~Chapter 23~

It had been a couple of weeks but Kagome had decided not to go back to work for some time. She couldn't be around any reminders of Yura. She struggled whether to be mad at her or not. She was her best friend but she helped the kidnappers, then proceeded to save her daughter's life at the cost of hers. She stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror, her eyes resumed back to normal and she had made an appointment with her dentist to remove her fangs, although, they would continue to grow at some point in the future the next time she hulked out. The last thing she needed were people interrogating her, whether it was from work or the clan.

Walking to her closet, she grabbed a black pencil dress and a pair or Cartier pearls and got dressed. She met Koga and Sesshomaru out in the patio. The girls were getting ready with the help of their grandmother. There was an important clan meeting this afternoon held by the six Elders.

One of the butlers had set a cappuccino in front of her. She thanked him and grabbed Sesshomaru's hand underneath the table. His eyes lit up and he gave her a partial grin as he gently squeezed her hand.

"So how do you like working for Sesshomaru? Have you fallen in love with him yet?" Kagome teased, striking up a light conversation to dissipate the anxiety forming inside over today's meeting.

Sesshomaru glanced at her then rolled his eyes.

Koga smirked. "I gotta say, I see what these chicks see in you. It's this sparkle you have in those beautiful amber orbs of yours. I don't know, Kagome…I can't promise that feelings won't develop. You'll need to watch your back."

"May the best man win." Kagome joked and Sesshomaru slid his chair back.

"You guys can continue mocking me in my absence."

"Where's your sense of humor, babe!" Kagome giggled as she tried to grab him from leaving.

"Mmm, look at that ass." Koga craned his neck at Sesshomaru as he walked away.

Kagome and Koga started to laugh and Sesshomaru frowned.

"We have to leave by 1pm." He said, stifling a smirk. "Finish your breakfast."

"Yes, sir." Kagome winked and took a sip of her espresso. "Don't forget we have our photoshoot tomorrow for Marquis's memorial."

Sesshomaru waved his hand to acknowledge.

Koga cut into a piece of French toast and looked at Kagome, the sun beamed down at them making his light blue eyes almost white.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

Kagome looked over her shoulder to see if Sesshomaru had left. She looked down at her breakfast and couldn't bring herself to eat it.

"Um…a wreck, I feel like a wreck. I'm not going to lie, I'm terrified to leave the house, terrified when the girls go back to school, terrified for you and Sesshomaru to go back to work. You know, Sesshomaru and I always discussed that our marriage would be hard, but…this is beyond that." She exhaled a deep anxious breath. "And now we have to go to this meeting where everyone will be staring at me, passing judgement and probably blaming me for all of this happening. Making comments about me not bearing a son for the throne, ruining the future of the Shiro Inu and blah blah…"

Koga smiled. "I don't think that'll be the case this time."

Kagome wished she could believe him but she shrugged and took another sip of coffee.

"Ayame is going to be at this meeting." She said, and he leaned back into his chair and wiped his mouth with a napkin.

"Yeah…" he answered, uncomfortably.

"Koga, what you guys had is a rare find. Don't let ego get in the way of your relationship. Discuss it, try and meet her halfway to come to a compromise."

"Yeah, maybe I'll talk to her. Dealing with all of this, almost getting killed, it makes you see things differently."

Kagome nodded. "Definitely."

Saya walked out into the patio and growled.

"Why must Kimora be difficult? Can you please make her wear a dress, Kagome. She insists on wearing her converse sneakers and this fool's band T-shirt." She waved her hands at Koga.

"What's wrong with that?" he gave her a devilish grin. "How's Mr. Die Hard with a vengeance?"

Saya sighed. "Elijah is recovering well. He will be released by the end of the week."

"That's good." Kagome said. "Can I just skip out on today's meeting? I feel a headache coming on."

"Take a painkiller." Saya said, unconvinced.

Kagome groaned. "I'll go help Kimora find something suitable for today's crucifixion."

"Oh, stop being such a drama queen." Saya snorted as Kagome left. She then looked at Koga and they shared a smile.

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After getting her daughters properly dressed, Kagome hid in the pantry to take a few quiet breaths. Her anxiety was getting out of hand. She had stuffed her face with cookies and Nutella hoping the sugar would help. The door opened behind her and she saw Sesshomaru looking in suspiciously.

