
Inuyasha's mouth dropped, "Naked?"
Her hands went up to her head as she pulled at hair, "There was a cloth involved!"
Inuyasha took a few steps back, "A cloth? Like only one? On you or on him? Were you naked?"
Kagome threw her hands up in the air as she effectively gave up all hope of this conversation ending well, "Oh god, you are so immature!"
An extended clawed finger was pointing at her now, "You are the one all red faced!"
Her hands went to her chest in a crossed motion as she turned her body away from him. Inuyasha rounded on the other individual in the room as he stared at Sesshomaru once her dismissal of the conversation was clear. After a few seconds of silence he made direct eye contact with Sesshomaru and stated a firm, "Nope, I am officially not okay with it."
Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed as he registered Inuyasha referring back to the conversation in the woods. Frustrated at the turn of the conversation and Kagome's inability to accept the compliment Sesshomaru focused on Inuyasha. Honestly, he should have hit him harder in the woods. Taking the challenge Sesshomaru countered with, "There is nothing to have an opinion about."
Inuyasha tapped his foot as he silently willed Sesshomaru to be honest in that moment. Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes further into slits at the defiance in front of him from none other than his beta. Kagome threw her hands down and moved herself off the bed in order to leave the room. Since her body was not prepared and still in quite a bit of pain she immediately fell to the floor. Both brothers acted quickly as they each caught her by an upper arm. Kagome looked up at both of them as she nearly hovered, "Sorry."
Her eyes began to water but she pushed the obvious tears back. Sesshomaru was the first to release her as he walked out of the room without further statements towards the pair. Inuyasha did so much more slowly as he waited for her to stand. After a few seconds of her repositioning herself back on the bed to where her body ached slightly less Inuyasha finally asked if she was all right.
Kagome didn't respond until her breathing returned to normal, "I am not use to feeling this way anymore. I haven't been this weak since I first came here."
Inuyasha scoffed, "You literally faced a centipede demon, were tied up by villagers and yelled at me within your first hour of being in this era. You were never weak Kagome."
Kagome sniffled as she tried not to pay too much attention to the fact that Inuyasha was being nice to her. Kagome rested her head against his chest as she contemplated her current life situation. While awake she did not feel any better, and Touga had made his stance on her life clear. She was expendable if it reached his goal and while she was not a parent herself she knew her mother might have made the same decision. Nothing trumped a parent's love and though upset at the turn of things Kagome couldn't find it in her to hate the dead demon lord.
But she did feel bad over her display with Sesshomaru. She hadn't meant to appear frail in front of him and it made her afraid to think that all of their progress could be pushed back by this. "Do you think he hates me?"
The half-demon, despite wishing he didn't know who his best friend was referring to, couldn't help but recognize the pleading in her voice. Why it was there for Sesshomaru bothered him but for now Inuyasha ignored the feeling. "No, I do not think hate is what he is feeling right now."
Kagome sighed, "I am glad you two are getting along better now."
Inuyasha was tempted to brush his claws through his hair but stopped himself due to the woman in his arms. After a few seconds he responded with, "Yeah well better doesn't mean great. He still pisses me off and is condescending as hell."
He heard a small laugh from her and immediately felt his tension lower. Despite the bravado he put on the majority of the time Kagome meant more to him than anything and the idea of losing her had shaken him to his core. So he allowed himself the indulgence of holding her closely even as she picked at the open scab wound that was his older brother. "But he cares; I can see it when he looks at you. I think he is a little mad that he cares but he does. And Sesshomaru takes care of what is his. At least now I know that no matter what happens to me you will be alright."
She said each word in a softer tone and her breathing slowed with each word. He knew Kagome was falling back asleep but was not worried this time as it felt natural, her heart rate not beating at the erratic pace it had been when she was unconscious the previous day. Inuyasha waited another few minutes until it was completely even and he knew she was asleep. Gently placing her down on the bed Inuyasha watched her breath. It was a pastime of his when they usual slept outside in the wilderness. Often times when he would watch over the group his eyes would stray to Kagome and what she had given him.
He had wished on more than one occasion that he could love her as more than family but in his heart of hearts knew he wasn't ready for that. He had been broken for too long and didn't want a mate, but a family. He wanted someone to protect him, to make him feel needed and smack him upside the head when he was being difficult. Kagome had become that, partially because he needed it and partially because that is how they fit together.
He recognized the difference in Sesshomaru though. Sure Sesshomaru wanted a family but not nearly as much as he craved an equal. He wanted a partner that he could confide in; a person who would support him and make him want to be better. Sesshomaru wanted someone who would love him as fiercely as possible and fight for him even when Sesshomaru gave up on himself. Inuyasha knew Kagome could do this, that she would, but he did not know if Sesshomaru would be what Kagome needed.
She needed someone to not only protect her but help her grow; someone who would nurture her as she continued to find herself and her role in this world. Who would not shun her for being different but relish in it. Someone that would love her more than life itself and never hesitate once about protecting her, even from her own self. She needed someone that would temper her compassion that put her in more danger than words could say.
So while it was odd for him to think of Sesshomaru as having any form of affection for Kagome, especially after their history, it was stranger to think of Sesshomaru as being that man. He would not lie to himself and say he knew Sesshomaru's character well. They had been at each other's throats for years and while they knew one another on the battlefield this part was new.
As he thought that then he would remember the fear Sesshomaru let lose at not being good enough, the hurt he hid from everyone. Inuyasha recalled the vulnerability he had never been privy to and the man behind the demon who sat alone in a forest.
If Sesshomaru could be that person then Inuyasha would find a way to get over it. But until then he would just need to be Kagome's protector no matter what she was, human or celestial.
Firevixen73- I hope you guys are having a great weekend and I am very happy at how the story is progressing. We are finally getting more insight into what everyone is feeling and what Touga's plans have been this entire time. Feel free to let me know what you think.