"I knew you would be in here." He said, he closed the door behind him and pulled her in his arms. He wrapped his arms around her and rubbed her back. "You don't have any reason to be nervous."

"Easy for you to say." She buried her face into his chest. "Why must we have a meeting now?"

"It's imperative for the clans to gather after something like this. It enforces strength and makes us stronger. Everyone is scared and confused and things need to be clarified."

"I just don't think I can handle it right now. It's too soon for me. I'm still dealing with Yura's…." Kagome tried not to cry.

"I wished Yura's fate was different. She wasn't a terrible person. She made a bad choice, is all. You need to understand that everything that happened wasn't a personal attack at you. It was all because of me."

"But anything that has to do with you is personal for me." Kagome furrowed her brows at him. "I wished you had told me that you sent Yura's father to prison, or that you executed Shurran's father. I need more transparency from you. We are in this together, and everything that happens to you, it happens to me, do you understand that?"

Sesshomaru nodded. "Yes, I do."

"I don't want any more secrets, even if it has to do with work."

Sesshomaru paused, then forced a nod. His eyes locked with hers and she could see the world resting on his shoulders. She just wanted to help him carry the weight.

"Why did you have Shurran's father executed? Your father told me he was conspiring against hanyous and humans and that he was involved in bombings and murders but…you've put other people in custody that did the same thing and hadn't the same outcome."

Sesshomaru shook his head. "I don't want you bearing that kind of secret. It is taxing on your conscious, I assure you."

"I told you…" Kagome reminded. "I need transparency and I am tougher than you think."

"I know that…" he said, and rubbed the back of his head. "I beg you not to repeat what I'm about to tell you."

"You don't have to worry about that." She rubbed his arms. She could see that what he was harboring was great and difficult.

"Lord Tsuyoko murdered Inuyasha's mother." He said, as low of a whisper he could manage. "and there was evidence that he had the same intentions for you. My father must never know of this."

"Oh my god…" she said. She had heard about Inutaisho's struggle with Izayoi's death.

Kagome wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tight. He exhaled, as if the stresses of harboring such secret released from him. His muscles loosened as he held on to her even tighter. Just then it dawned on her that she had to step up her strength to match his. She needed to lift her head up proudly and stand beside him to support and not add to his problems with trivial matters. The anxiety started to wear down as she told herself that it didn't matter anymore what the clan thought of her. She would no longer be self-conscious that she wasn't good enough. She was the wife of the great and powerful Lord Sesshomaru and she was going to prove that she belonged at his side.

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It wasn't the usual clan meeting held in the great room of the manor. This meeting was held at the DDC Supreme Dome Court on Governor's Island across Manhattan. The streets near the bridge were closed off and blocked with barricades secured by thousands of DDC security and the NYPD.

Kagome looked up at the massive crystal chandelier that hung from the ivory dome ceiling. There were about two thousand black velvet seats that were being filled by clan members traveling from far places. The local clans of the six sat in the front. The stage was over eight feet high with steps that went even higher to an additional stage. A crescent shaped desk stretched across on top of it with six red throne chairs. Each Elder sat in their chair: Lady Ariyana and Luciana, Lord Hideko and Modo Kai, Lord Inutaisho and Lord Tsuyoi, Koga's grandfather. Lord Modo Kai had been ridden in a wheelchair but the guards helped him onto his throne.

There were two VIP suites beside the stage. One suite occupied by Sesshomaru, Kagome, Koga, Saya and the girls. Haji, Cado and Remy stood behind their chairs. The other was occupied by Arahim and Sasuke with their sentry. In between the suites and the stage, was a porcelain lit circle where people stood during trial.

"Please everyone take your seats, meeting is about to start." Lady Luciana announced over her microphone.

Everyone's conversations came to a stop as they quietly sat down. Samara glanced toward the first row by the stage and saw her friends from school. Denali, Lahira and Gareth forced smiles as they waved at her. Their tribes sat around them staring as well.

"We will start this meeting off with a moment of silence. Malicious intent or not, we will rise above that and pay our respects to Lady Shurran of the panther tribe. Our condolences to Arahim, Sasuke and Han Hideko."

Everyone bowed their head and remained silent.

Lady Luciana spoke after a long pause, "As you all know, our clan had faced a most troubling and unforeseen circumstance. The Demon Defense Corp had been infiltrated in acts to restore the Jade Order. We know you have limited knowledge of the events and only know what the media has told you. Let it be known, most of the casualties were inmates serving their sentence at the DDC penitentiary and that no fatality came to any members of the royal clan. Also, let it be known, that our leader Lord Sesshomaru with help of accomplices Koga, Sasuke, Lady Ariyana and Lord Inutaisho, succeeded in capturing all those involved."

Everyone started to applaud. Kagome smiled and kissed Sesshomaru on the cheek.

"However, we called this meeting to bring something else to your attention." Lady Luciana continued. "Please come to the circle Arahim, Samara and Kimora."

Samara and Kimora stared wide eyed at each other and looked at their parents. Kagome looked just as confused. They looked across to Arahim who shrugged. They rose from their seats and walked to the porcelain circle in front of the stage.

"Despite being competition, you both joined forces to help your clan members, this shows great leadership. Although we are sure you will be punished regardless for disobeying your parents," she stopped and everyone laughed. "You didn't let that stop you. And young Kimora…" Luciana gave a warm smile. "You fought an enemy to save your mother and Lord Modo Kai. I know you harbor a great talent that would make you a formidable leader one day, when the time is right and we understand it better, it'll be disclosed but know, you took great part in all of this." Lady Luciana raised her gaze to the audience. "We don't know what the future will hold but understand that these three young clan members showed great courage. For this, we honor you three with the gold medal of bravery."

Three men holding medals went to each of them and placed it on their collar. Kimora looked over at her parents, flashing her fangs in an ear to ear smile. Kagome was in tears as she proudly clapped in a ferocious manner.

"Please go back to your seats." Lady Ariyana instructed. Everyone continued to clap and stopped when Lady Ariyana called on Kagome. "Please come to the circle Lady Kagome."

Kagome gasped and looked over to Sesshomaru. He smirked and rubbed her hand.

"Go…it'll be alright." He said. "I promise."

Kagome gulped hard as she stood up and walked slowly to the circle. She looked out into the audience, everyone staring indifferently at her.

"Lady Kagome…" Ariyana said. "I cannot comprehend how you must feel on a daily basis. To be the wife of a powerful leader, and a single human in a clan of demons. I must say, as a woman and demon, it's tough as it is dealing with the stress of our expectations and traditions. Nonetheless, I commend you for sticking through it all. I will pass it now to Lord Modo Kai, for he has a few words for you."

Lord Modo Kai cleared his throat. He took a moment to speak as he met eyes all around the room.

"I have lived a very long time with the notion that humans would defile our bloodline. We were raised to believe they couldn't possess things like pride, honor or courage. I will admit that I have not been very welcoming or kind to Lady Kagome. My bigotry clouded my ability to see that she did, indeed, possess these qualities. At the risk of stinging my pride, Lady Kagome saved my life. I watched her defy odds to save her daughter. She channeled great strength to pull me out of a burning room to save me…"he looked down at his legs. "You didn't leave me behind, and then when you had the chance to be saved, you ran back into a burning building to save another. Your dedication exceeds and puts to shame any assumptions I ever had toward your kind. I watched you build your daughter's confidence up when our circumstance didn't seem promising. I've accused you of destroying our tradition, but I was completely wrong. Ladies and Gentlemen, here's the truth, our traditions aren't dying; they are evolving." Lord Modo Kai forced himself up from his throne, his arms shaking. The elders beside him tried to help but he shook his head. "I rise and ask our brothers and sisters to rise…"

Kagome looked around as everyone, including the elders rose from their seats. Sesshomaru stood tall and stared deeply at her, his eyes lit up and he grinned.

"Lady Kagome, I bestow upon you the platinum medal of Valor for the courage you have within you and the courage you teach those around you." A guard came over and clipped the medal onto her collar. She tried to fight the tears back as she looked around her. "You may not be our kind, Lady Kagome and that is alright but you have become one of us and will always be a part of our clan."

Everyone gasped as Lord Modo Kai bowed at her. The elders beside him smiled and bowed at her as well. Her gaze searched the entire room to see a wave of demons bowing at her. She stopped and looked back at Sesshomaru, who bowed his head and lifted his gaze at her, his eyes even brighter and proud.

"Please take your rightful place by the side of our leader Lord Sesshomaru."

Everyone started to applaud, Kimora and Samara shouted over the noise, squealing with joy. Koga whistled obnoxiously only to get hit on the head by Saya.

Kagome went back to her seat, feeling an array of emotions. Sesshomaru locked his fingers into hers, raised her hand to kiss it.

"You knew about this, didn't you?" she whispered, as they went on to talk about changes within the DDC and new policies to ensure the safety of the royal clan.

Sesshomaru pursed his lips and shrugged. "Perhaps."

Kagome pressed her lips tightly, feeling shy as hundreds of eyes continued to stare at her.

"Do you understand now?" Sesshomaru said.

"Understand what?"

Sesshomaru leaned into her ear. "I fell in love with you knowing what our future would be like. I know you aren't a demon and will never be one, despite….your rare moments of demonic outburst." He chuckled and she elbowed him lightly in the rib. "You belong at my side…" he gave her a side glance. "When things get difficult, I need you to remember that."

"I know that now." She said.

"Good."

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There was an after party at the manor. Kimora was hiding away in her parent's balcony, looking out into the courtyard filled with hundreds of demons chatting and dancing under the moonlight. Waiters walked around with hors d'oeuvres and champagne. She could see her mother being pulled by Saya to talk to a group of demonesses. Kagome rolled her eyes as she was being pulled.

"Poor mom…" Kimora giggled.

Samara was sitting at a table with Gareth, Arahim, Denali and Lahira. Arahim looked up toward the balcony at her and waved for her to come join them. She stuck out her tongue and gave him a thumbs down. He shook his head and laughed.

Sesshomaru walked inside his bedroom and saw Kimora sitting on the chaise lounge outside the balcony eating ice cream. He had a cup of ice cream himself. She licked her spoon and looked behind her chair at him.

"Care for some company?" he said, raising his cup at her.

"You never have to ask, daddy." She smiled. "Had enough of the theatrics?"

Sesshomaru rolled his eyes. "We will need a better hiding spot before your grandmother finds us."

"I think we have ten minutes before she realizes we're not down there. Mom is keeping her distracted."

Just then Kagome looked up at them and they waved at her. She scowled and was immediately pulled in another direction by Saya.

They both chuckled. Sesshomaru took in Kimora's little laughter. He set his ice cream on a small table beside his chair and leaned back. He couldn't wait for everyone to leave so he could spend time with Kagome and the girls, just the four of them. Most of his attention in the last couple of weeks had been toward repairing the DDC. With most of the Angelos dead or in his custody, and the culprits behind restoring the Jade Order all dead, he still couldn't feel at ease.

He felt his arm being tugged and looked to see Kimora sneaking into his chair cuddling beside him. She put his arm around her and rested her head on his chest.

He smiled, placed his hand on her head and stroked her hair.

"Daddy…do you wish I were normal?"

"Normal is subjective, Kimora. Everyone has their own definition of normality."

"You don't think I'm weird?"

"Of course I think you're weird." He said and she looked up at him to see him looking away hiding his grin. He looked back at her and his expression went serious. "but I wouldn't have it any other way."

He looked up at the sky and his thoughts ran amok about the future. Thoughts about Kagome and him, thought about his daughters, thoughts about who would lead after him and the safety of his clan and his family. There will always be an enemy. That was his fate but he didn't know which he should give up. He needed to lead his clan, run the DDC but what he needed and wanted the most was his family. Should he resign from his duty at the DDC? Should he step down from the throne and let Sasuke take over?

"Daddy…" Kimora uttered softly. "Don't do anything."

"Hm?" he raised his head, confused.

"Just relax, daddy. Everything is going to be fine."

Sesshomaru stared at his daughter for a moment and leaned his head back into his chair. Oddly enough, he believed her. His muscles loosened as he took a deep breath in and exhaled.

"Alright." He smirked.

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Author's note:

This was very hard for me to complete, guys. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to give up. It took me 10 years to finish this…

I wanted to thank everyone who had been reading through my journey, who was patient in waiting such long periods of time. It's so bittersweet because this was my last connection to the fanfiction world. I now close this chapter of my life so I can move on to other stories, stories that have been on the backburner for nearly a decade if not more, and now, I have a goal to not let so much more time pass.

Hey, guys, trying to build my writing account on Instagram to help publish my original.

If you liked any of my stories, please follow - procrastiwriter_

*****THANKS FOR READING*****